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The Power of
Leadership Webs

Leadership Reach, Power, Credibility &


» Building Leadership Webs

» Contracting Among Leaders & Followers

QuickStart is designed to provide structure for fast application of the key

elements of heroic leadership. It is action focused. See Also:

» “I’m Just Curious” – an overview of the book

» The other QuickStart packets
» The Chapter Summaries & excerpts
» The download section for complete chapters

Illustrations by Jim Borgman

© 2008. Gordon Barnhart. All Rights Reserved.
The Power of Leadership Webs
Create Sustainable Power, Reach, Flexibility
and Resilience

» Part One
3 Like a Spider’s Web

4 Guiding Questions for Building Leadership Webs

The Core Leadership Team
Expanding the Web

5 Developing and Maintaining the Web

» Part Two

Guiding Questions for Contracting Among Leaders and Followers
The Leaders’ Part of The Bargain

6 The Followers’ Part of The Bargain: How Effective Followers

Support and Challenge Leaders

» Leadership Web & Leader/Follower

Contract Templates
8 Template: Basic Team Charters for the Leadership Web

9 Template: Building The Capabilities of the Leadership Web

10 Template: Maintaining the Leadership Web

11 Template: Followers Supporting Leaders

12 Template: Followers Challenging Leadership
The Power of Leadership Webs
Create Sustainable Power, Reach, Flexibility
and Resilience

Heroes don’t go alone in the heroic myths and heroic leaders don’t go alone
in leading journeys of change. The leadership challenges presented by our
world keep changing, are becoming more complex and demanding, and are
requiring more and more people to align with each other in leader and fol-
lower roles.

Like a Spider’s Web

What is required to match this reality is a web of leaders and followers that
are aligned and prepared to play their roles − ensuring the leadership roles
will be played by lots of people at different levels of the organization. Why?
The reason such webs are required is that they are the only leadership struc-
ture capable of providing the sustainable power, reach, flexibility and resil-
ience that is required to successfully complete a journey.

Most leadership webs are made up of both individuals and groups. Like a
spider’s web, leadership webs are designed to cover a wide area provid-
ing tremendous strength and flexibility, while at the same time conserving

“A leadership web is A leadership web is based on a strong core team and then extends outward
based on a strong core into the organization − just as a spider’s web extends outward from its center.
As with a spider’s web, the leadership web also needs to be cared for and
team and then extends maintained. Within that web individuals will play leadership or follower roles
outward into the − and often both.
QuickStart for Leadership Webs looks at how to build leadership webs and
the contract between leaders and followers that supports such webs. There
are guiding questions for each section as well as worksheets to capture your
thinking. The worksheets are grouped at the end of the packet.

The Power of Leadership Webs

Guiding Questions & Worksheets

Building Contracting
Leadership Among Leaders
Webs & Followers

Core Expanding Developing The Leaders’ The Followers

Leadership the Web & Maintaining Part of the Part of the
Team the Web Bargain Bargain 
Part One:
Guiding Questions for Building
Building a leadership web begins with creating a strong core team at the
center of the web, then expanding the web to achieve the required reach into
the organization and finally continuing to develop the web and mainting it.

The Core Leadership Team

The development of the leadership web begins as early as possible in the

journey with the identification of the core leadership group. That group must
“It must be a team that be, and be perceived to be, an “A” team – a team clearly capable of meet-
others aree willing to ing the challenges of the journey. It must be a team that others are willing to
rally around and join rally around and join in a variety of leadership roles. It is the heart of the web
in a variety of leader- and it will either be a strong foundation for the web or a liability that oth-
ship roles” ers must compensate for as the web expands. In terms of the six leadership
roles, this task falls to the Architect in Act I of the journey.

? Who do we need to have on the core leadership team in order to be

an “A” Team – a team clearly worth following?

? What is the charter for the Core Team? Purpose, goals and outcomes,
roles, relationships, principles of operations, etc.

