Finding leaders fit to lead is a question of perception and specifics

30 Apr

How we perceive leaders, and their characteristics, is how we will formulate a leadership role and function. It is seldom based on facts, in the main it’s more of a personal flavour we can or want to associate with, perception is seldom informed, and it is a condition, of conditioning. We see leaders the way they are portrayed in the media, by comrades, equals, friends, family, piers, and because of their status.

Therefore; developing leaders is no easy task. As we first have to change people’s perception about what leadership is, it is not a charismatic outlook, a fairy-tale, or a comic book hero. Leaders are fallible, mortal, and have a history each. This binds them, good and bad.

Leadership therefore is not a condition, a state of existence that is effective at a certain point of its life cycle, in performing specific and required functions, of whatever nature required well. No, leadership is a chosen action that is circumstantial, a leader does not lead daily, or every waken moment, no, it’s by choice. We make a conscious decision to act the part, and take the lead, and direct, command, and organise. It takes very little talent, but it does stake a lot of is confidence that comes from experience.

It never ends there either. Looking for the right raw material and trying to mould someone into a leader has proven to be a hit and miss affair. As leadership requirements differ from day-to-day, from situation to situation, and so I can site many instances. The crux of this matter is; it is never just that one thing, or two, or three or even a list, which will guarantee a good profile of leadership ability ever.

Psychology, science and academia even military tradition have also given it a go, and still, there is no one size fits all.

So what is this hype about developing leadership at all levels firstly?

In order to understand the hype we need to understand where the concept came from. Leadership has more to do with a way of thinking; how we perceive, orientate, decide and then act on and start doing things with people, or get them done without them, is perceived to be a measure of what leadership optimises, much more than what it has to do with knowledge, skill, and abilities, even character traits.

Getting people’s minds fit to lead will and have always been a topic of study and much debate, leaders are required at every level of organisation, as well as society, and they must be able and capable, not to mention willing.

Animals have pack leaders; men too have leaders, there seems to be a natural order that exist, since the beginning of time, we always have people in the lead. Right from Aristotle’s time already it seems, where he quoted the “golden mean” – what is the “golden mean”, it is a desirable middle between two extremes; the one of excess, and the other deficiency – for example, if courage is a virtue of leadership, if taken to the extreme it would become recklessness, if deficient in courage then it would become cowardice – leadership is an act in balance, thus keeping with proportions.

Well that “golden mean” has never existed in balance for long, where means become power, then power corrupts.

The debate on leadership initially somehow always centres and starts from a more characteristic foundation to identify a leader, and then as we crush that first idea we go over to a more personal (one icon) perspective, or paradigm, how did I (or Napoleon) become a good or even great, some say brilliant leader?

We want to be able to associate with leadership first, (is this our programming, somehow it seems true,) and then duplicates that specific style. Or is it the type of thinking they use that intrigues us, will this also explain why we are always in some manner or fashion trying to duplicate them, I am not always sure, people get confused with charisma, and style, vs. skill and talent?

This is the path we tend to take, we locate people we like, and evaluate their style, history, and approach, and then we derive a “theory” from it. When we are confronted with this dilemma of bringing forth leaders, with great qualities, abilities and strengths, we have lost focus of what is really at stake, at the heart of leaders, and what constitutes leadership…

What has been done to get a constitution for leadership?

Overtime progressively more and more approaches have emerged, the one more convincing that the next.

We have seen tam all, starting

  • From a psychological perspective; by analysing behaviour traits and drawing on patterns of behaviour that render best results…
  • Others attacked it from an academic perspective; with case study, and so too did their theory’s spring up.
  • Then came the made-man, and his wisdom pop culture literature, every billionaire become an icon.

Wright or wrong, lessons were learned, it was not all flawed, as we all surmise that our path we have choose to greatness – and our own leadership development – is most often the best, in the absence of real truth, however, times have changed. Should we not approach this whole problem from the paradigm of specifics?

This would imply being very specific in what we need, and require from in our workplace, or area of operations as a leader, as well as being more specific to the; sector, industry, company, division, project, market, culture, even risk specific first?

On paper everything seems so brilliant, it is in practice and in operationalizing such things and thinking that we get lost…

For starters, the real truth on issues that govern, and ring-fence how a leader will develop or not, could be found not in the makings of such, but by following it from cradle-to-grave – thus the following;

Here we argue that the following attributes form leaders – far more readily than anything else that follows. That is manipulated and structured.

For starters, if we only get the basics of education right again, right from the very first day at pre-school, we should have a good start, and it is exactly here that it all falls apart for most of us, with our public education system in tatters in most countries; we turn out sub-standard material for a future generation. No moral compass, no religious education, no strict discipline, no attention span, obesity all over…seen in pre-school scholars already, is a sure sign of the times?

More on this later, the point to make with this line of thought is this, development starts at some point and then ends, and then it just evolves of its own accord. So initial development stets the platform for any potential future development, if the initial foundation is weak so too will be all that follows – first let’s look at some attributes of the formal education system, that is failing us in this regard, right from pre-primary school, that are simple, yet children battle to master them – that use to be common place, as well as attributes of society and culture that set the stage for leadership development, or not.

Starting with leadership characteristics that are formed because of very specific attributes being strong and well developed, the likes of;

  1. Language – with language comes semantic – words have meaning – interoperations, certain words hold very specific meaning to certain cultures, even when translated they do not imply or have nearly the same meaning or effect anymore, intent, and therefor serve the same purpose. With language also come conformity, and unspoken understanding and implicit or implied wisdom that imply a unity. By implication, if you know the culture, and the language, and the meaning of certain words, you could string them up, and create a desired effect.

Then we also have language skills; be it writing, spelling, and the ability to communicate effectively no matter what the means, to network, and articulate is a main fact attributing to leadership development from an early age – some call it building confidence. Confidence is self-reliance, the ability to accurately express one self, our emotion, desire, and to communicate and shape conversation, by leading it, by manipulating and negotiating ones environment with language skills. Language and multi-linguistic approaches should be perused, to make people multi-lingual. This is the main weapon in the arsenal of all other leadership “weapons”, their ability to communicate with intent, to command respect via words.

  1. Culture – informs language, that also reinforces much of that which is tradition, and therefore it is directly associated with culture, we find very specific norms, customs, ideas, and paradigms amongst cultures that speak the same language, and in turn inform their way of decision making, perception and ethics and anything else that flows from that.

Culture is a way of ring-fencing people, gravitating people with the same language, norms, ethics, and in many instances even religion and isolating it to a region. To become unique. Culture is not just an identity mark; it is also an informer of thoughts, ideas, practices, customs and traditions. In this are strongly held beliefs that drive men, and woman, to succeed better in certain fields and in others not so much. Very seldom will one culture allow another to rule, lead, and dictate to them. We prefer leaders from within our own ranks, to lead us.

Cultural diversity is not strength, contra, to pop culture. If you lead people across cultures, you have to compromise, on your own morality, as strategy void of culture, thus a political, is void of all cultural morality and ethics. Unity is strength, diversity is at the outside of that golden mean – and referred to as disarray – chaos.

  1. Religion use to be shaped by the culture, as well as the language, it was also regional, and specific; to what a community shared as their own common views and beliefs, with specific religion comes more specific norms, customs, practices and ethics. Today religion is what you say it is. Religion has moved from conservative stances to liberal…
  2. Bias – like it or not, liberal or conservative, we are all bias; we all judge, we all favour our own culture, religion, and language over anything or anyone else. As it informs who we are, where we belong, and how we see and experience the world.

Leadership development starts with these pairings, these attributes, with reference to, culture, language, and religion, it informs who, what, where, when, how, and how much.  It informs us how to think about others, what we should eat, dress like, stand for and stand against, should oppose, or should tolerate.

Bias is more than informing on like, and like not’s, it also separates us, and then gravitates our personality towards a certain temperament, to become more extrovert, introvert, emotional and none-emotional, is all because of a bias, and not so much anything else, some believe.

We learn to be bullies, we learn to be kind, we learn to be obedient, we learn to be malicious, all learned attributes, and it all stems from or begins with a bias. That was created because of many attributes combined.

We can condition, and un-condition behaviour, that is bias driven, and informed. Enter politics; politics seeks to dive us, no political party ever exist with the main and sole purpose of creating unity – not ever – “its divide them and rule them”.

It operates from a bias of us and them, even when fundamentally we are all of the same constitution, culture, and race even, it will still aim only to divide us on the premises of bias.  Politics is the power of persuasion, the power of informing and creating a bias; be it by passive, aversive, coercive means, or any other, the end justifies the means is always the motto of politics, but never the flavour they preach, in the main it wants to render you submissive and brainwashed to an ideology that will never materialise.

  1. Nature and nurture debate; you are, who you are, and how you think, because of all your associations that you have made during the course of your life to this very point some believe. So if your parents were both academic types, and stressed a lot, the chances are you will follow in the same fashion.

I think we can all relate, some people’s children behave, speak, think and act in much the same manner as one or even both parents do. There is a theory; that dictates that there are to poles that inform who you will become; be it by your nature or nurture – the one which has the strongest influence wins out.

