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Unlearn, Unlead & Then Lead

Unlearning and un-leading (I just made that word up as I got spellcheck error) is unnatural for leaders especially C-level leadership.  Leaders are hardwired, fused with their learning/experiences of the past into their brains. The areas of business acumen, time tested management principles and process practices  they have acquired over the years are hard to let go. And it is hard to let go your experience & unlearn what you have already learnt. I believe with technology, evolution/erosion of business models and changing marketplace and design dynamics shifting rapidly its important to unlearn faster and keep a clear mind in absorbing how wisdom can show a different way. It may turn out to be a innovation or seizing a opportunity that creates a niche, or demolition and rebuilding can only come from unique insight. For CIO'/CTO's you want to be vulnerable with other business leaders inside your enterprise as well as outside to keep an open mind moving from being technology distributor to becoming a strategic counselor. I like this latter word because it means going out and conversing with other business leaders, listening and listening more and asking a lot of questions. Revealing up front you don't  know much but are willing to listen and unlearn and then learn again through unlearning. It almost shows that you are weak but believe me this is a powerful technique.

When its comes to subordinates, teams and the departments your lead - ,unlead first meaning listen and keep listening and make yourself vulnerable to the point of acting dumb. Almost opposite of giving orders and showing who is the boss!. The objective then is to move from just collecting and analyzing data to taking an outside-in approach. There are outside data available compare with internal data your staff is telling you about and then merge for effective decision making. Leading will follow. The prevalent popular ideas of big data and making sense of crunching large amounts of data it to get unique insights is nothing but I call the process of waiting and using wisdom for making decisions.  Finally the last part is to delegate and empower effectively so you can set aside time to dream, engage leadership to know their dreams and give insights to propel their vision. Unlearn, Unlead and then lead!!


Sam Kurien


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