? How will we prepare this team to lead this journey and what support
will it need?

Expanding the Web

As the journey progresses to Act II, the role of Catalyst comes into play in ex-
panding the leadership web. This is a process of identifying the key leaders
throughout the organization, bringing them into the web with clear roles and
the resources required, preparing them for the challenges they will face and
ensuring that they are connected to the other leaders in the web.

? What existing groups/teams can we weave into the leadership web?

? What new groups/teams do we need to create and weave into the

leadership web?

? What key individuals should we weave into the leadership web?

? What are the charters for these teams and individuals?

? What relationships need to be established and what must we do to

prepare the new members for their roles in the web? 
Developing and Maintaining the Web

The Builder is the leadership role that partners with the Catalyst to ensure
that the web develops the required competencies and that attention is given
LEADERSHIP WEBS to maintaining the web as the journey progresses. Leadership webs naturally
undergo stresses and wear and tear as they engage the challenges of the jour-
ney. Without committed maintenance they inevitably decline in effectiveness.
Spiders continually attend to their webs and so must any organization or com-
“Leadership webs munity engaged in a heroic journey. Spiders rely on their webs for their lives.
naturally undergo So do organizations and communities.
stresses and wear and
tear as they engage the
challenges of the
journey” ? What capabilities need to bee built for each group and individual?
Individual skills and competencies? Group or team? Systemic?

? Where is our web frayed – low energy, off track, decreasing

performance, deteriorating morale, etc?

What can we do for each key team or individual to keep them healthy
? or get them back to healthy performance? And what can the teams and
individuals do for themselves (self-management and care)?

? What systemic barriers does the core leadership team need to remove?

Heroic Part Two:

Challenge Guiding Questions for Contracting
for Leaders Among Leaders and Followers
For those of us leading a
In well led change there is an inherent, if not explicit, contract between lead-
major change the challenge
ers and followers – a commitment to each other. Each has legitimate expecta-
is to be worthy of follow-
tions of the other, which are based on the requirements of the heroic journey
ers; their belief, hope, trust,
– requirements that naturally ask for each other’s best.
personal investment and
effort, their sacrifice, and the » Followers look to the leaders to commit fully to the leadership roles and to be
risks they take regarding job, worthy of their followers.
career, family, and place in
the world. » Leaders look to their followers to make the leap of faith to engage fully in the
journey, to put forth extra effort, to take the neceessary risks, to manage
themselves well, to support each other, and to take on the leadership roles
when the opportunities arise.

The Leaders’ Part of the Bargain

This is very straightforward. Leaders play the heroic leadership roles and
execute the strategies. They consciously ”model the way” in terms of desired
behaviors. This is neither simple nor easy, but it is very straightforward. 
? How will we play the leadership roles and execute the strategies for
each − and make that evident to our followers?

If partway through the journey: How have we played the leadership

? roles and executed the strategies − and where have we missed − and
how are we perceived by our followers?

? How have we modeled the way − and what do we want to model going

? How open are we (or have we been) to challenges from our followers
about where we have fallen short and where we might improve?

The Followers’ Part of the Bargain

Being in service of leadership really has two parts. One is actively supporting
leaders and the other is actively challenging leaders. The key for followers is
“Being in service of to earn credibility through supporting leaders, so that their challenges come
leadership really has from a supportive context.
two parts”
Without the challenges, leaders can easily go astray over the course of a jour-
ney. Without the support, however, they won’t be effective even if on the right
path - and they probably won’t be as open to the challenges.

Supporting Leadership

Leaders need the active support of followers. It’s that simple. Journeys don’t
succeed, for leaders or followers, if followers are not actively supporting the
leaders – and each other. Support can come in lots of ways, but the following
questions can lead to very effective support strategies.

? Commit − How can we (have we) let leadership know we are ready to
support them and demonstrate that support?

? Attend − How can we (have we) attend to what leaders may need at
any point in time (from information to emotional support)?


