In Leadership Emerging we bring to your attention new texts of special interest and merit. Check out these promising titles…
ReVison: Special Issue on Transformative Leadership, Edited by Alfonso Montouri and Urusa Fahim, Winter 2010, Volume 30, Nos. 3 & 4.
Published almost a year ago, this highly relevant issue of ReVision includes articles by Montouri, Jay Ogilvy, Charles Hampden-Turner, Riane Eisler , Roger Harrison and others. On the opening page of the introductory piece on transformative leadership by the editors appears this quotation:
“In strange and uncertain times such as those we are living in, sometimes a reasonable person might despair. But hope is unreasonable, and love is greater even than this. May we trust the inexpressible benevolence of the creative impulse,” Robert Fripp.
This quotation is an answer of sorts to the question posed in the CODA of this issue. More to the point, it sets the context for the editors to address the challenge where not only the economy seems to be going sour—again—“but the dreams and aspirations of a certain form of techno-industrial, consumer mentality of late modernity have proved to be unsustainable, as well as ultimately unjust.” This introduction goes on to state that the Bush administration has been mired in this late modernity and all that is attached to us and brought us to the brink of ruin. Furthermore, it suggests that there is reason to attach to the optimism offered by the Obama candidacy, which many who once who held hope have abandoned in the subsequent year since this was written. The editor’s hopes are built on rethinking the nature of leadership and recognizing that “Obama’s form of leadership is counter-intuitive for the establishment looking for coach John Wayne to knock this country into shape. It knows the days of cowboy posturing are over. We are now in an age of complexity and transformation.”
And, “we can’t transform the world without transforming ourselves.” I guess this places their work directly in the arena of the “developmentalists” (see CODA). In any case, they emphasize that “Transformative Leadership focuses centrally on Leaders as Creators and Creators as Leaders. Creators of new possibilities, of new ways of Being, Relating, Knowing, and Doing.”
Montouri’s leading article, “Transformative Leadership for the 21st Century: Reflections on the Design of a Graduate Leadership Curriculum,” is ostensibly about the curriculum for the Transformative Leadership MA program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. It is one of the most insightful articles on the subject of leadership that I have seen in recent times. Setting aside its rather optimistic treatment of the Obama administration, he makes the case that these are extraordinary times calling for extraordinary action and corresponding extraordinary or transformative leadership. Yet he uses the Obama example to note that those filling the role of leaders do not fit the heroic white male image that has dominated so much of the leadership literature.
At the heart of leader development is self-creation, but it goes beyond that into the ability to put into practice, individually and collectively, the capacities for addressing the challenges facing us. “In an era of transition, we need to dream a new world together, and Transformative Leadership requires the creativity both to dream [and] to make our dreams a reality” (7). Critical to this is building contemporary tribes based on networking and the use of technology around the world. This leads to the democratization of leadership—potentially being provided by any one and anywhere in the network or organization.
Not surprisingly, jazz musician (saxophone) Montouri comes the situation to that of a jazz band, not unlike Max Dupree did in his book, Leadership Jazz, which goes uncited by Montouri. Leadership in current conditions required high degrees of creativity and adaptiveness, innovation and improvisation, if you will.
In a section entitled, “Transdisciplinarity, and the Construction of Leadership,” we find what I believe to be the most valuable contributions of Montouri’s treatise. The birthing of new forms of leadership, such as Transformative Leadership, leads him to offer four assumptions. Leadership is
3. Emergent, and
Montouri’s explication of these is superb and well worth the price of the journal.
His treatment of transdisciplinarity and leadership is icing on the cake. “Transdisciplinarity…offers another approach that may be very useful for practitioners as well as researchers. A transdisciplinary approach can be summarized as approaching leadership through the following four dimensions…[which he discusses]:
1. Inquiry-Driven vs Discipline Driven,
2. Mega-Paradigmatic vs. Intra-Paradigmatic,
3. Complex/Cybernetic vs. Reductive/Disjunctive Thought,
4. Embedded and Embodied Thought vs. Reductive/Disjunctive Thought.
In conclusion, returning to the Self-Creation theme, Montouri offer four core dimension of this phenomenon:
1. Ways of Being
2. Ways of Knowing
3. Relating, and
Read his presentation. It is well worth it.
