Convergent Leaders for the Creative Economy. Part II
31.01.2020

Some researchers use the data provided by the experts of the International Analytical Bureau, when constructing a profile of a manager under the conditions of the creative economy. They distinguish the following parameters:

·         a high level of creative and intellectual background;

·         analytical and predictive non-standard thinking;

·         capability of seeing the hidden essence of problems and adequately evaluating possible ways of solving them;

·         a proper level of professional and educational training;

·         capability of mastering modern tools and methods of management, including information and communication ones, as well as social and psychological ones.

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The job description of a convergent leader, provided by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, seems to be less abstract and more positive, if I may say so. It is oriented toward staff members who are led by their leaders. What are the particular characteristics of a convergent leader we talk here? In terms of managerial competencies, there are abilities to manage values, goals, and hope (!); to put a priority of strategic approaches over tactic ones; to use managerial and administrative tools; to organize collaborative creativity; to delegate powers and responsibilities; to manage conflicts; and to manage people remotely. In terms of social competencies, there are abilities to bring the staff into the dialogue and to get a feedback from them; to build communication inside and outside the company; to support social development of the team in general and of each member in particular; to create the environment for healthy lifestyle; and to adapt to the surroundings.  

The curriculum proposed by the Academy underlines the key focuses of a convergent leader. Among them are focus on active positivity (positive attitude, focus on achieving better results), healthy lifestyle, and physical activity (appreciation of physical activity, the ability to use it as a tool of self-development and team inspiration).

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To everything presented above, I would add the following. The processes of convergence and divergence are not the only processes that a convergent leader needs to manage. Therefore, he or she must have two types of thought, in order to switch the one which is needed at a particular moment. In my opinion, these types of thought, as well as the ways to develop them, are well described in the book by Luc de Brabandere Thinking In the New Boxes. A New Paradigm for Business Creativity

“As with the electricity, the creative potential is the function of a difference that must be maintained between the two kinds of thought, the one allowing for invention, the other for judgment. So it’s a matter of harnessing the potential of plural though that manages the for and, much later, the against, providing rhythm to divergence and convergence, alternating quantity and quality. Inventing and criticizing are two entirely different functions that cannot be done simultaneously, even when time is running out. Managing the full thought cycle – magical and logical – is more than ever the challenge for all political, business, or union leaders. Too much convergence can lead to catastrophe, but the same is also true for too much divergence”.

Some people, though it happens rarely, are born with these two types of thought. But even in this case it is vital to know how to use them. An example of a natural born “two-type thinker” is Nikolay Tsiskaridze, a world famous Russian ballet dancer who had been a member of the Bolshoi Ballet for 21 years. 13.jpg

His huge talent, creative approach to everything, broad-mindedness, and reverent attitude to art, on the one hand, and his rational critical thinking and self-discipline, on the other, are the distinguishing features of this outstanding person. At the age of 39, anticipating the imminent departure from the stage (ballet dancers retire very early), he entered the Moscow State Law Academy and graduated with honors. Almost at the same time, he was offered to head the Saint Petersburg Academy of Russian Ballet named after I. Vaganov, one of the oldest educational institutions in Russia, founded back in 1738. An artist became an official within a moment. For various reasons, the Academy’s staff were categorically against his appointment and at first literally rebelled and refused to obey. A year later, the same staff, following a secret ballot (227 votes against 17), elected him the Rector of the Academy. And this was despite the fact that, like all truly creative people, Nikolai Tsiskaridze had a very difficult character. How can one explain such an administrative miracle? Only by the fact that the team saw him a real leader, able to lead in a difficult era of changes. A leader who knows how to combine the incompatible and to separate the inseparable, that is, a convergent leader who has two different types of thought - convergent and divergent ones. When you hear how Tsiskaridze answers the questions about how he managed to rally the staff of the Academy and to get credentials from them, you immediately understand in which cases he had to bring people together and connect, and in which - to pull them apart and disconnect.

As I have already mentioned above, this gift of a double thought is a rare natural feature. More often, it is trained and developed. That is why the initial application requirements at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration include the desire to change the world for the better and readiness to self-develop, rather than the presence of specific natural talents and abilities. Who is the target audience of the program? It is oriented toward managers with experience and without it; members of candidate pools of large companies, state and municipal bodies, non-profit organizations; heads of state, corporate, social, and other projects of different levels. Anybody who is interested can join the program because most lectures are posted on Youtube. The main feature of these open lectures is that they are aimed at sharing the real managerial experience.

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Who are the lecturers? According to Professor Veniamin Kaganov, the most prominent managers and acknowledged experts from culture, sports, science, education, and business and state organizations have accepted the invitation to participate in the program “Convergent Leadership” as mentors. They are of different age, with different experience and personalities, but they all have one thing in common. They can do “the impossible”, creating new successful projects and structures, which can produce a brand new results that influence the world outside the industry or business.

Here is a list of experts, coaches, and consultants:

 Alexei Nemov, the winner of the World Sports Awards as the best athlete in the world, chief editor of the Russian magazine Bolshoy Sport;

Sergey Shlyapnikov, a chief coach of the Russia men's national volleyball team;

Alexey Sorokin, Director General of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Organizing Committee;

Mikhail Shvydkoy, the artistic director of the Moscow theater musical, supervisor of the Faculty of the Graduate School of cultural policy and management in the humanitarian sphere, Moscow State University

Igor Krutoy, a Russian music composer, performer, producer and musical promoter; Honoured Artist of the Russian Federation;

Nikolay Tsiskaridze, a People's Artist of Russia, Rector of Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet;

Margarita Rusetskaya, Rector of the State Institute of the Russian Language named after A. S. Pushkin;

Vladimir Mau, Rector of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration;

Andrey Sharonov, President of the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO;

Mikhail Kiselev, commander of the Central Staff of Russian Student Brigades;

Pavel Popov, Pavel Popov Deputy CEO of the United Rocket Space Corporation;

Anatoliy Sotnikov, CEO of the Agency for innovative development – center for cluster development of the Kaluga region;

Andrey Nikitin, Governor of the Novgorod region.

All these people have something to share with the participants of the program who are ready “to change the world and self-develop”. Some time ago, I had the honor to be a visiting expert on the program and reported on leadership in education. While presenting my report, I had another opportunity to see how important it is to go beyond own managerial experience in order to see oneself from the side by the eyes of other people who also have the experience of managing projects and teams.

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The feedback form the audience and their questions let me know WHAT they were ready to accept and implement in their work and what needed more reflection due to the lack of practice. But one of the program’s aims is to provide the participants with some extra knowledge for them to have it “in store”. My major interest was to get evaluation and opinions on the changes that we together have made at our University. It was a precious experience for me personally and I would like to thank the administration of the Convergent Leadership program for it.  I think such a program should be developed at TSU and similar programs need to be created on the scale of the Siberian macroregion as a space of future metropolises. I am deeply convinced that all national goals oriented toward improving the quality of life of Russian citizens and increasing their well-being in general are achievable only through the training of new-type leaders, the demand for whom is being actively formed. There should be people who are able to keep the contexts of national projects, not just focus on their formal indicators.  A wide range of opportunities opens for further cooperation between TSU and the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. We all need the creative economy!