Your Nature, refers to how you function as an individual, your deminior, temperament, style, character, mannerism – the way you act or don’t, talk etc. The sum of who we can say you are – because of your DNA – your character; being gentle, kind, outgoing, or aggressive, bombastic and assertive.

Your Nurture is how you were raised, the trials and tribulations you suffered, the paradigms you developed, the relationships you formed, and the person you are, because of the sum of all its parts – on a personal level. This all combined forms the “intuition”, the reason within reason, our perception, our insight, awareness, and consciousness, that battle with our nature.

  1. Nationality; when the sum of all the parts become one whole, then it becomes a way of life; a awareness of a living being; where life circumstances, living conditions, terrain, climate, and geography starts influencing this sum, the being, it assimilates, and either adapts or dies, if it adapts it seeks out others of the same constitution, it forms a community, and they then develop a uniqueness, with a language, culture and religion, where this become one, it creates an identity, that becomes a national identity too, if you take one part away it loses its identity.

Where the government is supported by such an identity, and is from such, it becomes an ethos – a unity, a way of living, the regions “climate’ or identity, then eventually over time forms a nationality – or national identity. This union or nationality can only be further influenced by climate, intuition, reason, invention, wealth and politics (including war) in the main – either negative or positive.

  1. 7.       Emotional and rational balance; with maturity comes emotional and rational balance, or should. People who suffer trauma, due to war, natural disasters having taken place, diseases, hunger, etc…usually produce leaders with none emotional and irrational dispositions. Leaders seldom come to the stage, before they have reached puberty. The body has been designed, to become mature in all aspects; physical, emotional, and chemical as a result of its upbringing. All these aspect of physiology also affect the attributes of leadership directly and both indirectly at some stage. This is the good news, the bad news is, modern society and its medicines, and artificial flavour, colorants, and preservatives, have messed up much of this balance too.  

We find obesity, diabetes, attention deficiency disorders, bipolar, and lots more illnesses today that also directly affect the mind, the body and thinking. Then we also have addiction that has become rampant. Society has become addicted to tobacco, alcohol, Facebook, technology, TV, gambling, and the list goes on. What we assimilate we derive from and communicate. So, it is garbage-in-garbage out. We don’t eat well, don’t sleep well, we don’t train our brains; we don’t exercise much, and don’t crave pure knowledge. So our rational balance is none existent, very few still crave knowledge, and still less are emotionally mature to handle the burdens and stress of leadership.

These are the main attributes that define what constitutes a leadership constitution; the ability of the individual to take responsibility, and act on it wisely, to have a true leadership character that informs on the development of inherent leadership abilities and capabilities has become a rare occurrence.

The rest of what makes up leadership is quite random if we look at what Einstein had to say about problem solving,  – thus the rest is chance, and does not speak to or either inform as much on leadership attributes that directly elevate its characteristics, these are the main attributes mentioned, and very specific forming attributes towards leadership development.

Now you ask me where is the good news then?

Well, it was Einstein that pointed us in the right direction here with simplification.

There is Simplification in specifics.

 “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler. A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be. We cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. A question that sometimes drives me hazy; am I or the others crazy? Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex…it takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. All religions, arts and science are branches of the same tree. It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer. The only real valuable thing is arriving with intuition” – Einstein.

The simplification part is not that simple, times have changed and so too requirements

Well we seem to have done quite the opposite; we have compacted and complicated matters…

If we have not done enough damage to the process of shaping leaders, here’s more, then we made laws, and allowed liberals and communist ideas to take over the landscape of wisdom.

So how do find these new leaders and promote the ones in the ranks, based on what criteria?

By profiling for leaders.

Yes, “profiling for leadership positions” has been done, and it works to varying degrees in various disciplines, and has excelled in others, so it’s not a best practice by far, some call in psychometric testing etc. However, today all forms of “discrimination” is frowned upon and in certain cases even outlawed too. We all know we have too, but the system slams the brakes on, we are none –revolutionary – in a liberal world where we have unions, and on that premise it all tends to fall flat, even where profiling is introduced, they just cannot – make that dare not – see the relevance. But they like to performance mange these guys…

Profiling for the “personality traits first” – looking for the right “actor” – where we have identified the temperament required from the “actor”, and relayed it to specific types of personality types – extrovert, introvert, emotional, and reserved personality types for instance – and also checked for attributes that are proven to be best suited to certain types of positions –and jobs requirements, and fields. Then we would have been on a great Parr. This is done in most specialist projects, like the recruitment for astronauts for space flight for instance.

However, Business theory; Labour rules, and laws, still frown upon this and call this “discrimination” – whenever you have labelled something it becomes immovable, and is bound to conformity to the norm, so this approach is stonewalled.

What’s left? Are we not being led down a hole here, the academics have sold us a hollow egg, they already know who they want for the job, they came up with these concepts we practice religiously – and they only have to call it “best practice” and we are all sold, because they say it is the real deal – so why do we do these things, is it just for the sake of getting it done, or to add value, let’s take a critical look at our brainwashing and uniformed beliefs and methods of promoting and employing people as well as empowering leaders; with the likes of specific academic categorisation of leadership.

The “institutions” that teach us has set the stage as well as the standards and made very sure of the rules, so most of what we come up with will be stonewalled by the very principle of “institutionalising of society”.

Everything to do with education has been categorised specifically to be none – revolutionary/ evolutionary – consequently our educators are making sure we need them for a long time to come, because they set the standards and the guidelines we have to follow to become significant, counted and one of the boys.

For instance, they have given us some of these practices to follow. So where I use the words specific categorisation; you can substitute that for any academicals label; “best practice”, “standards” E.g.;

  1. 1.       Starting with better job descriptions and requirements

They invented the concept of a job description. We write job descriptions religiously, all in a very specific (yet vague) nature, we even write the academical criteria, for the “labelled” person – that will be best suited to perform this job function with. Even though we have very seldom performed the job function ourselves.

(No, there is never any mention of the “actor” requirements here – the personality type – why is that, surely the person that is going to fill this position – or “play this role” – will require some specific personality traits too – apart from “good work ethic”, and being of “sober constitution” that we find standard, have we seriously applies our minds on this paradigm, what would be more important than just focusing on qualifications, as the job and its requirements will always change over time?)

So we only judge “the book by its cover” – (leadership is judged purely and mostly on academic – paper – qualifications, that can be forged too, some skills and other qualifications will be nice) – in the main, something that most have acquired either – years ago in many instances, or with someone with no track record even, fresh from university – okay its back to square one. So you have a guy with papers hay?

This is the norm, and we give no second thought, truly is this still our best we have, our own universal best practice for filling any low, medium, and even high end jobs. Sad – still it’s our best practice – but let’s go on

  1. 2.       Ring-fenced interviewing criteria and focus

The saying of “different strokes for different folks”, also still rings true, we are all prone to lead, but very few seldom do, they say you have to choose to be a leader. What type of “actor” will play this part best?

Different “roles” require different type of “actors” – or personality types rather, this we all know – same as in life – “Snow White” would be a poor substitute for playing the part of the “Rambo” – and with key corporate positions…this stays true.

However, we employ and place people in leadership positions because of other agendas we serve; never real guidelines, qualities, affiliations, and true commitments.

If we have to do some serious introspection, most positions get filled on a like and like not basis.

That has in effect nothing to do with the real leadership qualification we are looking for. The interview process is thus flawed in many aspects, because it is now manipulated too every extent possible, and totally bias. I can get people I don’t know to give me a thousand likes on Facebook, that is how easy it is to get what is required for an interview.

So why do we even bother to develop leaders again if this is the case? Maybe, it’s because of this aspect, that we need to find a magic trick/fix, to magically convert our favourite ponies in to race horses – into great leaders?

  1. 3.        “Discrimination”

The big “D” word, don’t discriminate, has every aspect of filling a position ring-fenced, active discrimination based interview procedures are in place, and it covers anything from; race, gender, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, and so the ‘thing” rolls down the hill uncontrollable, and crashes into a tree. If not for discrimination, why bother interviewing, it’s become a smoke and mirrors exercise.

Still it needs to be done, as finding replacement leaders, for the old guard is tuff business. As with them we could still discriminate, be sure that that qualification was worth something, and that was the whole purpose of interviewing. To close match the position with what we required, because we could. Today it is all out legislated and unionised. It’s not as simple as replacing a dead fish in a fish tank either, where you just pop in a new gold fish, and there we go, no, in life size (referring to skill, experience and capability) does matter, and so do “species” or personality types.

For with personality types comes certain attributes, that conform to specific actor types, like with high calibre leadership, comes very specific traits, skilfully developed and refined over time, that are desirable and both essential traits, or skills, they have solidified ethics, vital to the success of the “habitat” and its work scope – and the purpose that it serves.

So if we need to replace a whale, and we only have goldfish available, we are in deep trouble, and this is about the size of the problem today, then a gold fish would be a poor replacement in a habitat that have just lost a “whale”, as a whale is not a fish even, it’s a mammal, and mammals are much-much more intelligent compared to goldfish for instance. We can take this analogy even a step further, and say that fish tank experience does not compare to deep sea ocean experience. This is exactly the size and complexity of the challenge of nurturing and replacing competent leaders and mangers – with new age wisdom.

