10/26 – ILiA 2013

August-November 2013 / Notes from the Field

The Online Conference: Co-Emergence: Leading from the Edge of Possibility

Michael McElhenie

Michael McElhenie

Michael McElhenie

For Integral Leadership in Action, our 2013 conference was a grand and periodically terrifying experiment. Our organizing group had prepared for an in-person conference in Santa Cruz, yet economic and logistical considerations influenced us to switch gears to an interactive, online format. With the majority of presenters joining us in the transition, we rapidly organized an online event, which proved, in the end, to be a resounding success.

Terry Patten challenged the community from the very start by throwing down the gauntlet at the feet of integral leaders – to embody the “X-Factor,” which he holds as less of an individual capacity and more of a collaborative, hermeneutic circle focused on our co-evolutionary, mutual support in multiple-line growth and development.  Following Terry, Dean Anderson provided additional integral tough love by calling us to embrace not only our being, but also our capacities to see into and act on multiple levels of systems through co-creating and co-evolving effective, transformation-supporting processes.

As a newcomer to our community, Karla McLaren’s exploration of emotions, and particularly empathy, taught us to attend to a long-neglected (at least within the integral community) line of development. Recognizing emotions as “vital messengers,” we were called upon to alter our “positive versus negative” understandings of emotions to embrace instead how emotions call on us to consider establishing new boundaries and new ways of managing our relationships – at the frothy edge.

Linda Berens presented an integral approach to personality type assessment and how it can add discerning power to skillful means, which encourages perspective seeking and integration that not only allows us to meet others at their view of the world, but also helps us to expand our own view of the world. Alain Gauthier explored what it means and what it takes to transcend and include individual leadership in moving toward the next developmental stage of evolutionary co-leadership. His bold claim is that co-leadership is intrinsically evolutionary, because it accelerates the development of both people and organizations – and their contribution to evolution – in a virtuous loop.

Carter Phipps helped us see inside culture, sense into and act on the dynamics of groups, and ultimately create a better, co-created future. For me personally, I resonated most with Rev. Michael Dowd, who showed how “deep-time grace” could empower us to work co-creatively, as integral leaders, to go beyond tolerance to directly assisting others in growing in right relationship to reality. By honoring both our inner and outer nature, we can catalyze the emergence of each other’s creativity and clarify own next steps on the path of “leading from the edge of possibility.”

There is no way to do justice to all the presentations at ILiA Online 2013. Yet, we clearly recognize – both speakers and participants alike – that an online format can approximate the intense, deeply meaningful learning of our past in-person events.  For this success, we give special thanks to our participants, our speakers, Jeff Salzman our weaver and to Eric Troth who held our online space with grace, skill and equanimity.

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