Distributed Leadership - Notes and Takeaways

Main Reference Article - How to Successfully Grow Distributed Leadership - Enspiral


Power doesn’t grow just from titles or positional authority.

It can grow from

  • Seniority - Founder status
  • Communication Style
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Skills
  • Expertise
  • many other factors (what other factors?)

A culture must be diligent in questioning power.
Sometimes it’s only the people without power that can see clearly the toxic power dynamics.

Hidden Hierarchies will emerge even if you say “no bosses”

You have to clear/create space for alternative leadership models.
(Maybe force the founders/old guard to take a 2 week sabbatical and see what happens?)

Self Leadership
It starts with leading yourself.

If you can identify work that needs to be done(both productive or cultural) and execute effectively and proactively without instructions, you are expressing self-leadership.

  • Managing your own time
  • Managing expectations & commitments

In groups you adapt and collaborate.

  • Some points are simply not worth it to force.
  • The process of getting your point across could be more destructive then the value of the outcome you were pushing.

!!! - Experts at self leadership know when to follow - !!!

Reliability breeds trust, and attracts power.

Know your weaknesses, be diligent in identifying how they effect others.

Leading Others
Without bosses its both an art and a science.

You can design in mechanism that distribute power.
Pocket is doing this, but are we missing key factors? See leadership questionnaire.

!!! - Learn Why and How people get blocked - !!!

Good at building and nurturing teams.

You help groups delegate, communicate and work cohesively.

You are mentor.

  • a mentor is more then just sending tricks and tips, or reacting to someone’s stress.

You can bring out diverse perspectives & synthesis feedback.

Facilitate ongoing questioning of power.

You use your power gained to distribute power more effectively.

Growing Leadership
The ultimate success of a leader is growing the group in a way that makes you obsolete.

You intentionally craft opportunities to step up.

You check yourself when you think you could do something better or faster to give others the opportunity to lead.

You also check yourself because you could be wrong.

You encourage experimentation.

But you know when the right time is to step in. You are like a safety-net.

Sometimes in order to distribute leadership you need to consolidate power.
When you feel this is necessary, you gain consent.

You consider the whole “system” and find the high leverage points.

You identify what is blocking people from growing their own leadership skills.

You implement systems of support, accountability, transparency, and continuous improvement that can operate without you.

You critique power systemically, and ask what type of people become leaders in your culture. Why?

You think about what is needed to diversify this.

Ecosystem Leadership

What are the
-conceptual frameworks
-interaction protocols
that enable network participation

How do we create catalysts.

What really creates marginalization and how do we counteract it?

How do we give more access to shared power?

Harvest: Growing Understanding

Non-linear process

Being ok with the seasons of chaos and order.

Additional Questions to Question Power and Leadership.
Here are some questions you might ask yourself to continue to develop as a leader in a bossless environment.

  • How is power operating? If someone tried to step in to leadership here, is there room for them to grow? Does everyone have equal opportunity to participate?
  • What power am I holding? Can I distribute it? Can I use it to invite a critique of power, in case those without power aren’t being heard?
  • Am I taking care of myself, so I can be happy, balanced, and productive? Do I have self-awareness? What do I need to learn?
  • In a given situation, do I want to work on my own, collaborate, follow, or lead? Can I see how to make my most valuable contribution?
  • Am I doing a good job supporting others? Am I creating team dynamics and opportunities that help them do their best work?
  • Who is showing leadership around me? Am I noticing it and learning from it, even if it looks quite different from my own style?
  • Do I know when to step in, and when to step back? Am I building systems that don’t depend on me directly?
  • Am I thinking long-term about growing leadership in my environment? Am I investing in the leadership development of others?
  • Is my work progressing meaningful questions? Am I contributing to the collective conversation about leadership evolution?

From Lattice - What I wish I knew before managing managers

“Your interactions with managers have to consist of 90% listening and 10% asking open-ended questions,”

“Managers don’t need to be managed. They need to be coached.”

  1. Don’t mold managers, empower them
  2. Evaluate managers on the big picture
  3. Workshop problems through coaching
  4. Look before you leap.