There’s something, isn’t there, about the ambiance of a little coffee shop that spurs how-we’re-going-to-change-the-world discussions?
The topic at hand was a rich and challenging one: reinventing leadership so it’s inspired and inspiring. People want to produce value and feel valued. Just-a-cog-in-the-wheel environments must go. Ethics and integrity tossed aside for economics and perpetually better bottom line results is wrong, wrong, wrong. What needs to be changed and how would it be accomplished?
As one might imagine, there was immediate consensus on the need for a new leadership paradigm and no shortage of ideas for what it should be. Our caffeine-stimulated change ingredient list so far:
- No more singular focus on just the bottom line as a measure of success. Somewhere along the line, Drucker’s observation that “what gets measured gets managed” was corrupted. Hard and fast metrics make management easier, but that isn’t the point.
- There must be a moral center. Ethics and integrity matter. Must end the Murdoch mentality of “get the story no matter what.”
- Leaders apply confidence and humility in equal measure; both are used appropriately. Laughter and tears are welcome in the work place.
- Contrarian points of view (albeit presented professionally and without haughty condescension) are encouraged. Brown-nosing is no longer a required promotional competency.
- Power is used appropriately. If it’s a truly command-and-control scenario (crises), directives are OK. Otherwise, power is used with others and to produce win-win outcomes. Leaders know when to flex between styles and are held accountable for doing so.
- Gender, race and ethnicity are irrelevant to effective leadership.
- Pronouns reflect inclusion (we, not me) and courage (it was my decision…)
- There’s a team-oriented approach to achieving results coupled with a spirit of “we’re all in this together.” No more “me-centered” spotlights.
- Tough empathy rules. A job well-done is recognized and rewarded. Less-than-stellar performance is addressed immediately via thoughtful, continued coaching; follow-up required.
- Serious thought goes into perks. Pooh-bahs don’t continue to fly in corporate jets while clerks and assistants have to pay for their morning cup of coffee.
- Diversity goes beyond lip service and really means something. Inclusion is valued.
- It’s OK, expected even, to go home while it’s still daylight and/or not come into the office on the weekend. Seeing your kid in a play or a soccer game matters.
- Vacations are for renewal, really. Clear your head. Come back renewed not current with your email.
- The squeaky wheel doesn’t get all the attention. People talk, share, engage. Political correctness in agreeing with the guy with the loudest voice isn’t politically correct anymore.
Given the breadth, depth and complexity of leadership, this new paradigm list is a work in progress. What elements would you add?