Did the title throw you off a bit?  I am not sure how many potential readers I lost with it, but I am not about following convention – I like to think of myself as a disrupter to the way you have always been taught to think. 

Having had an ‘aha’ moment recently I want to expound on an earlier blog where I began to muse over “what is coming that is beyond leadership.” 

Please bear with me…from my perspective, leadership has always been about an individual, separate from others, looking for people to follow.  There have always been clear distinctions and boundaries drawn as to where the leader’s physical being ends and the follower’s being begins.  In essence it is always described as parts that are linked to the whole but individual and separate none-the-less!  For example, the leader’s “vision” belongs as a concept to the leader and she or he needs followers to embrace and join in to be a part of the achievement and success.  The fact that the vision is created and owned by one individual highlights the point that it is something that belongs [idea of separation] to one person.  There is a clear and distinct boundary. 

What I perceive as being beyond leadership is where there are no boundaries or separateness but where all are one as all the major spiritual philosophies espouse.  There are no distinctions where one person ends and another begins, these are mere mental fabrications of the mind to keep us creating a reality where we are separate and distinct from others.  In practice, this would look like getting a group getting together to design, create and embrace the vision or mission.  From a company perspective that would mean every single employee would be involved and integrated into the whole process and final picture.  Basically, everyone is equal in the formulation and creation of the vision. 

I think I finally have a glimpse into what is coming that is beyond leadership – many great authors – the likes of Stephen Covey, Daniel Pink and Charles Duhigg – have touched upon what I think is next!  What I am referring to is best illustrated from a story Duhigg tells in his book The Power of Habit about Paul O’Neill, former CEO of ALCOA. My former blog [which follows hinted at this phenomenon]. 

 My Previous Blog: I have often wondered what is going to emerge that will trump and surpass the leadership phenomenon.  It is surely coming and I believe it is on the horizon and a lot closer than some people may think.  If you do an Internet search on the topic you will discover many interesting studies that are being conducted to clearly demonstrate how productivity exponentially grows when leaders get out of the way.  Beyond leadership for me represents what Stephen Covey wrote in The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People when he spoke about changing paradigms.  Paradigms are considered the lenses in which we see the world and I think a trip to the optometrist’s office is long overdue. 

In Charles Duhigg’s exceptional The Power of Habit, he describes what happened at ALCOA when Paul O’Neill took over and wanted to make ALCOA the safest place in the world to work.  What O’Neill did was raise everyone’s consciousness to a common goal and the results were astounding.  What is key in understanding what is beyond leadership is when you are able to create an environment that everyone wants to be part of and then give each person the freedom to create her/his reality of what it means.  Another example is how mothers and fathers raise their children to be their best and successful in life.  Who doesn’t want to be her/his best and succeed?  You can easily wrap your head, i.e. your way of thinking around this and then provide the necessary support and encouragement to help your children succeed.  You don’t have to dictate “how” they are to be their best and succeed” you just have to help them create their consciousness around those ideals and let their reality take shape.  It’s really that easy and just like Henry Ford is often misquoted – whether you think you can or can’t – you’re right!

FYI – Ford’s quote included the word “usually” before “right”.

I welcome your comments on what your thoughts are in what is coming that follows in the wake of leadership.  I look forward to your responses!