What if actual leadership is an opposite of ruling? First we would land in dangerous territory of corny citations like “a good leader is servant to her/his followers”. Past that and we would make some good points about “organic” leadership. And if you’re interested enough – underneath you can read my argument that every decent leader is mainly a “puppet leader”.
Let’s begin with the last point – there are, as always, many good points and arguments about specific theories of leading (in organization, strategic planning and political leadership jazz), no doubt about it. Nearly every one of those philosophies would fit somewhere into function made by two separate axis. One would be bureaucratic/based on hierarchy vs charismatic/based on willingness to follow; and the second – authoritarian vs organic (where voice of followers is considered in decision making). Every “good” leadership tend to become more based on willingness to follow and organic type of managing ideas. The leader is then more of a screen/magnifying glass of her/his followers preferences – a “puppet” in a good sense. To be precise – in a sense that ones needs (as a leader) are aligned and that one himself is a servant to that specific idea which united his/her followers in the first place.
It is the hardest (if even possible) style of leading to pull off continuously, yet when executed well it is the most durable one (paradoxically). Why? Because flat structure and organic management of ideas is the best environment for information to flow, it is then the best environment to growth and for creativity in dealing with upcoming challenges and the one constant thing – the change.
The leader in such organization has to wield great communicating skills so she or he could mediate conflicts swiftly, without too much of wounded feelings. Has to analyze ideas in terms of strategic, long term results and be aware of poor human condition (especially of self) in dealing with innovations – as we all are vulnerable to thinking traps (like stereotypes or argument from ignorance). Last but not least – such great leader should know how to organize workplace and provide every tool and source for her/his followers to make them happy/satisfied, get the job done effectively and grow in the process.
It sounds like some unreachable goal, but it really isn’t. Study Charisma Workshop for communicating skills and to learn intellectual discipline needed. Learn about modern management styles like Scrum, learn about gamification, and just get some (maybe simple for starters) projects done with this style in mind. Last but not least: again – be humble and kind, and by that I mean know your value without comparing it with others. It is hard sometimes, especially when emotions fire up – it helps me to remember in such situations that everyone else is just as lost as others, there is no magic pill for having every answer or life-hack no one else posses. We all are the same in that respect, some just admit it openly and some tend to make a weird secret of it. What is need to be done is more important than someone being right or wrong.
The best leaders organize people with existing needs into communities, merge the tribes rather than wipe other tribes out. What is your opinion on this? Do you agree, or maybe I got something wrong? Please, share.
– Przemek Kucia
P.S. If you’re interested further: this lecture is made by Gabe Newell – founder of Valve (gaming company known best for Half-Life series), a business which is built on leadership model I sketched above.