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Follow my leader

I hate the classic distinction between leader and follower. Dee Hock, the founder of Visa, neatly dances us out of it with this beautifully-argued passage from Birth of The Chaordic Age:

“In the deepest sense, distinction between leaders and followers is meaningless. In every moment of life, we are simultaneously leading and following. There is never a time when our knowledge, judgment, and wisdom are not more useful and applicable than that of another. There is never a time when the knowledge, judgment, and wisdom of another are not more useful and applicable than ours. At any time that “other” may be superior, subordinate, or peer.

“Everyone is a born leader. Who can deny that from the moment of birth they were leading parents, siblings, and companions? Watch a baby cry and the parents jump. We were all born leaders; that is, until we were compelled to go to school and taught to be managed and to manage.

“People are not ‘things’ to be manipulated, labeled, boxed, bought, and sold. Above all else, they are not “human resources.” They are entire human beings, containing the whole of the evolving universe, limitless until we start limiting them. We must examine the concept of leading and following with new eyes. We must examine the concept of superior and subordinate with increasing skepticism. We must examine the concept of management and labor with new beliefs. And we must examine the nature of organizations that demand such distinctions with an entirely different consciousness.

“It is true leadership; leadership by everyone; leadership in, up, around, and down this world so badly needs, and dominator management it so sadly gets.

– Dee Hock, Birth of The Chaordic Age

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