For many years I have worked in strategy consultancy, working with a huge range of organizations from one man bands to global multinationals, charities to banks, governments and non-government. The common theme in almost every project, regardless of the subject, is the need for leadership. Not just leadership from the head, the old sort where having a plan and a strong commitment to implement it were the most important factors, but leadership from the gut and from the heart too. More and more, employees today want to be inspired by their leaders, care about their work, feel a shared sense of values and intention.
This is new territory for a lot of leaders. I have witnessed very senior managers, people who have thousands of people reporting to them and a history of hitting targets and taking no prisoners, sweating with fear at the idea of making a one minute video clip talking about what matters to them. It can be a lot easier to put on the boss uniform and bark orders at cowering subordinates than it is to expose vulnerability, uncertainty or care.
There are several factors driving this change:
- Organizations are gradually incorporating feminine values and behaviour into the workplace. Thanks to the increasing presence of women, gay men, millennials and people from other cultures, the centre of gravity is starting to shift. We are not there yet and some places have made better progress than others, but everybody is feeling this move towards a more balanced organizational culture – the best of both worlds as proven by one study after the other
- The internet, and more specifically social media, is making it difficult for corporates to hide. Where in the past one disgruntled customer or sexually harassed employee might feel they were alone and powerless against the machine, now they can find each other and build enough critical mass between them to force change. The current wave of sexual harassment exposés is one piece of evidence for this – things that always happened, and could continue because of power structures are being called to account. Leaders must become more transparent and earn respect
- So called wicked problems (see wikipedia for more info) are complex and resist resolution. As Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” As a society, as a planet, we need to change the ways we tackle the major challenges – or face potential disaster. There is a pressing need for a higher consciousness, one where we are all the best versions of ourselves and find ways to cooperate rather than compete. It surprised me to find out a couple of years ago that ‘survival of the fittest’ was a misunderstood concept and cover story for ruthless competition. In fact Darwin talked of survival of the best collaborators.
Leadership is not reserved for a few special people. You may already be a leader in your organization. You are probably a leader in other contexts too – in your family, your social circles, your community activities. If you are not then you could be. When you stopped your car to ask a man why he was intimidating his girlfriend and threatening to punch her you showed leadership. When you coached your child on how to deal with a peer group challenge at school. When you had a great idea for a community initiative that nobody had thought of before. Maybe you are a thought leader, a person who gets things done, a wise counsellor, brilliant at a practical skill like painting or brain surgery. There are many ways for each of us to be a leader.
Not that I am saying it’s easy. Many of us have been conditioned to shy away from our leadership. To play second fiddle. To be the brilliant deputy who keeps the whole thing on track while someone else plays frontman (or sometimes frontwoman). The idea of stepping into your leadership may excite you or it may make you quail. You might feel your pulse quickening and a sense of alert awake-ness or you might just feel sick and wobbly.
This is where color can help. Understanding the true colors of your leadership will help you play to your strengths, give you an underlying foundation of confidence and remind you of the power of integrity and staying true to your values.
I am currently writing a book on this fascinating topic and seeking a small number of people to be case studies. You don’t need to be identified if you prefer to remain anonymous. and you will receive my True Colors of Your Leadership package for free (value $3750). If this interests you then contact me on the form below for more information.