Meta leadership is the ability to lead other leaders by inspiring them to share a common passion and purpose. This is probably one of the most important emerging forms of leadership for next generation teams and organizations, who will rely more on leader-leader interactions than on leader-subordinate relationships.
Leadership as differentiation factor
In his book Good to great, former Stanford business professor Jim COLLINS depicts the results of a 5-year study on what differentiates 11 excellent companies from their direct and indirect competitors.
One of this critical differentiation factor is the so-called level 5 leadership (when compared to 4 lower and more immature levels). This type of leadership ensures sustained excellence through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional determination.
Today, this is not enough anymore. We need meta leadership.
What is meta leadership (MLS) ?
This is the ability to lead other leaders by inspiring them to share a common passion and purpose. It is based upon envisioning a bright future, committing to it, awakening that vision in others and working together with them to make it happen.
Therefore, MLS results from vision and engagement, rather than from “power”.
MLS allows other team members to be leaders in their own right, proactive and willing to take responsibility and action. On the contrary, it is not constantly controlling others and telling them what to do.
MLS empowers people to act quickly and flexibly, as demonstrated e.g. by General Stanley McCHRYSTAL when he took command of the Joint Task Force in Iraq in 2003. He then quickly realized that conventional military tactics were no longer adequate and had consequently to adapt his leadership style. At some point, going through the chain of command was too slow. He then made the decision to empower soldiers on the battlefield to act on the spot as speed of action was critical for success.
Leadership culture vs cult of the leader
Creating other empowered leaders (and not only simply obedient followers) is essential for achieving effective performance and ultimately the survival of the organization.
Robust and sustainable teams and organizations are therefore built on an empowered leadership culture as opposed to a cult formed around a particular leader.
The cult of the leader
In a cult, the organization mostly exists and succeeds because of the leader character. A cult is therefore rudimentary and ephemeral. It fades away when the leader leaves.
A major drawback of cults is the perception of fundamental inequality between people. Indeed, such organizations are based upon a hierarchy in which people above are inherently better than those at other levels. This leads to the feeling that people are dispensable entities that can be easily replaced when the lemon has been fully squeezed.
The leadership culture
On the contrary, a culture is much more durable and robust than a cult as it does not depend so much on the leader alone.
Culture is shared by all the members of the organization. It is based on values, beliefs, behavior and knowledge that can be transmitted to succeeding generations.
Culture is one of the secrets that led the famous All Blacks to the top, making them one of the most titled teams in the world. What matters for the All blacks is to leave the jersey a better position. In a broader sense, this means that their main responsibility is to be a good ancestor. Their culture is their legacy.
In a culture, while there are still symbolic individuals who have key responsibilities, people are essentially viewed as equals who are in different roles. Roles are based on the development of individual capabilities and are not a reflection of the intrinsic value of the person. As a result, all members are acknowledged and seen as valuable and indispensable contributors.
In a culture of leadership, everyone is encouraged to express their ideas and visions openly and honestly. They are not repressed when their opinion differs from their n+1. They are not categorized in subjective Gaussian curves.
In summary, if a leader’s success is based on the power of their personality, their job is only half-done.
Watch this video to learn more about how to develop your leadership mindset and that of your teams.
Nowadays, there is an increasing need for authentic and conscious leadership in the world. This includes the way we lead ourselves, our families, our teams and our businesses.
To achieve more in the world, we must first grow, evolve and expand our consciousness personally.
Let’s have a chat if you are looking for building and sustaining a meta leadership culture in your company.
Our lives are finite, but life is infinite. We are the finite players in the infinite game of life. We come and go, we’re born and we die, and life still continues with us or without us. – Simon SINEK
- Success Factor Modeling Volume III, Conscious Leadership and Resilience, Robert B. DILTS, 2017
- Team of Teams, General Stanley McCHRYSTAL, 2015
- Good to great, Jim COLLINS, 2001
- Legacy, James KERR, 2013