If ever there was a time for leading and driving much needed change; for courageous leaders willing to purposefully disrupt entrenched, ineffective practices; that time is now.
Why do I say that? Well, if you take a broader look at the current status quo across the world, things are clearly not working well, and they haven’t been for some time. You don’t have to scratch the surface very deeply to see poor leadership models; unethical decision making, underhanded dealings, inequality and unfair treatment, lots of back-scratching, shoulder-tapping, and C-seat swapping, lots of MDBTY [my-dick’s-bigger-than-yours] powerplay, corruption cover-ups, and a whole lot of self-preservation strategizing.
Woah! Steady on Jilinda, you say. That’s a whole barrel full of below-the-line, negative behaviours there. Sure is. But let’s take off the rose-coloured glasses and ‘don't-worry-be-happy’ face masks for a moment: it IS really that bad. No point glossing over it; that doesn’t change anything.
Right now, there are seriously concerning decisions being made by powerful global leaders, the Australian Banking Commission has uncovered some very disturbing, unethical practices, most of our politicians just finger-point, deflect, and spin parroted spiel focused on killing off their opponents, and closer to home; our Local Government sector is in damage control over growing investigations into crime, corruption and poor governance behaviours from some Council leaders.
I’ve personally observed, experienced, and had to coach people who think that behaviours like that are simply: ‘how it is’ or ‘how to play a politically savvy game’. These passed-down, seemingly accepted or normalised behaviours that survive year to year, generation to generation, Board to Board, CEO to CEO; continue because not enough has been done to change that.
Deliberate and daring disruption is necessary.
Despite the entire world watching these days through online connectedness and global file sharing, I find the blatant lack of appetite from many of the power-players to change what is increasingly showcased as unacceptable behaviour; quite remarkable and frankly, just arrogant. Need I mention those mind-boggling tweets from world leaders? Or the lack of transparency in local arenas?
Ignorance is no longer an accepted excuse, nor should it be tolerated. Information, research and data is broadly shared; knowledge and understanding are readily available. You’d have to be choosing to keep your head in the sand to not notice what’s really going on, or that change is required. Most people I speak with are increasingly concerned with the way things are. It’s not OK to ignore or deflect these issues as just a few people behaving badly.
Sure, there are some good leaders – I've met and coached some great role-models. Yes, there are good people working in those same organisations and industries in crisis. They provide the glimmers of hope, ripples of dissention, and hopefully, courageous questioning and the confidence to step up. It’s a good thing that these commissioned major enquiries are now occurring. Disruption of the protection pack long overdue. Many inside the tent know that.
To move onwards and upwards effectively, organisations must to be willing to conduct a deeper review of what’s gone wrong; rather than trying to defend the criticism or looking to blame one or two scapegoats. Suddenly running upbeat mass-media campaigns focused on promoting all the wonderful things ‘we do’, doesn’t fool anyone. Telling the communities and customers we serve that there’s ‘nothing to see here’ and that everything is ‘business as normal’, is not a solution – it’s a band aid.
In my opinion, that approach only heightens concern that the real core issue is not being taken seriously or addressed, but rather suppressed under a shiny protective coating.
It’s time to disrupt the ‘normal’ … normalcy breeds complacency.
Real change, systemic and sustainable, will require fundamental change in the way many think, in what is valued and entrenchly believed, and in the standards expected from our leaders. Higher standards of character traits [moral judgement, honesty, ethical drivers], competence [especially emotional intelligence], and courageous confidence [adaptability, enthusiasm, inspirational leadership] is what's needed to lead positive change.
The responsibility for a deliberately disruptive solution sits at the top - industry leaders, community leaders, organisational leaders. Firstly, the vision, values, direction, priorities and focus for the next chapter needs to be clearly agreed and outlined by the governing leadership group [Board, Council, Committee, Exec Leadership Team], BEFORE recruiting the ‘right-fit’ leaders [CEOs, GMs, Directors].
Then, recruitment into lead roles needs to be more strongly focused on the right character traits and emotional intelligence levels. From current research, most leadership roles are still being advertised and filled on experience, accreditations, technical ability, and long-term industry tenure; rather than values, motives, drivers and desirable character traits. But this ‘normalised’ entrenched approach is clearly not working well.
So, we think it’s time to shake that up. 'We've always done it this way' is not a valid reason to continue with same-same approach. Same-same is no longer accepted.
This month, our Vital Leaders theme is all about raising the bar in performance expectations. Rising up out of the normal, mediocre, average, ordinary box. We’ll be writing, talking, and sharing ideas on performance improvement for:
- Industries / Organisations
Are you with us on this journey? Isn’t it time you disrupt the status quo, smash through the normalcy barriers and focus on more dynamic solutions. Remember: old ways wont’ give new results.
Dare to DISRUPT. Dare to LEAD dynamically.
Written by Jilinda Lee - recognised leadership coach and mentor for leaders and managers, the Institute of Managers and Leaders, and champion partner of the Lean In global movement – encouraging and enabling more women to step up into lead roles.
Vital Leaders mission is to develop more dynamic, authentic, and emotionally intelligent, engaging leaders.