Or the Martini Model of Leadership, my new name for the concept of distributed leadership.

Do any of you remember the good old Martini advert  – girl on roller skates carrying a tray of Martini with the song ‘any time, any place, any where….’ . Just me then… so moving on.

Leadership is often talked of in grand terms and this can alienate those of us who live in the normal world. If ‘leadership’ is a big deal, then we will all be tempted to think that we don’t do it. It will remain a thing that other people do. The more leaders big it up into a ‘thing’ the less likely it is that any of us will want to do it! And, leadership is no big deal. You do not have to be a global, national, or even company leader to do leadership. You don’t have to be in any position of authority, nor do you need years of training. We are all leaders, and we can all lead any time, any place, any where, and anything! Hence the martini model of leadership.

A leader is not a certain type of heroic person. Leadership is not a fine crafted art. Leadership is a behaviour. Doing leadership means doing things. If we think about leadership as a series of actions, then we can start to see how we can all lead anything. You could at any point in the day intervene in a situation to help it along. You might be in a meeting for example and realise that it is running short on time and suggest that everyone gets a move on. That is leadership. You might be in a car giving directions – that is leadership. You may be helping a colleague talk through an issue and giving them your advice – that is leadership too.

Whether you have done some ‘real life’ act of leadership will be judged by yourself and the people around you. We may be tempted to think that we have not been leaders at all, because we have not been heroic or demanded attention for our acts, but if other people have seen and experienced us helping the situation along then we have indeed led.

The martini model of leadership is central to some heavy weight theories of leadership, such as distributed leadership. I think this term can freak people out as it sounds serious and daunting. But if we think of it as everyone having a go at helping the organisation along whenever they can – aka marini – it becomes more accessible.

Les Mckeown captures the spirit (no pun intended!) of martini leadership in his book – Do Lead. And Alma Harris is the renowned author of Distributed Leadership. The two together give a good overview of how organisations can achieve more through everyone engaging more mindfully in acts of leadership.

The only remaining question is whether you take your martini straight, or with lemonade for a little fizz?

Acts of Distributed Leadership
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