The next good article in Harvard Business Review is called “In Praise of the Incomplete Leader,” by Deborah Ancona, Tomas Malone, Wanda Orlikowski, and Peter Senge. They point to a myth of leadership in this country: that leaders are the flawless people at the top who have it all figured out and can do everything right. They argue (and I agree) that it is ridiculous to expect this of leaders, and they suggest a more “distributed” leadership model. Of course, it doesn’t surprise me that Petere Senge, one of the leaders of “systems thinking,” has a model that distributes leadership throughout the system, but I think that concept is so critical. Leaders at the top must know when to let go and let people who are better than them do some of the leadership functions. And they boil the functions down to four areas:
I like this framework. Simple but powerful. Here’s one quote about relating.
Traditional images of leadership didn’t assign much value to relating. Flawless leaders shouldn’t need to seek counsel from anyone outside their tight inner circle, the thinking went, and they were expected to issue edicts rather than connect on an emotional level. Times have changed, of course, and in this era of networks, being able to build trusting relationships is a requirement of effective leadership.
I completely agree, of course. The authors said up front that they were synthesizing their research with the writings of others on leadership, and the theme of relationships is there. But I still get the feeling that the “traditionalists” are more numerous than the leadership authors think.