Friday 17 February 2023

Beginning a conversation about the paradigmatic shift needed in leadership

I’m channelling three of my colleagues in this piece, Dr. Jason Fox, Ed Brenegar, and Richard Merrick. plus Henry Mintzberg and a Google Search!

Below is from Dr. Jason Fox

“A paradigmatic shift is a fundamental change in the way that something is understood or approached. It is not simply an incremental change, but rather a change in the underlying assumptions or theories that form the basis of a particular field or discipline. Paradigmatic shifts can have far-reaching implications, not only within a particular field, but also in related fields and society as a whole.”

Read more from Jason on this here.

I see a paradigmatic shift happening in leadership. 

Perhaps even that leadership itself is redundant. 

Here’s just three examples from a plethora of challenges where modern leadership is failing.

1) Catastrophic failure of political, religious, government, business and society leaders to arrest climate change

2) Obvious failure to keep pace ethically and morally with the technological changes that threaten our existence as human beings. 

3) Continued slowness in bringing about equal rights for women and minorities.

Henry Mintzberg suggests communityship is more important than leadership. Find out more about this compelling concept here.

Henry says “Sure we need leadership, especially to establish communityship in new organizations and help sustain it in established organizations. What we don’t need is an obsession with leadership—of some individual singled out from the rest, as if he or she is the be-all and end-all of organizing (and is paid accordingly). So here’s to just enough leadership, embedded in communityship.”

For me at the heart of the paradigmatic shift in leadership is reimagining integrity, accountability and authority,

Below is a great paraphrase from Ed Brenegar.

"Maybe, to paraphrase a biblical reference, through the advancement of technology, we have gained the world and lost our humanity.

The question of our time is, then, "For what purpose, and to what end does our technological advancement lead us?”

Our humanity in my view is a key to our integrity. If we are not putting people and planet ahead of profits we have no integrity. Your feelings and thoughts?

Below is an insightful piece from Richard Merrick about authority. 

“From Middle English; “power derived from good reputation; power to convince people, capacity for inspiring trust."

We seem to have mislaid this version of authority and replaced it with a version based on role title, resources and other forms of hard power.

Increasingly, in politics, in sport, and in business those in power have little real authority.

Money is a temporary, fragile, source of power. Authority is something altogether more difficult to earn and retain, but infinitely more capable of changing what matters.

Nobody can give us authority.”

I like Richard’s insight. You?

Below is from a Google search

"Responsibility is task-oriented. Every person on a team may be responsible for a given task that is required to complete a massive project. Accountability is what happens after a situation has occurred. It is how you respond and take ownership over the results."

I like this insight into accountability. You?

I suggest a conversation in your team/cohort/family this week about integrity, accountability and authority. It just might be the beginning of you making your own paradigmatic shift in your leadership.

I suggest beginning your conversation with Seth Godin’s great blog post about looking in the mirror. Here it is.

Have folk read it well before your conversation and begin with reflections about it.

Become the wise leader you want to be.


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