Leadership OS by Nik Kinley and Shlomo Ben-Hur - Preview

A book written by Nik Kinley and IMD Professor Shlomo Ben-Hur


About the Authors 1. How Leadership Works Part 1: Building Trust 2. Trust 3. Care 4. Psychological Safety

5. Reliability 6. Fairness Part 2: Creating Clarity 7. Clarity 8. Direction 9. Accountability 10.Purpose 11.Values Part 3: Generating Momentum

12.Momentum 13.Motivation 14.Confidence 15.Empowerment 16.Connection Part 4: Your Leadership OS 17.The Imprint you Make, the Legacy you Leave

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Nik Kinley is a London-based Director of the global leadership consultancy YSC. His diverse experience over the past thirty years encompasses work with CEOs, factory- floor workers, life-sentence prisoners, government officials and children. He began his career in commercial roles, before spending the next decade working in forensic psychotherapy. He then returned to the corporate world,

where he has held global leadership roles in talent management and leadership development for the likes of BP and Barclays. He currently works advising firms across the globe on their leadership and people strategies, and as a coach with Boards, CEOs and senior execs with some of the world’s largest firms. He has published award- winning research papers, authored multiple books, and is a regular speaker at global conferences.

Dr Shlomo Ben-Hur is an organizational psychologist and a professor of leadership and organizational behaviour at the IMD business school in Switzerland. He is the Director of the school’s flagship program for top executives, Cultivating Leadership Energy through Awareness and Reflection (CLEAR). Shlomo is the author and co-author of a variety of

award-winning books, business cases and articles, and he advises a wide variety of organizations across the globe. Prior to joining IMD, Shlomo spent more than twenty years in the corporate world holding senior executive positions including at BP in London and DaimlerChrysler in Berlin. He earned his doctoral degree in Psychology from the Humboldt University in Berlin.

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When our children were just two years old, they could use an iPhone. Not because they were especially smart (although as loving parents, we obviously believed they were). Nor because the phone was well built from quality components. It was because the operating system software on the phone was so well designed. It created an interface and environment that was so easy to navigate that our kids intuitively knew how to open apps and play games, without ever being shown how. It was similar when the first personal computers came out, too. What enabled them to take off as mass products was the introduction of the Mac OS and Windows operating systems, which made them easy for even those new to computing to use. The hardware – the processors and drives – was important, but it was the operating systems that really made these products work well. And it is the same with leadership. As a leader, having the necessary core components – the skills, characteristics and capabilities – is essential. Things like decisiveness, strategic thinking and influencing skills are critical, required ingredients. But they are also just foundations. Because as leaders rise to more senior levels, their jobs become less about doing things themselves that directly drive results, and more about directing and supporting other people to do so. They do this by affecting things like what their team focus on, how motivated people are, what the levels of cooperation are, how decisions get made, and how empowered people are to speak up, challenge thinking and contribute new ideas. In other words, leaders create an operating environment, or system, for their people. And just as with the operating system (OS) on a phone or computer, it is this Leadership OS that is the difference between failure and success. Leaders can have all the core components

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and capabilities in the world, but if they do not create the right OS for their team or business, they will not succeed. None of this should sound controversial or surprising. Yet amazingly, for the past 50 years, the leadership industry has more or less ignored these operating systems and has instead just focused on leaders’ core components. There is an endless array of models describing the skills, qualities and behaviours that leaders need, and whole libraries of research into which of these components are most able to drive performance. This has undoubtedly been helpful. Today, we have a solid understanding of the skills that leaders need. But in focusing solely on these inner qualities, only half of the leadership story has been told, and leaders have been given only half the information they need to succeed. And the bit that has been missed is the most critical part. This book is about that missing part of the story. It is not about the core capabilities you need to have, but about the operating systems you need to create. Based on over five years of research with thousands of leaders around the world, it describes what these systems are made of, explains why they are so important and reveals how they drive and enable performance. And it shows you how to identify the type of system you tend to create, and then optimise it to produce the best results.

WHY CORE COMPONENTS ARE NOT ENOUGH For many years, the leadership industry has followed a kind of ‘build-it-and-the- results-will-come’ approach. It has developed leadership models that say, ‘Be like this, do that’: universal rules that leaders can follow in every situation, anytime and

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anywhere. The belief has been that if you get the behaviours, values and internal qualities right, then the performance will come. But this approach is failing. Because the rules do not always work, and performance does not always come. In fact, every single major leadership model has been found not only to not help in some situations, but to actually make things worse and decrease performance. Take what is probably the most famous model – transformational leadership. It describes four things leaders should do: [1]

• Act as a role model and walk the talk • Motivate people with an inspiring goal • Show genuine concern for people • Push people to be creative and challenge accepted thinking.

As a model, it’s a good one. Research has shown that if leaders follow these four rules, it can in many cases help them to improve their team’s performance. Yet it is massively overhyped. Thousands of articles have been written about it, almost all describing it as the best way for leaders to deliver results, without any cautions or caveats. Indeed, reading these articles, you could be forgiven for thinking that transformational leadership is a kind of wonder drug that imbues leaders with amazing powers. Which would be fine, if it did. Except it doesn’t. In fact, there is a growing list of situations in which transformational leadership does not work so well. If a leader’s team members are very goal-oriented, if they have a traditional view of organisational hierarchy or if they do not view the leader as ‘one of them’, then transformational leadership tends not to work so well. [2] There are also question marks over whether it can work in smaller organisations [3] and certain

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cultures. [4] And it can even lower creativity and performance in some types of followers. [5] So, far from being universally helpful, transformational leadership can in fact be un helpful in some situations. For all its benefits, in multiple scenarios, slavishly following its rules will sooner or later result in failure. And to make matters worse, there are no clear guidelines on when it is okay to use the model and when it is not. We know some things, but most of what we know is buried in arcane academic journals and hardly mentioned in mainstream articles. This is not just a problem with transformational leadership, either. It is the same for models like charismatic leadership, empowering leadership, and even authentic and benevolent leadership. [6] And this is why this type of core component model of leadership is not enough if you, as a leader, want to fully understand what you need to do to succeed. For all these models can undoubtedly help in some scenarios, none of them will always work, and they can all have a negative impact in some situations. They are all limited, all unreliable.

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To be continued… buy the book on Amazon .

Material from: 'Nik Kinley, Shlomo Ben-Hur, LEADERSHIP OS, published 2020 Palgrave Macmillan, reproduced with permission of Springer Nature Customer Service Center'.

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