Roots of Collective Leadership

January 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Next Tuesday, my colleague Gibran Rivera and I are excited to lead a webinar hosted by our friends at the Leadership Learning Community called “If You Till It They Will Come: Nurturing Collective Leadership.” The above slide is a bit of a sneak peak, and certainly one of the headier, nonetheless important, elements we will cover.  The idea behind this graphic comes from the work of Carol Sanford, who has highlighted the fact that our leadership and change methodologies are always grounded in an underlying belief system about what we hold to be true about the world and humanity.  Not being aware of or transparent about this can get us into difficulty when we are mixing and matching techniques/methods that may contradict one another, or when we are not operating from the same system of beliefs as others.  So here is how we are tracing the roots of our approach to cultivating collective leadership for social change:

  • Epistemology – Epistemology speaks to how we know what we know.  Underlying our approach to collective leadership is the belief that there are multiple ways of knowing, not just cerebral, analytical, or intellectual.  In addition, we can know about the world and humanity in more intuitive, affective, kinetic, and “spiritual” ways.
  • Cosmology – Our view is that the universe is evolving, engaged in ongoing emergence of new form and function.  We look to complex living systems and networks as being the underlying dynamic of our reality.
  • Ontology – In keeping with our cosmological view, our understanding of the nature of human being is that it is dynamic and developmental.  We are human beings and becomings.  We can learn and unlearn, acquire new capacities, and self-organize to create and innovate.
  • Technology/Methodology – Our operating metaphor for cultivating collective leadership for change is “gardening” (rather than field generaling), and perhaps more specifically Permaculture gardening.  We look to a set of practices that intentionality create the conditions (till the soil)  for collective leadership to emerge and that feed its development, while humbly acknowledging that we cannot predict everything that will ensue.

From this foundation, we will offer our additional thoughts about a framework that can help to organize our thinking, approach, and tools to unleashing collective intelligence and effort.

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