We’re doing something about the global leadership crisis. Join us.

Are you uneasy and/or concerned about the nature and quality of leadership? In business, in government – pretty much everywhere? That for all of the incredible opportunities for equitable growth in an age of abundance, our society is increasingly divided – economically and otherwise?

You aren’t alone. 

For over a year now, I’ve been working with amazing colleagues in 10 countries to lay the foundation for a new non-profit global community called The Leaders Expedition (LEx). We are a community based on the underlying principle that personal gain and societal good are NOT mutually exclusive, but rather are guarantors of prosperity for all.

Today, we are issuing a call to support and stand with us in that vital mission.

Please CLICK HERE to learn more about LEx, how you can support us with as little as a $5.00 contribution, or how you can join our movement for free if our message especially resonates with you and you wish to be a member of a community that is as committed to your success you are to it’s.

 

Drive-by Democracy Isn’t Working

With Brexit, the rejection-by-referendum of the Columbian peace accord with FARC, the Trump win and the troubling popularity of ethno-nationalism in Europe, it is clear that liberal democracy as we have experienced it in the post-war era is facing unprecedented challenge.

In a time of 140 character policy pronouncements and of real-time reaction by anyone with a mobile device and a few seconds on their hands, the grand debates to inform the best of our societies have been marked by appeals to extremist entrenchment instead of centrist collaboration. And where the citizenry does get engaged, the troubling propensity is to do that anonymously, reactively, reflexively on-line – assuming that a ‘like’ on Facebook or a Twitter re-tweet is the fullest expression of their democratic franchise. Having stood on the digital ‘speakers box’, but without the responsibility to show their face to their peers, the engaged citizen then offers themselves self-congratulations for a job well done. This trend of substituting a ‘like’ for a thoughtful vote is what I think of as ‘drive-by democracy’.

We have allowed for the fiction that solutions are obvious, simple and plentiful – and that the challenge of democracy is to speak one’s mind, rather than to shape it. If we are, as many have observed, witnessing the failure of existing post-war elite structures, then the failure in part has been to feed and give voice to that dangerous fiction – that sense of articulated aggrievement. Instead, leaders need to demonstrate by their example that there is no absolute, single answer to anything, and that the solutions to our opportunities are as nuanced as the challenges that precede them.

We can’t look to the leadership structures that were defined by the command and control systems of European empires and two world wars, or to the 62 individuals whose net worth equals the bottom 50% of humanity. Instead, we must mobilize the ‘militant middle’ – those who do not want others to speak for them, and who, because of their accomplishment understand that their collective voice could provide the example of leadership that is today being sought by so many.

Many years ago my first year political science professor observed “for the most part and in the long run, people get the governments that they deserve”. Is that true for leadership as a whole – that we get the leaders we deserve? If thats true, what are you going to do about it?

 

Better you. Better me. Better world. The leadership imperative of our time.

For us dyed-in-the wool optimists it’s hard not to acknowledge the breath-taking improvements in all facets of our life. Take any great city of the West and the benefits of exponential advances in technology, open borders, open minds and the diversity that feeds all is evident to most who live and work there. But journey just a short distance into the countryside and too often the benefits are far less evident, appreciated, understood – or desired.

Following on the heels of bewildering setbacks for reason in the UK and Columbia, today we stand too close to a populist victory in Washington – alarming testament to an abject absence of leadership. Though it is inaccurate, unfair and unhelpful to characterize that vacancy as born of incompetence or bad-faith, it is nonetheless a systemic deficit we are witnessing – as seen from our classrooms, our boardrooms – and our legislatures.

Where to look for the example of leadership that will reframe its practice? To the same people, structures and institutions that have proven themselves so unable to anticipate and adapt to the techno-socio-politico and economic winds of change? To the 62 people who in 2015 possessed the same wealth as half the world (down from 388 in 2010 according to the most recent Oxfam Davos report)? Or to the aggregate of the 7,461,380,063 humans alive at this moment in writing? Is there any read of contemporary events that suggests that now is the inflexion point at which humanity will speak and act with one reasoned voice?

Instead, I suggest that we look to you. And to me. And to the very, very many like us who believe that what we do for ourselves, for our families, for our communities, our nations and yes – our earth – occurs on a single plane, not in silos. That to attend to one need is not a zero sum exercise, but that indeed, to attend to all in balance is the new leadership imperative.

Hence The Leaders Expedition, a new global non-profit organization. We believe that the narrative and practice of leadership must be reframed everywhere. That to do so in one society or in one sector means nothing given the unparalleled intimacy of the Internet of Everyone. Fearing the future, communities of shared grievance (real and perceived) are being formed, empowered and mobilized to spread a contagion of ignorance and intolerance. Embracing the future, we believe that only a diverse community of the accomplished – the builders, makers, operators, artists and activists – can through their example drive the process of reframing leadership.

