Circles of influence

As is her way, Rosabeth Moss Kanter has written an essay which not only hits the the nail on the head, but then knocks it clear though to the other side.  Talking about leadership and power in our connected world, she crisply articulates what it means to exert gravitational pull as opposed to hierarchical power.  Here's an excerpt:

Today, people with power and influence derive their power from their
centrality within self-organizing networks that might or might not
correspond to any plan on the part of designated leaders. Organization
structure in vanguard companies involves multi-directional
responsibilities, with an increasing emphasis on horizontal
relationships rather than vertical reporting as the center of action
that shapes daily tasks and one's portfolio of projects, in order to
focus on serving customers and society. Circles of influence replace
chains of command, as in the councils and boards at Cisco which draw
from many levels to drive new strategies. Distributed leadership —
consisting of many ears to the ground in many places — is more
effective than centralized or concentrated leadership. Fewer people
act as power-holders monopolizing information or decision-making, and
more people serve as integrators using relationships and persuasion to
get things done.

This changes the nature of career success. It is not enough to be
technically adept or even to be interpersonally pleasant. Power goes to
the "connectors": those people who actively seek relationships and then
serve as bridges between and among groups. Their personal contacts are
often as important as their formal assignment. In essence, "She who has
the best network wins."

This is more than a style of leadership, it is about a fundamental shift in the structure of power and influence, and I believe it is quite representative of an approach that has existed in our more innovative institutions through time.  According influence to those who are able to get things done by bringing diverse groups of people together sounds like the job description for leadership in an organization full of T-shaped people.  And as far as that goes, I like her essay a lot more than what I wrote in my articulation of Principle 12, so I'm going to have to appropriate some of these ideas.

And by the way, I'd love to connect with you on Twitter, too.  You can find me there @metacool

Here's her article: On Twitter and in the Workplace, It's Power to the Connectors