I’M JUST CURIOUS

¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤

HEALTHY
ORGANIZATIONS
AND COMMUNITIES

Answer
the
Call

Leadership
Roles and
Strategies

Knowledge
of the
Heroic
Journey

Leadership
Web

OVERVIEW OF WWW.HEROICLEADERS.COM
Based on the book Leading Heroic Journeys: Drawing on
the Wisdom of Cultures Throughout Time
by Gordon Barnhart
Illustrations by Jim Borgman
515 Terrace Avenue
Cincinnati, Ohio 45220
USA
513.221.0833
© 2009 Gordon Barnhart
All rights reserved

I’M JUST CURIOUS –
OVERVIEW OF WWW.HEROICLEADERS.COM
3

SUMMARY

#4: Manage the Land In-Between
Endings and beginnings
Act III: Completions
#5: Finish Strong

It’s All on the Website – and Free
The Daunting Leadership
Challenges We Face

The Guidance of the Heroic Journey is
Pretty Much Guaranteed

The Leadership Picture We Must Create
Fully Commit – Saying “Yes” When
Called to Lead
Develop a Foundation of Knowledge and
the Wisdom to Apply it

15

Align Around the Leadership Roles and
Their Core Strategies

Act I: Beginnings – Going Forth
The Visionary Strategies
The Architect Strategies
The Real Bottom Line

Build a Web of Leaders and Followers
The Heroic Journey is Built into Our
“Leadership DNA”

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THE POWER OF CLEAR ROLES
& STRATEGIES

Act II: On the Path
The Catalyst Strategies
The Guide Strategies
The Builder Strategies

THE POWER OF SAYING
“YES” – ANSWERING THE
CALL TO LEAD

Act III: Completions
The Integrator Strategies
The Leadership Art is in the Adaptation

There are Always Two Goals
The Call to Our Best
The Heroic Challenge for Leaders
The Heroic Challenge for Followers
Our Courage – The Heart of the Matter
Our Growth as Leaders
“Who Me?” Yes, You”
It’s Our World – It’s Our Choice

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THE POWER OF KNOWLEDGE
– THE FOUNDATION FOR
LEADING WITH CONFIDENCE
Six Benefits Provided by the Heroic Journey
A Three Act Play with Five Core Challenges
Act I: Beginnings – Going Forth
#1: Being the Author of the Experience
Act II: On the Path
#2: Let go of old ways
#3: Discover and Master New Ways

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THE POWER OF LEADERSHIP
WEBS
Heroes Don’t Go Alone
It’s About Webs of Leaders and Followers
What Happens Without Leadership Webs?
Leaders and Followers – It Takes Both
The Contract Between Leaders and
Followers
The Leaders’ Part of the Bargain
The Followers’ Part of the Bargain

SUMMARY

THE MISSION

This site is designed for people leading the journeys of change
required for the health of our organizations and communities. It
is based on the heroic journey, which is the story used by cultures throughout time to teach their members how to create or
renew individual lives, organizations or communities. It matches
the challenges of corporate and community change perfectly.
The heroic journey shows us what to expect on journeys of
change, what to do about it and how to do it together. It calls for
our best and provides guidance about how to find it. It is always
relevant – the art is in the adaptation to the specific setting.

IT’S ALL ON THE WEBSITE – AND FREE

NAVIGATING
THE BOOK & WEBSITE

The website is built around an online book Leading Heroic Journeys: Drawing on the Wisdom of Cultures Throughout Time.
The book focuses on four critical leadership success factors that
are at the heart of leading journeys of change: Leadership commitment, knowledge, strategic action and webs of leaders and
followers.
There is a chapter for each critical success factor. Each chapter
has a video overview and a complementary QuickStart packet to
guide leadership teams in getting started. The QuickStart packets have a set of guiding questions as well as tools, templates
and worksheets. There is also a Field Manual to provide a comprehensive guide to impementation.

