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InfoQ Homepage Articles Author Q&A on Strategy, Leadership and the Soul

Author Q&A on Strategy, Leadership and the Soul


Jennifer Sertl and Koby Huberman wrote a book taking a different approach to leadership. Their focus is on providing the tools to nurture agility through resilience, responsiveness and reflection. They aim to support the individual's ability to better trust their core intelligence and apply that to being effective leaders.

The book examines leadership from the perspectives of Strategy, Leadership and Soul.

Strategy: they discuss the importance of mastering the ability to reinvent your company’s future. Change is happening at a rate that makes constantly rethinking strategy a key to success in the 21st century.

Leadership: Leadership in the modern organisation is not about commanding and instructing, it is about sensing relevance in all aspects of life and business, and creating synergistic relationships across, within and outside of the organisation.

Soul: They stress the importance of harmony between the values and inner beliefs of the leader with the organisation as a whole, and vice versa. Organisations have a “soul” – the internal, intangible yet extremely present and powerful set of inner beliefs that make the organisation unique.

They content that agility is achieved through three R’s: Resilience, Responsiveness and Reflection.

A sample chapter from the book can be downloaded here and a video that explains the 3R approach can be viewed here. The book can be purchased here.

Jennifer recently spoke to InfoQ about the book.

InfoQ: Thanks for talking to us, please can you give us some insight into your goal when writing the book.

Jennifer: So many books are written on leadership and strategy. Few are written to remind the leader of his or her internal brilliance. That is what Koby & I hoped to have accomplished. We deeply desire to support individual's ability to better trust their core intelligence.

InfoQ: You present some ideas and viewpoints on leadership that will be unfamiliar to many of our readers. Please can you explain some of your core concepts?

Jennifer: There are some important concepts we want to get across in the book:

Strategy: We are convinced that in order to lead your company in the business environment of the 21st Century, it is essential for you to master the ability to invent your company’s future, particularly in the current rapidly changing strategic landscapes of your business. Therefore, the old ways of designing a strategy need to change–you will need to constantly rethink your strategy, not just once every few years.

Leadership: Leadership styles and challenges have dramatically changed and will continue to change from the Old World models. In order to handle successfully the age’s enormous complexity and to improve your ability in the role of a leader, you will need to become highly skilled at sensing relevance in all areas of life and business, and to create synergistic relationships between all parties.

Soul: To accomplish the alignment between strategy and leadership–we content that your values and inner beliefs should be in harmony with that of your organization and vice versa. Only in this way, we believe you can maximize your organization’s power and efficiency and create a working environment that allows you and your people to find satisfaction and fulfillment in your work and your lives.

We further assert that each organization has a soul–the internal, intangible yet extremely present and powerful set of inner beliefs that make the organization one of a kind. We believe that recognition of this has immense value, and alignment of this “soul” factor across customers, employees and business partners is a fundamental necessity for success.


InfoQ: You talk about aspects of organisations and leadership in terms of transcendence – what do you mean by that?

Jennifer: We needed to make up some terms because the current language didn’t include transcendence:

Transorganization: Organizations that design both interpersonal awareness and business strategy synergistically are more able to see and sense the macro-environment and are more able to create relevant value.

Transleaders: Individuals who understand that their leverage comes from the coordination of getting things done through others through the use of compassion, awareness, developing conduits, acquiring and distributing meta-knowledge, coordinating multiple intelligences and being excellent collaborators. Like a body has capillary systems to exchange oxygen, blood and information, transleaders do the same to create vitality for the bio-organization which we call a “Transorganization.”

We are convinced that organizations with the clearest understanding of reality and with the highest consciousness will be the winners because they will see signs in the macro invisible to others. We will help you leverage the internal wisdom of those within your business ecosystem.


InfoQ: What are important characteristics of Transleaders?

