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

Policies were one of the hallmarks of the 20th Century. Societies, organisations and individuals found a measure of safety and predictability in rules and codes. Policies and best practices are highly effective in stable, ordered and consensual environments. They are efficient, provide clarity and certainty and simplify decision-making. However, in the absence of these conditions they can become cumbersome constraints, limiting creativity, fostering fear and toxic tyranny and inviting and fuelling dissent,

In the 21st Century we are awakening to the significance of philosophy, ethos and belief as more effective, adaptable and potentially confluent guides. We’re coming to understand that the quest for efficiency which underpinned the age of policies and codes, may have compromised effectiveness. In taking away the need for thought, moral reasoning and ethical debate we dulled sense-making and promoted polarisation. We are coming to see that thinking rooted in ethos and beliefs which make sense to people facilitates freedom, more enduring agreement and generative safety.

#AstuteLeaders help everyone to figure out why decisions make sense in the context of core beliefs and philosophies. They honour sound rationale more than correct answers. They value and amplify the voice of dissent and seek agreement on principles and heuristics rather than rules and regulations.

Reflection question: As an Astute Leader, what can you do to promote more decision-making based on philosophy and ethos rather than code and policy?

Register for the #AstuteLeaderProgramme, commencing 29 September 2022 -

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