THE DAUNTING LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES WE
FACE

THE CHALLENGE

Our organizations face constant challenges to change, from
changes in structure, roles and relationships to changes in
processes, technologies and management style. Nationally and
in local communities we deal with issues of safety, economic
health, faith in government, education, race relations and general quality of life. On a global scale we face environmental,
socio-political and health challenges – as well as challenges of
dangerous economic imbalances. These are the challenges the
website is designed to address.

THE LEADERSHIP PICTURE WE MUST CREATE
The leadership picture that can successfully meet these chalHeroicLeaders.com 

lenges includes the following elements:

THE ANSWER

A web of aligned leaders and followers…..Fully committing
themselves and bringing forth their best……To execute a set of
leadership roles and strategies carefully designed and orchestrated……..Based on a foundation of knowledge that guides and
sustains people throughout any journey of change.
It is certainly not an easy picture to create, but it is well within
the reach of thoughtful disciplined leaders acting in partnership
with effective followers.

FULLY COMMIT – SAYING “YES” WHEN CALLED
TO LEAD

LEADERS WORTHY OF
THEIR FOLLOWERS

The heroic journey naturally asks for our best – our current best
as well as the pursuit of a new best developed over the course
of the journey. There are four forms of courage that leaders of
journeys can call upon to support them in calling foprth their
best. The heroic journey really is our story as leaders and inherently asks, “If not you then who? And if not now, then when?”

DEVELOP A FOUNDATION OF KNOWLEDGE AND
THE WISDOM TO APPLY IT
Knowledge of the journey provides a foundation that supports
leaders in acting with confidence and sureness even in the most
difficult parts of a journey, which generates confidence and a
willingness in others to invest themselves in pursuing the goals
of the journey.
THE FIVE CENTRAL
CHALLENGES

Understanding the five core challenges that will be faced over
the course of the journey enables leaders to not only plan well,
but also deal with the inevitable surprises and setbacks on the
journey with creativity and flexibility. Leaders are able to persevere and “hold the course” because they know the course.

ALIGN AROUND THE LEADERSHIP ROLES AND
CORE STRATEGIES
The leadership roles and core strategies match the three acts of
a heroic journey and the five core challenges that are encountered. The theme is to “start strong” in Act I, “stay strong” in
Act II, and “finish strong” in Act III.
In the beginning of the journey (Act I) the focus is on awakening
people to the need for the journey, where we are going and the
leadership structure and performance required to get there. The
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two leadership roles of Visionary and Architect are central to
Act I.

THE SIX LEADERSHIP ROLES

On the path (Act II), as the journey unfolds, the focus is on engaging people in productive roles, building the required capabilities (individual, group and systemic), maintaining energy and
holding ourselves accountable for our performance. It’s about
being disciplined in persevering and “holding the course.” The
three leadership roles of Catalyst, Guide and Builder are the
primary roles to be played in Act II.
In completing the journey (Act III) the focus is on maintaining leadership discipline and finishing strong. That means
protecting what has been achieved, maximizing the outcomes
and building on what has been learned to prepare for the next
journey. The leadership role of Integrator meets these final challenges.

BUILD A WEB OF LEADERS AND FOLLOWERS

IT’S ABOUT LEADERS
AND FOLLOWERS

These leadership strategies must be executed by a well-designed web of leaders and followers that extends throughout
the organization or community. Such a web creates the reach,
power, credibility and resilience that will be required.
People in such a web have clear roles and relationships at every
level of the organization or community. They are engaged, connected, confident in their abilities and able to successfully selfmanage. There is a clear contract between leaders and followers
that establishes high expectations and accountability.

THE HEROIC JOURNEY IS BUILT INTO OUR
“LEADERSHIP DNA”

WHO, ME?
YES, YOU

This is not a new model that has to be learned. It just needs
to be awakened. Most of the stories we have read, the movies
we have watched and the make-believe we have created have
been based on the heroic journey. Star Wars, the Odyssey, Harry
Potter and most books for children have all taught us about the
heroic journey. So have the best books on leading corporate
and community change. We intuitively understand the path,
what will be expected of us and how to respond as leaders. We
just need to say “Yes.”

