…thoughts on and about my PhD journey and beyond…

Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

Leadership as Energy Management: Reconnecting Humanist Concerns with Leadership for Knowledge-Intensive Enterprises

I presented at ATEM’s Bass Region Conference: Wellbeing: People and Places on May 11.  Here is the abstract.

We find ourselves today, in the second decade of the 21st century, embedded in a knowledge-intensive era (Uhl-Bien et al 2007) framed by the interrelationships between knowledge production as the main driver of growth and wealth creation, globalisation, massification of education and deepening concerns about our world’s environmental sustainability.  The shift is towards a different approach, not yet named or fully understood, yet emerging as leadership perspectives appropriate today’s VUCA[1] (Johansen, 2009) conditions that frame our work in Australia Tertiary Education today.

One definition of leadership that accords with these conditions is that “leaders are in the business of energy management” (Kets de Vries, 2003 p. 111).  This definition acknowledges that leadership is deeply bound to the sustainable use of our creative energies.  It also elevates the judicious governance of energy of self, others and the environment alongside, not subordinate to, financial governance, and therefore towards more holistic approaches to governance (Elkington, 1998; Bragdon, 2006).  This approach calls different and deeper ways of thinking about our world, our worldviews and our leadership and research practices.  It has resonance with the Human Relations Movement from the 1930s (Follett 1925) that remained unprivileged for much of the 20th century but has since been rediscovered in the 21st century as a theoretical basis to work with effectively with today’s VUCA environment.  For example, it can provide the language for leaders and followers to articulate what they may have long felt—that profits above all else and rampant consumerism are not serving the purpose of our lives and they are leading to unsustainable business practices that are harming people and the planet (Evans, 2008).

Human Sustainability Development excercise.  This is how audience members rated institution, all in second wave development stages.

My research has found that appropriate leadership literacies for the Knowledge Era rest on these humanist principles which expand governance to include human, environmental and financial energies.  Such leadership understandings bring issues of sustainability and complexity into the leadership fold, based on the premise that leadership is not set apart from the living systems—human and environmental—that we serve (Davis, 2010a, b).  Here the term literacy suggests more than just the ability to read and write, to be literate also implies a deeper understanding of the particular phenomenon under review and the ability to make sense of, embody, interpret and interact with complex sources of information and experiences inherent in that domain.The literacies emerging from my inquiry have been named as ‘Worldly’, ‘Sustaining’, ‘Leaderful’, ‘Relational’ and ‘Learningful’ Leadership Literacies for the Knowledge Era and these have been tested for signs whether they have yet been theorised and experienced in Australian universities.  To test for signs of observation and experience, some ATEM members were asked about their lived experience of work and leadership during the period November 2009-February 2010 in an online survey.  The results relating to whether the ‘Sustaining Literacy’ had been observed or experienced will be the focus of this presentation, particularly the results pertaining to human sustainability development and energy management drivers that have been investigated as part of this inquiry. 

References

Bragdon, J. H. 2006. Profit for life, how capitalism excels:  Case studies in living asset management. Cambridge, MA: Society for Organization Learning Inc.

Davis, H. 2010a. Other-centredness as a leadership attribute: From ego to eco centricity. Journal of Spirituality, Leadership and Management, 4(1): pp. 43-52.

Davis, H. 2010b. The sustainability zeitgeist as a gps for worldly leadership within the discourse of globalisation, European Academy of Management 10th Annual Conference: Back to the future. Rome: EURAM.

Elkington, J. 1998. Cannibals with forks: The triple bottom line of 21st century business. Gabriola Island, BC ; Stony Creek, CT: New Society Publishers.

Evans, P. 2008. Is an alternative globalization possible? Politics Society, 36(2): pp. 271 – 305.

Follett, M. P. 1925. Dynamic administration: The collected papers (H.C. Metcalf & L.F. Urwick 1940 ed.). New York: Harper & Bros.

