From ‘I’ to ‘We’ builds competitive advantage – collectively we are stronger!

Last Thursday I attended The Leadership Circle’s (TLC) Collective Leadership Conference in Sydney (@TLCasiapacific #tlcap).  TLC represent changing the global leadership mind and the event was certainly informative and thought provoking. Conference themes included intention, purpose and focus. Here’s a reflection capturing the powerful insights which I hope help shape others thinking as it did mine.

The conference opened with a video of Peter Senge asking us to challenge our own mental models, look at intelligence in relation to systems and forgo short term benefits for long term. He said there is a problem focusing on smart individuals and that the smartness we need is collective. I love this image I came across recently on LinkedIn to highlight this point.

Brilliant Jerks

Reflection: Collective intelligence is what we need for industrial, social and economic well-being.

Keynote #1 was Bob Anderson from TLC looking at the leadership system and unlocking business performance. He questioned: How do we raise the level of collective intelligence above average individual intelligence?

Here are my key takeaways from his keynote:

  • Collective wisdom yields multiple returns on investment
  • 95% of organisations do not focus on collective effectiveness – huge untapped potential
  • Effective leadership is conscious competence
  • Consciousness / inner game is the deep structure of performance
  • Consciousness is a structure meaning it can be restructured
  • Inner game runs the outer game, this game is 90% mental
  • Highest performing leaders have creative competencies abounding

Reflection: In this environment leadership is at a premium and must evolve, IECL is working in this space through connected leadership. Through developing and expanding our inner game we can yield competitive advantage in leadership effectiveness.

Keynote #2 saw Dr Leoni Degenhardt -from AIS leadership centre looking at dancing on a shifting carpet. She sees leadership as purposeful partnership and questioned what if our schools produced more creative, confident, self aware young leaders? Insights:

  • What if leadership’s primary purpose is to create more leaders and unleash collective creative capacity?
  • We need to nurture a new form of leadership that doesn’t depend on extraordinary individuals
  • How can we be on the balcony and on dance floor for a sense of the patterns below?
  • Leadership = Direction + influence
  • Learning from nature – this video of 60,000 starlings shows them operating so collaboratively with no one leader, how can we learn from this?
  • We lead who we are being authentic, self awareness is pivotal to this – knowing who you are and being true to self

Collective Leadership #1

After morning tea there was a session sharing  fascinating ‘hot off the press’ research on exceptional leaders from 25 leaders who are 80% or higher in creative vs reactive tendencies in TLC profiles. They had a combined leadership quotient of 9 which is exceptional. This research summarised below was collated via technology using a IOS and android app capturing leaders daily and evening habits consistently.

TLC research findings on exceptional leaders:

  • Top challenges: becoming overloaded, work life balance, team building and holding back
  • Top leadership strength: #1 strong people focus
  • Summary of top daily habits: Morning habits – #1 Intentional daily planning (not a to do list) #2 Awareness of emotional physical state #3 Stay focused and present, looking forward to event and enjoy the day
  • Evening habits #1 completion and follow through #2 stay focused and present #3 enjoy the work

Some anecdotes shared by Roma (TLC) and Padraig (Uni of Wollongong) who were part of the research team:

  • These leaders have more joy in developing people around them (collective) than running the business
  • Exceptional leaders’ shift from creative to integral doesn’t happen by accident, it happens by design on our inside, our inner game
  • Quiet reflection and exercise are a powerful combination for exceptional leadership (the corporate athlete in me loves this one!)
  • Intentionally in the moment – these leaders are reflective in action and know when reactivity is starting to kick in
  • Leaders were aware that stress transfers to at least 1 in 4 people in the vicinity,  calmness has the same effect
  • Focus on people, not just at work but family, community for greater good
  • Competitive advantage lies inside our inner game versus in the outside world

Collective Leadership #2

Practical tips and thoughts to help us shift from reactive to creative:

  • Meetings: What’s needed in me in these meetings? Are they aligned to strategy. Don’t go to meetings if no agenda, schedule no back to back meetings and finish meetings 10 minutes early
  • Starting your day: Start your day in a coffee shop or a quiet room. Aim for two reflective processes a day, leaders shared the effects of skipping these is huge
  • Unwinding at the end of the day: Walk home more slowly, unloading on your journey home. Every night do something to switch off
  • Empower your Network Authentically: Think, not what I need to do but who do I help to get it done? & How do I get out of the way of what needs to be done? How I best show up and serve people – is through who I am.

Final thoughts: We must embrace the shift from ‘I’ to ‘We’ if we want a competitive advantage in this ambiguous modern world where even change is changing! Competitive advantage lies inside our inner game versus in the outside world, those with a socialised mind don’t have a self and will not be able to lead authentically

Questions left to reflect on… how does this shift to the collective translate culturally, in particular to China? How can we be consistently intentional every day? Would love to hear any thoughts…..

The date for the TLC 2015 conference will be the 21st May which I will definitely put in the diary!


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