- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

The most powerful leadership instructions are the ones that are unsaid

And that can be good or bad. Usually bad.

Islamic terrorists who follow strict orders from ISIS, have a plan, a structure, a set of orders. They are part of an articulated strategy. They are ‘proper soldiers’. To some extent this type of terrorism still follows some traditional warfare rules, and could be tackled as such.

But another type is the one in which there is no direct military link, no written order, perhaps not even support. An individual, or several, act following an ideology, following a generic call, throwing to the pot their own interpretations, grievances, psychopathic personalities and a self-granted membership of the Cause. Nobody at HQ sent them the memo. The orders were unsaid.

The case of the Nice atrocities on the 14 of July seem to be one of these, regardless the obvious post-hoc, Return on Investment (and I bet ISIS corporate structure have a strategic manual somewhere showing the statistics around the ROI of long wolfs) zero cost message:

‘The person who carried out the operation in Nice, France, to run down people was one of the soldiers of Islamic State. He carried out the operation in response to calls to target nationals of states that are part of the coalition fighting Islamic State.’

Of course ISIS would say. What else? It’s the cheapest headcount of all. You don’t even need to fund extreme fundamentalist schools and mosques. Drunk psychopaths with gambling addictions will do nicely.

Acting on behalf of a cause without talking to the heads of the cause, is no that dissimilar to guessing what the CEO wants and deploying some actions. Horror, how can I compare? I just did. Most top down, particularly cultural, dictations, instructions, and directions are not written. They are a derivative of original frames that top leadership establish. In many case they end up being interpretations of interpretations, or just copycat behaviours. In my original 2006 and second edition 2008 Viral Change book I gave the example of a new CEO who changed in days, dramatically, the style of meetings (no one on ones for him anymore, no crazy travel for him) and ‘influenced’ the organization to a rapid decrease of both, management meetings and travel.  Interviewed by me months later about his cunning plan, he said to me, ‘what plan?’

That one may have ended up on a good thing, but it may not always be the case.

Leaders, not just the ones at the top, lead in Homo Sapiens mode but underestimate the power of Homo Imitans. They need not just ‘to say’, but question what has been heard and how the unsaid will be used.

The unsaid is dangerously powerful. After all, Henry II of England did not say ‘Go and kill this unbearable Thomas Becket Archbishop of Canterbury’ , but “What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?.

Copy that.