Leadership and Change: A Complexity Perspective

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Many different types of leadership have been introduced and discussed in numberless books, articles, video tapes, CD-ROMs, web sites, courses, seminars, conferences, congresses: classical leadership, progressive leadership, visionary leadership, transformative leadership, innovative leadership, imaginative leaders, leadership under uncertainty, leadership under risk, leadership at the edge of chaos, creative leadership, emergent leadership, inspirational leadership, self-leadership, etc. The authors agree about the major difference between managers and leaders: the former see and solve problems, the latter see possibilities to dissolve (go beyond, transcend) the problems.

Why does the topic of leadership attract so many authors? Is leadership vital for the existence of human society? Or it is the memory of the herd-like life of the primates – a memory possibly ingrained in the unconscious of our psyche – that makes us need ‘shepherds’? Or we all subconsciously keep memory of the earliest time of our childhood when each of us was depending on the ‘leadership’ of those who took care for us? Or it is the thirst for power that becomes so unbearably strong in some individuals (groups, organisations) that they cannot help but persistently seeking to guide (direct, lead, instruct) others?

In the paradigm of complexity, the leader is seen as an individual who naturally emerges out of the group interactions with a distinguished ability to think and intuit, feel and experience, relate to the others and wholesomely affect their minds, hearts, and souls.

In the paradigm of complexity, the leader is not a person endowed with the capacity to guide (guard, direct, instruct, command) others people. When complexity of social dynamics increases, spreads, and moves into greater and greater acceleration, it becomes difficult for the leaders to reveal and follow even their own ways, let alone the ways which the others must follow (assuming that ‘the others’ are capable to think, feel and experience by themselves). “Follow not me but you!” used to say Friedrich Nietzsche in his “Der Wille zu Macht” – “Will to Power” – (Nietzsche, 1901), and these words make sense for everyone who navigates through the life dynamics.

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