David Weinberger, Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society is speaking about the necessary evolution of leadership in the age of information.
Weinberger contends that Leadership has been based upon the notion of scarcity:
Leaders have traditionally imposed artificial boundaries on flow of knowledge and controlled which information they respond to, which information gets distributed to others, and which information is ignored.
In the traditional leadership model, the leader at the top is responsible for sifting through the information, communicating, coordinating, having the vision and strategy, and being accountable for results. It can be very lonely at the top, says Weinberger, and decisions can lead to devastating results as the community--the people--rely on an isolated heroic human figure.
But today, when networks are serving as both sources and as platforms for communication and change, leadership models must evolve, says Weinberger. No longer are people and nations isolated from one another--they now have access to more information than ever before, much faster, and from all around the world. This, is the basis for crowdsourcing leadership.
Let's go back to the original purpose of leadership: to make decisions for the survival and livelihood of, and providing direction to, a people. I wrote before about Cisco's commitment to leveraging the power of its communities--providing their people with tools to enhance sharing, building, and communicating--in essence--influencing both structure and direction of the company. Technology today makes it possible to achieve outcomes of leadership from within the many communities of people passionate about specific areas. Just look at Wikipedia and Linux and the world wide web, says Weinberger.
The required change in the way traditional leadership has been thought of and practiced is tremendous, there is no doubt. But perhaps the greatest challenge for traditional leadership will be the sense that once people get tapped for their immense potential, the power that comes with leadership will shift as well. It will no longer be the sole propriety of the leader but rather will become a factor of the community as a whole. Leadership in a networked world is the property of the the network--not the few at the top, says Weinberger.
President elect Obama realizes the power of community and the power within the crowd. Throughout his campaign, Obama tapped into the power of his internal network as well as of his voters, putting up websites, using community platforms such as facebook and twitter. Regardless of your political view, it is indisputable that Obama, in a way, models how people in the West communicate and collaborate--and he also understands that in the age of networks and lightspeed information flow, the way in which politicians engage with the people needs to change as well.