Sometimes I get to know the participants in my trainings by asking:
What’s your greatest challenge as a leader right now?
Usually between 25-50% of participants respond with some version of the same answer…
“I’m not sure I’m doing this right.”
“I’m not sure I’m cut out to be a leader; I’m introverted/shy/quiet etc.”
“I don’t trust my instincts.”
“I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing.”
We have all inherited some pretty strong (and plenty dysfunctional) messages about what makes a good leader. We imagine that the only valid form of leadership is being a confident, charismatic, extroverted hero at the top who saunters in spreading ideas and solutions around. Metaphorically speaking, like this:
If you don’t possess this kind of swagger as a leader, that’s good news! It means you are part of a new species of leader, here to plant the seeds of a more responsive, more participatory form of leadership; one that harnesses the capacity not just of individuals but of whole teams. This new species of leader knows deep down that to navigate the complexity of our world, we have to break some of the traditional rules of leadership…
So… if you are someone who naturally tends to share power instead of hold it, tends to craft questions instead of answers, and tends to connect vulnerably instead of maintaining a cool facade… you are an ensemble leader. You wield a different kind of swagger. The kind of swagger that gets released through relationships and co-creativity. Metaphorically speaking, like this:
Let’s expand our repertoire of what leadership looks like to include the non-charismatic, collaborative folks whose instincts are to build ensembles.
Ensembles are the key to navigating the complexity of our world to make the powerful, bold moves that will change our world for the better.
PS… you know I mean no shade towards Elvis, right? 🙂
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