Helping you release potential in yourself and others
Third Generation Leadership:
The Canadian singer-song writer, Leonard Cohen, has a song “Everybody Knows”. In this Cohen is pointing out everybody knows what is going on – especially when things aren’t working – but no-one is prepared to do anything about it. We continue doing the same things – possibly with some “tweaking” but basically still the same – and wonder why there is no real improvement.
The issues of leadership and employee engagement are no different.
There is always a lot of talk about the need for leadership and lots of discussion about employee engagement – but we continue to use models that were developed in the 20th century and which have no comprehension of the complexity existing today and which take little or no account of the social media revolution and the impact this has had on access to information and accountability.
Everybody knows that the world is different today from what it was even 10 years ago – but we try to carry on as though the usual models can still work as well as they used to.
Third Generation Leadership does something about it.
First Generation Leadership is all about command and control – do what I say when I say it and in the manner I instruct you to use. Failure to obtain desired results or any disobedience is punished. This is the basis of most leadership approaches today. It has stood the test of time and is a wonderfully useful tool for those who have a need to be in total control and who see “being reasonable” as “do it my way.” We throw up our hands in horror when anyone suggests that this is used today but talk to almost anyone outside of middle and upper management and it is clear that they have very little doubt about the reality and commonality of this approach.
Second Generation Leadership is an evolution from this. It uses much the same approach but dresses things differently. Second Generation Leadership is all about conformance – fit in with the culture of the organisation and, at least on the surface, give allegiance to your boss and organisation even if such allegiance may be rewarded by redundancy or minimal remuneration increases when things get tough. Don’t rock the boat and certainly don’t seriously question what is happening. Of course, failure to conform has a high probability of seeing Second Generation Leadership supplanted by its underlying core – First Generation Leadership.
We know all this. As Cohen says, “everybody knows”. Yet we continue as though this is the way things have to be. The result is an increasingly disenfranchised work force, unacceptable levels of labour turnover, and organisational productivity and performance well below where it could be.
The system is broken and well past the stage where modifications and temporary fixes can be effective.
And that’s where Third Generation Leadership comes in!
Over the years there have been emphases on leadership traits, leadership attitudes and leadership behaviours. Much research has been done into each of these and myriad books have been written explaining why one or the other (or what combination of the three) is necessary for effective leadership. For some 50 years there have been leadership training programs of varying degrees of effectiveness and quality and there are champions and success stories for every approach that has been developed.
We needed the work done by this research and these programs.
Today the developing study of neuroscience has enabled us to look at things a little differently. One key issue that has arisen from this science relates to the brain’s locus of control.
Traditional approaches to leadership have not paid large amounts of attention to the world of neuroscience – mainly because the research that enables us to have these new understandings was not possible until relatively recently. Accordingly we have been given models of leadership that are based on physical or character traits, attitudes, and/or behaviours. We have been told that the activities of a leader are contingent on the situation in which the leader finds him or herself; we have learned that we can develop new attitudes; and we have been told to develop appropriate habits in order to provide effective leadership. Almost all of the approaches that have been developed are underpinned by serious, peer reviewed research and they stand up to serious scrutiny. They have been used effectively by individuals and organisations across the globe with, understandably, differing cultures finding some leadership approaches more appropriate than others. They have made a powerful contribution to the way in which we lead people today whether in the military, business, school, society at large, or in the home.
What modern neuroscience has done is to enable us to put another layer to the leadership process. By understanding how the brain’s area of control impacts on our everyday behaviour and by learning how to manage down the red zone while simultaneously managing up the blue zone we are able to take a new look at the whole concept of leadership and to discover totally new ways of dealing with the issues that we are facing today as well as those that will emerge in coming years.
In this first decade of the 21st Century, we have encountered a situation in which the working hours of western industrialised countries seem to be increasing. There seems to be an assumption that employees, particularly in "white collar" jobs, should be prepared to work whatever hours are required to achieve results set by their bosses. Very often it seems that those in management and executive positions are expected to be available 168 hours a week and to have no other interests or involvements other than their work.
The French have a proverb which goes something like "plus les changes plus les choses les memes" - the more things change, the more they stay the same.
We need a new approach – something that is a real change in the way we do things. We need to move to a Third Generation Leadership world.
Is it possible that Third Generation Leadership could be of interest to you?
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