Leadership in Collective Organizations

Rebecca Zelis
2 min readMar 27, 2021

Workplace hierarchies served an earlier era when organizational structures were informed by hero narratives. HBO and Netflix have discovered that the hero archetype no longer appeals to young audiences, just as the hero leader no longer appeals to young employees. An alternative narrative was developed by Jeff Gomez to embrace our post-digital, interconnected way of being. Successful in movies and television, it can inform a new era of leadership.

Hero narratives show an individual amassing skills and power as they battle others to become saviors of their community. Collective narratives show diverse groups working together, becoming empowered to save themselves.

Vintage Superman from DC Comics

This inclusive framework offers an alternative to traditional and hierarchical leadership models by emphasizing interdependence, collaboration, diversity, skill building, and empowerment. Instead of an individual leader directing and facilitating others, a group is collectively leading and serving each other in the interest of common goals.

A Collective Organization is not a “Flat” organization. Levels of management and leadership are considered necessary components of a highly functional company. What is different from traditional structures is the lack of implicit bias in hierarchies, and a mindset that leadership serves to guide a collaborative and collective community rather than issuing directives or seeing their position as a source of power or authority.

Styles of leadership based on a Hero’s Journey vs. a Collective Journey

Learn more: Seven Themes of Leadership in Collective Organizations.



Rebecca Zelis

Culture Strategist improving how institutions and systems interact with people.