Leadership lessons

Photo by LHG Creative

For Dave Soleil, in this blogpost, leadership is a community action rather than a person. Soleil, like so many others, is critical of the traditional model of leadership which consists of a single heroic person that large groups of people follow.  Soleil describes this as the “find a parade and walk in front of it” model of leadership.

If leadership is identified with a particular person we are often left in a position of waiting on that leader (who we can also conveniently scapegoat). Soleil suggests that “if we see the visionary … as one of many pieces of a community-based leadership movement, we empower everyone in the community to contribute their gifts as a critical piece of the collective effort we call leadership.” Those gifts will include vision, co-ordination (of the collective effort), encouragement etc etc.

Leadership models forged in the heat of battle and industrial process have looked for control, but Meg Wheatley asks:

What if we stopped looking for control, and began, in earnest, to look for order? Order we will find in places we never thought to look before – all around us in nature’s living, dynamic systems. In fact, once we begin to look into nature with new eyes, the teachers are everywhere. (Leadership and the New Science, 1999, p25).

The flight of geese is one of nature’s stock supply teachers when it comes to leadership programmes. I have never heard the translation of Goosehonk, but my guess is that the question they are asking is not “who is the leader?” but “who is leading next?”.  Leadership is not something they leave to the next bird. There isn’t a goose who ducks the responsibility it shares with its whole community. Leadership is a community inter-action.