Thursday, 18 June 2009

Intentional Influence

Great article that is direct about the need to influence with intent if you want to lead. We can go round in circles looking at leadership models and reflecting on what strategy to adopt. Without the power, ability and intent to influence it's very hard to lead anything.

We've spent over 20 years at Common Purpose, as a non-profit helping people lead change, and a few years ago we settled on a persons ability to lead beyond authority as the key thing. At it's heart it means understanding how to influence without reverting to your position of power.

The thing I would add though is that you can't influence effectively without resetting your radar. You have to see and understand what people and organisations very different to you, and your training, are thinking.

For more see with a note from David Bell - Chair of the FT

Friday, 12 June 2009

The problem with labels

I've just been reading a piece by Mike Chitty on how we need to create more enterprising citizens and schools shouldn't restrict enterprise education to creating more entrepreneurs. The same often happens to those of us working in leadership education. Many people assume it is only about creating a distinct group of leaders who will take up positions of authority e.g. chief of police, senior partner, chief executive etc, but for us it's almost the opposite. It's about creating people who can lead from wherever they are, regardless of position, or hierachical power.

We need more people who feel they can act to make a difference and aren't only a passive part of a wider organisation or community. May Blood is a great example of this. Prior to taking part in our leadership programme she said 'In Northern Ireland, but perhaps everywhere, community entrepreneurs are not taken seriously, especially if they are women. I knew I had a serious contribution to make but I knew I would be treated as a poor relation'. It turned out well for her and she is now a Baroness!

For me it's all about helping people create change and I don't worry about the labels. Can't we stop people trying to say it's not for me, and get them to look past the titles of entrepreneurs or leaders?

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Alan Sugar appoints on instinct

Alan sugar appointed his new apprentice on instinct. Does he have a gift or was there more to it?

Instinct and intuition play a huge part in leadership, but they can also be your downfall. In a position of authority Alan Sugar wasn't asked to justify his instinct. He didn't need to produce a scorecard for his interviews or explain his decision to his boss, and he wasn't about to lose followers, not when he was the one paying them. However most of us are more likely to be in the position of Lorraine, the contestant who also liked to call on her intuition, yet faced the problem of getting others to take her seriously. Rather than try and explain why she had come up with certain ideas, why she thought a rug was valuable or why someone's approach wasn't going to work she merely said she could sense it.

This won't wash for those of us serious about making change. People won't listen or follow (at least not for long or without some other reason) without some attempt to provide an insight into, or an e explanation of your instinct.

Instinct and intuition aren't hidden or secret gifts. They are years of practice and experience in similar or related situations. It's just that we are more or less conscious of this experience, knowledge and practice, and it's our ability to understand this and explain it that will allow us to call on and make more use of our instinct. My guess is Lorraine, with more experience than others in business and in a rich and challenging life 'possessed' more instinct than others, but this didn't serve her well in her ability to lead her teams in the longer term.

On Common Purpose programmes participants are asked questions about why they acted in certain ways and this is the beginning of the process for them to start understanding how they make decisions. What often follows is a greater consciousness of knowledge and expertise they previously took for granted. They become more able to reveal strong logic and reasoning behind their decisions and start to link emotion and feeling to experiences.

I'm not saying we should stop making decisions on instinct or intuition, but if we want to create change then we need to be able to able to call on our instinct and not have it dismissed as a crazy 6th sense.