As is often the case when sitting down to write a Blog, I begin with some “research” on the subject I plan to expound on and I typically find that I learn more and more about things that I thought I understood pretty well.
Collective leadership is a good example. This term is now used often by many (including myself) to describe a form of organizational management that replaces “command and control” with communication and collaboration. Research and experience suggest that it is difficult and maybe impossible for any one person to effectively lead our complex cultures and environments without help from others who have a range of complementary education, experience, intuition, and talent.
It was interesting to learn that the term collective leadership was first used to describe an ideal form for ruling a Communist party. And while communism and socialism (often used interchangeably but technically different) may be forms of political and social organization that many people condemn or fear, both consider the idea of distribution, or sharing, of power, wealth, and resources in a society.
This is not intended to be a lesson in economic or political theory. It is an observation that there can be merit in a collective approach to leadership in our organizations where people are disengaged and even disloyal to the vision and purpose of the company or business. When there is limited or no opportunity to participate in the planning and execution of organizational goals and initiatives, we lose interest in the notion of “we” if it seems like the “I’s” have it all.
Any Beatles fan can picture the album cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band which featured an eclectic group of mostly familiar personalities surrounding the Beatles. It was considered a break-through collection of songs that crossed into previously untouched territories for the group.
If we really want to re-invent organizations that value the contributions of everyone, we need to learn about and appreciate the gifts that an often eclectic mix of people bring to the organization. We must resist the urge to exercise solitary control and embrace the concept of collaboration at every level.
And we need to listen to the wisdom of the Beatles whose lyrics often offered relevant social commentary for the times and forever.
... I get by with a little help from my friends!