Future Fit # 27: On becoming an adaptive leader

TomorrowToday has promised to help you start the journey towards being future fit – to becoming an adaptive leader. Being merely a ‘good leader’ will not suffice when it comes to meeting the challenge of the future. You will need to be a great leader and a ‘great leader’ is someone who understanding and practices adaptive leadership. This is part of a ‘boot camp’ through which we help you begin the journey of becoming future fit; we help you in the process of becoming an adaptive leader. Each ‘session’ is designed around a thought-bullet (Head) and an action point (Hand) – something to think about and something to try out. We have promised to keep the ‘head’ part to under a minute and the practical part (hand)…well, that is up to you.

ladders into the skyFuture Fit # 27: Identify the ‘background noise’

It is important to distinguish between the ‘background noise’ and how it is impacting what is happening in the ‘foreground’. The background can be understood as the things that are hidden from plain view; those unresolved issues and concerns; the hidden agendas; divided or competing loyalties and basically anything that has to do the organisational culture with which you are dealing. All this can often play havoc with discussion and activity in the foreground and the reality (and the tough work) is for the leader to be able to identify the ‘background noise’ and bring it to the foreground. It is often work that leaders avoid and / or neglect. It is work often left to outsiders (aka consultants) to sort out and that seldom results in a satisfactory result. It is work that requires emotional intelligence, patience, an understanding of process and no small amount of skill. It is the leader’s task – your task!

Start to become more aware / interested in what the ‘background noise’ might be in your context. Don’t assume there is none – there will always be background noise, what will vary is simply the noise level at which it is playing. Start asking questions such as, “what do you really think about…?”; be willing to probe beyond the ready-made response, beyond the initial response; pay attention to body language in meetings; notice who seems to be included and who is excluded from informal gatherings and conversations. By becoming more aware of the background noise you will develop a finer tuned ear for the music that is playing. Adaptive leaders understand the importance of paying attention to such noise and they understand that for any authentic breakthrough to happen, ignoring the background noise is simply not an option. Listen carefully…all hearing depends on such.

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