Does leadership come from above or within? Who is responsible for driving a group of people forwards? Who sets strategy and direction and who follows? Leadership is a complex things, more than just giving direction, more than just following.
Maybe there are multiple leadership roles, even within unified groups, with one person leading in technology, one in communication, one in planning. Maybe the identified ‘leader’ is just the person who can bring these strands together?
I’m interested because one of the questions we ask is learning design is ‘who is responsible for the change’? Who is in the facilitating role? Often it is the manager, the first person that you turn to for support, but they may not be a leader.
Maybe the historical view of leadership was overly coloured by who controlled communication? In a world where we communicated in meetings and by phone, lines of communication had to be clear. As we go ever more social, these older formal structures feel tired, outdated. As we look at communally generated and shared knowledge, the power of Wikis and search engines, the ability to generate consensus and call people to action in the virtual space, maybe leadership is just having great social capital: the ability to rouse the masses?
The answer to the question of who ‘owns’ leadership is one that is not clear to me anymore. I used to think it was the person at the helm, wearing the fancy hat, holding the steering wheel, but i am less sure now. Leadership may be more dispersed and more complex than i had realised. I feel sure that influence, integrity, trust and communication sit close to it, alongside the notion of social capital and your ability to raise and spend it.
It’s an area that we would do well to pay attention to lest it change under our feet and we fail to realise it.