Lazy Leadership

Is this the age of Lazy Leadership? Well, before you answer, perhaps I should explain a little more about what I mean by that term.

No-one ever said that leaders need to be popular. In fact we probably need to be wary of leaders who appear to be universally liked. Those who are, in my view, are either at the head of a very slick and dangerous brain-washing machine, or are simply not tackling the tough stuff that people don’t like to hear.  (See We get the Leaders we deserve).

Here in the UK we have experienced a number of major political episodes in the last couple of years, from a Scottish Referendum, to a General Election, and more recently, an EU Referendum, and both a Tory and Labour leadership battle.  And we are currently in the final lap of the US Presidential marathon (or Trumpathon).donald-trump-creative-commons-via-flickr_659823

Perhaps it is because so many of these events have been reduced to simplistic binary choices that the quality of political debate has deteriorated. Complex issues, that do not necessarily have straightforward solutions, have been reduced to simple soundbites, creating polarised debates, resulting in divided electorates and divided nations.

High quality leaders navigate complexity and ambiguity, and do not allow themselves to be drawn into the downward spiral that is satisfied merely by securing a simple majority to fulfil a political end. Instead they are prepared to tackle thorny issues that may not be popular, they recognise that alienating half of the electorate (or workforce) is not a good foundation to build from, and they understand the danger of chasing populist opinion.

Here in the UK,

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3 Great Reads – wildthoughts

Probably the 3 best ‘thinking’ reads I have had in the last year…..Highly recommended.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these. All quite different, but all truly thought-provoking in a major, global. big-ideas way. When you read these you do feel like you are wrestling with the genuine challenges of the planet today. Brilliant.

Leadership as an Activity

Ask people to define leaders or leadership and I’m willing to bet they will think of it in terms of people. Figures of authority. Historical figures who have led countries, movements, armies. There is no doubting that the people they mention will have been leaders (good or bad). But it misses the point about leadership. Leadership is not defined by the position or authority one possesses or has been granted. It is better thought of as an ‘activity’. Leadership is evident in the behaviour displayed by people and is measured largely by the extent to which the activity mobilises others to accept responsibility for owning issues, changing conditions and tackling tough challenges. Note, the important point here is about mobilising others. True, leaders can and often do take action and make decisions, but I believe the most significant measure of leadership is the extent to which leaders are able to focus other’s attention on the need to take action. That is the mark of true Leadership. That is what causes real change and alters mindsets, and, very importantly, does not encourage dependence.

I recommend a great read on this topic. Ronald Heifetz who wrote Leadership Without Easy Answers.
If you want to hear a review, have a listen to the attached file which I have recorded. It is less than 15 minutes in duration and will give you more insight to the content of this great book.
Book Review Audio