Out of the box leadership

January 24th, 2011

As leaders we might become prisoners of our own mental models. It is time to reinvent management – as Gary Hamel says in this little snap-shot with him.

He advocates that time has come for a new way of leading, a way that takes into consideration that time has changed since the invention of management and leadership more than a hundred years ago. But not much has happened within leadership since then even though our society and we as people has changed a lot. What was needed before is not necessarily what is needed today. In the beginning of the industrial age we needed leaders who could organise employees to show up, work in a disciplined manner and follow directions without asking too many questions. And who, of course, had the right competencies to do the job in a proper manner. What we need today is of course still a certain amount of discipline and competencies, but certainly also employees who are creative/innovative, proactive and passionate about their job. That is what create the real competitive  advantage of any company of today.

The question is: what do you do, as a leader, that help employees be innovative, creative, show initiative and passion? What in your organization supports these qualities and what might hinder them? What is needed is “out-of-the-box” leadership. In order for you to deserve the employees creativity, initiative and passion, you need to give them the conditions which fosters these qualities. And you need to show the qualities yourself. What creative/innovative processes have you made recently? When was the last time you showed initiative and not just re-acted to the working-conditions you are in? When was the last time you showed passion? How? Who helps you think “out-of-the-box? Where do you inspired and challenged in your own mental models and habitual thinking?

I can highly recommend you read the book “The future of Management” by Gary Hamel and Bill Breen or the book “What Would Google Do” by Jeff Jarvis if you want to get inspired to lead in total new ways – or just inspired to think out of the box!  Imagine this: Employees choose leaders, not the other way around. Everything, from the overall budget to 360 surveys to what you earn is transparent and open for everybody to look into. It is voluntary whether you go to a meeting or not – if people don’t show up you haven’t “sold” the meaning with the meeting well enough. Your employees give you as much feedback at the monthly one-2-one meetings as you give them. Etc.

Be ready to rock your old habitual thinking of “this would never work for us” or “we tried, it didn’t work”. Be ready to be inspired and be open – you might end up finding ways to cultivate innovation, creativity, initiative and passion within yourself, the employees and the organization as a whole. It is worth a try – isn’t it?