Then we also have race quotas, and BEE, as well as other criteria…which I won’t get into I think I made the point.

  1. 4.       The question is, do leaders really need to be “highly” qualified at all, or even profiled?

Somewhere between personality traits, profiling, qualifications, a track record and writing better job descriptions, and still developing and replacing someone, as well as looking at their qualifications to make sure they are legit – let alone worth something -, we also need to find some personal flare; that is to say we have to see if we can also close match our replacement with someone that close matches our predecessor. A predecessor that was; e.g. brutally forceful, and brilliantly tactical, or between someone that was cunningly political, or just blatantly honest…there is also the underlying question of how many and how much skills and qualifications does one really need to be a competent replacement, or to be effective, and both efficient?

Leadership replacement rides on several very complex factors, if we don’t know them, we will miss the “actor characteristics”, more than just that hand full of criteria, on skills and qualifications, as well as experience and ethics, now it seems personality and personal style all rolled into one becomes the whole new package.

People flourish under people with “flare”, and wilt under people with none…

  1. The question of “cadet leadership development” has also become focal too again, and more strategic now. Whether or not it works, is yet another story.

The big question?

So what do they need to know, what do they really need to use to gauge and get the best candidate needed and what do we need to teach them then, that we aren’t teaching them now anyway?

Enter the beginnings of the concept of realignment of management and leadership – with ethics and morals, and a well-placed competent leader.

Let’s take a small history lesson, specifically to see how the concept of leadership had evolved, and what we have been ignoring of late, and how ignoring these fundamentals has a way of coming back to haunt us, and even bite you in the behind.

History informs us well

If the paradigm is still correct that history informs us of the past, so that we may predict the future better, then we see some interesting changes in direction, with leadership and management evolution and development over the ages, just look at the stages of management development first, to see where we are now in the evolution of business leadership and management.

The concept

  1. We have evolved leadership and management in step with the times thus far, we use both these terms, as to make a definite distinction between two types of leaders entities that exist within the context of leadership;
    1. Leadership; is seen to be pragmatic, communicative and mostly operational,
    2. Whilst management-leadership; is seen to be leading people in the act of logistics, planning, strategy and human resource, all the support services.
    3. They need to be taught as two separate facets of leadership…firstly. As we have had them before, we had traders, farmers, butchers, bankers (managers), and we had politicians, superintendents, landlords, and priests (leaders) way back.

How it all evolved

  1. During the industrial revolution the journey of leadership development stated, it became a formal journey in the field with the emergence of management ethics, and we have incorporated them likewise, the first attribute of business leadership namely ethic started with;
    1. the religious emancipation effects of change and unrestraint thinking, brought about with the protestant ethic; which challenged the central authority of the Roman catholic church over its people in response to the needs of people; the likes of  land ownership, education, and free thinking and religion. It was an external influence and not a personal trait that influenced management and leadership formation here.
  2. At that juncture we saw the emergence of pre-revolution, the effects of free thinking gave rise to new ideology; the likes of Marxism, Leninism, and other freedom movements were born and the concept of liberty became congenital – or inborn; the ethic of liberty was born, and with it came political ideology which represents people’s rights, the “struggle” to create a balance between free and fair and a concept of law and order began to filter into business. Yet another external influence, and still not a skill or personal trait that would mould the reality of leaders to come.
  3. This sparked the ethic of markets; the trade and competition era was ushered in, society focused on creating champions, through fears rivalry, even war, that lead to creative ideas, and the concept of competition – the ethic of hard work and sacrifice that gets rewarded was the norm. Still we are being influence by outside influences, when it comes to shaping the path of leaders.
  4. Then and there entered the scientific ethic, where we became structured, and calculated, in order to eliminate waste, we looked at scientific ways of improving production…and society, this then came to a point of time management, score cards, job descriptions, and performance. Ethics then became a norm to inform us on how to deal with people when shaping them in the workplace and in society, to balance the effects of fair competition, with monopolising; we all know how well that worked out.
  5. At that time further evolution of management started, with the introduction of academic philosophy, that ushered in the arrival of management theory, that branched out into what we see and know today as formal management theory;
    1. Bureaucracy – systems, policy procedures, rules, legislation, – red tape.
    2. Administrative management
    3. Human Relations – HR
    4. Quality and quantitative management
    5. Systems theory
    6. Introduction of electronic management
    7. Risk and contingency theory
    8. Total quality management
    9. Learning and mentoring concept
    10. Re- engineering
    11. IT – revolution

The grand question

This then begs the question again, where has the leadership theory gone, somewhere leaders have been side-tracked and everything became academic, and more management focused, we seem to infer that leadership is synonymous with management then, this aspect has shifted peoples paradigms, how to manage people, because that is something that you can pin down, you can measure manager qualifications for sure, and then formulate and pass it on and make tons of money from it too. Whereas, with leadership, leadership is totally void of such reasoning – or at least should be, it is just way too volatile to “bottled and sold”.

Now we have come full circles, leadership and managing is not one thing. All these aspects combined became known as business management theory, and have been adopted and transformed to fit specific industries, and products, as well as service business models.

We need to be specific if we say we need leadership training and development, to imply that it is entirely inclusive of all aspects of leadership, therefor management too, or exclusive.  When we define the word, to become explicit – clear –then we find new meaning, the mental gears are now turning…

Yes, we do seem to need a plan for real leadership development as an entity, as it got lost with the interpretation of academia in the management translation – just like we have been planning with strategy and they came and called it planning…enter strategy.

Strategy and leadership are synonymous; now we seem to be on the right track…leaders need strategy and strategy require leadership. Where leadership in the strategic sense is all about the ability to arriving with intuition” – Einstein. Therefor, we need to develop instincts, intuition and observation…

Strategy has become prominent in this regard and focal, the tool of choice for leaders and their development.

Strategy and its role and functions have proven itself, over and over to be indispensable in the armour of survival of the fittest. The use of strategy to guide all functions with will become focal now I am sure.

You can attack anything with strategy, the only caution is, that it eats at morals and ethics if driven to hard. How far you go with the golden mean, to stay with balance, will become a marker of success and balanced against ethics and morals.

Use strategic management training as a new base-line for leadership development, train/teach and school all in the art of strategy, and use that as a springboard, in the absence of any good public education system.  Strategy connects process, with resources, this creates meaningful work.

Strategy has changed the way it serves us, both in perspective and application, as we have changed drastically our paradigms and approaches to management and leadership, having migrated from ethics, to principles, to theory – now strategy is emerging, it’s already proven its resilience, but never its fit, however, so the old saying of “if not for doing, nothing gets done”, so strategy serves this purpose of planning things so that they may get done – what is next?

Strategic management the way it is served at university is already out dated, you have to find radical and revolutionary strategy, and develop your own it seems. I have a book here; look at this…

Today it’s all about dealing with specifics

Management now needs to deal with specifics, as the next tool of choice, and all things of that nature and one such example is the development of leaders…through specific career development initiatives. We can no longer afford to just throw resource at the problem of leadership development and placement.

We can no longer just send them on expensive training, and courses, we can however teach them Radical strategy, even in-house at a fraction of the price…

This trial and error approach we have been following thus far has proven to be a very expensive exercise, – even with performance management, you are now managing leaders like machines, and so too follow the rest of the business model, it will precipitate into manager mentality only, leadership will bleed out where we make management focal, and be duplicated right down at grass roots level, where it will be perceived as command and control only…everything becomes stats, deadlines, and production criteria, then if that is the focused.

Firstly, what we focus on we get more of, the more, and the lower down we performance manage, the more will have to perform, and the more management tools will emerge, and the more managers you will need, to what extent will it be ethical, moral, and even workable. Performance management belongs only to the top echelons of the corporate ladder, never at middle or operations level, it must never become the sole criteria for work done and measured.

Therefore, the point to be made here is forced, we need to clearly understand the laws impacting on the effectiveness of management; “that everything we do, affects everything else”, leadership does not exist in a vacuum, it starts at the top, and flows to the bottom.

How the CEO is managed, and manages, will influence directly every aspect of the management’s character right throughout the entire organisation – good or bad – everyone will adopt the style.

If we function as a “tribe”; the leaders will be demanding the treatment of “gods”, the likeness of tribal leaders and everything that goes with that, where as if we function without true purpose, or culture, or style, we just serve an agenda – where the CEO is the hear-all and end-all – then it’s no use training people as leaders and even managers either, it will all be wasted.

Finding the right fit between reality and serving a purpose

“Autonomous action and therefore intuitive taking, develops only from very specific doctrine and a shared purpose that is rewarded if knowledge is applied.”

It is no use sending your people on fancy management courses, and to leadership academy’s, and employing bright and veteran leaders, as well as managers, if the organisation gives no autonomy to its leaders, to develop themselves from having taken initiative.

If they are not going to be allowed to act, as they were instructed and taught, to take turns at captaining the ship, they will never be even ready, nor willing to take the helm when the time comes. As no amount of knowledge, gives one the confidence, as much as “having been there, and having done that”. This very point becomes the “Achilles heel”. Where what is taught does never close match with what is practised. It never translates in to experience, and practice. This aspect then destroys peoples belief in their own ability much more so in their confidence and trust, it does more harm, seeing an origination in chaos and knowing its wrong, and you can change it, than what it does being blissfully unaware of the reality, and a puppet.

