We’re in the midst of a fundamental shift in leadership - Deepstash

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A New Kind Of Leadership

A New Kind Of Leadership

The only way to lead effectively when you can’t force people to do something is to be an example, share information, and lead from a place of caring.

If the true goal of leadership is motivating people to achieve goals and effect change, the old model of using positional authority may never have been the most effective.


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Effective Leadership Is Not the Same as Formal Authority

Effective Leadership Is Not the Same as Formal Authority

There are six bases of interpersonal power, or the ability to effect change.

  • Legitimate power: inherent in a position, such as a supervisor’s job title
  • Reward power: ability to grant bonuses, raises, promotions, and privileges
  • Coercive power: power to punish via termination, demotion, undesirable scheduling, or unpleasant assignments
  • Referent power: based on our identification with leaders and the intrinsic desire to follow their example
  • Expert power: belief that the leader has a deeper understanding of relevant topics and "knows best"
  • Informational Influence/power: adds an element of learning


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Leadership Without Surveillance

Leadership Without Surveillance

  • Remote and flexible work challenges the traditional workplace authority model.
  • Now, positional leaders who used to rely on rewards and punishments have limited options.
  • They can attempt to use surveillance where it is likely to harm productivity, such as remote knowledge and creative work.
  • Force people into the office, double-down on using reward (perks, bonuses) and punishment (paycuts, firings) power, but risk losing employees and having to deal with a reduced replacement talent pool.


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Alternate Way Of Leading

Alternate Way Of Leading

Leaders can lead through referent, expert, and informational power, using purpose-centred inspiration while changing work organization to replace domination with the focus on wellbeing, outcomes, flexibility, and participation.

Positional leaders still can and need to use legitimate, reward, and even coercive power when appropriate. However, as work becomes increasingly cognitive or even emotional, the relative importance of the referent, expert, and informational leadership will continue to grow.


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Leading By Example

Leading By Example

Referent power is about leading by example. Aspiring leaders and those retooling to lead in the post-pandemic world can develop their referent power through modelling transparency and authenticity, as well as listening and compassion.

Activist leaders must practice what they preach. An effective environmental activist can’t be irresponsibly consuming resources. Similarly, if one expects colleagues to contribute high-quality work, setting an example of competence and commitment is non-negotiable. 


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Building Relationships

Building Relationships

In addition to authenticity, listening to and understanding others underpins human connections. Relationships are much more intrinsically motivating than transactional rewards and punishments. Even before the pandemic, 78% of employees were willing to switch jobs to get more empathy. And 77% were willing to give more hours of work to an empathetic employer. Now, as the stress and burnout are taking a toll on employees, managers face an even taller order to exhibit compassion.


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The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line

To build on the referent, expert, and informational power, leadership must center on shared purpose. Both activism leadership and thought leadership unite diverse people from around the world because the cause or the idea intrinsically inspires them. Authentically uniting talent around a sense of purpose is increasingly the task of all leaders. Earning the respect of people and supporting them with care and dignity provide the relational foundation for the intrinsically inspired work. 


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