Leadership is not management

Leadership in it’s original form, skipping all crap of built up hierarchies, is about allowing yourself to shine and to make you “followable”. Leadership today is moving towards that original meaning. You cannot be a strong leader with total control these days, you need to be human and with total trust in others. In fact, the most important thing is to generate trust. Thing is, nowadays people are independent. They might not be angry but just not that loyal as you’d might expect. They see opportunities and whenever problems occur in daily work-life the opportunities-wish become stronger. So in order to be an effective leader today and tomorrow you have to offer opportunities – real competitive opportunities. That will offer personal development as well as financial. Management on the other hand is to limit opportunities, to limit freedom and to direct people into certain areas of work. Management is about constraining work and limit the way we think (that’s up to the manager).

A shared vision
Now, in a company leadership is one thing. In a co-operation situation where nobody gets paid by anyone else leadership is about something else. Or isn’t it? The boundaries are blurring out. Usually it’s the context that joins organisations. Traffic is one thing that goes cross-organisational. Electricity. Pandemic flues. Global warming. Peace. An Attractive neighbourhood. We don’t have organisations fit to solve these kind of problems. Yet, when an ugly earthquake disrupts a whole nation people join together and work day and night for the same goals of restoring societal functions, delivering comfort and ultimately saving human lives. Then the vision is clear and everybody helps eachother. The leadership then is about co-ordination – what is to be done first. It’s about resource management – which resources shall be used where and in what order. Of course there can be conflicts but usually priorities will settle after enough communication. Leadership can be replaced by a vision or an idea. A mission so clear that everybody sees it and will do anything for it. In a family usually a leader should not be required – neither a boss.

Leading and embracing followers

Leadership should be some kind of a neutral agreement between leaders and followers. Leaders point out directions and followers confirms and communicates the “rightness” – it’s a symbiosis. No specific requirements, just that silent agreement and the communicative feedback-loop. It works for a family as well as in global online processes building social networks. Complex networks in order to remedy social complexity.

A positive spiral

Taking the role as a leader today is really not anything that is clear for anyone. Nobody specific is a leader – everyone is both leaders and followers. In one situation you get inspired by person A, person B in turn gets inspired by person C that gets his/hers inspiration by person A. If the communication infrastructure is in place self-synchronisation will rule.

Risks & opportunities

Communicating values and word of wisdom is good and necessary – after a while people tend to agree upon what the state of the situation is and measures to be taken becomes in focus. Now, here’s the problem. Without a clear direction and a clear vision all initiatives tends to be too small and limited in order to affect everyone in the “tribe”. Too many initiatives that requires engagement in different ways tends to be an ineffective method to create overall change. Co-ordination is needed. Cooperation without coordination and some kind of visualisation of current initiatives becomes ineffective – people need not only know what vision & values everyone shares – they also need to know what activities is done and those in relation (purpose) to the vision.

The world game?

Look at Christophe Poizat’s INSE: http://www.inse.biz/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/INSE-Vision-Agenda.pdf and the goals:


Where does your work fit into this? What existing initiatives can support these goals. Shouldn’t we all aim towards these goals first?

Are these goals in some kind of category that can be synchronised with similar initiatives. What other initiatives forms specific categories..? I’m not saying we should organise everything into “stovepipe”-organisation, but we need to coordinate efforts and organise the work in order to be effective. We need gaming aspects.


Traditional and new Command & Control is about self-synchronisation for complex endeavours. Adding communication, computers, co-operation and coordination we are still missing one level – convergence. Convergence in information technology and in way of working. Facebook and social media is great and all other 160+ cooperation tools out there. Maybe semantic web will fix it, maybe Facebook will evolve (from this crappy level) or maybe some new initiative will succeed in combination the talk with the action.

In order to develop the proper cross-organisational co-operation tool we need the tool itself – it’s some kind of catch 22 situation, sadly. Meanwhile the discussions goes on.


One thought on “Leadership

  1. Pingback: Leadership is not management - Complaints of a perfect eco skeptic

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