Saturday, 11 April 2009

Appreciative leadership

I've been fascinated by appreciative inquiry and appreciative leadership. Earlier this year, I wrote about Benjamin Zander wonderful gig "Art of possibility" at Davos. Earlier this month, I witnessed a great example of appreciative leadership - in the speech delivered by IFAD's President Mr Kanayo F Nwanze.

Why are these two episodes different from the traditional leadership we are used to?

Traditionally leaders are seen as problem solvers. As problem solvers, leaders are usually at least two steps distant and removed from the problem, which means often their "solution" does not work. This is why there is a lot of value for organizations to embrace appreciative leadership paradigm.

This paradigm calls for leaders relying on people who do the job to find solutions to problems. An appreciative leader is one who focuses on solutions rather than problems. He/she sees the glass half full, emphasizes on things that are right and builds on these.

As KM practitioners we say: "knowledge is the only form of wealth that grows by sharing". Well, appreciative leadership says that what ever we pay attention to grows, that is to say, when we pay attention to something, we are investing in it therefore it grows. An appreciative leader builds on strengths.

Appreciative leaders:
  • Build common vision where one is currently lacking
  • Create openness and rapport between people and groups who don't trust each other
  • Develop new approaches to human resource issues that will be well accepted by organizational members and lead to positive change
  • Create a positive work climate where a negative one previously prevailed
  • Discover, understand and amplify the positive forces already existing in organizations
  • Accelerate the development of new teams

I believe embracing this paradigm is not rocket science. When there is a will there is away. We can all do and by embracing this paradigm we will contribute to transform our workplace for better. For sure I'll give it a shot and will be sharing my challenges and successes.

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