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December 21, 2011

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Michele,
I love this post. Meg Wheatley has always been an inspiration, a pioneer. What you are talking about here - of course - requires a leap in consciousness. We've got to get off the hero/leader/helper addiction. And yes, even us "helpers" have to reframe our thinking (and feelings) to birth this transition to true collaboration and sharing.

Thanks for an enlightened post,
Louise

Thanks, Louise. It's interesting that we have such a hero addiction in society. I remember when President Obama was elected, it was like he was going to "save" us. We wanted him to be a hero. But no one person can solve all the problems we have. That's why the leader as hero is terrible for everyone--the person who is supposed to be the hero and everyone else who waits for him or her to do the saving.

For me, I'm seeing so many opportunities and healthier ways of being in the "leader-as-host" model. For me, personally, to really move there, though, I will also have to address my own addiction to being a helper. There's definitely an ego hit you get from feeling like you "saved the day."

Thanks Michelle! I love the idea of the leader as host and you are completely right about it being challenging. It's much easier to just tell the answer than engage the person in the learning. If we take the time and energy to do that, we'll not only help them, but that will likely ripple out further. To get to a place where we truly collaborate, we will have to embody the host idea. A hero can inspire but when we want to do great work, we need to have a solid group of leaders who come together with knowledge and strength across many areas to create real change.

Anna, you are so right! One thing that really struck me about the idea of hero vs. host was that while heroes can be inspiring, they also carry with them the idea that they will "save the day," leaving those around them passively watching. But as you point out, for real change to take place, you need people to feel individually empowered to take up their piece of the change. I really believe that only happens when we take off our super hero capes. :-)

This is absolutely right. I believe people will always look for a hero. We'll seek the counselor or consultant to right the ship, to make the pain go away, to do the work for us. A host-leader, if I'm understanding your definition correctly, will transform the relationship, creating a culture of self-leadership, instead of dependence. Such surrogate relationships, if they lead to a stronger sense of personal direction and responsibility, are profound and life-changing. Few things are more rewarding for both parties.

Andrew F. Robinson
People Change People

Yes, Andrew, you're correct--a host-leader creates the space for self-leadership and independence. Each individual draws on his/her individual strengths and sense of accountability to make things happen. For me, it's an incredibly inspiring and transformative model that shifts how I look at the work that I do in some pretty profound ways.

Could use some advice: How do you handle a situation in which you have been brought into a company, it seems, to be the hero -- to save the company from its previous bad practices and help manage/control certain personality types and systems? I have this fear that I've walked into something I should not have. Nevertheless, I'm here, and I want to do the right things to help the company (a small nonprofit) and, in turn, help the people.

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