In this short TED Talk, “A guide to collaborative leadership,” Lorna Davis explains the difference between what she calls “hero leadership” and “interdependent leadership” and how the world requires collaboration in order to solve complex challenges.
She describes the “hero leader” as someone who presents the image that they have the right answer. In these situations, followers often are not engaged, assuming they have no role in achieving a solution. Yet, Davis shares, “in a world as complex and interconnected as ours is, we must rely on one another…we must have radical interdependence.”
Davis is a B Corps ambassador. B Corps, she describes, is a certification for businesses who determine to use business for good and are monitored on their social and environmental performance. They see themselves as one part of the whole system.
She explains three subtle but important differences between “hero leadership” and true collaboration through “interdependent leadership.”
- They set goals differently.
- A hero is one who “sets a goal that can be individually delivered and neatly measured.”
- An interdependent leader instead, “sets goals that are impossible to achieve by one company or one person alone.” They work with others in the industry to solve shared problems.
- They announce goals differently.
- A hero only announces goals “when the plan to achieve it is carefully crafted and clear…” and when there is certainty to meet the goal. This sets the stage for “the big win.”
- Interdependent leaders and collaborators are “willing to share their goals before they have a plan.” Often, these goals they set are unable to be met without the help of others. These announcements are often invitations for others to join in the pursuit of the solution together.
- They have very different relationships with others.
- A hero sees people as either competition or loyal followers. Heroes want control over everything and because of this, they often do not seek input from others. They often want the credit of success alone.
- Interdependent leaders recognize their need for other people. This can be seen in the way these leaders run meetings where people are encouraged to “collaborate and communicate and share ideas.” People look for ways they can be involved in the process during these meetings. Interdependent leaders help others feel that their time is valuable and important.
“Interdependence is a lot harder than being a hero,” says Lorna Davis. This requires adopting behaviors that are not traditionally accepted in leadership roles: openness, transparency and vulnerability. These behaviors do have some risk. However, she says, “The joy and success that comes from interdependence and vulnerability is worth the effort and the risk.”
In order to solve complex, interconnected problems throughout the world, there is a great need for interdependent leaders.
About DeBoer Fellowship
The DeBoer Fellowship develops change leaders across all sectors of Myanmar society. Through a multi-year training class and additional public programs, the DeBoer Fellowship serves Myanmar by helping to grow competent, compassionate, and ethical leaders. For more information about DeBoer Fellowship or to apply for the Fellowship, please visit: www.deboerfellowship.org.