Superman and Wonder Woman need not apply: Make your organization easier to lead

By William Seidman What makes a leader great?  Do organizations unwittingly reinforce stereotypes (gender, age, or other) when they insist on a superhero at the top? Can organizations excel at what they do without a “charismatic” leader? I’ve been reading Transformational Leadership  by the late Bernard Bass and organizational psychologist Ronald Riggio, and I’ve had some great conversations recently with Patti Dragland of Strategic Sense  and Lynn Miller from The Center for Creative Leadership. Patti and Lynn have great ideas and programs on how to be a leader, including expectations for what it takes to be an extraordinary leader — very much the charismatic superhero. The consensus is that leaders have to create vision, engage people, build teams, inspire, and set by example. But people can’t be all of these things, even with the best training and coaching. The charismatic, “superhero” model can be as limiting as any stereotype. There are people out there who are smart, creative and inspirational,  but may not fit the superhero mold. Suppose that we could lower the threshold of leadership by focusing on making the organization more agile and responsive? This is what is meant by “Be the Change,” and it’s a challenging idea that can lead to good organizations becoming great. Leaders would not have to be superheroes if their organizations were easier to lead. This what Cerebyte does: it helps organizations to become more agile and responsive so that leaders can be great, whether or not they’re superheroes.]]>

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