Agile-Lean Ireland (ALI) Podcast

Leadership Systems: Re-thinking Leadership in the Agile/Lean Firm with Christopher Curley - Agile-Lean Ireland

April 03, 2023 Agile-Lean Ireland Episode 16
Agile-Lean Ireland (ALI) Podcast
Leadership Systems: Re-thinking Leadership in the Agile/Lean Firm with Christopher Curley - Agile-Lean Ireland
Show Notes Transcript

If Agile is a “Copernican revolution in management,” as Ed Denning suggests, is it also a “Copernican revolution in leadership? That question spawns more questions before we can answer it meaningfully. Is management (the quality of managing) different in leadership (the quality of leading)? Are managers (people who manage) also leaders (people who lead)? Who are the managers (which people manage)? Who are the leaders (which people lead)?

In this workshop, we’ll address how to begin answering these questions for yourself, by introducing participants to “leadership models” and “how to build yours.” The session will be practical because we learn by doing; it will be interactive because we learn faster when interacting (doing) with others. The session will be thought-provoking because only you can develop a leadership model that’s your own.

The first learning objective will be focused on revealing and reflecting back to you on what your assumptions and understandings of leadership might be. Some of these assumptions may be unconscious, based on biases, or both. This section will be interactive using real-time questions to solicit data and feedback to help open our thinking about leadership. At the end of this section, participants will have tools to reflect on their leadership assumptions and some of those assumptions explored and declared.

The second learning objective will be focused on how we traditionally study and teach leadership, and why those established practices make no sense in the Agile/Lean organization. This section will be a short lecture, using a statistical model to expose the limited utility of our traditional approaches to understanding and developing leadership in the organization. At the end of this session, participants will have some tools for beginning to tease out what they think “leadership” is, what is “good” leadership, what is “bad” leadership, and who the leaders are in their organization – as well as some references to continue this reflection going forward.

The third section will introduce leadership as a systems model, including a meta-model for defining and improving that model. This section will involve an interactive group breakout exercise. At the end of this session, participants will have a good start on their unique leadership model to help them “show up with leadership in the moment” or perhaps not – because the task at have may fall outside the boundary of our leadership system.

Speaker: Christopher Curley

An ICE-CE, Chapter Leader ("People Manager") at a global financial institution serving a team of Agile Coaches, a graduate of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State, with degrees in political science and history, and a student of leadership for the past thirty years (James MacGreggor Burner, Barbara Kellerman, Ahmed Sidky, Bela Banathy, Chris Argyris, et al.) I introduced this topic on Marsha Acker's "Defining Moments of Leadership" podcast.

Certified Agile Coaching expert (ICE-CE), Program (SPC 4, PMP), and Team (CSM) Leader with +15 year history of delivering quality products, improving the efficiency of processes, and developing performing teams, spanning Fortune 100 enterprises to mid-sized technology, manufacturing, and financial sectors. Led Agile/Lean transition and adoption across the enterprise, including hardware design teams, software development teams, infrastructure services, business operations teams, manufacturing, and marketing.

Find us here:

And welcome, everybody. Welcome to the agile in Ireland meetup. Our speaker, Chris has loads of experience in different environments, different frameworks. He's he's been working with leadership for many, many years. And he's also certified agile coaching expert with international consortium for Agile. So we are very delighted to have that opportunity to learn from you. And Chris will be running this thought provoking workshop on leadership today, Chris, would you like to add anything, just that I also have a PMP. And I managed to hold my ice ca and a PMP without exploding, which is a good trick. Thank you, thank you for having me. The only other thing that I would add to this introduction is I'm a director of Fidelity Investments. And recently, I inherited a team with representation in Ireland and I thought, Ah, right, possibly I should try to get an understanding of the culture and community my coaches are in since it's difficult for me to travel over there. And I'm laughing because of course, we had a very large international presence here today. So it's not so much like I'm meeting the the particular community in Agile Ireland, but I'm exposed to the bread and the wide ranging community. And that's a great learning for me, and I'm grateful for it. The other thing that I would would call out is, for all of the experiences that are shaping this conversation. It's actually my academic career that the thing that I was doing before I got very hungry, and needed to go to work. And my academic career, I studied democracy. And I studied intellectual history that where ideas come from, and how ideas evolve, and are adapted to time. And while this wasn't doing a lot for me, to get a doctorate in the United States, it turns out, it's really very useful as an Agile coach. And so most of this actually comes out of about 35 years of study of leadership in small group interactions. And so I hope that, by the end of today, we might have landed a few things that we could take away with that way we think about leadership is probably at least a little bit flawed. And that the way we study leadership is probably flawed to I'm going to actually argue is totally completely an absolutely flawed, but, you know, people have a wider range of opinions. And it's through these differences that we actually advance knowledge. So I welcome people to disagree with me that that. And then if we take those first two, if we just hold them as beliefs for a moment, or a hypothesis that we'll just keep in this container, well, then let's, let's see what kind of different ways