Living Webs of Leadership: Building Leadership at every level – by Christo Nel

One of the greatest shifts from the more conventional approach to leadership and organisational behaviour is the belief that organisations need to develop “a company of leaders.” Instead of associating leadership with “positions at the top” it needs to be defined as the development of leadership accountabilities and related focus at every level. By adopting this philosophy of the firm, it becomes possible to unleash the inherent creative and innovating potential of people; and also to facilitate the evolution of ongoing leadership development as an individual progress from one level of work to the next.

One of the most pervasive comments we hear from people at every level is that they feel overworked and under fulfilled. This is quite tragic when we consider that the vast majority of people’s lives are spent at work. Jack Welch, previous CEO of General Electric once stated that he would only be satisfied once virtually the entire workforce woke up each morning feeling excited to get to work so that they could implement a great idea they had during the night! The great Chinese sage, Confucius, said, “Work is love made visible – find what you love to do and you will never work again!” The Village has spent more than a decade exploring just how to turn this dream into reality. We have built on the extraordinary contributions of Eliot Jacques and Gillian Stamp to create processes that create optimum Themes of Leadership and Meaningful Work. The same principles have most recently been eloquently addressed by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, and James Noel in their work The Leadership Pipeline.

·         The vast majority of people want to feel good after a day’s work and feel that they’ve done something worthwhile.

·         The vast majority of people we employ are above average and fulfil some form of leadership as a normal part of their daily lives.

·       People actually generally enjoy doing work – as long as they are recognised and respected as fully fledged adults who are capable of coping with the rigours of life.

 The essential worldview that drives this approach to leadership is that the most famous of all symbols of organisations – THE ORGANOGRAM – is obsolete and severely reduces competitiveness.

The core challenge for organisations is to develop the vastly different yet integrated webs of leadership processes that address the full spectrum of high impact leadership attitudes, behaviours and practices.

The four cornerstones of any such philosophy must be that: 

- The only Sustainable Competitive advantage is pervasive leadership of a special quality.
- Leaders are not born, they are developed.
- Leaders exist at every level of the organisation.
- High Impact Leadership is a team activity! That is why “It takes a Village of Leaders to run a High Performance Organisation.”

Organisations that adopt this quite radical departure from traditional hierarchic approaches to leadership specifically focus on developing leadership at every level by segmenting the challenges into five themes of leadership and work:

 Organisations that adopt this quite radical departure from traditional hierarchic approaches to leadership specifically focus on developing leadership at every level by segmenting the challenges into five themes of leadership and work ….

 

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