Today we continue on with the topic of leadership with review of two papers from McKinsey (here and here) that look into a research term they call Centered Leadership. Recently we had the opportunity to review an article from John Hagel and John Seely Brown on the need to develop leaders, and we noted how leadership is a skill that can’t be automated by computers. We’ll start with a quick review of the five elements of McKinsey’s centered leadership and then look at each element closer.
Over the past six years, McKinsey has developed a map of capabilities we call centered leadership. This concept has five dimensions: meaning, or finding your strengths and putting them to work in the service of a purpose that inspires you; positive framing, or adopting a more constructive way to view your world and convert even difficult situations into opportunities; connecting, or building a stronger sense of community and belonging; engaging, or pursuing opportunities disguised by risk; and energizing, or practicing ways to sustain your energy on a long leadership journey.Applying these dimensions to the prospective users and Community of Independent Service Providers provides the following.
People, Ideas & Objects is focused on providing the innovative oil and gas producer with the systems needed to identify and support the Joint Operating Committee. Through this revolutionary change, the industry will be able to better manage their operations. We have also asserted that through use of People, Ideas & Objects software and the Community of Independent Service Providers (CISP), we are able to provide the most profitable means of oil and gas operations. This is our competitive advantage and the we derive meaning from these facts. (Most profitable operations are attained through the lowest cost ERP system, and the software identifying and supporting enhanced divisions of labor and specialization.)
Time and again, we heard that sharing meaning to inspire colleagues requires leaders to become great storytellers, touching hearts as well as minds. These skills are particularly applicable for executives leading through major transitions, since it takes strong personal motivation to triumph over the discomfort and fear that accompany change and that can drown out formal corporate messages, which in any event rarely fire the souls of employees and inspire greater achievement.Framing
People, Ideas & Objects sees the world optimistically. We live in times where intellectual leverage is being offered and made possible by advanced Information Technology. Setting us on a revolution that is equivalent to what we realized through mechanical leverage in the industrial revolution.
Positive psychologists have shown that some people tend to frame the world optimistically, others pessimistically. Optimists often have an edge: in our survey, three-quarters of the respondents who were particularly good at positive framing thought they had the right skills to lead change, while only 15 percent of those who weren’t thought so.Connecting
To continue on with the theme of revolution, communications are cutting through the bureaucracies enabling us to connect to like minded individuals. People, Ideas & Objects software developments provide users and members of the Community of Independent Service Providers with the opportunity to leverage their connections into the commercial realm.
With communications traveling at warp speed, simple hierarchical cascades—from the CEO down until the chain breaks—are becoming less and less effective for leaders. For starters, leaders depend increasingly on their ability to manage complex webs of connections that aren’t suited to traditional, linear communication styles. Further, leaders can find the volume of communication in such networks overwhelming. While this environment can be challenging, it also allows more people to contribute, generating not only wisdom and a wealth of ideas but also immeasurable commitment.Engaging
Of survey respondents who indicated they were poor at engaging—with risk, with fear, and even with opportunity—only 13 percent thought they had the skills to lead change. That’s hardly surprising: risk aversion and fear run rampant during times of change. Leaders who are good at acknowledging and countering these emotions can help their people summon the courage to act and thus unleash tremendous potential.An element of engaging is how People, Ideas & Objects doesn’t take the time and effort of individuals without understanding the risks and fears they may have. Therefore, the ability to move forward with this project demands that the financial resources be in place before anyone is asked to contribute. People, Ideas & Objects will not ask anyone to incur either monetary or career risks from being involved in this project.
Sustaining change requires the enthusiasm and commitment of large numbers of people across an organization for an extended period of time. All too often, though, a change effort starts with a big bang of vision statements and detailed initiatives, only to see energy peter out. The opposite, when work escalates maniacally through a culture of “relentless enthusiasm,” is equally problematic. Either way, leaders will find it hard to sustain energy and commitment within the organization unless they systemically restore their own energy (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual), as well as create the conditions and serve as role models for others to do the same. Our research suggests sustaining and restoring energy is something leaders often skimp on.Sustaining the energy for this project is something that I consider to be an important part of what I do. For the past five years in which we have been writing about using the Joint Operating Committee as the key organizational construct of the innovative oil and gas producer. We have been able to define the Draft Specification and carry this vision and strategy through some difficult periods. Keeping our “powder dry and our candle lit” for the day in which we begin the development of these systems. This process will continue until such time as the producers learn that their existing ways and means of operation are no longer able to generate value. When producers begin to lose money, we’ll know that our day is close at hand.
Moreover, this survey underscores the impact when leaders embrace not just one or two but all five dimensions of centered leadership. As our 2009 survey also suggested, finding meaning in one’s activities has the strongest impact on general satisfaction with one’s life, but the more dimensions that respondents say they have mastered, the more likely they are to rate themselves highly satisfied with their performance as leaders and with their lives generally.For this project to succeed leadership from all areas will be needed. As automation of business processes continues and accelerates, skills such as leadership will increase in the day to day activities of most people. Looking ahead what does McKinsey recommend from their research in centered leadership?
- Centered leadership equips leaders for leading change. Among leaders who have mastered all five dimensions of centered leadership, 92 percent say they have the skills to lead through times of major change (versus 21 percent for those yet to master them). Since most executives are living through particularly turbulent economic times, a focus on centered leadership could benefit leaders significantly.
- Big organizations can learn from small ones. Across the board, executives at smaller organizations say they have mastered more dimensions of centered leadership and feel better about their work performance and overall satisfaction. These results suggest that larger organizations have much to learn from small ones on how to attract, motivate, and inspire their employees.
- Future leaders are most at risk. We have long believed that mastering centered leadership is most important for younger women and men who desire to lead, a belief these numbers underscore. The youngest respondents report the lowest scores in all dimensions except connecting. Given the correlation between higher scores and good outcomes, such as leadership effectiveness and general satisfaction, companies would benefit from undertaking the cultural transformation that centered leadership augurs.
For the industry to successfully provide for the consumers energy demands, it’s necessary to build the systems that identify and support the Joint Operating Committee. Building the Preliminary Specification is the focus of People, Ideas & Objects. Producers are encouraged to contact me in order to support our Revenue Model and begin their participation in these communities. Those individuals that are interested in joining People, Ideas & Objects can join me here and begin building the software necessary for the successful and innovative oil and gas industry.
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