Are You a Catalytic Leader?

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
  • Passion
  • 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
  • Trust
  • 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?
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2 thoughts on “Are You a Catalytic Leader?”

  1. Very good post Charles. loved the book, and applying it to the church is helpful. i agree we can’t be totally leaderless but having the qualities that they highlight is important in our churches. yet, we see more and more CEO types in our churches.

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