From Transactional Leadership to Reflective Leadership
"Hi Dan," Sheila called as she poked her head into the workplace of one of her managers. "Are you interested in taking a two day coaching course next week? It is aimed at helping managers grow to be greater coaches."
"Certain, why not. Sounds great," Dan replied. "I could discover a couple of guidelines to make myself a far better coach. But to be honest, Sheila, everyone's talking about coaching and mentoring. Just appear at the shelves in the bookstores and the enterprise sections of newspapers. Coaching's hot stuff. Some of us had been talking about this in the coffee room last week, and we fundamentally agreed that this is possibly yet another fad. Subsequent year they'll be on to something else."
"Maybe so," Sheila responded. "But attempt to go into the workshop with an open mind."
"Okay," Dan sighed. "What about you? Do you strategy to take it sometime?"
"Nah. I've been around in management lengthy enough," Sheila stated.
"I've read some books on coaching and mentoring and have a lot of expertise managing people. Besides, I'm too busy to give up even two days. Gotta run to a meeting. See you later, Dan."
"Right...........oh, and thanks," Dan muttered, scratching his head in puzzlement at his boss's reply.
This fictional conversation serves as a segue to delve into the inner side of leadership. Leadership development has traditionally been based on an externalized approach. In other words, people take coaching courses that instruct them on the desirable characteristics, or qualities, of leaders and how they must act. Furthermore, training has relied to some extent on old assumptions about leadership. In certain, the "heroic" method to leadership (i.e., the powerful individual leader) nonetheless prevails in some areas of leadership development.
It is only in the past decade that a growing portion of the literature is concentrating on leadership development from the inside out.
This involves finding individuals in formal or informal leadership positions to take a challenging look at themselves. "Who am I as a leader? Why do I behave as I do?" are concerns that we require to periodically ask ourselves. When we pose these concerns, it takes us to a deeper level of inquiry and reflection.
In the conversation among Dan and Sheila, every single holds a diverse mental model about leadership. For the duration of their interaction, Dan and Sheila are each having unspoken conversations in other words, what is going on in their heads, which reflects their unconscious assumptions and beliefs.
Dan's unspoken conversation:
"I'm nonetheless fairly new to my job as manager and feel type of inadequate. This coaching stuff sounds excellent but folks concerns make me feel uncomfortable. I'd rather just concentrate on the technical parts of my job. But Sheila sure could use some training. She micro-manages all of her managers. No wonder she puts in ten hour days."
Sheila's unspoken conversation:
"This coaching stuff's a waste of time. I know how to get individuals to do issues, and I know the function inside-out. My managers do what I tell them to do. None of this warm and fuzzy stuff for me. I've worked my way up the hard way, and I did not want a fancy degree to get exactly where I am."
Sheila perceives herself as a competent director, who does not require to discover a new skill. Her self-image is 1 of "I'm already there. Been there, completed that." But yet she is insecure with the changes underway in the organization, in specific the growing emphasis on the "soft," folks skills. Her unconscious fear is leaving what is secure and comfortable for some thing that needs personal insight and discovery.
Dan, on the other hand, is ambivalent. He knows down deep that to be an powerful managerial leader that he has a lot of function to do. Yet he is apprehensive of the commitment he should make to go into this unknown territory. He is not yet comfortable with having to create a deeper understanding of himself.
One of the most difficult realizations we have as human beings is that we are never there. Even the manager who has been in her job for 15 years and knows the issues, processes, and technical aspects inside out still has far more to learn. What does she truly know about herself?
The assumptions we carry with us (call it our personal baggage) have an effect on how we interact with other people, whether or not it is at perform, property, or in the community. These assumptions, created and cemented from our life experiences (great and bad), form our mental models. These in turn distort our leadership lenses via which we see the globe. How we lead folks is affected profoundly by our lenses. If a manager's lens is distorted by the debris of hardened assumptions, this makes it that a lot tougher for her to be open to other views and possibilities.
In her book Transformative Understanding (1994), Patricia Cranton explains: "Adults will resist contradictions to their beliefs and will deny discrepancies in between new learning and prior understanding. In response to a challenge to their assumptions, a lot of learners will entrench themselves even a lot more firmly in their belief program and become hostile or withdrawn in the studying environment." (p. 18)
Take a moment to reflect on these two questions:
1. How frequently have you noticed this behavior in your organization?
two. How do we get beyond this sort of response by men and women?
Focus for a moment on what this implies for managerial leadership. If managers, as leaders and coaches, engage in this sort of behaviour, how will organizations ever take the needed leap of faith to become studying organizations? What do managers fear? And what do staff fear in expressing their leadership abilities in their everyday perform?
How, then, do managers transcend from a conventional, transactional approach to leadership, in which the manager negotiates with the subordinate: "Do this, and this is what I'll give you." Usually, these are not explicit conversations, but rather implicit understandings. The employee knows that if he does 'this and this,' and not 'that and that,' he'll obtain some thing in return. Does this approach of 'leadership' develop commitment from staff? Does it enroll the individual in a typical mission and vision? Or is it oriented much more towards compliance and implicit consent of not rocking the boat?
The leader who understands herself and who does not fear sharing her strengths, gifts, weaknesses, and warts with her staff is on the path to becoming a reflective leader. This person understands and values the human dimension of leadership. It is an inner journey, 1 that every single of us struggles with for life. We're in no way there, but continuously striving towards a private vision of enhanced self-awareness and service to other people.
This makes leadership a not-so-easy discipline to follow. The books, tapes, seminars, and so on. promise fantastic things to make us successful leaders. But leadership, the type necessary for studying organizations, can't be sold over-the-counter. It is not about strategies and gimmicks. When we realize that it is about lifelong personal growth, filled with struggles and stumbles, we'll have made 1 substantial step forward.