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From leadership to stewardship

From leadership to stewardship

Working paper & presentation to 2nd Annual CAPPA Conference in Public Management, Ryerson University, Toronto, May 27-28th, 2013. This paper looks at leadership as a mechanism for social coordination - an outdated one - that is failing to generate followers due to a growing perception that leaders are either unethical or ineffective or both. In its place the author suggests another mechanism, stewardship, and outlines a process-based stewardship to use as a means to facilitate people working together when knowledge, resources and power are widely distributed. Instead of followers creating leaders, owners create stewards implying that stewardship is a more appropriate tool than leadership to facilitate network governance, collaboration and partnership and that it requires different skill sets and practices than leadership to be effective.

Working paper & presentation to 2nd Annual CAPPA Conference in Public Management, Ryerson University, Toronto, May 27-28th, 2013. This paper looks at leadership as a mechanism for social coordination - an outdated one - that is failing to generate followers due to a growing perception that leaders are either unethical or ineffective or both. In its place the author suggests another mechanism, stewardship, and outlines a process-based stewardship to use as a means to facilitate people working together when knowledge, resources and power are widely distributed. Instead of followers creating leaders, owners create stewards implying that stewardship is a more appropriate tool than leadership to facilitate network governance, collaboration and partnership and that it requires different skill sets and practices than leadership to be effective.

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From leadership to stewardship

