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Leader Shifts 16 - CONVICTION to CONTEXT

This is the sixteenth in a series of posts which articulate fundamental shifts in leadership paradigms from the 20th to the 21st century.

The 20th Century asked leaders to provide conviction and certainty in order to foster confidence. Underlying premises were that these leaders were right, that they had all the relevant data, that right or true was absolutely possible and that these individuals possessed superior reasoning ability and a semi-divine infallibility. Whilst it was desirable for others to share the leader’s conviction, it was not essential as the leader had the power and the platform to insist.

The age of conviction is definitely passing, although many are desperately clinging to the comfortable illusion of its coat-tails. The 21st Century has made it abundantly clear that factual and future certainty are frequently fallacious despite the proliferation of ever larger data sets. In response sensible leaders are founding their influence on context and creating contingencies to maximise options and possibilities in an “it depends”, complex world. Whilst some are still willing to bet the farm on a sure thing and to lose face if it fails, most embrace the reality of multiple possible contexts and prepare to respond accordingly.

#AstuteLeaders seldom convey factual certainty. In the absence of factual conviction, they believe that context matters, that context changes and that to some extent context can be created.

Reflection question: How can you be proactive and inspire commitment from others without relying on factual conviction?

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