3 reasons why everyone needs to understand leadership

Although my main area of expertise is in decision-making around climate change adaptation, I have been recently reading multiple books on different concepts around leadership and what it means to lead well both in an organisation and in personal life. My current reads include Good to Great by Jim Collins and One Mission by Chris Fussell; both books that approach leadership and building of teams from very different perspectives. Here are three main reasons why everyone needs to understand leadership.

1. Leadership is not about the lone wolves

What strikes me about Good to Great is the concept of finding the right people first and dealing with the vision later. This makes sense to me because I often feel that articulating a clear vision by myself can only always be half of a vision because great visions often require great teamwork and the merging of ideas from many great minds. We often look at individual leaders as lonesome heroes who are there to save the day. But the extent of behind-the-scene support and helping hands is what makes great people to succeed. As Jim Collins says, “get the right people in the bus, and wrong people off the bus”. This in my view calls also for greater personal reflection on what each of us is good at, and how we can leverage our strengths and passion in the right place while acknowledging that any greatness is the sum of all of our actions, not just mine or yours alone.

2. Leadership is an inter-silo shared consciousness

Chris Fussell talks about “decision space” and “inter-silo shared consciousness” where the operating rhythm of an organisation really depends on how information is shared across all members, how that contributes to a shared consciousness and shared vision, and the extent that people are clear what they can and should make decisions on at each level. For example, One Mission was the way General McChrystal managed to change the hierarchical culture that was impeding intelligence sharing and communication in the US Army. By creating a global connected network, which runs an interactive 90-minute communication platform on daily basis the US Army is now able to share information quickly and double-check plans and intel, with everyone from each rank able to communicate directly with everyone.

The opportunities for global collaboration are greater now than before and so are creating a shared consciousness across political borders. This is not just about organisations and businesses but also how we deal with issues such as climate change, poverty, and natural disasters as a global society. Chris Fussell now helps companies to create their own operating rhythm where the company’s vision is understood and owned by everyone. This is definitely something that more of us should embrace and is definitely needed in climate adaptation at a global scale.

3. Leadership takes place both at work and at home

The third, and maybe the most important reason, is that leadership is not something that is just done at work and part of our organisational or professional portfolio. I would dare to suggest that often the key leadership moments happen at home, especially when we have young children. Maybe because children haven’t yet learned to mask their feelings, many situations are dramatic and full of emotions, which test us as parents but they test also our children. Finding good leadership skills in that space is where the rubber hits the road, that’s likely to be the ultimate test why we do something like we do, and how we can achieve a shared consciousness in our household. This to me means that leadership is not control and power but influence with a splash of authority.

 

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