Being the Leader

Because being the leader is more important than all the leadership skills in the world.

 Leadership Stereotypes And Myths: Your version

You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.

Alvin Toffler

 Who are the leaders who inspire you?

Who would you like to be like?

What makes a great leader?

These may seem like simple obvious questions with simple obvious answers- in the run up to the General Election in the UK a Newspaper asked many of the leading contenders who they were inspired by, it got to be a relief if they didn’t say Nelson Mandela.  This is not to dismiss the influence of Mandela nor to doubt the genuineness of their responses, but if you really think about who you are impressed by, you may need to think about what it is about them exactly that chimes with you, and whether this is awe, or something you can yourself aspire to!

‘The map is not the territory’.

How you experience the world is your own unique version of it.  For example when witnesses to an accident are asked what happened they will all give a subtly or even dramatically different version of the event.  All of them are true, to the person who tells them.

There are three major patterns that people use to filter their worldview, and to set up a map for themselves of how things work.  Our understanding of leadership is not immune. (and nor is mine… I know I resist good sense from leaders whose politics I dislike.  There are undoubtedly other issues that I miss because of my own worldview.) 

Deletion, Distortion, Generalisation[1]

This is how we manage potentially overwhelming information.

Deletion:  We cannot pay attention to everything, so we chose to notice whatever we think is relevant.  This selection is essential or we would get overwhelmed.  As a result we ignore or do not notice huge quantities of information.

What do you choose to ignore as a leader?

Distortion: We all create our own model of reality, yours will be different from those of the people around you, although you may assume that they think the same way you do, without any evidence to back it up.

who do you assume is on the same page as you… are you sure?

Generalisation: Over time we recognise patterns in what happens about us, about how we think, and we start to believe that the pattern will ‘always’ happen.  We make up rules about how the world is, and therefore will be, with mixed success; which we allow to dictate our behaviour.

what rules have you adopted?  are they really so?

Strategy for Leadership

You will appreciate the pitfalls of these models- this is how prejudice, bad habits, stereotypes and lazy thinking come about.  It’s hard to be a dynamic organisation if your version of dynamism is completely different from what the rest of your leadership team think it is, for example.

You can choose to change your filter and look at things differently; it just takes practise.

Think about and discuss your beliefs about leadership: 

Might they be stereotypes?

What gets deleted, or distorted when you think about leadership,  especially your leadership?

What generalisations are you making?

To counteract the deletion tendency, challenge your assumptions ask yourself… 

Who says? 

How do I know? 

How does X mean Y?

Is that all?

To counteract the distortion tendency, gather more information… ask yourself when/where/what/how/who exactly/specifically/precisely?

To counteract the generalisation tendency, expand your limits…ask yourself:

What – always/never/every time?  Really?

What would happen if…?

What stops me?

And when you’ve asked yourself these questions, ask them of your team, individually, and as a group.  You may be surprised and delighted by the answers.

[1] Adapted from Richard Bandler & John Grinder The Structure of Magic Volume 1  1975

copyright Cherry Potts, Revolution-Evolution 2011

About Cherry Potts

Cherry Potts is a publisher/editor. fiction writer and teacher, event organiser, photographer, book designer, NLP master practitioner, life coach and trainer. She sings for fun. Through Arachne Press she publishes fiction and non fiction and runs spoken word events and cross-arts workshops for writers at interesting venues. Always interested in new opportunites to perform, write or explore writing.
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