כניסה לחברים רשומים



פרופ' רונאלד חפץ


Prof. Ronald Heifetz, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
The Challenge of Leadership

Thank you Eli, it's a real honor to be here, thank you all. I'd like to build on what Daliah and Eli introduced. Daliah suggested that there is a crisis in leadership. I'd like to explain why. I'd like to explain the dynamics of this crisis, and perhaps help diagnose some of the sources of this crisis. Eli actually pointed the way in a sense, in distinguishing between leadership and authority. We have to ask ourselves why is it that so many people in high positions of authority fail to exercise leadership. It's not unique to any culture or any political system, you can change the structure in one way or another but the phenomenon still emerges. It emerges in non-profit organizations as well as in businesses, as well as in politics. I've had the opportunity to in my career over the last 25 years to talk with and to work with and to listen to many many people from around the world: presidents and countries, prime ministers, kings, foreign ministers, treasury secretaries, revolutionaries, who then win the revolution and then have to figure out how to run a government; non-profit organizers as well as a whole host of business executives. Most recently I've had the honor to get to know Eli and Israel Markov and work with their quite extraordinary crew of business leaders. In my wanderings I've had the opportunity to try to understand why is it that so many of these distinguished people, who are capable of achieving high positions of authority make mistakes, sometimes fail miserably to exercise leadership. It's not for lack of care, it's not for lack of commitment, frequently it's not for lack of courage. The first and perhaps most significant reason is that they make a fundamental mistake of diagnosis. I started off in medicine so you'll have to forgive me that I think in medical terms. The diagnostic mistake is that they confuse two different kinds of problems and prefer to treat all problems as if it was this one sort. We treat adaptive challenges as if they were technical problems, and people do it in all walks of life, for quite understandable but with quite serious repercussions. So I'd like to spend a few minutes explaining what I mean by an adaptive challenge and how it differs from a technical problem, requiring a very different kind of leadership than the one we tend to be used to. We are all socialized from a very early age, from the moment we're born, helpless, that in a time of need to seek an authority to provide us with three critical fundamental functions: direction for food, protection from threat and order when conflict breaks out or when we feel disoriented, or when the norms are unclear. And from the very moment we're born we scan the horizon, we find this mother and she provides that food, and when it's cold she provides protection, or the father provides protection, and when their children start fighting the parents step in to resolve the conflict so that the brothers and sisters don't beat each other up. And by the time you get to be 6 years old you've already had a huge number of experiences in which in a time of distress you've been taught to turn to authority for an answer, for remedy. And then you go to school, and when there's a problem you seek an authority, a teacher, an elder, to provide once again direction, protection and order. And by the time we get to be 20 years old we've all begun to establish deeply ingrained patterns in which we depend on authorities to provide us with clear answers whenever we have problems. This tendency to look to authority is not only socialized in all of us around the world, but it has roots even more ancient than humanity, because we see the same patterns in gorillas and chimpanzees as they try to coordinate social behavior in their communities to thrive in their environments. When they wake up in the morning, scavenging for food, the silverback gorilla beats on his chest, wanders off to the forest and the other gorillas follow in single file behind. And every day he solves the problem of finding food. And then when a leopard shows up in the environment all of the gorillas turn to the silverback male for protection, and because he is older and wiser, that's why he has silver hair on his back, he knows how to protect the band from leopards. He either decides to flee in retreat or to cluster in a circle so that the leopard can not pick off a stray, because that's how leopards hunt. And when there is disorder, a fight over resources, people turn to the individuals, the gorillas turn to their elder, their silverback to breakup the conflict and restore social order. Now, that system of depending on authority for answers works beautifully in a stable environment. A gorilla society will thrive for hundreds of thousands of years as long as the environment remains the same. But what happens when the gorillas meet a man with a machinegun, an adaptive challenge, instead of a leopard? They are used to depending on their silverback so all eyes turn to the silverback to do something about it. The silverback does the very best he knows how. If he is lucky he dips into his tool bag and decides to run away. If he is unlucky he dips into his