Alton’s immediate answer is, “No”. He admits to being a strong sceptic who believes it’s right to critically analyse everything and not accept anything at face value. This includes the leadership models he uses in his management consultant role.
Are leadership models valid?
Every time I review a leadership model I always wonder if there’s another side to it. Models are never quite as simple as they seem. The ‘7-38-55 rule’ is one such model concerning the communication of emotions. The rule states that 7% of meaning is communicated through spoken word, 38% through tone of voice and 55% through body language. It’s not true. The author of the original research was focusing on one specific criterion which you can’t apply to all situations and he even published a clarification article.
Another leadership model which I often hear people evangelising about is the Myers-Briggs indicator. I believe that everyone can’t be categorised into one of their 16 personality types. Further studies have shown that it’s not a strong indicator of personality types. It’s more a useful lens, rule of thumb model.
It’s not just other people who question what they read. Dr. John Kotter published a very famous model on leading change and then the author himself reiterated and realigned the model over time and republished it many years later, stating that it wasn’t quite as linear a model as he’d originally envisaged.
Why use leadership models?
There are flaws to all models. I need to be aware of their limitations and what criticism they’ve received but I still use them and they have value. I’m just more informed about the models and I’m careful to use them as examples, not the ultimate truth. As a consultant, when I’m training people, I have a duty of care to cast a critical eye on the models I use.
I often find these models are quoted by an increasing number of people; maybe because they’re easy to remember. Each time people share them without reviewing the evidence they increase the message impact and authenticity.
What are echo chambers?
I’m careful when I’m researching and checking my facts that I don’t search for what I believe and find evidence to back up my beliefs i.e. echo chambers. I strive to investigate what else is out there, look at different viewpoints and then draw my own conclusions based on everything I’ve researched. I focus on distinguishing between fact and opinion. I consider if it’s just one person saying the alternative or a collective. In the end, I form an opinion and make a decision.
Can you trust what you discover?
In the back of my mind, I always believe there’s an alternative to everything, but it’s hard to know what to believe. I always use reputable sources such as the NHS and the BBC rather than a political-leaning newspaper such as the Daily Mail. I also check peer-reviewed articles where I can. I fact-check several reputable sources, not just one, and not just the top search item on Google. For the leadership models I use, I check if it’s possible to contact the original author to clarify.
‘More or Less’ the Radio 4 programme, is a worthwhile listen. It reviews and debunks numbers and statistics in the news, providing an objective, critical-thinking view.
Once I’ve researched all my sources and formed my opinion, I don’t stick to my view like glue. If advice changes from reliable sources, I’m prepared to change and adapt. I always endeavour to keep an open mind.
Is there any total objective truth? What do you believe?