What is leadership? What if we take a different view of leadership and ask the question: what might be common to good leadership which is all to often uncommon in practice? How does uncommon leadership help to make a difference during times of austerity?
What is Leadership? Uncommon Leadership in the crucible of need
Uncommon Leadership is often best seen in the crucible of need – when compelling reasons clash with implacable constraints. It is characterised by:
- Sensemaking in difficult circumstances
- A refusal to leave underlying assumptions untested
- A willingness to think differently
- A resourcefulness
- Optimism tempered with realism
- Galvanising the strengths and commitment of those around them
In difficult circumstances it becomes a struggle translating neat leadership theory into the messy world of the workplace. In a difficult work environment with tough decisions to be made leaders are facing unpredictable circumstances. Those leaders are expected to show the way forward, often by thinking differently.
What is Leadership – holding tensions, releasing resources, unlocking potential
Uncommon Leadership answers the question “what is leadership?” differently. Here are 5 uncommon ways leaders can make an impact
What is leadership: holding the tension
Sometimes holding competing and often conflicting tensions can seem just too difficult. Something has to give … or does it? Holding tensions is crucial in difficult times, delaying the temptation to compromise. It is when leaders hold onto the challenge to find a third way that the possibility of seeing things differently emerges. All to often innovations are missed because we default to compromise and don’t hold competing tensions to find a better way forward.
What is leadership: releasing resources
How can you stop jumping to predictable (though understandable) resource cuts, when budgets are under pressure? In the face of fierce pressure on resources a bricolage approach is needed. Bricolage is a French word meaning: “to make creative and resourceful use of whatever materials are at hand (regardless of their original purpose).” Bricolage leadership means taking the lead in tough circumstances by crafting solutions out of what is available. Finding different uses for scarce resources and releasing trapped resources, or ineffective resources. “Life is not a matter of having good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.” Robert Louis Stevenson
What is leadership: resilience and optimism
Holding on to optimism is crucial in difficult circumstances, but this needs to be tempered with realism, otherwise a leaders optimism will not seem credible. Optimism encourages everyone to look for solutions to work out difficult situations. “The key requirements for leaders at this time is resilience and optimism – an ability to get people to think about what they can do with the resources we have at our disposal – rather than mourning the loss of the resources that have now gone”(Changing the shape of children’s services)
What is leadership: the common touch
When the pressure is on it is all too easy for leaders to be consumed by the problems at hand. In doing so the power of noticing the small things can often be lost. Find the small things that can have big impact. Firstly leaders who demonstrate that they care and notice by paying attention to what might seem small things, can make a big impression on those around them. Secondly, look out for the small things that could have a big impact on the business. What small changes might improve you service/product in a way that makes a big impression on your customers?
What is leadership: unlocking other people’s strengths
Why did a US basketball team dare to discard all the conventional measures of success and buy an “average” player? What did they know that others didn’t, and what is the powerful, often forgotten, leadership lesson it illustrates? In a nut shell they found an average player who whenever he was on the court the team played better. In difficult conditions leaders need to get others focused on using their strengths, and in particular be good at helping other to play to their strengths.
What is leadership? Perhaps it’s doing the uncommon things uncommonly well: Uncommon Leadership!