CONTINUE ON TO LEARN MORE
ABOUT EACH OF THE FOUR
CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS

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THE POWER OF SAYING “YES”
ANSWERING THE CALL TO LEAD

THE LEADERSHIP GAME IS
GETTING TOUGHER

Whether novice leaders or seasoned veterans, we are being
asked for increasingly high levels of performance in rapidly
changing environments. We are usually asked to do that in
groups ranging from a single team to extraordinarily complex
organizations or communities.
The question is whether we will say “yes” to leading, whether
in large or small roles or formal or informal roles. If we do, the
doors open to us and the challenges through which we create
our organizations and communities - as well as ourselves - present themselves.
THERE ARE ALWAYS TWO GOALS
When we answer the call to lead a journey of change there are
always two goals:

ALWAYS TWO GOALS
FOR LEADERS

1 To achieve the desired results for any particular journey and
2 To build the change capability of our organization or our
community – and our own leadership capability in the process.

We need to be successful in the short-term to be around for the
long-term. But, that success will be short-lived if we don’t build
our change capability.

THE CALL TO OUR BEST

SIGNIFICANCE, INTEGRITY
AND LOOKING “BEYOND
SELF”

The heroic journey naturally calls for our best – it is ennobling
by its very nature. We will be asked to lead (1) with a sense of
our own significance – an understanding that our actions make
a difference; (2) with integrity – implementing the whole model
and matching our actions to the challenges and matching our
actions to our words; and (3) with the willingness to think and
act beyond our own immediate welfare.
THE HEROIC CHALLENGE FOR LEADERS
For those of us leading a major change, the challenge is to be
worthy of those we ask to follow us. We must be worthy of their
hope and trust as well as their personal effort, their sacrifice,
and the risks they take.
THE HEROIC CHALLENGE FOR FOLLOWERS
The challenge for followers includes such tests as becoming

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partners with others in the leadership web, taking considered
risks, making the leap of faith to trust others on the journey as
well as acting in a trustworthy manner and helping to shape the
direction and nature of the journey. It also involves being honest
and forthcoming in providing feedback to leadership, attending
to the needs of leaders and challenging themselves and others
to exercise a high degree of self-management.

OUR COURAGE – THE HEART OF THE MATTER
In successfully bringing forth our best, courage is the quality or
characteristic that is most often called upon. Courage can come
in many forms, but there are four specific forms that are at the
heart of heroic leadership.
“NO GUTS, NO GLORY”

1 The courage to see and speak the truth
2 The courage to create and hold forth a vision of the
desired state

3 The courage to persevere and “hold the course”
4 The courage to collaborate with and rely upon others
These sources of courage are what support us – even in the
toughest settings.
OUR GROWTH AS LEADERS
If we answer the call and bring forth our best, we will naturally
grow and become increasingly strong and whole as leaders. A
life is made up of a series of heroic journeys, each one adding
something new. Sometimes that is intellectual capacity, sometimes emotional competence, sometimes physical prowess
and sometimes spiritual growth. We never know for sure what
opportunities open up for us, but we need to answer “Yes” in
order to find out.

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“WHO, ME? YES, YOU”
The challenge is not for “larger than life” heroics, but the reclaiming of the heroic journey as our story. The only differences
between the heroic myths and our own personal stories are:
THE HEROIC JOURNEY IS
OUR STORY BUT THERE ARE
NATURAL BARRIERS

LARGER THAN LIFE FIGURES
Most of the heroic figures in the myths are larger than life. Most
of us, on the other hand, are ordinary people doing what we
need to do to make a difference.
GRAND DEEDS
The heroic myths are grand. Our own heroism is mostly, though
not always, lived out in our daily lives and seems unremarkable
in comparison.
OCCASIONAL VS. OVERLAPPING JOURNEYS
The heroic myths tell about occasional journeys. Our own journeys are surprisingly frequent and often overlapping.

