Leadershift by Emmanuel Gobillot

I have retained the following from the book: LEADERSHIFT Reinventing Leadership for the Age of 
Mass Collaboration by Emmanuel Gobillot which I would like to share with you. 
As I am a great fan of Saint-Exupéry no wonder that the stuff hooked me. 
My blog allows me to keep my learning in an orderly manner, easy to sort and find when necessary.

Beyond Leadership

The trends are changing the way organizations create. The new units of analysis are not organizations (in the sense of structurally organized), but rather companies (as in groups of companions). Does that mean that leadership will be irrelevant? Are we going toward some anarchical, communal days where no one is in charge (with the associated chaos we have all been taught to fear anarchy leads to)? Well, the way we have led might be irrelevant but this is not true of leadership altogether. We are living beyond the days of leadership.


“Leadershift” is about facilitating a community’s engagement need. It is that new “leadershift” modus operandi that is defined as:

A type of leadership, non-hierarchical in form, that facilitates the collaboration of a self-selected group, of which the leader is an integral part, in the generation of a narrative that builds and sustains a valuable and co-created outcome.

Blurring the Boundaries

Where “leadershift” differs from leadership is in its search for a truly dynamic, social and co-created form of leadership. This is leadership that blurs the boundaries between leader and follower and places the importance of culture facilitation over that of strategy articulation as the central focus of its efforts.

“Leadershift” actions and behaviors are only legitimate in so far as they are mandated by the community itself. To make a call because no one else can make it is only directive if the community never recognized you as being able to make the call. When the community asks you to arbitrate its decisions, a directive style becomes a helpful style.

Leadership vs. ‘Leadershift’

In “leadershift,” reputation rather than position makes the leader. What creates a reputation is the commitment the leader has shown to the community rather than the effectiveness by which they have made it work for their benefit. That kind of power is interdependent. The leader is only as strong as the community and the community becomes stronger through the actions of its leader. The difference between current organizational positional power and this communal, social power is that both parties need to agree and have the ability to review the contract.


Simplicity is about realigning participants’ intellectual and emotional outlooks. It is a combination of two elements: simplification and coherence.

A leader must learn to distinguish between what matters and what doesn’t to the engagement of a community. Our simplification reflexes have become so sharp that, in our search for efficiency, we risk eradicating some important elements of the community’s strength.

We have all witnessed how changes in processes and structure (even if as a result these are becoming simpler) tend to decrease, rather than increase, levels of understanding. We have all seen employees trying to figure out who and what matters once a new structure is announced. So, while the simplification process is a worthwhile thing to do, it is not the only thing that matters to increasing engagement. What we ignore when we put our focus solely on simplification is the interplay between simplification and our second element of simplicity — coherence.


Coherence is the ability to highlight the interdependence of a system (e.g. a car is a complicated system of parts, but a coherent mode of transport).

The role of the leader must be to deploy strategies that can help bring different elements together to build a coherent whole. The leader becomes a primary agent in helping the community stage discussions on what it stands for. The role of leadership is to help communities articulate the problem they are looking to solve.

What is important to us, as leaders, is not only that people choose our network to invest their time, money and efforts, but that they do so in a way that is beneficial to the organization. We call it alignment. Without it we fear that, instead of getting people involved in a concerted co-creation effort focused in one direction, we may end up with a multitude of unfocused, wasted enthusiasm.


If simplicity is about generating the energy that propels a community forward, then narrative is the vector that helps that community move on a coherent path. A narrative helps that community in two ways. First, it clarifies the role of mass collaboration in a business, and second it helps participants align their actions to the delivery of value.

The second building block to any organizational effort, after engagement, is alignment. Leaders must answer two critical questions:

• How do I ensure that community members understand their involvement in the social process (i.e. how do they best contribute)?

• How do I make sure that people stay aligned behind the mission?

Both of these are normally answered with a plan. But as plans will invariably become obsolete in the face of change, it is better to have a community able to make sense of the evolving environment and respond appropriately to changes. This is achieved through narrative environments that enable free exploration of options while retaining an intact notion of the overall mission.

The role of the leader is to facilitate the narrative — helping participants and the community define who they are, what they aspire to and how they hope to get there.


The role of the leader is not to design plans, but to help the organization construct a narrative by nurturing the narrative environment. It sounds a bit more woolly but it’s much more effective. Nurturing a narrative environment is about helping the organization acquire a tone.

The tone of the organization is the type of story it will tell. Is the story of your department, your function, your organization one of conflict or is it a story of change and cooperation? To nurture a tone forces a leader to understand the key moments in organizational life and frame these in a way that clarifies their significance.


It is not for leaders to struggle to reconcile the conflict between the organizational role and the individual’s self-image. What the leader is there to do is facilitate the creation of coherence by letting community members create that logic for themselves while reinforcing the need of the community. The best way to do this is to focus on clear task definition.

