You wouldn’t build a house without a solid foundation and accurate blueprints. If the foundation isn’t set and the blueprints aren’t sound, your house is not going to look, or function, the way you expect.
Likewise, you wouldn’t build a leadership model without a clear vision and objectives for how it operates. In this way, leadership models function as the blueprints for your organization. They clearly, and hopefully concisely, lay out how leaders should behave in order for the business to take the form you hope and expect.
Research from NLI, published in the new white paper, “Idea Report: Building Brain-Friendly Leadership Models,” suggests that many organizations’ leadership models could use a re-build.
The Science of Coherence
Coherence is the structural integrity of ideas. When ideas fit together in a way that allows each concept to reinforce and build on other related concepts, we’re more likely to retain and act upon new ideas.
By contrast, decoherence is the state of conflict between new and existing ideas or schemas—for example, when the culture objectives don’t align with the overall business strategy, or more concretely, when there’s a wall where there should be a door.
When confronted with decoherence, we expend a lot of mental energy reconciling the differences. And it leaves us confused about what actions to take. Neuroscientists call this cognitive dissonance and define it as the mental discomfort when beliefs, expectations, values, or actions don’t fit together. We may rationalize this discomfort; we may try to redirect our thoughts; or we may try to avoid acting altogether.
If a leadership model clashes with existing frameworks, it will likely create cognitive dissonance in the minds of the leaders. To relieve the psychological stress and manage the cognitive load of processing the contradictions, leaders may instead fall back on habitual behaviors—hardly the desired outcome.
Support and Reinforce Your Model
Leaders at many organizations are looking at their blueprints and noticing they aren’t jibing with the structures they see before them. Something’s misaligned, out of place, or wholly missing, and this lack of harmony isn’t good for the integrity of the building, or for our purposes, the business.
Leadership models should support and reinforce other expectations and objectives across your organization. In short, they should be coherent.
Author: Cliff David