Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mode one as followers and leaders - relationships

As followership and leadership rely on relationships in this blog I will look at mode one relationships from both a leadership and a followers perspective.

Mode One Leaders
The key here is that mode one people do not like uncertainty or risk and that their reaction is to block it out in some way.

Mode 1 leader - Mode 1 follower
So if a mode one leader has a mode one follower or followers, in terms of relationships then the union is usually mutually happy - for a while. Both sides of this pairing are risk averse and will happily collude to make up their own versions of reality that exclude uncertainty (lots of structures and systems just to make sure) and reduce risk. If you need stability then a mode one leader will give you it - in bucket loads.
Problems, usually in the form of stress and blaming usually occur in this relationship when things start to go wrong (as they often will). Problems usually arise out of the fact that together mode one leaders and followers are the least likely to spot external changes and the most likely to keep doing the same thing regardless. In other words a mode one leader or manager with mode one followers are the most likely combination to fool themselves about what is going on. This is exacerbated by the fact that mode one leaders are very likely to recruit mode one people - diversity is seen as a risk.
On the other hand mode one leaders with mode one followers are most likely to have stable relationships with each other with little if any friction or conflict. In stable times, as long as nothing goes wrong and risk is low, then this is a happy and productive pairing.

However if a mode one leader has followers from other modes things will become problematic, with the paradoxical pairing of a mode one leader with a mode four 'follower'. I will look at these pairing in future postings as and when we get to the exploration of that mode.

Mode one followers

Mode one followers are largely passive and they want explicit direction which works well with mode one leaders who want to reduce risk and therefore give very detailed instructions. Problems arise when a situation moves away from the formulaic and require creativity and critical thinking. Their form of creativity is step-by-step slow and incremental change. Their form of logic and therefore critical thinking is control and risk reduction. They will work nicely in structured well defined situations. If you change this and ask for fundamental change quickly, denial will be the most likely initial response. Force it and stress and illness is likely to occur. This is a similar response if you ask a mode one follower to do anything that is ambiguous and not well defined.
They appreciate the structure of mode one leaders and suffer under mode two and three leaders. They can freak out under a immature mode four leader but work well under a mature mode four leader. I will go into these in greater details shortly as we get to each mode description.

In the next blog I will have a look at mode two people.

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.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A note about systems of logic or Modes

I have been asked for a little more info about the concept of a mode.


From this work it became apparent that the system of logic or perspective being used by any individual bounds and gives direction to their response. This includes how people respond in terms of their:
  • Cognitions
  • Emotions
  • Attitudes
  • Behaviour
  • Resilience
  • Perceptions
which are all guided and given direction by the system of thinking being used. Part of the thesis here is that the mode being used is created as a response to ambiguity, perceptions of risk or threat. I know this sounds negative, however threat (fear) is the primal driver no matter how much we like it or not.
So a mode is a whole system of logic, thinking, perception, emotion etc. It is impossible to separate these out especially in terms of which is causal and which is an effect, which is why I describe them as a system involving all these elements rather than a style.

Next, I will look at the system of Mode one or technical (dualist) individuals. It's nice to be back!

Friday, December 12, 2008

I'm back with some modes

Firstly sorry about the pause in the blog. I have been setting up a new venture which has taken up more time than I expected, and we have been a little busy helping people deal with risk, ambiguity and emotional resilience. I have a sneeking feeling that I am in a minority in enjoying the current times and finding them very exciting. Things are starting to settle down now so normal service will be resumed. I am going to start off where I left off - talking about followership and leadership using the modes of leadership from my own research around how people deal with ambiguity.

Before I commence just a quick word about modes v styles.
A mode is a system of logic, or of constructing our thinking and therefore a system of perceiving the world around us. It affects everything we do, think and feel. They are not styles or preferences in the strict sense that they do not describe behaviours as such however discernible behaviours are apparent as a result of the mode an individual is in.

Modes are usually semi-perminant in that people will operate from a mode and tend not to move between them unless a) they have learnt about the other systems and are onciously doing so, or b) are in transition between two modes in response to some change or other.

In the next few articles I will explore each of the four modes and how people in them see the world. I will then have a look at the interactions between the modes in terms of leadership and followership, and a few other things. You can get a good overview in the book The Ambiguity Advantage.
These are quite likely to be interspersed with comment on current topics as well as there is a lot to think about at the moment.

In the next blog we will look at mode one or technical leadership.