In a conversation yesterday about revolutions the risk of a small, dominant group of thinkers simply replacing one leadership with another was raised. The very nature of the changes we are seeing brought about in society and organisational life by the impact of the web makes this sort of risk even more of a concern. If we are talking about distributed influence and universal access to the contribution and exchange of ideas any dominance by individuals or small groups is something to be worried about.
I am very conscious of the irony of raising this as a concern while on the point of having a book published by which process I am clearly seeking to have increased influence. I have always been fascinated by the challenge of helping things happen without being seen to make things happen. That fine balance between inspiration and direction. Phrases like “to rescue someone is to oppress them” occur to me on a daily basis. I guess what I am talking about is a new form of leadership. Leadership that involves and encourages rather than commands and controls.
The instinct to seek leaders is strong though and the temptation to succumb to this perceived need needs to be resisted.