On leadership – Part 3: Enough leadership!

Even though visionary leadership is an important part of long-term economics, the impact should not be over-hyped (which we tend to do nowadays). The final post of this trilogy therefor is a post I copied from Brazilian Coffee. In this particular post, the author questions the need for all those leaders we’re creating.

If you like the post, don’t forget to check out the comments that followed on it (original post can be found here)!

Enough Leadership!

In the recent years, all over the world, we are living a boom in the number of “leaders”. Everywhere one can be trained as a leader and convinced that it is one’s destiny to lead. It smells like a scam (or, in a better case, ingenuity) the idea that we need all these leaders.

“A tribe cannot have two chiefs”. And no matter how much training two people have, a leader will be “chosen”. Its like that boat tale:

On a field trip to nature, five people were put in a boat downstream with rows. No one told who was the boss, but soon enough, with the need to deal with the dangerous river, one person started shouting to the others about what to do and how to row… That way they maneuvered the boat and arrived safely. After that happened, the leader was taken out and the four people left were put in the boat again to go down another stream. After a short discussion, one person was chosen to lead by the group (no time to vote on a leader in a boat!) and that went on with three and two people.

I take two lessons from this story: everyone can be a leader, in the right moment and situation, and you don’t have to assign someone leader or teach someone to lead.

Of course leadership skills could be improved for every leader out there (the people on that boat could learn better how to manage a rowing team downstream), but right now society is just overwhelmed by so many people being called leaders. It simply isn’t true.

The value of specific, non-leader tasks is being underestimated. And that is quite dangerous for society as it takes the risk of deteriorating the very basis of its structure.

Maybe there is a third lesson on the boat story: you can lead as much as you want, but without people to row, it won’t work!

Check here for Part 1 en Part 2 of this post on leadership.


About leyssensjan

Jan Leyssens is a designer and entrepreneur who strongly believes you can’t turn sustainability into a positive story if your main focus is on negative impact. When designing, he is always looking for the overlap between activism and entrepreneurship, technology and community. His main expertise lies in strategic business model development, Circular Economy, the makermovement, and social innovation. With a background in Industrial Design, Jan quickly shifted his focus towards business design and using the design process in strategic management. Jan is the father of two kids and founder & CEO of Regenerative Design, co-founder of Full Circle, ImpactBoost, and the Circular Design map, podcaster, storyteller, and changemaker.

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