To ensure that people sustainably hold the required roles in the organization, there is a separate leadership discipline: it teaches how to help people hold activity positions in the project. Not a general position on organization, not a staff position in org-chart, not a vacancy! Leadership is not about people taking the power to dispose of their own and other people’s labor and company property/equipment/capital and then using that power. It is role-playing that is involved in leadership. Leadership is often called “catalyzing collaboration” precisely because the division of labor is primarily the division of activities into different roles, the distribution of different roles to different role performers (not all roles are given to one performer), and if any role in its performance is missed, then the project/play/work organization does not go, collaboration does not work. All required project roles need to have assigned performers, and they need to perform those roles well, not slack off. For example, if no one plays the role of Ophelia, but there are four Prince Hamlets in one team, then there is no collaboration. It must be addressed specially—either by hiring additional competent people for the role of Ophelia, or by retraining Prince Hamlet performers to play a new role.

If people steadily occupy some role/stakeholder position, they are professionalized in it and follow the values of this position, then their lives are filled with meaning, they are then able to play their role in the collective division of labor very effectively. Therefore, the leader is that role (it is also a role! The role of a leader is not only played by bosses, it is played by all employees on occasion), who does not “lead” but helps people to occupy and keep the role positions in the organization, he is a stage director who assigns people-actors (performers) to project/organizational/activity/professional roles and helping them to master these roles successfully, to hold on to these roles in the hustle and bustle of corporate life.

Leadership as a practice/activity is the bridge that pulls together the soulless world of organizational design and development (knowledge, schemas, role/functional objects) and the living world of physical objects, that is, the world of people-performers.

Informally speaking, the leader coaxes some performer to play a role in the project, to take a role/professional position. Say, for example, the play lacks Ophelia (a role!), and of the available actors in the troupe, only Charles Brown is left. Mr. Brown is not at all smiling to play Ophelia at all. The leader can have a number of conversations with Mr. Brown: he can tell him that acting is the art of transformation, that it is necessary to acquire new competencies (continuous education, open-ended development), about the difficulty for a man playing a woman and therefore it will be a test of acting skills, about the ancient traditions of Kabuki theater, where hereditary male actors play both male and female roles simultaneously. And so Mr. Brown came out of the house one evening in a skirt to try it, admitted that it was incredibly difficult acting, and it was “a real test of his skills”, as the leader said, and a month later he was already playing Ophelia with enormous success. The company is happy, Charlie is happy, the audience is happy. This is leadership: on the one hand, catalyzing collaboration and making sense of people’s lives; on the other hand, cajoling people to play well the roles the organization needs.

Leadership as a practice is usually engaged by the whole team, and each performer of this or that role in a project is directed to steadily occupy his or her position by literally all members of a friendly team, so everyone in the team plays their professional/project role and leadership role, among other things. Leadership is in fact distributed, not personal.

Friendship teams are distinguished by exactly this “distributed leadership”, because no one performer-manager-alone-and-leader can do all the necessary leadership work in a large team—he simply does not have enough time to have soulful conversations with hundreds and even thousands of employees (co-workers, working in collaboration) if only one person-performer is engaged in this leadership practice. Roughly speaking, there is leadership in a good project team, but there are usually no obvious leaders—everyone is engaged in a bit of leadership both in relation to others and (most importantly!) conscious leadership in relation to themselves, demonstrating role acting skills. If leadership, in the theatrical metaphor, is a director’s job, then role acting is something actors are taught. And, of course, all actors are taught to be a little bit of a director, primarily for themselves, and a little bit for their company/teammates.