To be true takes insight. There is never a day where one can choose his circumstances, let alone control every outcome. If this alone defeats you, then you are in need of a purpose that starts with shaping one’s thoughts, towards a desired outcome.

Then the company culture, top management and the politics, all just adds to the mental overload for many. It will all compound and mould the character of the organisation, its people, products and leaders, will follow on, until it’s just one animal that has its head in clouds, and its tail in snare, whilst the body is entangled. This really doesn’t help with the producing of new leaders…

Surveys suggesting and supporting the fact that there is a shortage of real strategic leadership and insight…we have way to many control freaks, and managers around.

In a recent survey as many as 56% of company executives, has indicated that they will soon be facing serious shortages of qualified leaders. Intellectual capital will become a company asset the world over. It is cheaper to buy the best today, than what it is to try and train people, that are both reliable, and capable and not to mention competent, acquiring these skills and experience on the back of people coming with sober habits, and with industrious constitution and good health – has become the exception.

In this study, they reckon that migrant executives are better to have than stereo types – opposed to people that have come through the ranks and then became CEO’s…two schools of thought exist on this.

Most people don’t work at one place for longer than 5 years, until they get to the executive levels, then it’s all performance contracts today anyway – then they hold on. So this will better prepare them some argue, or this at least is the aim, and thinking. This is not a norm in all countries either. However, back to ethics, how will this aspect affect the ethics and culture as they hold hands with their performance driven CEO, or not?

Some believe if you keep adapting to the “chasing the dream” with developing of new CEO’s into this culture, especially every five years or so, they will trash culture, you will become culture less, and with that flies Ethics too, the whole organisation will keep changing, to follow the new arrival, too much change without ethics, and trust, loses the cohesion, that personal touch, as there is no loyalty if you are on a five year performance contract, opposed to knowing who you work with, and knowing the culture.

This is no short order either, resupplying the market with heavy weights, medium and even light weight candidates that can perform, as leaders and managers alike has become a business and both a science in the making, labour brokers, and talent scouts, have evolved from this practice, further studies have also gone beyond the scope of identifying the shortcomings of leadership, and went and dissected the attributes required of leaders today.

However, the question remains, how do you scout for someone of unique quality, if you only advertise the job description and qualifications desired of the position? Are we not getting the whole hire and fire thing wrong with people because we are shopping in the wrong isle?

We need to be specific when looking for leaders, ask the right questions, and you might end up shopping in the right isle, or training and developing them in the right direction.

Now, let’s just say, that we don’t have a company with all the aforementioned stonewalls, red tape, speed bumps and bureaucracy, and we are still genuinely tight, and long to replace or develop more good leaders, where do we look, how do we go about it?

We have two types of approaches towards training leaders, the normative and the formative.

Formative approaches focus on skills “development”, this enhances the individual’s scope, and levels of confidence; leaders and managers (at all levels) require the following skill sets;

  1. Networking = in order for one to network, you need to acquire very specific language skills; teaching and acquiring the social skills of; communicating, presenting, presiding, writing, marketing, conflict handling, and socialising.
  2. Orientation and interpretation – creating awareness, or consciousness; is defined as the ability to accurately perform an environmental scan, and draw from it a quick situational analysis, this could for instance be done with the likes of institutionalised use of acronyms; like the OODA loop, CAPS, GAP, QQI, SWAT, etc. That renders the results of us versus them nullified, and changes every cross departmental situation instantly and objectively to a co-operative interaction.

The ability to accurately assess situations, in a collective, could spell out the difference between a desirable middle ground, or between two extremes, the one of excess, and the other deficiency, this aspect is a balance that we must establish before we move on any idea, as ideas are always ranging between two extremes, that of; success and demise, between pain and reward, between life and death…at all levels of business, life, living and society, we measure in this fashion – between two extremes.

How we as leader’s influence others determine how we will rise and fall, thus our ability to surmise and predict the next course of action is prevalent to our very own, and industry’s survival. It also relates to the principle of cause and effect, supply and demand, and here today and gone tomorrow.

  1. 3.       Sober Decision making is the art of thinking multidisciplinary: teach them to think with;
    1. Concept thinking = content, context, complexity, assumptions, paradigm, process
    2. Critical thinking -= who, what, where, when, how, how much – the thinking about thinking, by questioning our paradigms.
    3. Systems thinking = analysis, formulation, capacitation, structure, systems, implementation, is giving form, or formation to the process of thinking, and how thought, connects with reality, to make things happen.
    4. Analytical thinking = quantify, qualify, identify – this is the scientific and mathematical process; the path of quality and quantity, cost, supply and demand, logistics, and means, all calculated, measured and it becomes the sum of all the parts. The emphasis is on accuracy, consistency, predicting finical impacts, cost, and risk, as well as minimising the influences of these attributes that will eliminate waste.
    5. Visionary thinking = creativity – being intuitive and creative, artistic with thinking; it gives rise to the architect, the planner, the designer, the grave to cradle path finder…the problem solver, one that can see the solution and reverse-engineer it.
    6. Informed thinking = information vs. intelligence, these are the people that have the ability of seeing relationships, where others only see complexity, seeing, opportunity where others see only chaos, it’s also a conceptual practice in experience, and information, information is truly power, especially when tested, and verified, then it becomes intelligence if everyone can use it. Timely accurate inputs of reality can change the outcome of any endeavour favourable…opposed to haphazard thinking. This aspect relates to business analysis, research, experience, and information gathering and flow, as well as handling and interpretation thereof. Information management or IT (Information Technology) orientated minds, and thinking.
    7. Synergised thinking = Is the Synthesis of all the aforementioned styles or types of thinking, to become one rational, is the most important competitive skill that of strategy – it creates the balance between the following opposites of extreme that is created by the aforementioned types of thinking;

                                                               i.      Logic vs. creativity

                                                             ii.      Deliberate vs. emergent

                                                           iii.      Revolution vs. evolution

                                                           iv.      Competition vs. co-operative

                                                             v.      Expansion vs. specialisation

                                                           vi.      Experience vs. expertise

                                                         vii.      Control vs. autonomous designs

  1. The power and ability of – creating – teamwork = this aspect revolves around two paradigms developing; synchronicity – let it evolve by it self-vs. synchronisation – where we guide it in a very specific direction… this aspect also informs
    1. Learning Vs. teaching – adaption and imprinting
    2. Coaching – try this, read this, let me show you
    3. Sociological approaches – how do they do things rationally and traditionally well and improve on that process…
    4. Democratic impact – what is the general consensus
  2. Being conversant with command and control – “do what I tell you, and do it now”, very few people have the ability to go nose to nose with their subordinates…and give then clear-cut instructions, or set them straight, this is however required from time to time, strictness and confrontation, is part and parcel of leadership, and maintaining the discipline.
    1. Command = Pace setting – do what I do, or follow me, let’s go, I need it by 10am.
    2. Control = Rules, policy, procedure, structure, discipline, and processes. This is how you will all do it and start creating organisation
  3. Practicing Ethics = thus good norms, principles, being A-political with politics and etiquette, showing compassion, and interest – creates trust and friendliness, a required resilience at times when we practicing command that requires very rigid leadership, being a bit flexible at times, but staying uncompromised moral…is wise. Underpinning that even a tree has to bend to the wind, so that it will not break. Flexibility is not a bad trait, when circumstances dictate it necessary.

In this fashion we develop leaders far better than any training will ever achieve…as we are specific, and practical, these skills are open ended, and not tied to any specific model, and can be perfected with one’s own style and paradigms. This is one way of getting the brain fit. All aimed at problem solving, problem identification, problem assessment, solving, and organisation and resource managing as well as control, could be summarised under strategic management as well as command and control.

The grand design

Furthermore they require specific attributes to be developed; that requires a dogma, a way to unite their thinking, so that they may act as if autonomous, yet in accordance with the “rules and principles of “engagement””… very-very few organisations operate from a doctrine. They still believe that diversity in leadership equals strength, it doesn’t, it spells out chaos, competition, and abuse. Doctrine creates a rallying point for consciousness, purpose, vision, mission, and all else that follows…

  1. 1.       Leaders Consciousness needs a collective reference point to create unity of purpose and effort.
  2. 2.       You can have the best trained, skilled, experienced or whatever leaders in the world, if they have no common goal, cause or strategy, very little will transpire, this aspect requires consciousness; a keen sense of duty, and purpose.
    1. The opposite of consciousness is unconsciousness, we all know what that implies, well, as it stands most people today are just that unconscious.
    2. They think if the get great leader’s things will be great. No, they seldom are, it is the main “peanut” that determines the ebb and flow of the tide, the direction of the currents, the storms and the calm… everything flows from the top, leadership the same, leaders inspire or deny others, so make sure the top dog knows his business.  There needs to be a good head, to make the body better.
    3. For a lioness to raise her cubs, she only has mentoring at her disposal, however, she first works on building a foundation, that of trust and consciousness, that is build up, through socialisation;

                                                               i.      Showing the cubs who, what, where, when and how…

                                                             ii.      Surviving is a question of awareness, alertness, knowledge, skill and intellect – that becomes a business consciousness – that can be transferred through practice, once it exists.