MANY OTHERS HAVE GONE
BEFORE – WE HAVE THE
MODEL

THE PATH IS KNOWN
Throughout virtually every culture in history heroes have left
known worlds to venture into the unknown, face trials, discover
truths and revelations, experience various deaths and rebirths
and “return” bringing something of value. Corporate and community change requires the same venturing forth into the unknown, the same trials and contests, the death of certain things
and the rebirth or birth of others, and the return or arrival at a
new state of being. The heroic journey of the myths is mirrored
at the individual, group, organization and community level. It’s
the same story – just a different scale.

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IT’S OUR WORLD – IT’S OUR CHOICE
The heroic is being asked of us by our organizations and our
communities, not on a grand scale, but on a daily and a personal scale. Our heroism comes in the form of leading journeys of
change. It may play out at work or in communities from neighborhoods to our global community. It is also the great story of
creating a worthwhile and rewarding life. We can say “yes” or
we can say “no” or we can pretend we didn’t hear the call.

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THE POWER OF KNOWLEDGE
THE FOUNDATION FOR LEADING
WITH CONFIDENCE
IT’S LIKE A JUNGLE
EXPEDITION

We wouldn’t head off into the jungle without knowing what to
expect, what to do, having gathered the needed resources and
preparing for the adventure. It should be no different with leading journeys of change. Unfortunately, we are frequently thrown
into journeys of change with little time for careful preparation.
Fortunately, the heroic journey will guide us effectively regardless of how we begin, but it will sometimes feel like “preparing
on the fly.”
With sufficient numbers of people well prepared, the likely scenario is one of more excitement than anxiety, more trust than
mistrust, a posture of self-management vs. dependence and
victimhood, and an increasing sense of confidence. The statement “knowledge is power” is certainly true in leading journeys
of change.

SIX BENEFITS PROVIDED BY
THE HEROIC JOURNEY

THERE ARE SIX ESSENTIAL
BENEFITS

Whether preparing prior to a journey or “preparing on the fly”
in the midst of one, understanding the heroic journey will provide us with the foundation blocks on which to base our leadership.

1 Plan Effectively

We can plan our journies effectively

2 Prepare the Organization

We can prepare people to self-manage and be successful.

3
4
5

Minimize Surprises
We will rarely be thrown off track by events as the journey
unfolds and can respond quickly to unforeseen events and
needs.
Act with Confidence & Gain Credibility
We can act with confidence and sureness because we can
see how our actions match the requirements of the journey
– and so can those who follow.
Align People on Common Ground
Because it’s an almost universal story and is the shared basis
for the experience of change, the heroic journey can provide
common ground for even the most diverse groups.
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6

Call Forth Our Best
The heroic journey reminds us of the qualities and capabilities that we have, and can draw upon, to be leaders worthy
of followers.

Being well grounded in knowledge of the realities of the heroic
journey puts all of these benefits within reach. It’s actually hard
to imagine leading without them.

A THREE-ACT PLAY WITH FIVE CORE
CHALLENGES
HEROIC JOURNEYS ARE PLAYS
IN THREE ACTS WITH FIVE
CORE CHALLENGES

The heroic journey can be seen as a three-act play in which five
core challenges are engaged. These challenges will always be
part of the journey, but they will play out very differently in each
journey. However, we can focus our attention and energy on
these five in order to understand what’s likely to happen and to
determine the highest leverage strategies to employ.

ACT I – BEGINNINGS: GOING FORTH
BEGINNINGS SET THE TONE

Beginnings matter a great deal. Act I of the heroic journey is
about how we leave our current known world. It’s about how
we cross a threshold and go forth on an adventure into territory
with a great deal of unknowns, many challenges and great possibilities. We can heed a call to go forth, be thrown or lured into
a journey or blunder into one. Regardless of how we begin, the
first challenge is one of making a surprising number of choices.

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AUTHOR OR VICTIM?

