A few weeks ago, I led a colloquium at Adler based on my popular keynote, Take Me to Your Leaders. During the talk, I explore the notion that it's time to rethink what it means to lead in the contemporary context of highly collaborative – and highly effective – organizations.
Throughout history, the concept of "organization" evolved according to conditions of society at the time. Unquestionably, today's conditions have changed significantly since the Industrial Age model that shaped the 20th century, and thereby shaped management education over the last hundred years. In a contemporary organization, conceived in a world that is ubiquitously connected and pervasively proximate, I contend that the role of leadership is no longer to “lead” in a conventional sense (that is, create a vision, execute a mission, provide incentives to keep everyone in line), but to bring people together to create a shared experience in which an alternative future becomes possible. This realization raises a fascinating question: what does it mean to be a leader when it is no longer to lead?