tool bag and decides to circle. If he circles facing a man with a machinegun, they all die. Most animal societies eventually go extinct. They go extinct because when the environment changes they do not have the capacity to learn quickly enough how to thrive in that new environment, and certainly human history is filled with stories of communities, societies, religions, political systems and certainly businesses that have gone under because they did not know how to learn quickly enough how to thrive in that new environment. Now, there are many sources of adaptive failure. Sometimes a species will not see it coming. If you don’t see it coming what can you do about it? Sometimes you might see it coming but it's just beyond your adaptive capacity, there's nothing you can do about it. But frequently a community will see, at least some people will see the challenge with some clarity. In a business it might be that some sales person out in the periphery will notice before anybody else that the market is beginning to change, but of course then that person has an enormous problem – how do you get people back home and headquarters to face that news? Because in fact that news is frequently not good news. That sales person wants to say: "we may need to change our marketing strategy, we may need to change our pricing strategy, we may even need to change our product", but the people back home who are in charge of marketing and product development, they don’t want to hear that news! So when the sales person in the periphery delivers reality frequently people look down back at that sales person and says: "if you are having trouble meeting your sales target then you've got the problem, don’t tell us that we've got a problem!" Frequently the people who begin to see a painful reality, a reality that demands adaptive work get "killed off" for raising those issues. People, by the time they reach high positions of authority know that when there is a high degree of distress they are being looked to to provide answers. They are not looked to to say: "you know, this is a new kind of threat, I don’t know what to do, anybody got any good ideas?" The president of the United States, we can take any of them, really, as an example, President Clinton, for example, when he entered office America faced a very big challenge because 36 million people had no health insurance, which meant when they got sick they were a potential disaster, human disaster as well as, in fact, a financial disaster. So he came into office and made the same mistake that nearly every authority figure tends to make: the more smart you are, actually, the more in danger you are of making this mistake, because the smarter you are the more you tend to think that surely you can deliver an answer, you can figure it out! So President Clinton, who is a very smart man, and who I actually know and like quite a lot, President Clinton made the classic mistake: he treated this adaptive challenge as if it were a technical problem. Within a 100 days, he thought, he could reform one-seventh of the American economy. Now, a 100 days ended up being a little too quick, so then he decided to spend a whole year on it, … by the political process, and after a year he delivered, with his experts, his expert problem solvers, his 1,354 page solution, revamping the healthcare system. But of course, one-seventh of the nation's economy means you've affected almost everyone in the nation, if not directly in economic terms then indirectly because of course everybody gets sick, everybody worries how they are going to take care of their parents, how they are going to take care of their children, and when you start to destabilize such an enormous system, to think that you can do it in one big project turns out to be enormously naïve, so the country took his healthcare plan and got indigestion and spit it out. And indeed they also spit him out. Of course he survived politically but his presidency was never the same: the Republicans took over the Congress and they held on to the Congress and continue to hold on to the Congress, and President Clinton was for the next 6 years straining to persuade people that he had any relevance in American domestic politics. President Bush made the same mistake, President Bush the elder. This is not partisan this is a typical problem for people in high positions of authority. President Bush the elder came into office and people were yearning for a solution to the problem of drug abuse, and so he had his task forces go to work, and after 9 months of preparation he planned to deliver his first major speech to the American public: prime time, Oval Office, tens of millions of people watching. Now, there was a debate in the White House – how should he pitch that speech? Most of his handlers, his advisors, said: "Mr. President, people look to you to take charge and show the way", and so that's what he did. He got up in front of the nation and he said: "we face a war, a scourge, and we must declare war on this scourge and we can win this war, but it will take time", and then he laid out his plan of action: "we are going to spend 9 billion dollars in this year alone. We are going to spend 3 billion dollars trying to lock up those hoodlums abroad, in South America, who are poisoning our youth. And