Article

Effective Leadership in Today's World

Traditional Industrial-Age thinking and practices on leadership are no longer adequate in an increasingly complex and chaotic world.

Bill Fox
Mar 9, 2022
3 min read
Photo by Spencer Vandermeer / Unsplash
It is not making better people of others that leadership is about. In today's world, effective leadership is chaordic. It's about making a better person of self.
— Dee Hock, founder, and CEO emeritus, Visa

Effective Leadership in Today's World

There's no shortage of advice on being an effective leader today. Social media and the business press are filled with a constant stream of articles and new books on how to be a better leader.

In his article, The leadership illusion, Dan Howden, a Vice President at Workable, asks, "What would you say about a global industry worth $45 billion annually that was delivering no apparent value?"

Today's prevailing wisdom is that leadership is all about focusing on others — inspiring, serving, and making better people of others. However, given the apparent lack of effective leadership in the world today, many are starting to question these long-held ideas.

Dee Hock, founder and CEO emeritus of Visa International, clearly believes it's time for new thinking on leadership and offers a contrarian view.

Hock believes that in today's complex world, the first and most important responsibility of a leader is to lead oneself by focusing on our "own integrity, character, ethics, knowledge, wisdom, temperament, words, and acts."

According to Hock, traditional Industrial-Age thinking and practices on leadership are no longer adequate in an increasingly complex and chaotic world. He believes such a world requires a much different consciousness.

It was Dee Hock who first introduced the world to chaordic leadership. He invented the word when he founded Visa. Chaordic leadership blends chaos and order into a more effective response in a world that's moving faster and faster every day.

In 1968, Hock convinced BankAmericard to give up ownership and control of their credit card business to form what eventually became known as Visa in 1996.

We take for granted what it might have taken to bring together hundreds of competing bank cards to work together as one. Today, Visa is an almost invisible trillion-dollar entity with thousands of competitors that seamlessly work together to provide a valuable service to businesses and consumers worldwide.

We are all leaders

This past week, I submitted final edits to Cutter for my article, The 21st-Century Team Member Is a Leader of One: Themselves. It will be published in the Amplify journal in the near future.

After finishing the article, I discovered an essay by Dee Hock on Leadership in Today's World. In his article, Hock shares what he learned about leadership in a middle-of-the-night encounter with a one-horned mother cow.

You might say it's an example of the many complex and unexpected challenges we are all facing in the world today. It's a fascinating story, so I hope you will take a few minutes to read it.

In my writing and experience, and likewise in Hock's article, we both believe everyone is a leader. "We were all born leaders; that is until we were sent to school and taught to be managed and to manage."

The Cutter article makes a case for why it's time for everyone to rise to the times and express their inherent leadership and why it's becoming a necessity in today's chaotic and fast-changing world. I also share how we can awaken this capacity in everyone.

In every moment of life, we are simultaneously leading and following. There is never a time when our knowledge, judgment, and wisdom are not more useful and applicable than that of another. Everyone was born a leader. — Dee Hock

If you would like to be notified when the article is available, please email me to request a copy. I also plan to schedule one or more online sessions in the coming weeks to discuss it further.

— Bill

Bill Fox
I believe today’s ever-changing world requires each of us to enter into a quest to transform ourselves and learn new ways of living and working together.

Join the narrative.

Get weekly updates with exciting new perspectives and questions you need to succeed in the 21st century.

Oops! There was an error sending the email, please try again.

Awesome! Now check your inbox and click the link to confirm your subscription.