Leadership and the Platform

The platform has the potential to do bad things to those who stand on it for too long. Most of us are leaders in some way, shape or form. In extreme cases it feeds ego and schedules power trips which often end in fairly public crash landings. The platform becoming a pedestal off which unhealthy leaders, often cheered on by equally unhealthy followers, eventually fall or jump. It also has the potential to isolate those who stand on it and insulate us from friendship and feedback without which we are capable of misleading ourselves and those who we also lead.

Perhaps more subtle but potentially equally unhealthy is the platform’s ability to set itself up as the primary way, if not the only way, leadership expresses itself. The implication being the platform and the ability to perform on it are prerequisites for leadership. The platform in effect synonymous with leadership. To this end I’m fascinated by the implications of the Covid season on leadership. When the physical platform, and to a large extent the virtual platform is dismantled, leadership has to find away to express itself without having anything to stand on. I’m convinced the Covid crisis invites if not requires leadership to return to its servant roots and its spiritual home around the table.

The tendency for the platform and leadership to be synonymous has the potential to marginalise the multitude of talent in any organisation, if for no other reason than the platform is too small to contain them all. The table has the potential to recognise and receive leadership otherwise overlooked. Leaders serving at tables are collectively more influential than those speaking from platforms or pedestals. We are surrounded by thousands of servant leaders. The problem is they aren’t getting any younger.

If we want to raise up succession in our organisations we could do worse than set up more tables in this season and release a new generation of servant leaders who are as comfortable and effective, if not more so, sitting around the table as they are standing on the platform. This season presents an opportunity for these leaders to emerge to create a younger, more agile, relevant and influential leadership normal that embraces the table and not just the platform.

Mark Lawrence is a leadership and culture consultant