Elsewhere in this issue are commendable articles by Riane Eisler, Jay Ogilvy, Phillip Slater and several others of note. One in particular caught my eye by Charles Hampden-Turner, who I believe to be one of the most underrated contributors to our thinking about development for individuals and organizational cultures. This article, entitled “Teaching Innovation,” is the report of an extraordinary program in Singapore, led by a student of Hampden-Turner’s, Professor Tam Teng-Kee. Hampden-Turner even left Cambridge University to take a position as a Visiting Professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore to support the implementation and development of this program. Suffice it to say here that the program has had more than extraordinary results. The article provides a wealth of data on the capacities of those innovators who emerged from this program. Noting that the “very process [of the program] is joyful and playful…the consequences are valuable and serious” (77). He strongly encourages the introduction of programs like this in teaching children, as well.
Randall Benson. The Quest Effect: Mastering Breakthrough in Your Organization. Seattle: New Grail LLC, 2010.
When I began reading The Quest Effect, I was reminded of the work of Bill Bridges. Before he became well known in the field of organization development and management, Bridges was teaching a Mills College in Oakland, CA, and he began offering workshop in transitions using the metaphor of the journey. That is essentially the theme of Benson’s work, particularly the Quest as a journey.
Benson draws a parallel between the quest and organizational transformation as a four-part journey:
1. The call to adventure
2. The outward journey of discovery
3. The return journey, mastering the breakthrough
4. The arrival with the prize of renewal
Lest our minds flit to the world of myth and heroic adventures, Benson drives home the point that questing is a fundamental and uniquely human drive. It is an essential aspect of human development, thus connecting it to individual development. Yet it is the focus on organizational transformations that intrigues Benson.
And lest this seem fanciful, he has connected it to very practical aspects of organizational transformation:
1. Planning and launching complex transformations,
2. Guiding transformational leaders,
3. Understanding the process of transformation,
4. Determining next actions,
5. Anticipate barriers, and
6. Seeing connections to seemingly random events.
Here, I will focus on the second, guiding transformational leaders. To begin with Benson urges organizational leaders “to purposely pattern their transformation and breakthrough initiatives on the quest archetype…[in order to] dramatically enhance their transformational capability, with the potential for breakthrough and renewal” (13). He goes on to encourage leaders to be bold, be a pathfinder. This begins with an analysis of the organization’s challenges, misfortunes, and ills. Characteristically, he draws on quest myth in citing Merlin, “Relax—do nothing—feel the power of your new found understanding” (42). What a wonderful East-West connection.
Next is being the leader who sounds to call to adventure. Essentially, this is a process of attracting a band of merry men and women who are also feeling the pain to join in the adventure of healing or redressing the source. Bold leaders do this by posing the call to adventure by crafting a compelling story of the history and current conditions and how these have positioned the organization for the quest. Take advantage of the wisdom of mentors and gather a band of pathfinders. Draw on passion and capacity for trust to launch the adventure, even without the participation of everyone needed for the quest.
Anticipate “holdfasts” or resistance to the question. Look to the systems, the lower right quadrant for holdfast forces: policies and procedures, structures, resource allocation and the like. Build political support and sponsorship. And choose an instrument of power. This may involve tools to understand customers better, new strategies, new systems and technologies, some new knowledge or skill. These tools must be clearly connect to amplifying power and serve the mission of the quest. Then you will be ready to cross to a different world, a world of discovery, the outward journey, the world of what is known and not known, a world of no map. Draw on the assistance of helper and allies and enter the path of trials.
