A problem with leadership as we know it

Leadership as we current understand it is fundamentally flawed. Why? Because leadership as it is most often demonstrated by people brings with it a mindset of ‘hero’ – a leader is the person out in front creating the new pathway so that others can have an easier time of the journey ahead. Leadership as we know it breeds dependence. Leadership as we know it disempowers leaders.

Here is just one example to demonstrate my point.

Poor levels of employee engagement in many organisations

According to a 2011 Gallup Poll measuring the employee engagement levels of the top 200 world-class organisations, the average ‘world-class’ organisation has 1 in 3 employees who are actively disengaged. By way of contrast, the best of the best (the top 25% of the top 1% of organisations) have 1 in 10 employees actively disengaged. This finding leaves you wondering: What is the average level of employee engagement in the ‘average’ organisation?

The paradigm of ‘hero’ leadership (most organisations refer to this approach to leadership as Transformational Leadership) has many advocates. Walk into the business section of any book retailer and you will find dozens of books focusing on this approach to leadership (it is big business for those it biggest promoters!). It is a ‘sacred cow’ that is difficult to put under the microscope.

As I see it the problem of the heroic approach to leadership is this: Heroic leadership means followers. Plain and simple, having to lead other means more work for the leader. It means the leader has to coordinate the efforts of others, hold others accountable, deal with the tough stuff of relationships with those they lead … the list could go on.

Rather than empowering the leader, having to lead others often disempowers. Why? Heroic leaders have to take their eye off what they are really passionate about and good at, in order to try and instil motivation and passion in others. Think about the faulty logic in this approach – I am motivating you and in doing so become less motivated. This results in lower levels of personal engagement for the leader.

Purposeful Leadership addresses this counter-productive leader-follower dynamic.

Purposeful Leadership is an approach to leadership that calls on each person to be a leader of one – ‘me’ – and to lead oneself in ways that are true to their True Nature, and their unique contribution to the world regardless of context. It is an approach to working with others that puts one’s unique purpose into the collective mixing pot and invites the leader to offer what they can and ask for what they need. Rather than being a less effective way of leading it is more efficient, and radically so. The things that no one cares about don’t get done. Imagine that, the things that are no longer s aligned with anyone’s skills, passions or purpose become redundant in service of some greater calling.

This approach to leadership is deeply grounded in an evolutionary frame and a mindset of fulfilling one’s life purpose through the medium of meaningful and fulfilling work. It is a growth approach to leading where each person is ‘tasked’ to take ownership of one thing only: Identifying, taking ownership of, and acting to fulfil their unique potential in each situation, circumstance and interaction.