Leadership for the real world (listen to your positive deviants)

By William Seidman Doing well in the real world requires flexibility and openness. So why are so many companies and nonprofits so rigid?  The delivery of training is a great example.  Leaders hope for big changes, but trainers often see themselves as only delivering training classes. They want to stick to a script. In that sense they are transactional — while the leader is trying to get them to think transformationally. In a discussion we had with trainers recently, several kept saying, “Just tell us what to do.” The leader answered, “Think more about change.” This was too much. Transactional people often have a hard time being transformational (see our article Transformational Leadership in a Transactional World). Yes, there are experts on leadership: academics and consultants. These experts will tell an organization what to do, which is then pushed out to the organization —  usually as some form of traditional training. When we suggest that an organization’s  positive deviant leaders — the people who perform the best —  actually know more about how to be leaders than any outsider ever could, it’s often a totally foreign concept. The idea of relying on your own best people can seem very odd to people who’ve assumed for years that academic models are better. As a former academic, having worked with a lot of positive deviants, I can say without a doubt that using the top performers, right here in the real world,  as the foundation for any  leadership program, is much faster, less expensive and more effective than using theoretical models.]]>

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