A Tavistock Institute Prescription for Leadership
Twitter has become the battleground where the leaders of the USA and North Korea boasted about the size and potency of their “button”. The global “Blockchain in Banking Report” was revealed at the same time that Bitcoin reached highest values against the dollar. The Middle East prepares for the shift in Iranian protests following a UN Security Council meeting taking place there this week. How will our systems and their workers deal with the implications of these events? Reach for the medication in a flight from the unbearable pressure of being? Or are all these activities manifestations of our collective mental state.
I believe that Gianpiero Petriglieri of INSEAD had a response that speaks directly to this moment in our time. “Freud had a term for such moments, when troubling ideas and emotions can no longer be swept under the carpet. He called it the “return of the repressed.” Those moments, he suggested, are a mixed blessing: They reveal our worst impulses and can bring forth our best insights.”
In our increasingly uncertain societies, leadership seems to be in crisis. Perhaps part of the contemporary anxiety is that we have overlooked the importance of a key component of the Tavistock Institute’s thinking about Leadership. The ART of Enlightened Followership is needed more than ever before, and the shift from a focus on leadership to its much ignored “other half”, followership, may better help us to navigate these turbulent uncertainties.
Tavistock Institute pioneers created Group Relations conferences, with such prescient design, to study the nature of authority relations. It is these Authority relations, the dynamics between leaders and followers in complex systems, which may hold the key to unlock the padlock of terror and unleash a wave of thoughtful, engaged followers enacting responsible role taking in purpose driven systems. Rather than looking away from the horror and terror in our organisations and communities, we need the resources to help us face them, head on, and explore what is “Despicable” in all of us – not just the leaders.
Gianpiero Petriglieri goes on to quote Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel urging leaders to learn from psychoanalytically informed thinking; “Leaders need to do a better job of listening to the anger, the discontent, the frustrations, the resentment — even when they take sometimes ugly, odious forms — because there is something to learn. There are, embedded in those frustrations, legitimate grievances and aspirations that we have not successfully addressed for quite some time.” I think he is describing the leader’s inability to follow the followers.
How human beings understand the purpose of the systems that they are in, conceptualise the task that they are to perform and subsequently find and enter their role, is what the Leicester Conference 2018, TASK AUTHORITY ORGANISATION provides a space to explore, through collaborative inquiry.
The leadership learning intensive that can equip systems with experience to unleash the ART of Enlightened followership, awaits your presence.
Director, Leicester conference 2018
t: +44 (0)20 7457 3927