Challenge #1: Be the Author of the Experience
This challenge begins immediately and continues throughout
the journey. This is the central challenge of the heroic journey
and it will have a major impact on the success achieved with the
other four challenges. If people heed a call to go forth, they are
already in the author’s posture because starting the journey was
clearly their choice. It might have been a difficult choice, but it
was theirs. If, however, people are thrown, lured or blunder into
the journey, a critical leadership challenge is helping them get
into a stance of being the author as soon as possible.
Authorship can be seen as an individual challenge or as a collective challenge of a group, whole organization or community.
The individual challenge of authorship has to do with accepting
the responsibility to self-manage on the journey and effectively
play leadership and/or followership roles. Authorship on the collective level focuses on how the six leadership roles are played
– how their core strategies are adapted and executed. In the
beginning such authorship focuses on making choices across
a potentially broad array of topics. These range from market
strategies, structure and processes to roles, leadership style and
what is valued.

ACT II – ON THE PATH

HOLDING THE COURSE

Act II addresses the three challenges that are naturally encountered on the path. These three are letting go of old ways, discovering and mastering new ways and dealing with the land of
in-between endings and beginnings (sometimes referred to as
“inbetweenity”).
Leaders are challenged to maintain direction and energy, build
the required capabilities, keep people connected and productively engaged, and deal with the inevitable surprises encountered. It’s about persevering and “holding the course” regardless of how the path may twist and turn.
Challenge #2: Let Go of Old Ways and Deal with the Endings
These may be ways of thinking and acting, sets of competencies, identities and self image or ways of relating to others that
no longer work. Moving on without letting go is not going to be
successful, but letting go can be tough, particularly if there isn’t
something immediately available as a replacement. The extent
of this challenge often depends on the balance between areas of
change and areas of continuity as well as how quickly the new
ways are discovered and mastered.

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HERE’S THE MOST DECEPTIVE
CHALLENGE

Challenge #3: Discover and Master the New Ways
This can involve developing new knowledge, new skills, new
ways of relating, working with new process or technologies new
or new ways of managing or leading. This is the deceptively difficult challenge. It is almost always underestimated and, therefore, is often the dragon that causes the most trouble as the
journey unfolds.
Mastery takes time and sustained effort and it usually involves
an initial dip in performance, which is hard to accept. Individuals are challenged to commit to mastery and organizations are
challenged to support the process and create a climate in which
risk taking and mastery can flourish. Otherwise, progress will
be slowed or stopped and leadership will be left thinking, “Hey,
what happened?”

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Challenge #4: Manage the Land In-Between Endings and
Beginnings
Uncertainty, the unknown, conflicting emotions, confusion and
a sense of shifting reality are natural experiences at various
points on the journey. There will be a set of what can be called
dynamic tensions, which pull people back and forth throughout
the journey.

WHERE “WEIRD” IS OFTEN
NORMAL AND NATURAL

For example people can be pulled between a sense of order and
disorder, between anxiety and excitement, between belonging and being disconnected, or between feeling competent and
questioning competence. These dynamic tensions eventually
resolve themselves, but they can be tough to deal with when
they are in play.
A major complicating factor is that ongoing operations have to
continue while the changes take place. This can sometimes feel
like rebuilding the plane in flight and frequently results in temporary dips in performance. Dealing effectively with this sense
of being in-between is critical in keeping people engaged and
productive. It is easy to lose people in this part of the journey
and leaders often find direction and energy just slipping away.

ACT III – COMPLETIONS
“IT AIN’T OVER TILL IT’S OVER”
YOGI BERRA

Act III presents leadership with a challenge of discipline and
focus. Achievements can unravel quickly if the challenges of
Act III are ignored. As journeys near their end, it is very easy for
leadership to become tired, over confident or distracted. As Yogi
Berra, the former NY Yankee and manager, is reputed to have
said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

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Challenge #5: Finish Strong
The challenge is to integrate, deepen, and protect what has
been achieved. Successful change, once achieved, is surprisingly vulnerable for a period of time. First, our desired changes
may challenge others to make necessary complementary changes – and those may not be seen as desirable. Leadership needs
to understand those ripple affects and support others in making
the complementary changes.
FINISH STRONG – PROTECT
AND INTEGRATE

Second, finishing strong also means ensuring that the various
elements and people of the organization are re-aligned and
working together because they will naturally be thrown out of
alignment to some degree as the changes are achieved. There
is frequently a very high price paid for not finishing strong and
maintaining leadership and focus.

