Monday, 18 June 2012

Snow, fire and water

I saw Snow White and the Huntsman last week (IMDB review & details here) which is fairly obviously a reworking of the age old story. As always, this blog post is not a review of the film although I will say: this is not a film that I suggest that you spend your pennies upon.

But as always, when I see a movie, I seek to find a leadership theme within it. There are many themes in this film (arguably that is one of its problems) including loyalty, vanity, courage, jealously and revenge. It is quite a ‘dark’ film: even the fairies look a little scary. And so it has got me thinking about how leaders should tackle shadow side emotions, perhaps their own or in others.

I will focus on how leaders may handle emotions around them, emotions that are corroding team work, innovation and high performance. What can a leader do?

In my time, I have observed leaders who tackle deviousness and subterfuge (for example) with greater levels of both so as to out-manoeuvre the original perpetrators. Meet fire with fire are their watch words. This only serves to embed such behaviours even more deeply into the culture of that organisation or their part of it.

Other leaders (not unlike Snow White in the movie, as it happens) source their power from positive emotions and confront the perpetrators honestly and tactfully with integrity, strength and a focus on key values. They fight fire with water instead.

So when you see such negative emotions and associated behaviours arising in your organisation (or perhaps even in yourself), how do you react?

With fire or water?

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