The Living Organisation :

Leadership Formation

“Taking the risk to do something different in front of others.”

The phrase Leadership Formation deliberately widens the focus, from developing leadership in individuals to how to generate leadership in the organisation. Leadership is about what happens between people as much as about individuals. This is a systems approach, whether in pairs, teams, groups or whole organisation, acknowledging that for example, when Fred and Mary come together, what happens is the responsibility of both and that when a leader departs there is leadership that stays behind.

Leaders are not created in classrooms. Of course, new ideas, thinking and theories can be helpful but not if issued and swallowed whole. (The Gestalt Cycle of Awareness is often deliberately presented in a multitude of different forms, precisely to encourage people to engage with the model and make their own meaning with it.)

Finally, theory is for action. We need new ideas and thinking that lead to new behaviour and action otherwise nothing in the organisation can change. We want something new to happen as a result of our activity.

Technocratic approaches lean heavily on Competency Frameworks, Assessment Centres, Training Programmes, Psychometrics, Leadership Frameworks etc. These fit with a mechanistic and controlling discourse of leadership which, taken to an extreme, encourages us to measure the people, figure out where they need to get to and calculate how to get them there. The trouble with an overly-rational approach is both that human beings just don’t work (or grow) this way and that we end up with a production line for “leaders,” who conform to current organisational norms (which presumably (?) isn’t the leadership we want to develop.)

Warren Bennis suggests that becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming your-self, a more integrative and growth orientated perspective and one that lends itself to a Coaching supported orientation to Leadership Formation. Different experiences whether from the classroom, workshops, books and theory, other leaders, experimenting with new action in the organisation, feedback or time spent in completely different organisations are held and processed in the space of the Coaching Relationship the fundamental purpose of which is to generate new action in the organisation.

In this way, individuals are supported to retain their individuality, investigating their own identity, meaning and purpose and looking to creatively solve the inherent tension between their own identity, meaning and purpose and that of the leaders of the team, business or organisation.