  1. 1. From Leadership to Stewardship Christopher Wilson Senior Research Fellow Centre on Governance University of Ottawa CAPP A CANADIAN ASSOCIATION OF PROGRAMS IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
  2. 2. The notion of leadershipThe notion of leadership was for a different era.was for a different era. It’s time to retire it.It’s time to retire it.
  3. 3. Leadership is a mechanism of social coordination One that can transform random groupings into ordered social structures …and increases the groups’ capacity for specialization and coordinated activity
  4. 4. But Leadership has Fallen into Disrepute Parliament is a Sham - Macleans The $50B leadershipThe $50B leadership industry is a “fraud”industry is a “fraud” - Barbara Kellerman, Harvard In over 40 years, theIn over 40 years, the leadership industry hasleadership industry has made no meaningful ormade no meaningful or measurable improvementmeasurable improvement in human condition.in human condition. - The End of Leadership The entire “leadershipThe entire “leadership class” is “fundament-class” is “fundament- ally self-dealing”ally self-dealing” – New York Times The Senate is theThe Senate is the backwater of thebackwater of the US governmentUS government – New Yorker US CEOs have done more toUS CEOs have done more to hurt the economy thanhurt the economy than anyone else – even more thananyone else – even more than the President or Congressthe President or Congress – Fox News “a dog could have run GEa dog could have run GE” – - GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt of his predecessor Jack WelchHSBC execs apologize forHSBC execs apologize for laundering money for Allaundering money for Al Qaeda and drug cartelsQaeda and drug cartels – The Star Only 9% of CanadiansOnly 9% of Canadians have confidence that thehave confidence that the Federal government canFederal government can address their problemsaddress their problems - Nanos Research Washington is Suicidal - Newsweek“Nearly every pillar ofNearly every pillar of American society hasAmerican society has revealed itself to berevealed itself to be corrupt, incompetent,corrupt, incompetent, or bothor both” - Time The 2013 global "TrustThe 2013 global "Trust Barometer" survey, finds as trustBarometer" survey, finds as trust in institutions continues to climb,in institutions continues to climb, only 18% of respondents trustedonly 18% of respondents trusted business leaders, andbusiness leaders, and government leaders scored onlygovernment leaders scored only 13%.13%. - The Economist Contempt for theContempt for the whole institutionwhole institution [of the Senate] - Macleans
  5. 5. What is Leadership? • What it should be – “bringing people together to make something different happen.” - Harland Cleveland – A way for followers to coordinate their individual activities to produce value-adding, collective outputs that are more than the sum of the individual contributions • What leadership has become – a romanticized myth, a cult of personalities who are seen to be intrinsically special, and somehow different from followers – It’s perceived as the ‘cause’ that is capable of saving us from ourselves – It’s how you obtain additional perks and benefits… – but, it’s often susceptible to people later exposed as weak, liars, foolish, inept, corrupt, vain, lazy, demagogues, selfish and just plain crooks – A $50 billion industry that in 40 years has produced no evidence that it has produced any ‘better’ leaders, mitigated the effects of ‘bad’ leaders or contributed to the betterment of human society – an excuse for not adapting to environments where no one is or can be ‘in charge’
  6. 6. The Leadership Bargain • Leaders are created by followers • Followers will follow, iff, the leader is perceived as both ethical and effective – Might, right or charisma no longer justify leadership – People want to follow … but only if they believe the integrity and competence of a leader will help them get what they need – However, the distinction between leaders & followers is continuously being eroded -- generating at times disloyalty and even active resistance – No followers >> no leader
  7. 7. Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt charged with gangsterism Former Italian PM, Silvio Berlusconi, sentenced to 1 year in jail Warning! Leadership can be harmful to your organization Rob Ford “violated the municipal conflict of interest rules” Ottawa’s Mayor O'Brien charged with bribery Sarkozy under investigation for illicit campaign financing Intergovernmental Affairs minister resigns over campaign funding irregularities. Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan resigns over ethics violations I found Mr. Mulroney’s evidence to be not worthy of any credence – Judge Oliphant ex-SNC-Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime arrested for fraud Three ex-Nortel executives charged Lance Armstrong addresses Global Leadership Forum Ken Lay,CEO of “America’s Most Innovative Company”, Enron Richard Fuld, CEO of Lehman Brothers, leads his company to $639B bankruptcy Jimmy Cayne, Chairman & CEO of Bear Stearns, “worst CEO of all time - CNBC Senators Mike Duffy, Mac Harb, Patrick Brazeau, & Pamela Wallin investigated for financial improprieties Wachovia CEO Thompson linked to $378B in money laundering prior to bank’s collapse in 2008 Award winning PennState coach convicted serial child molester, school president forced to resign FIFA President, João Havelange & other top officials receive millions in bribes US Congressman Anthony Weiner involved in sexting scandal
  8. 8. Collaboration Diminshes Leadership • But even ethical leaders are increasingly ineffective due to issue complexity and distribution of knowledge, resources and power… • The Result: Few Canadians (only 9%) have confidence that our leaders can address the concerns that matter to them most – eg. Issues like health care, jobs, education, environment & climate change, first nations, aging population, social programs, living standards & balanced budgets • Why? Because these ‘wicked’ problems take more people, more perspectives, more and different resources, and multiple sources of power & authority to resolve. Citizens don’t believe our leaders in government can work with others - Policy Options • The Economist recently asked, “why the big gap between trust in leaders and the institutions they lead?” Their answer - “leaders have been slow to adapt to the requirements of a world in which top down is no longer the best way to lead, or in many cases even a viable one.
  9. 9. Followers Create Leaders (and increasingly followers won't follow) A “weak” and “secretive” publicA “weak” and “secretive” public service starves Parliament of theservice starves Parliament of the information it needs to hold theinformation it needs to hold the government to accountgovernment to account. - Parliamentary Budget Officer The US Budget failed becauseThe US Budget failed because Boehner "did not haveBoehner "did not have sufficient support from [his]sufficient support from [his] members to pass."members to pass." - Huffington Post Leaders without FollowersLeaders without Followers - The Economist Federal scientists rally against the “Death of Evidence” 10 July 2012 ““public servants [should]public servants [should] make their own judgmentsmake their own judgments about the public interest.”about the public interest.” – Former DM, Ralph Heintzman “we are the 99% and we are leaderless” Occupy MovementOccupy Movement Idle No MoreIdle No More protests beyondprotests beyond control of chiefscontrol of chiefs Globe & Mail Federalism upsideFederalism upside down: Who speaksdown: Who speaks for Canada now?for Canada now? iPolitics Disloyalty isDisloyalty is growinggrowing - Optimum
  10. 10. Leadership is a mechanism of social coordination but it is not the only one. … there is no a priori reason to use only leadership – only habit.
  11. 11. A Leadership Alternative • Stewardship – Instead of the ‘causal leader’, the steward acts as a ‘catalyst’ among owners helping them to shape change together by a combination of process design & relational governance – The steward “depends for his power on making other people powerful”. – Stewardship is a collective attribute that is neither personality based nor even people based... But it can be encoded in a process
  12. 12. Stewards are Created by Owners • Building co- ownership & developing mechanisms to share it are key tasks • Affecting stewardship is primarily process design – assembling principles, rules, norms, behaviours, mechanisms and protocols into an ‘automatic pilot’ capable of generating wayfinding, meaningful self- organization, social learning, resilience, trust and innovativeness. • Stewardship is ‘learning by doing’
  13. 13. Stewardship Process • This coordinating process of stewardship has six separate but interconnected tasks: – gathering together all the relevant actors and information; – creating an effective space for frame reconciliation to ensure collaboration, leaning and innovation; – doing together but avoiding the rush to decisions and action; – generating trust with a mix of incentives & moral contracts likely to fuel both the continuous inquiry needed to facilitate learning, as well as the need for contingent cooperation; – assuming failure, the constructing of feedback, fail-safe and safe- fail mechanisms to ensure both effectiveness & resilience; and – creating relationships that foster trust but also develop negative capability - the conditions that ensure the collaboration will be robust enough to survive.
  14. 14. Stewardship is a mechanism of social coordination One that coordinates, not through hierarchy, but networks of relationship
  15. 15. Hints of Things to Come • Goldcorp Challenge1 – Goldcorp recognized it’s own experts didn’t know enough about where to find gold so they opened themselves up to the world with a $500K challenge & discovered many new approaches, 8 million ounces of gold, and their net worth going from $100 m. to $9 billion • Governance of Tech Startups – A bringing together multiple perspectives - owners, angel investors, customers, engineers, suppliers – with no perspective taking precedence. Both innovation and accountability are enhanced 1 Tapscott & Williams, Wikinomics
  16. 16. Hints of Things to Come • Brazil’s HIV-AIDS strategy2 – With one of the worst infection rates in the world in 1990, WHO said focus on prevention. The sick can’t be saved. – With no one in charge, Brazil was guided by communitarian principle that nobody would be written off – Innovation & decision making were shared widely by a government that asked questions about how things really worked & was committed to sharing everyone’s successes – Brazil’s infection rate now 33% better than that of the USA • Canadian Partnership Against Cancer Corporation3 – A knowledge mobilization partnership of federal & provincial govts & VSOs – It has policy authority & financial resources to implement a national cancer prevention strategy – It is a collective body which, when it comes to cancer strategy, directs both federal & provincial governments – Governments participate but in arm’s-length relationships 2 Westley, Zimmerman & Quinn-Patton, Getting to Maybe 3 Rocan, The Voluntary Sector In Public Health
  17. 17. Does the situation need changing? What is the problem? How can we work together? How do we learn together & evaluate our progress? Info Gathering Learning Doing Trust Feedback Relationships Investigative Observational Relationship Design Learning While Doing Institutionalizing an Inquiring System Heuristics Affordances Checklists Judgement Connoisseurship
  18. 18. Going Forward “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, create a new model that makes the old model obsolete.” - Buckminster Fuller “We cannot win the future with a government built for the past.” – US President Obama, 11 March 2011
  19. 19. Thank youThank you Christopher Wilson Senior Research Fellow Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa Tel: 613-355-6505 Email: wilson@telfer.uottawa.ca

