Thursday, April 9, 2009

Leadership Metanoia

Here is one of my favorite ways to think about leadership. Leadership is:

An influence relationship among leaders and followers who intent real changes
that reflect their shared purpose (Daft, 2002).

I love this. It is an entirely contemporary way to think about leadership. For many of us it will require a radical shift in thinking - metanoia - to accept. If we buy into this thinking, we have to change our behavior as leaders, which I believe will make us more effective.

Here are the main things I see about this way of thinking:

Influence: Always remember, leadership is about power. What are we willing to do to get power? What are we willing to do to keep it? What do we do with it when we have it? What are your beliefs about the differences, if any, between those that have power and authority and those that do not? I am increasingly convinced that our power paradigm defines our character and behavior as leaders.

Relationship among leaders and followers: This concept was almost completely absent when I first started studying leadership almost 30 years ago. Traditional leadership thinking is very leader-centric, but to fully grasp the opportunity found via relationship requires a radical paradigm shift. Leaders and followers perform different roles, but in right relationship both roles have equal value and importance. In right relationships, leaders and followers both assume responsibility for creating interdependent relationships with each other. In right relationships, both leaders and followers neither create nor accept dependency.

Real Change: If we are not interested in real change, then we don’t need leadership; management of the status quo will suffice. Leadership identifies the need for real change before we reach the point where our current way of doing things exposes us to competitive peril. Through leadership we hold ourselves accountable for working together through the mess, uncertainty, fear, and excitement of consequential and evocative change.

Shared Purpose: I love this concept and have previously blogged about it here and here. Purpose is the reason why we do what we do; it lives in the hearts and minds of those that serve it. Purpose is the currency of leadership because it authorizes followers to make decisions and take action in our collective best interest. But how do we get to a shared purpose? For purpose to be authentically shared, it must arise through relationship, via dialogue among leaders and followers. We can’t tell each other what our shared purpose is, but we can discover through right relationship.

Do you know leaders and followers that practice leadership like this? If so, what are the results, both for the organization and for the individuals? If you are not practicing this kind of leadership and followership, why not?

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