Anti-Heroic Leadership

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Chris C Stewart:

"My mate Richard Wilson has just launched his new free eBook "Anti Hero" – pitched at institutionalising transformational personal development in our collective leadership. Focused on change in the UK, I think the logic and insights are relevant globally, but especially in industrialised countries. These para's from the summary nail the key points I think:

"Anti Hero argues that the modern challenges we face have fundamentally changed what we need from our leaders, requiring a shift from Heroic to Antiheroic leadership. The Heroic leaders who dominate our institutions today have four fatal flaws. First, they tend to be over-confident in their opinions. Secondly, they tend to lack empathy towards others. Thirdly, they tend to be inflexible. And finally, they tend to deny the existence of uncertainty. These are the four pillars of the Heroic leader. This isn’t, though, the fault of the leaders themselves; most of our leaders are the victims of outdated systems of leadership that were built for simpler times. Indeed, our leaders are very often doing their best in very difficult circumstances.

Many of today’s issues are not like the complicated technical problems of the past; problems that could be addressed by smart people working hard. Our densely populated, hyper-connected, interdependent modern world is throwing up seemingly insoluble issues: ‘wicked’ issues. These ‘wicked issues’ require a way of thinking that technical experts and senior leaders rarely have. They require a more open and inquiring mind that can see patterns, understand, and even integrate, the multiple frames that different people and cultures have.

This is not some high-minded ideal, but a description of real people who are already creating real change in institutions and communities across the world. We call these new leaders ‘Anti-heroes’. We call them this not because we believe heroes are bad, but because these ‘Anti-heroes’ are in many ways the antithesis of the single strong heroes who alone, ‘save the day’. Anti-heroes tend to be defined by five characteristics: empathy, humility, self-awareness, flexibility and, finally, an ability to acknowledge uncertainty." (

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