Conversations 6: Thinking About Models
Indeed, some of the inherent arrogance in this implies has enlightenment roots. The enlightenment science placed the humans as the masters of the universe, and eventually this translated into taking an individualistic perspective about all success, 'how I made it' celebrationism. The fact that individual success is often a combination of different factors, including sheer chance, and contributions of many other individuals, was completely forgotten. The celebration of individualism is apparent in the life of a man such as Ben Franklin, but a good biographical tale, such as Isaacson's that I own, always put the narrative in the perspective.
The 'strong leader' concept is based on execution, that someone who can make dissidents come around and get things done. However, this works only as far as what needs to be done is clear. This perspective changes when the future is uncertain and we are supposed to figure out what is to be done in the first place. One can see a straight-line progression from industrial revolution to present, but if anything, things are less than certain in the aftermath of great recession, government bankruptcies and huge growth in inequality. At times like this, one needs perhaps a leader as a 'sheep-dog', in C K Prahalad's metaphor, a leader who has a sense of the future and commitment from all fellow-travellers, but one who is willing to listen and learn - and not just talk. The populist models that we have now are too focused on manipulating (nudge is perhaps the right word) than listening, and we are losing the whole concept of listening as we get too confident about being able to change minds.
This rambling thought (this is why I called these posts, 'conversations') sets the agenda for my next three months' focus: Developing a view about leadership. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am trying to focus my individual endeavours into themes, so that even if I am not studying formally, I am able to develop my own knowledge and skills. I have been teaching a course called 'Leadership Journey' for the last two years, and I am planning to make a summary of all the discussions I have had around this, and follow this up with a series of biographical and theoretical studies. My objective is to develop an understanding of a leadership model useful for my own leadership journey, and indeed, I would like to develop a course or write an essay around it some day.