The path of trials is one of discovery and learning that leads to the ultimate test: the nadir of the journey, the period of greatest adversity. This is a time of reassessment of the mission and the method. Drawing on the support of helpers, be prepared to reorient and overcome the crisis so that the leader and his companions can move to a new level, a Great Discovery. Things are coming together with new clarity and a renewal of purpose and opportunities for action. This is a return journey fraught with peril to be overcome. Benson offers tips on how to do that.
Here is a time of building mastery, in the team of questers, individually and collectively, sharing this mastery with more and more stakeholders. And here there comes a race against time. Some continue to suffer from the challenges that led to the quest in the first place. The leader and his team must move quickly or the pain will overwhelm opportunity for transformation.
The epilogue of Benson’s book is “The Never Ending Quest,”—“a spiral of ever-more-ambitious cycles of development, each revitalizing the organization” (201). There are two associated leader responsibilities:
1. Helping to exploit the new found capabilities for the benefit and renewal of the organization and beyond; and
2. Ensuring that the cycle of renewal continues.
Also important is to make the quest personal. For after all, any quest must be. Benson has reminded us of this and encouraged us not only to attend to our personal developmental quests, but also those of our families, teams, organizations, institutions and societies.
Ann Rhoades. Built on Values: Creating an Enviable Culture that Outperforms the Competition San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011.
Blessed with a pre-publication of this book that includes a forward by Stephen R. Covey, I looked forward to this book for two reasons. First, I was teaching a values-based leadership PhD seminar at the time I received the book. Second, there is a portion of the book that focuses on the C-Suite and I had hopes for some fresh perspective on leading from those loft heights.
Essentially, this book is about culture building in business organizations. This, lower left quadrant activity is essential in any developmental process in the lower right quadrant, which shapes and is shaped by culture. Culture change must be accompanied by aligning organizational processes with the developing culture, a message offered by the likes of James O’Toole and, in this case, Covey. These processes include, according to the latter, hiring, rewarding, leadership, metrics, and communications. Here, Covey is treating leadership as a process, something that I would not have expected from this doyen of the human potential movement. He goes on to site the plethora of leadership failures in business in recent years and the centrality of misaligned values to those failures.
Interestingly, the pathway to transforming and organization culture, according to Rhoades, is fundamentally the same as laid out by Benson in The Quest Effect. Synchronicity! Must be something to it. Rhoades offers six principles for creating a value’s rich culture:
1. You can’t force culture. You can only create environment.
2. You are on the outside what you are on the inside…no debate.
3. Success is doing the right things the right way.
4. People do exactly what they are incented to do.
6. The environment you want can be built on shared, strategic values and financial responsibility.
She asserts: Leaders Drive Culture and offers a Circle of Excellence that drives performance:
1. Leaders drive values…
2. Values drive behaviors…
3. Behaviors drive culture…
4. Culture drives performance.
Thus, this is a top-down model of change. As such it is addressed to those in formal manager/leader roles. It assumes that values are built and sustained from the top of the organization, unlike the work of Jerry Porras and Jim Collins (Built to Last) that sees the true source of information about corporate values to be what is active much further down the organization. Perhaps the important point here is that values-in-action are the product of a dynamic relationship among individual stakeholders both within and outside the organization. Relying on a top-down approach is likely to go off course, if not fail outright.
Her thesis is that these executive “leaders” can foster change from the C-Suite by inspiring cultural change. They must model the values. She adds, “No, making the values come alive is not entirely your responsibility, and you can’t do it by yourself. You simply create an environment for employees to thrive in” (113). And, “Leaders are the strongest drivers of values and behaviors in their organizations” (113). She offers this advice:
1. Set up leader rounds, pocket sessions, and other leadership listening systems.
2. Create a simple process for giving feedback.
3. Base your actions on the values; let your values shine through your actions.
4. Live the values you want people to emulate.
So we have these and more “commandments” for the leader role in culture change. What we also know is that by simply laying these ideas out is but a first step. For individuals in formal leader roles (mostly managers of one sort or another) to make the kinds of shifts required to align with what Rhoades is offering is an ongoing developmental and learning process that requires getting in touch with personal purpose, aspirations, shadow, and values. There is no quick fix here. Our experience suggests that individuals in such roles require intensive ongoing supported developmental work to implement what Rhoades is offering. She offers an extensive tool box to support such work, but I believe that no set of tools, no matter how useful, is adequate to the task without individual investment in an ongoing personal development process. This is no light undertaking. I suspect Rhoades would agree.
