The Leadership We Need

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

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.

The leadership we need may be what we see in other organisations or individuals and hope to learn from ourselves. The leadership we get may that which is imposed upon us

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.

The Social Leadership Handbook Introduction Page

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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17 Responses to The Leadership We Need

  1. Julian, love the post and completely agree. I’ve written elsewhere in conversations on schooling that a hierarchical leader (teacher, manager) is still chosen or not by the hierarchical followers. It’s great when it works, but when the ‘Leader’ is not organically chosen then things are difficult and we get a tonne of books/training on ‘how to be a better leader’ thrown around. Have you heard of Megan Reitz? She’s left corporate to complete a PhD and a book on Relational Leadership and her findings, in a nutshell, are that Leadership is created between people who are connecting – it’s dynamic, multi-faceted, multi-layered and can move around between people in a group. I’m excited to see these discussions developing, via your work too, because there’s always been a sense for me of how much good is missed and lost when we think of ‘Leaders’ as entities separate from others who can become better and more powerful by altering the techniques they use on their assigned followers. Here’s her book anyway where I’ve written a review expanding my thought-thread further:

    • julianstodd says:

      Thanks for the book recomendation and for sharing your thoughts and ideas around this: very valuable to my own and others evolving understanding. Thanks also Leah for your continued interest in and support of my own writing and work over time: i appreciate it and gain inspiration from it. Best wishes, Julian

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  3. AkinMore says:

    I love every point raise here Julian. Community based leadership is something that is imperative in a nation like mine. Developing and everyone is looking up to the president to do something for their communities when in real sense its not possible. We have over 774 Provinces and I have been thinking of how communities can become viable on their own with a little or no support at all from the centre. Will love to be a part of this conversation. Thanks.

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  5. I really enjoyed reading this and have signed up to your blog. The link came from a fried who has recently been inspired at a leadership academy. I think that is the most important part of this that leadership we need comes from our tribes… I know I am working hard to build mine! I am always looking for ways to constantly learn from those around me… Definitely keen to keep exploring!

    • julianstodd says:

      How kind of your friend to make the introduction – and i agree, our tribes are so important to us, to help us learn. We use them for ‘sense making’ and to share our evolving narrative with. Do drop me an email and perhaps i can send you a copy of the Social Leadership Handbook, if it’s of interest, best wishes, Julian

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