We prefer the use of the term ‘practicing leadership’ to ‘developing’ it to emphasise the real life essence of leadership. So much has been written that the world is full of recipes and techniques, examples and role models. The rich plethora of available answers obscures the need to have good questions. Reflection and introspection seem like logical ingredients for being a good leader, yet our business and organizational life treats them as luxury that has no place in our ubiquitous ‘time famine’. Busy-ness has taken over business and leadership has been commoditised to a series of ‘how to’. Yet, there is hardly anything more precious in organizational life than the individual and collective leadership capabilities.
The Leader with Seven Faces is a programme designed to engage individual managers or management groups in an in-depth journey to uncover true and often hidden values and beliefs and create leadership skills and capabilities. Based upon Leandro Herrero’s book of the same title, this programme in its three forms, propel the manager or the group to the next stage of insights, change and effectiveness. For example, the team becomes more aligned faster through agreed non-negotiable behaviours and shared commitment to action.
In this journey we approach the Seven Faces: what leaders say (language and meaning), where they go (what maps and journeys, where they take people with them), what they build (what kind of legacy), what they care about (what values, what is non negotiable), how they do all this (what are the drivers, the styles), ‘what’ are they (awareness, responsibility, identity) and finally what leaders do.
As a seminar: this is a one or two-day intensive seminar with a management team, following the Seven Faces framework.
As a Senior Executive Retreat: This is a Monday to Friday programme for senior leaders/CEOs. It has become almost impossible for leaders in organizations today to create some personal space for reflection upon one’s leadership capabilities, style and impact. Pulled in many directions, the senior executive often reacts to events (or is controlled by them!) without a chance to step back and evaluate his/her role as leader. This retreat provides ‘protected space and time’ for reflection whilst at the same time using a clear structure for the in depth review of leadership. The emphasis of this retreat is on ‘personal time’. If your kind of leadership development programme is one that includes climbing mountains, building bridges and doing outdoor exercises ‘as a team’ or putting your physical energy to the test on survival exercises, this is NOT your programme. Admission to this retreat is by invitation only, following an interview.
As an individual coaching programme: this is an intensive, seven-week long personalized, one-on-one coaching programme using the framework and method described above.
Your organizational future depends heavily on your next generation of leaders, more than the current one. The traditional way to address the need to prepare this population for their higher levels of accountability has been to send people to courses or to business schools, to rotate jobs and broaden their exposure, or combinations. Unfortunately many ‘courses’ and ‘programmes’ are very often off-the-shelf with some sort of tailored make-up for your organization. Many provide a good platform for individual learning but with more dubious pay-off in terms of the transfer of skills or direct application to the sponsor company. Once these managers are ‘back at work’ it is not always obvious how the individual benefit translates into the organizational one.
Our Horizons programme goes deep into your organization’s needs in terms of skills, capabilities, leadership (particularly leadership of change), intercultural aspects , team and network management and some other building blocks which are unlikely to be found together on a single off-the-shelf academic programme. Horizons is a bespoke programme which combines the instructional aspects of leadership with hands on practices in these building blocks. It is run within your company, creating de facto a ‘community of new leaders’ well beyond the individual educational gain.
Following a joint assessment with you, we will organize all the activities, whether classroom or real-life experience , into logical sequences running over a period of several months, adding mentoring and exposure of the delegates to the top leaders. How this community itself functions reflects the desired way of running ‘the organization of tomorrow’, which will be lead by these people. At the end of the journey the borders between ‘educational programme’ and ‘real life implementation and functioning’ of a new pool of leaders will be completely blurred. As individuals, the gains are enormous, and the benefit to the organization is not an after-thought or a goal for tomorrow, but engrained in the day to day life of today.
In his books, Viral Change and Homo Imitans, Leandro Herrero defines backstage leadership as the type of leadership which supports and facilitates the leadership of others, usually in lower positions in the organization chart, without being too visible or exercising traditional full command and control. Backstage leadership may be counterintuitive in the territory of classical leadership where visible role modelling and visible and directional presence are expected from leaders, particularly senior ones.
In our Viral ChangeTM programmes, backstage leadership is crucial to support the real engine of leadership which is distributed in the organization in a non hierarchical manner. Small groups of highly connected and highly influent people regardless of their rank, constitute that real engine of leadership. Change is then grass roots. It is bottom up and needs to happen without the visible hand and the visible stack of powerpoints ‘from above’. What is fundamental in Viral Change” is also crucial in the day to day life of the organization where too much emphasis has been put on top-down, visible, command and control type of leadership. Top-down and hierarchical leadership are not necessarily incompatible with the distributed and backstage leadership. Their coexistence is healthy, but traditional management is heavily biased towards the former at the expenses of the latter. Backstage leadership can also be defined as The Art of Losing Control. As described in the book, Disruptive Ideas, the more control the leader loses, the more he or she retains.
Backstage Leadership as an intervention is a mixture of awareness, coaching, educational and skilling one. We will assess the degree of distributed leadership you have, using the analysis of your decision making processes as a proxy. We will devise ways for leaders in traditional top-down ranks to learn to ‘backstage’ and ‘the lose control’. We will use tools to create the necessary dose of backstage capability and to manage ‘the fear of letting go’. The more backstage leadership is injected, the greater the distributed leadership. The result is a real increase in the agility and effectiveness of the organization as a whole. We will help you to implement the richness of collective leadership and we will do so by working with different management layers, from top to middle.