In their book “The Leadership Challenge”, Kouzes and Posner give a definition of leadership (pages 337-338 of the 4th edition) that is consistent with the Gestalt OD approach described here: “Through this book we have told stories ordinary people who have managed to produce extraordinary things …. Leadership has nothing to do with authority or power in the business, nor with fame or wealth. It has nothing to do with the fact that you were born well. Nor is it a CEO, a president, a general or a prime minister. And it is not especially some attribute of any hero. Leadership stems from the quality of your relationships, your credibility and your actions … Leadership is not a gene that only a few privileged people would be endowed with at birth. The truth,
Developing leadership, therefore, is above all a personal development process. It is a process of developing one’s interpersonal skills and one’s ability to connect with others. To quote Kouzes and Posner one last time: “Leadership does not come from the head. Leadership is a matter of the heart »
Developing Informed Leadership
Research by Dr. Robert A. Cooke of the University of Chicago has shown that two key factors determine the effectiveness of a leader in an organization’s performance: its leadership strategies and the quality of its impact on other. As Damasio has shown (Chapter 3: No reason without emotions see page 27 book ” Manager of elite“), a good strategy does not proceed only from the head. It is conceived with its intuition and with its emotions. A good strategy is therefore also a matter of heart.
Constructive Impact and Defensive Impact
Whether intentional or unintentional, directly or indirectly, a leader influences his environment and inspires the behaviors of the people around him. For example, if he is often suspicious and arrogant, there is a good chance that he will in turn inspire suspicious and aggressive attitudes from his closest environment.
The quality of our impact on others can be of two opposite natures: constructive or defensive. A constructive impact encourages people to think and behave in a cooperative, results-oriented manner. The leader leaves to his collaborators the initiative to carry out the tasks for which they are responsible, provided that they provide the expected results. This influence favors the individual and collective development of performance.
A defensive impact induces modes of thought and passive or aggressive behavior, the ultimate aim of which is to protect the status and positions of employees.
It has been shown that constructive behaviors yield better performance outcomes than defensive behaviors. This truth is not as trivial as it seems. Indeed, very many managers behave aggressively and authoritatively toward their employees, in turn leading to the defensive behaviors of employees. These managers seem to ignore the above evidence, as well as its consequences.