For associations to thrive in the future, ASAE Annual Meeting Game Changer Seth Mattison says that they must be guided by leaders who don’t hoard power from the top of the org chart.
The current “age of the network” requires a new brand of leadership—one that starts with individual change from within. That’s according to Seth Mattison, who is cofounder and chief movement officer of Luminate Labs and one of the Game Changers at the 2018 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition.
“Thanks to the digitalization of literally every single aspect of our life today, we live in an existence and reality that’s based on networks—it’s networks of information, resources, talent, people,” Mattison said.
This new network-based reality has implications for just about every part of life, including the workplace. “This emerging world of the network and our existing historical traditional world of hierarchy, which is deeply ingrained in our DNA, are at battle with each other,” Mattison said. “And they are battling it out inside every single organization and every single association or institution.”
In order for associations to remain relevant moving forward, Mattison touts the need of a new type of leader—one who leads from the center of the organizational chart rather than from the top of it.
Think of the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who started the #NeverAgain movement, as an example of the shift in power that’s happening because of the networked world. “In less than 24 hours, they leveraged the tools of the network—social media, Twitter, Instagram—to create a community, a movement around #NeverAgain that shifted the conversation happening at the national level as teenagers,” Mattison said.
And research shows, according to Mattison, that once people have seen that their voice has exponential reach and can create mass movements like these teenagers did, it will be hard for them to adjust to the power dynamic that often exists inside a traditional organization.
Because of this, Mattison says today’s leaders must be transparent, authentic, collaborative, and willing to share the power they have. “[It] doesn’t matter if you’re leading an association, or leading a private company, or operating elements of government at the highest levels of society, this is being demanded, and I think it’s a great opportunity and a great challenge,” he said.