Once upon a time in a blog post far far away I wrote: “When people talk about leadership they tend to focus on people who are perceived as leaders on the global or national stage, whether in politics, business, sport or any other arena. These leaders are often seen as 'special' or 'talented', somehow above everyday life and living. Yet the reality is very different; successful leadership is mostly about so-called ‘ordinary people' and their stories. Leadership is a special kind of action, not a special kind of person.”
That was written in July 2010 and seven years later we still appear to be falling into the same trap of allocating leadership to people or groups of people who actually are bereft of any ability to find new ways to develop approaches to the challenges we now encounter. They continue to apply the same strategies over and over again despite the clear evidence that they are not working. There are also the more subtle, sometimes underground, leadership dynamics that are driven by profit at all costs, tribal groupings that create battles (literally) as one tribe seeks to win and destroy the other tribe or even the old, old leader story of personal aggrandisement, corruption and power –seeking.
So what do we do? It seems to me that we need to find approaches to leadership that create new outcomes, that support the development of communities that are committed to taking positive, social, political and environmental action. These are not tribal communities that operate self-protectionist strategies based on the idea that ‘our way is best’ but communities that can link effectively with other communities to have a bigger impact. They are communities that are also committed to developing their own conscious, mindful approach to living in the world – an approach that values all views and works within that. The community of the open space, the collaborative conversations in which everyone can have a contribution to developing an action plan.
Where to start? Well, in one of our recent Mirror of the Wild webinars, Sue, one of my clients, came out with the wisdom that “these conversations and communities start around the kitchen table and move out from there”. Our challenge is to work out what the ‘moving out’ dynamic is and put it into action before it is too late.