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S2 E1: Leadership - The Human Edge with Greg Orme

The terms Leadership and Management appear too often to be used interchangeably when talking about the act of motivating employees. But as our first guest in The Change Chair, award winning author Greg Orme, points out they are wholly different activities with entirely different purposes.

Greg is no stranger to the important contrast between these two roles, both of which are critical within organisations, particularly when it comes to the effective implementation of Organisational Change. In fact, his book – The Human Edge – is a homage to the very nature of what it is to be a leader of others but increasingly and equally of oneself. Here is a short summary of the points we talk about in the episode.

Duality of Delivery

Part of the challenge with the titles of Manager and Leader is that people often think you can only be one or the other. When asked to compare these two roles people will typically say that Managers look after logistical activities whilst Leaders look after the strategic activities.

This is how most organisations work when things are operating in business as usual. When things are predictable and there is a level of certainty to what is being done. But that fixed

Manager and Leader role is very unhelpful in significant times of change. From Greg’s experience, looking at large organisations who must navigate complexity and uncertainty on a daily basis, you need people to be able to move between the two approaches. For this reason, Greg asks us to consider both manager and leader as mindsets we adopt depending on where we are with the understanding of the change and the urgency under which we must act.

Having this dual ability to switch between “Leader” mindset – seeking what is to come next, and “Manager” mindset – what we must practically do now to move forward, is fundamental to executing change at scale and more importantly, leading isn’t just for those we formally put in positions of “Leadership”

Curiosity for Change

In a world where technology is increasingly intertwined with every activity we undertake within business, it is becoming harder to separate the result of process as to what part was human and what part was indeed machine.

Greg’s book The Human Edge challenges us all to begin to reignite our innately human qualities (Curiosity, Creativity, Consciousness and Collaboration) to help us find our new place in a world currently overshadowed by technology, computing, and increasingly artificial intelligence. If you are a Change Manager then I suspect that Curiosity is already a behaviour, or as Greg likes to refer it as an attitude, that you are very familiar with.

Within the realms of organisational change, being curious is such an important attitude because it allows us to consider the widest of possibilities for what a future could look like. Without curiosity driving our actions, we would be limited to the confines that fear places around us and we would leap more often to judge others than we may be to listen to what they have to say with the desire to understand and learn.

Although the 4 C’s that make up The Human Edge can help everyone find a place in the new emerging world, if you are in Change, curiosity is literally your superpower and it is one to keep developing.

How big is your Curiosity?

Many people might think of curiosity and creativity as “skills'' in the sense that you may have a natural flair for it. Greg’s experience, and his extensive research, suggest that Curiosity and Creativity are innate in all of us. From the moment we are born we are naturally curious, and that curiosity leads to a level of creativity. Just watch time unfold for a child left to their own devices with nothing more than a sofa and no observing adults hurrying them along. That sofa becomes a world of possibilities – a rocket, a car, a desert island etc. The challenge for many of us adults is that as we grow up, we find ourselves in a world which places significance on time utilisation and output over curiosity. Curiosity, as demonstrated by children, needs freedom from the shackles of time but modern-day organisations thrive on maximising every last ounce of time out of every employee to get some output generated . There is no natural place for curiosity to roam free. The good news is the fix is simple. Reprioritise time. Instead of going from one meeting to the next or jumping straight into a workshop about where an organisation should head next. Stop. Allow your mind to wander. The more we inject time into our lives without any plans to produce an output or an outcome, the more we will reignite our curiosity and with it our creativity.

Of course, if you are a Change Manager then most likely you already are fully aware of the power curiosity plays in helping organisations not only address change resistance more sustainably but you will also recognise how it creates the right environment for new and novel ideas to present themselves.

From the very unique position we find ourselves in supporting change programmes, we ourselves must help the teams create the space for our curiosity to roam free and for our minds to know when to switch between being a change manager and in being a change leader.

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