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New Paradigm Leadership — Everyone is a Leader

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

Reimagining organizations by devising an innovative model that encourages productive, fulfilled, and engaged employees.

New Paradigm Leadership

Let’s continue our conversation, but first a recap.

"American businesses are witnessing a shift in the collective mindset of the workforce and what it means to be an employee. Expectations are evolving, and yesterday's business models of leadership are no longer adequate for today's personnel,” believes Dr. Robyn Short, CEO of Workplace Peace Institute.

Most organizations are in a people crisis because they’ve not been paying the right attention to their employees. We may be doing surface listening, which results in an adjustment to work schedules, additional fringe benefits, such as employee assistance programs, increases in hourly and salary wages, employee resource/affinity groups, and even pet insurance. Yet, employees are continuing to retire, relocate, and reconsider their role in the company, even considering lateral moves if it means more time for themselves, family, and friends. Employees are reluctant to return to the office, wanting to continue remote, flex schedules, and hybrid employment. This has led to a continuation of the Great Resignation with more than 20 million people leaving their jobs in the first five months of 2022.

According to PwC’s 2022 Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey, 71 percent of the 52,000 survey participants cited pay as the reason they left their jobs, the second and third reasons are job fulfillment and the ability to be one’s true self in the workplace. The reality is that if we experience job fulfillment and the ability to be whole and authentic in the workplace, money is rarely the issue. Money becomes an issue when we are treated in such a way that we begin to think, “I don’t make enough to have to put up with this.”

Organizational leaders must accept that we not only invest in products and processes, but also in people. Even if your manufacturing plant employs the highest level of technology, including robotics, people remain integral to every aspect of the business. They carry your organizational story into the world. So, we should pay close attention to them — hearing, seeing, and understanding their experience within the organization.

Consider Culture as Strategy

According to Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey in An Everyone Culture, Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization:

“In an ordinary organization, most people are doing a second job no one is paying them for. In businesses large and small; in government agencies, schools, and hospitals; in for-profits and nonprofits, and in any country in the world, most people are spending time and energy covering up their weakness, managing other peoples’ impression of them, showing themselves to their best advantage playing politics, hiding their inadequacies, hiding uncertainties, hiding their limitations. Hiding.”

What is the loss to the person, organization, and community for this degree of hiding in many for-profit and non-profits, including educational institutions today? It is exhausting, really.

New Paradigm Leadership

The traditional hierarchical leadership approach is ineffective, leading to year-over-year employee engagement rates of about 30 percent. This means that 70 percent of the organization is disengaged, watching the clock, and perhaps even spending a significant portion of the day job searching. In a traditional leadership model, leaders prioritize control, self-interest, and competition. Information tends to be in short supply and policies and practices lead to an exclusionary culture.

See the infographic below to learn more about the traditional leadership approach and how it contrasts to new paradigm leadership.

New Paradigm Leadership

In a new paradigm leadership model, everyone is a Leader. This is not a new concept. It’s been done before and works with amazing results. Organization development consultant Fredric LaLoux cites in his book Reinventing Organizations, several for-profit and nonprofit organizations from around the world that are developing and practicing core skills for not only organizational success, but also for their success and wellbeing of their clients, employees, and the communities served by them. Here are just a few in different industries and different geographies:

  • Patagonia, a for-profit outdoor gear and clothing retailer with more than 1000 employees

  • Morning Star, a for-profit tomato harvester, transporter, and processor with 400-2,400 employees

  • RHD, a nonprofit, human services organization in the United States with 4000 employees

  • ESBZ, a publicly financed nonprofit serving grades 7-13 school in Berlin, Germany with 1,500 teachers, students, and parents

  • AES, a for profit global producer and distributor of electricity, 40,000 employees worldwide

While these organizations acknowledge the challenges to arrive where they are today, they are grounded in a core paradigm shift, where there is:

  • Equitable distribution of power — To experience self-fulfillment and wholeness in the workplace, employees need a system of distributed authority, and this means we must upgrade our existing management practices and structures.

  • Prioritization of belonging — Belonging exists when all people in the organization are co-creators of the workplace community, culture, and are able to mobilize together toward a shared mission. This means that leaders succeed by loving and caring for their coworkers, customers, and everyone else who contributes to the enterprise, even aiding their competitors. After all, we all rise when we rise together.

  • Prioritization of fairness — To experience self-fulfillment and wholeness in the workplace, we must trust that everyone is subject to the same rules of behavior, processes for getting things done, and reward systems.

  • Adoption of an integrated collective mindset — A collective mindset insists on a workplace culture where an organization functions as a network, everyone leads, collaboration rules, meaning and purpose connects to community, genuine care lives in the work culture, and diversity, equity, and inclusion exist in every policy and practice.

In a new paradigm organization, leadership is exercised by everyone at all levels within the organization. Each person leads sometimes, follows sometimes, and supports sometimes. Of course, core skills development will be necessary to sustain this new paradigm. If everyone leads, then everyone will need to learn to practice abilities to:

  • Trust (being trusted and extending trust)

  • Communicate with respect

  • Engage directly in conflict with peace and dignity

  • Collaborate with everyone in mind

  • Practice transparency

  • Remain curious

  • Lead with compassion, empathy, and humility

What we “do for a living,” should enrich our lives rather than deplete us. We don’t have to go home exhausted. However, creating a workplace where all people thrive does require a paradigm shift in leadership, and this requires learning new skills and competencies. It requires that leaders and emerging leaders are continuously learning, unlearning, and relearning. Come evolve with us.

New Paradigm Leadership


Workplace Peace Institute Leadership Academy exists to support leaders in honoring basic human needs and dignity needs in the workplace, so they can actualize human potential in the workplace. The Academy optimizes competencies in human behavior, communication skills, conflict resolution, and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging to create highly engaged workplaces where basic human needs and dignity are consistently honored. All our courses are offered online and can be customized for in-person workshops and seminars.


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