Complex solutions and innovation depend on disparate factors and cooperation from competing camps. That’s not an easy tension to balance. Especially when organizations tie their value to being experts in efficiency–in a reductionist context. We LOVE reducing things to their simplest essence. Reductionism is more manageable for command and control styles of leadership. A transformational leadership style benefits from assuming new leadership hats to accomodate different dynamics.
Failure to explore alternatives or an inability to actively gather divergent and/or dissenting viewpoints sets an organization up for nasty surprises in the form of solutions that are not be big enough for the complexity of their challenges, or a vacuum that undermines discovery processes that support sustainable innovation.
An organization’s capacity to solve complex challenges and innovate depends upon being as proficient with engaging emergence as it is with process improvement and efficiency.
For companies that experience difficulty integrating innovation and change initiatives– is part of the problem that senior leadership is disconnected from an authentic innovation role other than delegating, championing or cheerleading? I’m not discounting the leadership role of champion and cheerleader…they simply don’t go far enough for C-suite leaders to model specific behaviors that set the organizational culture up for discovery as well as smooth execution.
Can C-suite leaders play a more active role?
New Hats for a Transformational Leadership Style
Senior leaders can add these:
- Chief convener: Network and explore partnerships with outside resources and idea sources so that divergent thinking makes it to the table.
- Facilitator: Model actively searching for new insights. We are in a transitional economy and adaptation is a strategic imperative. How is C-suite leadership facilitating organizational adaptation?
- Lynchpin: Serve as host, ambassador and referee for competing organizational priorities. Leaders charged with executing short term goals have little incentive for weighing long term consequences with their tactical day to day execution. Someone must balance short horizon strategic decisions with the long term health of the entire organization and community in mind.
- Detective: Ask curious questions like… “Where are we likely to have blind spots? ”What are our contingencies?” “What would a home run look like?” “What will it take to balance short term risk with long term gain?” Homeostasis and fear of the unknown silence many from asking relevant and important questions.
- Divergent thinker: Mine a wide scope and consider merging or synthesizing things that don’t normally work together. Divergent thinkers build in experimentation and observation which at minimum provide new learning.
What are your thoughts…are these nice-to-haves or need-to-haves for a more sustainable, innovative work culture?
Are there other hats you’d add to the list?