Another form of leadership is distributed leadership. It involves forming small teams with distributed leadership.
In the case of networks, what would leadership look like?
In this Applying Design Thinking and Complexity Theory in Agile Organization by Jean Tabaka, the focus of leadership in networks would be based on emergence and resilience. To this end, I reckon distributed cognition, with distributed and emergent leadership would be a way to go. This leadership characteristics may be based on the Cynefin Model as developed by Dave Snowden.
Picture: Google image
The sort of leadership style that likely makes sense in networking would then be based on an emergent practice. This requires an emergent and resilient leadership style to steer the networks. Action by leaders in such networks include probe, sense and respond in complex networks.
How to move beyond management and leadership in networks?
Here I ponder how one could move beyond the management and leadership concept of learning in a non-hierarchical organisational setting such as networks or MOOC. John Spencer says in this post I don’t want to manage my class:
Leadership is messy. It takes longer. It is often more confusing, more painful and more counterintuitive than management.
I shared John’s belief, and that leadership relates principally to relationship, and how one could influence the others through a combination of powers, affection, touch of feelings and understanding of emotions, through empathy and resonance.
I have posted the following quotes with comments in the post:
1. Leaders must exemplify the expected standards of behavior – wow, that is the tribal approach, sure! The tribal leader would determine what standards of behavior would be praised, rewarded, amplified, or show as an exemplary to all followers, or would declare such behaviors as the heroic action in the tribal manifestation. Magnificent motto!
2. We must engage emotionally with students in their world – wow! Are leaders emotional counselors or “manipulators” of their students? Of course students are emotional humans, just like their teachers. So what is the role of the teacher in their students’ emotional journey?
3. Teachers and principals themselves are sometimes actors. What sort of actors? Why? How to act?
To me, the whole of education leadership lies with the building and sustaining of relationship in between agents, actors, entities, networks and communities. This would take connections and connectivity to new dimensions – which would relate to people psychologically, mentally, and may be spiritually. This stems from ideas shared among the agents (leader – followers, or everyone being a leader and follower), where information and knowledge are remixed and shaped by each individual to make sense of the interaction and ideas shared.
Leadership in essence is coming into understanding or co-forming of certain beliefs that would reinforce one’s existing experience (both leaders and followers), or leading each others to new and novel experiences in life.
This sort of leadership is emergent in nature, in that it evolves out of the interaction, based on deep reflection of one’s rooted beliefs, and challenges one to re-think about the philosophy often adopted towards certain fundamental concepts. Jenny’s post discussing about the philosophy of MOOC is a great example illustrating the importance of emergent leadership, when open educational practice is practiced by the “leaders” in a course of network.
I will continue to explore this in Part 2 of a series on management and leadership.
Stephen provides a wonderfully crafted post where I would like to re-post it below:
That something else better that isn’t management or leadership
Based upon title
Based upon earned trust
None; offers an example which may be followed or not
Questions are viewed as a threat to authority
Encourages questions to develop an ethical understanding
Engaged and connected
Rules / Boundaries
Based upon conformity
Based upon an ethical, philosophical concept
Based on respect for others
Adapted as needed
Discouraged if it challenges the status quo
Provides a vision that inspires others
Secondary to creativity, freedom and exploration
Forced: based upon a fear
Voluntarily: submitting to another’s strengths to protect one’s weaknesses
There is no submission; exchanges are mutual and of mutual value
Behave externally but rebel internally (or when no one is looking)
Empathetic, ethical thinkers who want to do what is right
Cooperative environment populated by creative and expressive individuals who see respect for and service to others as the highest good
See this video on power – “Why some people have power and others don’t” presented by Professor Pfeffer.
Steve posts in video: How does true leadership relate to the accumulation of personal and organizational power? A reaction to the writings of Jeffrey Pfeffer on the subject, in preparation for a Twitter chat (#LeadershipChat)
In the video, Steve quoted Professor Pfeffer’s assertion that:
“The notion of a non-hierarchical workplace is nonsense. What you need to succeed in the workplace is above all, power. He goes on to talk about the need to cultivate those who are in power above you, so you can move forward in the organization.
There are certain valid points made by Professor Pfeffer, Steve says:
The need to network with influencers in the organization
Ask for help
Seek to be in high visibility positions
Essentially play the game of moving up the ladder in the hierarchy
There are 2 questions posted by Steve.
1. Is it necessarily leadership, when you attain a position of power and influence through these means? Is this a display of genuine ability to create value and empower others and break new ground and make the pie bigger? Or does it mean that you are simply very good at navigating through zero-sum game and beating others up to the top?
My response to Q1:
The leadership practiced with the mere holding of power may be based on individual achievement, rather than collaborative achievement. So I wonder if such leadership practice would really help and support others in organisation in developing and growing into “truly ethical” leaders with a goodwill for the team and organisation in mind. In the long run, such culture of competing in order to beat the colleagues and others to get to the top would likely set up a “role modelling” of getting power by whatever means, in order to succeed. Is this the best way to develop personally and add value to the organization, through this means?
2. Is the giving of our energy, time and attention to this game really the best use of our leadership ability? Do we really want to give ourselves to the building up of these types of hierarchical organizations? Or do we want to give all of our skills, our will, our characteristics, traits and abilities to building bigger pies that enable other people may be in non-hierarchical organizations.
My response to Q2:
I think we need to reflect on the significance of giving our energy, time and attention at work, and how that would relate to our achievement of personal goals and organisational goals. Leadership is a means to an end, rather than an end by itself. Our question could be: To what extent would a hierarchical organisation, especially in this time of flux, be responsive to the changing needs of our customers and stakeholders? The sort of leadership styles and culture for an organization would likely be context driven, but should be aimed to provide values to the organisation, the leaders and those working within the organisation. The building of bigger pies would likely benefit the organisation in the long run, as more people are empowered to make decision and respond to the customers needs and satisfying the customers.
There are however, many assumptions behind this building of bigger pies, as there are implications when people are still trying to compete and beat others in order to get promoted.
“Let’s discuss this role of personal and corporate power and how it relates to true leadership.” Steve says.
In a hierarchical organisation, it is undeniable that power and leadership is positively correlated and in most cases, the top leader would have the most power.
It seems to me that such power game has evolved throughout history, and I don’t think there would be any significant changes in the case of a typical hierarchical organisation in the near future.
The question is: When an “organization” is re-structured in a networked organisational structure, where social networking and learning networks are fused into the system, would this power game work?
Is empowerment a reality, or a rhetoric or Utopian concept when it comes to power in leadership?
How does power and leadership play out in networks?