Leadership that stands out…. but only sometimes

I’ve been doing a bit of research recently, as I so often do, about leadership and I was captivated by a type of leadership that is being sought out in many companies today. I came across some writing by Laszlo Bock, regarded as the leading recruiter in the top hiring companies across the globe and he works at Google. Each year, Google have 3,000,000 applicants for 700 positions, with a current staff of 55,000 and obviously growing. Wouldn’t you love to be in the HR team to sort through that lot! Bock and Google are looking for a particular type of leadership in their applicants. Google refer to it as emergent leadership. The interesting thing here is that this leadership does not have to come from a series of titles held, or leadership qualifications. Emergent leadership, just as its name implies, emerges as it needs to and recedes as appropriate. This type of leader steps forward when they can see a problem to be solved and they know they have the ability, knowledge and aptitude to work on and lead the team through to solution. Yet, if another type of problem arises and they know they are not the right person to lead the group at that time, they are willing to step back and let another member of the team step forward. Think of the humility, emotional awareness and self- management needed to be able to step back when it is appropriate and allow the space for someone else to step forward, while also having the confidence at another time to step up and take the lead. This is the type of leadership we need to be developing in our young people today. It takes courage to step forward and take the lead and humility and vulnerability to admit when you don’t have the best set of skills compared to another. Our young people need to have this sort of behavioural flexibility to move into and out of leadership roles within their teams. This behavioural flexibility is possible because these emergent leaders have emotional intelligence. Do we as their teachers and leaders have these qualities and can we role model them for our students?