On Leadership


(A very brief glance at some of our views on Leadership)

In the open

Leaders and Leadership today is a challenging experience. As we move “beyond the glass ceiling into the corner office” all our acts, moves and decisions are seen and observed – not only by the own team, the company- but also by the stakeholders, the media and more and more in the eye of public and opinion.

Leadership today, and if we want to do this in style- is to “live and breath” in the open.

To be transparent. To be whole.

The “alignment” between Company needs, the organisation, the role and the self – is essential in order to perform best. The temptation to grow own ego or self-belief (in intuition, being right, etc) – not in the least fuelled by an inner circle of supporters, can be detrimental.

To that end, and organizational dynamics has proven this time and time again- leadership today is an art.

As much as leadership is about the abilities to manage large organisations, it’s also a path of inner wisdom and personal growth.[1] To be able to look with mild and wise eyes to the situation we are in.

Not all leaders have had the chance to mature themselves in this way- before they have worked themselves in a position of power or influence.

Modern day leadership asks and invites us to combine a couple of talents and characteristics:

To be compassionate and warm in relationships, as well as being able to overlook and steer the business, it’s  performances and deliveries- at times – as an army general overlooking the battle field- when times are tough- or asks for change.

So- this “hard and soft”in leadership- call it “situational leadership”- is an essence of being able to stand the test of times, and being able to drive the business forwards.

It’s quite subtle and needs leaders who can work fully and wholly with “heart, mind and soul” in the business.

Add to that the complexities, the tempo and dynamics of business today, and especially also the complexities in the energy sector- and you understand that we are looking at   some very special abilities and skills.

To train, nurture and reflect on “our state of being” when in leadership becomes hence an essential element for success.

We, at  – and our advisors – are offering this gift. To be close and intimate with you- and to help you – in your leadership- creating the conditions for you (and your inner circle) for success.

Managing self

Our journey into leadership may start with the self. By making a start (or an attempt) to understand the self better, our conscious and unconscious patterns of thoughts and behaviors, we may rise to the challenge of becoming a little bit more aware of our own perspectives- an thus of others. Interesting research has been done by the Mayo Clinic team in the US. A team of psychologists, doctors, therapists are working here to better understand the difference between happy people and the not so happy people. The results of their (scientific) findings has been the source of the book written by Dan Baker: “What happy people know”. The basic difference between happy and not-so-happy people is in the functioning and ways of the brain and thought processes: either thinking (and thus speaking and acting)  out of compassion (love) or of a higher brain response or from a more reptilian brain (fear). You can’t mix or fix those two themes in one brain, and the good news further is that we can train our minds (and beings) to become much more compassionate: creating positive acts.  Another form by which this message is given to people, and potential leaders, is by spiritual leaders such as e.g. the Dalai Lama.

Finally- today’s neuroscientists seem to agree that regular meditation (or attentive focus) can help to grow more awareness and awakening of ourselves. To grow our capacity for compassion and understanding.  To grow our conscious mind more into unconscious area’s of our mind. To be more at peace and ease with whatever is. To better understand and see the Ego- The self.  For a professional, who wants to excel in Leadership in her or his profession- the invitation is to find the own ways of nurturing and doing this. This can be through sport, culture, family, nature,  through religion, spirituality or other means  – as long as this inner source of energy, wisdom and content is being nurtured and kept whole..

Why is this of such an importance?

Whenever we are confronted or expose ourselves to dynamic environments, with large uncertainties and change- this strong inner-self will be the source of balance within. Especially in the last lonely mile (every project or business seems to have a period of crisis where the leader is thrown on his or her self), at headwinds or when the going gets tough..

Managing others

Ever since the great construction works of the past, human mankind has found and defined organizational forms by which great achievements could be made. Mobilizing 1000’s and 1000’s of people, materials and goods – and in accordance with a plan (or blueprint) for the realization of something big.

