Alignment, Consensus, convergence, democracy, Diversity, Experience, Leadership, mental models, Organizations, Thatcher, Totalitarian Regimes, Trust
I don’t believe in descriptive instantiations of leadership – and even less so in prescriptive recipes. Paraphrasing Thatcher’s “being a leader is like being a lady”, describing what leadership is or how it can be enacted defeats the very purpose.
Organizational trust is ultimately not driven by behaviors as is the popular belief, but rather by shared worldview. The ideal organization based on 100% trust simply cannot exist past a small intimate team because different individuals have different mental models through which they view and make sense of the surrounding reality. A vision that doesn’t fit someone’s world view will be distrusted no matter how worthy the leader and how lofty their conduct. To achieve shared worldview one would have to “align” mental models, but this represents a trap. Purposeful beings aren’t mechanisms and therefore aren’t amenable to mental “alignment” – totalitarian regimes have fortunately failed at this very endeavor. The only way one shifts a mental model is through personal experience, and this cannot be induced. The best leaders can do is provide the opportunity for experience diversity, hoping that a mental model evolution emerges. This is a prolonged and probabilistic process, and, as we can see in the largest human organizational construct, democracy, it doesn’t even necessarily converge.
Trevor Nagle, ABD said:
Interesting post! And while I agree with much of your premise, I think it may be slightly overstated to believe that “the only way one shifts a mental model is through personal experience.” In fact, I would suggest it’s reasonable to expect that some alignment may come from the intersection of past personal observations/experiences with a thought-provoking explanation and/or persuasive argument demonstrating the application of past ideas into a current framework. Regardless…..thanks for posting!
And thanks for commenting! You are right, I didn’t pick the perfect expression to convey what I meant. I think I’ve phrased a similar idea better in yesterday’s post on the renewed meaning of hierarchy in a flattening world; see http://wp.me/p2MCEk-14. The better expression is that a mental model shift is an interpolative heuristic; I stand-by the fact that this process is highly personal, and as such, it can be guided by not induced.
Trevor, also please see my “patterns and meta-patterns” entry: https://lnedelescu.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/patterns-and-meta-patterns-the-key-to-an-enlightened-life/#more-3895