The traditional leader in the American culture is at the top of the hierarchical structure. (Stewart & Bennett, 1991) This limits the leadership opportunities to only a select few individuals. Swartz (2002) and Block (2008) question the consequences the traditional leadership structure which leaders use to control and organize their subordinates. When external controls are used compliance is fostered not commitment.
Real commitment to a goal happens when people freely choose their own path not have it dictated to them. Perkins and Lappé (2004) espouse that answers cannot come from the top down. They must bubble up so people on the front lines can act with common sense and accountability. When individuals find leadership within themselves they serve the collaborative environment. A person being subjected to the wind of compliance stays the course for as long as the wind blows while a commitment to gain a safe harbor remains. The best leadership fosters commitment. Evidence is found to the efficacy of commitment over compliance in the service movement in the 80’s in the US and decentralized mega-churches (Block, 2008).
This article is part of a larger series entitled The Anatomy of Collaboration