Leading the Tribe #8

Survive the Unexpected

Step 8: Leading from AMONG

There are times in the life of a company or a team when hierarchy, objectives and strategies are no longer relevant because what counts most is to just get together and to share a moment of joy or sadness.

At these profoundly human moments a leader cannot “play the leader”. They need to simply be human and authentic. Off with the mask. Like the manager of an insurance company who, learning that his French company was going to be acquired by a British group, and having nothing specific to say to his anxious collaborators, decided to serve tea 5 p.m. so that teams could simply gather and talk with him. A simple gesture, a very “British” understatement, and for him a way of being in the middle of his teams and helping everyone get through the uncertainty that characterizes these pre-acquisition moments together.

Purely human qualities of simplicity and authenticity come naturally to some leaders and are slow to develop in others. And unfortunately for others they are totally inaccessible. These leaders can become “toxic” and poison their environment with their misplaced authority and intelligence and oftentimes false empathy. Nothing that comes from them comes from the heart. A leader of a very large group who had retired once told us, “I only regret one thing: not having thanked my colleagues enough. I owe them so much! ». Congratulations! But a little late!

Here, it is difficult to speak in terms of skills or competencies. Everyone may or may not have this predisposition to direct, emotional and simple relationships.

Some events allow it: off-sites, late-night drinks, occasional dinners. These moments are not always focused on professional issues but are moments when everyone reveals a bit of who they are, beyond the hierarchy, and in doing so binds team members together. Many teambuilding activities, sometimes engaging, sometimes a bit ridiculous, are aimed at this goal. They should not be neglected, but should be organized in the right way, at the right time, with the right people. I remember a client who wanted to organize a paintball game between his European managers a week before the outbreak of the war in Iraq. Was it really the right time to invite the French, English and Germans to shoot each other in the forest when their governments disagreed on this intervention?

Times of crisis require resilience. We know that solidarity and the ability to help each other for free is one of the four energies needed to overcome difficulties and bounce back. Negative emotions kill a group’s energy, positive emotions (called commitment and motivation) multiply it.

In STEP 9: We’ll have a look at leading from behind, one of the most difficult and the most useful position when it comes to developing people and teams.

Charles Gancel

May 2020


ICM Associates (Paris) is a member of the PAWLIK Consultants (Hamburg)

Have a look at Step 1 Leadership definition

Have a look at Step 2 The world as it goes

Have a look at Step 3 Facing dilemmas

Have a look at Step 4 Leader tomorrow

Have a look at Step 5 Leading from above

Have a look at Step 6 Leading from ahead

Have a look at Step 7 Leading from beside




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