In this post I want to show how informal organizational power and its role in leadership can produce different kinds of leadership. My inspiration is from a Chinese concept of rulers that is over two thousand years old, and I first read in connection to the I Ching. From it, I produced two forms of leadership: Organizational Leadership (OGL) and De Facto Leadership (DFL). When any group identifies its leader, the critical question is:
Are the members’ hearts into following the leader?
The answer is the same difference between a loveless marriage and a loving one. That’s why I express OGL as a hollowed circle to be filled and DFL as a solid circle to be embraced (figure). A loving marriage is love (blue) embraced by the formal structure of marriage (red). Leadership is best when the formal organizational structure is given to leaders that people want to follow, thus producing Aligned Leadership (ALL).
OGL is the hierarchy using titles such as manager and executive to convey positions of authority and rules of responsibility. OGL is more akin to management. DFL is dependent upon the person’s qualities; people follow them regardless of what the rules say. This is how some can be leaders without being managers.
A scene from Braveheart expresses very well the difference between DFL and OGL. In it, the lead Scottish noble, Robert the Bruce, is trying to convince the commoner warrior, William Wallace, that he needs the noble’s support. The latter responds with, “Men follow courage not titles.”
OGL, DFL and ALL reinforce the idea that leadership is an affect that requires tapping into emotions and integrating both aspects of an interpersonal relationship. This helps people to see what they want to see in their leaders, thus encouraging them to follow.