Tag Archives: entrepreneurial instincts

Leading by Instinct

There is not a Best M.O. among top leaders. Nor is there any M.O. that would exclude you from being a good leader.

My research shows that the best predictor of both productivity and sustainability in complex and complicated environments is the degree of conative or instinct-based diversity among the core leaders in the C-Suite. In smaller organizations, with only a few people at the top of a narrow pyramid, the conative criteria for leadership also narrow.

Instincts in C-Suites

In a large and very complex organization with a collaborative culture, it works especially well to have a CEO whose instinct is to initiate in both the Fact Finder and Quick Start Action Modes, sparking both research and development programs. Another essential part of the conative mix is for such leaders to instinctively resist or just mildly accommodate Follow Thru systems. This is how such leaders keep their organizations from getting bogged down in redundancies or becoming too bureaucratic.

It is essential, that leaders with this M.O. have CFOs, or other cohorts at the top, who deal with the complicated, more linear, financial, legal, and sometimes physical structures. It has proven wise to have a second in command who naturally plays the role of insisting on adherence to Follow Thru regulations -which he or she instinctively creates. It helps a set of such leaders to work in sync with each other if the second person accommodates Fact Finder strategies. When these leaders have equal levels of insistence in Fact Finder, they need to have clearly defined, separate responsibilities or they will end up with dueling priorities. Rounding out the M.O. of the cohort is a resistance in Quick Start, which adds a stabilizing force to the senior management team.

In today’s world, the CEO often serves as the chief PR person in the face of scandals, recalls, attacks, and hackings. I don’t see many resistant Quick Start CEOs surviving through major crises like these. Quick Start energy is required when being a spokesperson dealing with uncertainty (note what happens to the grand orator in Obama when he addresses uncertainty).

Resistant Follow Thrus are beaten up for not finishing what they start, but without their input organizations would stay put. The power of their randomness makes their resistance to sticking with the plan the ingredient that often saves the day. As confounding as it can be to their conative opposites, their natural ability to dodge bullets is a trait that helps organizations land on their feet.

It is the Implementor leader’s insistence on precision and manifestation of ideas that makes this M.O. the most difficult to put in the C-Suite. It is essential, but often better in the field than the executive offices – as long as he or she is empowered to halt processes for quality control purposes. Given the freedom to skip meetings and lead the on-site troops, these leaders will add significantly to the power and quality of products and programs.

Instinctive Facilitators are especially interesting to observe as they perform at high levels of leadership in organizations like franchises and health related situations; first, because in those environments leadership involves maintaining systems and second, because it involves maintaining ego-driven relationships – and the caring for a diversity of human beings. Their instinct to bring out the best in others and to build bridges between people reduces conflicts and keeps energy focused on purposes rather than personal issues.

Entrepreneurial Instincts

It is less complicated to diagnose the instinct-based leadership in an entrepreneurial organization. It is all about the naturally born entrepreneur trusting the combination of Quick Start insistent drive and back-up Fact Finder strategies. Without much Follow Thru budget making, a stand-alone entrepreneur needs to use the power of Quick Start persuasion to cut deals, and rope friends, family and vendors into becoming uncompensated co-conspirators. Of course, those who fill the need for creating Follow Thru systems are also essential. When a true entrepreneur builds an organization to the point where it requires the type of leadership team noted above, it is time for him or her to move on – and do it all over again.

Leadership is not just about the use of conative instincts. But, nothing in my experience indicates that leaders, regardless of their M.O.s, initiate problem solving by using processes they have been taught. Their cognitive powers come into the process when they edit their instincts – and certainly when they second guess them. Leaders’ actions, triggered by whatever motivates them, are as tied to their instincts as their best salesperson’s instincts are tied to asking for the order. I do not belittle the power of the cognitive (it is not an after-thought in the Kolbe Creative Process). It’s a matter of what comes first.

Instincts are precognitive. If that weren’t true, we would have no heroes – or top leaders. Having closely observed the creative efforts of thousands of leaders in vastly different types of problem solving situations, I have yet to see an example of solutions being initiated by them during a period of contemplation. The actions that spark productivity are born from the innate, authentic powers of a leader’s instinctive drive.

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Adventures of a Suspected Spy

In 1989, I travelled from Phoenix to my son’s college graduation in Philadelphia; then went on alone to speaking engagements in Singapore (where I purchased cell phones and tape recorders)  and, via Copenhagen, to Belgrade.

There I had a long lay-over before scheduled to go on to Dubrovnik (by way of the Zagreb airport), an historic Yugoslavian seaside community about an hour flight away. My tickets and documents were taken from me upon arrival, causing me discomfort as I walked around the dark, somber, chillingly quiet Belgrade airport. No one gave me eye contact or responded when I tried to purchase a soda.  

As my sense of concern grew, one of many armed military men in the airport indicated I was to follow him to a small room with a window that looked out to the runway, two straight-backed chairs, and a woman sitting behind a counter. I sat there without food or water for five hours.

Finally, the woman, who had made many phone calls, said – very sadly, I thought — “I so sorry, I can’t do nothing to help you.” Then she walked away, leaving my documents in plain view on her desk. I snatched them and darted through the airport onto the only plane I’d seen on the tarmac. With guns pointed at me, I hoped it was the plane to Zagreb, where I would be close to the town where I knew people were waiting for me.

Other passengers were hustled out of the plane as I was surrounded by interrogators who demanded that I tell them who I was and who I was working with. Seems Yugoslavian women my age had hands that looked different from mine, and that they didn’t believe a “normal” woman would travel my route unaccompanied.

After a long time  some passengers returned and the plane took off, with the interrogators still on either side of me. To my great relief, we landed in Zagreb where they all but threw me out the door. No one else got off. Neither did my luggage.

Two men ran up, took hold of my arms and dragged me into a small room in the basement of the airport. It was out of a bad movie: uniformed guy from central casting at a desk with a single light bulb dangling from above. Armed guards on either side. It was unbelievable that they could be serious when they took turns shouting: “Where electronic equipment hidden? Why you take such strange route? Why people want to hear you speak?”

When I broke out in genuine laughter, they seemed to relax a little.

I was sent in a military vehicle to Dubrovnik where I was under house arrest, but allowed to go from my hotel room to the opera house where I was scheduled to work with a group of international business leaders.  None of us were allowed to make calls to the US, but my clients got word to my husband through our Australian office that  I was having an interesting adventure and that they would do what they could to be sure I got home.  They also lent me clothes. I was always tailed by armed guards, and I walked to and from the hotel  with automatic weapons focused on me from roof tops.

 A woman who interpreted sessions between me and Yugoslavian officials attended all of my speeches and seminars. She asked lots of questions about my work that indicated a sincere interest, so I gave her a Kolbe Index and hand scored it for her. When I explained that she had wonderful entrepreneurial instincts she got tears in her eyes. My return trip to the Zagreb airport was the first time we were able to speak without being overheard. Her whispered assumptions of what had happened to me made more sense after I got home and searched for background on the political situation there.

She believed that Serbian leaders in Belgrade thought I had tried to bring listening devises to Croatian separatists in Dubrovnik. When I was let off the plane in Zagreb the leaders there figured it was a set-up so I could to spy on them for the Serbs. She had come to sympathize with me realizing I was a woman with a very different mission than spying for either of them. She said her life was at risk if she was wrong about me.

Two years later war officially broke out between these two groups. Here’s background on why women in both camps may have helped me: http://www.uri.edu/artsci/wms/hughes/femorg.htm  

I got my suitcase back when Air Yugoslavia let me off in New York. All my clothes had been shredded, and the cell phones and tape recorders had been smashed into little bits.

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