Summary: Leading the Unleadable By Alan Willett
Summary: Leading the Unleadable By Alan Willett

Summary: Leading the Unleadable By Alan Willett

The Mindset to Lead the Unleadable

People who practice mindful meditation maintain that it changes their mindset and that change in how they think leads to different, improved behaviors. Scientists such as Sara Lazar, Ph.D., of the Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program have reinforced those anecdotal claims by showing through brain studies that the physical brain actually changes as well.

Changing how we think physically changes us!

When we change our mindsets that changes how we act in response to the events that occur around us. How we act changes the outcomes. To be able to best manage the mavericks, cynics, divas, and other difficult people and situations, we have to first change our frames of reference in how we think about them.


KEY #1 Appreciate The Diversity Of Every Leaf

Besides the different experiences people have due to growing up male or female, research shows that male and female brains are hardwired in different ways such that males and females actually think differently.

Exceptional leaders more than understand this diversity, they love it! First, it is important to recognize that we all have similarities that have great value. Communication could not happen at all without that! The secret is to understand that the diversity that always exists produces some “noise” in our communications.

This noise can cause confusion or, worse, lead to mistaken assumptions that lead to anger.

This is important! Exceptional leaders know that when encountering some behavior or action that appears unacceptable, their first thought should be to wonder what they don’t understand about the person and the communication process.

Note that the difference is not just better for women. It is also much better for the group and organization, as the diversity of thinking accelerates idea development and innovation for the customers served. Having multiple ways of thinking about things can lead to arguments, but with great leadership this results in great innovation.


KEY #2 Start with the Belief That Everyone Has Good Intentions

Most people actually have good intentions and are working toward what they believe is the greater good of the organization. Even if they are annoying, or doing things that you believe are counter to the good of the organization, it is unlikely that they are damaged, stupid, or evil.

When confronted with difficult situations, especially situations that seem directly related to troublesome behaviors or attitudes, this is an especially important mindset to have ingrained as your first response.

The exceptional leader believes that when someone is causing problems it is not the person’s intention to cause problems. Almost certainly the troublesome person is trying to do his or her best to further the overall good of the initiative. The calm leader has the mindset that when trouble arises, it is not of evil intent, it is because something is missing.


KEY #3 Accept Reality But Do Not Let Reality Define You

Steve Jobs set a high bar. According to Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, the president of Corning told Jobs that it wasn’t possible to meet the deadlines he had in mind. Jobs said, “Don’t be afraid. You can do this.” In this instance and many others, Steve Jobs was not going to let the “reality” before him define him. He would push to change it. Corning delivered Gorilla Glass in time for the iPhone launch.

Exceptional leaders do push to set a high bar, and to define what that high bar should be. This takes an important mindset, which is summed up in the threefold relentless pursuit of seeing reality, accepting reality, and, based on this, dealing with reality in a way that sets a high standard of achievement.

Observation, questioning, and reflection are incredibly important keys to leadership. If you are unable to determine the reality of the situation within and surrounding your very important initiative, the initiative is at great risk! The better you are at determining the current reality and predicting future reality if things continue, the better your ability to not let the current reality define the outcome.


KEY #4 Set the High Bar for Excellence That People Desire

We’re used to defective software, whether it causes our computers to hang or enables a hacker to exploit it. Nonetheless, we accept this state of affairs because “software has bugs. It is the nature of the business.”

There is only a little truth to that. Many teams do struggle with software quality, but some deliver large complex systems of software with very high quality results and zero operational defects.

The leaders of these two types of teams have different mindsets.

The leaders of the high-quality results organization know that people crave the high bar of doing excellent work.

Know that excellence is achievable. Be courageous and set the bar of excellence high. Provide the investment and belief in your people that they can learn how. The results will amaze your organization and your customers.


KEY #5 Understand the Power of Gelled Teams

Here is the secret role of exceptional leadership.

Your role is not to get things done, although you are absolutely accountable when things don’t get done. Your role is actually not to get things done through others either, although that is how most leaders start.

The real role of exceptional leadership is to create a culture where people do extraordinary things! One of the best ways to do this is to understand the power of gelled teams.

The exceptional leader is always looking for ways to create teams of people in which the team can figure out how to address the trouble without management involvement. As you grow as a leader, the troubles you and your organization encounter will not diminish, but as your skills grow at creating the desired culture, the number of times you must personally get involved will greatly diminish.


KEY #6 Treat Trouble as Information-Rich Data

If there is trouble occurring in any of the things you lead, it is important information—not just about the actual incident or the actual trouble, it also contains information on the process, the people involved, the culture you are creating through your leadership, and you.

The best reaction to the trouble is not to ignore it. Nor is it the victim response of whining. The ideal response is to treat the trouble as a rich source of information that can help the organization excel.


KEY #7 Own Your Leadership Power

The final key to the exceptional leadership power of being able to transform the troublesome to the tremendous is to take ownership of your leadership power. The meaning of this is simply that you understand and own all the keys of the mindset of leading the unleadable.

It means that when you have setbacks in making those mindsets your first response (and there will be setbacks), you don’t let the setback become a norm; you forgive yourself and get back on track. It means that you don’t let the trouble you have to deal with define your response; you take ownership of your response. You take ownership of your leadership process and the results.