During the spring of 2015 I was took the lead in organising the first TEDxFindhorn. There were people involved with far more experience than me in organising events. Yet despite me encouraging them, no suggestions were coming from them about how we could best run the event. It was only when I made specific suggestions, “Let’s do it his way…” that people responded with their own views of what we should do – usually different (and better) than my ideas.
My job as a leader, for that event, was to recognize the best ideas and adopt them no matter where they came from. Yet, just as important, my job as a leader was also to present some very specific ideas to act as a catalyst in order to help create a greater level of possibility and clarity.
I had to put a stake in the ground before people could say, “No, I think it would be better to put it over there.” Leadership includes needing to call upon our boldness and courage to take the risk of being “wrong” for the sake of the group. No amount of management training, discussion, or studying organisational development will give a person the qualities of boldness and courage – only being willing to take risks and to make bold moves develops those – yet they are essential to become a true leader.
Any time I have stepped into a leadership role, no matter how minor or insignificant, I get a “download” of energy which includes a sense of direction for that group or situation. I believe that anyone who steps into a leadership role receives such a download, whether they recognise it or not, and that it is essential for them to find ways to articulate and embody that download within the group. If the leader does not do so then that group will descend into endless discussion and process.
The time to “include everyone” is after the leader has shared their vision for the group, so the process can ascend to the next level. If an attempt is made to “include everyone” before the leader has shared their inspirational download for the group then meaningless, meandering, meetings are the result. Consensus then falls down to the lowest common dominator rather having the chance to rise to a shared vision.
Therefore when someone is in a leadership role I really want to know what vision arises for them. I want them to tell me what they think we should do. Certainly I also want them to be open to what I and others have to say. However, I feel that anything I might have to say will be much better if informed, or inspired, by the leader’s input.
The job of a modern leader is obviously not to dominate, but it is still their job to initiate, to inspire and to uplift through the vision and insight they receive – via download as part of their role – as leader. Where there is no vision, offered in a spirit of openness by the leader, the people perish in endless process.
Love, William Martin