Based on the great book “Leading with new authority/Mit neuer Autorität in Führung” I created a short summary of important points to consider for modern leadership. It’s by far just an extract from the rich description provided by Frank Baumann-Habersack and Arist von Schlippe and I highly recommend reading that book too.

Authority

Let’s first consider the topic authority and what’s behind that term.

  • authority is about respect, valuation, impact – that is given by others.
  • is being created in relationships

What should happen in companies:

A common, passionate and innovative alignment of all involved members towards the product and the resulting economical success.

 

Todays leadership models still ignore the influence of complexity, self organization, globalization.

In knowledge worker environments authoritarian behavior has no chance.

Respect is created through transparency, presence and relationship (and not longer by fear, pressure and distance)

With growing problems and stress we tend to do more of the same wrong patterns. As soon as there is an opposition leaders often tend to go back to “old” patterns – I decide, no discussion…

Todays leadership is confronted with:

  • a loss of authority
  • even more opposition when working with bonus or penalties
  • collaboration among leaders ends in competition and does harm the company due to malfunctioning relationships
  • pressure through raising requirements leading to less presence and jumping from appointment to appointment
  • old structures that hinder to be innovative
  • fear to fail that hinders driving cultural changes (structural problems get too often transferred on individual level and lead to fear to fail and demotivation)

Despotic leadership behavior still is possible in hierarchical, command and control companies with enough equity capital and high margins. When the environment shifts to margins that need innovation power and service orientation that kind of leadership won’t work any longer.

Generation Y does not accept old school leadership. Maybe they won’t show their disrespect directly but through their network in online communities, job rating portals.

Binding through loyalty was yesterday – in todays fast pacing environment people tend to shift their workplaces far more often.

Small, informal networks become more important than big institutions.

The more structure the more inflexibility of the whole.

Organizations tend to invest a large amount of time (90% was written) to define routines for their tasks. There is less space for creativity, self development, energy for changes (and even humanity)

Instruments of power like pressure, sanctions and force do not lead to authority but to situations that are dissatisfying and harming for everyone involved.

Authority is based on free loyalty. Force and freedom are mutually exclusive.

The concept of new authority  …  The more resolute and nonviolent options one chooses against violence the faster the violent approach will loose its power.

It is an enduring process of search and negotiation (even if it is energy consuming).

Authority and person

Is given by an informal path – and needs the following combination of personal properties and expertise (but does not automatically lead to authority)

Properties:

  • reputation, personal trust, integrity, experience, a strong character and strong empathy

Expertise:

  • in economical and technological topics and
  • steering plus coordination of social processes

Authority is always combined with relationship dynamics in a given context.

6 filters that blur our objectivity

In most cases leadership problems are a result of prejudice and personal judgements that are problematic in the daily work.

It’s not done by learning a handful leadership models. We need to uncover wrong believes. If leaders start to change their perception, problems can disappear.

Lets consider 6 filters that we should be aware of.

Distorted perception

Before we perceive something consciously, our brain did already process the stimulus. We cannot see reality consciously.  We try to apply old learned patterns that fit as best as possible to the new situation – influence of experience.

Own biography and role models

Our view of leadership from our childhood heavily influences our leadership perspective later on.

Personality structure

Value system

Liberal picture – employees will give their best. It’s the leaderships task to support so that their potential can fully flourish. (Theory Y)

Conservative picture – employees are lazy and cross-grained. They need to be pushed and narrowly monitored. (Theory X)

Knowledge

Leaders often just learn technical stuff but not that much about leading. But we need to learn more about psychology, communication, history and philosophy to establish a complex thinking approach.

More about complexity.

Stress

Depending on the stress level – on the highest level it can lead to black outs. Stress chances and narrows perception and today we are confronted with a lot of source for stress all day long. Under stress our mental performance drops heavily.

Stressed persons tend to forget things, seem to be restless and absent.

It needs a good balance of brain stimulus (not to less and not to much). Too high levels lead to: reduced mental power, pressure, forced and circled thinking, blurred thinking and less contact. Too low levels lead to: fatigue, less power and energy, no contact, reduced mental power and blurred thinking.

Please check this post with brain fallacies to know for better decision making too!

Leadership and generation Y

Leaders

Missing social competencies

  • lack the ability of self-criticism
  • overestimation of own competencies and capabilities

Tend to get stuck on pupil or student level.

It needs systematic and good development.

