Most leadership educators are aware of the new leadership paradigm: the focus on process rather than on the individual or “the leader”. Although we understand this concept and happily talk about it, I wonder if we really understand what the implications of this approach are.
Deborah Meehan, poses three questions we believe we should be exploring:
- If we are trying to foster leadership as a collaborative process is it counter- productive to select and focus on building the skills of individuals?
- If leadership is enacted by many people who bring different skills to a collective endeavor, why would we try to cultivate all of the leadership skills in one person?
- Should we be recruiting and supporting people who want to work on a shared purpose or in a common context to support collective leadership and accelerate action learning?
A little bit more about the post…
Most leadership programs focus on building the skill sets of individuals, often to prepare them to lead in organizations. As we embrace leadership as a process, what might be the limitations of selecting and developing individuals? Are we inadvertently reinforcing the individualism that has infused our leadership thinking by lifting up and recognizing a few individuals for achievements that are often the work of many collaborators? Our current leadership lens may be preventing us from seeing the interactions of many who were engaged in change as we zero in on the most visible, outspoken or charismatic individuals. Some have gone so far as to express the concern that the process of inadvertently ‘anointing’ some as “leaders” may undermine effective team efforts by undervaluing the contributions of others who were engaged in the leadership process that is producing results.
The post mentions various ideas that have been implemented by different organizations (read the post). It’s exciting to know that other leadership educators are pushing the envelope regarding leadership development delivery strategies.