Disruptive Leadership: what is it and why does it matter?

As a transformative leader, I am always thinking about how the transformation movement, mindset and behaviors need to be embraced as the norm, how to make that happen, and why it is harder than it should be.  The word “disruptive” and how we relate to it may lend some insight.

Disruptive technology seems to be consistently associated with innovation and change in a positive way.  It’s a good thing.

On the other hand, disruptive people  – those who are naturally innovative, always seeking better practices and solution, willing to take a risk and challenge the status quo – are frequently judged by management and leadership as not being a team player, being counterproductive, or not really understanding. These folks may even end up being sidelined and with performance improvement plans for reconditioning to conform to status quo to ensure their long term success in the company. Being a disruptive person is a bad thing.

This brings us to disruptive leadership.  That sounds like an oxymoron – right?  I pose that disruptive leadership is in fact the missing piece required to connect the notions of  “disruption” and “leadership” in the positive light that would transform performance management policies resulting in a sustained innovation capability as the norm. Disruptive leadership and HR policies would recognize and encourage “disruption” across the board – technology, people, and practice – as a strategic innovation capability for sustained business viability and competitive edge. When we don’t have this vision, consistent message, supporting behaviors, and incentives from the top that define and engrain the culture, all other efforts are marginalized. Simple as that.

When I searched on “disruptive leadership” this morning, this article came up first and is a good synthesis: 5 Habits of Truly Disruptive Leaders.  Thanks to the author for taking the time to write and share it.

Of course, there are good ways and not-so-good ways to bring disruptive influence to the table.  And yes,  I must confess:  I am a “truly disruptive leader”  –  in a good way, of course!

Your thoughts?  What am I missing?