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Why most leadership sucks

OK, time to admit something weird in a leadership blog – I am absolutely ambivalent about the whole idea of leadership. We lead ourselves. Full stop. I don’t want anyone leading me. Do you?

I love being inspired by people who provoke in me that feeling of “Wow, I could do that, too,” or “I never thought of it like that before”. I would love it if some of the things I do even occasionally provided inspiration to other people. But, I don’t want to be a ‘leader’ and I don’t want to be ‘led’. I guess it’s the old communitarian in me.

But, the great thing is that traditional notions of leadership don’t work any more anyway. So, I work in this area because we have a tabula rasa – a blank sheet where we can virtually start again and get it right this time; allow distributed leadership cultures to emerge in which everyone leads.

Peter Senge has updated his Fifth Discipline book with 100 extra pages that help relaunch the battle for distributed leadership after a decade or so when the CEO as hero-leader seemed, depressingly, to be back in fashion.

I couldn’t agree more with this from him (my emphasis in bold):

“Most leadership strategies are doomed to failure from the outset…The first problem with all of the stuff that’s out there about leadership is that we haven’t got a clue what we’re talking about. We use the word “leader” to mean “executive”: The leader is the person at the top. That definition says that leadership is synonymous with a position. And if leadership is synonomous with a position, then it doesn’t matter what a leader does. All that matters is where the leader sits. If you define a leader as an executive, then you absolutely deny everyone else in an organization the opportunity to be a leader.”

Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes…

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