What got us to this point may not get us to the next: leadership in the Social Age will be different from that of the Knowledge one. Key facets of the Social Leader are humility, fairness, collaboration, an understanding of how communities work, a strong reputation, the ability to create compelling narratives, the ability to co-create meaning, the ability to change, constantly, and share the learning as they do so.
The leadership we need may not be the leadership we get: hierarchies are good for clarity and control, but may stifle the uninhibited curiosity we need to be truly agile. In the Social Age, the change we feel is constant and our ability to surf on the waves counts, but it’s easier to do that in coherent communities with shared values, communities that may have no formal leadership.
The leadership we need may not come from Leaders, with a capital L and an office to prove their qualifications: it may come instead from our tribes, our communities, our colleagues. It may be contextual and consensual, as circumstance demands.
My point is this: there is no guarantee that the leadership we have or will have imposed is right for the evolved reality in which we live: we need to be part of the conversation. As leaders with formal authority (as Leaders who start with a capital ‘L’), we need to listen to the wider wisdom of our communities and teams. As leaders who lack formal status or authority, we need permission and freedom to question, to explore, to be part of the sense making process.
If we get it right, we will unite behind co-created and co-owned models of change. If we get it wrong, we will be pushing from the top: pushing against water as we lack the engagement, disturbance or momentum to effect true change.
The leadership we get will be the leadership we deserve if we aren’t part of the exploration, questioning and curiosity that shapes it and give it authority.