In his books, Viral Change and Homo Imitans, Leandro Herrero defines backstage leadership as the type of leadership which supports and facilitates the leadership of others, usually in lower positions in the organization chart, without being too visible or exercising traditional full command and control. Backstage leadership may be counterintuitive in the territory of classical leadership where visible role modelling and visible and directional presence are expected from leaders, particularly senior ones.
In our Viral ChangeTM programmes, backstage leadership is crucial to support the real engine of leadership which is distributed in the organization in a non hierarchical manner. Small groups of highly connected and highly influent people regardless of their rank, constitute that real engine of leadership. Change is then grass roots. It is bottom up and needs to happen without the visible hand and the visible stack of powerpoints ‘from above’. What is fundamental in Viral Change” is also crucial in the day to day life of the organization where too much emphasis has been put on top-down, visible, command and control type of leadership. Top-down and hierarchical leadership are not necessarily incompatible with the distributed and backstage leadership. Their coexistence is healthy, but traditional management is heavily biased towards the former at the expenses of the latter. Backstage leadership can also be defined as The Art of Losing Control. As described in the book, Disruptive Ideas, the more control the leader loses, the more he or she retains.
Backstage Leadership as an intervention is a mixture of awareness, coaching, educational and skilling one. We will assess the degree of distributed leadership you have, using the analysis of your decision making processes as a proxy. We will devise ways for leaders in traditional top-down ranks to learn to ‘backstage’ and ‘the lose control’. We will use tools to create the necessary dose of backstage capability and to manage ‘the fear of letting go’. The more backstage leadership is injected, the greater the distributed leadership. The result is a real increase in the agility and effectiveness of the organization as a whole. We will help you to implement the richness of collective leadership and we will do so by working with different management layers, from top to middle.