of thinking about leadership might be more applicable to the way we do work today, in small teams where the small team is really the core economic unit of the firm, we're, where we're delivering value, it's where we're talking to the customers, where we're engaging that activity of putting customers at the centre of everything we do. So as we exit, there will be a little bit of gifts for maybe what you might want to do going forward some some takeaways references to how to thread the needle here. And maybe a sufficient understanding of my hypothesis about leadership as a system, so that you might be able to wrestle with it, maybe even wrestle with it to disagree with it. Which by the way, I also welcome and I'll post notes in the meetup chat, I've got the documentation, the power start for this event, reference documents, links to some other materials that might be interesting to you. I'll have that all in a Google Drive, which I swear I opened up for public sharing. Very quickly, we introduced me, I just want to point out that we don't have enough time for me to talk about the story about how my cspo became a CSM became a cspo. And is, once again a CSM. It's actually pretty funny when you get into certifications, weird things happen. But I'm out there on LinkedIn, feel free to view my background on LinkedIn, add me as a friend and start a conversation, I'd love to get to know you. There a little bit of eye charts for the takeaways, those will be readable for you, when you download the deck, we're not going to really worry too much about the takeaways right now. That's for review after the event. But there are a couple of things we're going to try to get to today. And we'll see if we actually get to them. The first is a puzzle to try to shake us out of our thinking about leadership. Then, a somewhat subtly named section, but dumb things we do when studying leadership. Maybe I have an opinion there. When we pivot to thinking about leadership as a system, what does that really mean? What are the components of the system and how do we start building those component relationships? And then maybe if we have time, and with a group this large, maybe if it's advisable we can drop into breakout groups for a little bit and wrestle with some of these ideas to struggle around to see What we think about it, and I'll give you some examples of how you might wrestle with those, I think, well, we'll make a judgement call when we get to the breakout section how we want to take on that piece of the conversation if it's everybody's agreeable to that. Okay, a couple other things, I've never done this before, likelihood is we're going to run out of time, hey, whatever happens happens, because it was supposed to happen. The second thing is, there's a piece of this presentation, we just don't have the time to talk about. And it's the difference between a practice model and a reference model and how you go about building the reference model. But at the base of this slide, which will, again was downloadable from the Google Drive, I've got three links, that you can scan in from QR codes, to how to start building this model out as a reference model, you and to then build your practice model from it. So that how to the next step, what do you want to do with this, if you really want to take it to the next step, come back to the agenda, slide, go to the bottom and take a look at those three links that's carries you to some of the how to do what you want to do next. All right, and before we get into the fun stuff, quickly, some room rules. As I said, Whatever happens happens, just the first time trying it. If you want to take this in a different direction, if you have a thought or you want to interrupt me, hey, let's do that. The agenda is just an idea. Maybe not even a good one. And so we're gonna we're gonna have a puzzle we're going to start with, we've got these three shapes A, B, and C. And we're going to ask the question, which one of these systems is the most ordered system. And we've I've given you a generic definition of ordered here, where we're, we're saying ordered is having or events and great word events and having we're advancing a systematic arrangement, especially having elements succeeding in order according to rule, opposite of disordered or unordered, you basically get three shapes, you get to pick the one that you think is the most order, go to the pole, I will open it up. Okay, we've got 47 players ready to go. This will be a time if you've got a very short amount of time A, B, or C, which is the most ordered system. Let's see 46 people voting. No time left, life is good. There we go. Okay, shape A, B and C. C is the most ordered Cisco. For somebody who answered C. What were you thinking? Why is C the most ordered system? The number of blocks and the number of positive I recall, and then we're disrupted in the white way. I love working with Agile lists. I just love working with Agile lists. I have been running this poll for about 30 years. And okay, quickly, yes. I just I chose D because I thought that it is increasing the number of audit like the number of icons it has. It's, I love that. Yeah, you're gonna love what I'm about to say next. Yes, I was just gonna say, hierarchies don't appeal to me. It's particularly like well organised. I love working with Agile lists, I'm going to tell you, you are highly, highly, highly, highly, highly unusual for a group that I've run a poll with most of the time I'm running this pool. Like I said, for years and years, it's a and b, and then C, you know that that's the way it breaks down. And let's talk about what's going on there. And results here are almost everybody agreed that shape C was the shape that was the most ordered system, the fewest people said shape a and then there was a little bit of controversy around scape V. Let's unpack this just a little bit. Because the key to really understanding this is actually entropy. And we pick entropy for a reason. One of the things that we hear from time to time is that hierarchies are natural that they that they occur in nature, and that you just have to expect them and one of the main pieces of evidence for these hierarchies is how many of them we seem to have in human systems and human organisation. So the frequency becomes the proof of its natural tendency. And I'm going to argue that that that's probably not true when we look at