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Jans Corner: What lies beyond Leadership?

Leadership is critical for a team or organisation and there is no doubt about it. Leaders at all levels provide direction, inspiration, example, and reassuring energy for people around them – more so in times of turbulent changes, complex challenges, and new breed of seemingly invisible opportunities.

Today, it is safe to say that leadership is a requirement for performance, not a luxury. Actually, according not just to numerous leadership gurus but also common sense, everyone needs to step up and stand out and be a leader – responsible and responsive, authentic and effective – regardless of his or her title and position in the organisation or team for it to have a chance to succeed.

Now, imagine an organisation where the leadership challenge has been resolved. Everyone is a leader. There is nobody to look up to and no one left to follow – at least not in a traditional sense. How does one work as one amongst leaders, and how does one lead in such setting? What makes it effective and sustainable rather than competitive and ultimately counter-productive?

When everyone is a leader, what taps and directs the collective energy and allows for a higher level of collaboration and performance is the context and environment of partnership.

Partnership is a shared mentality and an environment that allows leaders to thrive, and ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary feats, not just once, but over and over.

It is a place where you are successful by making others successful; where you experience flow by bringing others into flow; where you focus on co-creating, not negotiating. It is about intentionally combining differences for accomplishing a meaningful joint purpose.

In a organisation where partnership is the operating principle, something of a new quality emerges. Just like when in chemistry you join two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen – both gases – and you get a whole new substance – water – that is actually a liquid.

In an environment of partnership, people who were asleep come alive. Work that was drudgery becomes fun. Talents that were hidden come to the surface. Differing perspectives that caused friction become complementary pieces of a beautiful mosaic. Obligations become privileges. And threats become opportunities.

Who wouldn’t want to work in a place like that? Who wouldn’t give their best in an environment like that?

Fortunately, creating an environment of partnership can start now, if you choose so. A few starter ideas include:

  • PURPOSE: Clarifying and communicating why you exist and what you work for as a team and organisation (and it isn’t likely maximising shareholder value)
  • COLLECTIVE SUCCESS: Building on individual strengths and perspectives towards collective success – making it not about who is right but what is best, all the time!
  • TRANSPARENCY: Making the business transparent; finding the courage to show  everyone what is going on under the hood – in terms of activities, accountabilities, information, and money flows – will open up new levels of understanding, involvement and ownership
  • PERSONAL VALUE: Encouraging everyone to know their personal value and see their place in the value creation to best participate, contribute and lead

Cultivating a mindset and environment of partnership is what will make everyone to step up and play their best game – both in sunshine and in rain.

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