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.

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