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The Courageous Leader in a Postmodern Organizational Context

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The generative planner does not have to be concerned in particular about a balance between an internal and external locus of control, for the pilot test will usually yield rich information about both internal and external factors that influence the outcome of the pilot test. The real challenge is not about being biased toward internal or external data. The real challenge concerns ways in which all of this abundant information is processed and interpreted. It is a matter of too much information from all sources rather than too little information from any one source. All-too-often, organizational leaders escape from a generative approach to planning, and return to one of the “safer” approaches (One, Two and Three) of the 20th Century, or to a more systematic, but less entrepreneurial, mode of transactional planning (Four). It takes real, personal courage (and heart) for a postmodern leader to remain engaged in a generative approach to strategic planning.

Conclusions

While no formula exists for the brewing of personal courage, the two approaches to strategic planning that I have just briefly described do tend to move leaders toward action, while also encouraging reflection and clarity of direction. They both discourage blind movement forward—yet also discourage non-action and the state of freeze. Perhaps most importantly, both the transactional and generative approaches to strategic planning encourage postmodern leaders to confront a profound and challenging question: on behalf of whom are we displaying courage and taking risks? Who ultimately will benefit from our brave leadership? Are we doing this work on behalf of our own career advancement or to inflate our own ego? Or are we engaged in a “bigger game” and furthering a much more noble cause? When we confront this profound challenge—which we often do in our postmodern world—we are becoming not just more effective postmodern leaders, we are also becoming leaders who embrace another emerging style of postmodern leadership. We are becoming servant leaders who work on behalf of a broader and more widely-embraced mission, vision, and social purpose for our organization.

 

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