Johansen, R. 2009. Leaders make the future: Ten new leadership skills for an uncertain world. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Kets de Vries, M. F. R. 2003. Leaders, fools and imposters:  Essays on the psychology of leadership (Rev ed.). New York: iUniverse Inc.

Klenke, K. 2008. Qualitative research in the study of leadership. Bingley, UK: Emerald.

Uhl-Bien, M., Marion, R., & McKelvey, B. 2007. Complexity leadership theory: Shifting leadership from the industrial age to the knowledge era. The Leadership Quarterly, 18(4): pp. 298-318.

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Servant Leadership Theory as an indicator of the Worldly Knowledge Era Leadership Literacy

Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933)American psycho...

Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My abstract has been accepted for the Global Servant-Leadership Research Roundtable to be held in Melbourne in June.  I am using SL theory (and particularly Sendjaya’s SL Behaviour Scale Model) as an indicator of a worldly leadership mindset.  Here is my abstract:

Leadership Redux: Reconnecting Humanist Concerns with Leadership for the Knowledge Era through the Lens of Servant Leadership

We find ourselves today, in the second decade of the 21st century, embedded in a knowledge-intensive era (Uhl-Bien, Marion, & McKelvey, 2007) framed by the interrelationships between knowledge production as the main driver of growth and wealth creation, globalisation, massification of education and deepening concerns about our world’s environmental sustainability.  As Klenke (2008) argues, these changes are signifiers of a “paradigm shift that is permeating the field of leadership studies” (p. 380) as we move away from 19th century industrial era and machine-age leadership mindsets where command and control practices and heroic leadership models were privileged and still influence leadership practices today.  The shift is towards a different approach, not yet named or fully understood, yet emerging as leadership perspectives appropriate today’s VUCA[1] (Johansen, 2009) environment.

A Servant Leadership (SL) (Greenleaf, 1977; Spears & Lawrence, 2002) redux is not surprising given these turbulent conditions, especially since the Global Financial Crisis (Shiller, 2008; Lamba, 2010).  SL theory is integral to making sense of these conditions which call for different and deeper ways of thinking about our world, our worldviews and our leadership and research practices.  Leaders and followers are articulating what they may have long felt—that profits above all else and rampant consumerism are not serving the purpose of our lives and they are leading to unsustainable business practices that are harming people and the planet (Evans, 2008).  It is also emblematic of the renaissance of humanist principles of leadership (Follett, 1924, 1925; Mayo, 1933; Barnard, 1938) taken up from the latter stages of the 20th century, for example, by McGregor (1960),  Drucker (1993), Hock (1999), Raelin (2003), Senge et al (2004) and Turnbull (2011).

One definition of leadership that accords with the principles of SL and works with the conditions already described is that “leaders are in the business of energy management” (Kets de Vries, 2003 p. 111).  This definition acknowledges that leadership is deeply bound to the sustainable use of our creative energies. It also elevates the judicious governance of energy of self, others and the environment alongside, not subordinate to, financial governance, and therefore towards more holistic approaches to governance (Elkington, 1998; Bragdon, 2006, 2009).

My research has found that appropriate leadership literacies for the knowledge era rest on these humanist principles and this expanded notion of governance and, indeed, that SL is central to this endeavour.  Such leadership literacies bring issues of sustainability and complexity into the leadership fold, based on the premise that leadership is not set apart from the living systems—human and environmental—that we serve (Davis, 2010a, b).  Here the term literacy suggests more than just the ability to read and write, to be literate also implies a deeper understanding of the particular phenomenon under review and the ability to make sense of, embody, interpret and interact with complex sources of information and experiences inherent in that domain. 