  1. Consciousness has its beginning in many origins;

                                                               i.      discipline, is the first aspect – from discipline flows other forms of discipline, self-reliance,  time management, conformity to rules, positivity, creativity, and objectivity…

  1. Our consciousness is nowhere near what it should be with the young guys today, they are all scatter brained; stuck in sport, and trivia really do excite them, they will very seldom pick up a book, read, or make any contribution to a topic of serious contemplation, to make debate, but they do know how to criticize, and point out the obvious. They lack a desire for greater truth, and seek comfort in conformity to routine.
  2. Diversity is not strength, unity is, diversity is tribal thinking, its compromises group think, and it’s hard work. We need to be careful that we don’t fall prey to political pop culture – we need to see what belong where.  We need to be able to see the trees from the forest.
  3. There can be no advancement or success without serious thought, thus consciousness is comparable to constant, unbroken thinking about an action, situation, event or undertaking, until it becomes vivid, and implies a level of awareness of factors and influences, that equate to cause and effect, and what is to follow. Consciousness forces us to engage and execute actions in the mind that would have otherwise required real world doing, to see the effect, without consciousness we are disengaged from reality, and unresponsive – dead to society, just a sheep.
  4. We need to make people aware of what we (truly) want, need, have, and how they need to go about doing their bit – this is the first step to creating consciousness. Consciousness is a greater awareness of “things”, as they exist, and their influence on us. We have to create a collective consciousness, a unity of effort, and trust, a united front, and unite in consciousness. This implies no more diversity. This by implication, implies, that the role and function of the manager needs more than just a job description, it also needs to define the management models that will be required, or that is in place, otherwise the style of the department will be crushed. By example; if we place people we need to close match them with the style of management they are accustomed to, and so too the people, who are qualified in performance management for instance we will place them in departments that are performance driven, and leaders that are command and control orientated, again in such environments that require much control and discipline, this is what I mean with specifics, the question of leadership need to be addressed in this fashion too. Otherwise, we are misaligning leadership, and different styles with what we actually need in reality from just filling a position with a suitable leader because of qualifications – we need to close match people. Suitable leaders are not just qualified, and experienced, if their paradigms and dogma are not aligned with the company’s management styles, and culture, they will fail too.
  5. 3.       Their Significance needs to established, people like knowing that they are doing a good job, and that their contribution is very significant, but it needs to be rewarded.
    1. Leaders need to see the bigger picture in them self-first, you have to see it to believe it, to know and understand the difference between being successful and being significant, knowing what to pursue, if we are only seeking to be successful we are serving a worldly agenda – a short lived victory, if we are seeking to be significant, we serve others and ourselves dually, people strive for the wrong attributes of reward, because they pursue the wrong ideals, and get lost in themselves and thereby diminish their own worth, and then they become discontent with their reality, because of a misaligned virtue and worth system, and see no relevance in what they have achieved. Contentment is derived from a sense of accomplishment, that is never ending, and that precipitates daily, into new steams of creativity and energy. It is not a climb of the corporate ladder, in need this to define me; it’s a daily act of service. Sharing the spoils of the hunt…is the best reward.
    2. The new leader needs to realise that they have a significant part to play, and that their own ambitions, and agendas, need to be second to being significant. This is the dogma, only if the organisation, honours sacrifice… mostly this deal is preached to all, but becomes a dooms day prophecy to many. As very few leaders ever honour their commitments, when it comes to promoting people for selfless commitment. So we screw up our own worth, and trust, and derail a win-win system. Ethics!
    3. This is not the alma-martyr syndrome, no, if you are in the pipe line, and second for promotion, then it’s a given, if you work hard, and get the grades, then you will be promoted…if not you will be asked to step aside, and other procedures will kick in, like discipline, training, transfer etc… it’s never perfect…however, we need to start somewhere, with some premise that is more ethical, that rewards both hard work and sacrifice, as well as success.
  6. 4.       Their Reality needs to be on Parr, with the strategic vision, mission and goals
    1. Time is money, it takes time to mentor, teach, learn, gain skills, perfect them, and so on and so forth.
    2. Time is a commodity that can be traded, but lost time, and wasted time, can never be recuperated.
    3. Today is the best time to start, nothing in life is ever perfect, perfection comes with time, and the acquisition of knowledge coupled to experience. For the one without the other is pretty useless even at the best of times.
    4. Leaders need to realise, that the reality of things will change, this is inevitable, as change is constant, but change in itself only requires paradigms to change and be more flexible and appropriate, we don’t have to change fundamentally – our constitution, the who we are – to cope, nothing that radical is ever wise, although preached, its catastrophic when practiced, because a person’s constitution is set, to varying degrees to be flexible, but bend it too much and it breaks, rending such a person useless, just like a tree being broken by the stem.
  7. 5.       Their Perspective needs to align with a holistic industrious nature, by promoting themselves as a brand of the company 
    1. a.       Our perspective on life and living is influence strongly by all the aforementioned attributes of sociology.
    2. How we experience reality in the work place is the final measure of how it will all flow into leadership – or not. If the perception is that all is well with my soul, my consciousness, trust and worth, is respected and rewarded, I am in a win-win situation here then it is an declaration of how we are truly feeling connected to the greater reality and become significant in that unity.  Only by raising our consciousness, do we raise the rest of our being and worth. Knowledge is truly power; leaders require a form of “power”, to give them the power, to lead, to be creative, energised and performing.  What we feed them, like the lion cubs, will determine their significance in the tribe of humanity – and this will give them power, the power of leadership, is firstly knowledge, then ability and then perspective. However without the power of connecting to the greater good, the organisation, the trust, the culture, their paradigms, and trust…it’s all going nowhere. This thing called leadership is very complex. But knowledge is truly power…
    3. Chaos is an attribute of incoherent activities, dissimilar energy flowing causing friction, if we are leaders, we will know this, and have skill in dealing with it, and understand this, that even in chaos there is order, it’s on its way to order, like a storm, towards its end, one can feel the peace being restored, then the calm sets in…after a violent storm, it’s a pattern, life is full of patterns like this, cycles, that keep repeating –  if we teach people to be more conscious of pattern recognition, and cycles, they will be less stressed, and anxious in themselves, and about their own significance, if they can see it in relation to their own life, work and contribution. Creating perspective is a required trait of true leadership, this characteristic is essential, to get people to problem solve and be great at whatever they do, as they have direction, and perspective, life has meaning, people thrive where they see value, meaning and progress in their lives. It restores an inner peace. In the absence of leadership, we are lost to the storm.

Life, living and therefore leadership, is all about these specifics

Uncertainties create disproportionate expectations from leadership candidates and leadership development programs. We expect way too much from them if we ourselves as leaders can’t even create the perspective, and specifics required.

So what is leadership again?

In short;

  • Leadership in its purest form has to do with changing people’s paradigms; with behaviour shaping and it requires an understanding of the phycology and sociology of societies.
  • It is also an act, a daunting task, that of dealing with all types of diversity e.g.; in thinking, actions, culture and approaches of people towards doing things, by setting goals and then pointing the way forward, so that they all see it and understand it, and take part in it.
  • It has to do with taking the initiative, keeping it, and thereby leading by example.
  • Mostly today it’s an exercise in both balancing everything out, company and real-world politics and let’s not forget, strengthening of good labour relations.
  • Leadership is many things, and it’s not everything at once, it requires an ability to reach out to people and a mental resilience never to give up all of its own, it is specific to each situation, its situational, one can never point just to one aspect, and say that is true leadership.
  • Most importantly, it’s an act of trust, first in oneself and then in others…people only submit to people they trust, either implicitly or explicitly.

Our world of contrast

Many forget; that life is also an exercise in contradictions. Many a time we feel, want or say we need one thing, but we are seldom specific, we “infer”, when in fact we really need something totally different as we ourselves are in turmoil about what the right way forward would be…in life, living and business, we have evolved into one huge complexity of late, things are no longer clear cut, and straight forward. It’s all grey…it’s all in contrast. People say one thing and then go and do another, they contradict themselves, they deliver, but not on time, or as we would have liked.

Navigating such complexity is nothing insurmountable, again it’s a pattern, it’s a skill, a trait, a discipline that can be taught and passed on. Every living thing follows set patterns; leaders have a way of recognising these patterns. Today we have a lot of leaders saying things well; they stick to pop culture, political correctness, they give praise to the institutions “gods’, and stick to mainstream, then again very few of them are great, or even good at doing what they say, or preach, for there exist a lack of experience, this produces a pattern of repeating failed attempts at goal, fail after fail, we lack competent practical leaders, doers of great deeds, and mentors.

 I don’t want to generalise, and make blanket statements, but just by judging from what is on the stage of world leaders and how they do business; we get a really good perspective of what is snowballing below…as one cannot escape the clutches of either politics or culture. These two elements trump all when we are working with groups of people, it will always directly impact on how far or how little one can say, do, go and experiment with leadership development – they tend to ring-fence it for us – we are all free, to think, but never say and do really. Here we are always limited, no matter how liberal you may be, it’s the doing that gets in the way of the real work. So the constitutions in many countries guarantee freedom of association and speech or expression…only on paper.

