Thursday, June 28, 2012

Childlike Leadership

It's been applied to entrepreneurship in a book by Schlesinger and Kiefer (Just Start), but taking baby steps can be a path to success. In the book, they found that serial entrepreneurs take a step, test the reaction of the market, take another step, test, another step, repeat until you get a reaction you're not expecting. Just as a child would do to explore its world and acquire new skills.

The same should be said of leadership. We should remain open-minded and exploratory by testing what we think we know. If our action is successful, continue. When it's not, explore what's different. Regroup and try again.

I've talked to too many people who think they know what motivates their staff. They think they know what's behind their actions. They either give credit where it's not due or act paranoid that someone is trying to undermine them. They act accordingly. Unfortunately, they aren't open enough to notice that their staff is not reacting the way they thought or saying the things the leaders predicted. There may be shades and nuances that confirm the perception of that person's loyalty or disloyalty. It's what I call the little bit necessary to affirm the Habit of Perception: a habit that's hard to break.

As leaders, we need to be changing our own habits if we want the organization to change its habit and improve its results.

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