The book, The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leadership Organizations by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom, highlights the value of what the authors call, ‘leaderless’ organizations. Although I don’t advocate leaderless organizations, one chapter describes tools that successful non-leader leaders use to catalyze their respective organizations. These qualities also apply to catalytic leaders. I’ve summarized them below.
Qualities of a catalytic leader:
- Genuine interest in others
- Loose connections (they don’t limit themselves to a few close friends but have many connections)
- Mapping (catalysts think of who they know, who those people know, how they all relate to one another, and how they fit into a huge mental map)
- Desire to help others
- Meet people where they are (there is a difference between passionate and pushy; catalysts rely less on persuasion and more on meeting people where they are )
- Emotional intelligence
- Inspiration (catalysts often inspire others to work toward a goal that often doesn’t involve their own personal gain)
- Tolerance for ambiguity (they learn to be OK when they don’t have concrete answers to big questions)
- Hands-Off approach (they are less apt to use command and control)
- Receding (after they accomplish what they intended, they get out of the way)
The authors also contrasted traditional CEO’s to Catalysts.
A CEO vs a catalyst…
- The boss vs a peer
- Command-and-control vs trust
- Rational vs emotionally intelligent
- Powerful vs inspirational
- Directive vs collaborative
- In the spotlight vs behind the scenes
- Order vs ambiguity
- Organizing vs connecting
As you read the positive qualities, how many would others say you embody in your leadership? What quality needs the most attention in your leadership?