Consider What an Evolving Definition of Leadership Means for You and Your Team
“Leadership is an activity in pursuit of something new and better. In an increasingly complex world, appointed leaders simply don’t know enough to decide what is new and better. Leadership is a group sport, not an individual heroic activity.” – Edgar Schein
Simply stated, leadership is any act that takes two or more people closer to a common goal. And it’s a dialogue between partners, not a one-way monologue. Effective leadership today involves an approach that doesn’t rely on chain of command or micromanagement, but instead, a framework for partnership and collaboration.
This new leadership paradigm values sharing, collaboration, and service over the traditional command-and-control values of exclusion, control, and self-interest. Author and organizational development expert Peter Block equates it with the notion of stewardship, because it’s “the choice to preside over the orderly distribution of power.” In this context, it opens the door to creating non-hierarchical organizations in which leadership is dispersed among all staff, not concentrated in a small number of people at the top.
Leadership is the capacity to initiate a future distinct from the past. A distinct future can only be achieved through high engagement. The essence of leadership then is about convening, valuing relatedness, and decentralizing its own role.
An alternative future occurs when a community of people chooses to come together and be accountable for something larger than themselves. All we know about learning, exceptional performance, and creativity indicates that the existence of a supportive community is what makes the difference. Leadership in these terms is dependent on building strong communities. And strong communities produce strong performance and business results.
- The growing need for leadership agility
– The pace of change and level of complexity and interdependence are increasing
– Leadership agility is the ability to lead effectively under these conditions
- A different definition of leadership
– Leadership is a collective capacity that is widely distributed
– Leadership is about influence, not power or authority
– Everyone is a leader, regardless of position or title
- Read Leadership Agility: From Expert to Catalyst by Bill Joiner (PDF)
- Watch Rosalinde Torres’ TED video, “What it Takes to be a Great Leader”
- Read Preparing for Leaderful Practice by Joe Raelin (PDF)
- Optional Reading: Pages 7-17 and 37-44 in Manifesto for Human(e) Leadership by Marcus Raitner
- Read New Leadership Paradigm: The Real Difference Between Traditional and Progressive Models of Leadership by Maren Fox
- Use The New Leadership Paradigm by Steve Piersanti (PDF) to perform a self-assessment on your practice, noting both strengths and opportunities for change.
- The Dawn of System Leadership by Peter Senge, Hal Hamilton, and John Kania
- A Definition of Leadership for These Pressing Times by Jesse Lyn Stoner
- Collective Leadership Is the Best Way to Win by Gustavo Razzetti
- Five Elements of Collective Leadership by Cassandra O’Neill and Monica Brinkerhoff
- Giving Up the “One Leader in a Room” Mindset by Roger Schwarz
- How to Take the Stress Out of Leadership – Center for Creative Leadership
- Collective-Leadership – A table contrasting “heroic” with “collective” leadership.