What sort of leadership?

Harold Jarche challenges ideas about leadership:

But we don’t need better leaders. We need organizations and structures that let all people cooperate and collaborate. Positional leadership is a master-servant, parent-child, teacher-student, employer-employee relationship. It puts too much power in the hands of individuals and blocks human networks from realizing their potential.

In the network era, leadership is helping the network make better decisions. The future, as proposed by current leadership, is not about becoming a better leader, it’s about all of us becoming better people.

I’m no fan of what might be called heroic leadership. And I’d agree that we need to look at the design of systems that generate behaviours before we go trying to fix people. (A lot of “difficult people” behaviour in meetings is down to poor formats that leave people starved of real engagement.)

At the same time, any human system only works when its adequate design is activated by people who know how to make it work, and bring some kind of goodwill and enthusiasm to the process. For that uniquely human spirit, then I think we need a word like leadership. It’s not a form of martyrdom or grandiosity. It’s something everybody can do, given a halfway appropriate context. So for me it’s more about what sort of leadership. Becoming better people is not a million miles from the sort I’m after.

(Some other stuff I’ve written about this)

 

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