I Lead

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“Responsibility is the price of freedom.”

Elbert Hubbard

We are entering into an era of consciousness in which we can, finally, stop betting on Leaders as we know them today.

When we talk about organizational leadership, we are usually referred back into an individual figure that we define as ‘Leader.’ According to the conventional definition, this person, woman or man, ‘inspires others into achieving a purpose.’ There’s no doubt, specially in the organizational dimension, that these people don’t only exist, but are essential architects in the construction and management of the company. There’s endless literature addressing from most diverse disciplines leadership, as well as plenty of examples that illustrate the qualities that the so-called ‘leaders’ develop and which, in the field of human capital, are called: ‘leadership skills.’ These skills, supported by sophisticated management systems have been defined, from hard data and experience, as universal. For example, no one would argue that how to inspire others through his or her actions is indeed a default competence of a leader. Congruency, as well, is one of those skills that has been, throughout history, archetypically present in such individuals.

The large-scale mass production and exponential data processing power that initiated with the Industrial Revolution, and the technological boom of the millennium, has, for the first time, allowed humanity, not just to have access practically to all knowledge and information available, but to be able to exploit it. This involves, on one hand, access to a more complete map of reality and, therefore, more complex; and on the other hand, the possibility that individuals can actively participate in the construction of such reality.

Regardless of what kind of ‘complexity’ appears in our lanscape, according to Harvard Business Review, only 5% of leaders today, perform from the necessary perspective to manage the complex systemic change. Therefore, increased access to development, makes leadership much more complex. Consequently we move from the ‘one-leads-many’ approach to a more actual ‘many-people-sharing-one-purpose-leading-themselves.’ The impact social networks have on people’s lives in concert with millions of free voices in the world, have generated a recent phenomenon that’s here to stay. Consumers today are gaining strength through organized consumption; citizens through civil participation with global reach; and employees in the co-creation of organizational culture.

In the bigger picture, though the conventional leader is still present, the rise of many ‘I Lead’ individuals is not only weakening the first, but encouraging more and more of the latter. The ‘I leaders’ are ordinary people who speak out in a coordinated effort to achieve a goal they have in common, and who transcend the classical alienation coming from the archetypical figure of a messianic leader. Indisputably, it is becoming less and less likely that the figure of a singular leader would be enough to move groups of informed individuals who can clearly see his or her ‘bright’ side as well as his or her ‘shadow’ side. It is also becoming less and less likely that informed individuals would be seduced by ideas but more by the collective voice which is congruent with each individual´s purpose. We need less leaders that inspire and more free people who take responsibility and inspire themselves.

How does this manifest among organizations?

In the Human Resources forums, each time more and more people talk about the well-known Millennial Generation, who are becoming part of organizations. Young people discouraged by ideas that were sold to them and didn’t work. Children of the global crises who were born connected and grew up with a device in hand, and who can, from a desktop, contribute to the construction and destruction of institutions, governments and businesses. Young people who are hyper-informed, who manifest in their consumption habits and in their loyalty to their employers their core values ​​in action, and in many cases transcend the depleted ‘job security and the assurance of a career plan.’ They want more. They speak out, take out their wallets and they engage where they find, more than economical retribution, purpose.

Some organizations understand it, others don’t. Some are still leaning and keep investing on their leadership team, that is undeniably the most influential because of its systemic weight. These organizations, from the conscious development perspective, could be defined as ‘conventional’. Other organizations, however, have understood that, from a historical point of view, businesses are comprised of individuals with an exceptional self-leadership potential

I lead

Within the leader-group binomial relationship, the ‘group’ is becoming more and more developed. As time passes, the conventional leader will have to develop more facilitation skills and less management skills. That is, a leader who builds with other ‘I leaders’. Free and responsible individuals, that equipped with tools and information, manifest their values through action, and depend less on an external individual to guide them. Hierarchy seems to not be enough. Never before did the affirmation ‘culture eats strategy’ had been more valid. The organizational development strategies based on historical conventions are irrelevant to the employee who is informed and who breaks away from the organization’s control, and who is, not only eager to participate, but also is capable of doing it.

Some organizations have understood it and are co-creating together with the stakeholders, a culture of individual responsibility and coordination that is being supported by integrity. “If you are here it’s because you want to be here, not because you have to… and if you want to, you can create with us”; “If you buy with us, it’s because we give you the most value and if we are not, we do want to be, so let us learn how to.” Both statements presume a paradigm that returns to employees and consumers the responsibility of their choices, and opens the door to the collective knowledge to work as a change agent in the development towards having more value for all. It is not enough to tell employees ‘what to do’, instead it is more powerful to inquire about their perspectives, to then find means of shared efficiency that have concrete results that are better, not only economically, but in the individual welfare.

The ‘I leaders’ that are in organizations today, aren’t the functional leaders, or aren’t necessarily the ‘high-potentials’. The majority of employees can move mountains when they learn to collaborate from the standpoint of responsibility. The ‘I leaders’ are the men and women that when they connect between each other and also with a higher purpose, they emerge in organized communities, they emerge as true change agents and find it not only their daily doing, but in its integration by freely adding a sense that transcends one person’s calling. If anything, from the point of view of organizational development, we should invest so that employees operate from a place of unconditional responsibility for organizations may finally be nurtured from the perspective, the dreams and the creativity of many individuals and not only of a few ones.

I Lead

The boss isn’t right …But he defends order

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“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Peter Drucker

Competition is the dilemma we all face while climbing the business ladder. For someone to win, someone else has to lose. This is how the system has worked for years and we have had good, and even extraordinary results. Nonetheless, as we have said many times before, it seems as though it is not enough anymore, and it’s also not the best strategy.

