Leading Bravely, Leading Honestly

A long time ago I wrote a blog post on flow.  That post was prompted by some work in relation to innovation and change. At the time I had been reading about generational theory  in Darrell Mann’s book TrenDNA and had been struck all those years ago about Strauss and Howe’s prediction in   that the world would be  heading for a crisis. They state that this is a necessary part of the cycle of destruction and regeneration (very simplistic explanation, for which I apologise).  Not long after that, the housing bubble struck, followed by recession.  At this time I thought the Banking crisis was it but it seems not.  There have been a lot of critics of their theory and to be honest I’m not sure of my view yet. If you read around there are plenty of critics and David Greenberg’s article set’s one view out quite nicely, which is the theory has been used as a reason for creating destruction rather than a natural crisis.

“In the wake of reports about Steve Bannon’s esteem for The Fourth Turning and Strauss and Howe’s generational theories, some alarmist pieces have warned that his interest in its prophecy of a bloody cataclysm bespeaks a dangerous eagerness to court some kind of catastrophic sequence of events that will remake the global order”

And potentially Brexit could be viewed as a way to prompt chaos in order to benefit through Disaster Capitalism.

But  when you are in this situation, how do you lead through it? Thinking about is has taken me back to my post of many years ago about Leadership Flow and the development of the following model :

FLOW leadership 2


Currently, I think the UK is in a situation where any of the three less optimum squares is apparent depending on your viewpoint.  Some people feel they are being forcibly led and the current direction is not what they want. Quite a lot of people feel that UK leaders  have been keeping the public in the dark and are in avoidance of scrutiny mode and some are frustrated that they haven’t yet got what they wanted.

So what’s the solution when you are tasked, in whatever situation, to lead your organization or country through an incredibly difficult situation?

And the only answer, in my mind is an open, honest and frank conversation.  Leaders lead, not by overly protecting, but engaging their followers in understanding the difficult and bringing them alongside in finding the solution. Even if, especially if, the leader doesn’t have a solution.

After all, if you don’t, your followers will become more frustrated at the lack of conversation. They will begin to think that you know something that you are not sharing  and levels of trust will diminish. In addition, they will be left to surmise and bicker amongst themselves leading to even greater divides.

So even if you don’t have the answers you can still lead decisively by being transparent, engaging and working to find the answer together.

My proposal may sound simplistic. It isn’t. It takes an extraordinary leader to admit that they don’t have the answer.  It takes an extraordinary leader not to resort to platitudes. It takes an extraordinary leader to lead that bravely.

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