The leadership literacies I have determined from the literature as appropriate for the Knowledge Era have, in turn, been used to investigate whether they are yet evident in Australian universities, by asking university professional staff about their lived experience of work and leadership.  The responses were analysed against the selected themes of this inquiry which are grounded in a SL Behavioral Scale (SLBS) (Sendjaya, Sarros, & Santora, 2008)[2] with the addition of sustainability development; leadership as work, i.e. process and practice; worldly leadership; and learning metabolism.  I expect my findings to elucidate that the re-emergence of humanist concerns in general, and Servant Leadership theory in particular, are strong foundations for leadership literacies for the Knowledge Era.

References

Barnard, C. I. 1938. The functions of the executive. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Bragdon, J. H. 2006. Profit for life, how capitalism excels:  Case studies in living asset management. Cambridge, MA: Society for Organization Learning Inc.

Bragdon, J. H. 2009. Capitalism as a human system: The value of relational equity. Reflections, 10(1): pp. 1-8.

Davis, H. 2010a. Other-centredness as a leadership attribute: From ego to eco centricity. Journal of Spirituality, Leadership and Management, 4(1): pp. 43-52.

Davis, H. 2010b. The sustainability zeitgeist as a gps for worldly leadership within the discourse of globalisation, European Academy of Management 10th Annual Conference: Back to the future. Rome: EURAM.

Drucker, P. F. 1993. Post-capitalist society. Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann,.

Elkington, J. 1998. Cannibals with forks: The triple bottom line of 21st century business. Gabriola Island, BC ; Stony Creek, CT: New Society Publishers.

Evans, P. 2008. Is an alternative globalization possible? Politics Society, 36(2): pp. 271 – 305.

Follett, M. P. 1924. Creative experience. New York: Longmans, Green and Co.

Follett, M. P. 1925. Dynamic administration: The collected papers (H.C. Metcalf & L.F. Urwick 1940 ed.). New York: Harper & Bros.

Greenleaf, R. K. 1977. Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness. New York: Paulist Press.

Hock, D. 1999. Birth of the chaordic age. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Johansen, R. 2009. Leaders make the future: Ten new leadership skills for an uncertain world. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Kets de Vries, M. F. R. 2003. Leaders, fools and imposters:  Essays on the psychology of leadership (Rev ed.). New York: iUniverse Inc.

Klenke, K. 2008. Qualitative research in the study of leadership. Bingley, UK: Emerald.

Lamba, H. S. 2010. Understanding the ideological roots of our global crises: A pre-requisite for radical change. Futures, 42(10): pp. 1079-1087.

Mayo, E. 1933. The human problems of an industrial civilization. New York,: The Macmillan company.

McGregor, D. 1960. The human side of enterprise. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Raelin, J. A. 2003. Creating leaderful organizations: How to bring out leadership in everyone. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Sendjaya, S., Sarros, J. C., & Santora, J. C. 2008. Defining and measuring servant leadership behaviour in organizations. Journal of Management Studies, 45(2): pp. 402 – 424.

Senge, P. M., Scharmer, C. O., Jaworski, J., & Flowers, B. S. 2004. Presence: Human purpose and the field of the future. Cambridge, MA: SoL.

Shiller, R. J. 2008. The subprime solution: How today’s global financial crisis happened and what to do about it. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press.

Spears, L. C., & Lawrence, M. 2002. Focus on leadership: Servant-leadership for the twenty-first century. New York: J. Wiley & Sons.

Turnbull, S., Case, P., Edwards, G., Schedlitzki, D., & Simpson, P. (Eds.). 2011. Worldly leadership: Alternative wisdoms for a complex world. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Uhl-Bien, M., Marion, R., & McKelvey, B. 2007. Complexity leadership theory: Shifting leadership from the industrial age to the knowledge era. The Leadership Quarterly, 18(4): pp. 298-318.

van Dierendonck, D. 2011. Servant leadership: A review and synthesis. Journal of Management, 37(4): pp. 1228-1261.


[1] Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA)

[2] The SLBS was also cited in van Dierendonck, D. 2011. Servant leadership: A review and synthesis. Journal of Management, 37(4): pp. 1228-1261.

