When you imagine a leader, what comes to mind? For many, the image of a conventional leader is a strong, lone hero with dependent devoted followers waiting to be told what to do next. The leader is the only one with all the answers, the only one who knows the way, the keeper of knowledge and plans, the one who must make the important decisions, the patriarch, and the one in power.
Business shaped by conventional thinking is based on conventional leaders sitting in key posts within top-down organizational structures. The conventional leader carefully controls the flow of knowledge, information and resources to those below. The conventional leader holds the knowledge, creates the plans, makes the decisions and tells his/her followers what to do, when and how to do it, and measures their performance based on pre-determined numeric indicators.
Conventional leadership models have their benefits and their place; however, they are becoming less effective and even inhibitory during this “Decade of Transformation”. Firms of the future need to be agile and adaptive, fluid and flexible, responsive and resilient. New leadership models are needed that leverage the full capacity and diversity of their workforce and extended value network through times of rapid and unpredictable change.
Natural leadership looks to nature for models, strategies and solutions to problems that are similar to their own. Leadership inspired by nature draws upon the myriad leadership models in nature that have been refined over 3.8 billion years of evolution that survive and thrive within a complex and continuously changing context. Firms of the future will thrive with limited resources and sudden big shocks in the same way that nature does. In this paper we will show that leadership inspired by nature develops from conventional thinking on leadership. There are already good examples that illustrate successful approaches.