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Let Go of the Heroic Leader

This month's Gifted Leaders e-Newsletter features a Trend Watch from the Center for Creative Leadership’s Leading Effectively e-Newsletter. Leadership development has come to a point of being too individually focused and elitist. There is a transition occurring from the old paradigm in which leadership resided in a person or role, to a new one in which leadership is a collective process that is spread throughout networks of people.

Highlights from the Article

It's time to let go of our infatuation with the idea of the heroic leader.

The ability of any single individual – as heroic or skilled or dedicated as he or she may be – is no longer enough to meet the complex challenges we face today.

"With the decline of the value of the heroic leader comes the rise of collective leadership," says Nick Petrie with the Center for Creative Leadership. "Individual competencies still matter. However, something more significant may be happening – the end of an era, dominated by individual leaders, and the beginning of another, which embraces networks of leadership."

Making the shift seems to require us to redefine leadership. Many organizational theorists have begun to reframe leadership, getting away from leadership as a person or role, to leadership as a process. Leadership can be enacted by anyone; it is not tied to a position of authority in the hierarchy or any one individual. Leadership can be distributed throughout networks of people and across boundaries and geographies. Who the leader is becomes less important than what is needed in the system and how we can produce it.

Collaborative, networked leadership is more likely to flourish when certain "conditions" support it, including:

  • Open flows of information.

  • Flexible hierarchies.

  • Distributed resources.

  • Distributed decision-making.

  • Loosening of centralized controls.

To create these conditions, leadership development methods will have to address the collective mind-shift needed to enact leadership in a shared way.

Read the full article here.

The Gifted Perspective

The rules of the leadership game have changed, but many leaders today are still trying to play by the old rules which only leads to frustration. How long are we going to keep trying to get people to “buy in” or “get on board” or to “hold people accountable” through antiquated “carrot and stick” types of incentives and motivational techniques? What we need is true engagement from people who freely choose commitment and accountability. It’s possible!

We agree that leadership is no longer just an individual competency. Instead, it is a collective capacity that extends beyond the formal, positional leader or leaders and is a shared, co-constructed function that encompasses vision and strategy as well as day-to-day policies and procedures. Collective leadership invites and embraces a diversity of perspectives and relies on the intelligence and wisdom of the entire group.

We can assist you and your team in embracing the collective mind-shift needed to enact leadership in a shared way. Contact us today about individual leadership coaching or our Teams That Talk™ coaching approach!


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