Our current reality

Still, as if oblivious to the outcome of modern life, daily we see how they just fumble along, and how the age old wisdom eludes them; so “if you keep on doing what you have always done, you will keep on getting the same results”.

This is a habitual trap of incompetence and ignorance, for they lack wisdom, and insight, if left un-challenged and un-changed, it becomes the norm, and in time it will even become institutionalised – as it has in many instances.

In today’s volatile international economic and political climate, one can ill afford incompetent leaders; more so, one can only hope to succeed with the right leadership and style by having sourced and developed one’s own talent pools from the get go, some believe.

So if you don’t want to discriminate – on the basis of capacity and capability, you have to live with that decision, way into the future, and its consequences, therefore – only source people that could become potential leaders, that are leadership material and then develop and expose them to the culture you want for your environment.

It is with this in mind that the appropriate talent required could then be identified and developed. This implies that we don’t expose our future leaders to any of the doctrines and or morally corrupt education we have today; we develop our own, untarnished and very specific in-house doctrines and curriculums, and call it a career path, that will lay the foundations for management and leadership formation to come, with incentives for completing these levels, there is no cap, you can improve yourself, and get rewarded financially, even if the positions that require such qualifications are not yet available. The idea is not to stem growth potential in people, but to create; good natured people, industrious, moral and still willing to learn, study and grow.

We tend to do it back to front still, we first promote, and then we train people for their job…absurd.

That is like sending an astronaut into space, and once he gets there he gets the study material- I wonder how that will work out for him? Maybe I don’t have to, the proof is in the pudding here on earth, incompetence, and ignorance – being unaware – is rife with leaders at all levels…this just proves the point; we have been doing most of it back to front.

Future organizations, and their design of a career path for future executive leadership development strategies, have to be effectively and efficiently developed in tandem with their growth, in a very strategic fashion, thereby facing the challenges of both Identifying and developing the right CEO’s, managers, and supervisors head on. As well as retaining a good leadership component pool, for it has become more difficult than ever before to retain good people, let alone develop then into leadership material, and beyond, as we have reached critical mass – we are in short supply of the demand –  and highly skilled experts and professionals always tend to sell to the highest bidders.

This aspect could also assist with staff “retainment”, as staff enters into contracts, whereby they agree that they will work back a certain amount of years, for the amount of specialised training provided.

Building of intellectual capital

Intellectual capital is/ has/ and will become a business asset; intellectual capital  is the business or industry-related knowledge that employees have acquired and perfected, that no degree can measure up to, which could now be considered as having become a business asset, it will become a commodity in years to come some believe. So only companies with career path strategies and “retainment” strategies will survive, as bigger consortiums have the economic power and resources to source whatever they require, and are quite willing to pay for it.

Intellectual capital development requires specifics; it requires people with talents, intellect actually – some brainpower – before it can be developed. Intellect is developed through life’s journey, a specific mental conditioning, developing dormant talents, it relates to a predisposition to question, reframe, and think, experiment, solve problems and test the theories to a practical extent. This then becomes the leadership challenge, how many children are developed in this fashion, like talent scouts in sport, the X factor in music, so too will future recruits, not just fill positions, but also look deeper to see what their development scope looks like with any new candidate, do they have the aptitude and intellect to be developed?  If not, we will just teach them management…no more money will be spent on “dead wood”.

Practical natural leadership

We will require more “natural leaders” too, people void of indoctrination by institutions, good problem solvers, with the ability to diagnose the root cause of any problem/s and to effectively then develop an action plan that will remediate and not just solve the effect/s, but also the underlying cause of the problem. People who see the bigger picture, which understands cause and effect -that have a “practical cognisance”, a greater awareness, or consciousness. When we speak of natural leaders, we refer to the likes of practical and artistic people; artisans, brick-layers, and farmers… we only concentrate on the academic side, who will feed us in the future? Natural leaders are people that have a deep connection with nature, that instinctively know the weather, animal behaviour, and how natural materials will react, we are in deep trouble, if we lose this knowledge.  As it is the starting point of learning…for all of us – studies have proven that children that do not have any contact with nature, and who have not been submerged in it, have very little concentration, can’t find their way, orientate themselves, and have difficulty with concentration

Practical cognisance – is the ability of using insight to see problems and know how to solve them, the ability to see things in relation to their final form, whilst still in its embryonic state, the ability to predict where a moving object will stop, or be next, it eludes most people today.

This is also referred to as concept thinking. If you don’t have these skills developed, you won’t be able to solve higher order problems.

The way forward  

The question of addressing leadership development as a specific field of business development and management has become critical and very strategic now – we no longer just train, we develop, the emphasis has changed to development – it’s a process, not a degree.

We are no longer sending people away, to university and college, no, we develop them ourselves, from cradle to grave.

There is truly nothing magical, elite, or even inferred about leadership, and there is nothing secret or special about developing it – however those who can’t lead tend to teach – especially leadership – so getting it from people who are in the know by sitting them down and learning it straight from the practiced source – or just getting it from a mentor – either way – it’s still a way to produce, so we can all produce leaders if that is the plan. It is just some will be more equal than others because of their specific development – it just requires a paradigm shift and some strategy.

But what will their calibre be…? Everyone knows we can self-train, and develop, but the quality is the questionable factor? We need to unpack this paradigm to add value. We have to see the dilemma, the pros and the cons.

We have to realise that; training and development are not synonymous, so too is leadership and management not synonymous, although they like grouping it so, it’s supposed to be two entirely different processes all together, two divergent mind-sets, skill sets, and even standards, rendering different “material”, and therefore results. This is the challenge, separating the “twins” by the hip…in order to develop the ultimate leader, we need to purely just focus on leadership development, management and the other fields can follow…

Developing the ultimate leader

With all this as background we need to create the new paradigm on leadership development. Starting with Management leadership, management education would greatly benefit from having a good road from cradle to grave with specific institutionalised training, I would go as far as saying that it could only be formed in that manner, anything else would be a poor substitute, whereas in my opinion, leadership development should be a “street smart” education first, totally the opposite, done on the premise of development and mentoring, having a mentor and learning it first hand, although I would admit that not all of it can be developed in that fashion, there is still much to be learned in terms of technology, information system, communication etc., and visa-versa with management too – managers cannot cope without learning some leadership skills either, and leaders some management. The ultimate goal is to create the ultimate leader, one that is good at both, both leadership and management, both command and control, as well as strategy and planning – where planning is seen as project management.

However, the devil is as always in the specifics and therefore the detail. Many plans for training leaders have failed, because we can decide which need to come first, the chicken or the egg? They trained for the sake of training. The next valid point is – What do we teach them? Where do we start? What is available and what will it cost? And so on and so forth – where do we go…? What do we hope to achieve by following such a paradigm? How do we even measure the development outcome to gauge success, and quality?

So they either outsource, or they regurgitate useless little nothings – over and over, and call it leadership and manager training. When the theory does not close match the practice even, then we have lost the plot. And this is exactly what has happened – we must remember, that institutions, like school, academy’s, collages, university’s, cannot be seen to be failing us, as they are sources of income for government, and the education regulators decide what we may and may not use as curriculum, so they actually own the system, government owns our education system, they also derail the mentoring thing for the general public. However, we don’t need to save everyone, it’s a fact of life, we just need to save some, to save us somewhere in the future?

Then no amount of training, mentoring, teaching or schooling, or even a degree will all become useless all time-wasters, the point is, it has to add value…

We over emphasise the obvious, we equate degrees, and qualifications with practical knowhow, the ability to solve problems – we lack true competence… this is the death trap of most recruitment criteria and exercises. They are no focused on what they really need versus what they want…we want good things, but do we really need them?

As things are now, the paradigm purely measures “worth” on the basis of acceptability, that the evidence we need is a piece of paper, called a qualification, not even a trade certificate – something that can profess or is seen as competency. Having a degree or even several does not make you competent, it does not ever give you the magical powers of leadership either, no, it merely certifies you as a subject matter expert – at best. We are talking leadership here… most people with degree tend to over complicate, analyse and debate the problem for hours, and by the time they start the process, the cleaners – normally the last to leave – have already gone home – efficient vs. effective…type of thinking.

The glue of leadership, is its empathy with people

Managers just don’t get it, leaders do; leadership starts from having or developing a communal constitution, you have to love people, if you aren’t collaborative in you approaches, and can’t communicate at all levels, or fail to take the time that it requires to cement relationships, or to establish bonds and trust with people, getting to know them, and on the fly, you fail to take to hart inputs and feedback from subordinates, and allow your own convictions to overshadow your humbleness, then you are a dictator – a manager, not a leader, consequently lacking in the fibre that connects people, to things and life.

Even nature prescribes to this attribute of having a “communal constitution”, as good leadership etiquette. Studies suggest that leadership has a long evolutionary history and that the same mechanisms underpinning leadership in humans can be found in other social species too; many animals beyond mammals are territorial, compete and exhibit violent behaviour to instil discipline, they also have a observable social structure controlled by a dominant male, or female in some instance, like elephants for instance with matriarchal structure.

