Leadership is living the dream, not feeling lost

Debbie Nicol is the founder and creator of embers of the world, a concept she developed to help change executive leadership to match the business needs of the 21st century.

Debbie Nicol says a good leader is easily identified as he or she is the one that is asking the right questions. istockphoto.com
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Debbie Nicol is the founder and creator of "embers of the world", a concept she developed to help change executive leadership to match the business needs of the 21st century. The veteran human resources expert, who is based in Dubai, says the embers philosophy is a way of life that requires executives to stop, look, listen and feel to better lead their companies and motivate employees.

What is the embers philosophy?

Embers of the world is a concept, process, model and toolkit forging changing leadership for the 21st century needs and new outcomes that will serve all equally. It endorses responsibility and denounces entitlement mindsets. Recognising that the world is off balance and requires new outcomes, embers encourages a new leadership skill set and approach. It prioritises reflection and connection, collaboration and innovation, and allows leadership to become what it needs to become. In essence, embers is a way of life.

What issues do business leaders face today?

An entitlement mindset exists in the majority of leadership and business activity today rather than a responsibility mindset, one of shared purpose, unison and service to all equally. Entitlement indicates a right to a position, a title, the profits, unequal power, a pay increase along with many others, which facilitates difference and separation, disregarding genuine effort, equity and contribution. When operating in a chaotic and dynamic system, all components are vital and must play their part. Leadership teams often blame influences other than themselves to be the impetus of business breakdown or failure - it's always the fault of someone else. If leaders do not start clearing clutter to allow the inner voice to share insights, the culture of name, blame and shame will simply invade all and fuel the trap of reactivity.

What is a good example of a good leader?

A good leader is easily identified. He or she is the one that is living a dream, asking the right questions, personifying the state to be achieved and having burgeoning support from all directions. Answers, solutions, resources, choices, balance and business hunches are key players for the progress of the dream and effortlessly appear at the right time. People seem to want 'some of what he's on' - unfortunately they simply don't know they already have it yet may not have discovered it. Examples of alignment glow around this type of leader and all is connected with a 'red thread' of what the business wants to 'be', what we need to do to be that and measurement of knowing how far those actions have taken us.

What is a good example of a bad leader?

Bad leadership is clearly evident. It can be characterised by putting out fires, ensuring self-security, production-centred at any cost to the one producing, reactive with changing direction and priorities on a regular basis. In such an environment, one can often see people feeling stuck, who are simply doing time in organisations, feeling lost in whatever is done or on automatic pilot. Little creativity and commitment exists and a sinking feeling of hopelessness and resignation to what is. Other indicators may be high turnover, poor climate analysis and stagnation, loss of market share, decreasing reputation, lack of transparency, things done at the expense of others for survival purposes and, all in all, a slow death or erosion of effective business practices.

What is the difference between leadership in the 21st century compared with the 19th and 20th centuries?

Leadership in the 21st century is completely different and has evolved as a response to the changing world, while also contributing positively to the changes. It's about alignment, renewal and service. Leaders of today are at a precipice and if they wish to do so, can take 'what is' into the realm of 'what can be'. Evolved or evolving leaders who use the embers philosophy will lead the corporate future by building stronger organisations that are changing from the core. They help themselves and others reflect, connect, collaborate, innovate and become an influencer of global business principles, practices and outcomes. Leadership in the 19th and 20th centuries was a different beast, existing in isolation of purpose, relevance and contribution. It was a disconnected and controlled activity that was simply a mechanism to maintain status quo, inequity and self-gain at the expense of another party.

How can executives apply the embers philosophy to improve the performance of employees and their companies?

They can identify challenges that the business, their people and they themselves currently face, as well be clear about the reasons for the need to change - and the consequences of not changing.

For more information about embers of the world, go to www.embersoftheworld.com