Many agents acting in parallel

In celebration of this year’s World Day of Interconnectness (WDI), I have contributed a chapter to an e-book published to mark the occasion. The e-book can be downloaded from here. Please share the e-book and think about what ‘interconnectness’ means to you.

Other events scheduled for the WDI on 10.10.10 include a free leadership webinar 24 hour marathon and lots more at the WDI website.

WDI_ebook

Davis, H. 2010. Many agents acting in parallel: recognising patterns of interconnectness in leadership, learning and life, in, M. Carlton (ed). Exploring our world of interconnectness: in celebration of World Interconnectness Day 2010, Hamilton, NZ: Maruki Books, pp. 22-26.

Introduction

This chapter discusses the significance of interconnectness to leadership, learning and life in times signified by the convergence of the natural, social and economic worlds and where the principal means of production is knowledge.

Where a common metaphor for the industrial era was the machine, a recurring metaphor for the knowledge era is an ecological one. Metaphors emanate from mindsets appropriate for the times within which they were set. However, the speed of change experienced in the last 50 years has added to the complexity already associated with paradigmatic change leaving us with little space to process it. Within the contexts of globalization and sustainability, as with everyday life, this has allowed archaic patterns of thought, values and culture to linger and intermingle with those appropriate for the world we are now experiencing. The challenge for leadership, learning and life in the 21st century has never been greater.

Discussion

It’s time to stake a claim that relationship-based intangible attributes like interconnectedness are indeed central to leadership, learning and living harmoniously in the knowledge era. We urgently need to fix problems emanating from using 19th century thinking for 21st century issues. A worldview based on mechanistic, linear and rationalist thinking was fine for a 19th century industrial era but no longer serves the needs of a world where volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity mark the terrain. The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) is a consequence of applying old world thinking to 21st century problems. One simple way of shifting this balance is to speak up, speak out and join together. The annual World Day of Interconnectness is a vehicle to do just that.

Personally and collectively we can no longer condone a thinking that sees the world and world events as disparate, unrelated or ‘none of our concern’. We need look no further than the crumbling worldview of the economic rationalist to see that a rational, arms length, profits before all else approach is folly. It’s not working, it’s not healthy, it’s not fair and it’s costing us our planet.

Truth does not cease to exist just because it is being ignored. – John St. Augustine

We have an opportunity, post-GFC, to do things differently. The World Day of Interconnectness reminds us that we can all make a difference, that we all can and should take responsibility for our own actions and to join with others who seek sustainable and humane futures. It’s a reminder that we are of the world as well as in the world and that responsibility rests with all of us to improve the human and environmental condition.

Relationship-based attributes such as interconnectness are vital. Actually, relationships and intangible soft skills have always been important but they haven’t necessarily been privileged in the discourse of leadership or through the lens of globalisation based on neo-liberal/economic rationalist principles that has, up until recently, been the dominant paradigm.

As people become more mindful of their own actions and interactions, an expanded—and in some cases new—sense of interconnectness surfaces as we recognise and take up responsibility for how our actions impact on our lifeworlds. Paradoxically, the seemingly selfish act of spending time and energy reflectively seeking to know who we are often leads to growth—not contraction—of our sense of responsibility to others and the environment, allowing us to see the world as the interconnected whole that it has always been.

A knowledge-intensive era is very different from the industrial era where much of the current globalization, economic and leadership hegemony is drawn. Our world is now a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous place and it is far more fitting to think about harnessing the strength of this ‘messy’ world than to spend our energy trying to tame or order it. This calls for mindsets amenable to working with the ‘mess’ based on, for example, ecology, complex adaptive systems theory or quantum theory, rather than a Newtonian mechanistic and linear mindset grounded in stability that worked for the industrial era.

We are now witnessing a shift towards a third wave of globalisation that can be tracked directly to concerns for the world running deeper than economics, and the realisation that we actually live in a society not an economy. This new wave of globalisation is premised on the joining together of the sustainability (human and ecological) and economic discourses. Previous to this sustainability and the economy were at odds with each other and often in conflict.

