Leadership 2.0: step forward the unheros

Jemima Gibbons from David Wilcox on Vimeo.

Earlier this year David Gurteen gave us a neat summary of how new online tools and attitudes (Web 2.0) are changing the way we do business, learn and socialise. World 2.0 has arrived, and requires a different mindset:

We are moving from a simple world to a rich, complex, diverse one. One where power is less centralized and more distributed. We are moving from a command and control world to a world where people can do as they please within the boundaries of responsibility.

David summarised World 1.0 and World 2.0 in the chart below. This is the world of both small-scale social innovation – and also new-style open, corporate innovation supported by NESTA Connect.

Jemima Gibbons spotted this a couple of years ago when lecturing at Cass Business School, and something clicked. Academics were talking about new more dispersed, distributed forms of leadership, Web 2.0 was emerging as a meme … so what we will need is Leadership 2.0.

Jemima is now writing a book on just that. The title is unconfirmed, but you can download the outline here. I planned to do an interview with Jemima a couple of weeks back, but messed up the video, and instead found myself featured on her blog, in far more distinguished company. You’ll find a developing series of interviews with people in publishing, social media, design and other industries, mixed with some great insights into past and present notions of what it takes to be a leader.

The idea of  new styles of leadership can a be bit abstract, so Jemima says that she is looking for personalities in order to examplify what she means. However, she adds:

Leadership 2.0 is not about personalities, it’s actually about stepping back and allowing other people to bring themselves forward.

Remember Reginald Perrin’s boss C.J. in the TV show? Famous for “I didn’t get to where I am today by … ” Jemima reckons C.J. is just the sort of one-dimensional leader we need to get away from, and The time for heros is past.

Why has the heroic model been promoted so much in the past? As Jemima explains – citing Professor David Sims – when like Warren Bennis you interview self-promoting leaders of large firms, you’ll be told it’s all about them. Jemima is shortly off to the US to carry out more of her interviews, so keep an eye on her blog for a fresh perspective. Unheroic?

One comment

  • April 24, 2009 - 12:51 am | Permalink

    “Leadership 2.0 is not about personalities, it’s actually about stepping back and allowing other people to bring themselves forward.”

    I completely agree with this. A good leader knows how to delegate tasks, and is encouraging.


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