I visited a relationship event the other day. An evening event themed: “The Power Of Simplicity”. The evening turned out be surprisingly good, not in the least because of the great interview with a Dutch CEO of a large hospital in the south of The Netherlands. It was only during this interview that I understood this was not about simplicity in the context of UX or Lean-start-up kind of things. This evening was about the power of simplicity in Leadership. Besides that very open and thoughtful interview the company at the table was evenly great with senior people from companies like ASML, DSM, Vodafone a.o.
At the end of the evening one attendee at each table was asked to summarize the discussions at the table. You can guess who drew the short straw at my table ;) Here’s what I said, or at least how I remember saying it:
“I think we probably solved all of the world problems at this table this evening, but my summary would be that we believe that the power of simplicity lies in the ability to make choices. Choices of what to pursue and what not.
Making these choices would require a clear understanding of what and who creates value. In this day and age, where everyone seems to be connected with everything, that is not a simple task though.
The power of simplicity in leadership therefore also lies in trusting ones intuition, following the gut-feeling and keeping it simple by not steering your team on smarts. For all together smarts may provide a sense of control but usually produce results that look like 1 + 1 < 2, not > 2
Instead simple leaders commit to the whole, not just their part in it, and simple leaders understand what behavior drives the result of the whole. Simple leaders manage for desired behavior and are representative of them.
Last, we believe that the strongest sign of simplicity in Leadership is having the guts and being comfortable with oneself to admit that one does not know how things work and how they will turn out, and at the same time being confident and decisive in building the teams capability and driving the teams effort to find out as we go forward.”
What do you think? Did we capture the essence? What did we miss? Looking forward to your contribution in the comments.