Perceived Weirdness Index and Leadership


Sometimes I think I can be seen as being a bit eccentric and to be honest I quite like it; although it doesn’t mean I am fond of being the centre of attention. I often feel on the edge of things, not quite mainstream, sometimes it’s fun, other times it’s lonely. But is my eccentricity something that can be a help?who are you

I have been studying the practice of Organisational Development (OD) recently as part of my leadership scholarship and am learning lots of things that I think have equal applicability in a leadership space. OD practitioners use the concept of ‘self as instrument’, understanding that any intervention has an impact and think carefully about how they act, think and do – their presence. I think leaders could usefully think like this too. I started to wonder if my perception of ‘self’ and my presence might be something to do with how I affected things around me. Presence can be thought about as impact created by personal appearance, manner, values, knowledge, reputation, and so on. So, if ‘self’ is important in leadership interventions, is my possible eccentricity an advantage or a disadvantage?

There is a fascinating idea first described by Halafin (1976) called the ‘Perceived Weirdness Index’ (PWI) that I came across exploring the OD literature. Your PWI may make you more or less effective as a change agent. The PWI is a spectrum of behaviours with a ‘sweet spot’ where you are not in the mainstream of the organisational culture but just weird enough to be at the edge, the theory being that if your PWI is just like everyone else’s you are less likely to be successful at effecting change as you are absorbed into the organisational culture but if you are in the ‘sweet spot’ then you can be more effective as a change agent.pwi

Are the people who you think are change agents just a bit weird? Where do you think your PWI score is in your workplace? How different are you? All very interesting thoughts!

odd one out

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10 thoughts on “Perceived Weirdness Index and Leadership

  1. Love it. We all know people who sit along this trajectory. Makes you think just how weird one is perceived by colleagues?

  2. Very thought provoking Anne, taking self awareness to another level! I’ve just started the Mary Seacole programme which has renewed my thoughts about how my presence effects the team. I think I maybe sitting on the weirdness edge!

  3. Thanks for sharing Annie, it’s really valuable learn new developmental concepts and PWI is new to me, but then a lot is!
    I do struggle sometimes with the some of these metrics, particularly when it comes to measuring peoples’ effectiveness to impact, influence or change processes/others, OK so skill sets normally are a big indicator for your ability to do things, for example a good welder has been trained and with experience can weld well, they may only need to be good at one type of welding or they may be able to tackle different metals, underwater etc. My point, eventually, is that when you are working with people they aren’t as reliable/predictable as metal, as we all react differently to stimuli to learn, understand and change. So I don’t disagree with PWI as a concept but I do disagree with there being a “sweet spot”. The skill I would assume as an effective leader/changer would have would be to tune your PWI to the circumstances or audience, but a starting point would be understanding your natural PWI, which would as you comment place you in an organisational role, but to be effective in change I think you would need a range of “PW”. I’m off to get my PWI ruler out…I’ll report back soon 🙂

  4. Starting something new – anniecoops

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