Leadership in the Age of Complexity: From Hero to Host

Review by: William A. Harper
By Margaret Wheatley with Debbie Frieze

The Big Idea

The Big Idea

Get ready for a wake-up call to the common among us—which is to say a call to all of us.  In this short paper published in Resurgence Magazine (Winter 2011) Margaret Wheatley takes a unique position regarding leadership.  She will argue that the place to look for true leadership in an age of complexity is inward, and not outward to the time-worn desire for heroes to come to our rescue.

Early on, Wheatley refers to the opening line of the William Stafford poem, Allegiance: “It is time for all the heroes to go home.”  The entire opening stanza clarifies:

It is time for all the heroes to go home

if they have any, time for all of us common ones

to locate ourselves by the real things

we live by.

In other words, anywhere there are leadership needs—for instance, in the world of sports, whether player, coach, management, parent, or fan—there are imperatives for us common ones to take charge of our local destinies.  But, Wheatley asks, do we?