How to Elevate Your Leadership Impact by Getting Out of the Blind Spot

How’s your leadership impact? Would you like to produce more of it in the world: more value, more meaning, more contribution, and more vitality? Do you want to advance your career, improve your team’s performance, change your organization’s culture, or elevate the results of your business?

water dropOur culture has a blind spot around leadership. With all the thousands of books, programs, consultants, and guidelines, we seem to still see leadership as rare, mysterious and difficult to develop. We have many great lists of tips and principles, but still find our own leadership elusive.

Leadership is a skill, not just an innate talent. At some level, we are all born leaders. We just need to connect with where it lives within us and cultivate it. But how?  Where?  And what does “cultivating” mean in this context?

This is our blind spot – that we don’t have effective answers to these questions. And if we do, then how do we put them into action?

Blindness is where we don’t see what is there. So first we need to clarify what to look for and how to recognize it when we see it. The consequence of blindness is we don’t take effective action. But if we see what we need to see, what does it take to be able to act as a leader?

Leadership is a performance art. A journalist at a sporting event might see what an athlete does, but not be able to perform the same actions.

We want to be athletes on the field of leadership, not journalists commenting on it.

What we see and recognize has to do with our stories. There was a time that people did not “see” germs – they didn’t exist. Washing hands was not a standard practice….

I’m going to update this blog later to address the following questions and unpack a “generative” answer – one that we can take action with that will enable our results:

1. What is leadership? What is crucial for constituting effective leadership?

Leaders have followers – how are they generated?

2. What are the dimensions of leadership that we can see, do, and learn that produce the results we call leadership?

We have a blind spot around leadership. We try to understand it instead of practice it. But we need to know what to practice, and what to pay attention to.

Leadership happens in interaction, and interaction has dimensions that we cannot ignore – listening, language, emotions, body language, and the historical background of each person and      culture. Leadership becomes mysterious when we leave one or more of these dimensions out, which our culture tends to do. We try to make things conceptual, but performance doesn’t come from understanding, but from embodiment. We tend to think in mechanical terms, but this is biological and experiential.

3. How do we learn leadership?

How do we learn a performance art? How do we practice? What do we practice?

Without answers to these questions we won’t elevate our leadership – we’ll simply have more opinions about it. And our answers need to be generative – that enables us to act effectively.

This territory is the territory of generative leadership. I’ll be illuminating this territory level-by-level, bit-by-bit in 2015.

I look forward to the journey of this conversation with you.

Bob Dunham

 

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One Response to How to Elevate Your Leadership Impact by Getting Out of the Blind Spot

  1. Deryn van der Tang 2015-02-21 at 10:47 am #

    To practice leadership, we have to become vulnerable to taking the risk of sharing who we are, and embracing our followers for who they are, as they are right now before we can all move forward together. Leaders are often trail blazers having to walk into unknown territory.

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