Society for Organizational LearningFounding Chair and Senior Lecturer at MIT
Creating Leaderful Organizations: How to Bring Out Leadership in Everyoneby Joseph A Raelin
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.See more details below
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.
Society for Organizational LearningFounding Chair and Senior Lecturer at MIT
Retired Chairman, CEO and President, Harley-Davidson Inc.
author of Stewardship and The Answer to How Is Yes
University Professor, USC and co-author of Geeks and Geezers.
- Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
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- New Edition
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Creating Leaderful OrganizationsHOW TO BRING OUT LEADERSHIP IN EVERYONE
By Joseph A. Raelin
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2003 Joseph A. Raelin
All right reserved.
ContentsTables and Figures....................ix
PART I Presenting a New Paradigm for Leadership: Leaderful Practice....................1
1. The Tenets of Leaderful Practice....................5
2. The Distinctiveness of Leaderful Practice....................29
3. The Challenge of Leaderful Practice....................45
4. The Development of Leaderful Practice....................59
5. The Benefits of Leaderful Practice....................72
PART II Uncovering the Traditions of Leaderful Practice....................83
6. Concurrent Leadership....................89
7. Collective Leadership....................113
8. Collaborative Leadership....................153
9. Compassionate Leadership....................206
10. Getting Started on Your Leaderful Quest....................241
About the Author....................289
Chapter OneThe 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 1-1 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.
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. 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 end-role
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.
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.
Excerpted from Creating Leaderful Organizations by Joseph A. Raelin Copyright © 2003 by Joseph A. Raelin. Excerpted by permission.
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