hierarchies in terms of physics and the definition of entropy. Really, a has the least orderliness. And the key to understanding is least orderliness. It's just the similarity between everybody at the bottom of the stack. There's the least differentiation, the least least information about each x necessary to understand this model as you get over to see a lot more information to understand its organisational structure and how it works. And it's that, that quality of not needing information to know what's happening in your organisational structure that actually makes it an ordered that makes it the most entropic. And so if we look at hierarchies, through the lens of nature, the physics of entropy and energy, now, it would seem to indicate that a is in fact, not the right system. Now, we don't have time for the second question, I'm just going to jump straight to that. Oh, and by the way, B, B, I promised I talked about B a little bit, yeah, people really wrestle with be alright, they get a little bit stuck spinning, because there's a little bit less structure than then see a little bit more structure than a so that might feel like the more ordered but when we actually get to it and look at it in terms of entropy, I really see is the one that requires the most information to hold it up and to maintain it. And it's having that amount of energy in it, it's probably by this metaphor, the system that is able to do the most differentiated or the most rapid work. And so we kind of like see when we're looking at things. But when we asked the second question, where's the leader? Again, there's not a lot of controversy, A, it's at the top of the triangle. B, there's a little bit of spin, maybe there are three leaders, maybe there's one leader, and maybe there's three leaders in some context, you know that, but there's an argument about trying to figure it out, we have to add information to this diagram to sort out the question. And when we get to the last one, you get this great diversity, this amazing diversity of answers. Some people will tell you it's the row at the top because it's oriented at the top. And some will say Well, it's actually along the sides. That's the way a matrix organisation runs, which means the person in the upper left hand corner is the leader of the leaders. Okay, that's that could be true to for others, it's in the centre, because they're connected to all the other squares for information transfer. That could be true, too. It's a question of design. It's also possible there is no fixed leader, that Leadership isn't a positional thing. In see, it might be a role. So imagine a roomful of ghosts. And one of those ghosts is leader. And the people just step into that role for that situation or that circumstance. And they were that spirit. And then when they don't need to be leader anymore, they step out and they step into another role as a developer, or QA engineer or something else, whatever the task requires. In C, there may actually be no position a leader, but a role or a function for leadership, a quality that organises or brings organisation to the group or to the collective, of course, there's going to want to be in the centre. Well, and that is a great answer. I love that. Because that gets us back to the frequency question, honestly, in my opinion, the reason we see so many hierarchies is because the people who design them get to put themselves at the top of it and have that power that we have in them because we can, it's very similar to CEO salaries, I don't really know that the CEO salary is justified by their productivity, but it is certainly explained by the fact that they can give themselves that salary. So how did we get here? I mean, how do we get this idea that we know where the leader is, I mean, even though the system is the least and tropic system, and the other system doesn't allow us the one that has the most orderliness doesn't allow us to be able to understand the leader is where do we get to that confusion? How do we get to these ideas and assumptions and thoughts about leadership that get us to sometimes the wrong place, or get us to believe things about leadership are true when in fact, the data tells us it's not true. And so for that, I'm going to try to use the lens of the standard distribution model. It's just a normal standard distribution, the basic curve, and we all know this, right? Anybody who's been working in Lean, we got six sigma variation from the centre, and we get to know the populations that fit in those spaces of the curve. And so what I'm going to say is imagine Okay, a thought experiment, tip to Einstein here, thought experiment. We have an array of leaders. We can line them up in a row and we can sort them if we have some objective measure of goodness or badness in leadership. We could array them in a line and sequence them by some order or some rationale and have a scalar of leaders sorted by their qualities. If we had enough of To them, if we had enough of these leaders, we would expect that they would fall into something like the normal standard distribution, then you'd have a lot of fairly average leaders, you'd have a few extraordinary leaders, and you would have a few truly, truly horrible leaders. And they would fall into this bell curve, and we could slice it down the middle, and we can say, you are good, we can say you were bad. A couple of things, shake out of this, if this is true, if this if this thought experiment, describe something real means that you got a 50% chance of running into a bad leader, anytime you run into a leader. And as a middle manager, Team Leader, many, this is a sobering thought that is statistically equally likely that I'm not very good at my job as it is statistically likely that I am very good at my job. Now we construct rationales to get us past this, we can say, Oh, yes, but this, you know, the sample of our leaders is so excellent that even our bad leaders are great. You know, because we're so far on the line of excellence, I'm going to suggest most organisations probably have a pretty good spread of competent and not so competent leaders. And so, if this is the case, then when we're studying leadership, and we're scrolling between good and bad, we're really looking at a very, very, very small population of leaders. Throughout history, we're looking at the single individual, this is what we call the leader centric study