Thursday, March 19, 2009

Can you be over-charged and still reset? Yes if you are a Tectonic Leader™

You have probably seen or read about the recent meeting between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her counterpart Sergei Lavrov. Clinton began by taking out a pretty little yellow box which contained a red button, and she beamed at him, saying "I would like to present you with a little gift that represents what President Obama and Vice President Biden and I have been saying and that is: 'We want to reset our relationship and so we will do it together". Then she continued by saying to Lavrov, "We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?" Well, Secretary of State Clinton did not get it, as the Russian Foreign Minister readily pointed out: "You got it wrong!" It turns out that the chosen word, "Peregruzka" s – mistakenly substituted for Perezagruzka - is actually the Russian word for "overcharged" Such a not so subtle mistake, in an “overcharged” political climate, could have embarrassed the most skilled of diplomats; yet the incident did not seem to frazzle the US Secretary of State, who decided to stay on course with the “Intent” of the gift; she instead took Lavrov by the arm and said “"We won't let you do that to us. Let’s go have dinner Sergei”. Dinner we were told was relaxed and joyful. Minister Sergei Lavrov hailed as wonderful his relationship with her; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the visit as a new start in U.S.-Russian ties after their first one-on-one meeting.

What took place in this encounter is an expression of leadership, Tectonic Leadership™, a term coined by Globonder Samia Bahsoun that describes the type of leadership needed in “overcharged” political situations, challenging financial crisis, daunting environmental threat.

The Tectonic Leadership™ process begins with a clear definition of the problem at hand, ironically an “overcharged” political climate in this case. Secretary of State Clinton walked into the meeting the “Right Intent”, the second step in the process. As Etsko Schuitema, another Globonder, will affirm through his experience dealing with leadership matters and organizational dynamics (as described in his book “Intent”), it is the benevolence of that Intent that determines outcome.

In spite of the words on the button, written in Roman letters instead of Cyrillic, it is the willingness of the leader to step into the fault, transparently and with the right intent, that describes the “function of the Tectonic Leader™, the “tekton”, mason of the new relational architecture.”

“Tectonic Leadership™ is not about having all the answers. It not about knowledge nor is it about common sense.” Condoleezza Rice, fluent in Russian and an expert on Russia, had all the “common” knowledge but failed to deliver; in fact the gap widened during her tenure. The Tectonic Leader™ will assume and accept that the boundaries of conflict do shift and are paradoxical, sometimes as confusing and fuzzy as PEREGRUZKA and PEREZAGRUZKA ; yet by choice and with the Right Intent, they can be “Overcharged” or “Reset”. Secretary of State Clinton and Minister Lavrov seemed to have made that choice last week. So can we!

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