Barbara Kellerman, Ed. LEADERSHIP: Essential Selections on Power, Authority, and Influence. New York: McGraw Hill, 2010.
This is essentially a text for undergraduate students studying leadership. It provides historical material from Lao Tsu, Plato, Hobbes, Carlyle, James, Tolstoy, Mary Parker Folett, James McGregor Burns, and Hannah Arendt, among others. She then provides examples of leadership in literature with excerpts from Thomas Paine, Marx, Du Bois, Fanon, Betty Friedan, Saul Alinsky and others. Finally, she offers a set of reading on leader in action with material related to Lincoln, Lenin, Gandhi, Churchill, Kind, Mandela, and Havel.
The book is more than a reader. She also offers commentaries on each piece she includes some historical material and commentary. For example, she links Mary Parker Follett and James MacGregor Burns in terms of adding the central role of leader, the importance of the relationship between leader and follower—and among followers. Introducing the work of Saul Alinsky and American Radicals, she notes that leaders are referenced as organizers and their essential elements—connect this to Obama and the transformation from organizer to political leader. And then there is Mandela and his passionate defense of the activities of the African National Conference.
After each presentation, Kellerman offers a commentary. For example on Mandela, his roles both as leader and follower. Victor Havel as theorist and practitioner closes the book. Her commentary on Marx, while acknowledging flaws and disparities between his theory and how it was used, closes with the statement about The Communist Manifesto, “It’s spare, unsparing prose imagines a world that is better than the one they had then and, in some ways, better than the one we have now” (147).
Her treatment of the passionate and at time incendiary writing of Thomas Paine offers a bitter reminder of what happens to many leaders of our thoughts about freedom—Paine’s narrow escape from England, his imprisonment in France, and his isolated death in New York. Paine’s literary quest for the simple truths of freedom earned him respect and reproof alike. Such is the fate of those who speak truth to power.
Kellerman offers us a jewel here. It is a jewel that touches our sensitivities and persistent aspirations for those who lead to lead us well, with passion, with attention to the to the needs of the many and the oppressions by the few.
Gail. T. Fairhurst. Discursive Leadership: In Conversation with Leadership Psychology Los Angeles: Sage Publications, 2007.
This is a book about the impact of leadership psychology as a field of study on the overall state of the field of leadership studies. However, it should be noted up front that the focus is really on what managers do, in the tradition of Mintzberg (Management) and his critics who claim that the his observation of behavior approach to understanding what “leaders” do neglect the fundamental “mental work” of those in formal positions of authority. Discursive leadership, which emphasizes discourse and communication, is from the background that is outside of the mainstream of leadership psychology. Through case studies of organizational and political leaders, they are seen as “more inventive than analytic.” (3)
Fairhurst offers two questions in response to this history of leadership studies:
1. What do we see, think, and talk about with a discursive lens directed toward leadership?
2. What leadership knowledge is to be gained in the interplay between a discursive lens and one that is psychological?
In seeking her answers to these questions Fairhurst eschews any potential for a metatheory that embraces all of the possibilities in leadership studies. “Complex social phenomena, like leadership, have many parts that act together and define one another to form an entwined whole, although such interdependence may not be readily apparent” (3-4). Her focus is on “how leadership is achieved or ‘brought off’ in discourse” with its central focus on language and communication processes (5).