of leadership. And what we're really looking to do is identify those attributes or qualities of that individual in that leadership position. And we're basically telling everybody, if you emulate those qualities, if you adopt those behaviours, then you too will have great leadership quality. And there are a number of problems with this, the number one being given the number of books written about great leaders, if that really worked, the number of great leaders that we would have in the world, just based on book sales alone, would be astonishingly more than we seem to actually have. So there's got to be something else at play than just the intrinsic qualities that we might adapt. And to is that from Plato, all the way up to this gentleman named James McGregor Burns, who is one of the most notable us scholars have leadership, particularly of the United States presidency, and he's kind of a hero of leadership studies here in the US. They're focused on these individuals, as people that we should be born like, and whose lives we should have a lot of similarities to so that if we adopt those behaviours, we might, if we get very lucky, lucky have the same successes. And this is true up to this person named Barbara Kellerman. Barbara Kellerman starts recently, having studies about leadership where she starts with the great end, and frankly missed a great man theory, because it really dominantly focuses historically on great men in leadership positions, which I think is another actually pretty decent reason to be questioning whether this is a good approach. But she started to question this as a challenge of the leader centric model. And she started to think I don't think leader centric models are very good idea. So she starts her explanation by applying the same method for studying great leadership, to studying bad leadership. And she starts coming up with some pretty interesting principles. Like there are different kinds of bad leaders, there's corrupt and incompetent. And I wish we had a little bit more time to talk about this slide. Because incompetence, it gets really exciting when you look at the work of Chris Argyris. And his notion of skillful incompetence in bureaucracies or skillful incompetence and hierarchies, it starts to stitch some of our challenges with leadership and hierarchy and bad leadership together, because we ended up with a lot of incompetent leaders who were actually very smart and capable. They're just capable and smart and managing themselves inside the bureaucracy and not necessarily in the execution of the mission of the firm. But we're doing the same thing. We're looking at the intrinsic qualities and behaviours of these few people. And that's notable because we, we've sectioned out our whole array of leaders that we have aligned in this normal distribution, we've called out the smallest population of them, and we've decided to focus on them for leadership. And the part that really confuses me is Psalm 70% of the population, the leaders that we really want to be talking to, is in the middle. So the people who we want to study the most the people who fall at the centre of this this thought experiments distribution, the people who have the most utility and applicability or leadership, adoption and change just by their sheer numbers. That's the grip. We don't study at all and Leadership Studies. But it doesn't mean that we're not studying leadership about them. It just doesn't come from leadership studies. We see it in psychology. So people like trican burrow or David Cantor or Amy and Arnie Mindell. They will study leadership from the point of view of individuals exerting leadership in situations, they will study it in terms of leadership as a verbal Act, or they will study it as leadership as a deep democratic connection between individuals. So we do have that notion of leadership at the middle, from psychology. And from from the military, believe it or not, the United States military is actually studying this and you would think that this would be the most hierarchical and least flexible organisation, but no, we're we're beginning to realise in military operations, as bellicose as it is, that small team operations require autonomy, mastery, and purpose. And so we have small team development inside the United States Army is championed by several generals in the Pentagon right now. And then we have this this rather amazingly remarkably important book by David Marquet, called turn the ship around with his experiment in non hierarchical leadership inside of a nuclear submarine. And I just want to call attention to this. We will hear all the time in business that we cannot exist without the strong hierarchical structures to convey information going up and decisions coming down. But we can operate a several billion dollar nuclear weapons platform without that kind of leadership model safely, competently and with great success. So it really challenges that idea that this is impossible. And then lastly, we have from Frederick Lulu, the notion of reinventing organisations, non hire organisations coming out of the business environment. And in fact, what started us all off on this journey, which was agile competition, and virtual organisations was the book written in 1995. That that actually was what might be, it'll took into the Agile Alliance, excuse me, the Agile Manifesto Summit, as the reason why it was called Agile Manifesto, he brought in this book by priests and others. But the other part of that title was virtual organisations. And so we're beginning to realise that these strong structures these these type chains don't actually work very well. Interestingly enough, but just not out of Leadership Studies up until Barbara Kellerman. Now, I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna tell you outright, I was so proud of myself a couple of years ago reading bad leadership, by Martha Kellerman, and her talking about the web of relationships between Oh, excuse me, was followership. I was reading the webs of relationships between followers and leaders, and thinking, well, it's not a web, it's a system. And that started me on this conversation. And I thought it was a pretty smart person for coming to this thought that leadership is a system. About two years previously, Barbara Keller and had actually written an article for Harvard Business Review called it's not about rules of leadership