An overview effect of leadership / by Jim Grant

The Overview Effect (Frank Wright-1987) creates profound shifts in consciousness. They are global perspectives evoking a sense of personal responsibility since the dawn of space travel. Seeing Earth as a whole system, with everything on it connected and an integral part of it, changes you. Interviews with educated astronauts verify their inability to convey this life-altering experience. Someone aspiring to purposeful leadership relates deeply to this inspiration.“

Also see the article in July-August Scan Magazine. 

Life Lessons – To simplify or to complicate? A child prefers the former, yet why do so many confuse progress by making situations and processes complicated? My sense is it’s attributable to how and what we put forward as ‘our’ thinking. The simplest steps towards a world holding all of humanity and moving forward is advancing questions that kindle the fires of peoples’ passions. This isn’t a cure for life woes; neither does it deprive you of anything. Answering these kinds of questions asking that we view all life from a warm-hearted perspective – “Us.” From the edge of space, there are no borders between countries. What you can see at the ionosphere’s fringes is a thin blue line containing us all. From there, it’s simpler to hold as a fragile continuum, a hydrosphere containing our everything. Evolution is realized and measured by a human capacity to consistently step back and ask, what ‘taking heart’ offers us? For me this perspective making infers that I understand the joy, ‘yes the joy’ that obstacles offer as possibilities. Working through, making sense of and understanding who I am today, and how I adapt (or not) and view obstacles changes me. When I do this in the company of like-minded people, a metamorphosis of consciousness becomes a possibility.

Life Roles

People approach life roles resolved by how they create and interpret world views by referencing their inherent beliefs and values. The recognized roles a leader exhibits vary widely. Some see their jurisdiction as a parent or shepherd might. Intelligent, motivated adults treated like kids or viewed as sheep, expected to submit to or strictly adhere to a decree of rule-bound policies. The emerging cadre of leaders invisibly inspires and actively engage all levels of organizations in collaborating across silos and functions, challenging and engaging an endless process of demonstrating leadership facility. In the latter case, the distinction is implicit between leader and leadership, a synthesis of actively unifying methodology and responsibility. These kinds of organizations create systems and practices inviting people to proactively refine their communities of practice already deeply embedded in an organization.

The Leader and Leadership 

Male and female, we arrive in the world with similar standard equipment – a body, brain, and mind. As prospective leaders, how we approach and use all three differ widely and matters deeply. How can I help you see your innate abilities, to think differently, see potential, possibility and then act decisively? What do you need from me and the organization to support you in making a thinking transition from ‘not me’ to ‘why not me’? These are foundational questions a leader puts forth to inspire leadership, and incidentally, it belongs to everyone. 

Leadership is frequently contextualized as a personal style framed through the lens of something unable to exist apart from the leader. So I advance a premise, is this true? The leader is a key factor and influence upon group energies but is arguably no more or less than a symbol of leadership. Why do leaders’ roles galvanize leadership within a group? How does it happen as a means of harnessing possibilities to the attainment of common objectives? The evidence says leadership exists outside the corner office. Succinctly, the presence or more conspicuous absence of group leadership determines a leaders triumph or failure as a leader.

I offer perhaps an initially benign process of meaning making for the leader and leadership as understanding the ‘why’ ‘how’ and ‘what’ of each? Consider the human body you live and its functions as the epitome of leadership. There is no single molecule, atom, or boson as the CEO. Every organ, system, and sub-function is exquisitely intricate, a part of a whole organism. There is no ‘check-with-the boss,’ ‘endless meetings’ or mini tête-à-têtes conferring with colleagues as happens in linear thinking, being and doing. Each cell and organ knows its function and role, infinitely attuned to and communicating to its constituent neighbours.

Leadership is singularly responsible for the accomplishments of an organization. The success and failure of organized effort rest firmly in the leadership capacity, an organization-wide responsibility. Leadership intimates group engagement. Attributing an organization’s achievements to a single leader is lofty, negating the support that leadership provides. This kind of thinking would deny an organization framework overseen by administration making any contribution to a corporate initiative.

Leading Organizations

The cognitive chain of leaders reasoning principles in many businesses and agencies is still closely aligned with industrial-age thinking. Learning organizations are an antiserum for today’s consumer and materially focused business. Leading organizations premise learning, that fosters cross-organizational thinking. Thinking and nurturing people, whether consciously or not performing their roles in human body fashion is today’s reality. This happens when people are unshackled from opportunist, conformist and export-focused theories, the effluence of processes born within hierarchal organization development models.

Inspired leadership thinking faces obstacles motivated to create quantum organizations. Leadership potential naturally emerges because the people working there are highly adaptive and embrace innovative ways of working. Discoveries are realized; another new mental model appears as if from thin air. Chaos and complexity theory style thinking provide the foundation footings, paradigm thinking for emerging organizations. The evidence, relevance, and application of thinking methods post-modern organizations offer promise. A continually re-fining set of tools is yielding a skill set allowing today’s leaders to quantum leap organizational transformation. The output generates sustainable change, innovation and healthy work spaces that inspire learning, creativity and a balanced lifestyle – ‘This is an overview effect of leadership.’

Jim Grant is an executive and leadership coach living in Helsinki, Finland. Are you seeking new ways of inspiring and leading people? Give him a call +358 40 178 1030 or by e-mail: jim.grant@diversitas.fi

Posted in Yleinen.