"A new generation of leaders are being bred - one that favours freedom, free flow of ideas, and access to information. "
After reading "Leadership from below" by PhD Trond Arne Undheim there is one thought strongly present in my head: As a leader I shall never stand still, yet I shall always be grounded.
I am not a big fan of books about leadership. This is because I prefer learning by practising and discussing with other leaders. But mostly because the books I have read have been quite boring and very superficial to me, filled with fancy words and little substance. This one is different. It is concrete and it is useful. Why is that?
"Leadership from below" makes me aware of the new generation of knowledge workers. I am part of the generation myself, but still I find it interesting to read about what is characteristic about the new type of leaders. Maybe it is exactly because I am part of it? In either way it is important to realize that I as a leader will become increasingly challenged as time goes by. The "internet generation" will never accept me as a leader by position and formal authority, but only when I deliver by practise I can deserve to lead and have their respect. "Leadership from below" is useful for me as a leader to understand the dynamics of the people and groups I may lead. But this book takes it further.
Not only do I understand that leaders from below, conscious, resourceful people in the organization will challenge my position and take informal leadership to new heights - the book also makes me positively aware of my own possibilities facing leaders above myself. In this way the book is just great, giving concrete advice about how to take responsibility and gain important influence. Some examples: techniques for speed-reading and how to get access to networks and people, the importance of thinking and presenting both oral and written, how to make teams successful, how to master mobility and technology and advices for leadership in software companies with the culture "no meetings please!". Not to mention the fascinating logic of open source where everyone must have potential for leadership.
The book covers a wide span of issues important within modern leadership. What makes it really interesting is the combination of western and eastern learning's.
"To engage in leadership from below...includes being aware of Asian principles like ba, Zen, feng shui, kanso and ki and following Scandinavian egalitarian, collective, open, and gender-neutral practices, working both with network and hierarchy..."
Can everyone become a leader? I think not. But many have potential, and a good way to start can be trough informal positions from below. It takes not only personality, but also skills. And skills can be learned. Important though, is reflection and self-consciousness.
"Leadership from below" is a book I will return to and look up certain chapters. Refreshing my thought. Become once again inspired. And remembering to take time by myself, time for reflection and recharging my energy. So I can go on and work to become what I believe in; a dedicated, always learning, always moving, interested, authentic and enthusiastic leader.