The importance of the theoretical leader

Giuseppe Ando
I
3
min read
The importance of the theoretical leader

I would like to tell you about leadership in the light of the "Theory Of Theory". No, I'm not kidding you, on the contrary, I'm talking about one of the most advanced theses in the field of cognitive sciences.

The main exponents of this theory are Gopnik and Meltzoff, who argue that the cognitive development processes in children are similar, perhaps even identical, to the cognitive development processes of scientists. Not that these authoritative scholars think that children are little scientists, but rather that scientists are big children. In practice, scientists and children would be equipped with the same set of powerful and flexible cognitive devices. What exactly do they intend to support? That the child does not relate to reality according to a discontinuous scheme, made up of the simple association of things to names (semantic dimension), but tries to insert the "facts" in a broader theoretical context, which is coherent and logical. Search, that is, to insert the single experience in a broader theoretical framework, in which the entire phenomenological happening finds "logical citizenship". There are extraordinarily enlightening tests and experiments on the subject, which I do not mention here, but which you can easily find on the internet.

Personally, I believe that this theory can be extended to all the more sophisticated forms of "adult thinking" and not only to the scientific one. If it is true that there is an analogy between the behavior of infants and that of scientists, it is equally true that all adults try, in some way, to give an order to the reality that surrounds them, to obtain a logical frame of reference, which explain what happens within a coherent system of laws. In everyday life, our theoretical framework can be approximate and generic, but when we are called to interpret a specific role, which we will have to account for, the theoretical framework we are inspired by must have a certain solidity.

This is the case with the leader. It is quite useless to list the usual qualities of the leader (consistency, integrity, etc.), hoping that a manager adheres to an ideal model, only driven by a sort of emotional conviction. A leader must build a theoretical reference that is solid and convincing, first of all for him / her. It must activate a dynamic that is, to a certain extent, scientific. He must formulate hypotheses and submit them to verification, he must develop a critical thought about his ability to relate to the team and imagine alternative scenarios to those he experiences every day. It is a rational process that unfolds in a form analogous to that of a scientific investigation.

Clearly, the final result will have no scientific content, but we are interested in the methodology, that is, cognitive development. Once the leader has built his theory of leadership, he will try to adapt his behavior to the theory that he / she himself has drawn. Consistency and integrity will depend on the leader's willingness to be consistent with his own theory. It is a challenging process of reworking one's initial vision in favor of a more sophisticated theory. In this sense, the work of a coach is that of a "thinking partner" who stimulates continuous critical reflection, in favor of a theoretical production that is increasingly suited to achieving the objectives that the leader has set himself.

The motivation of the leader will arise from the urgency to standardize theory and practice, with the involvement also of the emotional component, which will be the result of the desire to concretely verify the goodness of his own theory, to the same extent as a scientist, in the face of his method scientific (therefore, logical-rational), he does not give up the enthusiasm to see what he has elaborated on an intellectual level concretized. 

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