Leadership in transformation: From Maestro to a Jazz Orchestra

Dr. Smadar Porat, Partner & Head of R&D Depaertment at IQL

December 20, 2018

In the current era, characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA), organizations are becoming increasingly more complex and less formal. Consequently, traditional control processes are being replaced by knowledge-sharing processes, informal coordination, and networks. Hence, different leadership theories and methods, which are more in line with these developments, are required. Terms such as “leadership in the plural,” “emergent leadership,” “leadership as a structural and networked phenomenon” reflect changes in how the author understands the phenomenon of leadership and sets the direction for new approaches. This chapter describes four paradigm shifts from the traditional approach to leadership, which highlighted the role of a formal leader who influences a group of followers. The author presents a stream of research emphasizing a relational approach among multiple individuals and reframes leadership as an influence action of many. These influence exchanges result in an emergent influence pattern or a leadership configuration.

Nevertheless, the author sought to not “throw the baby out with the bathwater,” Therefore the author claims that the formal leader is embedded in this configuration. Building on social network analysis and recently developed methodologies, the author provides a platform for measuring leadership as a many-on-many influence process. The author depicts the research she conducted analyzing advice networks while aspiring to create a synthesis between the traditional and emergent leadership approaches. At the practical level, to understand and develop leadership in organizations nowadays, the author suggests acquiring a “broad and multi-focal lens” to capture the complexity of leadership.