Abandon the Chain Gang

The topic of leadership is fascinating.  So much is being written and said every day in books, news media, TV, blogs.  A Google search this morning offered 148 million opportunities to learn something about leadership.  Where to begin?

My long wall full of leadership books offers a decent range.  Some books have elements with numbers: 5 of these, 7 of that.  Others offer things like principles, habits, laws.  Indeed, there is a mountain of material defining what leadership IS… what I want to know is what it COULD be.

We have had a long time to think about and practice what leadership IS because from a business leadership perspective not much has changed in decades.  Buzzwords come and go.  CEO scandals uncover blemishes on our structures, processes and our paradigm.  But in the end, not much changes.

Think about it.  What was the most recent radical leadership innovation?  Eh, still thinking?  Compare that to the speed of change in communications, biotech and the like.

We are stuck.  If we are honest with ourselves, “leadership” isn’t really working anymore.  In many cases what we know for certain is what leadership ISN’T.

We are stuck in status quo muck.  Stuck in thinking things like “chain of command” (words of engagement and innovation?  Eh…), “he worked under me in my last job” (autonomy anyone?), and “I am going to tell the team what to do and inspect at the end of the day” (note to team: please leave your brains and talent at the door).  Yikes.

What else could it be?  Who leads in the future?  What does it look like?

To get to those answers requires different thinking and different action.  YOUR thinking and action.  YOUR decision to lead.

In our world today, one person can change a village, make a new product a top seller, shift an industry, change the world.   Call them dreamers, misfits, nerds, rebels, heretics… they are the ones who challenge the status quo.  They communicate and connect people and resources in ways that change things.

I am calling you one: a dreamer, a misfit, a nerd, a rebel, a heretic, a <insert your cool name here> and I am looking for that different thinking and different action in YOU today.  What does the future of leadership look like today?  Show us.

One Response to “Abandon the Chain Gang”

  1. Alan Booth Says:

    Sue…I was just about to write an article for HBR re. mediocrity when I picked up your note about “status quo”.But beyond buzz words I am impressed with leadership reframes in the book MULTIPLIERS by Liz Wiseman. On page 41 describes the different thinking you are looking for. Clue…how a business owner selects talent in 3 minute interviews.

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