What distinguishes our effort from so many others is our conviction that the challenge demands a long view, and the strength and capacity to sustain a historic expedition. So as with any community, the well-being of the member – personally and professionally – is a foundational pre-condition for the eventual goal that unites us – realizing the full potential of all our futures. Your need for a Return on Impact must first be addressed if we together are to transform ourselves, our communities and the sectors that shape our world.

Please visit www.leadersx.org to learn more about our new movement. If being a founding member resonates with you, please reach out to me discuss your nomination to our diverse and quite remarkable community.

If not us, then whom? If not now, then when?

 

Are you a ‘Lone Genius’?: You need a Thought Partner!

You create, build, manage, make, run and organize things – adding value to a multitude of stakeholders in a complex and volatile world. You are accomplished at what you do, recognized by your peers as a leader. But there is a lot on your plate – or more accurately plates – with the prospect of only more being heaped on. It’s a constant juggling act, and as good as you are, you admit to yourself that you don’t have all the answers – in fact more than you’d like to admit or show, you’re frequently stuck.

Sound like you? If you are like most senior executives that I’ve met through my my business career and coaching/advisory practice (including most especially -me), the answer is yes. In discussions with literally hundreds of accomplished individuals over the past year, from CEO’s (start-up to Fortune 500) to senior civil servants to NPO leaders to performers and artists, most report experiencing the pervasive sense of loneliness and uncertainty that comes from being an accomplished builder/creator/operator.

It’s tempting to look to the 180,000+ books on leadership on Amazon.com (just for example) for inspiration for the most current 5 or 10 step solution to your problem, but logic suggests that they ALL can’t be correct. In fact it all becomes ‘noise’ – the bleating of thousands of advice-givers more interested in advancing their agenda than in supporting yours. And in a world of exponential advances in technology, and of industries/societies impacted for better and for worse, the noise gets ever louder – even desperate.

Of course, the ‘answer’ does not lie without – with ‘them’ – it rests within you. It’s why so many of us engage in constructive self-talk – we are constantly discussing with ourselves our situational awareness, our ability to both understand our environment and to positively shape/impact it. It’s this self-talk that speaks to the need for a true partner that can offer a second-set-of-eyes perspective to your ever-changing relationship with the world around you.

Which leads us to the concept of Thought Partner. In a 2012 guest post in Forbes Magazine, Rania Anderson well defined the concept;

A Thought Partner is one who;

  • Challenges your thinking
  • Causes you to modify your paradigms, assumptions or actions
  • Has information or a way of thinking that provokes you to innovate or otherwise leads to value creation in your business, career or life.

Thought Partners are usually people who possess information, knowledge, or a way of thinking that challenges and provokes divergent thinking for you.

I would add that a Thought Partner is a sometime coach, sometime mentor, sometime advisor, sometime connector of dots and resources, and sometime friend, who is above all else – often even more so than your business or life partner – your confidante alone committed to think with you, rather than for you. Safely, securely, in the greatest confidence.

Critically, the need for a Thought Partner is not a one-off, sequential exercise. We have all witnessed the demise of the five year business plan – now reduced far more appropriately to one year and ever more iterative planning cycles, due to the complexity and volatility of the exponential change noted above. Instead, just as planning is now an all the time, real time activity, so too is the need for your Thought Partner. As an oft-repeated quote paraphrasing Albert Einstein puts it “enlightened trial and error succeeds over the planning of the lone genius“.

As you contemplate this New Year, the question is – is 2016 the year you cease being a lone genius, and instead seek out your Thought Partner, or are you going to continue to talk to yourself to cross-pollinate, conceptualize and execute the initiatives and actions that determine your future?

 

10 C-Suite Jobs Of The Future

10 C-Suite Jobs Of The FutureWith questions about the future of middle management, many believe that corporations will soon beef up their core leadership teams, allowing them to keep foundational business knowledge close to the top while delegating the increasingly complex attributes of the modern organization to in-house, executive-level experts. These changes are expected […]

 

BORGES’ MAP Navigating a World of Digital Disruption

spot-01Digital disruption is not a new phenomenon. But the opportunities and risks it presents shift over time. Competitive advantage flows to the businesses that see and act on those shifts first. We are entering the third, and most consequential, wave of digital disruption. It has profound implications not only for strategy but also for the structures of companies and industries. Business leaders need a new map to guide them. This article explains the factors underlying these disruptive waves, outlines the new strategic issues they raise, and describes a portfolio of new strategic moves that business leaders need to master.

