I believe that one of the fundamental types of leadership in this Century is Backstage Leadership ™ . This is the art of giving the stage to others, either people who report to you, or those who don’t but are highly connected, have high influence and touch upon vast networks. Backstage Leadership™ is leadership from the back, leadership without powerpoints, supporting layers of (distributed) leadership in the organization.
When we were working on this a while ago, in the context of Viral Change™, we decided to obtain the trademark for the concept itself, its consequences and its implementation in the organization. Since then, the concept and its application has become a powerful tool for us as Organization Architects.
It’s not a management trick to pretend that one gives space to others, but only pretending; in reality it’s just false
Beloved Nelson Mandela said; ‘Lead from the back and let others believe they re in front’. Which sounds deceiving. ‘Let others believe’. I have no idea of the context in which Mandela said this, but, in its current form, (if I got the quote right) is plain wrong.
It can’t match Lao-Tzu’: ‘A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves’.
This Taoist invisibility of the leader will be hard to swallow in the modern organization, but the principle of ‘they will say: we did it ourselves’ is priceless today.
Backstage Leadership™ supports, develops and nurtures distributed leadership, therefore collective leadership. The three concepts, Backstage, Distributed and Collective are the Leadership Trio of the Century and the modern organization. Get them right, and you’ve done well!
Political movements know this, social movements know this, business organizations… Oops!