Leadership, intelligence and the future of work with Dr Richard Claydon

Richard Claydon

“We need to recognise that it is about how we work not where we work”

Richard and I discuss leadership discourses, from digital taylorism to eco leadership, and what’s next for the leadership paradigm in organisations. We explore the effect of the pandemic on the employee experience – the “inbetween-ness” that provides the human glue in a workplace and how we can create or re-create moments that matter in a hybrid world. Richard takes us through his intelligence model that offers different ways to understand how intelligence manifests in an organisation and how we can use this understanding to navigate & lead organisational systems differently. We also touch on dialogic learning and intentionally redesigning workplaces for both individual, collective and connective work, and how this can create possibilities for a different type of ‘high potential’ leader to be seen and recognised. 

Richard shares his insights, research and thought leadership on redesigning the workspace from working with leaders and companies across the globe. 

The main insights you’ll get from this episode are :

  • Simon Western’s eco-leadership discourse splits ego and eco, pitting control against enablement; ego would reinstate Taylorism; eco would embrace systemic challenges in the market and the world – digital Taylorism is technologically feasible but does not allow for adaptive behaviour.
  • People are losing trust in leadership across the board, from government to managers; we need a democratic system and are now trying to simplify leadership and go back to old models for use in a digital age.
  • According to Dave Snowden’s cynefin model, if the leader is the expert and everyone else is less qualified, then the leader must direct rather than coach. If there are many experts, or no experts, or in a crisis, action must be taken by the leader. 
  • A (collective) intelligence model offers 5 different ways to understand how intelligence manifests in an organisation:

1.    Foundational intelligence – fragmented; focused on resilience, wellbeing and survival with no capacity to contribute to anything else. Based on salutogenesis and coherence.

2.    Dramatic intelligence –almost all intellectual capacity is applied to progress, fit in, etc. Based on code switching and mask wearing.

3.    Individual intelligence – a classic predictor of promotion, life performance, ability to maximise potential. Purely cognitive.

4.    Collective intelligence – different perspectives, emotional/socio-intelligence, more creative, more productive, more future-orientated. Based on group emotional alignment.

5.    Extended intelligence – the pinnacle, extended networks bring insights that are otherwise unavailable, often resulting in breakthroughs. Interdisciplinary and ahead of the game. 

  • It is possible but difficult for organisations to create a culture for leaders to reach extended intelligence. How do we bridge the strategy execution and operations gap? How do people become leaders? Need to have worked in the trenches before leading. 
  • Strategy is hard (requires a high IQ), operations are easy (can be done by anyone) and the human dimension is soft (but finding it is hard; current leaders are facing unfamiliar models). How do we create the digital space for change? Big players will suffer as smaller ones react. 
  • Digital monitoring during the pandemic has brutalised people by stripping away key human aspects, e.g. coffees, chats, etc. Hybridity must embrace such ‘inbetween-ness’ and create moments that matter.
  • EQLab came about as a result of Covid. It took off immediately by experimenting with online organisational training based on connecting people using a live cohort and a cognitive gym model to build connections across the world and offer deeper connectivity to seek out the expert who can help you.
  • Dialogic learning means we remain self-aware longer in dialogue: think of a dinner party with conversation flowing, fluid exchanges, tangents and small group chats, all around a particular topic. 
  • Non-linear learning ‘sticks’ in the head – it is this ‘stickiness’, the percolation of ideas and lively engagement, that prevents us simply being told what someone else knows. The most disruptive idea for human potential is irony and every team needs ironic sense-makers.
  • High-performing people are often backstage to avoid being shot down. Playfulness generates value under the radar – ‘in between’ – but it is often hidden as it can be seen as troublemaking. 
  • Can we create a culture in which troublemakers can lead? We should think about contested versions of culture with different values and challenge the engagement model to hear the voice. According to Jim Collins , level 5 leaders are difficult to find because the system does not recognise level 5 leadership traits.

There are 3 aspects to reimagining the workplace:

  •  Design around individual work; not ‘business as usual’ but deep individual work; 
  • Design around collective work; have a truly conducive collaboration space; and 
  • Bring about connective work; socialising together after-hours to improve productivity.

A learning/impact/organisational space can help with wellbeing beyond work, so that learning continues both within and outside of work = intentional design!

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Suzie Lewis

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