I had the honor of being invited to guest host the India HR Twitter Chat this past week, with two of my favorite leadership experts Tanmay Vora and Tanvi Guatam. The #IndiaHRChat is attended by many experienced business leaders and HR professionals who tackle meaty issues around leadership.
The topic for this Chat was “Emergent Leadership”.
In the India HR Chat Preview, the questions that would be asked during the chat were listed and also articles for pre-reading, including First Fire All the Managers by Gary Hamel and Emergent Leadership Topples the Pyramid by Jesse Stoner.
No More Long Lectures – A Different Way to Learn
A “TweetChat” itself is a most unusual form of conversation. From the outside – and even from the inside at first – it can feel like total chaos, a free-for-all. But if you relax your mind and take in the flow, not expecting to see every detail, you begin to pick up an overall conversation that is quite enlightening – that stretches your imagination and provides new ideas to chew on.
One of the last tweets summed up the experience quite well: “It’s interesting that leadership can be discussed in 140 characters. No more long lectures.” @DeekshaNagi
New Ideas – New Ways of Understanding Old Ideas
Emergent leadership is leadership that emerges naturally in response to a need, not based on an assigned role. It is most powerful and effective in flat organizations and matrix organizations where hierarchical models based on power and authority are not as effective.
One of my favorite comments was Gautam Gosh’s pithy descriptor:
“Ah, something like “Just In Time” Leadership then?”
Yes, it is “just in time,” but it’s also much deeper.
Digging Down to Nuances
The Chat provides an opportunity to explore the nuances and to create deeper understanding.
Here is a small sample of the Chat comments that I hope will help expand your own thinking on this very important leadership issue in today’s world.
(The Twitter ID of the person who commented is provided at the end of each statement).
1. What is emergent leadership?
- Emergent leadership is not ascribed to a role. It can be provided by anyone at anytime. @JesseLynStoner
- It is a situational (and often temporary) act of leadership beyond title, experience or authority. @tnvora
- It is not based on power or authority but on who is best prepared to provide what’s needed. It arises naturally in response to what is needed. @JesseLynStoner
- Effective emergent leadership begins with the ability to see the differences that are most likely to make a difference. @LollyDaskal
- Strong leadership qualities can emerge in any of us. Sometimes, out of our will. Other times, out of circumstances. @tnvora
2. How does emergent leadership change the paradigm of traditional leadership?
- Emergent leadership is not based on power or authority but on ability, knowledge and credibility. @JesseLynStoner
- It simply takes the power equation out and brings the focus on the results & outcomes. It’s more inclusive & collaborative. @Cynosure_Sarang
- Emergent leadership topples the traditional pyramid. It is not hierarchical. @JesseLynStoner
- It changes the pattern of traditional leadership from centralized authority to distributed one. @tnvora
- When faced with a problem an emergent leader steps up and steps in. @LollyDaskal
3. Why is emergent leadership important in today’s organizations?
- As the pace of change increases, the need for multiple leaders to rise up to the challenge is needed. @vishalshah10
- Competitive advantages are getting replicated faster and hence calls for emergent leadership. @SurbhiDhuper
- The life cycle of business along with its product and services is shrinking which requires adaptability which EL provides. @ideabound
- The old paradigm that leaders have the answers is a myth that fails in today’s complex organizations. @JesseLynStoner
- But are organizations ready for emergent leadership?
- There is no choice. Organizations are too complex. The hierarchical model is not effective. @JesseLynStoner
- How can anyone living in a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) not embrace emergent leadership! @tanvi_gautam
4. How do you spot emergent leadership and what are the behaviors to look for?
- Ability to collaborate, expertise, information, commitment, clarity: http://ow.ly/xldWa @JesseLynStoner
- Emergent leaders pay attention to people and induce self-esteem in others, often by challenging them. @hrsanjaynegi
- Look to see who people are responding to. Leadership is already happening whether you have noticed it or not. @JesseLynStoner
- Spot people who take initiative. @MandloiRashmi
- You can only see it post facto? 🙂 @GautamGhosh
- “Responsible ego” – they know they don’t have to come up with winning idea in all situations. Washington Post article. @tnvora
5. How can organizations promote and encourage emergent leadership?
- Organizations need to create equitable compensations systems. @JesseLynStoner
- I am not sure our performance management systems are geared to recognize emergent leadership 😛 @tanvi_gautam
- Organizations should just let them be. They grow best when not dependent on organizational processes. @pragya_shrimali
- Organization need to build cultures where the successful people are role models of these behaviours. @AbhijitBhaduri
- Orgs that place a premium on ‘leaders building leaders’ are creating space for emergence of emergent leadership. @sundertrg
- Wouldn’t emergent leadership will also require top level leadership to build suitable environment? Is it self-sustainable? @Sarangbrahme
- Emergent leadership may be spontaneous, but nurturing the culture for it has to be deliberate! @tanvi_gautam
