25 Jun A New Conception of Leadership – Part I
This article summarizes a new understanding of leadership.
The new leaders’ qualities come from this new conception of leadership.
Leadership has been seen in different ways over the centuries. Much of current leadership theory is informed by the world view that we have inherited since the 16th and 17th centuries.
This world view is not wrong. It has given us all the benefits of the industrial revolution (transport, washing machines, computers, etc.). It is however limited in its scope. It does not explain the canvas of human relationships. In fact more recent discoveries in the fields of anthropology, communication, positive and cognitive psychology have overturned much of the old thinking and introduced new principles and new realities.
What are these new leaders’ qualities within the new conception of leadership?
What do leaders know?
1. That leadership is a world view – this world view recognizes that there is a new global story emerging that is moving beyond the dominant transactional, mechanistic narrative we have inherited over the past few hundred years, and is pushing the boundaries of our current beliefs and theories into new understandings and new territories of being.
2. That leadership is also an individual mind-set – a growth mind-set that always sees the potential of others, which values personal growth, development and transformation in ourselves and in others.
3. That there is no inherent meaning in anything. Only we bring meaning to things, people, events, situations and circumstances. The meaning we assign to the things around us are a function of our perception, how things appear to us. And how things appear to us will always almost certainly be a function of our past experience. In this sense our past is always guiding, informing or shaping our future. Leaders know that this may or may not be empowering or creative.
4. That to lead is to guide. Leadership is not control or authority, nor is it position or power. Today’s leaders are experts in being non-experts. They know that their own freedom and self-expression is intimately associated with the freedom and self-expression of others. That the act of empowering others is to empower ourselves.
5. That leadership is something beyond a particular set of personal qualities. Being strong doesn’t make you a leader, nor does being authentic or committed, having humility or integrity.
6. That leadership is also not a set of properties, tools, techniques, models or skills.
7. That leadership is a way of being. Let’s describe being as the way you “show-up-in-the-world” for yourself and for others. Anyone, everyone has the potential to show up as a leader.
8. That self-awareness is one of the keys to leading. By this we mean more than the capacity to be introspective, to know your own strengths or weaknesses, your purpose or life goals, your emotions and feelings. It is more than challenging your own assumptions, although this is always very valuable. Self-awareness is the recognition (knowing) that you not your story. We all have stories about ourselves, that we tell and others tell about us. In this sense we are multi-storied. But we have these stories. Who we are is not these stories. We are not limited, constrained or bound by these stories. We have the infinite capacity to author or re-author any story about ourselves that we choose.
9. That identity is not a fixed or static phenomena. Leaders know that identity is constructed moment by moment in our relationships, in our conversations with others, in different contexts.
10. That the world is a world of possibility. In the words of the great Spanish thinker Ortega Y Gasset “All we are given is possibility, to make of ourselves one thing or another.” Possibility is more than the idea that something might or might not happen, it is a way-of-life, a way of thinking about ourselves and about others.
In the Part II of A New Conception of Leadership you will read more of these cutting edge leaders’ qualities within this new conception of leadership. Now please enjoy the graphic!
New Paradigm of Leadership
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