in Leadership

Fostering Emergent Leadership: Bite Sized Insights on #IndiaHRChat

One of the skills that Google looks for before hiring is “Emergent Leadership”. In a connected, volatile, networked and virtual world of work, it is crucial for us to step out of traditional definitions of leadership and look at leadership as a role and not as a title.

I was honored to be invited to share my insights on #IndiaHRChat on the topic “Emergent Leadership”. My fellow guest was Jesse Lyn Stoner, who is a business leader, executive coach and co-author with Ken Blanchard of International best seller “Full Steam Ahead: Unleash the Power of Vision”.

It was such a great learning experience with fantastic ideas from the vibrant #IndiaHRChat community. Special thanks to host Tanvi Gautam for the invitation and kudos to her for providing us a platform to share and learn collaboratively.

Here are the insights I shared.

What is emergent leadership?

Leadership beyond confines of formal authority that manifests itself in specific situations and group dynamics.

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Blossoming of a leader from group who rises to situation, steps in, leads for a certain time and then goes back to normal.

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It is a situational (and often temporary) act of leadership beyond title, experience or authority.

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Emergent Leadership is central to success of groups, teams and orgs. Given a right environment, everyone can lead.

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Leadership is not just a position. It’s a role people play based on problem at hand, skills, attitude and initiative.

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Strong leadership qualities can emerge in any of us. Sometimes, out of our will. Other times, out of circumstances.

How does emergent leadership change the paradigm of traditional leadership?

Emergent Leadership dissolves the boundary between traditional top-down leaders and others.

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It changes the pattern of traditional leadership from centralized authority to distributed one.

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The role of a leader-by-authority: create a network of relationships, empower, inspire, facilitate, catalyze & serve.

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Traditional leaders have a responsibility to build an ecosystem and then identify emergent leadership qualities.

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Traditional leadership is important, only when it fosters a culture (in team/in org) where people step up to lead.

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Traditional leaders have to give up the notion of power, for power is with those who do stuff.

Why is emergent leadership important in today’s organizations?

In a networked/connected/virtual world, emergent leadership is critical to success of organizations.

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Because best ideas often come from those who ‘do’ stuff.

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Noticing patterns of emergent leadership can provide important clues to build your leadership pipeline.

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A team cannot afford to rely on ideas/insights of only one person (traditional leader), if they wish to succeed.

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A culture of emergent leadership allows people to position their skills where they are most useful.

How do you spot emergent leadership and what are the behaviors to look for?

Emergent leadership is about group influence – Social skills is #1 trait to look for.

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Emergent leaders are defined by their level of ownership, cognitive abilities, initiative, drive and commitment.

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Their ability to collaborate with others. Humility to step back when someone else steps up to lead.

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“Responsible ego” – they know they don’t have to come up with winning idea in all situations. wapo.st/1doGwZX

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Constant quest to learn, being open to new ideas, ability to contribute to ideas from others.

How can organizations promote and encourage emergent leadership?

Orgs have to propagate the concept of leadership as a role and not as a position or title.

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Establish a shared vision and create a robust structure that supports emergent leadership.

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Carefully hiring people who are: motivated, collaborative, people centric with a leadership instinct.

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Create smaller autonomous teams with flat organization to eliminate unnecessary layers of mgmt that stifle productivity.

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Set precedence by recognizing and rewarding emergent leadership behaviors.

How can a ‘leader by authority’ support and encourage emergent leadership?

Define outcomes clearly and clarify values. Beyond that, eliminate roadblocks and support without directing the workflow.

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Maintain healthy levels of communication in the team to create a matrix of relationships that supports emerging ideas.

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Emergent Leadership requires a culture of trust, a constant feedback loop and healthy two way communication.

What is the role of HR in supporting and encouraging emergent leadership?

HR is the driver of the cultural shift required to foster emergent leadership.

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HR sets the precedence on the need to support emergent leadership within the org.

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HR plays a pivotal role in changing perceptions about traditional leadership and raising awareness about new ways to lead.

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Also Read:

Bite Sized Insights on Personal Branding #IndiaHRChat

Coaching Culture: The Art and Science of Success #IndiaHRChat

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  1. Very true! In today’s world leadership is beyond title. In an organization everyone from peon to ceo can attribute the leadership traits. It’s all about stepping up into the situation, taking the responsibility and showing the leadership. Definitely HR and leader by authority has a big role to play to create a culture of leadership without title.

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