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The times demand a new style of leadership. Employees today are highly trained and independent-they can offer much more to an enterprise than simply their obedience. And with the relationship between worker and organization constantly changing, no one person will likely be able to lead alone. Creating Leaderful Organizations presents a paradigm of leadership tailored to our times, one that is based on mutual-rather than heroic-leadership.
It is not merely consultative, with leaders graciously allowing followers to participate in leadership, nor is it a stewardship approach in which the leader occasionally steps aside to allow others to take over temporarily. It is a revolutionary new approach that transforms leadership from an individual property to a collective responsibility. Raelin details how "leaderful" practice can accomplish the critical processes of leadership more effectively than any existing approach. And using actual examples from leading-edge organizations, he offers practical guidance for assessing your own and others' leaderful predisposition, preparing for leaderful practice, distributing leadership roles, and dealing with resistance to change.
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Joe Raelin is an international authority in work-based learning and collaborative leadership development. He holds the Knowles Chair of Practice-Oriented Education at Northeastern University and was formerly Professor of Management at Boston College. His research has centered on human resource development, focusing in particular on executive education through the use of action learning. He is a prolific writer as well as a management consultant with some thirty-five years of experience working with a wide variety of organizational clients.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The Tenets of Leaderful Practice
What Is “Leaderful Practice”?
I would like to introduce you to an alternative paradigm of leadership: “leaderful practice.” It directly challenges the conventional view of leadership as “being out in front.” In the twenty-first-century organization, we need to establish communities where everyone shares the experience of serving as a leader, not serially, but concurrently and collectively.
Leaderful practice is unique compared to empowerment models that have become popular in recent years in that it does not merely present a consultative model wherein leaders in authority allow “followers” to participate in their leadership. Nor does it equate to stewardship approaches that see the leader step aside to allow others to take over when necessary. Instead, it offers a true mutual model that transforms leadership from an individual property into a new paradigm that redefines leadership as a collective practice.
It may seem somewhat ambitious to suggest that a book can produce an entirely new paradigm, but the recharacterization of leadership that I suggest is hardly a revolution. The subject in question is already in motion and, thus, has but to be brought into popular consciousness. In fact, although I had assumed that I had invented a new word—leaderful—I subsequently discovered that such authors as Robert Kenny, Jessica Lipnack, Charlotte Roberts, and Margaret Wheatley, as well as many other leadership consultants, had already made many references to it. So, I am now convinced that when all of us in the working world fully reflect upon the metaphor of “being leaderful,” we will collaborate in this endeavor of transforming leadership practice as we know it. The chaotic world of corporate affairs especially requires leadership that diverges from age-old conceptions of leading by control. The only possible way to lead our way out of trouble in management is to become mutual and to share our leadership.
What Is Leadership?
Before we get ahead of ourselves, I need to first provide a depiction of what leadership itself represents. Once we have a sense of what it is, we will have a base of operations to determine whether leaderful practice can accomplish leadership as effectively, or more effectively (as I contend), than conventional leadership practice. In other words, as we encounter the new ideas and behaviors of leaderful practice, however novel or inventive they may appear, we need to assess whether they nevertheless continue to accomplish the enterprise of leadership. A good place to start is to review four critical processes that are mobilized by leadership. The model depicted in figure 1-11 is iterative, so I could start my explanation anywhere, but for the sake of clarity, let’s begin with setting the mission.
1. Leadership is concerned with setting the mission or direction of an enterprise. At some point, whether in the beginning of an activity or as it evolves, the community needs to know where it is going.
2. Accompanying the mission is the need to actualize the goals of the enterprise. A host of activities and tasks need to be accomplished to get the work done.
3. There is also a need to sustain the commitment and cohesiveness of the working unit. Community members want to feel that they are part of something.
FIGURE 1-1. Four Critical Processes of Leadership
4. While members need to feel cohesive, they also need to be adaptable to respond to changes that may require a shift in direction. As members entertain alternatives, the mission may become redefined; hence, the process begins anew.
The first critical process, setting the mission, defines the outcome to which the community becomes dedicated. A mission becomes a stabilizing factor in the face of pressure from forces, both inside and outside the system, to change it. Though subject to change from the adaptive process, the result of which may cause occasional shifts in the mission, the mission gives any system a consistent boundary for a period of time.
The interest among major firms to define strategic direction gives testimony to this essential process. Wal-Mart, for example, makes its mission very simple: “To give ordinary folk the chance to buy the same thing as rich people.” Other companies are more specific. Federal Express states: “FedEx is committed to our People-Service-Profit Philosophy. We will produce outstanding financial returns by providing totally reliable, competitively superior, global, air-ground transportation of high-priority goods and documents that require rapid, time-certain delivery.” In either instance, members of these corporate communities obtain a good sense of where their company wishes to go.
