Beyond Leadership

beyond leadership art team lab beyond limits exhibit festival leadership community role model rotana ty

Beyond Leadership – Some Dimensions and Emergent Practices.

Leadership is changing as networked models become more prominent—great overview of key emerging attributes: curiosity, courage, and empowering others. And yes, you can FEEL the difference immediately. It’s remarkable. Great overview from @rotanarotana.” 

Rachel Happe

rotana ty leadership management visual art

Photo shot by Rotana Ty at the exhibition ‘Beyond Limits’ during the Japonismes 2018 Festival, Paris, France.

During an immersive digital and F2F art experience at the exhibition ‘Beyond Limits’, this photo was brought by Team Lab during the Japonismes 2018 Festival in Paris, France.

‘Leadership’ is not on my ordre du jour every day. But, as I share actionable insights that transform the “learn-work” space and hang out via projects and conversations with interesting people about ‘leadership development, this topic is related and triggers an interest. So, here are below some actionable insights and thoughts on being and becoming a leader in the Connection Age.

On Enablement & Leadership

“I have often said that the essence of leadership or management in organizations is helping make your network smarter, more resilient, and able to make better decisions. It is not telling people what to do, or managing how they get things done, especially in an age where more work is unique and non-routine. Those doing the work are often the only ones who really understand the context.

John Wenger says that empowerment is a term that we should avoid when it comes to management of organizations. He says it is better to focus on enablement.” — @hjarche

“Connected leadership is shifting the focus from you to we. All organizational leaders are part of complex human social networks. The great fallacy of ‘leader-ship’ is that leaders control. Different skills are needed in a network society.

For instance, Leigh Buchanan, editor-at-large for Inc. Magazine, cites seven desirable leadership traits, as identified by 32,000 study subjects worldwide. Interestingly, these are also considered to be more ‘feminine’: Empathy, Vulnerability, Humility, Inclusiveness, Generosity, Balance, Patience. These are the traits of today’s servant leaders.”@hjarche

On Leadership in Complexity

In one of those projects I contributed to, one of the leaders shared what complexity leadership is all about:

“Leadership in Complexity” maintains a position and a viewpoint that each one of us is a leader of his/her own life not only to change oneself but also to act as agents of change for others through their actions and ideas.

For this, one needs the courage to look at his/her own thought process to discover the underlying assumptions, beliefs, perceptions that create the apparent complexity and paradoxes one is engaged with in life.

That in short is the essence of social and cultural innovation and entrepreneurship. However, the important thing to be kept in mind is that we are not going to create any purely imagined ‘desired future’ in our minds rooted in idealism and run after that.

For example, we are not going to say that ‘let us build a more resilient community’ or let us aim for more ‘structure and order’ realizing that resilience, structure, order are products of self organization.

(…) Our intention in most cases would be to adapt to the ongoing emergent phenomenon by exploring the rules that generate the emergence and then examine the underlying ‘paradoxes’ that shape and sustain such emergence enabling us to adapt through balancing (the Indian concept of Jugaard) to give shape to a better collective future.

Our aim is not to achieve this or that. Our aim is to simply adapt based on the emergence. It is a delicate balancing act like walking on the sword’s edge and being in the fire at the same time. I believe it makes life simpler, fun to live, helps us ‘survive’ better and also ‘collectively thrive’.

(…) While knowledge lies in selecting the right technique for a given context or situation wisdom lies in balancing and adapting, where both knowledge and wisdom are contextual emergence.

Beyond Leadership, Communityship?

My friend and learning partner, Luis Suarez (@elsua), also pointed to Henry Mintzberg’s blog to learn more about leadership and the role of management/leadership.

How can you recognize communityship? That’s easy. You have found it when you walk into an organization and are struck by the energy in the place, the personal commitment of the people and their collective engagement in what they are doing. These people don’t have to be formally empowered because they are naturally engaged.

The organization respects them so they respect it. They don’t live in mortal fear of being fired en mass because some “leader” hasn’t made his or her numbers. Imagine an economy made up of such organizations.

Sure we need leadership, especially to establish communityship in a new organization and to help sustain it in an established organization. What we don’t need is this obsession with leadership—of the individual singled out from the rest, as if he or she is the end all and be all of the organization.

So here’s to less leadership, or perhaps better put, just enough leadership, embedded in communityship.

There is a famous line in a Molière play spoken by a character who discovers that he has been speaking prose all his life. Well, it’s time for us to discover that the best of our organizations have been living communityship all their lives.” Henry Mintzberg


Leaders, who dare to let their guard down and keep an open mind, are less fearful than those in rusty armours hiding behind the words of no, wait and maybe tomorrow.” — Kenneth Mikkelsen

On Leadership & Learnability

“Question 10: How do you never stop learning? @HubSpot June 19, 2018

My response is: perpetual curiosity, drive for constant improvement and self-awareness.

Let’s break these down:

Perpetual curiosity. The leader of the future is an obsessive learner, not just about topics but also people. Leaders are learners, they understand learning is a skill that helps them solve complex problems of all types, anticipate the future, shift perspective, and look beyond the obvious.

Drive for constant improvement. As stated in the previous point, if you’re an obsessive learner you know that if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. A “get better” mindset is a keystone of people who can adapt to any circumstance, flowing like water.

Self-awareness. Knowing and understanding yourself is a key sign of intelligence. So being aware of what one knows and doesn’t know is extremely important. If everyone were to do a personal SWOT analysis of her/himself, I guarantee you that getting better at learning would not come up in their areas of opportunity; it’s not something people see as a skill. Truth is: we can all get better at learning.

(…) Bottom line: The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways. A love for learning is a key sign of a growth mindset, whick is key to [now/] future-proof yourself.” — @JorgeBarba

Exploratory Leadership

Dr Jen Frahm and Jillian Reilly co-wrote a blog post on exploratory leadership and its difference from adaptive / servant / agile leadership.

“Exploratory leadership is a new style of leadership suited to unknown futures.

It differs from adaptive leadership and agile leadership through the intent to persevere rather than pivot or improve.

Prudent independence characterises the exploratory leader.”

Any signs that you are an exploratory leader?

Leaders are exploratory and learn continuously. Therefore, they deserve time and space to do so.

Leadership & Contagious Positive Energy

I leave you with this insight from an article shared with me by Trish Wilson, Global Network Catalyst – Founder/Director/Creator, Global Improvement Network:

“Energizers’ greatest secret is that, by uplifting others through authentic, values-based leadership, they end up lifting up both themselves and their organizations. Positive energizers demonstrate and cultivate virtuous actions, including forgiveness, compassion, humility, kindness, trust, integrity, honesty, generosity, gratitude, and recognition in the organization. As a result, everyone flourishes.” — Emma Seppälä, PhD | Kim Cameron, PhD

Leadership & Community Building

Did you enjoy the post? Check out Community Building.

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