Leadership #2: Unreasonable

leadership being unreasonable tash mcgill

“Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, there, depending on unreasonable people.” – George Bernard Shaw.

While it looks good at first glance; often a leader too willing to compromise becomes the person that no-one takes joy in following. The ground is too murky, too unsteady and constantly moving. To be reasonable means to you are open and willing to compromise – which is an excellent attribute in marriage but must be applied sparingly in leadership.

Sometimes those that truly make a difference are the ones who refuse to budge – whether that’s about reforming ideas that are inefficient and stodgy, looking for fresh innovations or simply refusing to follow the crowd. The ones who refuse to ‘do what’s always been done’ when the times are changing and culture requires a critical new response.

It requires a lot to stand your ground and be unreasonable – unable to be reasoned into another position. That means unable to be rolled in an argument. It’s not being stubborn for the sake of it, it’s having a strong rationale that’s so well-reasoned it will not be unreasoned!

Let me pitch it to you another way. Society looks for leaders who are ‘relevant’, or in other words – someone they feel will have influence.  It’s easy to attribute credibility because they have the appearance of being relevant.. ie: they use the right gadgets, have the right lingo, use the ‘relevant’ and ‘leading’ systems.

But actually – a true and unreasonable leader is the one who is constantly defining what is relevant by their own innovation and process, then questioning the value of relevance regardless. An entirely other way of thinking.

Don’t be caught by the job description that too aptly words what kind of leadership they are looking for. That’s not leadership – it’s someone to lead in the manner an organization is already accustomed to. Innovation won’t happen there.

Be unreasonable.. and find new ways, fresh ways, your own ways of doing things.. and you’re on your way to being a leader.

This week’s Leadership blurb was inspired by thoughts about relevance and leaders, how we are judged or awarded credibility. The centric thought came from a quote supplied by Jill Shaw’s blog Conversations@Intersections.

These posts were originally broadcast in a radio series, in 2009. If you are interested in talking more about leadership or you’d like me to speak with your team about maximizing their leadership skills – just get in touch.

What do you think?