Collective Leadership: Doing and BeingJanuary 24, 2012 Leave a comment
Last Tuesday, Curtis Ogden and I had the privilege of hosting an LLC webinar on collective leadership. Much of what we did was point to observable patterns in ways of working together and how these tend to open up possibilities for shared leadership. The metaphor of tilling the soil is most appropriate precisely because we have run up against the limitations of industrial implementation. The appropriate response to increasing complexity is one that can get beyond linear causality and into a mindset of ecosystems.
However, it is important to note that collective leadership is not an end in itself. Those of us who seek social transformation are actively seeking better ways of responding to the seemingly intractable challenges of our day. Physicist Amit Goswami charmingly speaks about the interplay between doing and being, as do-be-do-be-do. An evolution towards collective leadership demands our capacity to simultaneously tend to both – how we are and what we do.
The bold proposition is that “together we can do what we could not do alone.” We are talking about a doing that does not happen by itself – it is a doing that demands leadership, a doing that has a clear direction and set of clearly perceptible outcomes – a world that is qualitatively different. When we talk about emergence we can be tempted to place it in some sort of metaphysical space where all that matters is bearing witness, but we are talking about an emergence that demands our full engagement.
This is why we emphasize tools like stakeholder analysis and the high threshold invitation. We emphasize the need to engage individuals who come in with a sense of purpose. And we emphasize roles like that of convening, designing and facilitating. We are talking about a very real sort of tilling, it is work that happens within a defined environment but it is also work that affects and is affected by ecosystems that necessarily extend beyond that environment.
We are talking about a way of paying attention, a way of being together and a way of doing – a way of moving – towards a future that we can not quite see, but may of us can sense.