The Guidance of the Heroic Journey is Pretty Much Guaranteed
The specifics of each Act in a journey will be unique, but we
can trust the map of the heroic journey to show us the way and
guide our actions. The fundamental pattern will always hold
true. The leadership art is in the adaptation of the leadership
strategies and the construction of the web of leaders and followers to match the challenges of each journey.

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THE POWER OF CLEAR ROLES
AND STRATEGIES
LEADERSHIP THAT IS ALIGNED,
FOCUSED AND SUSTAINABLE
SIX LEADERSHIP ROLES
EACH WITH THREE CORE
STRATEGIES

There are six leadership roles to be played on a journey of
change and three core strategies that define each role. The strategies are easy to customize and cover the leadership challenges
from planning to full implementation. Each leadership role will
offer different amounts of leverage on different journeys and at
different points on a journey, but they all have their place and
none can be ignored without diminishing leadership’s influence.

ACT I – BEGINNINGS: GOING FORTH
– THE VISIONARY AND THE
ARCHITECT

ESTABLISHING LEADERSHIP
CREDIBILITY

The two roles in the beginning of a major journey of change
are characterized by an intensive effort to awaken people to the
need for the journey, set direction, provide leadership structure
and plans for the journey and develop a core web of leaders to
launch the journey with confidence and credibility. This is where
the core challenge of authorship begins and the focus is on the
challenge of being the author - in many ways.

THE VISIONARY STRATEGIES
¤ Establish a shared perception of the need for change and a
WHY, WHERE AND HOW?

sense of positive urgency

¤ Create a strategic vision of the desired state to be achieved

and assess its likely impact on the organization and its people

¤ Paint a clear picture of how the change journey will be
conducted - the leadership commitment being made

THE ARCHITECT STRATEGIES
PLANS, PEOPLE AND
ORGANIZATION DESIGN

¤ Create the organization design required to realize the vision of
the desired state and conduct a more detailed impact
assessment

¤ Develop a plan for leading the journey to close the gap

between current reality and the envisioned desired state

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¤ Design the web of leaders and followers required for the
journey and build the core team for that web

The real bottom line is that we are trying to mobilize and guide
people’s energy: their vitality, creativity, willingness to put forth
extra effort, to sacrifice, to experiment and take risks, to trust
each other and the organization, and to self-manage effectively.

Act II – On the Path: The Catalyst,
The Guide and the Builder
ENDINGS, BEGINNINGS AND
“INBETWEENITY”

The three leadership roles on the path meet the three key challenges encountered: letting go of old ways, discovering and
mastering the new ways and coping with the strange land inbetween. Act II requires engaging people in the journey leadership, effectively communicating and building capability on
an individual, group and organizational level. It also requires
healthy accountability to maintain direction and energy.

THE CATALYST STRATEGIES
¤ Bring people into the web of leaders with clear roles,
MORE PEOPLE, DETAILS AND
REALITY CHECKS

expectations and support

¤ Add the operational detail to the vision and organization
design

¤ Conduct a “change readiness and capability study” and
prepare the organization and its people for the journey

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THE GUIDE STRATEGIES
¤ Develop systems for communicating out, for feedback, and
for promoting dialogue among people to promote
self-management

COMMUNICATION, LETTING
GO AND ACCOUNTABILITY

¤ Guide people in letting go of what must be left behind and
dealing with the challenges of “inbetweenity”

¤ Create processes and an environment that promote healthy
accountability in order to maintain direction and energy

THE BUILDER STRATEGIES
¤ Expand and maintain the web of leaders and followers and
SUSTAINING LEADERSHIP AND
BUILDING CAPABILITY

build the capabilities required for leading the journey

¤ Build the individual, group and organizational capabilities
required in the envisioned desired state