The second critical process, actualizing goals, is concerned with how a community organizes itself to extend social and political energy and shape its economic performance. Members of a community engage with one another to work on behalf of their mission. Failing to engage in the requisite tasks to accomplish a mission typically results in mission failure itself, no matter how noble the mission.
Let’s look at one of the most important institutions in our society: primary and secondary education. The United States severely lags behind the industrialized world in standard indices of educational accomplishment, not to mention the pervasive criticism and consternation from American citizens that our schools have not done their job properly. In this case, the mission is not in question, though some may disagree about what the education of children should comprise (should it be, for example, the command of academic subjects or a comprehensive sense of the meaning and practice of citizenship?). By most accounts, the criticism against our educational system rests on how we structure our school institutions to deliver the best product that we can. We also seem stifled regarding what we should actually teach students and how we should assess their learning; when, where, and how long to teach them; how to prepare, supervise, and evaluate our teachers; how much to spend on educational resources and how to obtain these very resources; and how to manage the entire educational enterprise.
The third critical process, sustaining commitment and cohesiveness, addresses the need of system units and constituents to come together in a mutual adjustment process to support the system as a whole. The need to coordinate its parts faces any community as it grows. This can be partially accomplished by structuring processes. But leadership is also required to see that people remain engaged and supportive of one another, that they have complementary expectations, and that conflicts are brought out into the open and managed for the good of the whole.
Consider how a team within a Fortune 50 yarn-making plant responded leaderfully to a customer complaint.2 Apparently, the customer had received a yarn shipment of incorrect size. The researchers first noticed the team literally “huddling” in response to this unexpected turn of events. Then, various team members launched into action. Through a series of phone calls, some members first acquired needed extra raw material from another part of the plant. Team members scheduled several periods of overtime to redo the order. Meanwhile, the customer was informed that the correct size yarn would ship in a matter of days.
The fourth process, responding to changes, is a boundary function that links a system with its environment. Any system not only has to organize itself internally but must also be prepared to change in response to new environmental conditions. Hence, communities cannot become overly cohesive or overly committed to any course of action that would preclude a shift in direction when necessary. Although not always active, a repertoire of available resources and actions should be available to facilitate a need to change course.
Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), the preeminent startup in the minicomputer era, was perhaps one of the most admired U.S. companies in the 1970s and early ’80s. No less admired was its iconoclastic founder and CEO, Ken Olsen. However, DEC and its leadership missed the exploding demand for desktop computers that started in the mid-eighties, an oversight from which it never fully recovered. Though it found another niche, Internet-based computer systems installation and service, Compaq Computer Corp. eventually bought DEC in 1998.
In order for organizations to remain adaptable, leadership must occur in many areas, not just from the top. Indeed, many of our most adaptable responses arise from regular employees or from those in the organization who listen to their customers. Microsoft’s Internet applications are due as much to students and to new hires, among whom were inveterate Web surfers, as to Bill Gates. Starbucks’s Frappaccino came from a store manager in Los Angeles, and most franchise operators, like McDonalds, will tell you that the best ideas come from the franchisees in the field rather than from headquarters.
What Is Conventional Leadership?
Having identified what leadership represents, we next consider the dominant approach to effecting leadership. As the reigning paradigm, conventional leadership has qualities that are considered commensurate with leadership itself. As we shall see, there is an emerging recognition that this dominant approach may be listing as we prepare to manage twenty-first-century organizations. There are four tenets of conventional leadership.
1. Leadership is serial. Once one achieves the office of leadership, that position continues at least for the duration of the term of office. Only when one completes his or her term—or vacates or is forced to leave the office—does leadership transfer to the next leader, though it may return at times to the original person. Leaders are thus always in a position of leadership and do not cede the honor to anyone else. Upon acquiring power, most leaders attempt to sustain or increase it. Giving up or sharing power with others would be seen as abdicating one’s responsibility.
2. Leadership is individual. That a leader is one person signifies leadership’s solitary role. An enterprise has only one leader and normally such a person is designated as the authority or position leader. It would weaken or at least confuse leadership to talk about having more than a single leader or to share leadership because there would not be a concrete endrole for making decisions and directing actions.
3. Leadership is controlling. The conventional leader believes it is his or her ultimate duty to direct the enterprise and engender the commitment of community members. To ensure smooth coordination of functions, the leader acts as the spokesperson for the enterprise. The subordinate role is to follow the guidance of the leader and to help him or her successfully accomplish the enterprise’s mission. Leaders may choose to share their deepest beliefs but only with their closest associates.
