I love the simple truth spoken in this short clip from Sacha Romanovitch. She points out that the prevailing metaphors that we use to think about organisations just don’t work anymore. Tune into the language of many leaders and you will still hear them talk about driving change as if they sat behind a steering wheel. From that perspective, leadership is about tuning the machine and pointing it in the right direction. People are cogs in the machine that must be controlled. Every cog must know what to do. There can be only one driver. The driver is not part of the machine but outside it.
This model is simply inadequate for today’s task of leadership. Organisations are much more like organisms than machines. Forward movement will only occur when the purpose of the individual aligns with the purpose of the whole. Every person must know ‘how to be’ as well as ‘what to do’. The leader is integral to the organism. Leaders emerge because they are truly sympathetic to its purpose. They speak most resonantly about its values; they are endlessly curious about it; they are best able to see its inter-connectedness, and they are the bravest. In a sense, organisations choose their leaders.