¤ Guide people in the process of discovery and the extended
challenges of mastery

Act III – Completions: The Integrator
ACHIEVEMENTS ARE SURPRISINGLY VULNERABLE AT THE
COMPLETION OF A JOURNEY

This is the role that must integrate all of the changes achieved
during the journey. It must also ensure that the achievements
aren’t undermined by the natural ripple effects that might require complementary changes by others. There is a period of
time when the changes look like they are solid, but are in reality
very vulnerable. The Integrator ensures that leadership remains
focused and disciplined.

THE INTEGRATOR STRATEGIES
¤ Assess the “ripple effects” of the changes, including the likely
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reactions of others, and determine effective responses
PROTECTING AND
INTEGRATING THE CHANGES

¤ Align the “things” of the organization (structure,

technologies, etc.) to institutionalize the changes

¤ Ensure that the people of the organization have internalized
the changes (attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, etc.)

THE LEADERSHIP ART IS IN THE ADAPTATION
Just as the heroic journey always plays out differently in each
story, myth or movie, so must the roles and strategies be adapted to the realities of each setting. No two journeys of change
will be the same. No two sets of leadership strategies will look
the same in execution.

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THE POWER OF LEADERSHIP WEBS
LEADERSHIP REACH, POWER,
CREDIBILITY AND RESILIENCE
HEROES DON’T GO ALONE
Heroes don’t go alone (and succeed) in the heroic myths and
neither should leaders of change. It simply doesn’t work. The
grand lone hero becomes the lost or defeated hero – usually
a victim. And everyone else suffers the defeat along with the
would-be hero.
HEROES DON’T GO ALONE

What’s really required is a web of aligned leaders and followers.
Three perspectives that lead to effective leadership webs include (a) building, expanding and maintaining leadership webs;
(b) focusing on leaders AND effective followers; and (c) designing clear contracts between leaders and followers.

IT’S ABOUT WEBS OF LEADERS AND
FOLLOWERS

BUILDING OUTWARD FROM
A STRONG CORE

A spider’s web is a good model for leadership webs. They are
strong, flexible and resilient. They provide lots of connections
and they don’t require a lot of resources in order to cover a wide
area. They also come in a wide variety of structures. Leadership
webs need to be carefully built– starting with a very strong core
team and extending outward in an elegant design. Webs also
need to be maintained and repaired because they naturally suffer wear and tear over the course of a journey.
An effective web is composed of a “critical mass” of leaders and
followers that have a common understanding of the reason for
the journey, where they are going, the relationships required,
the roles that need to be played and the strategies employed.

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WHAT HAPPENS WITHOUT LEADERSHIP WEBS?
The dangers are many. Some of the most damaging consequences of inadequate attention to the leadership web include:

1 Loss of Credibility

The people of the organization intuitively know that it takes
a web of leaders and immediately lose a significant degree
of faith in leadership when they fail to see one developing.
They recognize the gap between the challenges of the journey and the leadership capability being brought to bear.

2 Loss of Potential Leaders
IT CAN GET UGLY WITHOUT
A STRONG WEB

Without the leadership structure of the web potential leaders
and effective followers can be left without productive roles,
resources and supporting relationships.

3 Inadequate Reach and Connection

Without an extended web, leadership simply has inadequate
reach into the organization and people are not consistently
connected. Boundaries are often felt as barriers because there
is no web to transcend them.

4 Too Much Wear and Tear

As journeys progress leaders can easily wear out because of
having an inadequate web around them to help carry the load
and provide renewal.

It’s not a pretty picture, but it is a common one. That picture
does not, however, need to exist if webs are carefully built, expanded and maintained.