Wishes

  • leadership that works on the same level – with fruitful discussions and that provides orientation (without becoming super heroes)

Leadership requirements

  • aligned with different levels of development of employees (and not a one size fits all leadership approach).
  • has to follow a holistic approach and to combine and consider many aspects, abilities and behavioral patterns.
  • a boss who provides orientation, creates transparency, involves staff, talks to them and takes care for their satisfaction
  • companies need to understand that leaderships needs ongoing coaching and development
  • under conditions of permanent, mobile communication it needs a new definition of distance, presence and transparency
  • innovative leadership created in common reflection with all involved
  • needs 5 essential skills – thinking with new structures (e.g. organizing for complexity), new tasks (e.g. Drucker, Malik), new roles (of top and middle management), new timing (to consider urgency and finding the right moment) and new human relations (better interpersonal relationships)
  • centers around the commonly lived relationship (instead of fighting against another)

Current challenges

  • too heavy focus on tough numbers and results – just by rational and natural scientific thinking
  • boss as driven and rushing trouble shooter with no time for communication
  • we need high flexibility vs. hierarchy based, slowly acting structures using an authoritarian, inhumane, number focussed leading approach
  • a 25 year old newbie can know a lot more than his 55 year old colleague – and this undermines the elders “natural” authority
  • the picture of a stressed person who lives between family and work and who has to endlessly discuss about authority
  • a new generation of flexibel, strong communicative and critical people
  • environments that are volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – VUCA

It needs

  • the principle of self organization and self optimization
  • prepare for being adaptable and flexible instead of using long term planning
  • aim for projects that are:
    • a personal challenge
    • provide a bigger meaning
    • is staffed with excellent people
  • currently moving toward fluid organizational structures (no strong borders, oriented on project work, working with high transparency) or caring companies (strong employee connection and binding providing an highly individualized growth and learning environment and a strong focus to work with common and transparent company targets)
  • learn to unlearn
  • create an healthy and attractive workspace
  • leadership does not execute strategy but helps in everyones development (by knowing their competencies and what further steps are necessary)
  • fast feedback processes and highly transparent information
  • few but effective rules (principles)

Company culture analysis

  • Reflect the current culture – what is the current understanding of leadership?
  • How do we react on non corporative behavior when working together or thinking about respect and dignity?
  • Do we have the possibilities to work with the 7 key competencies?

New leadership – 7 key competencies

Presence

Leaders show enduring and reliable presence and take care. Presence in every relevant situation.

It is not working only in virtual networks that one can switch off but to be really present on a daily basis.

Missing presence fosters burn outs. Leaders have to balance demands (and avoid over commitments) and to avoid too much load and stress.

Using strength not longer for top down power but to undermine own presence (independently from the others behavior). Leadership is working with dialog instead of dictating consequences.

Show and use their responsibility. Shows through personal involvement that one takes care on the employees development.

Presence in interactions, inner presence (mindfulness) and systemic presence (know your function and affects).

It means real emotional and personal binding (instead of a superficial deep seeming connection).

Do not create relationships based on distance. Authority shall be created by being near, interest and care. We work together on a common goal.

But leaving responsibility and not to overwhelm!

Continued reflection of own experiences, learned rulesets and patterns are the base for inner presence. It enables authentic relationships.

Self control

Self control instead of employee control (that is an illusion anyway). The ability to lead oneself’s emotions and effectiveness.

Don’t react to provocations but with inner distance, delayed and reflected reactions and planned next steps that address a wrong behavior.

I change my behavior because I feel bad otherwise. (and not using the approach that the opposite has to change their behavior).

Do not limit other authority artificially. Don’t supervise and don’t expect obedience. Rely on a possibility to irritate and inspire instead of supervising.

But has to take decisions, draw the lines and insist on performance bound to company targets.

Networking

A trustful network with other leaders to strengthen one another.

Not just virtually with 500 friends that one does not really know but with closed friends who stand in for one another.

Combine the power and offer support. Creates a security and a feeling of being protected.

Combined with wisdom and knowledge about political alliances.

De-escalation

Constructive, non violent and combined power (instead of destructive, invasive and violent dictatorship).

Not focussed on the employee and his necessary change but on oneself (I’m not longer ready to accept that behavior).

Avoid dynamics through stress and to fast reactions. Slow down and take your time to consider the situation. Don’t strive for victory and for presence with long breath.

Reparation

Gestures for relationship and conciliation (instead of punishments).

No penalties (as they are harmful and highly demotivating).

Provide possibilities to repair a caused damage and prepare a way to redeem.

Transparency

Reactions and interventions against misbehavior have to be transparent and public. It shows that leaders listen and act when required.

Don’t hide mistakes. Open problems with high and low performing people (and not just low performing ones).

People are enabled to see their contribution. Motivation through visible purpose (by seeing and being part of the bigger picture).

But consider relevance (and do not overload by irrelevant transparency information overload). Ask yourself: Is this information helpful to reach our targets?

Perseverance

Thought through next steps. I do not accept that wrong behavior and will carefully think about my next steps.

To reach full power one cannot force someone but one has to strengthen the freedom of the other.

Its is a challenge especially for young generations, that life with enduring distractions, fast switching targets and a news overload.

