Last week we had out faculty conference and about 35 of our wonderful faculty met over two days in London to learn, explore and share. Our vision at Holos is Universal Authentic Leadership and conversations at the conference helped us to think about how we can get closer to this.
I would like to explore what the effect of Universal Authentic Leadership might be in business, education and government. Being authentic is knowing yourself and being it, skilfully in all situations. Authentic Leadership adds enabling others to be authentic as well, while leading towards a positive purpose together. It is NOT about saying whatever comes into your head even if it hurts or harms others.
What if the best possible business model was one that created value for all life, especially future life?
Most conventional businesses currently operate on an extractive or exploitative, win/lose business model. In this model someone or something has to lose in order for them to gain. Very often this is our environment, workers, competitors or other animals. Very often this is our children and our children’s children.
Imagine a business model that instead of working on win/lose, worked on win/win and even win/win/win. A business model that profited from creating value for the widest possible sphere of life. Creating value for workers, for competitors, for communities, for animals, plants and crucially for our children and grand children.
Such businesses exist and I wrote about them in my first two books. The most significant example today is probably Tesla, who are committed to hastening the transition away from fossil fuels. As a result of this Tesla are the victims of extensive sabotage efforts in the media and from mass shorting of their shares. As long as they survive the conservative world’s efforts to stop them, Tesla will be insanely profitable, precisely because they are able to create so much value for so many and take a little of that margin for themselves.
At Holos ourselves our intention is to create substantial value in every interaction. (My personal target is 1000 times what I am paid as the ripples go out from an intervention.) Our plan is to help as many organisations as possible shift to fully authentic leadership so that the businesses, all of their stakeholders and their grandchildren can benefit from this win/win/win thinking.
When businesses exploit or extract everyone, including employees, is a competitor. When we pursue a positive purpose there are far greater opportunities to collaborate. “Boss” style leadership has to compete because their prime motivation is status. It is only through Authentic Leadership that we can widely collaborate, because Authentic Leaders are driven by a purpose that followers align with.
What if education was about building the confidence of every child to be the very best version of their authentic self?
Although there are many brilliant, wonderful teachers out there who strive to do just that, they are compromised by an education system that prioritises obedience over confidence.
An education system that prioritised confidence would deal far more effectively with behavioural issues, like bullying than most schools do today and would avoid teaching, testing and rewarding arcane subjects like algebra.
There is no doubt that algebra is fantastically useful for engineers and mathematicians, but for the rest of us it is rarely useful. And yet the conventional education system requires that mathematics has more time spent on it than any other subject – why?
Looking back through the history of education it becomes apparent that the primary purpose of schooling children was to ensure an obedient workforce to work in factories, fight in trenches and operate a civil service. Our education today, in much of the world, is a legacy of this thinking. Not only this but much of the programming is still around individual testing and marking.
Today the needs are radically different. We need creative, collaborative, problem solving, self motivated, self disciplined people who are capable of influencing authority figures not just deferring to them.
The most important lesson our children learn in school today is how to relate to one another, how to make friends and deal with the tricky characters – peers and teachers. We need schools to help them work these things out not just leave them to it.
And of course there are schools that do just that it is just that they are very much in the minority. We need Authentic Leadership in education to migrate the system further away from obedience and towards confidence and collaboration in particular.
What if government served and unified society, to create a better life for all and helped us to deal with the long term and existential threats we face?
It is perfectly possible to have a democratically elected government that does this, indeed there are many countries that already do.
However the most frighteningly backward area for leadership in our society is in politics. Politics appears to be the last redoubt of Ruler and Boss style leadership, in far to many countries. Government, as the name suggests, should be about governing, not the self aggrandisement of status hungry individuals.
Environmental damage, in the form of climate change, pollution, soil depletion, species loss and so on, is by far the greatest threat we face as a society. Any politician who fails to make this point is either disingenuous or dangerously ignorant and therefore unfit for office.
Politicians continue to distract us with petty bickering about how the pie we are busy destroying gets carved up and by allowing ourselves to be distracted we risk leaving our grandchildren to deal with a vile legacy.
We need voters to understand Authentic Leadership so that they never elect a politician who isn’t authentic again. (Please note, I know that some people describe certain politicians as “authentic” because they say whatever is on their mind. For me part of the skill of being authentic is not compromising the authenticity of others. Therefore it can never be authentic to denigrate, bully or agress others.).
Holos helps make change easy. We help organisations develop their leaders, map out and deliver the changes required to achieve sustained success even in a highly disrupted environment.
At Holos we have been studying change leadership and leadership training in the crucible of reality for years. We know what great leadership looks like and we know the journey to achieve it. We have developed a suite of diagnostic tools to understand where companies and teams are on this journey and how to take them from there to sustained success.
Holos has a wealth of specialist leadership and culture coaches and consultants with decades of experience working with a huge variety of leaders. Holos can help you or your organisation to upgrade it’s leadership to flourish even in a challenging business environment.
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