Would you deem an Ontological approach to leadership more useful than a 6 year
Is there a difference in Leadership ability or even mindset between a person who has been schooled via a classroom, examinations and a tutor and a person who has learnt through experience?
In short, an epistemological mastery (a from-the-stands mastery) of a subject is the theory, such as theoretical business models in university and college study or role-play in a training room, which leaves one knowing what a leader has to do.
An ontological mastery is a reality version (an on-the-pitch mastery) of a subject, as in absorbing more and more duties in a current employment position, facing challenges, dealing with potential issues until such time everyone else assumes you are in charge or you have grown into the role, which leaves one being in a leadership position.
Do we need to learn to lead or is Leadership something we all have within us that lies dormant until we need to 'take charge' because something needs to be done but nobody will do it until told? Is THAT the moment we step over the line and become a leader. Is that the time we light that leadership fuse? In many cases that is the only time that fuse is lit. Something will tip us over that point and we become a leader.
I do what I do because I saw so many other people coming into the Company I was leading to give management consultancy programs and I would think 'I know more than they do, I can do that, I can teach that'. My tipping point came when I realised that not only did I know more than they did and I could present it better, I wasn't using my knowledge to its fullest extent in the role I had acquired over a number of years. I had gone from salesman to Sales and Marketing Director with a sales team of 600 within two years. I became the national sales trainer for Telewest and then decided to work for ANYONE...taking Leadership to a whole new level.
My belief is that if you have ever got someone to do something for you, or they have done something just because you have asked them to, then you have led. We all lead others in our lives. We have all been led by others too.
Is it possible that one can learn something in theory without the reality of the role. Is learning the theory of Leadership enough to make you a leader that can inspire, transform, motivate others to follow you?
Learning in an ontological format leaves one being a Leader which, in itself, allows for the development of self expression in the role. If you think about what it takes to be the most effective leader you can be, to match the effective leader you hold yourself out to be, it really has to be about you and your natural self expression of who you are.
The important word in that paragraph is 'Natural'.
If you watch Rafa Nadal play Tennis or Lionel Messi play football I don't think for one moment they have to 'remember' how to play, the game is just a natural self-expression. Of course they have technique, skills and ability but it is unconscious competence. Their natural self expression makes them extraordinarily powerful and effective 'players'.
A natural leader can only become 'natural' in the role by being a leader. It is only then can one understand, in the real world, what being a leader is all about.
A Leader needs very high levels of being and action. Certainly if one is to plan a future, it will be based on certain conditions and elements that are in the current time. A target or goal is based upon our being now, when in fact it should be based on our being then.
A persons 'being' and 'action' must be aligned and in unison to make them effective, as a tennis player, a footballer or as a leader. When one is being a leader and exercising leadership skills this occurs through natural self-expression dependant upon how what that person is dealing with as a leader occurs to them. The goal as a leader is: 'how am I going to get what I am dealing with as a leader to occur for me so that my natural self-expression as a leader can deal with it?'
So where do we get our being and action when creating a goal or a target? Mostly we get our being and action from the contents of our brain, which is filled with experiences from our past or current existence and experience. If we stand in the future, which is where our target or goal is situated, what the brain can draw on is imagination and creativity. If we stand in the past we cannot see the pathways that lead to the success. If we stand at the bottom of a mountain and look up, it is difficult to see how we could possibly reach the top. I we stand at the top of the mountain and look down, we will see more than one way to get to where we are.
Standing in and leading from the future reveals a lot more possibilities for realising that future goal or target.
Outstanding leaders never come up with a future and present it to the people they are leading. They find a way to get that future created from the people they are leading.
If you came to me and said, 'Dave, this is the top of the mountain, this is where we are going and we are going to get there...' I have to buy into that. But if I participate with you in deciding which mountain is the top mountain, that doesn't require any buy in from me. Getting there belongs to me as well as you, maybe in a different way, but I am involved. The leader will have had a lot to do with shaping meetings and conversations to enable their team to see and share the vision and decide which mountain is the one to go for.
The leader must be committed to the critical importance that the future really belongs to everyone, not just the leader. Your people have been moved, touched and inspired not only by your input and leadership but by the fact that their contribution made a difference. A combined noteworthy contribution on a shared goal will reap far greater rewards and this only compounds the basis of ontological learning. You have to be part of it to get better. All the theory in the world, all the textbooks in the universe will not make you the leader you are meant to be.
If you balance on a stool in your kitchen you can practice all the strokes and movements of being a swimmer but you will not be a swimmer until you get in the water.