Are you an Old or New Paradigm Leader?

Who's next?

Leadership is the overarching theme of my writing on this site.

As part of this, I write every Friday an article on “Smashing Paradigms“, looking to challenge my own thinking and to be of support to you in the same way.

First, for clarity on the word Paradigm, please read my article on “What is a Paradigm“, though to put it concisely, a paradigm is a set of unconscious beliefs, a goldfish bowl we don’t know we are swimming in (see the base of this article for a beautiful expression of this).

Today I feel the need to pause and once again reflect on old and new paradigms of leadership, as another expression of being stuck in a paradigm is “we’ve always done it this way”. I refer to Old and New Paradigms as leadership is so entrenched in society and business that we somehow seem unable to see the need for change, and even that we can change.

What I can tell you is that I’ve seen both old and new, and that old is on the way out, new is absolutely working and the way forward. The shift is inexorable.

For yourself, for the business or organisation you work in, where on the continuum do you see this? Stuck in the old, already in the new, somewhere on the journey?

Today, then, simply a few pointers, indicators for you to consider.

Old paradigm leadership :

  • Leaders expected to be omniscient, ie have all the answers,
  • Leaders make the decisions (and quickly)
  • Leaders command respect through rank, longevity etc, ie leadership is hierarchical
  • Leaders are powerful, strong, invulnerable

In short, the “command and control” structure that drove economic growth post WW2 and that still exists, to a large extent in most organisations, particularly those of scale. Oh, and it still underpins the bulk of most leading MBA programmes. A little scary to think of people in their 20s still being taught this and then going out in the world to lead this way. Much work to do in shifting paradigms for some time to come, then!

New Paradigm leadership:

Each of the links above goes to an article or search on a tag or keyword for articles I’ve posted on this site, and of the hundreds of posts here, you can search on lots of themes and now see multiple articles with eclectic references to many recurring themes around leadership.

I encourage you to invest some time in considering and challenging your own beliefs, trying to see the goldfish bowl you are in.

Of course, we cannot truly see the bowl we swim in, so I also encourage you to invest in outside sounding boards who will help you see yourself clearly, both your gaps and your unique genius. This is the work I do, yet I can only work with a few people at a time, hence part of why I write is to look to extend that opportunity to many others.

In closing, I give you a speech I listen to at least every month or two and hope this helps you see your own goldfish bowl, from David Foster Wallace.

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