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Creating Leaderful Organizations: How to Bring Out Leadership in Everyone
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BOOK DETAILS

Joe gives an overview of the book:

Creating Leaderful Organizations: How to Bring Out Leadership in Everyone presents a new paradigm of leadership that is based on mutual—rather than heroic and solitary—leadership. To understand what this means, think of a time when you were with a team that was humming along almost like a single unit. Working together was a joy. Each team member had a particular functional role, but seemed able implicitly to support others when warranted. Any one of the team members could speak for the entire team. On occasion, you might have heard someone remark that this team was “leaderless.” To the contrary, Creating Leaderful Organizations explains that this team was likely operating on the revolutionary concept of “leaderful practice.”In this age of lean operations, of doing more with less, leadership may be the most desperate problem faced in organizational life. Raelin shows...
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Creating Leaderful Organizations: How to Bring Out Leadership in Everyone presents a new paradigm of leadership that is based on mutual—rather than heroic and solitary—leadership. To understand what this means, think of a time when you were with a team that was humming along almost like a single unit. Working together was a joy. Each team member had a particular functional role, but seemed able implicitly to support others when warranted. Any one of the team members could speak for the entire team. On occasion, you might have heard someone remark that this team was “leaderless.” To the contrary, Creating Leaderful Organizations explains that this team was likely operating on the revolutionary concept of “leaderful practice.”In this age of lean operations, of doing more with less, leadership may be the most desperate problem faced in organizational life. Raelin shows that leadership, reimagined in a mutually inclusive way, can help to solve many of the problems encountered in work life today. This new form of leadership that Raelin describes responds to our seemingly chaotic world by bringing out the best of the human condition. While many people have suggested that leaders consult with their followers, or that leaders learn to step aside to let others take the reins, Raelin advocates a truly mutual model that incorporates everyone in leadership—that transforms leadership from being an individual property into a leaderful practice. Using examples from a variety of progressive organizations such as Hewlett-Packard, The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Johnson and Johnson, UPS, The Peace Corps, Harley-Davidson, Virgin, and Dell Computer, Raelin offers practical guidance and an easy-to-implement framework for preparing for leaderful practice by distributing leadership roles, developing individuals to assume leaderful practice, and dealing with employee and manager resistance. Creating Leaderful Organizations reveals the benefits of adopting the leaderful approach, both in terms of its contribution to the bottom-line as well as its appeal to fundamental collaborative, human instincts.

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From Chap. 1:

The point is that hero worship is unfortunately outdated in our age; indeed, it might have become outdated ever since the common man was thought to be able to go out into the world and make decisions on his or her own. Relying on a single leader to "separate the seas" for us works as long as the leader can successfully diagnose the environment and make correct decisions. But what happens when this same leader errs? What happens when his or her followers realize that they have the maturity to make decisions on their own? What happens when the environment becomes so complex that no single individual could possibly discern all its elements? What happens when the leader dies and no one is available to take his or her place?

We simply must graduate from our reliance on single heroes because sooner or later, they will need us as collaborators in leadership. Note that leaderful efforts to incorporate followers in leadership goes beyond benevolence. According to this view, leaders should be concerned about "their people" and assure them that their interests will always be considered. Although this human perspective is welcomed, it still represents a sympathetic view that encourages dependence rather than interdependence. Subordinates are placed in a psychological hospital in which they can be secure knowing that the leader will take care of them. In the direct aftermath of the September 11 tragedy, many chief executives said that they were at a loss because they didn't know how to "take care" of their people. Why could they not just use the precious moments after the tragedy to just "be" with their people?

I submit that we don't want dependent subordinates who are waiting to act based upon an impending signal from the leader. We want our colleagues to act under their own initiative, not as loose canons but as members of a well-oiled community that trusts their independence and needs their interdependence. Naturally, these initiators will check back with their community as appropriate. But if we insist that they wait for the proverbial "go-ahead," they may have lost their chance to act by the time permission is received.

Nor do we want subordinates only willing to act on the basis of the concrete rewards that they can negotiate from their superiors. The point is: people are not necessarily standing around waiting to be motivated. They're already motivated. If you have to motivate "your people" to get them to do something useful in your community, you have already lost them.

joe-raelin's picture

Referring to Creating Leaderful Organizations, I am interested in knowing the results of any experiments people have taken in attempting leaderful practice in their own personal and professional environments.

About Joe

My name is Joe Raelin and I am an academic - the Asa S. Knowles Chair of Practice-Oriented Education at Northeastern University in Boston. As primarily a business school professor, my books are all nonfiction and focus on professional and management development. My current...

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Published Reviews

Dec.29.2007

Joseph Raelin believes that leadership is potentially the most desperate problem

we face in organisational life today but that, conceived in a different way,

leadership might also represent...

Dec.29.2007

You're at wit's end trying to motivate your employees. You've dangled carrots and threatened to use sticks. You've scheduled formal meetings and had informal water cooler conversations. But all your...

Author's Publishing Notes

<ul><li>Outlines a revolutionary new approach to leadership that is better able to respond to organizational turbulence, meet customer expectations, maintain employee commitment, and unleash creativity </li><li>Shows why leadership must be concurrent-with two or more people leading simultaneously-if organizations are to flourish </li><li>Includes examples of this new approach in action from some of today's most progressive organizations -- the Peace Corps, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Virgin, Harley-Davidson, and The New Yorker. </li></ul><p>The times demand a new style of leadership. Employees today are highly trained and independent-they can offer much more to an enterprise than simply their obedience. And with the relationship between worker and organization constantly changing, no one person will likely be able to lead alone. <em>Creating Leaderful Organizations</em> presents a paradigm of leadership tailored to our times, one that is based on mutual-rather than heroic-leadership. </p><p>It is not merely consultative, with leaders graciously allowing followers to participate in leadership, nor is it a stewardship approach in which the leader occasionally steps aside to allow others to take over temporarily. It is a revolutionary new approach that transforms leadership from an individual property to a collective responsibility. Raelin details how &quot;leaderful&quot; practice can accomplish the critical processes of leadership more effectively than any existing approach. And using actual examples from leading-edge organizations, he offers practical guidance for assessing your own and others' leaderful predisposition, preparing for leaderful practice, distributing leadership roles, and dealing with resistance to change</p>