We can be leaders…for more than one day
Posted by Mark Bennett on October 31, 2008
Gretchen posted not too long ago a series on leadership for the 21st century, including how we need leaders more than heroes. In these tumultuous times with so much uncertainty, people are looking for leaders in both the public and private sectors. But while the media tends to focus their attention on “newsworthy” (i.e. advertisement-selling) “celebrity” leadership, or the lack thereof, the rest of us are realizing that leaders are needed everywhere.
The good news is that it is easier than ever before to be a leader, especially the kind of leader that is really needed. Seth Godin makes this case in his latest book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. It lays out an evolution in the model for leadership – one that makes each of us a potential leader if we are willing to stop avoiding it, overcome our fear, and just start. “Tribes” are groups of people with a shared interest and a way to communicate. We can see how the Internet as a tool, especially with Web 2.0 technologies, can help tribes to form. However, to be really effective, tribes need leaders. Leadership, as Seth puts it, “is about creating change you believe in.” That’s a very succinct way to put it, but it hits the main points – 1) “creating change” is acting to affect the status quo, and 2) it’s what “you believe in” meaning you have accountability coupled with your passion.
So what’s the role of the leader? Again, Seth lays it out simply – “increase the effectiveness of the tribe and it’s members by:“
transforming the shared interest into a passionate goal and desire for change,
providing tools to allow members to tighten their communications, and
leveraging the tribe to allow it to grow and gain new members.
What’s also important to note is that this kind of leadership is more about empowering a movement by helping the tribe to communicate than about telling people what they should do. Also, the emphasis is more about the effectiveness of the tribe in achieving the change than growing the size of the tribe for its own sake.
Note how while the leader has accountability and personal commitment, it’s really the tribe that is the focus and the purpose. In many ways, this echoes the concepts of “Level 5 Leadership” as described in the book, Good to Great (i.e. the combination of personal humility and professional will.)
For a small book, “Tribes” has a lot of terrific ideas. Its notion that leadership is not only something we can all be doing, but also ought to be doing as well, is shared by TalentedApps. Can you see this happening in your organization, community, or nation? If not, and you believe it would help, would you be willing to create change? Who knows what tribe is just waiting for someone like you to step up?