Reinforce − How can we (have we) actively reinforce leadership’s

? Model − How might we (have we) model the desired behaviors?

? Lead − How can we (have we) play the leadership roles and execute
the strategies at the appropriate scale and in the appropriate settings?

? Challenge − How can we (have we) help each other to be effective

Challenging Leadership

Remember: Challenging leadership works best when it complements the

support provided to leadership. If the challenge of followers is simply “in your
LEADERSHIP WEBS face” criticism, it won’t be of much value and won’t serve the partnership of
leaders and followers.

The idea behind challenging leadership is that it is a way to help leadership be

“The idea behind true to itself − to perform at the level and in the ways that they have laid out in
challenging leadership the leadership commitment made at the beginning of the journey.
is that it is a way to
help leadership be true
to itself” Expect High Performance − How do we (have we) let leadership

know we are aware of the leadership roles that must be played and
that we expect them to play them well?

Help Leadership Help You Help Them − How can we (have we) let


leadership know our commitment to the journey and how we will
support the strategies − and what we need from them to do so

Provide Feedback− How will we provide feedback to leadership −

? both positive and negative - particularly when things aren’t going as

planned or when surprises are lurking? We always leam the way, so
this is not an indictment of leadership.

Other QuickStart Packets

Guiding Questions and Templates for
Implementing Heroic Leadership
Customized Quickstart Packet
Choosing the sections from each QuickStart packet that gives your leadership team
the best quick start

Leadership Commitment
Reclaiming the heroic journey as our story – not just larger than life figures or grand deeds
» Leadership Lite or Leadership Leverage – leading with a sense of significance, integrity,
courage and in service (beyond self)
» Benefits of the heroic journey for individuals – leaders or followers
» 4 Forms of Leadership Courage - the most fundamental characteristic for leaders of
heroic journeys – the quality on which all other leadership qualities rely

Leadership Knowledge
The foundation on which the roles and strategies are built – the rationale for the roles and
» The first test – The Threshold Guardians – they stop journeys before they really begin
» The three tests on the path – endings and letting go, discovery and mastery and dealing
with the land in between
» The three tests in completing a journey – dealing with the “ripple effects”, aligning the
organization and attuning the people

Leadership Roles and Strategies

Six leadership roles with their core strategies to match the requirements of the
heroic journey
» Creating tactics for each of the strategies
» Determining the highest leverage strategies
» Assessing success mid-course 

Basic Team Charters for the Leadership Web

Purpose of The Team:

Team Members: Goals/Outcomes:

Roles Within the Team: Principles of Team Operations:

Key Relationships (outside the team): Preparation/Resources Required: 
Building the Capabilities
of the Leadership Web

Specific Skills,
Groups/Teams or Leading Change Competencies,
Individuals in the Web Capabilities Knowledge Team Building Other Capabilities 
Maintaining The Leadership Web


Groups/Teams, or Energy Morale* Performance High Leverage

Individuals Level* Level* Improvement Actions

*Energy Level *Morale *Performance Level

1 = Crisis 1 = Crisis 1 = Crisis
2 = Low 2 = Low 2 = Low
3 = Moderate 3 = Moderate 3 = Moderate
4 = High 4 = High 4 = High 10

Followers Supporting Leaders

How Are We Doing

Guiding Questions Actions We Can Take (if already on the

How can we let leadership
know we support them – and
demonstrate it?

How can we effectively attend
to leadership’s needs?

How can we actively reinforce
leadership’s messages?

How might we model the
desired behaviors?

How can we play the leader-
ship roles at the appropriate
scale (at our own level)?

How can we challenge
each other to be effective
followers? 11
Followers Challenging Leadership


Focus of Challenge Nature of The Gap Possible Solutions

(What are we seeing or not seeing?) (Primarily Follower actions, but can include
complementary Leader actions)

Playing the Heroic

Leadership Roles & Executing
Their Strategies

Modeling the Desired Behaviors

Unexpected Results, Events,

Glitches, Reactions 12