The ecological metaphor is also an excellent guide for how we might expand our thinking to lead, learn and live productively in the knowledge era. This metaphor privileges the interconnected nature of our world as well as the deep interdependence between ourselves, the environment and the economy. An ecological model illustrates that there are no ‘externalities’ and that everything—including ecological and humane considerations—is in play and needs to be taken into account when determining economic value, costs, benefits and policies.

In a knowledge-intensive economy leaders have a particular set of literacies to absorb and these are very different to those needed in the command and control doctrine of the industrial era. Leadership literacies for the knowledge era focus on people-centred attributes and encourage leaders to see themselves as teachers, enablers and stewards who encourage commitment and responsibility in themselves and their followers. They also need to tap into intangible qualities like trust, values and commitment. In order to be leadership literate for the knowledge era leaders must develop a deep understanding of themselves and their world. Leaders will have an awareness of and responsibility for the interconnected world of the enterprise to its stakeholders and the environment. Leaders also need to be able to surface underlying values, assumptions and ideologies that are in play in order to understand how leadership practices effect production in a knowledge-intensive economy.

Importantly, an ecological model can also encourage us to think about working with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, rather than against it. Indeed there is a growing interest in combining design science and humane leadership principles based on knowing ourselves well, which in turn expands our notion of interconnectness. An example can be seen in the work of Johansen[1]:

Leaders must learn how to make the future in the midst of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. We need not passively accept the future. Leaders can and must make a better future.

Leaders in the future will need to have vision, understanding, clarity and agility. The negative aspects of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) can be turned around by following these principles:

  • Volatility yields to vision
  • Uncertainty yields to understanding
  • Complexity yields to clarity
  • Ambiguity yields to agility.

As we become more mindful of and take responsibility for our own actions and interactions, an expanded—and in some cases new—sense of interconnectness surfaces. This paradox helps to explain the notion of interrelatedness, this intangible leadership attribute so important for the knowledge era. To comprehend the paradox is to recognize that before we can truly understand our interdependence with others—people and the environment—we must first know ourselves in a way that transcends our own ego and in a way that is not fearful of difference and diversity of viewpoints, as Gandhi reminds us:

You and I are the same thing. I cannot hurt you without harming myself – Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

Another connection between a strengthened sense of interconnectness and the benefit of knowing ourselves more clearly is a deeper understanding of our own values. This knowledge helps us in our day to day interactions with our colleagues and our wider communities where virtual and real communities of practice may emerge based on comparable interests and values sets. In addition, our values are a mediator of the messy and unknowable world we experience every day.A

Conclusion

This chapter discussed the significance of interconnectness to leadership, learning and life in an environment signified by the convergence of the natural, social and economic worlds and where the principal means of production is knowledge. It outlined the paradigmatic shifts occurring in society framed by the interrelationships between knowledge production as the main driver of growth and wealth creation, globalisation and deepening concerns about our world’s environmental sustainability.

It called for recognition of the interdependence and interconnectedness of leadership, learning, and life by seeing the world as the interconnected whole that it has always been. Interconnectness and other relationship- based attributes were discussed and positioned as appropriate leadership literacies for times epitomized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

Borrowing from Complex Adaptive Systems theory this chapter also reminds us that there are always many agents acting in parallel—whether we realise this or not—and confirmed the significance of action and activities like the annual World Day of Interconnectness, to our unfolding understanding of our world.

[1] Johansen, R. 2009. Leaders make the future: ten new leadership skills for an uncertain world. San Francisco, Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Heather Davis

Heather is in the final stages of a PhD study identifying appropriate leadership literacies for the knowledge era and testing them in the higher education sector in Australia. The theme of interconnectness resonates very well with her studies and outlook on life. Heather makes good use of Web 2.0 technologies to share her research experiences, including a blog at https://leadershipliteracies.wordpress.com.

