Leading through 3600 Intelligent Networks, Knowledge and Skills (the Leadership Quomodo)


LINKS360 – Our Leadership Quomodo – through Applied Leadership Challenges

The LINKS360 approach draws intelligence, knowledge and skills together within a collective leadership scenario.  Our approach includes the principles of adaptive leadership in tackling adaptive challenges or, as is more often referred to as  complex (so-called) “wicked problems’; not wicked in the sense of being evil but, rather, wicked in the sense of their complexity. LINKS360also encourages you to think about leadership in a different way. Thinking about leadership in a different way promises to help in shifting away from individual (and often selfish motivations) to collective (more selfless) leadership. We need to re-imagine leadership, a point that we made strongly in our earlier sessions on the meaning and application of collective leadership.

Time, energy and mass are often the leaders most scarce resource,  even more important than either money or resources. Therefore, it is imperative to find objective means to assess the likelihood of success early on in the practice of leadership and how time, energy and mass can be harnessed to achieve the strategy, goals and objectives to deliver in accord with the core purpose of the institute.  Within our LINKS360 process, we take account of these three dimensions.  We know, for example, that mass and energy are interchangeable although mass increases as the energy increases often to the same degree. A greater increase is experienced as time (speed) increases:

  • If we consider mass as those actors involved in (or affected by) the presenting leadership challenge;
  • Energy is expended by those comprising the mass; and
  • Time accelerates both the energy and mass (i.e the speed at which leaders respond); then

it is quite likely that greater results will be achieved in a shorter timescale!

This sounds alarmingly simple, but it is in the same school of thought as Einstein’s special relativity in which all three mechanical quantities interact differently dependant on the context.  From a leadership perspective, context and mechanisms will interact to create desired outcomes (for more information on this, see the earlier discussion on realist evaluation).

For now, a brief outline of the LINKS360 process is given, with further information for each element provided in subsequent pages (link included in the sidebar menu).

Collective leadership values and behaviours can be identified and assessed (see CL section). This helps in developing mechanisms that reflect intelligent leadership practices within a 360° collective leadership context and in achieving the overall goal of creating public value.

A brief exploration of  ‘LINKS360’ which is ‘Leading through 360º Intelligent Networks and Knowledge’.

Click on each of the dropdown tabs below to read a brief description of each component of LINKS360. You can then read more about each category by clicking on the main menu in the left hand sidebar

Applied Leadership Space background

Exploring the <strong>How</strong> of Leadership through LINKS<sup>360</sup>

Leadership (through 360°) intelligent Application
“Doing the right things, in the right way, by and for the right people, in the right places and with the right impact.”

What is leadership?  A straightforward explanation is one that suggests aims of inspiring, motivating or stimulating others to achieve a given end. Contemporary theory talks about transforming individual efforts towards a shared vision.

A salient point that we make throughout our discussions is that “one of the key challenges for leadership in the modern world is that there has been too much management and not enough leadership”. Leadership has also been described as “doing the right things” whereas management can be viewed “as doing things right”. Here, we prefer paraphrasing Aristotle in describing this in more detail; leadership concerns “doing the right things, in the right way, by and for the right people, in the right places and with the right impact’?”. It is reasonable then to suggest that the concept of leadership is highly complex, yet its practice can be applied in an intelligent way to achieve the outcomes that are desired. This is achieved by recognising the differing contexts within which different styles or approaches to leadership can be applied by understanding the dynamics of the contexts and using the appropriate mechanisms for the situation at that time. Previous theories and discussions on leadership have professed different approaches, as our initial section on the history of leadership has described. There is NO one-best way. Our suggestion is that leadership is collective and will rely on the strengths of intelligence in reducing information asymmetry and in building the right skills for the right people, at the right time and in the right place.

A vital skill of a leader is to ask intelligent questions. We can indeed look back in history in understanding the ethical and moral grounding for leadership in setting the right context for the right questions. We can consider the concept of ‘practical wisdom (phronesis)’ which is the intellectual virtue concerned with doing. Aristotle, arguably one of the most eminent of Greek philosophers, distinguished the word phronesis from other forms of wisdom (such as episteme and techne) relating it more to practical wisdom rather than merely intellectual wisdom but within the context of ethics. This view aligns well to the practice of leadership and the requirement to lead in the public interest. Theories can only be useful if they improve the practice of leadership. Practice will rely on intelligence. Intelligence-led leadership can only be achieved if leaders create the conditions in which intelligent questions are posed and collective others are empowered and enabled to come up with solutions.

Collaborating through Networks

“Networking is not about just about building your connections with other people. It’s about connecting people with people to build a better future, to share ideas, and to create bigger mutual opportunities than would otherwise be possible.”

Networks are a pervasive feature of leadership in both the not-for-profit and the for-profit sectors.  It is sensible to ask the question concerning the extent to which networks are competitive or collaborative.  The traditional approach within the for-profit sector is that of ‘competitive rivalry within an industry’[1] much later adapted in the not-for-profit industry as collaborative ‘relations between organisations’[2], described also as networked leadership involving relationships[3].   In summary, we enact leadership within networks.  Relationships are difficult to nurture, work within and evaluate.  Dimensions of networked relationships include direct/indirect communication, opposing and common purposes, the interaction across networked relationships ranging from one-to-one (including business-to-business) through to complex multiple relationships (multiplexity) and equality (of interests, power (hard and soft) and resources).  These are useful starting points, but how do these criteria affect the way that relational leadership and its impact are measured and evaluated?  Focusing on relationships inevitably challenges values, priorities, assumptions, behaviours, and ethics

[1] Porter, M. E. (1980) Competitive strategy : techniques for analyzing industries and competitors. New York: Free Press.

[2] Oster, cited in Chappelet, J. L. & Bayle, E. (2005) Strategic and Performance Management of Olympic Sport Organisations.: Champaign: Human Kinetics.

[3] Uhl-Bien, M. (2006) Relational Leadership Theory: Exploring the social processes of leadership and organizing. The Leadership Quarterly, 17(6),654-676.

“Knowledge is power …. Knowledge increases influence?”

It is often said that ‘knowledge is power’, originally attributed to Francis Bacon, a term also apparently used consistently by Thomas Jefferson who equated knowledge with safety, and happiness as well as power[1].  Interestingly, knowledge is one of the factors why the founding fathers were so successful in creating what is arguably today the world’s most influential nation.  History shows that although there were vast differences of opinion and conflict between them that they did act as a team. At different times, when individual skills, knowledge and expertise were required, those with the appropriate qualities stepped forward.  They then stepped back again when a different set of qualities were needed.  From a leadership perspective, it is more about applying this knowledge to the practice of leadership and, ultimately, practical wisdom.  Knowledge alone will be insufficient in and of itself; knowledge needs to be both managed and led.


“Having the right people, in the right places, doing the right things, for the right reasons” requires the right skills and abilities”.

One of the three dimensions of the Leadership3 challenge is the need to build both capacity (of the institution) and capability (of those who work within the institution) considering this from the ‘known’ to the ‘unknown’ levels of capacity and capability. This supports the second dimension which is answering the leadership challenge on the basis of identifying the challenge, again taking account of both the unknown challenges as well as those which are known. The third dimension is the leadership style ranging from individual, through to distributed within the institution and, ultimately shared across networks. The development of leadership skills is therefore critical to the achievement of the institutional core purpose and values in equal measure to the building of institutional capacity through systems and structures.

The Selfless Leader