The problem with today's leadership paradigm

Written by
Changeboard Team

18 Jul 2017

18 Jul 2017 • by Changeboard Team

The typical way to change people’s behaviour is to reward or threaten them. The problem with this approach is that it treats people like animals, and it works only on the surface, and only temporarily. They will “work” for a company, but they will never give it their hearts. They will never speak honestly, contribute freely, or do more than is required.
Yes, they will be motivated – to evade responsibility – but they will never be inspired. In today’s workplace, so many workers are afraid, and it shows.

They take little initiative, avoid responsibility, keep their thoughts to themselves – and bring as little as possible to the table so they won’t get in trouble. You will never capture people’s hearts by treating them this way – yet that’s how most leaders try to lead.
Similarly, to be ‘the leader’ traditionally means to take the whole enterprise on your back.

It’s an exhausting prospect. It’s also terribly ineffective. Here you are, surrounded by people with enormous talent, capability, experience, insight, and ingenuity, while you pretend to be the sole source of those things.

Two critical paradigm shifts

We’re still ‘leading’ others as if we were back in an Industrial Age world. To succeed in the Knowledge Worker Age, we must change how we see leadership.

1) Your leadership paradigm

Think about leadership in two ways: formal authority that comes with a title, and moral authority that comes with your character. Your first steps to building a winning culture are to adopt the mindset that everyone on your team can lead, and accept that it’s your job to make them leaders.

It’s time for a totally new leadership operating system that frees everyone to lead. It’s entirely possible to create the conditions where everyone can be a leader if you change your paradigm of what a leader is. When you no longer think of leadership as the sole province of a few select people, you realise that all people have primary leadership qualities that can be leveraged. Initiative, resourcefulness, vision, strategic focus, creativity – these qualities are in no way limited to the executive suite.

What does it mean to have a culture where everyone is a leader?

It means that there’s a common leadership operating system, a framework, that everyone in the organisation shares. Your devices have an operating system that makes everything else run; without it your devices are just pieces of plastic. In the same way, your work has standard operating procedures, and your organisation has a certain way of leading and behaving.

A great culture must be leader-led and designed intentionally. You must implement an established framework of behaviours and language that engages and aligns the performance of everyone in the organisation.

2) The six key practice areas

An effective operating system is rooted in six key practice areas. These essential mindsets will enable leaders to thrive. Contrasted with the common practices of the past, these six highly effective practices compose the jobs you as a leader must do now.

  1. Find and articulate the “voice” of the organisation.
  2. Execute with excellence.
  3. Unleash the productivity of people.
  4. Inspire trust.
  5. Help their customers succeed.
  6. Engender loyalty in all stakeholders.

These paradigm shifts and related practices are absolutely fundamental to success now. Each requires changing people’s hearts and minds in fundamental ways, and changing behaviour is about the hardest challenge anyone ever faces (if you don’t think so, just consider how hard it is for you to change your behaviour). It’s a great challenge, but the shift must be made if you want to lead your people to success.

A culture of leadership

The secret to building a winning culture is to replace unproductive paradigms with inspirational new paradigms and corresponding practices that will unleash extraordinarily productive behaviour. That’s the job that you must do now.