“A leader leads by example, not by enforcing it…”
– Chinese General Sun Tzu, Art of War (600 BC.)
“The master is at the back; that is why he leads. He is independent of everything; that is why he is one with everything. Because he has detached himself, he is completely fulfilled.”
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching (600 BC)
Leadership is all about vision and strategy. Strategy is about realizing that vision. Vision is always about the developments around and within the organization and its leader. The vision is a collection of points of view. The leader makes sure the stakeholders know what’s going on within and outside the organization. He or she knows what the developments are in the home market and beyond. The leader has insight into society. The leader sees the future, sets a good example, builds bridges, and connects. The leader is visible, gives clarity in conveying their vision, is honest and dependable, and acts from their own place of authenticity. Everybody in his or her vicinity knows what the leader stands for. In light of the aforementioned profile, an organization can accommodate many leaders. Leaders can no longer be identified by the fact that they are in charge (or that are trying to be in charge). That is very 20th century. True leaders receive leadership.
Cees Hoogendijk, a Dutch organizational developer and contributor to the Vertical Dialogue movement, begins with a question in his book, Strength without Power:
“What do managers do? And, whom do they manage? And, how do they manage? Everyone has his or her own assignments and someone is in charge. Or, is it somehow different? In reality, managing has degenerated to taking charge. Do managers just seek control? Do they claim power? But where do the parties involved stand, the employees? This leads us to the Vertical Dialogue. Just imagine that such a manager, when plans have to be made or problems need to be solved, would switch off his “power” and stand on equal footing with his staff. Imagine that he would weigh their professional knowledge and experience to reach a collective strategy. Would this result in acceptance and support? Would it be possible that this manager would now actually be in charge? I believe that a manager can only truly lead if he has earned the ability to be in charge. What do you think?”
In his book, The Chaordic Organization, Dee Hock says that leaders need to be focused chiefly on their own personal development. Leadership requires the ability to ask questions more so than the ability to answer them. It is all about ignoring your own ego and actually engaging in a dialogue with stakeholders.
Capelli and Singh (The India Way) see leaders in emerging nations, like India, acting as stimulators for the organizational strategy, guards of the organizational culture, and example setters for employees. Guarding the shareholder’s interest only comes in fourth!
People who can inspire other people to move away from their comfort zone are true leaders. Instead of reacting and fixing problems after the fact, these leaders enable others to self-manage on the road to fundamental changes in thinking about society and the organization of it. Claus Otto Scharmer says in his book, Addressing the Blind Spot of Our Time, that the road to this fundamental change is the biggest challenge for leaders in the 21st century:
“On all four levels – personal, group, institutional, and global – shifting from reactive responses and quick fixes on a symptoms level (Fields 1 and 2) to generative responses that address the systemic root issues (Fields 3 and 4) is the single most important leadership challenge of our time.”
These root-level issues refer to an improved balance in entrepreneurship and leadership. We call this socially-responsible managing; as well as to the monetary interest, attention is also given to social and ecological interests. Thus, Organization 3.0 is realized as a social enterprise operating in the 4th Sector.
Robert Chapman is chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller Companies, Inc., a $1.5 billion global manufacturer of capital equipment a