IEDP has been championing the movement toward new leadership practices since we were established over ten years ago. Though this has been as much an evolution for us, as everyone else, than a clear path to follow. The primary reason being that ‘new leadership practices’ is still an ill-defined collection of concepts and behaviours rather than a rigorously structured framework to work from.
In essence ‘new leadership’ is what is required to deal with today’s complex and fast-moving world, with all its ambiguities and paradoxes. In times of high crisis strong, clear lines of command are still valid, but in the eternal flux and change that characterises modern life no single individual can command enough knowledge, time or energy to consistently lead ‘heroically’ from the front. So the new leadership has to be collaborative, dispersed and flexible just as a starting point; the best of it needs to be highly adaptive and able to deal with those ambiguities and paradoxes – so it needs to draw on diversity and access a breadth of inputs not previously required (or available).
Above all ‘new leadership’ needs to be both human, that is authentic, and sophisticated enough to cope with the fallout of others behaviours and reactions. This requires a rare level of confidence, self-knowledge and maturity.
There are a growing number of influential academics espousing these behaviours – the former Dean of the Rotman School at the University of Toronto, Roger Martin, being one with his research on ‘Integrated Thinking’. His book ‘The Opposable Mind’ on the power of integrative thinking has become a 'new leadership' core text. It was therefore little surprise to see that Jørgen Vig Knudstorp the highly successful CEO who has turned the Danish toy company Lego around, and is in many ways a poster-boy for new leadership selected the book as his most impactful read on CNN recently.
Integrative Thinking is based on the ability to hold a range of different – and opposing – data and models in your mind and be able to leverage the tensions, the cognitive dissonance, that creates to stimulate innovative solutions. The Desautels Centre at the Rotman School remains at the forefront of the Integrative Thinking movement conducting further research and offering executive education programs.
Desautels Centre for Integrated Thinking