The notion of organization changes a lot. New generations have other values and “people and planet” still need attention. New forms and ways of becoming interconnected are required. That brings ambiguity and disorder for leaders today.
Enric Bernal—Co-Founder and Partner at PINEA3 Living Organizations, Spain—and Prof. Dr. Martina Eberl—Professor of Business Administration: Management and Organization Studies, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Germany—are two members of the European De Baak Think Tank for Post Crisis Leadership.
Enric: “When I think of leadership and entrepreneurship, two words come to mind: change and action. One of the objectives of leadership is leading change while entrepreneurship is about acting on an opportunity, and changing the environment.”
Martina: “What comes to my mind is Alois Schumpeter’s term that entrepreneurs are ‘creative destructors.’ They make frame-breaking changes. Entrepreneurs are leaders in the way that they define targets, and make people reach these targets. But what I observe now in practice and in research, is that leaders do not have an entrepreneurial orientation. If you are a leader in an enterprise or institution you have rules, cultures, histories and power relationships. The entrepreneur is usually free of that.”
Enric: “I think that management is more about structure and control, while leaders are supposed to be disruptive and visionary. If you are not comfortable with disorder and chaos, it is hard to be an effective leader.”
Martina: “I see that it is quite difficult to apply this entrepreneurial leadership in living structures as an organization. The power of the collective is stronger than that of one individual, and sometimes suppressive. I questioned the power of leaders in the paper I wrote for the book Leadership Talks. Features of today like uncertainty, threats, ambiguity and globalization, make it impossible to rely on those powers. It is rather a distributed play of power-relations. I call it a generative dance of leaving power and taking power. In doing so, people destroy and rebuild power relations in an ongoing process. Maybe this could be labelled as an entrepreneurial feature of post crisis leaders?”
Enric: “In my paper. I talk about conscious leadership, and the importance of raising the level of consciousness of organizations, which are, in fact, living organisms. The leader has to act as a transformation agent, and by doing so positively influences others. Raising consciousness is about increasing organizational self-awareness: looking at the dynamics, and understanding of what is working, where the energy is flowing and where it isn’t. It is a deep analysis of seven dimensions of performance: Grounding, Wellbeing, Identity, Cooperation, Expression, Wisdom and Community. For organizational prosperity (economically, socially and environmentally), they need to know what to develop. This is new to us but not to new generations, who come out with a completely different set of values.”
Martina: “I observe that in my university context with my students. Today’s leaders are in the transition already. They face a lot of dilemmas and struggle with contrasting expectations from senior groups and the new generations. They are in between and this is causing conflicts, disorientation, and insecurity regarding the traditional ‘leader role model.’”
Enric: “I think that our generation is the key. We are pioneers of seeing what is needed for the future. We are the generation of transition. The older generation is not going to change; the new generations are already different. And us, we have to let go of some egos and beliefs coming for old education systems, and reinvent ourselves with a lot of courage. We have to try to influence the ones that are currently in leadership positions who maybe understand all this but they don’t have the ability or courage to change.”