Kollektivt Ledarskap

Jag har missad att lämna in bokrencensionen – jag har inte hittat en bok som verkade intressant nog på sistone. Då bokrecensionen handlade om inspiration tänkte jag att dela med mig något annat som har inspirerad mig. Den följande artikel har jag skrivit för er, men eftersom jag också delar den på min egen hemsida är den på engelksa. Enjoy!

There has been said many words about leadership – from Laò-Tsè’s Taò Tê Kīng to full-blown scientific studies. There have been descriptive definitions, normative instructions, some arguing for the greater good, some for the reign of a few, some generalizing, some specialising. I have to admit, that I don’t know much about leadership and I don’t pretend to – but coming in contact with great many people and their ideas, I have seen an emerging trend for leadership that I want to share with you.

Before I go into the explanation of the trend that has exposed itself to me, we need a working definition. How can we explain the concept of “leadership”? Let’s pick one definition that is both easily understandable and practicable to use: Simon Sinek’s hypothesis “First why and then trust”:

Simon Sinek offers a hypothesis on how leadership should be structured to be considered good leadership. He argues for a type of leadership that is adequate for human interaction, one in which the archetypical human being can feel him- or herself to be welcomed. This type of leadership should encompass two things:

  • a great, SMART vision, and
  • trust between the people that are working to achieve this vision.

In a former post on glokala.se we learned about sociocracy, an innovative way of delegating decision-making throughout a whole organization. It is in itself an emerging trend – but only one to understand the bigger trend that I want to write about. Sociocracy prevents autocracy and promotes trust in people and the motion towards a higher vision. Here we see Simon Sinek’s hypothesis in action, but more radically than he verbalizes it on stage: The power to rule the organization is (almost) evenly shared between all members in the organization. This is democratization of organizational leadership.

There is another emerging trend in leadership that we need to understand before we can turn towards the trend I want to talk about: Democratization of system leadership. So far, representative democracy (mostly in “western” countries) has catered for the collective needs of its people on the one hand, while organizations have catered for individual needs of its stake- and shareholders on the other hand. This is how needs of human individuals are being met system-wide. Western society has been very successful in terms of economic growth with this kind of strategy. All people with the means to participate in representative democracy and access to individual organizations were able to satisfy their wants and needs. Some, however, are not so lucky and are left out from this societal system. They are not able to send their representatives or to voice their needs to organizations – thus, their participation in society in general is obstructed. This problem is being amplified by several trends, for example globalization, fiercer competition on all levels and in all dimensions (even within the Social Sector), ever higher cravings by top leaders (in the conventional sense of the word), ecological destruction, and higher turn-over speeds through advancements in technology. The result is an ever higher gap between “the haves” and “the have-nots” which in turn expands stress on the societal system as a whole. This stress is the beginning of a vicious circle and if not released, might lead to a break down of the whole societal system. In the end we are all sitting in the same boat that currently drifts aimlessly through a seemingly shoreless ocean.

This desperate situation is the medium on which an innovative type of leadership emerges: system leadership. System leadership is the act of leading systems to solve systemic problems. According to Senge, Hamilton und Kania, there are three distinct core capabilities for system leaders:

  1. The ability to see the a larger system,
  2. the capability to foster reflection and generative conversations, and
  3. the ability to shift the collective focus from reactive problem solving to co-creating the future.

The collective leadership approach makes it possible to steer a whole system towards a shared vision

Leadership has so far been about the decisions of individual people, their believes and opinions and the decisions of individual organizations and their believes and opinions. This conventional approach to leadership assumed that the act of leading cannot be shared. Sociocracy on the one hand shows that it is systemically possible to detach leadership from single persons within organizations. Instead everyone is granted a part in decision making. System leadership on the other hand makes clear, that challenges that are too big for individual organizations to handle – and might it be the state as a big single organization – can be solved through a collective approach. We are on the verge of democratized leadership. We are in an age, were the thought of collective leadership is made possible.

It might not be far-fetched that organizations and individuals that embrace these new concepts together with other like-minded organizations and individuals will trump those who don’t. The reason behind this might be simple marked dynamics (organizations which adopt collective leadership will be more capable of offering good products and services) or legitimization (only organizations which adopt collective leadership will be supported by the public) or maybe both.

Coming back to Simon Sinek’s hypothesis, we remember, there are two things needed for good leadership: vision and trust. I want to imagine a society where trust is one of the most important building blocks and in which a shared vision that holds a desirable future for everyone is possible. Collective leadership is able to introduce a conversation about what this vision might look like and to build the trust that is necessary to transform this vision into reality together.

More on collective leadership can be found here: www.collectiveleadership.com.

This article has been republishes from schnuw.com.

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