Amidst radical re-inventions in communications, healthcare, housing, military, transportation and many other technologies, one thing has remained unchallenged. It is the way we consider leadership, since the early stages of mankind.
The rapid and radical emergence of the Disruption Economy and its VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) implications has finally pushed us to question the orthodoxies of what we held as best practices in leadership. One theme has strongly emerged in the recent months - the vital importance of unconditional collaboration and its “Trust is given not earned” corollary.
In the old, linear and sequential days of the previous economy, trust had to be earned. Hence, endless contracts and observation rounds, detailed procedures and countless hesitations over time were the norm. With the requirements of speed, agility and creativity under the Disruption Economy, the rules have changed. “Earning” the trust and then demonstrating that the given trust is truly deserved can now happen instantaneously. We can see this occurrence in a multitude of scenarios where end users rate their experience and the “trustworthiness” or reliability of a service supplier in a split of a second. One of the world’s top business futurists, Gerd Leonhard, goes as far as claiming that “Trust is the new currency”.
Culture of Unconditional Collaboration
At a moment where numerous organizations seek to respond to complexity by organizing in matrix, it is widely forgotten that, for the matrix to succeed, mindsets and culture have to be changed as well. Any given matrix will rapidly disappoint and create chaos, confusion, conflict and inefficiency if the people's mindset has not been prepared to migrate from fear, exclusion, polarization, us vs them and silos towards bridging, including, unconditional collaboration and trust.
Since unconditional collaboration cannot be inspired through procedures nor HR guidelines, it is the culture that has to make it happen. Based on a study by Hay and Gallup, 70% of a given culture is linked to the behaviors of its leaders. Here are three levers leaders must consider to create a culture of unconditional collaboration:
Power Distance is a concept used by Geert Hofstede, the guru of cross-cultural management, which has to do with the distance that leaders subtly (or not) seek to maintain vis-a-vis their followers as much as the need that followers have to revere authority and place their leaders on a pedestal. Disruptive leaders pay extreme attention to not creating that distance which, as two Brazilian academics proved, severely damages trust, engagement and ownership.
Self-disclosure, vulnerability and feedback
An old model, the Johari Window, suggests that leaders who intend to create trust and transparency have two techniques at their disposal:
Feedback (I disclose to others the impact they had on me in a given situation) and self-disclosure (I express something they don’t know about me, which will help reinforce the relation between ourselves). Google, in their Project Aristotle, has identified that their high-performing teams had one trait in common; People felt psychologically safe. They could be themselves with their hopes, enthusiasm, dreams, ideas, creativity, weaknesses, mistakes and hence, created a strong and rich inclusion. When wondering how such a psychological security blanket was created, Google discovered that team leaders who were very good at making themselves vulnerable (not weak) created a culture of feedback and self-disclosure, leading to superior results.
Relational vs transactional
If being transactional (to the point, clear and direct) sounds more business-like and efficient, it fails to create the connection needed for exploration. In the Disruption Economy, there are so many things which we "don’t know that we don’t know”. Being relational, exploring without necessarily having a specific aim in mind, has no guarantee of success but may suddenly pave the way for a breakthrough. Disruptive leaders know how to be transactional (when time is scarce) and relational.
Building the Leaders of Tomorrow
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