After chewing on it for a couple of years, this year I’m taking the Pervasive Leadership model I’ve been working on to a broader audience. This is a leadership model for truly agile organizations, and while you will find here some similarities to other leadership models being considered by the business community, you may find something additionally useful here.
I first introduced this model in this blog in January 2013 and then at an agile gathering in February. I have continued to test it in my own practice. It is an extension of the facilitative leadership series and “Effective Conflict Engagement” course I have provided to clients the last few years and also owes much to the “Collaboration for Cross-Functional Teams” course I have taught at three universities over the last ten years.
While I realize this model is demanding both for agile managers and for teams, my observation is that many if not most of the problems which blunt agile adoptions I’ve observed or consulted in are really leadership problems. These problems, frankly, occur across the organizational structure, and teams have as much to learn here as the management or nominal leadership structure.
As I was discussing with a friend the other day, I am always interested to hear people say that “people need leadership” or “people want to be led.” I’m interested to hear what’s behind that. My observation is that we often are not and do not step up to leadership even in our own lives and that this has become such a serious problem that it now has broad cultural implications driving public policy which will economically impact my grand nephew’s and niece’s generation.
One of the most intriguing quotes from literature that comes to my mind at times of great difficulty in teams or larger organizations comes from Dicken’s The Personal History and Experience of David Copperfield the Younger. In fact, it is the first line of that novel and informs the whole: “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”
It is an interesting question the author presents to us. When taken in whole, how many of us can claim to be the hero of our own lives rather than simply the protagonist? This question can also be asked of organizations, especially for profit and non-profit organizations.
This year, as never before, this blog will consider the nature and utility of Pervasive Leadership, how to enact it, why to enact it, what its precursors are, and where its cousin approaches to leadership live. Watch this space.