What if leadership is not what you thought it is for a long time? What if leadership is different and discovered already two thousand years ago? Read my insight, and it will make you a better leader.
There is something very appealing and calming when we are looking at fractals. Trees, seashells, snowflakes, lightning, peacocks, shorelines and rivers are all examples of fractals. Our brain like symmetry and patterns and fractals offer both of them in a repetitive way that attracts our mind and calm it at the same time.
Fractals are not just pleasant to see; they are also holding one of the ultimate fundamental truth that operate the world around us. Fractals are a simple structure that by following simple rules creating complex structures. Fractals also, like any other repetitive and contained elements (Atom, molecules, organism, etc.) can hold essential elements together and to create a more significant structure.
I don’t know if you ever thought about it, but organizations are also fractals of people arranging into groups, and repeating the structure and rules by creating bigger and bigger teams that form a complex organization.
We, people, are therefore a part of a bigger structure, a system, complex system. And, as in any other structures, we are using different ways to communicate and keep the element in the structure gravitated toward one nucleus. We are using matter and energy to communicate. Most of our communications, though, are base on energy (voice) and vision (see). There is also another communication method that takes place using energy, but without using sound or sight. How many time you drove, and you know that another car is going to get into your lane. You didn’t speak to the other driver, you didn’t even see his face, but this communication and realization not just happened, they become a reality as the jerk entered your lane. Now, stop for a minute and think about other scenarios when this type of indirect communication happen, you should find a handful of them.
The same as the oxygen atom bonded two hydrogen atoms and created water; people are grouping and create something new as a group. The new structure has unique properties that each one of his elements doesn’t have by themselves. The same rule applies to atoms, molecules, ants, and humans.
Some people meditate for years to get the understanding that we are people just elements of a bigger system, that we are worthless as individuals. In any system, all the parts of the system are communicating one with each other (in different ways and medium, but communicating). As a single person, we are not any different than an ant that just left the nest. We are unique because we are more complex fractals that create much more complex fractals, such as a group of people.
Some people, like you, spend five minutes to read this blog :-). Even if you understand and agree with the realization that people are part of a bigger system that communicates to attract the atoms to the nuclear, you have to experience it to understand it. Sound a little spiritual? Well, face it.
How this insight impact leadership?
Since childhood, most of us (including myself) thought that to organize people together we need to follow hierarchies of authority to maintain order between people. This concept was also pushed at school and work. But at work, it becomes evident that to create successful groups there should be a strong leader that manages the group. We have managers at work on different levels, but they all use authority and implicit or explicit fear to make sure that a group will work together and reach a goal. The paradox that we are following this structure and concept for 100 years, yet all the available metrics don’t show that organizations are progressing (percentage of companies stayed in fortune 500, decreased lifespan of organization, decreased of the average time of CEOs, low engagement level, etc.).
One way or another I wasn’t an exception; I act as manager the same as my managers expect me to behave. At some point in time, I started to understand that people are part of a network, a system, a fractal. When I realize that, I understood that by acting as an ordinary manager I’m negatively impacting the system. Then, It was clear to me that as a leader of a group my role is to create the energy that will bring people together and facilitate a deeper method of communication, not to spread orders or set directions.
When I started to execute what I believe in, I found out that as a group we managed to reach more and more impressive and unique results. I found out that the same structures and rules that apply for small structures also apply to more complex systems as well. After a while, I found out that as more as I’m spending time to attracts all the people (electrons) around our goals (nucleus) and to create more complex structures (fractals), the performance and results of the group increase exponentially.
You might think it is incredible or unique but is it ordinary, it’s simply nature. The conventional management system that we are following today is far away from any law of nature. The current management system is laws and rules created by people for people.
How to change leadership
Ok, natty, you might say. I got it, but how one can create the energy to attract people together. How can he create more and more complex fractals?
You can create the energy needed to attract people by focusing on how to develop properties that the group has, but the individuals in the group don’t have or have much less. Security is a property that the group brings, but as individuals, we don’t have. Creativity is a property that grows exponentially when it pursued by a group. As a leader of a group, creating and increasing such properties should be your focus.
The second focus should be on self-awareness. Self-awareness is far away from any managerial concept, but focusing on self-awareness create a more safe environment that promotes a different level of communications between people in the group. Meditation is one of the best tools available today to bring, and increase self-awareness.
Last but not least, you should be focused on increasing the verity of your group in terms of available states, options or resources available for the group.
Wu-Wei was a principle followed by the longest dynasty of rulers in China. Wu-Wei is Taoism principle that means don’t do. This principle doesn’t mean literally don’t do anything. It means that the group shouldn’t feel you as a leader. You should be focused on creating bonding energy, awareness, and variety. This concept might be tough to digest, but this is how nature is surviving and evolving for so many years.
Being yet another member of a group of people that invest energy to bring more and more energy to feed bonding and communication is what authentic leadership is all about. Not using rank and authority to manipulate people to do what you believe is right. Once you understand it and follow this concept, you will see the change all around you.
The only way to find out if this approach is working for you is by testing it. There is no other way. The good news is that you can try it with a small group of three people and once you find out it is working for you, increase your test to bigger and bigger groups.