Leadership from “The Rock” Versus “The Whole”

We are continually being challenged as leaders in the ever-changing world of business, but what does it mean to be a leader in 2020 and beyond.

Leaders need to be mindful, present and self-aware.  In anticipating the future, leaders need to shift from known experience to leading together with others and leveraging subtle differences and changes as needed.

Business has become increasingly complex and the days of the individual have shifted to the collective.  From the “Follow me, I know the way” type leader, “The rock” to leading from “The whole”.

Knowing when to take the lead and when someone else in the team needs to take the lead means being flexible and able to empower those around us.  Leaders need to be adaptable, sense the future and focus on the shared purpose of the whole collective.

Leading from the whole

Collective leadership means that we need to focus on being as well as doing.  The balance of both doing and being means;

  • Being in relationships and present with people
  • Noticing the team dynamics and engaging
  • Understanding that it’s not what you know but what you do

It’s not possible for one smart leader to have all the answers. You need to tap into the network and use the intelligence of the people in the team. That way, you can build awareness that you are all part of a whole system.

The Leader is responsible for the team dynamic and needs to read and sense that dynamic.

It doesn’t mean that you don’t set direction and take people forward, but it does mean using the wisdom and intelligence of the whole.  You need to have broad systems awareness and sense what is unfolding in the team in order to arrive at goals.

The future doesn’t always unfold in a straight line.  It’s important to sense the collective and adjust as is necessary.

You need to use collective intelligence as well as emotional intelligence.  Emotional intelligence is about self-awareness and collective intelligence is seeing how you behave as a whole team.  When the collective team speaks as a whole, it’s different to individuals. 

When you lead from the collective you can set a plan, however it needs to be fine-tuned as things evolve.  COVID19 has certainly taught us that this year with the exponential take up of video meetings and adapting to new working environments from home.  Has this made it more difficult for you as a leader to sense the collective intelligence?

Are you conscious and aware of your collective team?

  • How it behaves
  • The beat
  • The wisdom
  • The Pulse

To be a leader who is able to sense the collective and dynamics you will need to be more self-aware and focus on being present, listening and not multi-tasking, distracted and thinking about yesterday or tomorrow?  You need to intentionally and fully connect directly with individuals and your whole team.

In order to achieve true collective leadership, you need to focus on relationships as well as the ROI.  Leading from the whole means not leaving anyone behind.  It means that no one feels alone.

You need to use love, compassion, empathy and companionship to show that you value people.  This requires a mindset in which you implement mechanisms to show you care and support people in what they are going through.

Self-awareness supports leaders with better mental health outcomes and job-related well-being.  It’s not about putting a fruit bowl at reception and having weekly yoga.  It’s about being authentic and developing trusting relationships, improved decision making by incorporating the collective intelligence and leading with the heart as well as the head and gut.

Authentic Leadership

You cannot be authentic if you do not know who you are.  Authentic leadership comes from your values and beliefs.

People trust and will naturally follow authentic leaders. 

In summary Collective Leadership for “The whole” is;

  • You are present and aware of self and of each other
  • The collective team know themselves and each other at the core level.  Each knows their unique talents and strengths.
  • You are aware of the team dynamics and able to co-create and co-lead
  • You are in touch with what is unfolding and able to read the signals and lead for the emerging and changing future

Leading in a VUCA world

The Leadership Coefficient cover this really well in their Leadership course with the Three Principles of Collective Leadership and Silo thinking and Systems thinking.

They talk about living in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world.  This means it is no longer possible for one smart leader to have all the answers and the future is emerging moment by moment.  Jane Weber clearly states in her article of May 2020, that leaders are so distracted that they mostly do not even notice the changes.  Often disruptions still take many leaders by surprise.  She asks, did the taxi industry see Uber coming and hotel industry AirBNB?

If you don’t pay attention to the changes emerging in your whole collective team and stick to leading in a straight line, you may not see what’s coming and survive.

Ciao, a presto.

Sara Pantaleo, Affari SP Founder


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