Thursday, April 21, 2016

From Within ...

In the global world of digital diversity and remote access to work, the role of leadership has changed (or is changing).  Change, however, is not necessarily the right word, perhaps a digital evolution is more appropriate way to explain the current state of te world's workforce.  As workers evolve and expand so does the need for the leaders to develop as well.   Many communities have the need to transition from a type manager supervisor to someone who is grounded with a leadership style.  This moves the thought process from our leader as the hero to the leader as host (Martin, 2015).  In society people are looking for someone to lead them to a better place, to create a utopia or to put blame on when things head south, this is typically the leader.  In this respect, the leader is then weighted with the obligation to make the organization succeed. However, this causes too much responsibility on a single person or a small group of individuals, ultimately setting them up for failure. 

Leading from the middle moves the sole liability of the organization from one person or a small group of individuals towards the entire community as a whole.  The idea of leading from within or the middle sets the named leader to become a host or guide rather than the hero (Martin, 2015). Maxwell (2010) discusses leading from where you are as being a way to share the responsibility and allow others to find their inner leadership strength and lead as well as the named leader.  Everyone needs to take part and be accountable within any organization; this is the investment workers need to make in their communities. By doing this everyone is a leader (Martin, 2015). 

In our open, social and participatory world, leaders and workers need to work together in order accomplish the objectives that are directed at them.  As a leader, there are several aspects that are leading in a digital world has.  First, diversity, leading in the 21st Central requires for its leaders to be diverse and involved from within to understand what is transpiring around them.   Next, the work environment itself is changing.  As a leader, we, need to be more mindful of this as well as respect those who are involved in our organization.  Time and space need to be addressed as elements of the work environment that are not constant for everyone.  As a leader, we need to understand that areas no long include cubicles and time is not a 9 to 5 job.  Again the respect of both these elements from leaders will help to engage a more meaningful environment for both workers and the leadership itself. Next is that distance is a large factor in current organizations.   Global and distributed team working means that seeing the individuals we work with is now often a luxury, and we need to engineer other ways of connecting with each other.  The key to all of these is that leaders today need to have good communication skills; not only orally but also in writing and be able to address sensitive topics within the electronic environment.  Flexibility is a luxury that many leaders seem to feel they do not have, however in a digital leadership world flexibility which is an essential tool to possess. 

Leadership has always been a slippery slope for people to manage.  We need to remember that there is a distinct difference between managers and leaders. Managers have subordinates and leaders have followers. Leaders that are well adapted to with the changing and evolving world of technology are not leaders who lead from the top - down. Rather they are leaders that embrace the diversity of the environment they are in and lead from within creating a culture of an innovative workforce that move and grow together. 


Maxwell, J. (2010). John Maxwell: Lead from where you are.  Success. Retireved from

Martin, M (2015, Dec 4). A deep dive into thinking about 21st century leadership.  The Bamboo Project. Retrieved from


  1. Nice post, Wendy. I like Michele Martin's views on leading from the middle...and think that view aligns nicely with networked leadership that Jarche and Weinberger discussed.

    Best of luck to you on your academic and leadership journey.

  2. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

    Robert Gallagher

    Picking up on your discussion about the changing nature of leadership I think its important to consider that it would be astonishing to see the cultural and technological evolution of the world and no change to the nature of leadership. The ability of information and technology in tandem to empower people who previously had none applies particularly to young people who know how to use these tools. If we think about the tsunami affect of social change in our lifetime established leaders really haven’t generated it, but rather it has boiled up from the people who develop new leaders specific to the issues. We have a number of examples of how leadership has changed in this environment ranging from Julian Assange to the journalists who created to expose potentially corrupt city officials. The ability to weaken our traditional leaders through the use of social media and promote a new type of anti-hero as someone to follow has certainly changed the game. We aren’t going to put this genie back in the bottle; nonetheless we now have freedom of expression, the cornerstone of democracy, which allows us to say anything to anyone in real time. As a result we can use these mediums to oblige leaders to respond, change policy, alter decisions, apologize and even backtrack. Yes, the nature of leadership has certainly changed.

    1. The interesting thing I learned from this entire experience is mainly the viewpoint of what others shared. I am without a doubt considered to be techie. I will admit that many times I forget that others may not be as "with - it" or understanding of the world of technology. This is difficult at times because I seem to become disconnected with others including leaders. I found this class refreshing because I was able to see a variety of perspectives of leaders in which will ultimately help me to be a better leader myself.

  3. Wendy, I'd like to note that Hercules is in my top three favorite Disney movies so I enjoyed the gif. I have appreciated your insight throughout our course and sharing your viewpoint as an Apple educator. I have learned a lot from our dialogue back and forth each week. You mentioned accountability in post and that is a particular term I really strive to emulate as a leader. In early childhood we have seen an explosion in funding opportunities (public and private). In order to be good stewards of this opportunity we have to hold ourselves accountable. The question though of course is how...? I am still exploring as a leader in the field where I think we need to start. I know my personal passion is infant toddler development, however, as a fairly "young" leader in the field I am starting to quickly notice an opportunity gap when it comes to technology. More and more I am learning that this particular field is still rooted significantly in paper and pencil. I am starting to wonder if we could be more accountable exploring smarter data systems to track and collect observations. As our peer noted above, we have to think about how we are using information and technology in tandem to empower and educate. I think this is an important insight to keep in mind as I move forward towards completing my DIP.

    1. Balance is always the key. I think regardless what industry you are in accountability should be a goal for every leader. However, it needs to go both ways. Leaders need to be accountable to their workers and workers need to be accountable to the leaders, both in turn need to realize that stakeholders are the factor that everyone must focus on. This is both in theory and practicality for all.