Archive for June 2011

Leadership Networks

The other day while working with a group of managers on succession planning and development, background stories emerged that hinted at the question: Are leaders born or made? Nature vs. nurture is a persistent debate regarding the source of leadership. Managers, academics, and consultants all have views about which contributes more to making good leaders — genes or experience. One study (Arvey et al, 2007) looked at twins and found that the split was 30% genetics and 70% experience. You don’t need to look too long before you find a study that concludes there is a different distribution. Most recent studies about the nature vs. nurture debate conclude that at least some degree of whatever they are studying (leadership, parenting, creativity, intelligence, etc.) is attributed to each nature and nurture. Ok, so let’s go with that and not worry about what percentage is which. We could agree that we need to work on both, get good people with good experience, treat them well, and allow them to continue to learn from experience. This is essentially the position the managers ended up with.

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Leadership of Attractors

In my last post I discussed how leadership could be viewed as interactions that create attractors. These are usually tactical, day-to-day, seemingly minor events that shape our landscape. These attractors can coordinate activities, stabilize groups, or even start radical movements. This is seldom talked about as the stuff of leadership yet I believe that it is as important in moving a group forward as anything that a single person who has been given the title of “Leader” can do. Nonetheless, there are people who either have the title or those that people informally look to for guidance. Other than creating many point attractors (sometimes called micromanagement), what can these people do to influence large areas of the social landscape? Are there ways to “lead” attractors?

 

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Attractors of Leadership

Recently, I’ve been thinking about attractors. What are they? Where do they come from? Where do they go? And specifically, where does leadership fit in this picture?

This the other morning I woke up with a strong desire for a cup of coffee. Getting coffee became a significant goal. Perhaps it was because of waking up to a radio news article about the benefits of coffee or perhaps it was because I needed caffeine. Obtaining coffee was a strong attractor. I could make coffee at home, drive to the local Starbucks, or drive to work and make coffee there. Getting a later start than I wanted, I decided to make coffee at work. Finally, cup in hand, I moved on to the next goal – writing a blog. As soon as I had my coffee, it was no longer an attractor. In fact, if you had offered me another cup while I was still drinking my first, I’d probably decline. Such is the case with goals, once attained they are no longer attractors. Attained goals become repellers or at the very least, are no longer attractors.

 

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