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Favorite HBR "Imagining the Future of Leadership" Post #10 (It's Not About You)

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Jan 25, 2011

In a post entitled, "It's Not About You," Deborah Ancona and Elaine Backman point to collective networks, rather than "great men" as an important focus of leadership inquiry, citing the revolutionary nature of this shift in practice and arguing for the need to incorporate alternatives to hierarchical leadership into our practice and theory. While they focus on the "firm" as the key actor, their findings are perhaps more relevant to leaders of community initiatives for whom hierarchical, command-and-control-centered models of leadership have never been particuarly accurate.

Recent work on "distributed leadership", thery argue, has shown that:

  • Leadership can be shared across divisions, even firms (or organizations)
  • Leadership can and ofen is assumed by individuals not in formal leadership positions
  • Change can occur from the bottom up.  

Yet, organizations and formal structures can play important roles in mitigating risk and accelerating growth.

These challenges of balance, leadership diversity, and alignment should be familiar to workforce leaders, and increasingly to the business and institutional leaders and to the interns and volunteers with whom they work.

Note: The entire six-week Harvard Business Review blog series can be
accessed here.