Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mode one people - attributes

The first group of people I will look at as part of this series on followership and leadership are what is known as mode one or technical people.
The term technical leadership or followership comes from the thinking and subsequent approaches to problem solving that underpin and define this system.
Mode one individuals largely see the world as a series of technical issues that all have an answer. If you don't know the answer to a problem then someone else will. This is a world of experts and consultants, you just need to find the right expert to solve any problem. The view here is that everything has a well defined answer, you just need to find it. This approach is usually illustrated by 'flowchart decision making' with no shades of grey.
Mode one individuals (followers and leaders) tend not to entertain ambiguity and uncertainty easily if at all. The most frequent mode one reactions to ambiguity and uncertainty include:
  • outright denial of the situation,
  • create their own (usually imaginary) certainty / reality,
  • displacement behaviour aka do something else (normally something comforting).
Mode one individuals (both followers and leaders) do not tolerate uncertainty and risk very well and operate to reduce these as much as possible, usually by resorting to methods of control.

Mode one leaders are autocrats. Mode one followers are largely passive and dependent people who want to be told what to do and they tend not vary from the script. Mode one leaders and followers go together well. However if a mode one follower is under a mode two, three or four leader, the leaders would do well to be very explicit about what is required of them. They will see people from other modes as increasingly unstructured and dangerous or a least unsafe. These are not great people in times of change as they will fight to get back to the old certainty or fool themselves that things have not or are not changing.

Mode one leaders in charge of organisations in times of change (like the current situation) are the number one candidates for loosing their business.

Mode one followers are the most difficult (but not impossible) to get to embrace change. Both mode one leaders and followers can embrace change if handled correctly.

A nice summary of mode one people:

Good at
  • Following ‘characterised’ procedures
  • Making incremental changes
  • Postponing reward
  • Staying safe
  • Standardising procedures
  • Leading from the front
  • Detail
Struggles with
  • Risk & Ambiguity
  • Innovation
  • Diversity
  • Non standard thinking
  • Empathy and emotional intelligence / resilience (they can appear very resilient but this is only due to denial and displacement)
  • Co-operation and collaboration
  • Strategic concepts (big picture)
Here is a video example of mode one behaviour when faced with something different from a previous blog.

Here are the distributions of modes in the leadership population.

Next I will look at mode two leaders and followers.

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