The space between zero and one

False binaries plague our world, erroneous assumptions which are so ingrained that we forget they are suppositions rather than empirical truth. For example, we perceive a bright line between work done for the common good and work done to earn money. However, the two motives may overlap to the point of concentricity.

Several prominent leadership scholars have argued for the adoption of relational leadership models and rejection of legacy entitative theories, proposing a constructivist framework whereby leadership is a function of leaders and followers collaboratively co-creating shared outcomes. It’s the theoretical equivalent of the crew and passengers banding together to put the wings on the plane while it’s in flight. When I consider what’s happening in our world now, the construct (and the analogy) seem apropos. Independently, no single entity (e.g., government, private enterprise, nonprofit) can respond to the myriad challenges we face.

Taking a somewhat different tack, other thinkers have considered the potential of an integrative leadership framework that incorporates various groups in a cooperative model of decision-making. This model reflects the thinking of researchers who are arguing for a distributed leadership framework. Essentially, one side presents a melting pot of leadership and the other proposes a salad bowl. Presently, I see our neighborhoods and communities organizing around the melting-pot framework while our government and commercial companies are adopting the more segmented approach. Neither can be successful without harmonization.

Our success as a society will come down to our ability to smash artificial binaries. The organizations that survive and thrive will be the ones who make their focus the common good. Collaboration and cooperation are the only way forward.

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