I’m on a kick lately combining technology terms with leadership concepts. It started when I blogged about patch anagement a couple of weeks ago. Don’t ask me what is behind the merging of the two.  I guess  it’s because I love both topics and am always reading stuff on each of them and extrapolating to the other. Take today for example. I was reading some articles on Windows 7 and I thought it was a great correlation to what many of us are facing leading in today’s workplace. 

We have become so comfortable with the leadership practices we’ve used over the years that it’s become sort of our Windows XP version – old reliable. There have probably been instances where we entertained the idea of making a change here or there but like Vista, it scared us and made us go back to old reliable. It’s like a comfortable sweater that we just put on without thinking.  That’s understandable.  We all like the familiar and feel at ease there. 

But what happens is that the workplace begins to show signs of change in a variety of areas. At first, you don’t even recognize the subtle changes and old reliable pulls you through.  But then slowly many things come together and if you’re lucky, you realize that the workplace of today is nothing like the one where you learned and perfected those leadership qualities. You venture to think that there might actually be something better than old reliable.  Awareness is the first step that will take you down the path of entertaining the idea of upgrading your old operating system of leadership.

How long has it been since you looked at your leadership style and practice?  When was the last time you checked to see how effectively you were leading your team? All of your team not just your direct reports?   When was the last time you asked for feedback from your team and peers not on how your team was doing but on how you were doing as a leader?  When was the last time you experimented with a new leadership technique or idea?  Did you fall back on old reliable instead?

In the months (and years) to come, as operating systems across corporate America are upgraded to Windows 7, we will all be excited about uising its new features and capabilities and we will forget the nightmare of Vista.  We will probably wonder why we clung to XP, our old reliable like we did. 

Can we do the same around our operating system of leadership?  Can we get a trial version to test out new features and capabilities that will make us better leaders in the 21st Century?  I know we can.  A lot is riding on our ability to do it.

It’s time to sunset our XP version of leadership and upgrade to the 21st Century edition.  How ’bout it?  Will you join me in piloting this exciting new edition?