Leadership: Quo Vadis?
It is in vogue now to lecture, write and debate the subject of leadership. I claim it is a passing phenomenon, like the concepts of administration, executive action and management were before it.
All of those concepts deal with the same process: management of change, taking an organization from point A to point B.
At the beginning it was called administration. That is why MBA stands for Master of Business Administration.
Over time “administration” was found to be too limiting as a concept. It was delegated to low level supervisory and bureaucratic positions, and the concept of management was born. Business Schools across the country changed their name from Graduate School of Business Administration to Graduate Schools of Management.
The concept of management was not yielding the right understanding of the process of transforming organizations, and the concept of Executive Action was born. Titles such as CEO, CIO, CMO etc. appeared like mushrooms after the rain, and executive programs emerged in the market place.
Still not good enough to explain how organizations should be transformed, the concept of leadership started dominating the literature.
What is going on here?
Administration, Management, and Leadership have a common purpose. They are theories that prescribe how organizations should be transformed and how to manage change. They are all based on the same paradigm of individualism, that a single individual is the driving force of this transformation, whether it is called Chief Administrator or Manager or CEO or Leader.
“The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.” –Vince Lombardi
As long as we remain with the same paradigm, no concept will be satisfactory. We will continue to change titles, embellish concepts and continue to chase our own tails, reinventing the same wheel from administration to leadership. Leadership will be assigned its place in the annals of social sciences next to management and administration.
Individuals cannot transform organizations. It is a team process.
No individual possesses all the ingredients in his or her personality that are necessary for successful management of change.
“Individuals cannot transform organizations. It is a team process.” -Dr. Adizes
Change the Paradigm
What is needed is a change in paradigm. We should be talking about collaborative leadership, complementary leadership, and team leadership.
Such a change in paradigm has many repercussions: how to compose a complementary team, how to make it collaborative and not self destructive, how to manage the dynamics of team work, etc.
There is more to it.
Team work does not mean all participants are equal. That will create anarchy. There must still be an integrator. A “primus inter pares.” That is the new collaborative leader, not a pointing finger but a thumb that works with each finger to create a hand.
That is the future.