12/21 — Pandemic, Planetary Thinking and Integral Leadership

Leading Comments / December 2020

Dear Readers,

We’re grateful for your 2020 solstice readership. This one is a special one. We pitched the theme, “Pandemic, Planetary Thinking and Integral Leadership” a few months back, and were glad to see the creative, heartfelt, and innovative responses that came together for this issue:

For the solstice issue, we return to the complexity of planetary crisis and ask: how do we best live in these times? What are the questions we should be asking? How does integral leadership inhabit the wicked complexity of the “thick present” (Haraway)? How do we hold both the light and the dark in the imaginal cocoon of our evolutionary becoming?

We wrote for the last issue that questions like these are not meant to be answered, but, like Rilke wrote, the questions ought at least to be lived. To that end, our contributors do an excellent job “staying with the trouble,” as Haraway says, in order to path-find firm stepping stones towards a regenerative future.

For our first “Fresh Perspectives,” Peter Merry and Nish Dubashia explore wide-reaching topics: from evolving beyond our conceptions of linear time, to David Bohm and Jiddu Krishnamurit’s dialogues, to the implications these insights on time and space have for reimagining our maps and models of consciousness evolution. Read Dialogue One: Integral Reflections on Science and Spirituality. We’re really looking forward to their next dialogue.

Robin Lincoln Wood speaks biographically in this conversation with Kathleen Andrews. Robin starts off by sharing his story growing up in South Africa, layering his own experiences with the larger history the country through a developmental lens, and reflecting with Kathleen on the import of complexity thinking in education.

Starting our features section this issue is Steve McIntosh’s “Why Centrism Fails and How to Overcome Hyperpolarization.” McIntosh deftly navigates the polarized terrain of American politics through adding the developmental perspective, suggesting the way forward is a still emerging “post-progressive” worldview, capable of harmonizing polarities with critical practices of “value integration.” 

Next, we have “The Importance of Trust: An Analysis of Five Drivers of Trust in the Published Statements of 20 Notable National and International Leaders.” Irina Kopaneva, Pamela Shockley-Zalabak, and Sherwyn Morreale provide us with a study of 20 trusted leaders to determine “whether and how they referred to trust.”

In “The Unintentional Bully: An Autoethnographic Reflection on Leadership,” Michael Wicker provides us with a personal study of the bully through “a reflection on my experiences with my own leaders and, ultimately, my own experiences as a leader myself.”

What does effective leadership look like higher education, especially during these challenging times? David L. Nickel offers critical insights in “Vision is Only the Beginning: Educators Talk about Highly Effective Leadership in Colleges and Universities.” Be sure to check out Nickel’s second contribution to our Notes from the Field section, “Moving from Academia to the Business World? Anticipating Cultural Differences.”

Next, in “Clare W. Graves Revisited: Beyond Value Systems: Biocultural Co-Evolution and the Double-Helix Nature of Existence,” Said E. Dawlabani offers a brilliant way to keep Graves’ model current through the “co-evolutionary, double helix nature of existence.”

Robin Lincoln Wood found Dawlabani’s innovations compelling enough to follow up with his own review, “Commentary on Clare W. Graves Revisited: Beyond Value Systems: Biocultural Co-evolution and the Double Helix Nature of Existence.” We’re excited to see where this “meta” dialogue takes future conversations.

For Notes from the Field, first we have ILR editor Jeremy Johnson’s “Notes Towards an ‘Integral’ Cosmopolitanism.” Johnson opens reflecting on a year of “intensifications” and “going meta,” concluding with a consideration of the import of the late Michael Brooks (1983-2020), integral thinker and political journalist.

Reflecting on participatory and pluralized future imaginaries, and Lisa Norton offers some brilliant commentary from the UNESCO Futures Literacy Summit in, “Reasons and Methods in Dynamic Tension — Parsons School of Design at the UNESCO Futures Literacy Summit.” 

Next, Matthias J. Bennett provides us with a “zap!” of leadership clarity with, “Why and How to Lead with Confident Vulnerability.” In the process, he identifies the cost of arrogance in leadership and how to embrace an “all-win” paradigm.

For our final Notes from the Field, we bring you, “Unraveling the Gender Knot: Transformative Leadership at the ILA.” Katie Hamaker, Michael Munton, Megan Quinn and Jennas Wes entered the Student Case Competition at 2020’s International Leadership Association Conference and developed what they call “The Thrive Paradox.”

In “Seeing Through the World: An Invitation to Begin the Healing Work,” Cynthia Bourgeault reviews Jeremy Johnson’s Seeing Through the World: Jean Gebser and Integral Consciousness, bringing her own contemplative illuminations on embodying integral consciousness and importantly reframing that process with “perspectival humility,” and remediating wholeness.

Notable Reads” is our newest section, featuring recommended books from our readers and the ILR editorial team. If you’re interested in writing a book review for one of these, please let us know!

For our Coaching Tip, we were grateful to receive some important words of wisdom from Laura Johnson, “Aging, Dying, and What you Leave Behind,” on having difficult but helpful conversations with our loved ones.

Finally—and back to the subject of imaginal cocoons!—please check out Eric Reynold’s coda for our issue. “Towards a Planetary, Deliberately Developmental, Regenerative Culture: The Butterfly Civilization” closes with an anticipatory spirit, looking ahead to 2021.

Many blessings and happy solstice,

Eric, Natasha, and Jeremy

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