Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Leading – crossing the threshold

Sunday, November 28th, 2010
I’m reading the executive summary of Theory-U which is proving very rewarding. What it’s connecting with for me is the whole idea of the Holy Spirit as the spirit of connection, and communion.In figure 2 on p 4, I think what he calls Ecosystem corresponds to the System of Group Relations.
Here’s a gem, which I found quoted on another website (looks pretty interesting itself, too).

Otto Scharmer points out, The Indo-European root of the word ‘lead’ and ‘leadership,’ *leith, means ‘to go forth,’ ‘to cross the threshold,’ or ‘to die.’”

Leading means constantly letting go, opening for what wants to come.

Scharmer on leadership

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Here’s a taster from a really interesting paper by Otto Scharmer:

Leadership is the capacity of a community to co-sense and co-create its emerging future. This shifts our framing of leadership development from the single-person-centric concept to a concept of leadership that is more about “igniting fields of inspired connection and action.” (Otto Scharmer).

The full paper is here.
I don’t think this means that there shouldn’t be leaders – the position of those who see leaders inevitably as tyrants. It is a question of the kind of leadership. If the leader’s role is seen as facilitating the co-sensing and co-creating Scharmer speaks of, his / her strength will be welcome in holding the boundaries and making it possible for everyone to be involved in that process.


Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Here’s a paper that emerged from a day workshop on leadership on 11th September 2010. Here’s a taster before you decide whether to read a Word document:

Finding out what to do

In the Philosophy of Freedom, Rudolf Steiner describes 3 stages that lead to our doing something:

  • Moral intuition
    where we conceive the idea
  • Moral phantasy
    where we imagine how it could work
  • Moral technique
    where we bring the idea into reality

Thinking and imagining (the first two stages) are gifts of Lucifer, and when we work with them we have to resist the temptations of Lucifer (arrogance, vanity, delusion). Having good ideas tempts us to underestimate the struggle of bringing them to earth. We have to grapple with our own shadow, our fantasies and projections, and we meet the double of pride and delusion.

Making something happen inevitably involves us in human institutions – temporary ones like an ad hoc planning meeting, and / or permanent ones, like a company. For this paper, we will call any grouping of people working towards a commonly-held purpose a system. The moment we are involved in a system, other dimensions of reality come into play with an exponential increase in complexity. Now we bring our own shadow-side into relationship with those of the other people, and they become the objects of our projection and fantasy. We encounter too the being of the group itself, the whole which is greater than the sum of its parts, which in turn has a shadow, an unconscious, and a higher being – the angel of the group.

The moral technique needed for bringing ideas into reality in systems is the understanding of how groups and organisations work. The reality of power and what works unconsciously in groups takes us into the realm of Ahriman. In this realm, we are tempted to become cynical or to despair and give up trying to make our ideas come into reality. When we go through this temptation, we are following Christ in his ‘descent into hell’ on Holy Saturday.

Leadership and the Trinity

Friday, August 27th, 2010

In Free from Dogma I talk about the Trinity as an image for leadership. Pure monotheism justifies an image of hierarchical power: ultimate power resides in a single, isolated authority which is quite other. If the ground of existence is relational and communal, structures of leadership should model this.

This is not the same as saying that there should be no differentiation, or that we should have structures where no-one is ever confronted with their own relationship to their own and others’ roles, which can be painful. The three divine persons of the Trinity are involved in very different activities, so different that it’s sometimes hard to think of them as one God. What unites them? Classically theologians talked about the one divine substance. They share a common nature. Perhaps more enlightening is the image of the perichoresis, the perfect dance of the Three. We can perhaps imagine a dance so perfect that from a distance the distinctions between the people dancing are blurred, and yet when we look closely we see there are indeed three, perfectly attuned to each other. What unites them is the common purpose of the dance; what keeps them in their perfect movement is that each watches the others, and attunes what he does to their place in the dance.

This brings us closer to the mystery of leadership in the spirit of the Trinity. No role is supreme; there is a strong differentiation, but the purpose is clearly articulated and everyone is accountable to each other. When this is in place, we can start to dance!