we are going to spend billions of dollars at home trying to lock up the hoodlums at home, the criminals at home who are poisoning our youth. And yes, we'll spend money on prevention and education. And not only do we have a plan of action but we have an organization in place", and he introduced right there on prime time television his drug Czar. Now, of course in America you're not supposed to have Czars, that was supposed to be the culture of the evil empire in that era. But sometimes in a real crisis you need a silverback gorilla, so he introduced his drug Czar, and then he closed by telling the American people: "we are on the move, you've elected me to run the ball down the field", of course we play football, "and so good luck, God bless you, we are going to win this war, I will keep you posted!" and people cheered! People loved the speech; they broke out champagne in the White House. His approval ratings went up, people slept better at night because they felt that somehow their silverback gorilla, their chief authority figure had taken the problem off their shoulders and was delivering an answer. But in fact it was no answer at all, because it denied critical realities, and you can't adapt to a predator that you don’t actually understand, you end up adapting to an illusion, you end up building a building on soft ground rather than bedrock. Now, some of his handlers wanted him to give a very different kind of speech, they wanted him to say to the American people: "we face a scourge in our land, and we must declare war on this scourge. But you know there are many problems a president can solve, unfortunately this isn't one of them, because this problem exists in your families, in your schools, in your businesses, in your churches and synagogues and temples and mosques, and if we're going to make progress on this problem we are all going to have to do a piece of the work. Parents are going to have to learn how to better parents in a day and age where children are over stimulated and many of us are working outside the home or raising children alone. And clergy are going to have to find a way to be relevant. And teachers are going to have to be doing more social work, and businesses are going to have to find opportunity for disadvantaged and ill prepared children. Now, the government can help, and I will stand by you as you do this work, I can buffer the risks of business, I can run experiments and communities, I can pay teachers more so that they do social work, but ultimately this is your job, so good luck, God bless you! And keep me posted!" The president can not give that speech, unless he is really an artist, a political craftsman that knows how to mobilize adaptive work in a community, and most people in positions of authority do not really know how to do that, and when they try to do that they risk assassination, and sometimes they do suffer assassination. So leadership is an art form, an art form in which the challenge is to mobilize people to face harsh realities and to innovate within those harsh realities in order to find ways to thrive in that new world, and that's hard, because it involves loss. Many of you know the axiom: "people resist change", but it's not true. In fact, people love change when they know it's a good thing. Even a few days ago I asked my nephew to buy me a lottery ticket here because I wanted to change my life with 50 million shekels. People love change when it's good. Nobody gives back the lottery ticket when they win. What people resist is the loss that accompanies some changes. And so leadership requires a reverence for the pains of change, a deep respect for the pains of change. It's not enough to think like a technical expert, reducing people's pain to analytic sterile rhetoric. One has to be able to name with an open heart what those pains are, because if you're going to challenge people to develop new competencies, in a business it means you have to force them or encourage them or somehow mobilize them to experience incompetence, and of course we are all very proud of our competence or who wants to have to go through a period of developing new competencies? And yet of course to meet an adaptive challenge one has to develop new competencies. The forms of loss are several. I discovered this when I started off my practice in medicine. When a woman came into the hospital late at night in an inner city hospital in New York battered by her boyfriend, with bruises all over her body, I did everything I was supposed to do – I sent her for x-rays, I took care of her bruises, I stitched her up and then I did what a technical person does, you didn’t have to go to Harvard to give her my prescription: "leave your boyfriend!" And she said to me: "thanks a lot Doc!" she went back into the night and one month later came back into the hospital, beat up and bruised once again. I went through the same routine: I patched her up, I fixed her up, and once again I gave her my technical remedy, my technical fix: "leave your boyfriend". She said: "thank you Doc", she went back out into the night and six weeks later she came back. This time she was beat up much worst, she had a bad bruise on her head. I did what I knew how to do, I sent her for skull x-rays, I patched up her wounds and I kept her overnight in the