LEADERS AND FOLLOWERS –
IT TAKES BOTH
FOLLOWERS ARE
UNDERESTIMATED
AND UNDERESTIMATE
THEMSELVES

The importance of “followership” is still dramatically underappreciated, which is a major problem in leading journeys of
change. Too little is often expected of those in a follower role,
by leaders as well as followers, and it becomes a self-fulfilling
prophecy.
There are, thankfully, some exciting profiles of effective followers that have emerged – followers we would really want when
we are leading. For example, Ira Challeff proposes that an effective followers show the following characteristics:

¤ The courage to assume responsibility – for themselves and

their organizations. They look for ways to add value and real-

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ize their potential in the process.

¤ The courage to serve – serving leaders and, with those
¤
HERE’S A PICTURE OF
FOLLOWERS WE WANT

¤

¤

leaders, serving the purpose of the organization. They
understand leaders’ needs and support them.
The courage to challenge – standing up to, or for, leaders
when things don’t seem right. They are willing to risk
rejection and others’ strong emotions in service of the
organization’s well being.
The courage to participate in transformation – the ability to
commit and stay involved through the tough patches.
They are also willing to look at themselves and change as
appropriate.
The courage to leave – the refusal to collaborate with
destructive leadership. They are willing to risk being
terminated or coming to the decision that they must leave.

Such followers provide both the support and the challenge that
leaders need. They complete the leadership web that can provide the reach, power, credibility and resilience required on a
journey.

THE CONTRACT BETWEEN LEADERS
AND FOLLOWERS

MAKE THE CONTRACT
EXPLICIT

In well-led change there is an inherent, if not explicit, contract
between leaders and followers. Followers look to the leaders to
commit fully to the leadership roles and to be worthy of their
followers. 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 necessary risks, to manage themselves well, to support
each other, and to take on the leadership roles when the opportunities arise.
Leadership webs are much stronger when this implicit contract
is made as explicit as possible. The process of doing so facilitates the conversations that lead to true alignment and begin to
build the trust that will provide much of the foundation for the
journey.

THE LEADERS’ PART OF THE BARGAIN
For example, the leaders’ part of the bargain centers on the four
critical success factors for leading change.

1 Commit Fully

Leaders answer the call to lead - bringing their best, fully
committing themselves and acting with an awareness of their

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significance.

2 Base Actions on Knowledge
LEADERS WORTHY OF
FOLLOWERS

Leaders bring an understanding of the heroic journey and an
appreciation of what they are asking of themselves and their
followers.

3 Act Strategically

Leaders effectively adapt the six leadership roles and their
core strategies and implement them with discipline.

4 Extend Leadership

Leaders invest in building the web of leaders and followers.

THE FOLLOWERS’ PART OF THE BARGAIN
Followers actually have two parts on their side of the bargain.
One is actively supporting leaders and the other is thoughtfully
challenging leaders. The key for followers is to earn credibility through supporting leaders, so that their challenges come
within a supportive context. For example, the supportive behaviors of followers include the following:

1 Commit

Followers let leadership know you are ready to support them
and demonstrate it

2 Attend
FOLLOWERS CHALLENGING
AND SUPPORTING LEADERS

Followers pay attention to what leaders may need at any
point in time (from information to emotional support)

3 Reinforce

Followers actively reinforce leadership’s messages

4 Model

Followers model the desired behaviors

5 Lead

Followers play the leadership roles at the appropriate scale
and in the appropriate setting

6 Challenge

Followers challenge each other to be effective followers

The ability to challenge appropriately is equally important.
Without the challenges, leaders can easily go astray over the
course of a journey. Without the support, however, leaders
won’t be effective even if on the right path, and they probably
won’t be as open to the challenges.

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ACT – JOIN US IN MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN
THE WORLD
Act from a sense of significance – if not you, then who – and call
upon your best. There are journeys to be led and your choices
and actions matter. Say “Yes.”
IF NOT YOU, THEN WHO?

Look to the heroic journey as the foundation for thinking about
the journey to come and the basis for your actions – all of your
experience and approaches to leading will find a a home – and
will be leveraged.
Act strategically – adapt and execute all of the leadership strategies, although some will be more important than others in a
journey.
Lead in concert with others – a web of leaders and followers
– carefully designed and built.

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