Leadership Recreated

Leadership in Flux:

People throughout our organizations, systems, and communities are overstressed in the face of complexity, unprecedented challenges, and accelerating technological development. This moment calls on all of us to lead such that we bring out the best in each of us individually and together, transform threats into opportunities, generate collective performance, and advance a regenerative and flourishing future.

Leadership Reimagined:

Cooperative Advantage calls on leaders to engage our common humanity, generate collective performance, and advance a flourishing future

Cooperative Advantage builds on practical evidence and scientific insights and helps leaders progress toward the inspiring vision in our book, Flourishing Enterprise. It delineates leading, following, and unifying:

Leading: connecting, coordinating, and co-creating toward a desired future. Leaders artfully combine five leadership ingredients to engage their selves and their groups, organizations, and systems.

Following: executing and reciprocally influencing.

Unifying: understanding and integrating differing perspectives into a higher unity that unlocks combined ability to create and act.Control is replaced by reciprocal influence to leverage strengths, transform conflict, and unify action. Leaders and followers adapt and shift roles to fit each situation

Leadership Ingredients:

Leaders can deliver Cooperative Advantages that amplify their effectiveness by artfully synthesizing five ingredients: I. Mindsets, II. Dimensions, III. Tiers., IV. Processes, and V. Competencies.

I. Leadership Mindsets:

Mindsets frame our internal dialogs. We interpret the situations we face through our mindsets and these drive our actions. Four Leadership Mindsets enable Cooperative Advantage:

  1. Care: I care deeply and act from my care and respect for all people and life.
  2. Opportunity: I face reality and see every problem as an opportunity in disguise
  3. Cooperation: I value potent cooperation that synthesizes differences, innovates, and unifies action
  4. Mastery: I am committed to learning, growing, and mastering leadership competencies

II. Leadership Dimensions:

Ninety per cent of S&P 500 business value is derived from intangible assets (up from 17% in 1975). Historically, leaders focused on the tangible or physical dimension (e.g., plant, equipment, structure, technology). Today intangibles, relational, and inspirational dimensions offer the greatest leverage.

These dimensions are shaped from our neurological states by means of quantum dynamics. We are most effective when our nervous systems are tuned such that our physical, relational, and inspirational capacities are aligned and mutually supportive. It is particularly challenging to maintain such alignment under stress. With the prevalence of stress today, it is imperative that we develop strong nervous system awareness and resilience. With effective practice we can learn to dynamically regulate our nervous systems such that we counteract stress and impart the relational and inspirational qualities needed to co-create the future we want. 

III. Leadership Tiers:

Cooperative Advantage calls for skillful leadership and integration of processes and dimensions across and among the following four tiers: 1. Self, 2. Group, 3. Organization, and 4. System. 

“Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, raising performance to a higher standard, building personality beyond its normal limitations. Your first and foremost job as a leader is to take charge of your own energy and then help orchestrate the energy of those around you.”                  – Peter Drucker

  1. Self: As Peter Drucker suggests, leading self is the foundation for leading others. It includes cultivating an inner calm to replace reactivity with skillful response. 
  2. Groups:This tier recognizes that work activities are often connected across various people and groups.
  3. Organizations: This tier includes integrating and unifying processes within and beyond the organization.
  4. Systems: This tier includes effectively mobilizing and integrating webs of interdependent people and groups.

IV. Leadership Processes:

These are formal and informal sets of activities that leaders take to bring about a desired future. Processes can be focused within a single tier or integrate across multiple tiers. Process excellence comes from precision and alignment within and among physical, relational, and inspirational dimensions.

V. Leadership Competencies:

Progress toward Cooperative Advantage calls for organizational and personal transformation. Transformation that synthesizes leadership mindsets, processes, and tiers along with physical, relational, and inspirational alignment. The four leadership competencies below support such transformation.

Development of these competencies improves how we lead, follow, and unify. Continual development is the engine for increasingly higher levels of leadership excellence and world class performance.

As in sports and the performing arts, a growth mindset and deliberate practice, foster continual development.  Leaders further develop leadership competences as they are challenged to connect, coordinate, and co-create in increasingly complex situations.

Getting Started:

You can introduce Cooperative Advantage through the following four steps:  

  1. Assess your leadership effectiveness. Assess the effectiveness and congruence of your Leadership Ingredients (Mindsets, Dimensions, Tiers, Processes, and Competencies).  Identify leadership strengths and shortcomings and determine how these connect to your ingredient assessments.
  2. Establish priorities. Consider your strategic priorities, your assessment of leadership effectiveness, and the needs at each of your four tiers to determine your most important priorities.
  3. Begin with a small group pilot. Choose a specific area to pilot; start with a small and committed group.
  4. Design and launch a broader effort. Use lessons from the pilot and findings from steps 1 and 2 to inform subsequent efforts.