hospital to observe, to make sure she had no brain damage. And then I did something that was unusual for me, I went into her room about 3 o'clock in the morning when it was quiet, and instead of telling her what to do I asked her: "why don't you leave your boyfriend?" And she told me. She said: "well, he loves me, and he loves me very well, and most of the time he is not drinking and most of the time he doesn't get violent, and usually I can even anticipate when he is getting violent". So I said to her: "well, maybe you could find a boyfriend who will love you just as well without it costing you a beating?" and she said: "oh, really? Well, where am I supposed to find him? Are you available?" And I realized at that moment that what I thought was a technical and simple remedy was for her a major adaptive change. She was going to have to go through a sustained period, a prolonged period of loneliness, giving up the love she knows for the possibility of something better, which is simply a possibility, and that in fact is a very difficult thing to do. Moreover as we spoke, I realized, not only was she going to experience outright loss, she was also going to experience disloyalty. What would happen when she broke up with her boyfriend and then went to visit her parents? She told me that her mother stayed true to her father for 35 years even though once in a while he would get drunk and would beat her up. She said to me in the most poignant way: "shouldn't you stay true to your man?" And I realized this is going to be a big problem for her because she is going to have to refashion her loyalties. Her parents will say to her: "why have you left him? He was such a nice guy!", and she- … put up with the abuse you put up with". She would be saying to her father: "no one should put up with you until you change!" Now, it's very hard for people to go through the experience of disloyalty, and finally I realized she was going to go through an experience of incompetence because she did not know how to create a relationship with a boy, with a man who didn’t drink. She was comfortable meeting a man in the bar, she didn’t know how to meet a man who only drank coffee. She would have to go through a real long period of learning how. How, I tell you this story because I don’t think it’s any different in politics. When you ask people to sustain a major change, to do adaptive work, you are asking them to separate out what's precious and essential from what's expendable. What do we want to hold on to from our past, from our values, from our competence, in our identity? And what are we willing to give up so that we can then make room for thriving in the new environment? Many people would prefer to live in denial until it's then too late to thrive at all. Let me give you an example: I have two nephews in the Israeli army. One is an officer in the navy. Another who is finishing his first year in some special unit that he can't tell me about. But I don’t live with the risks that you live with every day, and I wouldn’t presume to know your politics because I live it and I view it from a distance. And yet it seems to me that the adaptive work required and then the leadership required to mobilize that adaptive work for you is going to require suffering extraordinary losses, and for some people they are going to have to go through not only outright loss but they are going to have to experience deep disloyalty, and that disloyalty will be very difficult and it will generate enormous resistance. Because I imagine someone who grew up with a dream, being taught that the miracle of his life time is that he can finally fulfill an ancient dream, 100 generations old of walking on the stones, of breathing the air, of living close to the cave in Machpelah, and now you say to this person: "you may have to give up that dream". You are not only asking that person to experience outright loss, you really asking that person to experience a deep and profound disloyalty. Because that person has to say to his parents and his grandparents and his great great grandparents that he carries in his heart and in his mind, he has to say: "you know, as beautiful as your dream was, we have to sacrifice a piece of your dream in order to hold on to other pieces of the dream that are even more precious", and that work of sifting out, sifting through what's precious and what's expendable is very painful work. In a similar way I imagine how difficult it would be for a Palestinian boy, growing up in a refugee camp, who is told by his grandfather on his death bed: "here is the key, your job is to hold the key and hold that key in faith until you go home". Now, reality will require telling those Palestinian youth that they have to bury the key. But you can not tell people to bury the key if you don’t appreciate the pain you are asking them to sustain. If you can’t speak to that pain with an open heart, if you treat it like an analytic formula or like a legal equation you will not help them do that adaptive work. Personally I don’t think that the Palestinians have much of a case, legally, historically or politically, in terms of having a claim to the land that they would like to claim. Historically people lose land in a war and when they lose land in a war that they themselves have started they