Please read this article carefully, at the very start I am emphasising that I am not talking about ‘DESTRUCTIVE’ but rather Disruptive Leadership.
Yesterday I met with a good friend, and he mentioned he had recently attended a leadership training workshop. During a discussion the facilitator asked for the audience to give the characteristics of good leaders. The normal things were mentioned like accountability, integrity, wisdom and empathy. Then my friend said a leader needs to be ‘Disruptive’ and the audience unanimously disagreed, however the facilitator asked that the audience explore the idea a little more.
Let’s open our minds now and try to unlearn what we think ‘disruption’ is. Why do many seem to think that disruption is destructive? Could it be the same type of thinking that says criticism should only be constructive? Why can’t we simply accept criticism, and are we not intelligent and resilient enough to decide what has value and what can be discarded? Let me state that disruption is productive and destruction is counter productive.
To simplify the process of Disruptive Leadership I have chosen to pose and answer a few questions:
How would you define a Disruptive Leader? I would define a disruptive leader as someone who is an independent thinker, able to think about what they think about and become known for the way they think differently. Leadership after all is about the example (actions) set by a person, that causes other to do things differently.
Why does a Leader need to Disrupt? Firstly they should be able to notice the status quo and challenge it, by asking questions that cause people to think differently. Questions asked differently, and answered with new thinking, are exactly what you want as the outcome of a disruptive process.
What is the most effective way for a Leader to Disrupt? When you are able to notice and understand the way people usually do things, which generally give a predictable outcome, then you are able to ask the questions which will challenge the norm.
Are people scared of the Disruptive process? Yes, people are scared of the disruptive process and usually resist it as they feel they will lose control. With disruption you are unable to predict or control the outcome, and therefore many avoid the creative process of such disruption. Unfortunately, without disruption, things can only stay the same and there will be no leadership.
What does the resistance to Disruption tell you about a Leader? If you resist any sort of disruptive process, you are actually resisting change. Without change, nothing can advance, and an organization cannot grow. To be extremely direct, a leader who dislikes disruption is a leader that is insecure, and who will soon be irrelevant.
Every day we should challenge ourselves by disrupting our own thinking, this is the only way we can ensure that we learn and grow. Leadership is about constant development. As soon as we think we know something, we start to realize just how little we actually do know.