Posts Tagged 'leadership'

Leading in the Online Chaord

The concept of chaordic leadership goes back to Dee Hock, the founder of Visa International and a leading management thinker. In The Art of Chaordic Leadership he defines chaord as “any self-organizing, self governing, adaptive, nonlinear, complex organism, organization, community or system, whether physical, biological or social, the behavior of which harmoniously blends characteristics of both chaos and order”. Continue reading ‘Leading in the Online Chaord’

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Seth Godin’s Approach to Leadership

I have recently read and reviewed Seth Godin’s Tribes, and I thought it would be worth sharing some of his insights on leadership.

  • Tribes. According to Seth, tribes are groups of people that share a common interest and have a way to communicate. While most of the leaders leverage the tribe so that it can grow and gain new members, effective leaders transform the shared interest into a passionate goal and desire for change, and provide tools to improve the communication between tribe members and the leader.
  • Movements. Seth quotes Bill Bradley’s definition of a movement that contains three elements: a narrative that tells a story about the group and the future it’s trying to build; a connection between and among the leader and the tribe; and something to do. Only focusing on something to do is not enough.
  • Tightness. A leader can improve her tribe on two dimensions – its size and its tightness. While most leaders focus on size, sometimes a smaller but tighter tribe works better. There can be many strategies for tightening a tribe, like creating rituals, introducing people to one another, and providing a communications platform for tribe members.
  • Motivation. You can’t become an effective leader when you focus on your benefits. Great leaders focus on the followers and get their compensation from watching the tribe thrive.
  • Creating a Micromovement. Seth shares a step-by-step approach of creating an online micromovement:
  1. Publish a manifesto
  2. Allow followers to contact you
  3. Allow followers to contact one another
  4. Realize that money is not the point of a movement
  5. Track progress
  • Elements of Leadership. Challenge the status quo. Create a culture around your goal and involve others in that culture. Be curious. Use charisma. Communicate your vision of the future. Commit to a vision and make decision based on that commitment. Connect your followers to one another.
  • Positive Deviants. This is the best story I found in this book. Jerry Sternin decided to help starving Vietnamese children. He didn’t send any food to Vietnam though, he didn’t educate the local people either. Instead, he looked for families that were not starving, who learned to thrive in that environment. He told them how special they were, and asked to share their insights and methods with the wider community. These families were positive deviants. Such people are the key to success of any tribe or organization, as they bring a change for better, they challenge and improve the status quo.

If you follow this blog and are interested in the topic, I really recommend you read Tribes, or listen to the free (thanks Seth!) audio version.

Leaders, Influencers, and Managers in the Online World

I’d like to propose some vocabulary to talk about prominent people in the online world – the influencers, the leaders, and the managers.

Influencers – People that change mindsets of their followers. They can be bloggers reviewing the latest gadget, lifehackers proposing the new approach to time management, or connectors suggesting you link up with some of their online friends.

Leaders – Influencers that also make a call for action. Leaders aren’t satisfied when you change your opinion about a product, they want you to buy it. They’re not satisfied with your interest in the lifehack, they want you to implement it. They want you to get in touch with their other friends and start a business together. And if they are true leaders, you do what they want, as it’s the best thing for you to do.

Managers – People that organize online collaboration. They may not be as visible and popular as leaders or influencers, but without them no complex effort can be undertaken online. Some of them are famous – take for example Linus Torvalds who has designed the Linux operating system in a way that allows thousands of contributors to extend and improve it. Implicitly, he has created a management framework to organize the collaboration of software developers around his product.

Where do you fit on this taxonomy – are you an influencer, a leader, or a manager? Or maybe all of them at the same time?

Vision, Passion, and Trust – the Leadership of Banker to the Poor

Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus is a great leader. He has created an organization which challenged the status quo that sentenced millions of Bangladeshi people to famine and helped them to manage themselves out of poverty. He has inspired thousands of people to follow his model of microcredit to decrease poverty in many developing nations. He has engaged a multinational corporation to invest in social business and sacrifice part of its profit to increase the well being of poor children.

After reading Muhammad Yunus’ book – Creating the World Without Poverty – I believe that there are three traits that have made him such a fantastic leader. His leadership comes from vision, passion, and trust. Continue reading ‘Vision, Passion, and Trust – the Leadership of Banker to the Poor’

Authentic Leadership

Aspiring leaders very often search for instructions or advice on how to master leadership. The article Discovering Your Authentic Leadership in Harvard Business Review claims that the place to discover leadership lies in our own biography. The authors have conducted a massive study to identify ways of developing leadership skills, and they have come up with the concept of authentic leadership.

Authentic leaders behave naturally, in ways that fit their personality. They nurture long-lasting relationships; they have mastered self-discipline and self-awareness. Striving to achieve desired goals, they stick to their values and principles.

According to the study, becoming an authentic leader requires that we first interpret our life story. It is important to consider the people and experiences that shaped our character in the early life stages. By practicing self-awareness, we should understand the real values and principles that guide our decisions, and the factors – both internal and external – that motivate us. An authentic leader can count on a diverse support group, which may consist of a partner, family, and friends. Authentic leaders prove their integrity when facing difficult choices, even if the correct decision may negatively affect their career.

I would risk the statement that in online communities, it is even more important for a leader to be authentic. Such authenticity is a source of referent power, the biggest influencing force that allows a leader to drive the community effort in desired direction. In each place where you show up online, whether it’s in a blog, a social network, or an online forum, you can build trust via integrity or lose trust via acting against community values. And as always, it’s much easier to lose trust than it is to build it.

What do you do to stay authentic on the web? I’d love to see your point of view in the comments!

Source: William W. George, Peter Sims, Andrew N. McLean, David Mayer, and Diana Mayer: Discovering Your Authentic Leadership; Harvard Business Review; February 2007.

A Story About Attention And Leadership

When I was first employed by a large company, they organized a dinner for all the new hires with the organization’s leaders. We were invited to a fancy restaurant, there were about 20 new hires and 4 leaders, sitting among us. Doing a simple calculation you can count that every leader should talk to 5 new hires over the course of the dinner. Yet, although I was sitting just next to one of the leaders (let’s call him John), I haven’t had a chance to exchange more than one sentence with him. John was fully focused on the person sitting on his opposite side, and engaged in a deep conversation that lasted through the entire dinner. Continue reading ‘A Story About Attention And Leadership’

Chief Jongintaba Story

Recent Time features a great article Mandela: His 8 Lessons of Leadership. One of the lessons seems to be perfectly fitted to online community leaders, and it is based on a story about Chief Jongintaba, Mandela’s adoptive father.

Chief Jongintaba was a tribal king very much concerned about the opinions of the fellow tribesmen. Every time an important decision was to be taken, he formed a circle of advisers who would each tell their perspective on the discussed matter. Laborers as well as landowners would travel many miles to participate in a tribal meeting and raise their concerns. Only after all men had spoken, did Chief Jongintaba begin to speak. He would not impose any decision, but instead nurture consensus from the contrasting views.

The lesson that Nelson Mandela learned from this story was that leaders should lead from the back, and let others believe they are in front. By forming consensus, a leader ensures there is a high level of trust in the community, which makes it easy for it to move in the right direction. A leader should not enter the debate too early, Mandela says.

“You can do nothing if you don’t get the support of other people.”
African proverb