At the SDForum Engineering Leadership SIG meeting this past week, Shayne Hughes presented on “Learning as Leadership.” Shayne started out with the basic proposition that the results we achieve follow from our behaviors which follow from our thoughts. And our thoughts, Shayne argued, are not so much driven by the goals we profess but rather by our egos, which fear vulnerability and desire praise. In short, we are by nature selfish, defensive, and obsessed with self worth.
This “egosystem”, as Shayne called it, is at the heart of many conflicts in the workplace and a is a key impediment to performance. We are held back by conflicts that are more proxy wars for our egos than real differences over what is best for the organization. The answer Shayne proposed is self awareness, empathy for the egos of others, and honest dialogue.
In my work I find that the biggest obstacles to process improvement are not so much technology or methodology but rather the people issues that impede collaboration. And I do not know of any technology or management fad can overcome the constraints of the human condition.
As for myself, I struggle with the foibles of my ego and don’t expect to achieve spiritual enlightenment any time soon. And I can certainly recall times when my mind was spinning with unproductive thoughts of self-pride and wounded ego rather than focusing on how best to solve a problem. So self awareness is probably a good place to start.
Shayne’s presentation was most definitely thought provoking. I recommend checking out the materials on the Learning as Leadership site.