Five Ps

I am wary of management formulae… seven habits, five steps, three rules. For any complex challenge, these inevitably end up simplifying what’s needed. ¬†They appear to offer a way to make things easy, but often they bewilder smart people, making them think “gosh, this should be easy” when it isn’t.

So when Viv and I came up with a list for our recent creative workshop, I had mixed feelings. I find this list quite helpful as a set of pegs on which to hang ideas. But I reassured people that they didn’t have to take this too seriously. They could have fewer or more Ps if they wanted, or add other letters of their choosing.

That said, this little list says something about how we like to help people work together creatively.

Practice

According to legend, at the age of 93 Pablo Casals was asked why he continued to practice on the cello. He replied, “because I’m beginning to notice some improvement.”¬†Instead of idealising leadership, we see it as something that requires constant practice.

Performance

We learn by performing into new roles. There’s an element of risk and a willingness to accept the attention of others. Leadership is not done in writing, but as a three dimensional performance. We can act our way into new ways of thinking, rather than the other way round..

Participation

Instead of commanding from above, we aim for everyone to feel involved and to have agency. Human organisations flourish as networks of peers. We work with formal systems but see that humans create much richer connections.

Playfulness

Change happens at the edges of our comfort zones, where we realise we don’t have total control but do feel secure enough to experiment. We aim to find the wiggle room in stuck places, however stressful or serious the challenge.

Personal

No-one wants to be a two-legged, talking version of the management textbook. Showing up as a human can be the best part of leading, whatever role you play.

These appear on our experimental creative leadership website. (I feel the same way about leadership as I do about lists, but we had to call it something.)

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