Friday, November 11, 2005

Contribution - The Essence of Following.

[This post continues a series that presents a model of leadership for comments. The image below is one side of a tetrahedral realization of the model that can be viewed interactively and somewhat nonlinearly in A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation).]

This facet of leadership corresponds to the earlier one on visualization but from the perspective of a follower. As before, the practice of realizing is necessary to innovate and implement. But if it is important to follow, ones relationship to innovation and implementation change.

When a leader is structuring a process or organization in order to implement a plan, a follower is conforming, adapting thoughts and actions to the process or organization. Similarly a leader will be improvising thoughts and actions in order to innovate, and a follower is responding to the outcome of the improvisation. Lastly, a leader will have a visualization what is necessary in order to implement or improvise and a follower will make a contribution to that implementation or improvisation that is consistent with the leader's visualization.

When it is important to follow, implement and innovate this is accomplished by responding, conforming and realizing and results in a contribution. In the static, hierarchical organization designed for implementation, the contribution of a follower is made in the context of his/her leader's communicated visualization of what is needed. This is repeated down the 'chain of command' each person adopting first a follower role to become aware of someone else's visualization and then adopting the leader role, sharing possibly just a part of this vision with the next follower. In this way each person is necessarily a leader-follower.

Of course, the static hierarchical organization is not the only operational form and the next post will consider the leader-follower's behavior in another context.

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