“Leadership is changing. How it is being defined and the ways in which it is being taught are being influenced by a number of variables that collectively influence our understanding. We are between two paradigms: one is a portrait of the past and the other, a glimpse of our future.”
–Katherine Tyler Scott in Creating Caring and Capable Boards
Katherine Tyler Scott, Executive Director of Trustee Leadership Development, based in Indianapolis, IN, is not intimidated to be a bridge between the paradigms of the past and future, the old and the new, the managerial and the leadership-oriented.
Being a bridge between paradigms is not for the timid, but Trustee Leadership Development’s approach creatively and logically addresses the complex issues involved. Leaders from all types of organizations are facing the challenges of changing conditions, and can benefit from the experiences of Tyler Scott and Trustee Leadership Development.
Leader Guide MagazineTM will select and interview for each month’s new issue an innovative leader who meets our criteria of displaying ethical, effective actions which further the goal of better leadership. Below are excerpts of the May Leader In Action interview of Tyler Scott by Leader Guide MagazineTM editor Linda Hatcher:
- You note in your book Creating Caring and Capable Boards the shift from the Scientific Age old leadership paradigm to the Relationship Age New Leadership. These are significant shifts. What are the real day-to-day realities that these shifts imply in the workplace?
- We are experiencing a restructuring of positions of management and leadership in ways that enable people to have more autonomy and control over decision-making. The expectations have shifted so that employees are expected to make sense of the data they have and to be able to apply their analyses and understanding onsite in situations. Completing work is no longer a result of command and control style of leadership, but rather one of collaboration and cooperation. The leader achieves the organization’s goals through the evocation of other individuals’ particular gifts and skills.
Employees are no longer willing to leave huge pieces of themselves at home or tucked away in their cubicles or office. They want to be whole human beings engaged in a worthwhile and common enterprise that can meaningfully involve them and fairly compensate them.
I just heard from a friend whose daughter’s place of work provides time for employees to eat breakfast together, and to have a time for tea in the afternoon. I think employers are understanding that their primary resource is human capital and by investing in it they will have greater returns. When you are treated with dignity and respect, and are given the resources and support necessary to do your job, then meeting high expectations feels like a privilege, not a burden.
- What will it take to support the positive possibilities of this shift in paradigms in moving it from vision to reality?
- Depth education and the inner work of leaders. Both of the paradigms I write about exist, and both have value and can be appropriate depending on the particular situation or set of circumstances. The leader’s responsibility is to educate and help others discern what to do, and establish structures and processes to accomplish the work. This requires managing the tension between paradigms. Those who can do this most effectively have developed the capacity to handle their own anxieties and that of those they are leading through change.
- Your work has been with trustees of non-profit organizations to move them from a management mindset to the New Leadership. However, as you note in your book, people first go to proven skills, i.e., management style. What has been your approach in shifting people to the New Leadership paradigm?
- The goal is to help those in governance roles expand their role and responsibilities to include leadership, not to exclude management. Management skills are important, yet insufficient.
- What has been the reaction of leaders you’ve worked with to change, particularly when, as you state in your book, a tremendous commitment of time and intellectual engagement is required for successful and positive shifts in leadership?
- We get three kinds of reactions: one reaction is a disbelief or denial manifested in initial resistance, but once they see the benefits, this lessens. Another is wariness accompanied by a desire to risk something new because what they’ve tried for so many years didn’t bring about long-term change. A third reaction is understanding the need for a new way to educate board members and a willingness to try this process, because it is what has been missing.
All are surprised at how much effort this requires, but in my opinion, this saves what I call “negative time”–time spent undoing or redoing things.
- What implications have you seen or do you foresee in the corporate world for the significant leadership paradigm shifts you have identified?
- The business community is already aware of this shift and beginning to address the implications. Jay Conger’s book Spirit at Work is a good example of some of the ways these ideas have penetrated work cultures. People are seeking humane and productive work places and they believe that they deserve to have both.
One hope I have is that corporations will introduce all of their employees to the concept of trusteeship and intentionally prepare leaders who understand their responsibility to their company and to the community. There is much that an organization can do to help develop employees who can create and maintain a culture of leadership in which they feel empowered to act on behalf of the community.
See related stories this issue: PLANT the Seeds of Leadership Change, an overview of the process Tyler Scott and Trustee Leadership Development use to teach specific ways for organizations to better respond to rapid change and complex transitions, and A Shift in Paradigms: The Context for the New Leadership, an excerpt from Tyler Scott’s book. For more information on the work of Tyler Scott and Trustee Leadership Development, visit their website at www.tld.org
If you want a great speaker for inspiration, business or leadership development, check out Richard Jadick.