as a system. Exclamation point. She even beat me to that. I just didn't know she had published it until later. So yeah, Barbara Kellerman for the win. Again, I'm trailing behind a much smarter person. So we're going to exit here, this section thinking, Okay, I need something that is not tied to hierarchies and is more flexible for virtual organisations, I need something that appeals to the larger group of us, especially if we adopt this notion. We're all leaders, because situationally, contextually we all have an opportunity to demonstrate leadership. Okay, then this, then this pool of people in the middle of our standard normal distribution just got much, much bigger. You know, 70, some percent of humanity, according to our thought experiment, could be leaders at any given time, we might want a leadership model and a way of studying and understanding leadership in our day to day experiences that work for this population. How do we do that? Just quick sum up smart things we do. We turn away from structuralism and we start talking about stating intentions and flowing information between people situationally, and we start moving decisions closer to where people are able to actually act on those decisions. So can the team make product development decisions? Absolutely. Can a sales rep, make a sale for a price that is not on card? Yeah, absolutely. We just got to make sure that we built an organisation capable of making those decisions going wisely. Barbara Kellerman, we have this idea of followership the idea that followership is integrated or entangled, or in web some way with leadership, we got to figure that out. And we get this idea out of psychology about deep democracy, or the relationships that we have between each other, that helped establish how leadership operates inside certain groups, we actually get a chance to determine that based off of who we are as a collectiveness. And then I'm stealing a notion from a gentleman named Michael Sahara of culture bubbles, this idea that we might be able to create a leadership culture in a small space and try to hold it there. That's not necessarily in line with the leadership culture of the whole of the firm or the whole of the organisation. But in certain contexts, we can inflate a culture bubble, we can have leadership in that culture bubble, and we don't have to change the world to change leadership. These are some of the foundational ideas that I was struggling with when I got to this notion of system based leadership. And I'll just depart this slide with one other thought. When Barbara Kellerman started moving in this direction, her first stop was followership. If there is such a thing as leadership, then one would presume there must be such a thing as followership, you can't have leaders without them. And if we come back to A, B, and C, or we come back to our leadership contexts at any given time, there's probably a greater population of followers than there is leaders. So it's makes a certain amount of sense to study followership. By the way, I agree with that completely. My challenge with Barbara Keller miss work is, I still think that she takes it in a leader centric point of view. She's thinking of the followers in terms of leaders. And I'm wondering what happens when we think of the followers in terms of a larger system that they're operating within for leadership. But the one thing I want to take away from Barbara Keller men's leadership work and in followership is this typology or this classification schema, she came up of followers, and I want to throw up the six that she lays out, I want to throw five away, I just don't have use for them or time for them. There's only one I care about, and that's what she calls the diehards because there is a phenomenon in people who are in the following context of taking orders. Take, for example, if we come back to military units, there are people who will, as privates in the United States military run into dangerous situations put themselves at great risk for the mission. We also see firefighters, we also see individuals walking down the street who see a car accident, they put themselves in, in risk of injury or harm, or executing a mission with a leadership mindset. I'm going to tell you flat out, they're not doing it because they're paid. They're not doing it because they're graded. They're not doing it because they're elevated and hierarchy. They're doing it for some other reason. There is a deep, emotional connection to the people around that person that makes the decision to risk one's well being for the sake of the others, a rational decision, in fact, one that we make without much thinking about it. So what defines followership for me is not the word diehard. It's the fact that what unites diehards are the love they have for each other. When we talk about things like psychological safety, and building a context for psychological safety and team and we talked about team building and team performance, these are not philosophical management speak things. What we are trying to create is a bond between individuals where they would be willing to stay after work for each other, because I'm not going home if you're not going or where they'd say, I'm going to help you with that even though I'm not going to be rewarded for it because if you're struggling with it, I'm struggling with it. When we talked about followership, we're talking about diehards and we're talking about diehards, we're talking about people who care deeply for the people around them. And just a critical idea before we get into anything else, we go into followers care for each other. The system doesn't work very well. Okay, we got to talk about system very quickly. I do not want to dwell on this slide if I can avoid it, because it is a rabbit hole. But I'm stealing from Peter Sandy's notion that a system has to have a procedural step it must have feedback there is delay in the system, those delays and those processes can can form loops. Those loops can be balancing Eating out, or they can be directional, they can take you virtuous directions or vicious directions. I'm also taking from Russell Ackoff and his study of systems where he's going to say, look, if you're going to fix a system don't fix a part of the system, look at the whole of the system and the impact changes to any part of the system have the whole of it, you cannot address a system