Few question that leadership matters, it’s a theme in almost every ConnectMinds meeting, but why? It's almost impossible to think about getting things done without that person who takes the reins, gives us focus, holds the space. But what is it that makes leadership work well or fail entirely? What makes that space they create a healthy one or something disorienting and frustrating?
In a time when many people are talking more about self-organising and empowerment, surely this takes the pressure off the idea of "good leadership". In reality, the opposite is true. Self-organising and empowered teams have more leaders, not fewer. Everyone now has the potential to lead on aspects of the work - overall responsibility isn’t assigned to the same person by default.
And a person creating the space for distributed authority needs to embody a higher ideal of leadership than we might expect. It takes a very healthy relationship with power to let people get on with things in a self-organising (agile) environment.
Over the coming months, we'll be sharing different perspectives and attempts to answer the question "What type of leadership do we need today?" If you want to share your thoughts on this, please let us know
Our first post is on the topic of power negotiation - exposing our own role in the way power operates in our work.
I believe that we all have innate power. It's a personal power that we hold on to or give away.
Obviously, there are different forms of power, physical, political, emotional and so on. I'm talking about that personal agency, to be heard, to be seen, to influence something.
Let me illustrate this at a fundamental level.
If someone senior to you tells you to do something, do you have to do it? Unless they can physically make you do the task, then the answer is no. It's a choice. We choose to obey an order, to carry out a task, to fall in line.
In the extreme, the choice is between carrying out the task or getting fired. Over time we get so used to this paradigm that we cease noticing that we're choosing to follow directions. The power dynamic has then shifted from being a matter of choice to it being a fact of life.
It starts to feel like that person in charge simply has power over you - it's unconscious. When technically-speaking, you are continuing to give that power to them.
Bright Minds leading through actions and connections
In every issue, we profile one or more members in the ConnectMinds network; highlighting key aspects of their work and the contributions and impact they make.
In this issue, as we are kicking off a series focusing on different aspects of leadership, I have decided to not profile one bright mind. Instead, I have attempted to sum up some characteristics and traits shared by many of our members. These are some of my overarching observations from over a decade of following, observing, admiring and challenging all the professionals in our network in an attempt to see if there is anything that - despite their very different backgrounds - binds their approach together. ConnectMinds members are those who make the visions for digital happen and make the strategies for digital come to life. As such, they have themselves become leaders of sorts, albeit not through formal titles or channels, nor through a spot on the existing org chart becoming vacant or by senior leaders appointing/elevating them through the ranks. They have been leading change on and from the ground.
ConnectMinds members come from all walks of life and have all manner of professional backgrounds, and have typically grown into their roles through being managers of key parts of the ever-sprawling digital ecosystems; through realising that something needs to be done and there is a new and better way of doing it, but: "no-one else seems to volunteer to do it - so I will do it".
Further reading on Leadership
Hierarchy Is Not the Problem…It’s the Power Dynamics by Richard D. Bartlett
What You Say About Us
Each participation in the ConnectMinds-Meetings was a great gain for me and my work. The exchange about topics and tools of internal communication gives me fresh ideas for my own concepts and strategies. After the meetings I go back to work with motivation and good new creative input. That makes the meetings very exciting and valuable for me.
Franziska Hamann, Communication Manager, ConectMinds Member
Curious about our groups? Meet us for a coffee!
We travel to many destinations for our group meetings and occasionally have some spare time en route. Check the locations for our upcoming MindMeets and get in touch.
Sabine is based South of Munich.
Sabine’s upcoming MindMeets
Interne Kommunikation in Hamburg, 6. June
Digital Manager in Hamburg, 18. June
Intranet Experten in Hamburg, 19. June
Digital Workplace Zürich/Bern/Basel, 25. June
Intern-Extern-Digital Zürich/Bern/Basel, 27. June
Intranet Experten Stuttgart in Karlsruhe, 2 July
Intranet & Interne Kommunikation in Frankfurt, 13. August
Lau is based in Copenhagen.
Lau’s upcoming MindMeets
Intranet & Collaboration in Scotland, 29. May
Intranet & Collaboration in London, 30. May
Digital Analytics in Copenhagen, 3. June
Sharepoint & Office 365 Vest, 4. June
Digital Strategy & Governance Glasgow, 6. June
Collaboration Nordic in Malmö, 12. June
Digital Management Øresund in Copenhagen, 13. June
Intranet & Collaboration in Philadelphia, 17. June
Intranet & Collaboration in NYC, 18. June
Intranet & Collaboration in Geneva, 24. June
Digital Project Manager in Copenhagen, 25. June
Digital Strategy & Governance in London, 26. June
Pay by Creditcard
You can pay for your ConnectMinds membership by credit card as an alternative to normal bank transfer. If you prefer CreditCard, just let us know and we will send you a payment link with the invoice.
We appreciate having you in our network and look forward to many more fruitful discussions.
If you think more bright minds should know about us? Feel free to share these Insights or link to our website. More different minds and perspectives in the network equals more value for all of us!