New Leadership

Written by Pascal Jouxtel

Eventually, what if leadership was no longer a matter of leaders? Instead of expecting everything from the leader, how can we transcend the heroic vision which remains, like a mythical dragon of ancient times? …
The New Leadership domain, fed by ten learning stories on the first day of the Forum, was empowered on the second day by sixty participants’ collective thinking during a co-hosted workshop by Alain Gauthier, Thierry Raynard and Pascal Jouxtel.
Leader comes from an old Nordic word meaning « path ». However, in nowadays organizations, does the path pre-exist our search for innovative solutions? When we progress together, can we invent the way at every step or does it always depend on the towing strength and the heroic embodiment of the one who has « received » the vision… or the order? Another picture emerges: responsible for values ​​and vision, protecting the freedom of action and intrinsic equality, there is something pastoral in this new leadership. Although the word pastoral contains the idea of ​​the herd. What community would like to consider itself as a herd today?
All the ideas and emotions accumulated in the first half of the Forum are structured in a « learning » mode, around questions such as « What is this new leadership about? » or « What is the most radical change for me in there? ».
Intuitive starting point: make new leadership rhyme with the behaviors of the « good » leader, of the person in charge, needed in our times… Create favorable conditions and be a resource for others … Driving others without controlling them … since we ask managers to be leaders, we are forced to unravel the confusion between management and leadership. Leadership starts with ourselves … Each of us perceives himself spontaneously as a potential leader. Why? Is it just due to the profile of the participants of the Forum, by definition « agents of change », or is it a marker of time?
Quickly, ideas converge and everyone find themselves letting go, which frees from ego, and most of all leaves room for “the other” in a common space. A space where the « game » is taking place between people or a conversation space. Touching the human being entirely, including differences in age, culture and personality. Everyone keeps their freedom of initiative, the project is bringing everyone together. Give inspiration without using your ego. Finding the right music on which we will dance together. Share vulnerability. Be authentic. In the service of something bigger.
Recalling Adam Kahane’s remarks (Power and Love, two antagonistic movements that must constantly leave place to one another, without being balanced at risk of blocking action) : mix efficiency and sharing. The result and the future. And at the end, necessarily, we wonder « why? for what? » What is the user value of leadership? Explain and question the why before the how. Ask who we serve and for what we are useful.
Interview of Alain Gauthier
Alain Gauthier is the author of « Evolutonnary co-leadership », HDiffusion, 2013
New forms of leadership are emerging in many organizations and communities around the world – in response to the increasing complexity, the multiple crises and limitations of the current development paradigm. They are called depending on the situation: shared leadership, complementary, distributed, collaborative, circular, collective or communal leadership. These new forms – that can be gathered under the term « co-leadership » – focus on interpersonal influence, dialogue, mutuality and side vision, and consider leadership as a relational process rather than a formal position. In this sense, co-leadership represents a new stage of leadership development that includes and transcends both the modern individual leadership and the traditional collective leadership. This is the most suited answer to the emergence of a co-creative, learning and performing organization, in which everyone is invited to develop their unique gifts, while contributing to the evolution of the organization and its stakeholders.
Alain Gauthier is the author of « Evolutonnary co-leadership », HDiffusion, 2013
In many non-Western cultures, leadership is seen as a collective rather than individual ability. In contrast to the heroic individual leadership, co-leadership embraces the diversity of members of the organization and their perspectives; it frees both individual initiative and collective intelligence in the service of broader common good.
At a time when the increasing complexity and uncertainty can cause pessimism, co-evolutionary leadership opens a creative space where team members can take part together to the act of leadership.
What makes it possible in particular are the aspirations of new organizational leaders, the growing emphasis put on emotional intelligence and the intelligence of the body, the new ways of communication – including in the form of real or virtual network – as well as needs of transverse solutions, both within an organization and between organizations and sectors (open innovation, complex social problems).
Focus 1: questions to Jean-Christophe Foucrit, Vice Executive at TER Haute-Normandie
SOL: What sensitive points are touched while freeing initiatives in a company like SNCF?

JCF: In a historically centralized company like SNCF, where everything is written and formalized, releasing initiatives means renouncing to put everything under control. It is scary. In general, such an approach requires trusting. It is already, a difficult change of posture for the manager in ordinary time. At SNCF, where the manager is a « commanding officer », regarding the history of the company, it requires more questioning. The heart of success is trust toward the other. In their technical expertise, in their commitment to the customer and the company… That’s DNA as we say internally. Trust is changing the hierarchical relationship radically.

SOL: What new opportunities were opened?

JCF: I haven’t found them all! Creativity only begins to come. At first we must consolidate the pleasure of working with confidence (not punishing any guilty person). Managers are not yet making the link between this new stance, the well-being of their staff and the quality of production. They are just beginning to understand that letting go is not a weakness but a strength. Indeed, the subject is not only liberating initiatives of agents, but also supporting managers in their new behaviors. I do speak about human relationship, not a tool for management and / or quality use.

Focus 2: questions to Alexandre Gerard, CEO of Inov-On
SOL: To what extent does the employees’ quest for autonomy paradoxically rely on a charismatic leader figure?

AG: Today the « normal » business organization is the pyramidal structure of command & control. Only a leader who has understood the limits of Taylorism – and wrestled his ego – can open spaces of freedom and create an organization operating on trust. That’s where the paradox comes from: a company can only be “made free” by the will of the leader … Hopefully this time is short! « Normality » will then be perceived as freedom, empowerment, pleasure, and thus performance. The need for an atypical leader will probably be more limited.

SOL: Can we speak of a « wave » or a natural tendency, peculiar to our age and our corporate cultures?

AG: Infinite growth in a finite world makes no sense and we all know it. According to Marc Halévy, we are at the crossroads. Awareness among people is real and I am fortunate enough to be faced every day with this awakening, in large or small business, schools, administrations … At the same time, we know that the old vision is deeply rooted in our culture. Yes, the fight will be hard! But I am a believer… The new generation will not accept this legacy. The Taylorian parenthesis will soon be over.