4 development areas for leadership skills

Personality and values

  • learn more about ones own personality and how we communicate with others
  • relationship oriented
  • values = software of the mind
  • one need to know ones own values. Ask yourself: What is important in my life? What topics make me feel like exploding? What values were not treated with respect in that case?
  • knowing that other people have not the same value structure

Emotional intelligence

  • thoughts and emotions are combined and require one another
  • one needs to consider and understand own emotions to understand the feeling of the other
  • 5 combined factors
    • self perception – know and name own feelings  (and discover trouble)
      • train with a log book and a stop 2 times a day to check what you feel currently
      • be brave to speak about your feelings
      • ask others to access your current emotions (and compare with own perception)
    • self regulation – handle own feelings (detect triggers of trouble)
      • reflect on log book entries and check for triggers of feelings
      • get to know your personality profile e.g. by using the MBTI or Insights
      • get to know your stress level (e.g. by learning breathing exercises)
      • prepare with someone else for emotionally challenging upcoming situations
    • self motivation – convert impulses to actions (go for the dialog when trouble occurs)
      • what values are important for you? Do your current topics match these values?
      • Small goals and use future pictures and projections
      • Trust and dare
    • empathy – know and name the feelings of others (derive what could be effects of unfiltered emotions)
      • for yourself first
      • first understand why others think and feel that way
      • active listening – to check whether you perceive it right
      • check your perception with someone else watching a movie and exchange later on on your observations regarding feelings
    • social competence – include the feelings of others (address a problem and build a common understanding)
      • go and work with a conflict actively
      • elaborate the feeling of others by following them deeply in their daily work
      • ask for emotions and check a correlation with your decisions

By growing the emotional intelligence one can see, handle and solve emotional conflicts (instead of fighting against it).

It will be an advantage if you can embed emotions and use it for even more productivity.

Conflict competence

  • it needs a basic knowledge about the creation (seeing the background) and managing of conflicts.
  • learn how to reflect on your conflict competencies
  • move to an attitude that every behavior is basically connected with positive goals behind (even if that is not visible at all)
  • know how to prepare and execute conflict meditation talks – using e.g. non-violent communication
  • don’t hide from conflicts (e.g. by moving critical appointments, don’t answer critical questions and mails, blur by just content related discussions, making it ridiculous)
  • learn more about the following points:
    • sensibility and perception of conflict symptoms and mechanics (using available literature)
    • being open to communicate via dialog (e.g. using active listening and knowing the 4 sides of a message model)
    • see and learn to handle and accept ambiguities (ambiguity tolerance) combined with being consequent (there are many right perspectives beside your own!). Accept unexpected reactions as learning opportunities and a new point of view)
    • being ready to work with confrontations – open and address them in time (by reflecting your attitude to ask for your right combined with knowing the basic psychological rights of everyone and integrating that in ones own personality)
    • don’t suppress frustration but address it
    • being adaptable to situations and keeping own goals in mind (flexibility regarding goals and ways to achieve it. Know too in which direction you don’t  want to go)
    • knowing the difference between conflict cause due to relationships or organizational structure (by knowing the roles of the others and accepting role differences and seeing conflicts in that area instead of your relation)
    • take critics and know your own fallibility
    • make yourself more independent from others opinions and conditions combined with engagement – knowing e.g. these 5 blockers (exercises at http://www.bnaf.autoritum.de/)
      • self-reproach
      • reproach to others
      • expectations that others don’t know or cannot fulfill
      • feeling smaller or younger than one really is
      • loyalty conflicts
    • trust yourself and others combined with living with disappointments (learn with situation where you have to improvise and learn something new – where you have to listen to your inner impulse, intuition and experience)
    • orientation on own values combined with respecting the other’s values
      • escape high stress situations and don’t try to solve conflicts in that mode
      • ask yourself – What values are important in my life? Prioritize and choose your top ten values. Based on that learn in conflicts what values have been violated.
      • what is the need behind a value

Personal sources for authority

Ask: Do I really want to be a lead and take the responsibility for the collaboration of people to achieve a common goal? (If not – reflect why you are in a lead position and if that is the right position to continue)

  • Who are orientation points? People that were and are important for your leadership picture. What behavior and attitudes did I copy or use? And is that still feasible or does it need a change?
  • Learning patterns – know the learning process by Jospeh O’Connor and John Seymour – NLP
  • Avoid overloading yourself
    • there will be situation where you have no answer – and that is ok. It’s not automatically a weakness or incompetency. Use the group to find answers and act as a lead by using the system to find answers and move towards the goal achievement. Learning – I am not along – is tough and important.
  • Learn to work with a systemic view (and that one cannot control social systems directly)
  • Learn a constructive way to properly work with own fears

 

Quite a lot input from that great book. What do you think about that 7 key competencies? Are there new learning opportunities for you too? What is your next step? I’m looking forward for your comment 😉

Update 2016-07-02: Great presentation by Frank Baumann-Habersack