Leadership in Flux:
Our organizations, systems, and communities are facing unprecedented complexity, accelerating risks, and exponential technological change. The scale and scope of today’s challenges and opportunities call for nothing short of a transformation in leadership.
Leadership for Cooperative Advantage mobilizes combined potential to address threats, generate performance, and advance a flourishing future
Such leadership is crucial to attaining the inspiring vision in our book, Flourishing Enterprise. It builds from scientific insights and next practices and delineates leading, following, and unifying:
Leading: actions that connect, coordinate, and co-create a desired future. Leaders artfully combine five leadership elements (below) to engage themselves and their groups, organizations, and systems.
Following: executing and reciprocally influencing.
Unifying: understanding and integrating differing perspectives into a higher unity. This unlocks combined ability to create and act. Control is replaced by reciprocal influence. Leaders and followers adapt and shift roles to fit each situation. Together they leverage strengths, transform conflict, and unify action.
Leaders can realize the advantages of Cooperative Advantage through artful application of five interconnected elements: I. Mindsets, II. Tiers, III. Spheres, IV. Processes, and V. Competencies.
I. Leadership Mindsets:
Our mindsets shape how we interpret the situations we face. Mindsets in turn shape our intentions. Four leadership mindsets enable Cooperative Advantage:
- Cooperation:I consistently try to model potent cooperation.
- Care:I connect to and act from my care and respect for people and life.
- Opportunity: I aim to create the highest possibility from each situation.
- Mastery: I strive to learn, grow, and master leadership competencies.
II. Leadership Tiers:
Ninety per cent of S&P 500 business value is derived from intangible assets (up from 17% in 1975). Traditionally, leaders focused on the physical tier, which includes plant, equipment, structure, and technology. Intangible value is created primarily through relational and inspirational tiers.
For these tiers we use our nervous systems to interact via quantum dynamics. Relation, flow, and creativity are enhanced when we are calm and our physical, emotional, and mental capacities are aligned and mutually supportive. This can be particularly challenging under stress. Hence, leaders who want to create Cooperative Advantage, require nervous system resilience. Through practice leaders can develop resilience and learn to dynamically regulate their nervous systems, reduce stress, and maintain relational and inspirational excellence.
III. Leadership Spheres:
Cooperative Advantage calls for skillful leadership across and among four leadership spheres: 1. Self, 2. Group, 3. Organization, and 4. System.
“Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, raising performance to a higher standard, building personality beyond its normal limitations. Your first and foremost job as a leader is to take charge of your own energy and then help orchestrate the energy of those around you.” – Peter Drucker
- Self: As Peter Drucker suggests, leading self is the foundation for leading others. It includes cultivating an inner calm to replace reactivity with skillful response.
- Groups: Recognizes that people and work activities connect within and across groups.
- Organizations: Includes integrating and unifying people and processes within and beyond the organization.
- Systems: Includes mobilizing and integrating webs of interdependent people, groups, and organizations.
IV. Leadership Processes:
Formal and informal sets of activities that advance a desired future. Leadership processes can be focused within a single sphere or include and integrate multiple spheres. Process excellence requires precision and alignment within and among the physical, relational, and inspirational tiers.
V. Leadership Competencies:
Cooperative Advantage calls for leadership excellence to artfully apply and integrate leadership mindsets, tiers, spheres, and processes. Leadership excellence for Cooperative Advantage is advanced through proficient application of four leadership competencies.
As we develop these competencies, we improve how we lead, follow, and unify. Continual development is the engine for increasingly higher levels of leadership excellence and world class performance.
As in sports and the performing arts, a growth mindsetand deliberate practice, foster continual development. Leaders further develop leadership competences as they are challenged to connect, coordinate, and co-create under increasingly complex circumstances.
You can introduce Cooperative Advantage through the following four steps:
- Assess your leadership effectiveness. Assess the effectiveness and congruence of your Leadership Ingredients (Mindsets, Tiers, Spheres, Processes, and Competencies). Identify leadership strengths and shortcomings and assess the association between these and the performance of your ingredients.
- Establish priorities. Consider your strategic priorities, your assessment of leadership effectiveness, and the needs within each of your four spheres to determine your most important priorities.
- Begin with a small group pilot. Choose a specific area to pilot; start with a small and committed group.
- Design and launch a broader effort. Use lessons from the pilot and findings from steps 1 and 2 to inform subsequent efforts including appreciative-based strategic convening to mobilize key systems.