Unlocking the Heart and Soul of Remarkable Leadership, Keith Merron
Remarkable Leadership

Archive for May, 2012

A New Form of Leadership – No Leadership

Monday, May 28th, 2012

There’s a new sheriff in town—it’s distributed leadership.

I have been getting glimpses of this form of leadership for a few years, and it appears to be increasing. It is a form of leadership that occurs in a natural, ever evolving

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manner. Who leads, how and when changes, and the overall effect can be quite messy at times and yet, often, quite beautiful.

In the community of men of which I’m one of the founders, we see this form often. It was illustrated recently as we orchestrated a surprise birthday party for

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one of our treasured members. It happened like this: one man sent an email to the community suggesting the idea and others supported it. Another suggested we all chip in to purchase a much needed Mac laptop. Others made alternative suggestions, and through a slurry of emails back and forth, we figured it out. There was no vote, no decision making process, and no designated leader. And yet we worked it out. It was primarily through a combination of invitations and suggestions; of some men expressing strong opinions, with enough others supporting them, that the general view became the prevailing decision. Then when it came to implementation, someone offered to take the ball and run with it and orchestrated the execution. We followed that man’s lead because he made a clear assertion and we trusted him. There were many counter suggestions and possibilities seemed endless and yet, through it all, we enacted what became an extraordinary event—all in 48 hours.

I have witnessed and helped teach this form of leadership to many clients and have found that for those organizations that are healthy and relatively evolved, it can be an enormous source of satisfaction when it works well. Everyone has the potential to lead. When they are called to do so, they step up. Some follow because of the person and his or her credibility. Others follow because the person/leader appears inspired to lead in that moment. It requires everyone to act maturely—and to be unattached to the outcome.

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This form of leadership truly takes advantage of the wisdom of the crowd. When done well, it is beautiful to behold. When done poorly, it can be quite a mess, which is why most organizations rightly shy away from it, except when it occurs spontaneously and naturally.

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Hawkeye as a Teacher

Monday, May 14th, 2012
“There is no way we can enter this market with our product. The competition will crush us,” said one of the members, with great fervor and certainty.

“This product sets the stage for the next wave,” said another equally a

s fervently.

“Yes, but we’re not ready,” said a third, fidgeting in his seat.

“When are we every fully ready?” asked a fourth, snickering slightly.

So it went, round and round and round. The argument continued for three hours and ended in a stalemate.

Meetings are often like that. They go round and round, with little resolution, or if there is resolution it is often unstable; a compromise born out of frustration. Of course, we know the ideal is synergy. The reality is often much less cohesive.

I believe

at the core is our inability to trust the wisdom of the group and our tendency to believe that our own perceptions, beliefs, and points of view are more valid that the collective. While sometimes that may be true, often it is not. The key to mining the gold in any group is to utilize the perspectives and vantage points of all members in order to come to a conclusion that reflects the whole.

I am reminded of an amazing invention that is used to determine whether a ball is out during professional tennis matches. For years, we’ve had the ability to track a tennis ball using cameras and play it back in slow motion to see where it lands, but unfortunately, it was always suspect due to the vantage point of the camera.

Depending on a camera’s angle and position, the ball might appear either in or out. Similar to the lines judge who sees only from his or her angle may be mistaken, the single camera image is incapable of providing certainty.

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The breakthrough came with Hawk-eye. Hawk-Eye is a complex computer system used in tennis and other sports to visually track the path of the ball and display a record of its path as a moving three-dimensional image. It was invented and patented by Dr Paul Hawkins and David Sherry. Hawk-Eye is based on the principles of triangulation, using the visual images and timing data provided by at least four high-speed video cameras located at different locations and angles around the area of play. The system rapidly processes the video feeds by a high-speed video processor and ball tracker, each view of the ball from each camera providing a reference point. These images are combined to form an extremely accurate picture of the actual ball’s flight, and most importantly, the ball’s landing position.

We can learn from Hawk-eye’s amazing accuracy. As a metaphor, it suggests that no one person can know the answer, but together if we listen to all views, we have the potential to make better decisions. This simple principle can show the way not just in meetings, but in the way we speak to each other. If we understood this principle, no longer would we speak in a language of “I know best.” We would no longer believe we solely are in touch with the truth. We would “own” our own experience, and welcome that of others, forging a deeper understanding of any circumstance. If we understood this principle, we would be deeply curious of how our peers view an issue and the causes of their position, as well being better evaluators of our own stances and motivations.
To get the most out of meetings, seek multiple perspectives, and then look to find the wisdom that is the intersection of them all. This is not a hard and fast rule. As a principle, however, it invites the prospect that great minds don’t think alike—great minds think unalike.
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