In The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leadership Organizations authors Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom highlight the value of what they call ‘leaderless’ organizations. Although I don’t endorse leaderless organizations per se, one chapter describes tools that successful non-leader leaders use to catalyze their respective organizations. I’ve listed below some of their insights from this unusual perspective.
Qualities they suggest would apply to any 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 contrast CEO’s to Catalysts.
CEO’s vs Catalysts:
- 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
What do you think about leader-less organizations? Do you think leadership is either one or the other?