Thursday, February 5, 2015

A bit on Leadership

On Twitter, one of the leadership pundits that I follow tweeted something about "If you see a parade going by, get out in front of it."

While this is a visible and recognized form of leadership, it reminded me strongly of criticisms from the Women of Color on Twitter, about their ideas and credit for their work being stolen.

I was particularly reminded of it because of the situation with Ferguson, MO and similar police killings, where the young women of color activists have organized marches and parades in protest. For me or anyone else to jump in front of that parade and try to lead (take credit for) that work, would be a horrible wrongness.

I replied to him that sometimes when you see a parade going by, the thing to do is to join in and support the organizers, the people who already did the work to put the parade together. Because followership is ALSO leadership, lending your support to something important, and giving credit to those who did the work.

There's another form of leadership, that is even less recognizable. In systems-of-systems terms, this form of leadership is Network Centrality.

Any organization, whether it be a hierarchical bureacracy, a company, or a leaderless movement, has a network. It has people who know people.  These people are not entirely based upon the organizational chart, because they have an outside life as well. They are part of the web of connection, through professional organizations, volunteer work, their place(s) of worship, sports and similar community organizations, all of which can bring them into contact with other people in their organization that they may not see or work with on a day-to-day basis.

Systems-of-systems CAN be used to analyze who knows whom, and perhaps even the strength of those connections. (We will not discuss the ethics of "SHOULD be used," or "full knowledge and consent", today.)

Some people will only be loosely connected to the network, and they're going to have a tough time attempting to lead change.

Other people will be tightly connected to many people at all levels, both visible leaders and less-visible staff. No matter what those people's official "rank" or position in the hierarchy is, their network centrality makes them a key player in the organization, and a thought leader. Persuade them that a change is necessary, arm them with the facts and reasons, and they'll spread the word throughout the system.

Tomorrow, we'll discuss more about change.