Yet we choose the bully, and the hand licker, more often than the real leader. The really sad reality of this is how often this type of actor gets rewarded for his or her “bad behaviour” – just because they are well qualified, even get promoted, and then elevated in a competency-based bias performance management systems, that is design to only promote bullies, as they produce, all in pursuit of production, fame – manager of the year – yes not leader – they only favour the bully, and then a culture of self-entitlement and elitist develop, they only employ and promote people that think, and feel like them – nothing – it’s a job, it’s all about a personal agenda of self-enrichment – oh and if you were wondering – only 99% of company’s promote, and now recruit from this paradigm. No wonder we are short on leadership?

Again; we all scream our heads off, we need better leaders, and then we go and bury them alive the first opportunity we get, managers make very poor decision. In our world of contrast, we say one thing, then go and do the institution thing, we do the obvious, so obviously well that no one gives it a second thought, it’s so deeply institutionalised it’s just not true, we are all conformist, all of us, to institutional ideology, we have become systemic – universal – in our approaches, and everyone is doing it, so should we.

The developing of leadership has been ring-fenced by a few elitist; around these parameters, when clearly it is not a cradle-to-grave approach that is sustainable, that they have here for us, it’s not even a sound business approach, we are violating balance, we have not achieved the golden mean, between over and under compensating with staff – approach to it all; it’s a slip-and-slide approach.

A “lead them by the nose and kick them in the back side” – come on donkey, throw them a bone, and let them get lost in debate and theory – this is their approach. You can’t pay this system forward either, so you are in fact draining your capital, by allowing intellectual capital to migrate. Institutions don’t want real leaders, they have their own. The “better luck next time guys, who don’t like competition, so they eliminate them at the door”… but he or she was the better candidate, they know it, so they would rather select one that is politically correct, and so hide their incompetence, then you look at the candidate and its ability to be a puppet – and so we carry on obliviously – it – the system, the “system of systems” is just keeping us all busy, they are not serious about leadership development, and it crushes people into a paste of numbness because we want to be aligned, and close match what is mainstream and popular, as well as institutionally rubber stamped as best practice…and leadership.  Its not!!!

Again, developing leaders will require totally new paradigms. It needs to be a holistic approach. None-institutional insight should be the first requirement; we need to “throw the baby and the water out”. We need to find commonality and understanding between what we want, and what we really need; the more common “garden variety”, the in the dirt type of insights – and not theory.

It’s just a question of identifying specifics, and principles and developing a doctrine from it, that encapsulates paradigm of formative and adaptive capacity development, only by setting a very specific foundation for what is to come and what must follow, will it serve as a cornerstone, a ultimate goal, towards building further insight and awareness, with both academic and practical future development of leaders and leadership development.

We need specifics to ignite this new ideology of leadership

Without specifics, it’s just another development plan with no real deliverables  sitting on a desk. With young people certain principles need to be instilled first, to become formative roots, specifics, in a plan of specifics, the likes of formative development with step one; discipline, ethics, conduct, language as specific formal education for leaders.

Great leadership should starts in the early forming years, 4 years and up, in our formal education and training; leadership is not instant, it is a consequence of continued learning, confidence and skills development and training, as well as super socializing, as from the earliest of forming years, it’s like a building that needs to be raised from the foundation up; and if we have not had the time to lay solid deep foundations, the rest is then just impossible.

This paradigm requires also has financial specifics, consequently, it should and will eliminate waste – tax money spent on subjects that add no value -, if you don’t have discipline, you get dropped, if you behave unbecoming, you get dropped, we add value, and we stand for value, when we have established and institutionalized the leadership development program as a cradle to grave strategy, and part and parcel of the total education system, from pre-primary right up to high school – all formal education, only then will it translate in to a tangible project with deliverables.

It needs to become a subject field, to become a uniform growth pattern; only with proper planning, commanding, controlling, and managing as one, as well as problem-solving will we establish “career pathing” in this fashion, and leadership development could be the flag ship.

This implies in plain English that we need to make sure that our brightest leaders, pass on the torch, can pay it forward, – or backwards in this instance, to their children and others; leaders need to become teachers of discipline, morals, ethic, good conduct, at the end of their rainbow, as we need to invest in better education, and leadership development, so far into the future, by starting our new recruits at pre-school ages already.

Only if we make it possible to influence the leadership material of our workforce already today, for tomorrows work to come, by investing in our employees children’s private education for instance – then it will also be a “paying it forward” as an ideology of developing not just the employee, but future leaders, and cultures, as well as raising the flag of a “community responsibility” initiative, what has more power that having a good education today – as todays public schools are not on “Parr” with anything that even remotely resembles reality, or leadership development and capacitation – and to retain that investment, likewise, even as a tax write off or a training incentive rebate from government. It Needs to become part of the business plan addressing the issues with training and development.

We should strive to develop leadership character; the ethics, discipline, and morals that should have the ability to synthesize itself, by means of old handing down to new the torch of leadership, it must become progressive, and not just academic, by means of applying the nature and nurture effect, we aim to pass on all that is cognitive, emotional, ethical and social, that becomes an “intelligence culture” when combined, this intelligence should then inform the type of actor or actions required of real leaders.

A style will then emerge that is situational and appropriate as well as culturally sound, herein lays another crux, this development should produce value, to be both institutionally appropriate, adaptive, flexible and dynamic, producing leadership behaviour is both effective and efficient…

Everything we do, must be goal directed, resulting in actions that are supportive of achieving specific objectives; for instance, we design toys with the ability to establish specific traits in people that are prone to make children more efficient at problem solving, by playfully getting them to start fixing problems from a very young age, everything we add to their habitat adds value, without forcing it, the mind gets motivated to explore, and push, to even compete, and become competitive in sport, with a behaviour that is also easily assimilated and shared by others, those who are not prone or inclined to this trait will at least respect their leaders, as they know they have earned their stripes, when only some of these leadership traits are precipitated by its followers, it becomes a culture of mutual respect, people won’t follow leaders that did not earn their stripes. Shaping behaviour is forming new culture.

The point is leadership and its influence should flow like water, everyone has a chance to choose it and reach and penetrate every corner of the environment, leadership is not a solo trait, its communal and even cultural activity, we are all leaders in ourselves, we just don’t choose to lead others, it’s not just an instant manifestation because of some course on leadership, now we have leaders. Leaders are not born from leaders, or through them, they are moulded because of them, to mimic their behaviour, they just have a better chance at becoming proficient, as they have mentors and guidance in leadership, because they can mimic the act. Play the part as an actor…

We presume way too much about the term leadership still

Leaders only follow other leaders that are; stronger, wiser, more assertive, and or persuasive, even braver and bolder leaders than they are – the wise part only comes with age – in some instances never. We are all leaders in our own right. If we are not leaders in ourselves, in our own right, we will not see the relevance in others, we will not rise and command, or even follow in their footsteps, as we are in the age of reason, and knowledge, then knowledge is no longer power, it’s there for everyone, and the usefulness of unity under command will subsequently be lost too, if we think that knowledge is power only, as with all cohesion, it fails on the principle of the weakest link; a leaders is only as strong as what his people are willing and able…and have the ability to lead themselves, leadership is not for the few select, it is communal activity, and a human trait  We can only hope…that we get it right again.

We presume way too much too about leadership too, and that by labelling it thus, we all see it as the same thing, we don’t, in my mind my leader is wise, in yours he is brave, and so we see it different. The implication of leadership is deep entrenched in cultural beliefs and practices, thus very specific, as it’s out of context of general society and its norms, and perceptions too; my leader is not yours, and what we understand under the term. Leadership, its norms, cultures and traditions, thus the way we function traditionally, differs from continent to continent even, and from culture to culture, even from industry to industry.

Leadership is inclusive of ethnic culture, its traditions, and even in some instances religion. The very nature of the structure of our society and its development is therefore anti-evolutionary, its pinned to specifics, once again, it has to conform to the same principles, rules and paradigms it was established with, because of culture, from way-way back it seems nothing has changed much.

Leadership is never fixed, it’s situational.

  • It’s about those that have and those that have not, and we want to keep it that way – from the beginning of time -monarchs don’t stand down, they transfer their leadership, from one generation to the next. Their styles might change but never their goals…who lead with organisation, law, punishment, fear and dictatorship.
  • It’s about the rebel, and the freedom fighter at the other end of this spectrum, who rallies his friends, family, and community…all divergent, who leads with strategy, tactics, terror and philosophy.
  • It’s about the church, the religious leader, that lead with doctrine, fear, shame, guilt, conscience division and emotion.
  • And so we can go on, and on, the point is, leadership is not set, it’s not that or this, it’s all of it, but never or very seldom, it’s all at once. Its roles we cast ourselves in, in the stage of life, in the situation we wish to manipulate, leaders are great manipulators, and how we transition from play to play, from act to tact on the stage of life, that gives us more confidence and skill, that makes us proficient at being a good actor or not – leader.

Supremacy is money and money is power

In the race for dominance and supremacy, the more money you have, and power the more you can control the competitions strategic outcome. Money is almost without fail the life blood of modern society, and we all pursue it to different extent, and as a result it also becomes self-preservation, me before him, us before them, we don’t play nice either, any “means” that promotes our self-worth, status, and gives us leverage, is a means worthwhile pursuing, we do become combative too, even aggressive, self-centred, and self-indulgent, all traits of the rich and elite we have adopted, or most of them, and as always this is linked to regional fiscal health too.

