Reinventing Leadership

A Foundation for Reinvention

Understanding our Leadership Context

A characteristic of complexity is that it is unlikely that the issues or problems underpinning it will either become fully known or likely to be fully resolved. In this sense, it shares these characteristics with what is popularly referred to as wicked problems, not wicked in the sense of them being evil but rather in describing how leadership challenges emerge and morph in terms of their characteristics.

Framing is a critical element of problem-solving. For example, it is suggested that leaders will tend to frame a problem around their own perceptions and experiences rather than focusing on the characteristics of the problem that they face. Framing is a practical tool that enables leaders to strategically use information to define and articulate a negotiating issue or situation. Framing helps in turning information into intelligence and, ultimately – and collectively – transforming intelligence into wisdom through evidence-based action and evaluation.

An important point is a realisation that if the leadership challenge is not correctly identified at the outset, leadership actions are unlikely to work.  Rather than create order from chaos, the chaos will continue (at best) or expand (at worst).

Exploring the Mechanisms for Change

Dimension 1:
Leadership Challenge
The first dimension defines a critical purpose of Leadership3. This is to make the unknown known! To do this, we need to discover patterns. Once leaders have established the patterns, proactive and cooactive responses are then possible.

Dimension 2:
Capacity and Capability

The second dimension takes account of the capacity of the organisation to achieve its purpose and the capabilities of its people to deliver the product or service. Similarly, this ranges from the known capacities and capabilities through to the unknowns.

Dimension 3:
Leadership Style

The third dimension defines a collective leadership style. This ranges from the individual to distributed and ultimately shared leadership. Shared leadership is applied across different disciplines with a common purpose.

Delivering and Demonstrating Outcomes

Transformation Characteristics

Authentic leaders display behaviours that are genuinely transformational. The opposite to this is what Bernard Bass referred to as ‘Pseudo Transformational’ Leaders. Authenticity, therefore, describes genuine transformational leadership. Although not exhaustive, authentic behaviours will be characterised by:

  • Legitimacy
  • Trustworthiness
  • Realist
  • Understanding of needs
  • Intelligent application of knowledge and experience
  • Sacrifice own interests for the greater good
  • Motivates others to achieve the end goals


Authentic leaders can thus be described as being true to themselves and others; in the absence of this, leaders may deceive others by not being true to themselves and others. Authenticity brings the human element into the centre of the role of the leader.

Two Minute Video Introduction:
Configuring Change


Three 5 Minute Nuggets


Click on each image below to open the E-Learning Nugget

Aligning Purpose to Practice


Making a Difference


Demonstrating Impact


In his very open and detailed discussion of what he describes as the “Lucifer’ effect: Why Good People Turn Evil, Phillip Zimbardo (2008) argues:

“Most of us hide behind egocentric biases that generate the illusion that we are special. These self serving protective shields allow us to believe that each of us is above average on any test of self-integrity” … and “that we look to the stars through the thick lens of personal invulnerability when we should also look down to the slippery slope beneath our feet” (p.5).

All leadership systems are complex and adaptive. Individual leadership skills are necessary, particularly at time of crisis, but it will only get us so far. Dealing with complexity requires collective solutions through collective networks working to a shared vision.

Our Applied Leadership approach (LINKS360®) is used in exploring and developing improved leadership practice and systemic change using a combination of synergetics (‘the whole’) and cybernetics (‘control mechanism of the parts’). It is focused more on complexity and finding out unknowns.

Impact and Success are not the same outcome. Impact requires independent evidence whereas success can be anything that the narrator wants it to be.

Of course, most people are not naive and will be able to see through prevarication (or bull****!). But clever socially constructed narratives about what ‘success’ is can be received without question. As with pseudo-transformational leaders, the ‘ice may only have been in the freezer drawer for a few minutes and will look just like a block of ice’. Not everyone will probe it with their finger and find that most of it is still water!’

Our maixm is:

– attributed to Albert Einstein (1879–1955); Henry Ford (1863-1947)

Are you ready to give more thought to rethinking your leadership style?

Leadership challenges range from what we already know to what we do not know. Often, leaders will revert to their default position. Although facing a challenge not encountered before, there is a tendency to fall back on a leadership response that has been tried and tested before. The leader is then dumbfounded when it does not work!. Click here.

The Selfless Leader