Grasping the nettle

We rarely take our old ideas out with the trash

Leadership Lessons We Can Observe in Nature

The solutions we seek requires intentionally letting go of previously held, unhelpful assumptions we hold about leadership, organisations, and people.

So what do we need to let go of and what do we need to practice moving forward?

LET GO: of Silos and Hierarchal Power 

PRACTICE: Living Systems

Living systems are dynamic and evolving. They are networked and connected. When humans are involved they are also emotional. Living systems are filled with relationship ties. The more you understand the variables, patterns, and connections, the more you understand the leverage points that can be used to influence the system.

LET GO: of Rigidity and Group Think

PRACTICE: Diversity

The difference between and organisation that is adapting, learning, and thriving into the future and one that may be making money, but will eventually find it’s business model collapsing, is whether they are becoming more diverse. Without diversity, group think and rigidity in products and beliefs make organisation’s less adaptive to what is changing in the external environment.

LET GO: of the Status Quo

PRACTICE: Dynamic movement of living systems.

It is not possible to control a dynamic system but we can influence it. Things are in flux. Transform the energy that already is in movement in the organisations. Gain peoples support by involving them in the process and decision-making, rather than try and control their behaviour and force their buy-in.

LET GO: Dampening Down Feedback

PRACTICE: Feedback loops that facilitate evolution.

Strengthen rich and diverse feedback loops, as this supports adaptation and the evolution of living systems. If we are to see our organisations as living systems, we need to develop a positive relationships because it is directly connected to our organisations ability to thrive and evolve.

LET GO: of Strategies that use Force, Top Down Control, and Manipulation

PRACTICE: Living systems cannot be steered or controlled, only attracted or nudged.

Living systems take time to respond. Traditionally when, when we don’t get an immediate response, we push harder, resulting in an increase in resistance.

Nudge and watch for small signs of movement, nudge again…

LET GO: Top Down Decision Making

PRACTICE: Living systems only accept solutions that the system helps to create.

People support what they help create. All important decisions need to have people’s fingerprints on them. Attraction instead of push. If we want to gain the active support of people, they must be free to choose. Take time to attract people to an idea instead of selling the idea to people.

LET GO: the Expectation of Blind Trust

PRACTICE: Living systems only pay attention to what is meaningful to them here and now. 

Why does this matter to you? Why does this issue matter to your work? Why does this issue(or strategic goal) matter to the organisation? Why does it matter to our world and larger community? Ensure employees understand why things matter to them.

My organisation had so many areas to prioritise, if we were serious in developing an interdependent leadership culture and to be honest we had no idea where to start. Working with Heather Gordon Leadership Consultancy has been a positive and worthwhile experience. We now have a model for our leadership transformation, which will provide us with organisational direction, alignment and commitment.

CEO - Public Sector Scotland2022