One organisation that worked with these principles described a fascinating problem: once they really committed to working in this way, their work became so effective that meetings could be very short. They realised that the drama of sorting out misunderstandings had been important to them as it gave them a reason to meet. Now that they didn’t have the drama any more, they were free to decide how they wanted to nourish their relationships even when the work was going well.

Palm Sunday

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

We’ve all lived through times when a leader – whether it be a political leader, sportsperson, or some other public figure – has been elevated to the status of saviour. And we have experienced when the media – in this case merely the mouthpiece for the collective consciousness – has cast such people down once it became clear that they too were subject to the same compromises and disappointments that we all have to cope with.
In our own lives we might know such moments too – when we encounter a new friend, or a direction of learning, or even a book – and we are seized by hope that it will make everything different. And later we know the bitterness that comes when we realize that this didn’t happen.
What we hope for in such moments is that something or someone will change reality for us, relieving us of the responsibility of changing it ourselves. And the bitterness that follows comes when this hope dies.
The Week of Weeks – the Holy Week – starts with the ecstatic acclamation by the crowd. Is it the same crowd that shouts on Good Friday “crucify him”? Their hope on Palm Sunday must have been for the national deliverer who would cast off the hated Roman yoke. Underlying this was the assumption that the Romans were responsible for their reality. But there was more they must have hoped for – after all, the religious authorities were compromised and perhaps corrupt – so they needed changing too. And then perhaps they wished that they would be changed, so that they wouldn’t have to struggle to be honest, to be kind to their children, to notice where their love was needed and where love was offered to them. How wonderful to be made perfect and released from the burden of being limited – of being human!
Christ rides in silence through the ecstatic crowd on Palm Sunday, just as he will stand silent on Good Friday. He shows where true leadership begins – in self-leadership, unswayed by acclamation, undeterred by opposition. Does Pilate have an inkling of that when he says “behold the man!”? – does he see the future human being, who has found the inner principle of leadership, the Christ-filled ego?
The hope for a different reality has to die before new hope can be born in the soul. This is hope not to be liberated from reality by an external leader, but to find the strength in myself to transform reality from within.


Monday, March 15th, 2010

It struck me that it would be good to get my thoughts about this in one place, otherwise they’re scattered through 100 emails. So this is a bit bitty – all my thoughts about what would be needed in trainings in the spirit of Anthroposophy in the 21st century.

  • Leadership emerging from self-leadership is at centre, because this is the way to work to our purpose. So it all begins with finding purpose, which gives rise to the need to become effective.
    Deborah’s work on “Becoming a Self” could be a way in to this.
    Use Knowledge of Higher Worlds and group dynamics as tools for self-observation
    working to purpose of taking up tasks in world

    At a later stage: organizational theory. Fieldwork.
  • Anthroposophy is brought in a spirit of inquiry as to how best understand the world in order to work to my purpose. Ie if I want to lead, it works better if I understand 3fold dynamic of social life etc.
    The test is its usefulness in working to purpose – not reductive, because my purpose is holistic
  • The specific content of each course.
  • Could we work like the dutch medical training where course goals were articulated and students were left to develop own agency in fulfilling them? Stringent assessment, everything described and documented (no mystical criteria).
    Adult learning starts with finding purpose. We must tell the students ours, so they know what system they’re in. Very important to describe criteria that we will use for assessing their progress.
    Then space for them to reflect on their purpose, set out aims for their learning journey.

    Module 1: becoming a self, artistic exploration, evolution of consciousness (you can’t be a self if you don’t know where you’ve come from) – not as intellectual fodder but for self-understanding.
    Constant reformulation of personal purpose. Introduce PoF, Knowldge of Higher… as *resources* available. Resources: journalling, conversation, biog work.

    Module 2: leadership. This includes a transformed BME type experience. Group work and guided group reflection. Self-leadership including Getting Things Done. Everything from module 1 serves this too – now it becomes clear we do 1 in order to give it away.

    If I had a free hand I’d do 1 intensively and exclusively for 4 weeks. Then introduce anthroposophical content relevant to whatever course it was. Anthroposophy takes people to a place of self-knowledge. 1 would be emphasis in 1st third of the course. Then in middle third introduce 2; in final third, 1 is in background, 2 is central. Anthroposophy all the time, plus the factual knowledge they need for training.