Five styles of leadership
The five styles of leadership can be arranged
in a spectrum or scale, with participatory at
the top (since it implies the most self-organizing energy) and
directive at the bottom (since it is appropriate
in the absence of self-organizing energy). The other
three leadership styles -- facilitative, evocative, and
provocative -- can be arrayed between the two extremes
in whatever order is most useful in a given circumstance. Although
the phrase "leadership style" suggests individual leaders,
the principles described here can be applied to shared leadership,
as well, and to patterns that structure a system, like group processes.
In these cases it might be better to speak of modes rather
than styles -- for example, a jury might work well because it
was operating in an especially participatory mode.
Participatory style - Leaders interact with other
participants as peers to see what they can discover and create
together. To the extent there is any "strategy" at this
level, it is that of implicit modelling, of simply being
the change the leaders want in others. In a sense, everyone in
a truly co-intelligent system leads in this way by co-creating
a group field which influences everyone in it to be and
behave in co-intelligent ways, more and more, as the system feeds
co-intelligence back into itself. In participatory mode, everyone
in the group leads according to their competence, insight, experience,
or passion in ways that others can and do honor and follow. Such
co-leadership and co-followership are shared by all in co-intelligent
Facilitative style - Leaders see the self-organizing
energy of the system being blocked by missing information, resources,
know-how, linkages, processes or awareness, or by confusion, or
some other specific factor. The leaders deal with the problem
in whatever way will best enhance and sustain the self-organizing
energy of the system, which then blossoms forth or surges ahead.
This is kin to the "servant leadership" approach of
some earlier management theories.
Evocative style - Leaders try to draw out the
potential capabilities of the system with questions, observational
feedback, visions of possibilities, modelling an exploratory attitude,
etc. Any directiveness here is unattached to particular outcomes.
It simply directs people's attention in a way calculated
to trigger a co-intelligent response which is then free to go
where it will, as the system self-organizes.
Provocative style - Sometimes when self-organizing
energy is not forthcoming, leaders can use a provocative style
to push the system so that it pushes back with its own self-determined
energy. Or the leader may harass the group about obstacles or
problems in a way that provokes them to action. Sometimes such
provocation-response interactions unfold spontaneously and unintentionally.
At other times a leader plans them to provide enlivening challenge.
Directive style (also called management) - In
the directive style, co-intelligent leaders look more like traditional
leaders, actively generating the structures, activities, attitudes,
conditions, lessons, etc., they deem necessary to initiate
co-intelligence in the system. If they are in charge, they
may mandate such changes. Other directive strategies include demanding,
urging, advising, training, suggesting and explicitly
modelling desirable behaviors. The least extreme form
of directiveness is a management style that solicits lots of input
before, during and after issuing its directives. The most
extreme legitimate form of directiveness is controlling force
or domination, which may be considered co-intelligent to the extent
it is a) required for emergency survival, b) temporary, c) answerable
to those over whom it is exercised or to the larger community
that includes them and/or d) it impedes dominating forces that
suppress diversity or creative participation in the system (for
example, a CEO firing an oppressive manager). In order not to
impede subsequent co-intelligence, incidents in which force has
been used need to be processed -- examined, explored, understood
and emotionally discharged -- to remove the inevitable toxic traces
force leaves behind.
Leadership fields exist in every human system
or group, like gravitational fields exist in the presence of any
matter. The system or group continually shapes the field, and
the field continually shapes the system or group. We could say
that the mission of eldership is to nurture the consciousness,
co-intelligence and evolving coherence of leadership fields in
the system or group being eldered.
The raw materials -- and tools -- of eldership
are consciousness and context. The primary process of eldership
is the co-creation of wisdom. The primary products of eldership
are understanding, and the creative, agreement and patterned leadership
needed to sustain the co-intelligence of the system.
Tracks of Leadership