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BW Businessworld

'Leaders Often Need To Vary Their Behaviour'

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Why this book and how is it different from other leadership books?
Leadership books typically focus on style, traits, and how leaders act. But action without thought is a recipe for disaster. Leaders think or sink. They have a particular responsibility to find clarity in complex and volatile environments. When their thinking is wrong, they head down the wrong road, often taking their organisation and their followers into a cul de sac or over a cliff.

What is the art of reframing? Doesn't reframing clash with the idea of consistency?
Reframing is an intentional process of looking at a situation from more than one perspective or vantage point. By choosing to reframe, leaders can see new patterns and possibilities that they would otherwise miss. It’s good for leaders to be consistent in their basic values and purposes, but behaving the same way in every situation is a recipe for failure. Be consistent in seeing reality and acting accordingly.

How can the leader ensure all departments play along during the process of reframing?
Financial people think differently than operational people. HR people think differently from engineers. They need to think differently to do their job. These different approaches are necessary for each unit to do their job well. A leader's job is to pull things together, and they do that by seeing the world as it is, and then finding and articulating a compelling story that fires hope and unites people in a common quest.

You talk about Bezos and Jobs. Is emulating good for a leader?
Architects, artists and writers study the work of masters of their craft in order to see what’s possible, study technique, and deepen their understanding of what great work looks like. Leaders can do the same thing. 

Should executives stick to core set of abilities that worked in the native market when they relocate?
If a road you usually follow to get home is closed for repairs, it makes no sense to insist on driving on it anyway because it’s part of who you are. Behaviour that means one thing in one culture often has a very different meaning in another culture, so doing the same thing may produce very different results. To have a consistent impact, leaders often need to vary their behaviour as they move across cultural boundaries. Wise leaders learn from and adapt to changed circumstances.
(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 23-03-2015)