Creating the post-heroic leadership system; there’s nothing to it—and everything to it. Just think about leadership differently, bring your colleagues along with you, and extraordinary outcomes await you. But it isn’t quite that easy.
In terms of daily work, we have set out a difficult path. It requires courage and skill to share responsibility, commit to a vision, trust team members to identify with overall goals, talk directly and respond non-defensively to straight talk from others, and encourage and work through conflict. When the post-heroic mindset is fully internalized, none of this feels as if you are working uphill, but skill and courage are required for those in leadership roles to be tough enough to be vulnerable, open, and truly collaborative.
Yet there is another area where courage is required. The managers we work with frequently tell us, “shared responsibility leadership is a great model, and it fits me well, but I have to wait until my boss is willing to let me manage this way, and the conditions are right.” Throughout the book we have consistently argued that the leader is also a member to some other leader(s), and that leadership extends in all directions. It is too narrow a definition of leadership to focus only on managing down. Everyone will have to manage sideways and upward.