At this stage in the argument we should have already secured both the engagement and the alignment of any member of the community. We have the simplicity and the narrative we need to transform the organization in a company. Tasks are the critical incidents that move the narrative along. Of course, there is no denying that the organization needs roles; after all, roles are its foundations. However, the reinforcement of the social roles of individuals born out of their self-image can only be accomplished through tasks. Therefore, it is a change of emphasis in a leader’s dialogue that needs to take place.

When tasks are well defined, time bound and necessary, they form the words in the company’s narrative.

Two Types of Tasks

The fact is that in order to fulfill their self-image, people will choose to complete tasks that make the community sustainable. Some of these will be what we may want to call accountability tasks (i.e. going to the immediate fulfillment of the organizational purpose) while others might be best described as maintenance tasks (i.e. tasks that are contributory to the fulfillment of accountability tasks).

It is crucial to understand that, in mass collaboration, the leader’s time is better spent helping individuals find the opportunities to reinforce their self-image while preventing the organizational roles derailing their strengths. The reality is that no one who truly loves what they do will ever reject the accountabilities necessary for their commitment to the company’s success and sustainability.


When leaders ask for commitment, what they are asking for is devotion to the organization. They look for people who will join the organization with the aim of staying and caring enough about it to ensure that their contribution is maximized.

Commitment is about putting the organization first. In practice, it means staying as long and working as hard as is needed for a task to be accomplished. It means showing flexibility to take any extra steps, whether planned or not, to ensure expectations are exceeded. Underlying these demands are two distinct ideas that define commitment.

Showing Dedication

The first is that commitment is about making a pledge to conduct a specific undertaking. Being committed, whether in our private or in our work lives, is about showing dedication. To be real, a commitment needs to be made.

The second idea underpinning the notion of commitment is the idea of obligation. A commitment is a felt obligation to do something irrespective of how much we may want to do something else. This is a critical idea as it leads to the sustainability of the relationship and highlights the fact that commitment and engagement go hand in hand. For commitment to exist, both parties have to willingly relinquish some of their freedom to act.

Commitment Cannot Be Bought

To secure commitment, leaders must look at their organizations through two new, non-financial lenses.

The first lens is to realize that both parties involved in the relationship have to love what they do. To be successful the organization needs all involved to embrace their tasks and identify themselves with the narrative.

The second lens is that a social, rather than economic, incentive can be created by focusing on the community rather than the individual. What matters to the functioning of our communities is not what motivates individuals but rather that they direct that motivation to making the community stronger.


In the late ’90s, Daniel Goleman published a book that would popularize the term “emotional intelligence.” The basic premise of emotional intelligence is that to be successful, leaders need to both understand and manage their emotions so as not to derail their intent.

In 2002, Tim Sanders released his first book, boldly titled Love Is the Killer App. In it, he argues that business success depends on three key factors: knowledge, networking and compassion. He goes on to show how, by becoming “lovecats” (sharing knowledge, becoming a business matchmaker and building people up), anyone can achieve the impossible.

The year 2005 gave us “Lovemarks,” the new marketing technique introduced to the world by charismatic Worldwide CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, Kevin Roberts. Following Sanders’ example, he introduced another three-dimensional model, suggesting that by using Mystery (i.e. great inspiring stories), Sensuality (appealing to all the senses) and Intimacy (showing empathy and passion) organizations can do something that fads and brands can never sustain — command both respect and love.


In 2002, Junkie XL remixed a song first recorded by Elvis Presley in 1968 and used in one of his movies, Live a Little, Love a Little. The single went straight to No.1 in more than 20 countries. “A Little Less Conversation” became an anthem that was used in the soundtracks of movies from Bruce Almighty to Ocean’s 13.

It also became a favorite line for journalists and commentators to use every time they were dissatisfied. Politicians of all persuasions were asked for “a little less conversation and a little more action.” Executives spanning the entire economic spectrum from the health to the financial sectors were directed to have “a little less conversation and take a little more action.”

But if journalists saw the resurgence of the song as an opportunity to capitalize temporarily on its popularity, business leaders should have recognized it as the best articulation of one of their most entrenched and mistaken beliefs — actions speak louder than words.

Social Engagement Is Not a Sequential Process

That executives have harbored that belief is not surprising — transactional involvement is built on actions. Create clarity, communicate a plan, hold people accountable and reward appropriate outcomes. The sequential nature of the process reinforces the belief that doing something to others is the one sure way to succeed. On the other hand, social engagement, as we have seen, is not a sequential process.

Simplicity, narratives, tasks and love reinforce each other. So, at the very least, the “doing” part of leadership needs to be more complex, more refined, more interconnected and more holistic. But the fallacy that organizations suffer from a “little too much conversation and not enough action syndrome” does not simply rest on misguided beliefs about the type of actions to take. It is born out of a failure to accept that words and actions are, in fact, intrinsically linked. There are two important aspects to this.

Words Predict Actions

The first is that words can pretty much predict the nature of the actions to be taken.

We know that our moods are contagious. We can feel how the atmosphere in our workplace changes as the mood changes. This happens because of the words we use and the attitudes we display. Clearly, our words and our actions, and, by extension, the actions of others, are not disconnected in the way conventional managerial wisdom would have it. Words speak at least as loudly as actions.

