Leadership in the 21st Century - The LEAD Program: Introduction to the Foundational Principles

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Dr. Matt Chodkowski and Dr. Terry Schindler Dr. Matt Chodkowski and Dr. Terry Schindler

In the first three articles of our series on Leadership in the 21st Century, we discussed the difference between the industrial and postindustrial paradigms of leadership, described how the leadership industry is failing to develop leaders and introduced our unique principle-based methodology for leader reeducation and development: LEAD - The Journey of Discovery.

In upcoming articles, we will present and discuss the five Foundational Principles of LEAD. As we transition to those articles, it is important to explain how LEAD transforms the thinking of managers who are unwittingly under the influence of the industrial paradigm of leadership and consequently finding themselves spending most of their time doing what they least understand.

In our leader reeducation and development program, participants do not learn about leadership, they learn about becoming authentic leaders. Participants are exposed to contemporary (postindustrial) concepts, they discover how to internalize principles at the motive level and they are compelled to challenge and change the deep underlying assumptions that determine their beliefs and influence their behaviors. The goal is to make the tacit explicit through interactive, experiential and self-directed learning workshops that focus on human behavior, planned change, organizational culture and contemporary leadership principles. The workshops are intentionally designed to help participants question their common knowledge, challenge their assumptions and build a foundational base of profound principles.

As you read this article, keep in mind the three distinctive features of the LEAD program: 1) LEAD is not based on a leadership model; 2) LEAD does not focus on leader behaviors; and 3) LEAD debunks commonly accepted management myths. Finally, to be successful in the LEAD workshops, leaders must become serious students who possess two essential qualities: humility and courage. This means they have the humility to admit they have much more to learn, and the courage to prove themselves wrong.

Profound Principles

Principles are not the same as platitudes. Platitudes only sound profound – principles are truly profound. The LEAD principles are based on science and cause participants to reexamine their beliefs and assumptions. Principles are not tools – principles are ideas. Conventional leadership training courses offer simple tools such as behaviors, capability frameworks and competency models. A principle cannot be used like a simple tool. People use tools, but principles use people. This is the reason LEAD does not focus on surface-level behavior. LEAD gets below the level of behavior and focuses on the thoughts that determine behavior. Because principles are ideas, they must first be internalized as a recurring cognition, and then integrated into one’s behavior.  

The 3 I’s

Profound principles are at the center of the LEAD workshops. To help leaders understand and ultimately develop motives based on the principles, we created a three-step process referred to as the 3 I’s – internalization, integration and institutionalization. In step one, principles become internalized at the motive level. In step two, acting as a motive, the internalized principles determine cognitions and drive behavior. In step three, when a group of people internalize principles and integrate them into how they think and what they do, the principles become institutionalized. This institutionalization is the essence of organizational culture. In LEAD, participants are not taught or told “how” to do anything – they learn how to think.

The greatest difference between any two leaders is how they think – and how they think makes all the difference in the world. Armed with profound principles, leaders can apply them with confidence and competence. Principles are like seeds that are planted in the mind. These principle seeds grow in the form of an internal motive and bloom in the form of an external behavior.

Mindful Journaling and Coaching

LEAD participants learn processes that increase their self-awareness and deepen their self-knowledge. Reflection, introspection, mindful journaling and coaching are essential elements of the leader reeducation and development process. Both reflection and introspection require physical relaxation and the slowing of brainwave frequency from beta level to the slower alpha level. In this relaxed physical and mental state, the participants can internalize principles and produce corollaries related to the principles. Corollaries are insights (“a-ha” moments) that reflect the forming and strengthening of neurocircuitry through the act of focusing one’s attention.

One effective way of focusing attention is through mindful journaling. Humans share three basic capacities: emotion, cognition and behavior. Journaling is a cognitive process that helps individuals make emotional connections to new material facilitating recall. Mindful journaling is heavily grounded in neuroscience and the concept of neuroplasticity. According to peer-reviewed research, journaling moves individuals from being receivers of knowledge to producers of knowledge. When journaling, the number of neural networks is increased by using our tactile and kinesthetic senses. While we journal, our attention and intention combine to create and change neural networks which become the new system of neurons that represent our contemporary assumptions and paradigms.

These processes enable participants to debunk management myths and superstitious learning. Mindful journaling plays a critical role in the internalization and motive development process. When combined with small group social dialogue and cognitive coaching, journaling changes the way we think and ultimately the way we behave. Participants come to realize that on their journey of discovery, they become the personification of the profound principles. This learning approach is distinctive to the LEAD process and results in cognitive redefinition, transformation and reconceptualization of the leadership paradigm.

In our next article, we will feature an elaboration of the first of five Foundational Principles: Behavior is a function of the person interacting with their environment B = f (P x E).

This is the fourth article in a series by Terry and Matt. They are co-founders and directors of the Institute for Postindustrial Leadership at the University of Indianapolis. For more information about the Institute, go to: www.uindy.edu/postindustrial or email Terry and Matt at postindustrialinstitute@uindy.edu.

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