Editor's Notes

  • In light of the growing public attention being paid to how we run our public and private organizations (scandal is sometime quite conducive to self reflection) I wanted to talk about leadership and how it must change
  • Leadership worked – for a while. It no longer does so, especially in situations where complexity is high & knowledge, resources and power are widely distributed It’s time to begin using other tools.
  • Leadership is a mechanism for for social coordination – one that transforms this (click) into this, while simultaneously increasing group member specialization and mitigating the conflicts that arise with that increased differentiation
  • The result can be summarized in a recent IRPP-Nanos poll that found that …
  • Who ever heard of government scientists protesting?? Heintzman suggests public servants shouldn’t necessarily follow elected leaders The US Congress’ attempt last December to avoid the “the fiscal cliff” failed because House Republicans wouldn’t support their leader John Boehner
  • Building on John’s point about the need to build communities – communities require owners and it’s owners that create stewards
  • Negative capability - In the sense that it was used by John Keats as a rejection of established attitudes and preconceived notions in favour of experimentation and a willingness to co-create a future without being overly encumbered by the past.
  • However we lack a theory of stewardship, OR, even a theory of collaboration. People assume collaboration just happens. Just as they assume stewardship will materialize to guide it. Instead what we have are a growing number of stories of great things happening without leadership. (click)
  • Stewardship begins with the recognition that leaders can’t do everything themselves This is what Tapscott and Williams describe in their Story of Goldcorp mining and the Goldcorp Challenge… We have known for a long time that the governance of tech startups is different from most companies. Unlike in the boards more mature companies; the membership of a startup board is not decided by the CEO but is the product of various interests -- owners, angel investors, customers, engineers, suppliers – with no perspective taking precedence. They act as peers. They see themselves as co-owners of the startups future. In this way both innovation and accountability are enhanced
  • In Getting To Maybe Zimmerman and her colleagues Michael Quinn Patton and Frances Westley explored what happens when a government like Brazil admits to not having all the answers and seeks the help of its citizens. (click) As Claude Rocan describes “ The fact that all three major political parties supported the CSCC in the 2006 election campaign suggests a consensus that the existing governmental apparatus, for whatever reason, was not capable of achieving the goals of a national cancer strategy.”
  • How do you create stewardship while avoiding dependence on personalities and individuals who may ultimately come and go in a collaborative venture? You create a process. But not one so overly prescribed that its utility is restricted to a few cases but sufficiently robust that people can begin to ask the right questions and then learn into it. My paper outlines some possible contours of such an inquiry system based on Information Gathering, Learning, Doing, Trust building, Feedback, and Relationship building. (click) My colleagues and I suggest that for good stewardship process we need to pay attention to the use of Heuristics, Affordances, Checklists, the development of Judgement and Connoisseurship. The Appendix in my working paper includes 18 of these key preliminary questions to kick start effective stewardship and collaboration.
  • Stewardship is a promising notion. It is not dependent on personality, nor are its cornerstones – ownership, diversity, inquiry and experimentation – all that threatening. It is, however, unknown. And uncertainty is not something that people like to embrace. Admittedly more needs to be done to explore both collaboration and stewardship, but, I would ask, isn’t a little uncertainty here still better than the certainty of leadership’s current failure? I wanted to leave you with 2 thoughts (click)

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