What is the DAO Core Leadership?

talentDAO applies research in organizational science to introduce the DAO Core Leadership Framework, designed to enable DAO members to learn effective leadership behaviors that drive progress, inspire loyalty, and inspire alignment.

Mark Twain once said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long letter.” So we did the same when we wrote The DAO Leadership: Built on the Shoulders of Giants. This article is a summary of our research on DAO leadership over the past 25 years. Warning ahead, it belongs to the article “too long to read”.

Leadership and DAOs

Leadership provides an organization with direction, inspiration, and alignment to help it achieve its goals. As organizations evolved, “Decentralized Autonomous Organizations” (DAOs) emerged, which govern and operate in a decentralized manner, bringing new questions about leadership.

In DAO, “organization” means:

Virtual, distance-distributed, highly skilled, autonomous groups of professionals who use information technology as an integral part of a work process that is difficult to standardize and that specific competency contributions need to be coordinated and organized to achieve complex , often intangible work product. [1,2]

In groups operating under these conditions, purely hierarchical leadership is not feasible for a number of reasons – including a lack of synchronization of work, lack of communication, different background cultures – and this can lead to unintended consequences: A single leader can lead to team failure. Therefore, given the nature of these organizations, we must find a more appropriate form of group leadership than hierarchical leadership.

Claims abound about DAO leadership: they are leaderless, bossless, software is the rules, aka “code is law”. For many, talking about DAO leadership is a paradox. This is reminiscent of the paradox of hierarchies: hierarchies incentivize individuals to move up, which leads to members of different hierarchies having opposing interests and beliefs, and ultimately leads to conflict, and people in turn oppose hierarchies. However, without a hierarchy, how can DAOs coordinate? Who is responsible for implementing the proposal? How to assign tasks to members to do their part? If everyone is trying to figure it out, who will resolve the conflict that may arise? At the end of the day, what exactly is a leader in a DAO?

What is DAO Core Leadership

Core DAO leadership is flexibly shared, not held by a single person. The goal of a DAO should be to establish minimally viable hierarchies [3], which are born and die as the environment evolves. The point is to avoid hierarchies becoming full-time, top-down, rigid arrangements that centralize power, slow team progress, and damage morale.

Under this premise, we define DAO leadership as:

A dynamic, stratified evolutionary group attribute. People lead each other flexibly—with the selective use of skills and expertise based on the DAO’s changing needs and context—by sharing responsibility for executing specific leadership behaviors to achieve group or organizational goals.

In a centralized organization, leaders are formally appointed according to predetermined roles, exert top-down influence/control over people and resources, accumulate power and authority as they climb the ladder, and are based on their rank rather than contribution , giving the greatest reward.

In a DAO, members collectively manage and share ownership, participate in decision-making, collectively undertake tasks, collaborate with other members to achieve their common goals, and reap the benefits as a collective. Leaders emerge formally or informally depending on the situation at hand (the problem at hand), so there is no single leader, only leaders. However, we cannot help but ask, what does it mean to lead in a DAO? What leadership behaviors are contributors responsible for?

What is the DAO Core Leadership?

talentDAO’s working definition of DAO leadership

The democratization of leadership performance

Leadership in a DAO boils down to doing the things that keep the organization running. Building on decades of field research in organizational science, we have developed a leadership behavior framework that drives results for individuals and organizations and applies to DAOs. We call this the DAO Core Leadership, and it includes self, group, task, and leadership changes that empirical research shows can improve organizational effectiveness.

What is the DAO Core Leadership?

What is DAO Core Leadership

Shared leadership means that ownership of these behaviors serves to promote group effectiveness, acting in a way that promotes team development. In addition to the impact of formal leadership, informal leadership can also have a significant impact on organizational performance. In fact, with shared leadership, everyone can play a role in an organization, no matter how large or small. Therefore, the goal of a DAO is to achieve a state where the collective leads itself by harmoniously executing the following four sets of leadership behaviors.

Leadership behaviors that drive results


Self-leadership means leading from the inside out: you influence yourself through your thoughts and actions before you think about influencing and leading others. At the heart of self-leadership is people’s pursuit of higher-order goals and actions to manage or control strategic behaviors to achieve those goals.

team leader

Team leadership means focusing on the group before the task. Leaders challenge team members to put their team’s interests ahead of their own, encourage them to do more than just money, and support them in working comfortably on their own.

mission leadership

Task leadership refers to what is done to get the job done, such as defining goals and expectations, clarifying roles, developing plans, monitoring the team’s progress on outcomes, and issuing rewards and recognition for achievements.

change leadership

Change leadership encompasses behaviors such as developing and communicating a vision for change, making strategic and tactical decisions, encouraging thinking outside of traditional paradigms, and taking risks by driving projects forward.



Based on decades of field research in organizational science, as well as statistical learning from hundreds of thousands of leaders in diverse organizational settings, we have established a core DAO leadership framework. Given the characteristics of these research arguments, we hope that the research results can be generalized to different fields, including decentralized autonomous organizations.

Effective leadership behaviors

Since leadership can have a powerful impact on collectives such as teams, units and organizations, by introducing the DAO’s core leadership framework, we aim to enable DAO members to learn effective leadership behaviors that drive progress, inspire loyalty, inspire alignment, and lead to Contributing to centralized work being the future of work.


[1] Center for Evidence-Based Management (2019). A brief argumentative assessment of the research literature on factors related to knowledge worker performance.

[2] Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (2020). A brief argumentative assessment of the scientific literature on the attributes of efficient virtual teams.

[3] Richard Bartlett mentioned the concept of minimum viable level in “Patterns for decentralized organizing”.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/what-is-the-dao-core-leadership/
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