What leadership means in non-hierarchical structures.

Just because we have lived our entire lives in top-down hierarchical organizations that are owned by a few but built on the participation of the many does not mean that has to be our future.

In the past year, I have witnessed incredible innovation in how people have organized and come together to provide value and build a common vision into reality. From the E-Corps I have been modeling and starting up at Everyone Inc., to platform cooperatives to DAOs, there is now a vibrant array of new ways to work within communities to find a common vision, raise capital, self-organize to achieve complex tasks, and create wealth. I have spent the past year deeply engaged in how to build more democratic and more participant-managed organizations.

If our systems and organizations are evolving towards less hierarchical structures it is obvious that the next great new businesses of this era will need to have leaders that have vastly different skillsets than that of the old guard. Of course, some of those skills may involve unique dev, creative or growth-related skills — but more importantly, I believe leadership will need to embody a completely new set of core values and ethics to lead.

I came across Dean Spade’s work through AOC’s Mutual Aid Toolkit (see below). I have always been interested in mutual aid as a principle because it certainly feels like how communities should be working together especially in times of need. It feels like people are supposed to help each other out but somehow we forgot that.

Mutual Aid 101: Toolkit

Dean’s book Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the next) is a primer on why mutual aid is so important for individuals, communities, and democracy. The book goes into the theory of mutual aid and its history but is highly action-oriented providing concrete tools and plans to organize in our neighborhoods and create the communities we want to live in.

Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next)

It was in the context of building grassroots Mutal Aid that Dean posted a list of leadership qualities supporting mutuality vs. hierarchy.

Those qualities include:

I think this is a list that every decentralized organization should be seeking from leaders and I hope that a shift in focus will lead to a more diverse, more empathetic, and more successful set of leaders and ventures moving forward.



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