Therefore, if the economy is doing well in a region, then better education trickles in, if not, it dries up. We cannot get richer than what the habitat can support and offer up. We cannot develop leaders past their financial scope. Both in terms of education, wealth building, capacity and skills, and so on…so leadership development will and can never be pegged as fair, as inner and both outer influences too, play a role on the extent to which we can be developed.

Today’s leaders and their leadership style determine if we will live with balance, or with chaos, the people are only as strong as their leaders are wise, disciplined and ethical. The future of all leaders, are in the hands of today’s leaders…”what you put in you will get out”, “what you sow you shall reap…”

Furthermore our whole education system is failing us because our leaders will it so…

“They” want to hold onto power as long as possible, so they send their children to top institutions around the world, and make sure the locals never “raise” any competition, and if they do they make a plan…

Times have changed, most of us think or perceive life to be fair, and people and government only to have our best interest in mind, this would be far from the truth, and power serves its own agendas.

As a result, and as proof of this, today, in some countries 30% is considered a pass for matric – high school, 60% is a university exemption etc. By implication, this person will only be able to recall about 10% of what he/she learned in 5 years’ time, and 5% in ten, that is of the 30 % they have mastered at school. So why do we bother to send kids to public school again? We need to look at things from different perspectives; so that we can unpack it to add value – we just assume too much – and still we conform, I bet your kids – if you have – are in a government school as we speak?

If we want to see the institutionalizing of business principles and cannot start with a young adult mind ripe and ready: by teaching them the likes of systems, policy and procedure at school already, then this in itself then becomes the paralyzing influence in the evolution of future business theory as we practice it by teaching it now the same as we did twenty years back.

Why do we need formal education then, that does not even remotely equip children for starting business, and that creates an understanding of its principles and mechanics? We hear “entrepreneurial” this and that, all over, yet it’s just a new buzz. If we don’t teach and practice discipline, ethics, morals and performance at schools – nothing good will come of our education. Then the moment these kids hit the ground, and find jobs they need to conform to all these foreign principles. This then causes stress, and alienation.

Now, I bet some are mumbling, and are going to tell me they have these subjects, and do conform to ethics and discipline and all things of that nature, they do have entrepreneurial day, and so on…

I say in response – “so what” – does it add “real value”, something one can point too and measure, and is it aligned with what we teach at business school even? For most of what they learn has no relevance, bearing, or reference even to old school business theory in this individual’s existence, for him to create a real business or run one, or understand its workings – they are still miles off.

Let’s get serious, and design things so that they link up to practice. Let’s do away with geography for instance in the higher grades, as one has Google and a GPS’s on most phones today, and rather teach business science and economics 101? We will add more value by doing so I believe…especially in the 3de world, where they need to make the 3de economy (informal traders) grow faster towards becoming formal business, poverty elevation is years off, just because of our education. Now again, some will say – we have been having it? Again I say so what? How many kids have actively and successfully started up any kind of business once they have left school or within three years, or so, and is it a formal business…

The point is – does it add value, do the very people whom teach these subjects ever themselves been out and in business, no! we talk the talk, but can’t walk the walk. We must stop doing things because it sounds smart, looks the part, but adds no value. Teaching for the sake of having it.  We have been playing this game for way to long.

Universal blindness to conformity

This mental paralysis even precipitates to all the individuals that support the system of education, this then becomes their only focus, teach them the old dogma to keep the system of insignificance intact for as long as possible, with the minimum of change, in pursuit of creating only a low skilled labour force only, at whatever cost to labour, society and the environment. This is the jig we all use…we stick to conformity like it’s the hear all and end all – without good reason, that’s just the way things are; we are slaves to conformity, this is the way it has been done for ages, why don’t you want to teach school children business acumen – wisdom or knowledge, are you mad?

What is a third world child going to do with his knowledge of geography, when his family is starving? He should be taught how to farm, irrigate, and plan crops, work the soil, and the land. Then in higher grade how to trade, and use banks, get loans, and employ people. Not where is Russia? And what happened at the battle of x y z.

We somehow always find our plans, hopes and dreams reverting back to the “herd mentality”, opposed to the co-operative autonomous charter of unity. The tribal mentality of we follow the norms, of school (the public education system), and except that this is the way things need to be, and that what is taught is very relevant. Instead we need to unpack and ask how does it add value. We never do.

So much for entrepreneurial and creative thinking and doing…we talk the talk, but don’t dare walk the walk. For if we dare, then business colleges, and university’s will become obsolete, as we can now specialize in schools, and extend the term to 7 years even, at higher education level. State funded of course – wink -, you wish.

These institutions that are supposed to “serve” us, acting as our foundation builders of society (or should) are of the poorest of social mechanics ever assembled in the history of mankind– schools, university, even banks are supposed to “serve” us all, instead they are programmed not to change things at the core, and to safe guard the root of conformity, it’s true; the more things change the more they stay the same…why?

The one answer is the speed of change predicts relevance of life for us, the faster things change the less relevant things become, like facts, figures, perceptions and predictions become useless, then life becomes like a river, unpredictable… governments don’t like that, they like very predictable, they call it “predestined”, where everything is void of contemplation. “It’s just the way things are…”

It then transpires that energy can only be focused, if ideas and thinking is channeled in a certain manner, thus the normative will always prevail in this fashion, it will close any reform or novel idea, we are programmed to be none revolutionary, having slave and herd mentality is good, all following strict habitual activity by, you get up and go to work – if you are lucky to have a job still –and then at the end of the day tend to family matters and choirs, this is your routine stick to it, then you are a good guy, a real family man, so it’s back to square one; policy, procedures, habits, patterns and systems… a slow very predictable way of manipulating creative energy, to slow it down to a very predictable cycle, thus we are just doing life – not thinking about our thinking. In this void, we have much time created for thriftless things to occupy our minds and time with. Who created them for us?

Keeping perspective amongst all things routine and complex

Every aspect of life is coupled to some sort of relevance, routine, dogma, – things need to make sense for us; what we do, say, eat, speak, and act on, is all being rational behavior  in accordance with a measure of relevance, it will determine if we stay the course, or if we are losing it.  If we don’t we fail, and this aspect is linked directly to intelligence, the ability to get perspective and keep it current in all things defines our intelligence. We have those who see and those who stair…

Intelligence is also there to make us aware, that means, it becomes power looking for the source, energy goes where attention flows, and can corrupt us, thus ethics and morals have played that role of balancing things out.

This adaptation of humans, to conformity, for the sake of harmony becomes a constant factor of life, time, seasons and cycles, it become patterns repeating, it’s not all chaotic and random. How we see, feel, and experience life, is how we assume it to exist, it is never or seldom tested, and yet we are okay to just act on it. What if we assume wrong, then we act wrong and visa- versa, have you ever, just for a month given any of this any real time, and meditation. This is the predicament of leaders, we rise and fall with what we think, feel, see, perceive, our totality develops the sum of our ability to lead.

Higher consciousness is only for the select few – the real leaders of men, those that decide on your fate daily – the rest will just keep on playing the game of make believe, and be happy with their lot, as they are blissfully ignorant.

In conclusion;

Leadership has its premise in team sport; we develop everyone equally to a set point. Then we advance those that ardently seek to lead, and those who don’t, get taught managerial and other skills, it’s a fair distribution of traits and skills.

 If we don’t change the way society is set up to evolve, and change it to become evolutionary, we will starve in just a few generations from now, and suffer into the future. None of our leaders are conservative; if they were they would have conserved earth for starters. We are on a self-fulfilling prophesy of damnation, Armageddon.

 If we don’t highlight these specifics, and create the awareness, that are required now, and create a full consciousness, we will lose sight of the awareness of things, and facts as they truly are, and exist. Very few bother to see more, hear more, learn more, and test the fabric of society as it exist, beyond what is mainstream media, and institutional, we just build on these given foundations that restrict our scope and worth.

Real leaders need to make our problems clear. By addressing the route cause, by understanding that the basics of education is very fundamental to all that follows. Yet we keep our children busy with frivolous things…

By making it not someone’s else’s problem, and give them power over us, the intuitive to make it go away…we all operate from this paradigm, in almost every aspect of life. Only if we take back the intuitive, and say enough is enough, till that day we remain leaderless, and slaves of institutions.

For we ourselves have been poorly equipped too, to see and experience the greater consciousness – as we get to know it only very late in life. We then realise we have wasted our youth on trivia.  We don’t really need much proof of this, we all know it, it took very little, just a hint of it, to make certain things fact. And we are still living with those ‘facts’. Then we can go on with our lives…happily miserable- and still direction and leaders-less when we are young and energetic we live in the moment, when we grow older, we want to create the moments….

As we get older we slow down, and our perspective changes, things that mattered then have no more consequence now, as our responsibilities change, so too our thinking then gets influence, if only we were this wise when we were twenty or even thirty? By traveling slower, you see more detail, and get to experience consciousness… we need to arm the future generations with this seemingly un-important assumption – that youth should not be wasted on trivia. Getting them fit to lead is a question of perception and specifics.



Strategic management

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