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The Distinction Between Power and Leadership

Interesting talk from Marshall Ganz about building community and distributing leadership. At the 13:10 minute mark of the video he talks about the distinction between power and leadership and how in voluntary associations you can`t rely on political or economic coercion to get people to something. You can`t substitute power for leadership. Leaders of volunteers elicit cooperation by tapping into the shared values of the community, and that`s a much more challenging exercising than dictating orders with threats of force to back you up.

This quote at the 14:15 minute mark sums it nicely: "It`s very easy, if you are in a place where you can fire people if they don`t do what you want, to kid yourself about why people are collaborating and cooperating with you. It`s very easy if you are in a place where you can put people in jail if they don`t do what you want. When you are operating in a voluntary setting you don`t have those options so the burden of leadership is much greater because you have to elicit voluntary collaboration, cooperation, engagement, motivation, commitment, etc. So, in a sense, it`s sort of leadership on its own without the props that are often available to us to exercise authority in organizations."

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Comments:

Thanks for the link!

Posted by paurullan on April 26, 2009 at 08:34 PM JST #

There are a number of viral aspects to getting a group to take up the challenge of forming a sustainable community. Most of the members I've met locally (Chicago) for OpenSolaris feel a very strong and deep interest in Solaris as a O/S platform. We all share the goal of sharing with others why OpenSolaris offers an excellent foundation for SOA and Cloud Computing projects at the full range from developer to the entire enterprise.

While it took Sun a good while to move Solaris for to open source, now that the move has been made, the other changes in the web site that have been announced will, in time, give the community even more to build on and grow from.

Posted by Prince Riley on April 27, 2009 at 04:40 PM JST #

Prince ... yes it has taken a long time. Indeed. :) Some of that is just us making mistakes and learning and adjusting, but some of it is also a recognition that community building just takes time. Certain things need time to develop, and leadership is one of those things. You can't force leadership in a community. I think it's best to let it emerge from the ground up, rather than impose it from the top down. The real leaders in any group are the ones down there doing the real work (the things the people at the top wouldn't understand).

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on May 03, 2009 at 10:15 AM JST #

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