6. How can a “leader by authority” support and encourage emergent leadership?
- Let them take risks and make mistakes and give room to learn from mistakes & improve. @paraskhatri
- Leaders in authority need to set their egos aside if they want to support emergent leadership. @JesseLynStoner
- They need to be willing to follow. @JesseLynStoner
- Define outcomes clearly and clarify values. Beyond that, eliminate roadblocks and support without directing the workflow. @tnvora
- Celebrate them and their success and encourage them to not stop. @meher_taj
7. What is the role of HR in supporting and encouraging emergent leadership?
- HR should “be the change” role model and be “emergent leaders”! @RajKarunakaran
- HR can help educate leaders so they aren’t afraid to let go of power. @JesseLynStoner
- HR can provide a vision of other models and successful flat organizations: Wall Street Journal @JesseLynStoner
- Update your mental models. The machine age is over and some HR departments did not get the email ! @tanvi_gautam
Enriching Side Conversations
There is no such thing as going on a tangent because all conversations add value. At times there might be side conversations woven into the larger conversation – but they are public for all to benefit from.
On emergent leadership and complexity:
@GautamGhosh: @sundertrg reminds me of Dee Hock’s “chaordic” systems. When complexity is there embrace emergence rather than rules.
@GautamGhosh: Snowden on narrative capture and emergence – Brilliant ! http://bit.ly/SPPFYn
On what kind of organizations can support emergent leadership:
@GautamGhosh: @sundertrg so emergent leadership only suited to certain kind of organizations? Like holocracies? Would it emerge in trad org?
@JesseLynStoner : Adhocracy first described by Toffler in 1960s. Not supported in trad hierarchical orgs. Org structure is difficult to change, but not impossible.
The #IndiaHRChat is held on Wednesdays at 9:30 am EST. Here are few more Twitter Chats related to leadership that you might want to check out. Each has its own personality and style.
#LeadFromWithin on Tuesday at 8 pm EST
#TChat on Wednesday at 7 pm EST
#LeadWithGiants on Monday at 7 pm EST
#PeopleSkills on Sunday at 10 am EST
Great post, Jesse. I participate in several tweetchats, and some are just fantastic. I would recommend folks interested in customer service come join the “global gang” at #custserv every Tuesday night at 9pm Eastern time. A really fun global group, with terrific hosts, topics, questions, and shared learning.
I am also grateful ro see your comments about the Emergent Leadership tweetchat. As your participants noted, this clearly relates to the work that I and others do, on change leadership through the complexity lens. The dynamics of autonomous agents (we humans), creating dynamic, often unpredictable, and hopefully adaptive patterns of behavior, is the way forward imho. Reminds me of Meg Wheatley’s notion that a leader is “anyone who wants to make a difference.
Please do post if there will be more tweetchats on this great topic, and thanks!
Hi Bruce, I thought about Meg’s work as the comments flew by and missed the opportunity to make that connection. That’s one of the downsides to the fast pace. You can catch most of it, but you can’t join all the side conversations. But all in all, when the group really digs into a topic, it is most satisfying.
Thanks for letting folks know that #custserv belongs on the list of great chats.
Hi Jesse, thanks for the recap of a great chat and for educating others about the impact of Twitter Chats. As host of the #LeadWIthGiants Chat I can attest to the fact that each chat is an immersive learning experience.
Hi Dan, a great description – an immersive learning experience. Thanks for weighing in!
Hello Jesse. I’m enjoying your blog. Yes – I’m a big fan of the social and collaborative learning process as well.
Thanks so much for including the #TChat World of Work Community on this list. We are always open to meeting passionate and talented people – We gather every Wednesday from 6:30-7pm ET for BlogTalkRadio and our Twitter Chat is from 7-8pm ET. It’s a lot of fun. Cheers! See you on the stream.
Great to see you here, Meghan! #TChat is one of the best organized chats, with a theme for the week that includes a radio interview and blog posts on the theme. It was a pleasure and an honor to be one of your featured guests.
I remember reading a quote from Dr. V- founder of Aravind, an amazing medical system in India that turns US medical delivery on its head and operates under the rule of compassion. He said “Leadership comes from a place that troubles your heart.” Emergent leadership arises when one says, “This troubles me. I/we can do better.”
Great post. I would have loved to participate. Tanvi and I met in Philadelphia last year with my colleague Marcia Reynolds.
What a lovely quote, and thoughts behind it. Thanks, Eileen.