In search of the leadership question – part 1

The essential prerequisite from which we Peoplerisers build contact with our clients, is knowing that they are people who, just like us, face difficulties and have doubts about the major themes that arise in life.


For this reason, what is important for us when we enter into a dialogue with those who ask for our support, is to identify and really understand, face to face, the aspects that are hindering their “big project”.


What is the will of the leader?
And what is blocking the transformation?


During our professional journeys we have discovered and experienced that one way to help the client out of difficult situations is to look at the current reality together with the client, giving them an authentic mirroring, so that their guiding question can emerge.


It is a question that comes from deep within and often starts with: “How can I…?”. We call it the leadership question, since it aims to bring out the leader’s will and the scope on which it makes sense to collaborate.


We use a series of supporting tools: simple questions for clarification, concept maps, three-dimensional maps and embodiment. All with the purpose of bringing out in the most evident and real possible way, what asks to be continued and honored, and what asks to be transformed.


If I had to describe a geometric form for what I am talking about, I would use the spiral. It is not free from vertigo and anxiety, but spiralling like falcons in the search for vital clues gives us a good understanding of the context, culture and evolutionary level of an ecosystem. We can grasp the current mode of operation of the system that we are observing by identifying what, in its present mode of action, is blocking the transformation we desire.

What symptoms emerge?


It all begins with the definition of the symptoms, and then we wander through the recurring behaviors, the structures, the deeply held beliefs to the real current mission of the organization, which most of the time is not exactly what is desired by the corporate communication.


These are some of the symptoms we encounter:


relational crisis: there is no “synchronization” between us, and this casts a shadow over the whole organization; 


low involvement: despite all that we are doing for our people, they are barely engaged;


low collaboration: we have technically strong teams but they are unable to strategically and collaboratively tackle complex projects among themselves and with our clients;


complexity: we are familiar with the VUCA world (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) with all its need for agility, but we don’t know how to concretely bring into play a mindset and operational solutions which are truly up to the task;


crisis of innovation: if the crisis in an organization is announced due to a lack of innovation, we are unfortunately in this situation, even if the numbers are still holding up, but we don’t know for how much longer;


fragmented team work: we have done a lot of work among ourselves in the Leadership Team but now we can’t create the same click among all our colleagues, as if we don’t want to take widespread responsibility and then there are silos everywhere;


low appeal: a lot of people are leaving my company and I don’t know how to keep them or how to attract new ones;


poor eco-systemic vision: industry 4.0 will in 3 years time have technically changed the connotations of this factory/work environment, I feel that we will not capture much of the benefit if we do not activate a 4.0 with a high social impact on the eco-system in which we gravitate, all the attempts made up until now do not succeed in getting us out of the usual EGO dynamics between the different stakeholders;


lack of skills: we can only hire a few new colleagues, the big change can only be made with those who are already there but the required skills are so distant from the current ones;


incomplete mergers: we have been “merging” for a year but the “us versus them” dynamic is still an everyday occurrence;


generational transition: I want to activate a generational transition in the best possible way but already in the first steps things are not working, as a founder I feel sidelined, not honored with all my experience and as an incoming leader I do not feel free, and there are many times when the roar of the “old lion” puts me in difficulty, to the point where I ask myself if I really have to be in this transition or if it is better for me to leave. 


Once we have observed and explored these symptoms, as if we had reached the bottom of an iceberg, we will find the necessary transformative energy. Yes, because we know that there is more life when we feel like backing down: from harsh truths there are always unexpected insights.


The more you put harsh truths in the fireplace, the more heat it generates. By telling each other true stories, we discover ourselves imperfect, vulnerable (“Dear Antonio, I enjoy talking to you because you are the first to put in the center of our conversation pieces of your life that are so delicate and particular that you make me feel ready to open up to you”), there is mutual inspiration and we identify together what we can do.



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