4. Leadership is dispassionate. Although the leader may recognize that employees have feelings, the leader must make the tough decisions for the enterprise in a dispassionate manner. Tough decisions may result in not satisfying (or may even hurt) particular stakeholders, including employees, but accomplishing the mission of the enterprise must come first. Leaders are also the authoritative source when the operation faces problems, and they tend to exude a confidence that they are in charge and that subordinates can rely upon them to handle any challenge.
What Does It Mean to Be “Leaderful”?
In the opening vignette, Jamie Waters cautioned against calling groups leaderless. In leaderless groups, there is no longer a need for a leader, or even a facilitator, because the group has learned to conduct its affairs on its own. It no longer has, or needs, leadership. The problem with this idea is that it suggests a group may at times be devoid of leadership. It can go on for a while, albeit tenuously, until there’s a crisis. At that point, a leader may need to emerge to settle things down. Consider, though, that some groups don’t lose their leadership when they work in sync like a well-oiled machine. Leadership at this point becomes distributed across all members of the community. It is not leaderless; it is leaderful! As Jamie noted, it is full of leadership since everyone shares the experience of providing leadership.
Leading in Your Community I would like to make a new reference to the unit that receives or conducts leadership. Let’s refer to it as a community. A community is any setting where people congregate to accomplish work together. Hence, it can be a small group, an office, a plant, or a large organization. It can be in the private, public, or civil (nonprofit) sectors. I prefer to use the word community, rather than group or organization, because it is more hospitable to a notion of leadership that applies to the whole rather than to the parts or their sum. It also allows me to refer to leadership within any interpersonal context, rather than having to distinguish whether it refers to team or managerial or strategic settings. To say that leaderful practice occurs within a community comes with one qualifier: I am drawing attention to leadership’s interpersonal character. The community is a unit in which members already have or may establish human contact with others. In this sense, it is a social structure that extends beyond the self, that links people together for some common purpose. Most of us can see ourselves as belonging to a number of communities. Some of them may not necessarily entail work; for example, people may assemble for recreational or spiritual purposes. In this book, I am most concerned with leadership that helps our communities work better together.
Some groups don’t lose their leadership when they work in sync like a well-oiled machine. Leadership at this point becomes distributed across all members of the community. It is not leaderless; it is leaderful.
The Four C’s of Leaderful Practice Leaderful leadership offers an alternative approach to conventional leadership that is ripe for the requirements of our communities in the current era. It is an integrative model that has been in the making for some time but for its coherence. In other words, it contains historical traditions that, without integration, have not been able to supplant the dominant heroic paradigm. Leaderful leadership can also accomplish the four processes of leadership in more settings and with more pervasive effectiveness than the conventional approach. Let’s consider how the four tenets of conventional leadership can be replaced with what I have labeled the four C’s. Leaderful managers are concurrent, collective, collaborative, and compassionate.
Figure 1-2 displays the two leadership approaches as a set of continua. I have chosen continua because most of us are not completely settled in one approach or the other. As much as I would wish for my readers to create fully leaderful organizations, it takes some practice to get there, as chapter 3 will point out. As such, some of you will find yourselves more leaderful compared to others but will also find that you vary in your leaderful tendencies across the tenets. For example, you may be a compassionate leader but believe firmly that leadership of the enterprise should gravitate to you as the ultimate single decision maker. Further, you may find that you embrace leaderful practice only under particular circumstances, such as when your colleagues are ready to share leadership with you. Otherwise, perhaps you tend to take control of the community.
As I expect that few readers will consider themselves...
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Book Description BERRETT-KOEHLER, United States, 2003. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Leadership has traditionally resided in one person with many followers. This book presents a new model of mutual leadership, which transforms leadership from one individual s responsibility into a new way of working for everyone. Creating Leaderful Organizations demonstrates the bottom-line benefits of this model, shows how it is already working in numerous companies, and offers guidance in implementation. Author Joseph Raelin explains how to distribute leadership roles; develop individuals to be leaders; deal with resistance; and achieve the 4 c s of leaderful practice -- concurrent leadership, collective leadership, collaborative leaders, and compassionate leaders. Seller Inventory # BZV9781576752333
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Book Description BERRETT-KOEHLER, United States, 2003. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Leadership has traditionally resided in one person with many followers. This book presents a new model of mutual leadership, which transforms leadership from one individual s responsibility into a new way of working for everyone. Creating Leaderful Organizations demonstrates the bottom-line benefits of this model, shows how it is already working in numerous companies, and offers guidance in implementation. Author Joseph Raelin explains how to distribute leadership roles; develop individuals to be leaders; deal with resistance; and achieve the 4 c s of leaderful practice -- concurrent leadership, collective leadership, collaborative leaders, and compassionate leaders. Seller Inventory # AAC9781576752333
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