Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Leadership as a capacity to surprise

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on August 1, 2012

There are a number of topics and issues that I have repeatedly found myself returning to in this blog and one of them is leadership. When I do a quick count of the postings I have added to just three of my more active directories here:

Business Strategy and Operations,
Business Strategy and Operations – 2 and
HR and Personnel

I see 43 different postings come up as having “leadership” in their title. And I have found myself delving into the issues of leadership a lot more than just that in the course of writing this blog.

I keep coming back to this because leadership is not so much an algorithmically definable process as much as it is an art – and even as it is teachable and learnable, and even as it can be presented in significant part for its specific skills, practices and experience requirements. I keep coming back to this because as an art, there are always more perspectives and ways of looking at leadership that offer value and insight – and because I am still learning the lessons of that too.

And leadership and the lessons of good leadership still surprise me for the unexpected wisdom that I see in others as they manage and inspire. And surprise is the focus of this posting.

• A good leader is capable of surprising the people who work for them and who they lead.

I am not writing here about sowing doubt or uncertainty, or of raising avoidable and unnecessary concerns. I am writing of the need and ability to shake people out of the ruts they can so easily slip into: routines that can and do develop, first for their ease and efficiency and then for their capacity to settle into the only way to do things, and as enemies of creativity and capacity to change.

• Good leaders know how to shake things up without creating undue concern. They know how to foster and encourage the open eyes and ears needed to find and pursue New. And they know how to build that open willingness to avoid those ruts and strive for better, and as a core part of the business culture.

And there is always a crucial dynamic there between need for operational consistency and for processes that consistently work together to create ongoing sustainable value – and the need to actively and proactively find new sources of value and new best practices for reaching them. I have been writing a lot about the problems of ad hoc and disconnected where consistent and systematic would offer greater value. I offer this posting as a balancing anodyne. And a good leader helps their organization and the people who work there and comprise it, to find their good balance too.

You can find this posting at Business Strategy and Operations – 2 and also see Business Strategy and Operations and HR and Personnel.

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