If you want smart people around you don’t be a leader

08 Feb 2012

Our hypothesis is that at this moment we do not need leaders – we need visionaries. Most people disagree with this hypothesis, “ Who will take charge of creating change” How would a company function without a leader? There is the argument that nature has alphas and they end up making a decision for the group, which may lead to the demise of the entire group, especially if two alphas go head to head for territorial dominance. Do we really want this behaviour at this moment in time?  

The Relevance We are currently facing one of the most pivotal eras in recent history. We are running low on natural resources. We have high levels of poverty, conflict, and economic rot. What we need are visionaries – people that ask big questions and create hypothesis. Being a leader at this time doesn’t even make sense; We don’t know where we are going as change is happening at such a rapid pace.

Possible Solutions So if no one is leading, how do you squeeze the intelligence out and move forward? By providing people with platforms that will let them act independently when they need to and collaboratively when problem solving. By platforms we mean education, knowledge, tools, and spaces to congregate. Furthermore a collaborative community of smart individuals, who are all equally innovating in their own fields is much healthier than a monolithic community with one leader. Second solution is being a visionary; ask questions, create hypothesis, and constantly observe. Visionaries evolve their ideas according to time and the information they draw from their surroundings, rather than myopically leading in one direction. Yes, there are times when decisions need to be made. However, the brain doesn’t think linearly, and we never arrive at a decision following an A to B route. We arrive there based on taking in various stimuli, thoughts and observations. Therefore to think that we can do it on our own is naive and not conducive to innovation. Another way to look at is as a symphony. Each person playing an instrument at their own level of talent and independence, however there is a conductor, which helps guide the instruments into harmony.

The Evidence In favour of collaboration: there has been new evidence which illustrates how much more effective diverse groups are at problem solving than individuals. In favour of visionaries: Big Think published an article which stated, “Since right wing conservative ideologies are more authoritarian, that set of beliefs attract people who are not very smart.” However, this is not unique to just right wing conservatives – this would apply to any organisation that has a totalitarian leadership structure. If you want to be around people who are smart and creative, then you all need to be more of visionary. Otherwise people will grow accustomed to one person making the decisions, truncating autonomous thought. Furthermore there is plenty of scientific evidence that correlates narcissism with leaders. Narcissistic behaviour leads to overconfidence, this overconfidence leads to mistakes and less favourable decisions than those who are less confident. It is within this difference that the myth of leadership perpetuates, someone taking charge is great, however if they are not able to make decisions or bring people together, do we really want them to lead?

This way of thinking is not new, according to Wikipedia “socicracy was first coined in 1851 by Auguste Comte, a French positivist philosopher. Sociocracy means the rule by the “socios”, people who have a social relationship with each other – as opposed to democracy: rule by the “demos”, the general mass of people.” This indicates that it can be possible to run a company or a movement without leadership. Further more “consent as defined and practiced in sociocratic organisations is a more efficient and effective decision-making method than autocratic decision-making, because it builds trust and understanding.” Finally, ask yourself – who do I want to follow? Most people would say no one, so if people do not want to follow- there is no room for leaders.  Visionaries can paint a general environment and attract people who can contribute to its creation…that I would be part of.  

Who’s Doing It: THECUBE/WECREATE – We do not have employees, we have collaborators, partners, or associates. This helps keep responsible for their role, deters homogenised thinking, and harnesses talent. Bracket Projects – They bring people from diverse backgrounds to work together for bigger projects Rem Koolhaas – He runs his architectural firm as a think tank, which encourages criticism. This helps keep the company fresh and on its toes. Honey Bees -Colonies possess decentralised decision-making because it combines effectiveness with simplicity of communication and computation within a colony.