without looking at it holistically, even if you're making changes to parts of it. And then coming back to Barbara Kellerman, leaders followers are in a context of that constant text is interwoven and interrelated with that context, and that sort of relationships is about moving information through this human network. There's a web of human beings. And we talk to each other about what it is we want, what it is we need, what it is, we're doing what it is, we are blocked with, where we're frustrated with. But this is a system of people talking to each other about what we ought to do, how we're doing it and what we're doing. And the other aspect of system thinking and system, design is simple is good. The more complex we make our model, the less likely it is to be true. And even less likely it is to be workable, and certainly less likeable for it to be manageable. And so one of the virtues of a system is The simpler you can make the system ideally, one component, one process step and one feedback loop is the simplest system that we can come up with. We're starting with three parts of the system, you can add, it's your imagination, and it's it's your creativity, you can add as many components to this system as you like. Just note, the more components you add, and the more relations between those components, the less simple your system becomes. And so you've got to get that paradox that balance between what is sufficiently descriptive in my system, and what is so complex that I'm losing the quality of simplicity that allow me to operate it. So these are the starting points. And these are the rules that I'm beginning with. Oh, and by the way, I've linked the article, that leadership is a system from Barbara Kellerman. If I'm going to steal credit for her work, I might as well show you where I'm stealing it from. And I want to begin with our system with, obviously the place to begin with a system of leadership. And that's the leaders, it just makes a certain amount of sense. You can look at this anywhere you want to you can put whatever you want on your piece of paper that describes leaders, and it's probably not wrong, it's right for you. And as you can explain it and defend it, it becomes part of an important dialogue between us if we disagree with each other, because that's where our learning occurs. So I'm not telling you this is what leadership is, I'm telling you, this is how I look at leadership today and how I find it useful for me as I'm leading the teams that I lead. And I start with Robert Greenleaf notion of servant leadership, the paradox of being a servant and a leader at the same time. I'm very much influenced by David Marquet. I focus on the function of leaders as defining the mission or communicating the mission and ensuring mission safety or the competence of the team that I'm working with, I make sure that you know why we're working on what we're working on and what good it does. And I inquire I have a conversation on frequently checking in with them on their skill sets, to make sure that they're not butting up against their development edges. And if they are awesome, great, we've discovered a development edge, let's hone it. If they're within their development, span of expertise, then we shift them to to self monitored, self managed work, and we check in much more frequently, excuse me, much less frequently than we would people start. And so for me, then, if we have this notion of servant leaders, leadership and service of others, which I consider a paradox, there's no way to understand this term without some level of synthesis. The same way there's no way to understand see as a leadership model or an organisational model without adding information into it. We need to add information into this understanding of servant leadership to make any sense of at all I would argue. And the piece of information I think we need to add into it is followers. We need to to set up in opposition leaders and followers. And again, I don't believe that leaders are necessarily people, leaders may be roles and roles may be situational. And so in the teams that I work with, it can be confusing to know who's in charge at any particular time, because some of the members of my technically my organisational subordinates will be giving me direction about how they want to execute something because they're closer to the information. I'm They want them to do something a certain way. But they will make an argument that their expertise working in that space signals to me that they should be heard that they've got the better way of approaching it. And with our working agreement between leader and follower, I have to accept that. Now, I'm only going to accept it for about two weeks, we're going to measure whether or not that was working or not. So there is going to be that that check back that feedback loop and the data from that feedback loop to look at. But I'm going to allow my quote unquote followers to be leaders, if contextually they've got expertise to make a decision about competency in the execution of the mission. So if you've got servant leaders, then doesn't that make followers leading followers or following leaders or some sort of construction or some sort of concept to justify the way I look at them as contextual or situationally leading? Now I've already mentioned the only type of followership from from Barbara Kellerman is a scholarship of it, and I'm going to call it out. There's very few people who have done any real scholarship from leadership study on followership, we get a lot of it in psychology, and we get a lot of IT management. But we don't get a lot of it in leadership studies. But there are only two or three people who have really done a deep dive into it. Barbara Keller was the first and the best. And like I said, from her work, the only thing that I really want to take away from it is that the diehards are the followers that I want. So if I'm a leader, and I'm trying to build a quality team, I'm trying to build that quality team of diehards. Now I can't tell them to become diehards. So we have to engage in a relationship, where I'm trying to bring out of them the desire to want to do what they're doing to understand the why to understand, it's important to understand why it is important to them, and how to share that connection with others. And maybe we'll do Diana Larson's lift off to get there. And maybe we