This is the second year that Heather has contributed to World Day of Interconnectness activities. Last year she hosted a webinar “Small ‘l’ leadership: taking leadership personally” as part of the Leaders Café Foundation’s contribution of free leadership webinars.

Heather lives in Torquay, Australia, with her partner Philip and has two adult children, Ashleah and Rohan, who live nearby.

Other-Centredness and kindred mindful approaches to leadership in an emerging world

Pedagogical Creed

Image by technovore via Flickr

Please forgive me, it has been several months since my last confession–oh…I mean posting!!  There are quite a few reasons for this ranging from writer’s block, to shifting into the ‘doing’ part of my research, and as my supervisor pointed out to me–that I am moving from one stage of my research to another and perhaps I don’t have such a need for the writing-as-thinking outlet.

The blog has been instrumental to the conceptual stage of my research, both as the writing-as-thinking platform and a way to share my learnings and in many cases un-learnings with my peers.  As a practictioner-researcher, this sharing of information and the opportunity to receive feedback has been an important part of my personal research journey.

As I enter into the data collection stage this blog might be rather quiet, but no doubt when I get into the analysis stage it will re-emerge as I wrestle with and make sense of my thoughts and the data.

Today then is quite an important marker in my PhD journey as my data collection has officially begun, and I’ve just received notification that an abstract has been accepted for a conference next February, see the following abstract.

Until next time….

(more…)

Small ‘l’ leadership

I’m very happy to have been invited to take this week’s free Saturday LeadLab webinar hosted by LeadCap.  It will run on Saturday July 11, 10 am – 11 am Indian IST (which is 2.30 – 3.30 pm Melbourne time).

I will be talking about small ‘l’ leadership and its relevance to leading in the knowledge era and also how it connects with LeadCap’s mandate to develop one million leaders in the next 5 years. 

The webinar is based on my PhD research ‘leadership literacies for the knowledge era’ and I’ll be revealing for the first time what they are! I’ll also be reporting on the emerging themes from the International Conference on Thinking I attended and presented at last week.

Please join me for this free webinar on Saturday July 11th.  The webinar platform is DimDim and you may need to download a web applet so please check your connection prior to the event from www.dimdim.com.

To access the webinar on the day go to www.leadcap.org and follow the links to the Saturday LeadLab.  The space will open approx 15 minutes prior to the starting time.

Manfred Kets de Vries presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the ILA

Palgrave recently announced that Manfred Kets de Vries had been presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Leadership Association (ILA). This news was of particular interest to me because he is one of my main theorists for my own practice and research.  I particularly like his notions of ‘inner theater’, ‘leadership as energy management’ and his work around ‘followership/leadership relations’ as outlined in his book “Leaders, fools and imposters: essays on the psychology of leadership”.

As it happened, I also met Cynthia Cherrey, President of the ILA (International Leadership Association) in Auckland last week at the ‘Studying Leadership’ conference and joined the ILA myself upon my return.

Here is the rest of the announcement about the award:

For the first time, this prestigious organisation honoured founding professionals in the development of leadership as a field and as a discipline.  Kets de Vries, Director of the INSEAD Global Leadership Centre (IGLC), is considered one of the world’s leading thinkers on management and has over 30 years of teaching experience in organisational behaviour and leadership studies.

‘Manfred Kets de Vries is a true pioneer in the field of leadership and we are delighted to acknowledge his lifetime achievements with this award,’ said Shelly Wilsey, Director of the International Leadership Association. ‘His exemplary work has been instrumental in the development and continued advancement of global leaders,’ added Cynthia Cherrey, President of the ILA.

Kets de Vries holds the Raoul de Vitry d’Avaucourt Chair of Leadership Development at INSEAD and is a founding member of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organisations. Hia new book ‘Sex, Money, Happiness and Death’ will be publishing in April 2009.
For more information about his books visit: www.palgrave.com/business/insead.asp

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