How to Change the World in 4 Easy Shifts

Many of us have a strong sense that we are being called, more than ever before. Called to bring the full impact of our work into the world. Called to come out of hiding, raise our voice above the crowd, and become fully visible as the powerful leaders we are. Called to use our influence to create connection and community in a world longing for leadership.

Right now, the world NEEDS you to be at full potency. Your voice, your unique talents and experience is more necessary than ever before. Humanity is presently facing a nexus of challenges of unparalleled scope, magnitude and complexity. COVID-19 is the most visible and immediately impactful, showing us that we will not ever go back to ‘normal’.

That being said, normal was never actually normal.  Our pre-COVID-19 existence was anything but, other than we normalised greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, fear, rage, hoarding, scarcity, hate, and lack.  We are so much more than this! We are being given an opportunity to create a new way:  one that includes ALL of humanity and nature. A new paradigm that requires we elevate our thinking. We are each the leader.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”.        — Abraham Lincoln

Out With the Old

As we move away from the traditional command-and-control style leadership, we each step into a leadership style that values sharing, collaboration, and service over the old values of exclusion, control, and self-interest. Empowering individuals within the organisation means to share the power with them. Shared power adds up to more power – not less. It means everyone has an increased ability to get more done and to make things happen. Organisations who embrace the New Leadership Paradigm and make each individual the leader, experience a dramatic increase to the bottom-line results.

1. From Position Power to Personal Power

Traditional models of leadership are based on gaining and keeping power by establishing a top “position” and then protecting one’s ‘turf.” It’s all about power. Who’s got it and who wants it. Power comes from position, which cannot be shared because, by sharing, it is somehow diminished. Traditional leaders may talk the language of empowerment – but when it comes to moving the decision-making – the words do not translate into actualities. Position Power comes from formal authority and the right to command. Results are typically achieved by autocracy, coercion and the extensive use of the carrot and stick, punishment and reward (if you agree with me, I will reward you. If you don’t agree with me or do what I say, you are punished).

Position Power works when you are in a position of authority over the person you are working with. However, it is highly ineffective when influencing networks of people in other departments, suppliers, customers, peers, and project teams. When people have no choice but to do as they are told, Position Power works in the short term. However, with increased demand and competition for talent, using autocracy is less and less effective. In fact, it can be outright counterproductive. No longer is economic success dependent on natural resources, manufacturing excellence, and scientific or technological prowess. Post-COVID-19 has highlighted new terms of success that revolve around an organisation’s ability to mobilise, attract and retain creative human talent. Every competitive dimension depends on the creativity and ingenuity of the people that make up the organisation. It is impossible to think of new ideas or innovative solutions that defy old ways of doing things if we are afraid of making mistakes and are constantly worried about the real or perceived threat from a leadership style based on autocracy, coercion, and punishment. Leading a team of creative talent is very different from leading a factory line of workers who do similar repetitive, or service staff who provide a functional service. You cannot command creativity.

Many of today’s leaders are still operating from this old leadership model. Leadership in the creative environment of the future requires a vastly different paradigm. Today’s new model involves partnership, cooperation, and teamwork. It’s not about abandoning Position Power – it’s about adding, developing and enhancing every individual in the organisation’s Personal Power and working the agenda together in partnership. The most significant difference between Position Power and Personal Power is that the former is handed over or given to a person, whereas the latter is cultivated through communication, influence, and inspired actions from others. Personal Power is necessary in a flat organisational structure where team outcomes depend on personal choice and people are free to choose what to give, or not. Creative and talented people always have free choice because their skills are highly sought after.

2. From Class Systems to Egalitarian Structures

The New Leadership Paradigm dissolves the class systems common to traditional leadership models. This means that everyone, regardless of rank or position, is subject to the same rules of behaviour, processes for getting things done, and reward systems. Groups at the top are no longer generously handed enormous advantages over other groups.  Non-hierarchical organisations are emerging in which leadership is dispersed among all staff, not concentrated in a small number of people at the top who seize the lion’s share of benefits.

3. From Information Restricted to Information Shared

In the old, crumbling models of leadership, information is restricted and only passed down to those who “need to know.” Leaders may hesitate to share sensitive information with all staff members, such as openly discussing the reorganisation or termination of a project, or the reduction in staff. However, telling employees about cutbacks, restructures, and the details of projects as soon as possible means they can make informed decisions about their lives. People need to be part of these tough dialogues and learn to live with the anxiety that goes with them. In order to create a progressive culture that’s marked by transparency, we need to promote business literacy, rather than leaving employees in the dark about how their organisation is doing.

“Withholding information is the essence of tyranny. Controlling of the flow of information is the tool of the dictatorship.” ― Bruce Coville

Hoarding essential information provides a layer of protection for top leadership against the proverbial lower level of the traditional pyramid. However, this protection mindset is based on fear and is unnecessary. Customer, financial, and work-process responsibility is essential to everyone’s role. Anyone who does not want to learn these things cares little for the well-being of the larger organisation. By sharing information with employees, new paradigm leaders empower everyone and increase collaboration. Open information also ensures that ideas flow more freely across all levels of the organisation. Great ideas that would have been stuck at the bottom are then more likely to flourish out in the open.

4. From Profit and Self-Interest to Purpose and Service

In the outdated, traditional models, leaders were driven by self-interest in order to maximise their own power, make money, generate profit, and achieve a prominent status. In the new leadership paradigm, leaders are motivated by improving the well-being of people and communities in ways that have lasting, intrinsic value. In short, they put service to the organisation or community ahead of self-interest. This means that profit becomes a secondary motivation to meaning and purpose.

“Stay away from lazy parasites, who perch on you just to satisfy their needs, they do not come to alleviate your burdens, hence, their mission is to distract, detract and extract, and make you live in abject poverty.”  ― Michael Bassey Johnson

Ultimately, the new leadership paradigm is driven by concepts such as service, kindness, and transparency. It’s based on love, not fear and there is plenty of evidence that these new paradigm philosophies drive results. In fact, according to one employee engagement survey, management transparency is the number one factor contributing to employee happiness. In that same survey, team play and collaboration (concepts that are rooted in New Paradigm Leadership) ranked as the top traits that employees love about their peers. Another survey found that employee trust greatly impacts engagement, workplace happiness, work quality, and employee retention.

With the rise of consumers interested in the public good (Service-to-Others over Service-to-Self), Now, more than ever before, we need to examine our long-held beliefs as to why a company exists. “You want a story that inspires employees, excites partners, attracts customers, and engages influencers,” the Harvard Business Review writes. What companies need is a compelling narrative. A narrative that gives substance to the world we want to co-create together.

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” – Howard Zinn

The New Leadership Paradigm starts this conversation and offers a clear alternative to traditional, command-and-control models that have dominated the conversation for way too long. We have truly never been at a tipping point of this kind in human history.  We are all literally re-writing the script with every choice we make right now. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for and now it’s time for us to change the world.

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Suzanne Cunningham

(HBIC) Creative Director
Pure Element 5