Redesigning Leadership?

In my last quarter’s final essay I talked about my impressions of being part of a talented group of people and the implications of being in the Communication Leadership Program. Working in a room full of leaders is a complicated task, lot of ideas, and multiple people trying to be the one saying the last word, the one holding the helm. It is quite fascinating; you learn a lot.

 My thoughts on John Maeda Redesigning Leadership’s book and the whole context of his presidency at the RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) can be summarized in the next four bullet points:

  1. Lead by example and getting things done. “We artist and designers aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty in the process of making works of art, and that same unbridled spirit can feed naturally into the challenges of leadership. A creative leader is someone who leads with dirty hands, much the way an artist’s hands are often literally dirty with paint”. (156-910)
  2. Create a collaborative system. Although Maeda believes that a true leader is a person who can “get people on board with his vision”, is also a person who’s looking for solutions in other people as well.  The ability to listen to others and make them feel part of the project is the glue that will maintain the collaborative spirit alive: “understand the power of collaboration” (Phillips, P. 2012)
  3. As a leader you can’t be a gold coin (loved by everyone), because everyone has his or her own agenda. The important thing to remember is that ego shouldn’t get in the way of creating and completing community goals.
  4. Generating consensus it is part of being a leader only when it comes to making all the parts involved agreeing on following what is the best for the project.
  5. A leader knows that he or she is part of a team. That they have got the skills to lead but that they are learning too.

 To be a leader is no easy task, you will be loved and hated at the same time. I believe, that sometimes leadership is not about your name becoming recognized as a leader. It is about understanding the system you work with. I completely agree with Maeda when he says that: “work is easier when it’s just work, it’s much harder when you actually care”. Caring for the people you work with and creating deep relationships is hard, but it will enhance clear communication channels that will produce effective workflows.



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