In today’s complex world, the traditional model of top-down, autocratic leadership simply won’t work. Realizing any organizational vision requires in-depth understanding and the ability to make smart, informed decisions at every level in the organization and at every step in the process. In short, today’s world demands co-pilots, not just followers—and this means that the leader must be prepared to lead in a collaborative rather than authoritarian style.
Leaders evolve by keeping in touch; they are connected through mind and soul receptors that are switched on all the time. They pick up signals from anyone and at every juncture. They value a word, a thought of an ordinary person, because they understand that brilliance often starts as a simple seed that finds the right soil, the right climate, and the right care to emerge and grow.
Effective leadership instills confidence and dispels doubt. It allows controversy and welcomes diversity; it invites innovation and provokes creativity. It is sometimes critical, but never cynical.
Collaboration requires courage on the part of both leaders and co-workers. After all, the only way a co-pilot can be trained to respond in an emergency is by frequently taking the wheel and guiding the aircraft—and this means that the pilot must be prepared to trust and support the co-pilot, even when he makes the occasional rookie mistake.
Collaboration also requires openness to ideas that originate anywhere in the organization. A real leader is able to bring together people with differing ideas and help them work towards consensus in the service of the overarching vision. Disagreement, I’ve found, is like cement—when it’s fresh, it’s soft and can be easily reshaped; in time, it hardens and becomes inflexible. So the true leader flushes out disagreements and clears the air early rather than letting them linger.
In the book, I have shared my dear friend Dr. Ghazi Binzagr’s story, which has some enlightening examples about this topic. Until our next blog where I will speak on ‘Resilient’, please share with me your comments as I look forward to our discussions.
Hussein A. Al-Banawi
Author, The Unknown Leader