Friday, June 25, 2010

Third Generation Leadership engages people

It doesn't really matter what I might think of Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott, Julia Gillard or any other politician. What does matter is what may be learned from the absolutely unbelievable last few days in Australian politics.

The dominant leadership model today in politics as in most other areas of life is either First Generation Leadership in which obedience is demanded or Second Generation Leadership in which conformance is rewarded and non conformance is punished. Both of these are leadership approaches in which the emphasis is on hierarchy and control. These are the approaches which lead to "strong" leadership which sets goals and then brooks no denial or excuse in the attainment of these goals.

Unfortunately for the advocates of these approaches, increasing numbers of people today are refusing to accept that these are the best, or even the only, way to lead.

Last evening I built a list of the Prime Ministers in Australia since 1976 (when arrived here). Without exception they have been people who maintained very tight control over their parties and over the public servants who answered to them. Like them or loathe them, each of them have achieved much and each of them has fallen short in one or another area. In every case, eventually people rebelled against their controls and an increasing number of "leaks" made their way to the public arena with consequent embarrassment to the leader and/or his party.

Third Generation Leadership takes a totally different approach. Third Generation Leadership doesn't demand compliance or conformance. Third Generation Leadership is based on the concept of engaging with people so that they want to follow. The first step in bringing this about lies in the leader earning the respect of those he or she wants to lead.

From where sit, it seems that this is 180 degrees from the approach generally seen. My observations indicate that our "leaders" seem to expect respect to be automatic given their role.

My observations also indicate that this approach is failing.

Its about time we got leaders in every area of life who concentrated on engaging with people in such a way that people want to follow. And that will require a huge change in the attitudes and behaviour of virtually all those who claim to lead.

I'd love to know what you think of this. Please post a comment below.

More information about Doug Long at

Friday, June 18, 2010

Conditional Respect is Red Zone, Stupid

Well, what a week or two!

Its only a short time since those seeking to break the blockade of Gaza received far more publicity and sympathy than could have been imagined by the stupid (and probably criminal) actions of Israeli forces boarding a ship in international waters and killing at least 9 of those people who, despite what some may say, sought quite legally to defend themselves against this attack.

Its just 10 days since a footballer, Timana Tahu, was prepared to step away from a career high point - representing his state in the Australian Rugby League (RFL) State of Origin series - in order to draw attention to blatantly racist statements by one of RFL's previous "greats". [Despite this ARL experience, in the past 48 hours, we have had two one-time "greats" in the Australian Football League (AFL) again make overtly racist comments.]

That which is common to all of these is the issue of respect.

Clearly the assistant coach in the RFL and the two "greats" from the AFL do not have unconditional respect for all players. Equally clearly the Israeli government does not have unconditional respect for people who fail to comply with what Israel demands. And it is this conditional respect shown sby ome in the RFL and the AFL and by Israel that has caused them problems.

The rights and wrongs of Timana Tahu's action and of the Palestinian blockade will be debated by many and each side is fully entitled to its own opinion. What cannot be denied is that Tahu's reputation has been enhanced while that of the RFL, the AFL, and of Israel has been damaged.

There is no doubt that the actions by those seeking to break the blockade of Gaza were acting provocatively. There is no doubt that the actions of the RFL assistant coach and those of the AFL "greats" were stupid and illegal.

Unfortunately provocation and stupidity are occurrences with which most of us have to deal on a daily basis. For those who operate out of the red zone of conditional respect (see this is not really an issue. They perceive such action as some sort of threat (which may or may not be real) and act accordingly - generally they attack by word or action with the hope that such actions will either stop the situation deteriorating or deter further provocative actions. Unfortunately the long term effects are often far from what is desired - the almost universal condemnation by the international community of Israel's action is a case in point.

And that is where Timana Tahu's behaviour stands out.

Tahu could have reacted from the red zone. He could have had a blazing row and/or have taken legal action against his coach. Instead he chose to quietly withdraw, consider his actions, then act in a way that has ensured he will be considered a hero by many because the issue of racism in sport has received attention is a way that should ensure all codes finally take stringent action to stamp out this scourge. This was blue zone behaviour. This was behaviour that showed ability to deal with ambiguity and complexity in a positive manner.

Third Generation Leadership - that leadership that is now so desperately needed throughout the world is leadership that is possible only when our brains have their locus of control firmly in the blue zone. We could go a long way to resolving most of the provocations, threats, and stupid actions in the personal, national, and international arenas if we learned how to manage down our red zones and manage up our blue zones. And this can be learned.

Please let me know what you think of this posting. You can make comments below.

Further information about Doug Long at