Friday, 14 December 2012

Leaderless December


Two fundamental weaknesses in our society today have been insidiously becoming critical issues that directly impact on the welfare dependency culture and the poor decision making in our public services.
A lack of effective leadership at every level creates poor learning and dysfunctional problem solving. Having been involved for over 20yrs helping leaders become more effective I find the inadequacies similar in every organisation and they become increasingly psychotic the further up the egotistical power chain ambitious leaders climb. Leaders do not listen effectively – they have too many filters and prejudicial distractions to be able to hear what is really going on. They also are wrestling with the turmoil relevant to their internal dialogue about being strong, capable, in control and confident to handle any situation. These stressors are natural defence mechanisms that place survival of oneself before the need to listen objectively to the issue in hand.
This protective and defensive listening prevents real learning which in turn creates repetitive mistakes and gross inefficiencies. Leaders shy away from genuine reviews beyond initial corrective action. Few are courageous enough to go deeper and ask how the situation occurred in the first place. The antecedents, behaviour and consequences are often known in any review, however to examine what created the antecedents in the first place are often beyond the remit and vocabulary of most lead reviewers.
The lack of listening and learning is exacerbated by the poverty of thinking and lack of creativity in an effective problem solving process. How often do you hear ‘now we know what the problem is – this is what we must do about it’? This 2 stage process misses the most important element of effectiveness and efficiency in that before jumping to action lets first clarify what it is we are trying to achieve. Many people reading this will say yes of course that’s obvious – however in my experience this is rarely acted upon as this ‘mind set’ of short cut problem solving is engrained in all of us from a very early age. In doing so it prevents ambition in that little time is spent on clarifying the goals that are possible and limits creativity as discussion exploring the range of possible actions are diverted by the relief experienced from early agreement on what might seem an obvious solution but not necessarily the best.
To address these inadequacies of leadership much more emphasis needs to be placed in personal development and awareness to help people in positions of power to understand the effect they have on others and how the nature of the position they hold can sabotage their effectiveness from day one.
With more responsible and personally aware leaders then the criminal waste in resources that we know exists today in our public services can be dramatically reduced. 

Another fundamental weakness in our society relates to the institutionalised welfare culture experienced by many who could be considered as underprivileged or in need of support. If you are brought up in a family where poverty and unemployment is the norm then this cycle of low expectation and dependency is past from generation to generation despite the best efforts of social support and education.
We need more effective and robust interventions to help educate parents and much more emphasis in every school year, on emotional responsibility. It’s vital that we enable children and young adults to understand the choices they have in life and the implications of making these choices. We must help them take responsibility for the decisions they make and prepare them for the inevitable life events  they will experience. This has partly been achieved by the Personal, Social and Health Education agenda but has yet to adequately infiltrate schools to the extent that begins to shape behaviour and decision making. I suspect the reasons for this are mainly two fold, i.e. the priority and emphasis of getting the right SATS/results and the lack of skilled facilitators amongst the teaching fraternity who are capable and comfortable in emotional and experiential teaching methods.  

If my views about the lack of effective leadership and the lack of emphasis on emotional education from parenting to young adult education contributing to welfare dependency are mislead or poorly formed then I would welcome any reassuring information about relevant developments.

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