Volume 11, Number 4
Principles of Innovative
organizations require leadership development within individuals.
is now a state of mind, not a position. In this highly interactive
age, we will increasingly find ourselves in situations that demand
the exercise of our innate capability to lead. It is imperative
that each of us brings up the leader within us. We must all
develop our leadership capability to its fullest in order for our
organizations and institutions to be innovative. The path to
leadership is one of personal growth. Bringing up the leader
within requires an understanding of seven principles of
you?" the caterpillar asked Alice in Alice's Adventures in
Wonderland. We are now confronted with this same question.
Making the decision to answer this question is the beginning of
the journey to becoming a leader. We must understand what we know
and what we don't know about ourselves. We must assess our
resistance to and tolerance for change, our fears, our
preferences, and our skills and abilities.
2. Let go of
what you've got hold of.
In the Industrial
Age, the first rule of "wing walking" was applied: Don't
let go of what you've got hold of until you've got hold of
something else. In this age, progress cannot be made until you let
go of what you've got hold of. We must discover the chains that
bind us to our past and prevent us from understanding who we
really are. Once we understand the chains that bind us, we must
let go of them. Letting go puts us on the path to new experiences,
from which we gain more understanding of who we are. Letting go
allows us to become responsible for our own actions and future.
3. Learn your
Each one of us
has a purpose. Not all of us understand what our purpose is.
Even those of us who think they understand their purpose probably
only have a glimmer of what their true purpose is. But if we
define our purpose too soon, we may limit what we can accomplish
with our life. We learn our purpose through lifelong introspection
coupled with interaction with others. It is also important that
we develop habits of mind that allow us to filter through
interactions and choose the positive ones. Habits of mind are
developed from values that we have. Values propel us along the
path to discovering our unfolding purpose. As we discover more of
our purpose, we can decide to change our values, allowing us to
continue our lifelong process of learning.
4. Live in the
In the Industrial Age, we learned to analyze a situation, isolate the problem, and administer a quick fix. In this age, we must recognize that everything is tied to everything else. Therefore, we must live in the question long enough to understand the relationships important to a systems solution. The temptation in dealing with the Apollo 13 accident was to turn the spacecraft around and fire the engine as soon as the magnitude of the problem was known. The flight director avoided the quick solution and instead asked his team to "live in the question" for three days, relying on their capabilities to get the astronauts home safely. As it turned out, the quick solution would have been a deadly one, since the engine was damaged. Flexibility is required so that we can be open to the potential of the unknown.
5. Learn the
art of "barn
raising" is a tradition of the pioneer culture where people
came together to help someone build a barn. Individuals applied
their talents, teams were formed to accomplish specific tasks, and
a community was developed in the process. Today's emphasis on
teamwork recognizes this basic need to work with and through
others. A shared purpose motivates individuals to contribute their
energy, skills, and abilities.
A paradox of life
is that the more we try to hold on to something, the more likely
we are to lose it. Viewing people as abundant, renewable resources
and giving away authority allows the full power of individuals to
be realized. The potential of teams and organizations can likewise
be multiplied. This is accomplished through ennobling, enabling,
empowering, and encouraging others and ourselves. Empowerment
fails if it is attempted without ennoblement and enablement first.
And it will fail if people are not encouraged to learn from their
mistakes. We must relentlessly pursue the release of authority
7. Let the
principle of leadership is to let go of the demands of our ego.
We must become a member of the team and utilize our abilities
‑ joining in the shared purpose ‑ to help the team
achieve its maximum potential. There are always three choices
‑ lead, follow, or get out of the way. The wisdom of
leadership in this age is to know which action to choose for each