Aline Frankfort and Jean-Louis Baudoin are the founders of Creative Consulteam, a boutique consultancy in Creative Leadership. Summarizing their observations about leaders who manage to create a culture of innovation, they came up with the concept of “Shapership”. This article is the 2nd part of the one published last week.
Shapership is this capacity to Shape the Future and inspire others to engage in change.
What makes Shapers so inspiring? As an answer, here are some of the Do’s and Don’ts of Shapership.
- Shapers don’t use the famous sentence “I only believe what I see”. They know that “I see what I believe” is much more appropriate. Because “the eye only sees what the brain is ready to understand”. “Reality” is the “real as we perceive it”, filtered by our interpretations, lenses, paradigms and mental models. It is a story we tell ourselves. Shapers have visions which open new eyes. The Transformative Vision Shapers embody and share is a ”Meaning-Making Story”: it expands the limits of what people believe is possible. It radically shifts the way they and others make sense of Reality. It opens new paths towards the Future. Guided by a full commitment, they make it a Reality that changes Reality.
- Shapers don’t necessarily “HOLD” a position “at the top” of anything. They “ARE” the Change they want to see happen. Who they are and what they do often initiates a “Movement”.
- Shapers don’t accept the OLD SEPARATION between Vision and Action, Mind and Matter, Head and Hands which generates abstract strategies detached from Reality. Shapers adopt “The Altitude Attitude”, a helicopter view – yet NOT DETACHED from Reality or the “material” at hand. They “tango” with Reality. They are IN TUNE with the world because they ask themselves what needs to happen, not what they want to “sell”. They jump into the unknown, “acting” with a Vision, CONNECTING Body, Mind, Heart and Soul.
- Shapers are not driven by FEAR, EGO or a desire for CERTAINTY which maintain people in Known territories. They acknowledge an emerging state of the world as needed and engage in authentic questioning, embodied participation to the movement with long-term Aspirations beyond themselves, Courage, Imagination and a readiness to navigate UNCERTAINTY.
- Shapers don’t CONFORM to obsolete ideas or conventional Wisdom with usual pretexts. Shapers DARE “the Age of Unreason” when it leads to greater “Wisdom”.
- Shapers don’t use REALITY AS AN “EXCUSE” for not trying. Shapers have their way to FACE and SEE Reality as it is and as it is becoming.
- Shapers don’t change people. They change people’s perceptions”. They expand people’s Vision of what is possible, of what they can do and of who they can become.
- Shapers don’t focus on CONTROL; they have let go the illusion that it is possible anyway. They balance FOCUS and FREEDOM. They lead from within and they connect everyone beyond boundaries – organizational and others- to create collective action and solve real issues. They act with others for this larger purpose they allow to unfold, they listen and see with Openness, Empathy and a broadened Consciousness to generate a movement based on co-creation. There is no Mind/Matter split, no Thinker/Doer split.
- When they are “chosen” as Leaders, Shapers don’t “EMPOWER” others – empowerment supposes somebody has the power to empower others. They SHARE power with others to foster transformative Dialogue and Action
In summary, Shapers operate from an internal state of CONSCOUSNESS and BEING, well-balanced at 3 levels
- INTENTION: from a clear intention to shape the Future and not to preserve the Past
- EMOTIONS: from a desire to make a difference and not from fear to lose
- THINKING: from an Eco-System Consciousness of Reality, way beyond an Ego-System Awareness
If you are a Leader, what can “Shapership” mean and what can it bring you?
Imagine a CEO, busy with a fundamental question: “What’s next for my company in this turbulent world?”
There are new issues to face. Shifts are happening outside!
He and his team observe 5 ruptures
- an Ecological rupture
- a Digital rupture
- an Economical rupture
- an Organizational rupture
- a Purpose rupture.
He knows that to make his company Future-Relevant, incremental approaches might not be enough. A game-changing world needs game-changing approaches.
He knows all that. But that’s easier said than done.
Why? Because it is a rational statement of what should be done. But at the end, decisions are generally made for emotional reasons.
So even if his mental maps are regenerated and now accurately represent the world as it is emerging, he might not be in the right state of Consciousness and Being to find in himself the courage to decide what SHOULD be decided and what the world calls for.
Instead of being radical, imaginative and purposeful, he might find himself trapped in the regression forces, tempted to preserve the status quo and the comfort zone.
He might even fall into the illusion that short-term corrective measures can be enough.
We had to face such a case once.
We created 4 scenario-based strategies which told 4 alternative Futures for the company, depending on how much they – read the CEO as the main actor in this case – could DECIDE to be in tune with the world and operate from the Future.
Have a look at the succession of “Nos” and “Yesses” we identified:
Scenarios 1 and 2 were ways to “operate from the Past” and certainly not to operate as Shapers
- The first scenario – “Mirror Mirror” – was the story of minor adaptations, based on false assumptions that Business as Usual was enough to maintain growth and that change was optional.
It was mirroring the CEO’s actual state of mind and beliefs. It was also his “preferred Future”.
- The second scenario – “Hybrid” – was a hybrid answer to the world and customer issues based on false assumptions about customers, Innovation and the continued inward focus on “Profit” rather than on Value Creation on 4 Bottom Lines.
- Scenarios 3 and 4 were operating from the Future
- The third scenario – “Future Fit” – was based on the assumption that a full alignment with key issues of the world is indispensable in terms of Business. But the commitment was still very rational.
- The last scenario – “Vanguard” – focused on pioneering, Life-sustaining solutions to real issues and the “transformational difference” they could make in people’s lives.
It emanated from a radically different attitude: the Shapers enlarged and deeply humane Consciousness. And the big “Yes” emerged from the desire and capacity to give new shapes to the world.
Guess what happened?
By rehearsing their 4 possible Futures, – experiencing what the Future feels like within these alternative frames and what options it opens up or closes down – the entire team clearly identified the assumptions, beliefs and main decisions that would enable each of the scenario to become “reality”. They also developed a Memory of a desired Future that enabled them to identify their Big “NO” and their Big “YES”.
They now had developed shared Perceptions on 4 key points:
- They were implicitly thinking and acting according to “Mirror Mirror”, in their illusory comfort zone. To that, they could say a Big “NO”.
- They were sure they had to move to at least “Future Fit”…which remained a sort of rational way to outperform the competition
- The scenario they most desired and feared was the fourth: “Vanguard”
- They could align what they SHOULD do with what they WANTED but it required 3 shifts to reach the appropriate state of CONSCIOUSNESS and BEING, well-balanced at the 3 levels
- a shift in INTENTION: from the intention to preserve the Past to the desire to shape the Future
- a shift in FEELINGS: from fear to lose to the desire to make a difference
- a shift in THINKING: from a linear, ego-centric thinking to a creative Holistic thinking
They are now busy making the impossible possible happen!
Shapership can be a source of inspiration for everybody. Everyday.
It is an Eye-(H)opener!
Discover all the facets of Shapership in our book, “Shapership. The Art of Shaping the Future”, recently published in French and in English
Aline Frankfort is Founder of Creative Consulteam where she helps clients develop the perceptions and Mental Maps needed to make better strategic decisions and navigate an uncertain and unpredictable Strategic Landscape.