A while back, I had the opportunity to read Barbara Kellerman's book "The End of Leadership." And that got me thinking. Why? Because the book challenges the traditional notions of what it means to be a leader in today's world. And even though it was written in 2012, her approach to leadership is more accurate than ever.
It's no news that the last few years have been an unexpected rollercoaster. And that it had a great impact on the corporate world. From the unknown brought by the pandemic to the trends such as the Great Resignation to the fear of a possible war and now the knock on the door of a recession, the business theater has changed tremendously. And that also includes the daily tasks of leaders.
According to Kellerman, the old leadership models are no longer effective or relevant. She continuously highlights the fact that a new kind of leadership is needed. All to navigate the complex and rapidly changing landscape of modern organizations.
But that is not a new topic around Hapkey's community. It is something that we have been preaching ever since the project saw that light of day. And the reason why I am so excited about Barbara's essay is that it highlights all of our cour's beliefs.
Anyway, one of the book's central arguments is that leaders are increasingly disconnected from the people they lead. Naturally, this disconnection can result in a lack of empathy and understanding of the needs and perspectives of those being led. And that can result in ineffective or even harmful leadership.
"The more leadership has been professionalized, the more it has become isolated from the very people it is meant to serve"
To address this issue, Kellerman argues that leaders need to be more inclusive, collaborative, and distributed.
"Inclusion requires that leaders work with a diverse group of followers and that followers have opportunities to shape and challenge their leaders"
But what does collaboration mean in this case? It means that leaders must work with others to achieve shared goals. It also means that they should rely on more than their own expertise or authority.
Another interesting point is that distributed leadership recognizes that leadership can come from anywhere within an organization. Thus, it is not solely the responsibility of those in formal leadership positions.
Kellerman also discusses the role of followers in shaping and challenging leadership. She notes that followers can be active agents in determining the direction of their organizations. Moreover, the author points out that leaders should be open to feedback and criticism from those they lead.
"Followership is a dynamic process in which both leaders and followers are active participants, each affecting the other in important ways"
This being said, if you are a leader searching for a new approach to navigating the complex and rapidly changing modern organizational landscape, I have some final advice for you.
As a leader, you must recognize the importance of inclusivity, collaboration, and distributed leadership. That includes adapting to changing trends. Furthermore, as a leader, you must have the courage to empower your team and work collaboratively to solve your organization's challenges. And listening to your team's issues and accepting their advice and criticism is a crucial part. Also, stepping aside from time to time and allowing each team member to take responsibility for others is just as important.
Last but not least, I want you to remember that leadership is an ongoing process that requires constant attention and effort. Therefore, start taking action now to become the leader your team needs!
So, tell me, when was the last time you asked your employees how happy they are with their roles?
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