Written by Phil on July 31, 2012
Modern leadership in a time when the quick eat the slow has to be different from that which flourished in the industrial era. Sadly very few organisations and academic places of learning recognise the requirement for a softer set of leadership skills. Cognitive leadership is all about understanding the environment in which you lead and then applying the appropriate leadership style, tool or skill to the occasion. This is beyond the broad definition of situational leading.
The modern leader needs to listen and watch passively to understand their situation and the needs of those they lead. Listening is an underestimated leadership competence that is recognised in some schools of thinking but watching or observing and noticing is rarely considered as a characteristic of leadership. Noticing skills are fundamental to cognitive leadership.
Lessons are learned harder and therefore learned better in failure and a vital component of the cognitive leader is the ability to forgive a mistake as long as it is learned from and not repeated. Humans are fallible and we all make mistakes it is how they are recovered from that makes the difference.
Using your experts many leaders believe they have to be expert at everything to have the right to lead. Experts are with you for a reason, use their expertise allow them to control when the situation is appropriate empower them to make them more effective. With the speed of information flow and the speed of business advisors are often better placed to react rather than just advise allow them the freedom to react appropriately to seize the opportunity before someone else does.
The bottom line in cognitive leadership is the ability to trust and be trusted. You will only be fully trusted by your team if you become a cognitive leader. A cognitive leader is someone who understands what needs to be done when, someone who has the courage and judgement to lead their teams through the toughest of ordeals and environments; someone who uses the cohesive power of the team and all its attributes. To become a cognitive leader you need to have complete faith in yourself and complete faith in those around you. Please do not confuse faith with arrogance.