Of leaders – the heroic and not-so heroic


As part of the Stanford SEED program, our management team is required to read some pretty deep articles, case studies and management papers so we can all get on the same strategic page and create the Business Transformation Plan for Suyati. One of the articles that I read included a couple of chapters from “Power Up: Transforming Organizations Through Shared Leadership” by David L. Bradford and Allan R. Cohen.  The essence of the article is that Heroic leadership, the kind that gets things done by sheer will, command, authority and knowledge is slowly and surely giving way to not-so heroic leaders (the actual term used is Post-Heroic Leaders). These leaders do not lead per se. They create environments where individuals step up and take responsibility for their success. This guarantees the maximum contribution from every employee as they become more empowered, take charge, step up and meet and exceed expectations, in turn becoming catalysts for others also to become like them.

Hmm. Hmm.

No more leaders to romance or moon over? Can you imagine a world without heroic leaders? Or is it that technology and empowerment has meant that there is no need to technically “follow” anyone since all of us have equal access to information, and have the freedom to take a decision based on that information? If everyone then became capable of leading, do we really need leaders? Won’t post-heroic leadership just be a misnomer for “co-walkers”? No one to lead and no one to follow?

Harvey Specter, SUITS. Captain Jack Sparrow, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN. Elizabeth McCord, MADAM SECRETARY.

Quick. What do these three have in common? Apart from being dynamic, good looking, smart and exciting? They are all leaders in their own right. Yes, all of them push, blackmail, back-stab, coerce, manipulate and bulldoze their way into reaching and staying at the top. But they do bring to mind heroes of fables and legends – those larger than life, sometimes even Godlike, lovable rascals who we love, adore and look up to. We know we are not them, can never be like them, and sometimes even question how they get their results. We love that they are different, fearless, saucy, any-means-to get-to-the-end heroes. And we sleep better at night knowing that there are heroes out there who help us hope, love and keep that spark of romance alive.

Is it time to say goodbye to those heroic leaders?

Image courtesy: https://www.goodfreephotos.com/vector-images/superhero-vector-clipart.png.php





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