Leadership at Any Level
by Victoria Brodie
Traditionally, leadership has been looked at from a purely hierarchical paradigm, where there is a clear distinction between leader and follower. This leader, historically, has been one who is in charge versus leadership being a collective act. Thus leadership has been looked at through a ‘hero paradigm’ with transformational and charismatic leaders being highlighted. With newer studies of leadership distribution, there is a trending movement toward a collaborative or hybrid mix of leadership. This framework bodes well for engaging leaders inside teams at all levels within the hierarchy. This allows leaders to lead at any level.
According to Stupans (2013), “Leadership is thus less about the individual and more about collective action. In a collaborative environment, team members build relationships and work together to meet a common goal rather than relying on a ‘traditional’ leadership model hierarchy.” (p. 262) Empowered team members with the capacity to lead in the fashion that fosters their success have the ability to create significant results. These teams have a higher level of commitment, not only to the team but also to the organization. As our world continues to become more agile, our framework of what leadership is and does must adjust along with it.
A famous leader who was not an effective team member is Howard Hughes. Although he exhibited many sought-after qualities of leadership such as risk-taking, innovation and boldness, his inability to look beyond his own vision was his downfall. If he had been able to work as a team member, he might have avoided the eccentric pathway he was taking. As it stands, he was only able to follow his own vision and it led to his failure.
Stupans, I. (2013). Development of Contemporary Leadership Capacity Through Teamwork in an Online Environment: A Pilot Study. International Journal Of Teaching & Learning In Higher Education, 25(2), 262.