don’t generally get to reclaim that land. Danzig is no Gdansk, there are cities all on the cost of the west of Turkey that for hundreds and hundreds of years, indeed for thousands of years were Greek cities, but when the Greeks invaded after WWI the west of Turkey, the Turks kicked out all the Greeks and created a huge refugee problem for the Greeks. Do those Greeks now have a right to claim back those cities? The city of Smyrna? And yet there is a moral claim, and beyond that there are political realities, international realities that are undeniable. And to think that you can resist these realities is as foolhardy as Boeing Airplane Company would be to say that it could resist gravity in its design of airplanes. You have to face gravity, you have to embrace gravity, you have to know gravity if you're going to design an airplane. But many people it would seem to me are inclined to want to deny painful realities for very good reasons, because they involve very painful tradeoffs. Now, this is true in businesses too. Because every new predator on the environment, every new competitive forces you to clarify your strategy. What will you continue doing? And what will you stop doing? And the things you stop doing are not just things, they are people with investments, with a way of life, with mortgages, with families, who will lose those mortgages and will lose those houses, who will have to uproot themselves and get a new job, in a new region, and so it isn’t so easy for companies to do strategic work because it involves loss, that's why little companies tend to beat up on big companies. Big companies don’t know how to kill off parts of themselves fast enough to create room for innovation because it's difficult, it's very difficult to mobilize people to sustain those losses. So I would like to suggest that leadership requires a strategy, and at the heart of leadership is a strategy of mobilizing people to do adaptive work, and that the reason why we have a crisis of leadership is because really fundamentally we have a crisis of citizenship, because our citizens keep looking to our authority figures for easy answers, for technical fixes, for temporary solutions. President Bush would not have won any votes, the elder, by telling the American people: "you've got to face some painful realities. As long as your children keep buying drugs, in what is in the United States a 700 billion dollar industry, there will always be people supplying". The Americans did not want to hear that, we did not want to hear that. Our current President Bush, he faces the same dilemma, he is facing that and part of the adaptive work that involves external relations, fighting a war on terrorism abroad, but it's extremely difficult politically, dangerous politically, for him to turn a spot light back home and to challenge the American people to face up to the reality, the permissive context in which we contribute in our own way to terrorism, because when millions of people around the world hate Americans, think we are stingy, feel that we act like bullies in the marketplace, it doesn’t do us very well. When Christian missionaries go out into the world trying to win market share, continuing to fight the crusades, trying to win market share competing with Islam, sending their missionaries to the Philippines or Indonesia or Nigeria, it only creates conflict, it doesn’t do us very well at all. But can the President of the United States turn to his core constituency? His right wing Christian majority or his business interests, and challenge them to change some of their own habits? To tell the business folks: "don’t ask the government to leverage American power to open markets for you, you've got to open those markets yourself". To tell the missionaries: "don’t ask the American government to protect you when you get in trouble abroad, you probably shouldn’t be going out there anyway!" And so we see a crisis of leadership, because our citizens don’t really look for leadership, they look for easy answers. Adaptive work requires citizens themselves, or in a business the employees, the managers themselves, facing up to these challenges, thinking creatively, rubbing up against each other, engaging in conflict and coming up with solutions. But how many of you’re here spend most of your time talking with people just like you? Most people I know in Israel are not part of the religious segment of the society and they hardly spend any time in Bnei Braq. But that's a mistake. How can you possibly do this adaptive work if you are not crossing boundaries with one another? If you are not tackling those arguments with one another across those boundaries? If you don’t get into the homes of people and ask them to sift through what's precious and what's expandable? So I want to close by suggesting that the peril of leadership, the challenge of leadership is to have the courage, but not just the courage as to have the heart, the heart to speak in human terms to the pains of change, and to develop a strategy in which you mobilize people to do the work they need to do, to develop their capacity as citizens to step up to the challenge, instead of pandering to their desire for easy answers and technical remedies. Well, may the force be with you.

הדפסשלח לחבר

עוד בנושא זה

עבור לתוכן העמוד