Leadership and the City Center

Imagine you are designing a road traffic network for a new city.

Every city has a city-center, a place that can be called the heart of a city.

It stands to reason that you would design the road traffic network in a way that allows every place to be connected with the city center.

Would you also want to connect all places in such a way that no matter where you want to go, you have to pass through the city center?

Of course, not, right?! Doing so would mean absolutely unnecessary traffic at the city center. Traffic deadlocks would be the order of the day. The city-center would become the bottleneck, the problem.

Now, take your organization and its equivalent of the city-center, the heart of the organization. We are talking about it’s core leadership. Consider the workflow of the organization as the road traffic network. Here, we include all the policies, procedures, processes, everything that moves within the organization.

You would of course want the workflow to be connected to the leadership. They should know what is happening. They should be able to access the workflow so that they can assess it and make changes.

But, would you want the workflow to be so designed that everything is routed through the leadership just as all traffic on the network is made to pass through the city center?

Of course not,right?

Well, we speak one thing and we do another. Let me give one example.

When it comes to performance improvement, we spend the most money on leadership development. We do everything to make leaders better. To make a leader better is to make the leader able to handle more of what is on his plate. Not reduce the size of the plate! To compare it again with the traffic network; are we making the city-center so much the heart that there is no way but to head towards it! Are we making leadership so central that people have no choice but to turn to them!

Organizations are meant to work. Making things work is the key.

In leadership development, actually with everything that we do in organizational development, our entire effort is in making that one person at the top instrumental in making things work. Is that focus self-defeating? Are we, with every resource we invest, making leadership indispensable in the form of a self-fulfilling reality? Everything we do, ends up congesting the city center. Then we work to improve the city-center, not decongest it. We equip the city center to handle the load, and do nothing to reduce its allure, its centrality to the scheme of things.

Of course, those at the city center, the leaders; they are in the thick of the action. They get a ringside view and are in a privileged and indispensable position to intervene. Privileged position, not the best position. Indispensable position, not the best position. The action is moved to where the position is, whereas, the position should be the one moving.

The thing to observe and ask is the one already stated before.

Our entire effort is in making that one or a few people at the top instrumental in making things work.

Is that focus self-defeating?

Think about it!

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