WHAT DOES LEADERSHIP HAVE TO DO WITH BAKING POWDER?
This is the latest chapter in my book on the 5 ingredients of legendary leadership. What do you think?
Yesterday I continued my research on the 5 ingredients of leadership. My client, a group COO of a key institution in the country said “it’s not someone famous hey” when I asked her to think of a legendary leader in her life to test the 5 ingredients against.
After going through them, I asked “how does he compare?”
She kept quiet and then said “spot on!”
She proceeded to identify what she felt was a gap for her.
And this is what I love about these 5 ingredients- they talk to exactly what people FEEL leadership is like. people KNOW when they are being led (compared to manipulated, managed, or any of the other things people call leading). they are not some academic construct.
Another thing I appreciate about the 5iLL is that they are self-evident. So no need for complicated assessments and reports. As you notice from the example above, the client was able to very quickly connect to her own area of development in that framework.
My friend and associate, Goodnews Cadogan, drew my attention to Richard Hames’ 5 literacies of leadership. What I like about what Richard Hames says is that the current paradigm about leadership is no longer useful. And he is right. The world has changed so much since taylor, tom peterman, hershey and blanchard, even warren bennis. the interesting thing observing from the south of the world is that the more the things change the more they become simpler. I realise that many western and northern leaders are beginning to move gradually towards the fundamentals that our ancestors here in africa and within other indigenous tribes had known intuitively about leadership, about business, about humanity. i would risk it and say that with the rise in humanism as a widely accepted philosophy, a path started to emerge towards the simplicity of what it means to be human, and as a result what the systems that support humanity as a way of being would look like also began to evolve.
The work on the 5iLL embrace this evolution. Elsewhere I highlight the organic process in which these emerged. The philosophy behind this emergence is that of consultation and co creation as well as introspective analysis and reflection.
I have been the proponent for competency approach to leadership. I still believe it is a useful paradigm in that a competency is the “visible” element (behavior) of being. However as my model of human kind and other theories of psychology indicate, there’s more below the surface.
The problem with competences for example is how each competency means something different for each person. And can they get complicated!
I should know. I have designed a number of competency frameworks and was trained in a few “proprietary” ones.
So I understand when people keep asking me, what ARE these “ingredients” exactly? Ae they competences? Are they characteristics? Are they skills? And I say they can be any of those, depending on how you want to look at it. “Integrity” can be a character trait for example if one is interested in where integrity comes from. However if you are looking at behavior of integrity- people generally know what a person with integrity acts like and don’t need to be told by an MBA professor or a psychometrist. Similarly if one chose to look at Integrity as a skill- that’s also fine because it begs the answer to the question “can the behaviors of a person with integrity be learned and honed”.
I call them ingredients because as with baking a cake, certain elements are required, that would result in the best tasting, most filling or just beautiful cake. Whatever the criteria one attaches to the cake- there are “things”, ingredients that one MUST have in the mix that will get the baker the envisaged result. That’s the essence of this work. What is emerging as those musts that are being identified in conversations with people about what makes a leader legendary.
I visited my mother one Sunday. She mentioned at some point that she has baked some cakes (cookies for my more western readers). However, she said, I forgot to add baking powder, so the cakes did not rise. I do not bake, I cannot bake to save my life. But I have learned as I was growing up, hanging out with those who do and can bake in my life, that baking powder is important if you want to have soft fluffy cakes. So I already have a picture in my head about what these cakes look and taste like. Imagine my surprise when they emerged on my side plate. They were nothing like I thought but not inedible. However they were not “successful queens cakes” but they definitely left a lot to be desired considering what’s expected of a queens cake.
This is a perfect metaphor for 5iLL. What’s the composition of baking powder? It is an interesting subject for a scientist or chemist. But possibly not so interesting for a homemaker looking to bake cakes for her family. She only really needs to know it works because the cakes are exactly how they are expected to come out.