In order to achieve these great projects (or wars- the military is another great example of learning how to master an army in extreme (uncertain) situations), men created organizational hierarchy and functions (roles) by which individuals had to work and abide by.

For periods when there was time, but also for situations when there was duress or stress.

Our modern day corporate and governmental organizations much resemble this core principle. A hierarchical form by which there is a leadership for (urgent and important or strategic) decision making at the top, and executive (or operational layers) for realization. Next to that- each and every organization has it’s own culture or DNA. In each (professional) organization, people are hired in to do or execute roles. Dis-harmony (or trouble) rises when either the organization, role or person hired for that role s not are aligned.

That’s when we see trouble in real life. In boardrooms, but also in project or business units.  The whole is not any longer attuned or in flow. There is friction.

To have an eye for the constitution and constellation of the tri-pod: organization, role and person is a leadership role. To understand whatever, or whomever needs adjustment in order to restore harmony or health in an organisation.

Sometimes the organization needs healing from fear (re. what happy people know), sometimes the role needs to be redefined (as it doesnot jive well with the company culture) . This is especially true for roles and positions of innovation and change. Those roles can easily attract allergic  reactions in organizations.

Now comes a paradox:

.A great (company) leader may combine the best leadership style from the Military (or e.g. great project works) as well from Wisdom leaders (e.g. Dalai Lama) as well from the Entrepreneurial Spirited (e.g. Gates, Jobs, Musk, Ford, Edison, Rockefeller)

Military leaders know as no other that they can only move as fast, and as agile as their people allow them to do: in order to get the results. Military leadership is further focused , second to none, on the understanding of the external and internal landscape and situation of their campaigns..(“situational analysis/ getting the results as no other”)

Wisdom leaders know what is best for the group, and over time, see-ing the situation from many many different perspectives, and working from compassion for humanity (the others and self) at heart.

Entrepreneurs have the minds of imagination, of creativity, the life force of change and innovation- and are free in mind.

A great leader, to my mind, and for what I have seen and witnessed, combines them all- either in person or in his or her (inner circle and) team.

That may be one of the great paradoxes of (situational) leadership.

In Leadership- there are also nuances and styles. A creative advertisement company will have another DNA as a large accountancy firm, and as such will require a different character of leadership (role expectation)..

Another aspect what makes a difference in suitable leadership is: Size. Size matters. A company can retain and remain informal (family feel) if the headcount stays below 50. Above 50, and as experience sofar has indicated, an organization seems to need to formalize its’ workforce into procedures and processes Semco of Selmers a good exception..

Research into the styles of corporate leadership in the US has been done by Jim Collins in his book: Good to Great.

In his book, published in 2001, Collins makes the point for so-called level 5 leadership styles. A leader which is beyond the need to position him or herself in the center of attention and power-making: the otherwise so well-know charisma leaders.

In his research, Jim found evidence that leadership based on the organization and team had a better chance of becoming great. His tripod for greatness existed on three principles: 1. What you are deeply passionate about 2. What you can be the best in the world 3. What drives your economic engine.

Spencer Stuart’s Thomas Neff and James Citrin “Lessons from the Top”, a book looking at the top 100 CEO in US Fortune-500,  released also in 2001 – actually found a somewhat different nuance in differentiating good from great, and this may make the point on our journey into leadership – we are all students for life..

A perhaps much simpler way to look at leadership style (or to learn to practice this) is by adopting Servant Leadership. The whole idea behind this leadership practice (over others) is to think, act and work from the intent to let others (and the organization) blossom, Not yourself- but the other. To act as a coach or steward over the healthy growth of others, and the whole.

In 2014,  GreenLeaf Publishing published a book with Sir Mark Moody- Stuart, former Chair of the RoyalDutch/Shell Group, and on his path and lessons from the Front-Line of Sustainability and Ethics.

A Book with the title “Responsible Leadership”.

Now here is where we can learn to step-up and learn from the realities in the field, and the ways by which we may approach our look and ways of leadership over change.

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