[…]

 

Singularity’s Salim Ismail on Exponentials

Singularity’s Salim Ismail on ExponentialsSingularity University has a lofty mission: to educate, inspire, and empower leaders to apply exponentials to address humanity’s grand challenges. Exponentials are accelerating technologies for which performance relative to cost and size is doubling every one to two years—a rate similar to Moore’s Law. In fact, Singularity has […]

 

Je Suis Charlie: You (and we) HAVE To Rethink Leadership

The infrequent visitor to this blog might be puzzled by the an apparent lack of coherence found herein. In the ‘Digest’ section I share many of the timely articles/stories that have captured my attention – all more or less speaking to the scale and scope of profound disruption, the forces that are ever faster shaping our existence.  Elsewhere in ‘Posts’ one will find the sometime chronicling of my journey over the past few years, and my thoughts on the changing nature of leadership.  Still elsewhere, the diligent reader will see that I’m applying myself to the challenge and reward of establishing a CEO Forum to better explore ways of building 15 or so exceptional businesses though peer mentoring and collaboration.

Sadly, the coherence is to be found in the shadow of the tragedy we’ve all just witnessed this past week in Paris, where the forces of ignorance struck out at a society wrestling with just the initial consequences of profound politico-socio-economic disruption driven in turn by exponential technological growth.  I have previously observed that orthodoxy generally can be regarded as a reaction to change – be it in our religions (Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism etc.), our cultures, our legislatures, our institutions, our organizations – and our businesses.  As the complexity of the world becomes more indecipherable to some, many within our societies are clearly falling back on simpler answer sets for comfort and guidance – a disenfranchised (or perhaps more accurately unenfranchised) population that is growing at an alarming pace.  That this is happening speaks to a leadership deficit that is equally alarming – in our religious leaders of course, but so to in the leadership of our politicians, our community leaders and our business leadership.  When young men (and now women) take up arms against their homeland, there are a great many ‘leaders’  who have failed them, and more to the point, their victims.

If you’ve read this far, you must – MUST – take a few minutes to watch Jeremy Howard’s recent TEDx talk in Brussels – The Wonderful and Terrifying Implications Of Computers That Can Learn.  If you do so you will see that the stuff of science fiction is shaping our world much, much faster than most of us realize – with the attendant consequences (good and bad) on the entities that we lead.  It is not hard to imagine that those seeking a simple and simplistic  understanding of life and their role within it will join the ranks of the ignorant to our collective peril.  In short, if we want a world where each human has the opportunity to be a constructive and participative citizen and is motivated (and incented) to be the best ‘them’ they can be, we need a leadership cohort that is much, much better at making sense of their environments, with the consequent capacity to apply enlightened leadership to the reality of profound disruption.

And who provide the greatest numbers to the global leadership cohort?  Those who run businesses.  Those who are responsible for inventing things, making things, making things better, organizing things, creating employment.  Like it or not, our businesses have been given a societal license to create and distribute wealth and power a prosperous, healthy world.  Our businesses, like it or not, are the engines of societal growth.  On the whole – and as a cohort – we’ve done a pretty inadequate job, taking refuge in the laissez faire POV that ‘it’s not my job’ to think of the bigger picture.  “My job is to  run my business”.  The reality is, if we as a society are to realize the benefits – for all citizens – of profound disruption, then its our business leaders who need to step up and assume the responsibility of true leadership, or else inevitably others will (that societal license I referred to is ‘use it or lose it’).  And where product life-cycles are increasingly measured in months, successful businesses are adapting to a world of constant flux – something government and public sector leadership are structurally prevented from doing.

Simply put, to defeat ignorance we need to create happy, healthy societies that engage their populations – failure to do so will have terminal consequences.

What does it mean to be such a leader?  I have no idea.  But I do know that it’s less about where you look for answers as much as it is with whom you frame the questions, and share in the exploration and discovery of objective solutions.  I know that leadership isn’t found in the self-serving ‘how to be a winning CEO’ lists/articles we are all subjected to, but rather that leadership is nurtured from within.  And I do know that the place to start is at the ground floor – within the businesses that drive our societies.  Every business has the capacity to be an incubator for equitable wealth generation and distribution.  Every leader has the capacity to be an exemplar of enlightened leadership – accepting that when they seek the mantle of leadership they are joining a global community of world makers – who are party both to the defeat of ignorance and the victory of enlightenment.

We are all Charlie.

 

 

Change leader, change thyself

UnknownLeo Tolstoy, the Russian novelist, famously wrote, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

Tolstoy’s dictum is a useful starting point for any executive engaged in organizational change. After years of collaborating in efforts to advance the practice of leadership and cultural transformation, we’ve become convinced that organizational change is inseparable from individual change. Simply put, change efforts often falter because individuals overlook the need to make fundamental changes in themselves.

Building self-understanding and then translating it into an organizational context is easier said than done, and getting started is often the hardest part. We hope this article helps leaders who are ready to try and will intrigue those curious to learn more […]

 

Leadership Solution Map for Chaos and Conflict

Leadership Solution Map for Chaos and Conflict

Our unconscious habit of giving away our energy and the subsequent need to steal energy from others underlies all chaos and conflict. Using crisis as a motivator for individual and organizational change carries too high a cost. Chaos is not necessary for change. Living mindfully on purpose is the healthiest choice that produces the best business and personal results.  […]

 
Subscribe to WESTROPELEADS digest NOW!
Subscribe