Monday, February 08, 2010

Leadership - Is It One Or Many?

Is leadership the head of the snake? Is it a two-headed snake? Is it a collection of organizations, or just one? Should there be one decision-maker or many to support the decision-makers? Who decides who goes and who stays? I've been reading a lot about natural organization and Enterprise 2.0 and came to the conclusion that leadership is more about a natural order, than an unnatural one.

Think about a forest... Imagine a grove of redwood trees. Is there a dominate tree? Perhaps, but maybe there are several. But all trees will fall one day. Will there be other trees that grow? You bet! The entire ecosystem is created through a network of other organisms and not just one tree. This begs the question, was there a single seed, a creator? NO! Evolution teaches us that, again, a network of events helped shape the development of the forest. I believe the same goes for leadership - it is more about a  network than anything else (as Michael Idinopulos argues in this post).

So what is leadership all about? It is about a collective... Empowering the champions that rise up on projects, that are natural leaders. It is more about forming a team, and investing in that team to help a leader do three very important things...
  • Set the vision - where are we going, again, I forgot...
  • Break the ties - no, we are going this way, and your idea would have us going that way
  • Inspire to grow - isn't this fun, lets keep going... YAY!!

I really like Vanda North's idea map suggests about leadership and team. Notice how similar it looks to a tree, or, better yet, roots!

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