will open up a friend of mine just was talking to me the other night about when they opened up a $15,000 bottle of bourbon to celebrate a successful go live. Those are the kinds of things that I'm actually looking at to build a connection between the team because if we like each other and care for each other, we will help each other out of our just intrinsic sense of protecting the people we care for. And that's what I mean, when I start getting into deep democracy, a term that I'm fairly recently been exposed to, by the way, thanks to this person on the call named Steven Collier, I've been recently exposed to this idea. So give him some credit for my learning and my advancement. This notion of deep democracy is that when we get past our labels, and we get past our roles, and we get past our images of ourselves and each other, and we get down to the very core of what it is we need to thrive in the world we live in, we're beginning to connect each other at a level of identity or sameness, that allows us to really establish some core agreements about how we're going to work with each other. So that's what I'm really looking at. And then the last piece that I'm really looking at, and the thing that's really important to me is context. And that would be the three pieces, the model that I think we need to zero in on leaders, followers, and context. And the context here is the physical space, they occupy maybe the logical space if we're over zoom, but it's how we're working with each other. It's the rules that we have when we're working with each other. It is the business environment we're in. It's the market that we exist in, maybe we're a software market, maybe we're publishing market. It is the shared space where the leaders and the followers come together to perform or to work together. And I think of this as a shared consensus reality, this is the way we agree that the world ought to work. And that's how we're going to work within it. And may not actually be the way the rest of the firm of the rest of the organisation wants to work. And that's why I call this inflating the culture bubble context, is a culture bubble that I want the followers to step into, to choose to step into. Because if they if the same way, I can't make anybody learn something, they have to learn it themselves. I can instruct through teaching, but I can't provide understanding and learning until people wrestle with the idea and work with the idea. So people learn, not teachers teach the same thing. Followers exhibit leadership qualities because they choose to step into the context and they choose it. And so I have to not focus is on task driving my followers that Fordist Taylorist model of people X people, why have that sort of that McGregor model of the kind of workers who are just happy are the kind of workers you have to kind of beat with sticks to make them do stuff? Yeah, we're well past that. We are now in a space where we have to, as leaders create spaces where people want to thrive, they want to be creative, they want to be collaborative, they want to deliver customer value. If they want to do all those things, you're going to get those things. If they don't want to do those things, you're going to get some suboptimal results from it, because they're just being driven by some extrinsic characteristic or quality that's driving them to get stuff done. Maybe fear, maybe paycheck, but not really that desire to do something great in the world, for the clients who are consuming this work product. We do actually see the need for this in a really ironic situation. This guy named Michael Porter, as Michael Porter came up with the strategic planning model, where a group of experts in a room somewhere gather all the data, and then they tell everybody else what to do very much a hierarchical model very much a distribution model. Well, two things about that. The year agile competition in virtual organisations was released the same year was the same year Michel Porter's strategic management consulting company failed, they finally went bankrupt. And that's not a coincidence. That's all operating in the same context of what's happening in the world around change. But our leadership ideas or leadership cultures haven't necessarily caught up to that reality. And the funny thing about it is Michael Porter gave us an artefact to help understand that gap. It's called the Five Forces framework. And we can see the demands of the meeting, a challenge in a competitive marketplace, especially creative challenges, that protect us from threats of new entry to that marketplace, or disruptions to that marketplace. That has to be done rapidly by people choosing to do it, that has to be done with quality by people who choose to do it with velocity that's rapid by people who choose to do it. So that's where the system is ongoing. That if we can create a system boundary around leaders, followers and contexts, where we can have the kind of leadership culture that we will thrive in, we don't have to change the whole we can just change our local environment. Two things about that, that I really want to call out. One of them is that the culture bubble will deflate the there's there's nothing we can do to inflate a culture bubble that I've ever seen that has been stable because there are always forces in the firm, that will be pressurising. reorganisations HR policies, security policies, government regulations, merge, mergers and acquisitions, new leaders at the top, any of these situational changes can deflate a culture of bubble and you just got to start again. There's another thing about culture bubbles that I'll share with you. And that is, I have never figured out a pattern to produce one successfully. I have attempted to inflate them many times in my career, I have only successfully created them about two to four times depending on how you kind of slice the field up. And so it's hard work. And it doesn't always pay off. But when it does, it's glorious to behold. The other thing, so about patterns, there's only one method I've ever found that actually inflates a culture bubble, trying and failing and trying and failing and trying and failing. But something that you thought would work for that team just doesn't. And then suddenly, you find something does work for that team that you never thought would work. Just enjoy it while you got it. Don't try to generalise that