The second element we need to consider in order to put the fallacy to rest is our belief that actions and conversations exist on two separate continua. The fact

is that there cannot be efficient actions without effective conversations.

Breaking the “Elvis Fallacy” requires us to start by valuing what we have and, together, imagining and designing what we are imaginative enough to envisage.

Simplicity, Narratives, Tasks and Love

There are four steps that will prove crucial in developing the strengths and resilience leaders will need to foster simplicity, narratives, tasks and love in their organizations.

The first is to learn to do nothing. The focus of “leadershift” is not on what to start or do but rather what to stop.

The second step is to contribute to the narrative. Narrative ownership is distributed through the system rather than owned by the leader, so while it is legitimate (and recommended) for the leader to contribute, that contribution is in no way superior to the contribution of others (unless made as a result of a demand on the leader by the community).

The third is to build personal reputation. To be able to navigate through the mass collaboration effort, leaders need to have a solid reputation. While reputation is underpinned by an individual’s behavior and capabilities, it is ultimately accorded by community members.

Finally, the last step is learn to love what you do. If we refocus away from role to task and learn to embrace our strengths and passions rather than our measured contribution it is likely that we will find more energy.


In his book Wind, Sand and Stars, author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote, “What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it.”

The DEAD trends do not, in any way, diminish our yearning for leadership. We want to follow. We want to be inspired. We want to be led. This is not because we are weak or paralyzed by fear, nor because of some deficiency that leaders need to fix. Instead, it is because we want someone to typify the changes we wish to make. We want someone to be the figurehead of a movement we want to drive.

The ultimate leadership challenge is not the erosion of the powers and tools thrust upon us by a turbulent environment. It is our ability to take Saint-Exupéry’s first step. We cannot second-guess the future. There is no point looking for a truth that will answer all our concerns. It is not out there. Our job as leaders is to take the first step, without trying to second-guess or fearing what might lie ahead. Our future lies in our ability to march proudly into the future, at some times leaders and at others followers, working together, building on each others’ strengths.


#1 Emmanuel on 11.28.09 at 12:43 am

Hi Joseph thank you so much for doing such a thorough job of summarising the messages I tried to put across in the book. I really appreciate your help in spreading them and hope they will be of service to you and others. Thanks again and very best wishes to a fellow St Exup fan. Merci E

#2 joseph on 11.28.09 at 9:59 am

Indeed, it is my pleasure to spread out the good words written by you. From such a name as yours, it is even more gratifying, when you know that my blog is written both in English & French.
Je voudrai penser que je suis des plusieurs cultures qui elargissent ma pensee! Bonne continuation.

#3 Truth on 11.28.09 at 4:30 pm


#4 joseph on 11.28.09 at 8:45 pm

thank you.

#5 Truth on 11.29.09 at 8:49 am



Leader Shift

If we are to experience church in the way Christ always intended Church to be experienced, then we must realize things have to change. We must never forget that He will bring about this change, if we allow Him. The church is God’s building and His project. All we need to do is seek out the things He wants us to do and how He wants us to do them. When we do this we are guaranteed success. God always blesses His own projects!

Change always implies leaving the old familiar ways behind and stepping out into new, uncharted waters. It definitely does not feel comfortable and does not sound safe. The Christ like life is a life of growth, growth means constant change. This growth and change continually stretches and expands our individual and corporate wine skins, which in turn leads to complete restoration.


Cleansing of the house of God: We do this by refusing to compromise and by upholding God’s righteous standards, both individually and corporately. We must always desire to reach up to His level, rather than attempt coercing God to stoop to our level.

The church becoming the dwelling place of God: A church where God is the pre-eminent centre and focus of all activity and all things. A place He feels welcome and comfortable. This may mean we feel less comfortable, but as we continue to crucify our flesh, He who lives in us will certainly respond by ensuring our feeling of security, peace and joy bring a greater level of comfort than we can now imagine.

The church becoming God’s house of prayer: Prayer must take priority over all activities and must be the underpinning of all ministry.

The church becoming the Community of believers: The church is often a gathering of lonely isolated individuals. This must change! In order to facilitate this change we must transition our thinking from events to relationships.

A leadership shift; from ministers to equippers: Leaders must be committed to place the ministry in the hands of every believer. Gods mandate is to make disciples. We need to allow Him to bring us to levels of maturity that would equip us to become spiritual fathers and mothers to the next generation of leaders.

A shift from our vision to His vision: Jesus said, “I have given them (every true believer) the glory that you gave me, that they (the church) may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me”. (John 17:22-23). This scripture is the very embodiment of the vision of Jesus for His church:

The very real danger we face is that our wine skins will not be flexible enough to receive the change God desires. We know when Jesus heralded change and brought with Him the new wine, many of the Jewish wine skins were incapable of receiving this wine of the new covenant. As a result they were unable to recognize Christ Jesus as the fulfillment of the messianic promise, even though the scriptures clearly identified Jesus as their longed for Saviour.

W. Joe Ingram

#6 Truth on 11.29.09 at 8:52 am


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