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Flow-based leadership exists when leaders commit to maximizing their own peak performance (“flow”) and to facilitating the flow states of others. This results in team and…
Flow-based leadership exists when leaders commit to maximizing their own peak performance (“flow”) and to facilitating the flow states of others. This results in team and organizational flow. Meaning making is what binds an organization to its purpose. A recent McKinsey study shows that when people work in flow, their productivity increases by five-fold and has the effect of elevating individual, as well as organizational, well-being. However, as leaders come and go in organizations, the commitment to a model of meaning-making and sustained peak performance can be tainted through politics, silos, and personalities as varied as the leaders themselves. How can an organization sustain a flow-based culture over long periods regardless of who is leading it.
Georgia Smoke Diver (GSD) is an extreme, experiential training program in the fire service. There are over 1,000 GSDs as of this writing. At least 100 of these come back twice a year to help teach the class, which has about 40 students, on their own time and for no pay. They take time away from their families, often using precious vacation time, because they are committed to making firefighters better. This program changes lives. Since 1978, GSD practices mindful leadership development for growing and mentoring leaders. Their model of flow-based leadership fosters cultural intelligence and social capital to identify and nurture leaders over time. This chapter explores the dynamics of how GSD uses design principles to balance deliberate and organically driven leadership development.
Often the context of the twenty-first century is described as volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA). Influenced by this context, combined with the exponential…
Often the context of the twenty-first century is described as volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA). Influenced by this context, combined with the exponential development of new technologies, how and where we work has changed. Not only that, the VUCA context and different ways of working make it necessary to review the role of and demands on leaders, and the work environment they create.
The purpose of this chapter is four-fold. First, we explore what the changed and challenging context of the twenty-first century means for leadership. Second, we share observations on the impact and influence of the built work environment on culture, workflow, and employees. Third, we identify how and why demands on the physical workplace have changed. Finally, we outline an approach that allows leaders to get the most out of the built environment when it comes to shaping culture, supporting workflow, and contributing toward employee satisfaction.
Today’s business leaders face a global environment that is marked by increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) conditions. Design thinking offers a…
Today’s business leaders face a global environment that is marked by increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) conditions. Design thinking offers a proven way to navigate in a VUCA environment. I used this approach while serving as a military officer in Iraq and Afghanistan. This chapter focuses on what I learned from applying design thinking to our operations as well as on insights from businesses that have also successfully integrated design thinking. I use the framework “inspire, ideate, and implement” to describe how I utilized design thinking. I finish the chapter with key factors for successfully employing a design methodology to VUCA problems.
Design thinking empowers organizations to tackle successfully VUCA challenges. Inspiration allows designers to frame relevant problems that clients care about. With the pressing challenge in hand, designers immerse themselves in the context of a problem to empathize with a customer’s concerns. They synthesize input from a variety of diverse sources, and meet experts who can give meaning to their collected data. With this comprehensive picture in hand, design teams brainstorm new possibilities as they move into ideation. Taking their ideas out for a test run, they iterate the most promising ways to move into action. They conduct pilot projects, adapt to what works best, and share their learning from the process. Leaders with a design mindset, aligned with a collaborative organizational culture and congruent support systems, can build an innovative enterprise that is primed to thrive in a VUCA world.
Innovation is widely considered critical for organization’s success. We know that innovation happens in the presence of certain values and behaviors, hence it is a question of culture. Culture in turn has one critical influence: the leaders of an organization. That is why understanding how to design leadership for innovation should be of interest to anyone who wants to improve their organization’s innovation performance.
While leading by example is generally the best way to establish the desired values and behaviors, it is not in every leader's ability and comfort zone to exhibit the kind of leadership that emulates innovation. Therefore, I have started to differentiate between “leadership of” and “leadership for” innovation. Each has a different skill and mindset, and a different role to play in making innovation happen.
This chapter starts by looking at the drivers behind the context of the twenty-first century to answer the question: “Why innovation matters more in the twenty-first century than ever before?” This is followed by an introduction of a framework that focuses on areas where innovative companies do something different from their less innovative counterparts. The chapter continues with some insights on why organizations and their leaders struggle with embracing innovation before taking a look at “leading of” and “leading for” innovation and introducing the concept of “ARTISTIC Leadership.”
Traditional paradigms of leadership have celebrated decisive top-down control and analytical decision making. But times are changing. The world is becoming more connected…
Traditional paradigms of leadership have celebrated decisive top-down control and analytical decision making. But times are changing. The world is becoming more connected, complex, fluid, and interdependent.
Leading people in this age requires empathy, collaboration, curiosity, and creativity. It’s more about designing elegant solutions than mandating feasible ones. It’s more about becoming optimistic beacons of change than authoritative custodians of the status quo. The leaders of tomorrow are not commanders, they are innovators; and in that, they have a natural ally in designers – the poster children of innovation.
This chapter focuses on how leadership can leverage tools and frameworks usually associated with design to innovate, solve complex problems, motivate teams, inspire people, and nurture the next generation of leaders. It discusses design methodologies – user-focused design, lean, design thinking – as potential approaches to optimizing organizational leadership. We elaborate these ideas through real-world examples.
The chapter also offers actionable tips and techniques that designers use to respond empathetically and elegantly to complex human needs, which are rooted deeply in behaviors and attitudes, governed by complex interactions, and therefore, hard to grapple through a purely analytical approach.
It debunks the myth that leaders need to be creative similar to designers to apply Design Thinking. Applying design approaches and practices to organizational leadership is not just about its leaders becoming more creative. It is definitely not about the person at the top coming up with the grand answer. It is a collaborative effort that brings people from all levels together in pursuit of a common goal.