There are many examples of such leadership success in business, but despite its concrete results, we can also see that they have a side that, rather than build, destroys. The problem is that the leaders of organizations have been successful, generally, because they have clung to being right. Certainly, in many cases their point of view and their actions are assertive and have had business results. Therefore, for many, exploring other paths could result besides unnecessary, unprofitable. Nonetheless, there is another type of leadership. There are leaders who, over time, have left a positive balance, not only on the organization’s bottom line, but also with their business teams and other stake holders. Both types of leadership share passion, dedication, focused energy and discipline. Their difference lies in how they solve business challenges.

Imagine two different scenarios: in the first, the leader has achieved success through competing and winning, through showing power and strength, and through having a business position cultivated by proving his or her point of view and by achieving results. In the second scenario, the leader has achieved the same results, but not by proving he or she  is right, but by integrating their team’s perspective to address challenges. This leader isn’t always right, but the entire team including him or her is. This leader has learned to effectively address challenges while  feeling at peace and being aware of his or her team’s development. We call this conscious leadership, a path that leaves behind self-realization and growth.

Although the first leader’s results are effective, there is a risk. It is likely that, at some point, these leaders will fail precisely by defending their point of view. Someone else will show up proving to be right and having better results than they do. It is also likely that their team members are satisfied with the results, but dissatisfied in working with them. It is likely that team members will be fighting under the table, trying to prove they are right so that they can have a better place in the team, because they need to be competitive in order to win. Over time, performance cost can be very high for the organization, thus not sustainable. If the marketing manager, the production manager, or the finance manager would focus on proving they are right, then they would only make decisions with a potentially high cost for the company, based on proving their point. It’s precisely their arrogance of trying to prove ‘I am right’ the cause for a probable low performance.

In the second scenario, the leader with whom their team is used to integrating perspectives, dialogue is the foundation to find better solutions, and therefore agreement upon what’s true for everyone yields admiration—not only for the leader, but for everyone. Self-admiration comes from the teams performance, their sense of success and their sense of accomplishment. This scenario would be nearly impossible to achieve with a boss who’s orientation would be to win by means of proving his or her point.

In both scenarios the boss has the final say, it is his or her prerogative and responsibility. Nevertheless, the leader of the first scenario runs the risk that, because he or she has ignored the team’s perspective during the strategic process, the opportunity to change the course of business will be lost. While the leader of the second scenario gives only the last word after having made sure that everyone expressed their perspective and that everyone has understood the perspective of others. From the economical and performance point of view, the second scenario is much safer and much more profitable. Those teams lead by a person whose mental model is of humility and self-realization, besides being more effective, can also have an impact, which will be significantly more successful for the business.

The boss isn’t right …But he defends order

I Iead

…There is no other way. We all need to lead.

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“All of us are smarter than any one of us”

Japanese saying

As children we look up to the mythical figure of a hero, either in comic books, movie starts, or even in our parents, because it represents a gateway to the future and into our potential. It’s as if, by holding on to the hero’s image, a magnificent scenario of our life lays out in front of us. As children, those heroes are amazing allies who inspire us to dream in what we want to become. Then, as we start growing up and begin learning social conventions, the hero becomes precisely the possibility of remaining un-conventional and a connection to a higher purpose, to fight for. Our magic hero gives turn to a real life leader.

The leader even though it’s much more vulnerable than the hero, is also much more powerful because it is, like us, a person who dared to do something that inspires us. It is no longer a mythical hero of our fantasy, but a hero of flesh and blood. Life goes by, and paradoxically, we find that it is inspired by the leadership of someone just like us, that we  transcend the strident conventionalism. Theis leaders  also inspire us to believe in the possibility of a better world.

However, today more and more  people discover there is something more powerful than the leaders who inspire masses. If those who are followers could become aware of their leader qualities, they would also experience  their life with responsibility. And their impact, even though less massive, would be more sustainable.

When transcending the mythic leader and then the ‘human leader’, we can recognize the importance of our own leadership; which, even though is less multitudinous, in many ways, it’s much more powerful.

The ability to look at the world from our humility seems to be a constant in leaders who grow into the next evolutionary and conscious level. Humility is precisely the step that enables the I leader to become a change agent.

Arrogance, i.e. the capacity in which I can express a relative truth as an absolute truth and share it in a way that thousands see it as absolute, becomes the intrinsic seduction for conventional leaders to move masses.

Recent generations have been experiencing educational abundance, economical abundance and even business success as few other generation did. If you take a walk around Silicon Valley, you will notice something quite unconventional: young millionaires who live by simplicity, openness, transparency; who have an entrepreneurial spirit, and have discovered that leadership needs to come from within, from the I leader.

Google, which started as a search engine, brought an evolutionary culture program appropriately called: search inside yourself (SILY). This generation that had heroes and in their youth met the leader of flesh and blood, had much more access to information, to content, and to education, and discovered that their leaders had a dark side. The myth slowly passed and reality was imposed— reality that can only be understood with responsibility and by experiencing life as: “This is what I see, what do you see?”

I am a leader because there is no other option. Up to this day, most of massive changes inspired by one person’s absolute truth, have proved un-sustainable. There are far more deaths in the twentieth century caused by leaders who ‘sold’ their ideas, than by war conflicts. We have enough information to be able to understand how the world is. There is not much more to find. What’s missing is that we change the way we see the world, because we are the ones who define reality. The extent to which we can incorporate the perspective of others is relative to consciousness development. And we will discover that what connects us, what allows perspective integration, is compassion. The leader: I leader, improves the world without being on the cover of a magazine, or on the first page of a newspaper. He or she changes the world with their everyday work, with humility and compassion, living  an integral life, with constant learning. ¿Can you think of some?

I Iead