Leadership for a New Economy by John Serpa
Edward Deci, esteemed author and Professor of Psychology at the University of Rochester, wrote in his colorful book, Why We Do What We Do, that people need organismic integration. It’s the process through which people develop as they engage in their world (organizationally and personally). But when we apply undue pressure to enact organizational change, and fail to garnish their input, do you know what generally happens?
High-performing organizational leaders link people in a way that fosters inclusion. Nobody wants the “fifth wheel” label, and perceptive, dream-weaver leaders intuitively grasp this. Deci notes:
Meaningful change occurs when people accept themselves, take interest in why they do what they do, and then decide that they’re ready to do it differently.
Inundated with land mines, the organizational field requires agile players. We need to equip them by linking their minds in the fashion that garnishes a network of idea factories that carpet the organization’s floor. In the words of Steve Jobs,
Innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.
We miss you Steve.
Perhaps it’s befitting to share a story that sums up the essence of what kind of leadership the new economy we are in requires.
On September 23rd, 2005, Warren and Pam Adams lost their home when Hurricane Rita slammed ashore in Gilchrist, Texas, with 130 mile per hour winds and a storm surge of seventeen feet. They loved the region and rebuilt on the exact spot, just a few hundred yards from the ocean.
Three years later, history repeated itself.
On September 13th, 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall in the same location, buffeting the Gilchrist, Texas, coastline with 110 mile per hour winds and an eighteen-foot storm surge.
This hurricane, with its massive wind field, would go down in the history books as the third most costly storm to strike the U.S. mainland. Here’s the interesting part: it destroyed every coastal dwelling near where it made landfall. Except one. The house that the Adams rebuilt.
The structure survived, perfectly intact, because they built it on fourteen-foot pylons. News media outlets dubbed it, “The Last House Standing.” A picture tells a thousand words. (see below)
This story illustrates a poignant certainty. Build your organization on the shifting sand of rhetoric and it won’t survive the onslaught of social, economic, and political waves that crash against its jetty. The latest technology, a rich legacy, and a pile of cash aren’t enough to hold back the raging surf. Rather, dynamic and dream-weaver leaders are the pylons that’ll keep it intact.
But here’s the takeaway. There’s a tectonic shift afoot within social and economic frameworks around the globe. Barriers that stood cemented in place for centuries are crashing down, becoming relics of a time since past.
Therefore, let’s sandblast bravado off the walls of organizations and replace it with—collaboration.
Becoming a vanguard organization means tapping into the deep reservoir of the human mind to promote the exchange of information and experience.
John Serpa is an author and public speaker who has spent over twenty-five years linking the minds of people in organizations ranging from non-profits to Fortune 500 firms. John’s core mission is to help organizations transform. An advocate for organizational effectiveness, LiNK is his first book.
John Serpa has a master’s degree in business from John Hopkins University and is an active member of the National Public Speakers Association. John resides in Chicago, Illinois, is an avid storm chaser and techno music producer.
Mind photo courtesy of J. Mark Dodds
Hurricane photo courtesy of FEMA