into a pattern. just experience the wonder that you've inflated the culture bubble and ride it for as long as you can until the organisational antibodies kind of collapse it. The second thing then coming out of this model outside of the fact is is a culture bubble comes again, from Michael Sahara, you're going to need cultural adapters. Look, if you're delivering rapidly in your space, and you're iterating. But your architecture team is still working from a three tier architecture design model that has a quarter to two quarters for architectural standards to be developed. You got to figure out some way of working with that team. Your culture bubble is incompatible with their culture bubble. So you're going to need some sort of an adapter. And when I mean an adapter, I mean human beings who like other human beings and that other team are willing to talk to them about how do we figure this out and are willing to come to agreements and those agreements form contracts. And the same way you have an API contract that says, hey, look, if I give you the following request and the following day In the following format, you return the following answer to me with the following quality at the following speed in the following format, we do the same thing, we create these API's between our culture bubble and the other culture bubbles in our firm. So that we can actually get work done. If you try to enforce your culture bubble, say, from the development team to the architecture team is not going to work very well, in most cases, you will, you will walk away from that conversation with scars. But if you form a relationship first, and then share the challenge, and invite the other team into solving that problem, you are on the road to establishing an API between your country mobile and not. So this would be the blank that I suggest you start working from for your model, guess what you can ignore it. And if you ignore it, that's great. All you really need to focus on is that there is such a thing as a system boundary, and that there are a system adapters, that unless you think you can create a culture bubble around the entirety of the firm, hey, if you're working with four people in a startup, you might be able to do it. If you're a multinational firm, I wish you a lot of luck in your endeavour. Tell me how it works out for you. I do believe that these three components are the most significant components. It turns out Barbara Kellerman agrees with me, but she just agreed with me about it two years before I read her paper that these were the three components that you shouldn't be looking at. So we got to the same place at roughly the same time. So there might actually be something to this, it is also simple. And it is also easy to manage. Now, here's the rub. From this starting point, you could go any number of different directions. Here is, for example, an idea of a relationship between leaders and context and followers. That is really based around money and organisational structures. So the leader owns a budget. So the budget is what really inflates the culture bubble, I can spend money to create it. And that's what I think the leader is really doing in this space. And then I'm using my money to hire a diverse team, but a diverse team that I think is going to be a team of collaborative rivals. perfectly legitimate way of looking at it absolutely true. Or, equally true, you could look at it very differently within your system, you could look at it in terms of dialogues that are occurring, that the context is a place where dialogue occurs. And the most important thing for the leader is that sense of integrity. When I am doing things like the way I'm saying things, that my culture is the alignment and the fitness of the espoused culture I'm trying to build. And the actual culture of that is determined by my verbal acts and my physical acts. Equally, you could say the same thing about followers, they they lead by the same thing, they lead by the deeds, they lead by the the consistency between the way that they say something, and they do something. And so culture here, the system boundary is the integrity of us to our word when we're talking to each other, again, absolutely perfectly reasonable way to inflate a culture bubble and to focus on context. And I hold these two different versions out, there are an infinite number of infinite number. All of them are writing their own way. And so what I would invite us to do if we're working on building our practice model is to not engage in conversations that this practice model was right and that practice model was wrong. But to engage in conversations to say, I might not agree with your practice model. But in that statement, I might not agree with your practice model, you've opened up the invitation to talk about well, what is it that you do agree with or disagree with? What is it that you might steal shamelessly, or augment your model using these other ideas? Or you're open to hey, you know what, I've never seen it that way. You've changed my mind. When we we come into the fact that this is a diverse environment that is constructed around the experiences you have and teams you're working with, we're in just about anything can be right. If it works for you. The learning occurs as we share our successes and our challenges with each other and we steal shamelessly from the ideas we have about what to do and not to do and we collaborate and trying to learn how to get to do this better. While this is happening. Thank you so much for having me. Thank you for being patient with me as I explore this topic with you, I hope a couple of things landed one, the way we look at leadership might have assumptions or beliefs that might not be true, and then might shape some of our the ways that we build or construct our leadership models. So we want to be constantly questioning and challenging these assumptions if we can to that Where we studied leadership is maybe not the best way to think about it, that moving away from leader centric models, whether they're good or bad leaders might be a really good idea. And that if we're building a system then the we should probably have a simple system that has system rules and a system boundary that helps us navigate this leadership world. So we know who's leading in certain particular time and what the basis of their leadership authority is. Thank you very, very much.