Jennifer: Here are 20 transleadership characteristics that will support success in ambivalent times:

  1. Transleaders are intelligence officers. They are always looking for the unexpected insight, the unrecognized trends, and the subtle changes in the marketplace. They are information junkies—about the company’s markets, customers and technologies. And they maintain a large network of sources and informants.
  2. They are intuitive and creative people. They deeply understand the business environment and naturally have insights about how to operate within and beyond it.
  3. They are open and easy to know. They can be trusted and they are able to trust.
  4. They are marathon runners. They know they recognize changes more quickly than others in their organization and they are well aware of the need to begin, at the earliest opportunity, convincing their colleagues and employees that changes are on the way—major shifts in business models, competitive landscapes and technology.
  5. They are encouraging, as opposed to judgmental. They are always inclined to appreciate the efforts and talents of others.
  6. They are highly flexible, ready to change directions at the drop of a hat if conditions warrant and are not stuck on pre-determined paths, even if they had personally chosen the old direction.
  7. They reject the “more of the same” option. They recognize that continuity of traditional models is not the road to growth, but the path to stagnation. They are not advocates of the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” method of operation. If it isn’t broke, they are nonetheless eager to figure out how to do it better—before someone else does.
  8. They have great clarity, about themselves, about their organization and all of those who have a stake in its products, its services and its success.
  9. They act like orchestra conductors, drawing great music from their associates, according to the vision they have for the company and in accord with the organization’s deepest values.
  10. They make decisions quickly and surely, gathering the information they need, but not paralyzing themselves with the need to know everything.
  11. They are revolutionary thinkers. They don’t spend time trying to figure out how their business can join trends. Instead, they work on ways to generate preference shifts, based on their observations and knowledge of their customers and their markets. They are open to both tangible, rational observations and intangible, immeasurable insights and flashes of inspiration.
  12. They do not try to forecast the future. Instead, they focus on inventing it. They are fascinated by the possibilities of creating futures of their own design, in which they will control how industries and markets evolve.
  13. They are both optimistic and stubborn. They know that their openness to change, innovation and course alterations will inevitably put them into conflict with members of their teams.
  14. They welcome the conflict, because they know it will help them hone their ideas and bring others aboard.
  15. They also know that if their ideas are easily adopted, they are not really re-inventing the future, they are simply demonstrating how compliant their employees can be.
  16. They are excellent listeners. They are highly skilled at eliciting the opinions, observations and preferences of others. As a result, their perspectives are broadened and their information flow is strong and steady.
  17. They are high-energy people. It takes a lot of energy to adopt a broad view of your own organization. It also takes a lot of energy—and determination—to make things happen. Low-energy people seldom, if ever, make good transleaders.
  18. They understand that their life experiences, their characters and their personalities are at least as important as their professional experiences—in other words, they realize who they are is as important as what they know.
  19. They are intrinsically curious, eager to know about new people, new trends, new developments, new ways of doing things. They make sure that their leadership is relevant even to those who know more than they do.
  20. They see themselves less as forceful commanders and more as energetic teachers, social workers, mentors, coaches, guides, conductors and Sherpas.

Transleaders are—or become—quite conscious of what they are doing and why. They act with an exquisite awareness of their behavioral choices as leaders.

Transleaders are both born and made. For some people, it is a reflection of their natural temperament, personality and character. For others, it is an acquired skill set, taught by life and work experience, by trial and error, learning from their mistakes. For still others, we believe, it is the result of long reflection and self-examination. 

(Editor’s note: A PDF of these characteristics can be downloaded from here)

InfoQ: What does this mean for IT in general and for leaders in agile organisations?

Jennifer: For the IT and Agile community - we believe this framework is vital. As many who are proficient in Scrum Methodology, often forget to do an internal evaluation. We are only as accurate as our internal filters.

About the Book Authors

Koby Huberman is the Founder and CEO of Strategic Landscapes Ltd. He has more than 27 years of leadership experience in global high-tech technology corporations and as a civil society entrepreneur. He is known as a visionary leader bringing together methodologies in the areas of business planning, creative thinking, transformation ignition, linguistics, game theory, military intelligence, multi-disciplinary research, anthropology and Philosophy – in a synthesis that generates a tailor-made platform for transformation and accelerated growth. Today he invests in emerging start-ups with disruptive breakthroughs, and continues to consult CEOs of global companies who lead transformational growth initiatives. 

Jennifer Sertl is an internationally recognized influencer in social media and thought leader in the emerging field of corporate consciousness. She is president and founder of Agility3R, a leadership development company dedicated to strengthening strategic skills and helping leaders become more resilient, responsive, and reflective. She is currently Social Media Ambassador on-site at the Social Innovation Summit West 2015 Silicon Valley, CA. As a Huffington Post writer she will be covering The Future of Money at Sibos in Singapore. Her work is followed in 86 countries and 525 cities, with heaviest influence in Australia, Brazil, Japan, Germany, Spain, and the United States.

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