21st Century Leadership

One role of a leader is to create energy – not consume it. The question a good leader asks is “How can I work to make this enterprise reach its potential?” The approach I have had the most success with is rooted in sustaining participatory business communities. 

In this environment, the leader is positioned at times as “first among equals” and at other times as “last among equals.” However, despite this positioning, the challenge for the leader is to lighten the part-real and part-perceived “anchor” of power and control they carry. This may be accomplished easiest if the leader can develop and foster a true sense of “community”- which is often where we develop our best relationships and make our best contributions. This community-building within organizations takes courage, perseverance and trust on the part of all members of the community.

It has been shown that a person’s system of relationships, especially those with peers and with those we supervise, is more important in determining workplace efficacy than any individual characteristic, such as motivation (Leonard Sayles). As a leader, without a positive and professional relationship with your team members, the potential to achieve one’s vision, longer term goals and current objectives will be truly compromised. It is in this environment of community where opportunity is created, potential is released and excellence is achieved (Land & Jarman).

Preferring the idea of developing human beings rather than leaders, Henry Mintzberg suggests that we can foster leadership in others though co-creating the conditions that allow colleagues to reflect thoughtfully on their own inner knowledge and experience. However, he goes on to say that leadership is always exercised in a context: it is the person in the situation which gives rise to leadership. In dispelling the idea of “heroic leadership” in favour of “engaging management,” he says, “True leaders are in touch, on the ground: they have to manage, just as managers have to lead. (www.mintzberg.org).

Co-creating community takes time and cannot be manipulated if one wants a genuine outcome. This is a process of evolution; it must occur naturally and be nurtured even, when at times, it can be a bit “messy.” The leader also has to be the “buffer” between the emerging workplace community and the organization as a whole, especially when the corporate culture has not progressed sufficiently along the path of supporting a diversity of leadership approaches or a less traditional concept of workplace. Eventually, with confidence, authenticity, and careful stewardship, the community will emerge and take on a life of its own. 

You have arrived when there is an awareness that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and members choose to assume responsibility for this wholeness as well as for their individual contributions.

Check in tomorrow for more on this topic!

Source: GHLC / Adapted / BH

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