"It is impossible to learn and look good at the same time"
Julia Cameron

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Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 510

Estimated reading time:  3:15 minutes


A couple of months ago I wrote about some initial thinking I’ve been doing about “Friendship Leadership.”


I wrote in  part, "Servant Leadership is a model initially explored by Robert Greenleaf in the 1970’s and 80’s. https://www.greenleaf.org/about-us/robert-k-greenleaf-biography/ "Greenleaf proposed that the best leaders were servants first, and the key tools for a servant-leader included listening, persuasion, access to intuition and foresight, use of language, and pragmatic measurements of outcomes.” ….Greenleaf’s work is seminal in my own thinking about leadership as supporting people in the vital work of becoming the person each of us are called to be.  [However], what if the next generation leadership model is actually "friendship leadership" where we are less servants of each other and more friends of each other. We have each others’ backs. We speak the truth about and to each other. We are accountable to and with each other. We stand together for the common good. We do need to make decisions in organizations, and move in directions that not everybody desires, but we can still be friends with each other, seeing for example that to everything there is a season, and sometimes the season calls for us to part ways.”


Since then I’ve been doing some more thinking and am curious about the connections you may be making.


  1. Unfortunately servanthood still has a hierarchical barrier that separates the leader from the lead. In Friendship Leadership, we are on the same journey, you may lead for this part, I may lead for another.
  2. In Friendship Leadership we speak well of each other. To use an antithetical example from the popular media at the moment, Mr. Trump is vilified as stupid and an idiot (and worse) by many of my news feeds. His supporters and the media they follow see the rest of us as stupid and idiotic (and worse) ourselves. These are not the words of friends. As a ‘friend’ of Mr. Trump who disagrees with many of his political actions and apparent motives, I can be clear and respectful about our disagreements, but I can never be personally rude. (I need to work on this.) The same thing can happen within an organization, for example across silos; ‘accounting are a bunch of idiots’, or ‘sales are just stupid’ are not the words of friends. Again, I can be clear and respectful about disagreements, but I must never be personally rude.
  3. Friendship Leadership takes time, largely because it is so fundamentally built on trust. This is exacerbated by our default to imagine that strangers are foes, unless there is a clear symbol of friendship evident. You and I are able to shorten that curve by consciously choosing to trust new people, choose to forgive old wounds and make amends for the wounds you have caused. 



I’m still thinking, and would love to hear about the connections you are making.