Three Myths of Leadership
This issue of Exploring Leadership takes a close look at three common — and misleading — assumptions about leadership. In addition, it offers several insights and alternative approaches that have been helpful in my practice.
Three Myths of Change
Author and mythologist Betty Sue Flowers (2007) says that a myth is a belief or story that we’ve stopped questioning. Although myths are neither inherently good nor bad, when we accept a myth as truth, we develop a blind spot — a learned cluelessness — about that topic. In this article, I examine a few myths that underlie the notion of “change management.” In fact, I question the premise that change can be managed and offer several alternative approaches that have been helpful in my practice.
Brains and Buddha
In this article, I look at two trends that are rapidly emerging across a number of industries and sectors. The first is a growing interest in neuroscience and the application of brain research to leadership practice. The second is the emergence of mindfulness practices in mainstream organizations as methods to reduce stress and improve workplace well-being. How are these two trends related? And what does that relationship mean for the future of leadership and the health of our organizations?
Running on Empty: Fatigue and the Future of Work
A good deal of research tells us that unprecedented levels of exhaustion now permeate most organizations. In fact, many of us are working so hard we’ve depleted our resources. We are running on empty. In this article, I examine the causes of workplace fatigue. Although technology plays a major role, other critical factors also drive this phenomenon. From causes I move to potential remedies, which range from small shifts in mindset to major changes in work practices.
Help! We’re Trapped in an Industrial Mindset and Can’t Get Out!
Do you remember Frederick Winslow Taylor? He’s the engineer who, in the early 1900s, devised the principles of scientific management, a theory that revolutionized how work was organized and managed. In a nutshell, Taylor was all about control, from the way in which workers were selected and trained, to the way in which work was planned and carried out. Since then, we’ve tried a lot of different approaches to management, yet 100 years later, this industrial-era mindset retains its hold on our organizations. In this article, I ask why these beliefs and practices are so enduring and explore the idea that self-organization is an alternative better suited to our complex and challenging times.
The Case for Compassion
In a year punctuated by shootings, bombings, natural disasters, and divisive politics at home and abroad, clearly we can use more empathy, respect, and concern for others. That same need shows up, in overt and subtle ways, in the workplace. In this article, I take a different route to explore the topic of compassion, traveling to a far-removed era called the Axial Age. That period gave rise to some of the greatest wisdom we have on human consciousness. It’s a fascinating journey, packed with lessons and tips that are very relevant to our time.
Ambassadors of Trust
I began this article thinking about collaboration, a common concern for business leaders who find it difficult to get people to work together for the better good of the organization. That led me to another topic, democracy, and the perplexing question of how to work collectively to solve our greatest social problems. My examination of the connection between collaboration and democracy has been a particularly fruitful journey.
Today’s Corporate Mystic
In the mid-90s, a colleague handed me a book by Gay Hendricks and Kate Ludeman. That was my introduction to “the corporate mystic.” The concept has stuck with me, and recently I began to wonder how it might apply to our 21st-century reality. For answers I looked to adult development, the evolving nature of work, studies of the brain, and the notion of dignity — research that spanned the centuries from the Enlightenment to today.