Strategy, Leadership and the Soul:
Resilience, Responsiveness and Reflection for a Global Economy
by Jennifer Sertl and Koby Huberman
Strategy, Leadership and the Soul presents a new paradigm for organizations. In building their case, the authors present a unique analysis of the dynamics of organizational evolution since 1850 to the present day, reflecting on how the context of the changing nature of society over time has informed the necessary adjustments in structure and leadership and in what way these have been vital to the sustainability of those organizations. The current quixotic context for both small and large organizations – the rapidly changing business landscapes, global interconnectedness, technological innovation and the diversity of the needs of customers and employees alike – requires organizations to ‘be in a state of permanent transformation if they are to survive’, to become transorganizations. And in order for these transorganizations to survive, a new style of leader is required – a transleader. From their experience as consultants, the authors conclude that transleaders must transform themselves first rather than look to the outside for a solution. The soul of an organization is the intrinsic corporate identity that underlies all that it does, that informs its business practices, its aims and goals, its internal and external relationships and its intangible sense of direction-shared in an aligned way between its employees, its managers, its shareholders and its business partners. It is the extremely present and powerful set of beliefs that make the organization what it is. This is not the same as superficial PR or the ‘image’ on advertisements, nor is it just brand identity or corporate culture, but the identity that defines and aligns the relationship it has within the various sectors of the organization and in its interface with the global community.
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What the world needs now is beyond leadership; what is required is Transleadership.
So many books are written on leadership and strategy. Few are written to remind the leader of his or her internal brilliance. That is what we hoped to have accomplished. We desire deeply to support your ability to trust yourself. In order to convey this message, here are some terms we’d like to anchor:
Strategy: We are convinced that in order to lead your company in the business environment of the 21st Century, it is essential for you to master the ability to invent your company’s future, particularly in the current rapidly changing strategic landscapes of your business. Therefore, the old ways of designing a strategy need to change–you will need to constantly rethink your strategy, not just once every few years.
Leadership: Leadership styles and challenges have dramatically changed and will continue to change from the Old World models. In order to handle successfully the age’s enormous complexity and to improve your ability in the role of a leader, you will need to become highly skilled at sensing relevance in all areas of life and business, and to create synergistic relationships between all parties.
Soul: To accomplish the alignment between strategy and leadership–we content that your values and inner beliefs should be in harmony with that of your organization and vice versa. Only in this way, we believe you can maximize your organization’s power and efficiency and create a working environment that allows you and your people to find satisfaction and fulfillment in your work and your lives.
We further assert that organizations–every one of them-have their own soul–the internal, intangible yet extremely present and powerful set of inner beliefs that make the organization one of a kind. We believe that recognition of this has immense value, and alignment of this “soul” factor across customers, employees and business partners is a fundamental necessity for success.
Here are some terms we made up because the current language didn’t include transcendence:
Transorganization: Organizations that design both interpersonal awareness and business strategy synergistically are more able to see and sense the macro-environment and are more able to create relevant value.
Transleaders: Individuals who understand that their leverage comes from the coordination of getting things done through others through the use of compassion, awareness, developing conduits, acquiring and distributing meta-knowledge, coordinating multiple intelligences and being excellent collaborators. Like a body has capillary systems to exchange oxygen, blood and information, transleaders do the same to create vitality for the bio-organization which we call a “Transorganization.”
We are convinced that organizations with the clearest understanding of reality and with the highest consciousness will be the winners because they will see signs in the macro invisible to others. We will help you leverage the internal wisdom of those within your business ecosystem.
Here are some practices that we believe will help you stay competitive now and in the future:
Koby Huberman and I have some practices that we invite you to print, post, and engage. Awareness, deliberate reflection, and a deep appreciation for the entire business ecosystem are ways to move beyond our traditional definitions.
1. Transleaders are intelligence officers. They are always looking for the unexpected insight, the unrecognised trends, and the subtle changes in the marketplace. They are information junkies—about the company’s markets, customers and technologies. And they maintain a large network of sources and informants.
2. They are intuitive and creative people. They deeply understand the business environment and naturally have insights about how to operate within and beyond it.
3. They are open and easy to know. They can be trusted and they are able to trust.
4. They are marathon runners. They know they recognise changes more quickly than others in their organisation and they are well aware of the need to begin, at the earliest opportunity, convincing their colleagues and employees that changes are on the way—major shifts in business models, competitive landscapes and technology.
5. They are encouraging, as opposed to judgmental. They are always inclined to appreciate the efforts and talents of others.
6. They reject the “more of the same” option. They recognise that continuity of traditional models is not the road to growth, but the path to stagnation. They are not advocates of the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” method of operation. If it isn’t broke, they are nonetheless eager to figure out how to do it better—before someone else does.
7. They are highly flexible, ready to change directions at the drop of a hat if conditions warrant and are not stuck on pre-determined paths, even if they had personally chosen the old direction.
8. They have great clarity, about themselves, about their organisation and all of those who have a stake in its products, its services and its success.
9. They act like orchestra conductors, drawing great music from their associates, according to the vision they have for the company and in accord with the organisation’s deepest values.
10. They make decisions quickly and surely, gathering the information they need, but not paralysing themselves with the need to know everything.
11. They are revolutionary thinkers. They don’t spend time trying to figure out how their business can join trends. Instead, they work on ways to generate preference shifts, based on their observations and knowledge of their customers and their markets. They are open to both tangible, rational observations and intangible, immeasurable insights and flashes of inspiration.
12. They do not try to forecast the future. Instead, they focus on inventing it. They are fascinated by the possibilities of creating futures of their own design, in which they will control how industries and markets evolve.
13. They are both optimistic and stubborn. They know that their openness to change, innovation and course alterations will inevitably put them into conflict with members of their teams.
14. They welcome the conflict, because they know it will help them hone their ideas and bring others aboard.
15. They also know that if their ideas are easily adopted, they are not really re-inventing the future, they are simply demonstrating how compliant their employees can be.
16. They are excellent listeners. They are highly skilled at eliciting the opinions, observations and preferences of others. As a result, their perspectives are broadened and their information flow is strong and steady.
17. They are high-energy people. It takes a lot of energy to adopt a broad view of your own organisation. It also takes a lot of energy—and determination—to make things happen. Low-energy people seldom, if ever, make good transleaders.
18. They understand that their life experiences, their characters and their personalities are at least as important as their professional experiences—in other words, they realise who they are is as important as what they know.
19. They are intrinsically curious, eager to know about new people, new trends, new developments, new ways of doing things.
They make sure that their leadership is relevant even to those who know more than they do.
20. They see themselves less as forceful commanders and more as energetic teachers, social workers, mentors, coaches, guides, conductors and Sherpas.
Transleaders are—or become—quite conscious of what they are doing and why. They act with an exquisite awareness of their behavioural choices as leaders.
Transleaders are both born and made. For some people, it is a reflection of their natural temperament, personality and character. For others, it is an acquired skill set, taught by life and work experience, by trial and error, learning from their mistakes. For still others, we believe, it is the result of long reflection and self-examination.
Cheers to your agility! Agility = Resilience, Responsiveness and Reflection.