Further, while acknowledging the difficulty in defining leadership, she indicates a preference for this one by V. M. J. Robinson in the field of educational leadership: “Leadership is exercised when ideas expressed in talk or action are recognized by others as capable of progressing tasks or problems which are important to them.” This “Rostian” approach with an emphasis on communication is grounded in the idea of leadership as a social phenomenon in which there is mutuality in the relationship between those in leader and follower roles, particularly in regard to potential outcomes or directions.
Defining discourse, a highly contested term, leads the author to point to two broad definitions.
1. The study of talk and text in social practices, thus lending itself readily to including hermeneutics as a methodology.
2. General and enduring systems for the formation and articulation of ideas in a historically situated time, thus aligning with Foucault.
In the latter view
“…power and knowledge relations are established in culturally standardized discourse formed by constellations of talk patterns, ideas, logics, and assumptions that constitute objects and subjects” (7).
Thus, it is in the sources of meaning and processes of meaning making that leading occurs and by understanding these we can gain a clear view of the dynamics of leadership. There is an emphasis on what can, as well as what cannot, be observed, as well as observable social dynamics, thus feeding a more integral perspective on leadership.
Rather than walk us through this very erudite treatment, I invite those of you who have an interest in hermeneutics to engage with the author as she analyzes texts by various leaders. Suffice it here to note that the author concludes there are contingency nature of traits, styles, situations, and behaviors. Essentially, this speaks to the core problem in much of the popular leadership literature which generally seeks to prescribe approaches to leadership. She includes a very interesting discussion of charisma in leadership studies and notes material suggesting the “hybrid agency between humans and non-humans and attributions of charisma as products of specific actor-networks.” (142)
Drawing on Rudolph Giuliani’s leading following the 9/11 crisis she points out how “charismatic leadership based networking based on his macroacting at a time of crisis, hybrid formed with charismatic objects, networking and authoring that combined the emotions of the moment and social shaping that proclaimed him one of the heroes of 9/11.” This is the stuff of context and brings to me a new level of understanding of the role of Wilber’s lower right quadrant—systems, structures, processes, technology, artifacts (and be extension the lower left of culture)—as an active ingredient in the dynamics of leadership. As Edwards has pointed out, the relationship among those in leader and follower (and other stakeholder) roles can be understood through the lens offered by Vgotsky of mediation. The destroyed twin towers of 9/11 acted as symbolic mediators in the relationships among the actors and observers of Giuliani’s leader role. For me, this insight is worth the price of the book.
Richard Farson, Ed. Making the Invisible Visible: Essays by the Fellows of the International Leadership Forum. Western Behavioral Science Institute, 2009.
Okay, I must be up front about why I wanted to read this book. The concluding essay is by John Vasconcellos, a liberal political hero who represented the Silicon Valley region of San Francisco Bay in the California Legislature for almost four decades. He represented some of the highest hopes of liberals all over northern California. I had not heard his name nor seen anything written by him for several years. More about his contribution below.
In light of Vasconcellos’ presence in this volume, it is not surprising that Farson begins his introduction with a reference to the 1960s, those precious, tragic and joyful years in Berkeley, San Francisco, and those with hope throughout the United States—and elsewhere. A psychologist, Farson is also one of the founders of the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute, and former president of Esalen Institute. In 1975, he joined the faculty of the Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, where he supervised the doctoral research of advanced graduate students. A student of social movements, Farson has had a long-time involvement with civil rights issues, notably his pioneering efforts on behalf of women’s and children’s rights. He was a groundbreaking liberal on several fronts. Currently, the International Leadership Forum is the primary activity of WBSI.
Farson sparked the discussion by those included in this small volume by asking them to describe something that they see and that they suspect others do not see. In his introduction he cites the many factors that distort our view, that hide the obvious from sight, such as the overwhelming amount of data and phenomena accessible to us, the failures of the educational system and the politics of knowledge.
The opening essay is by Daniel Yankelovich, famed survey researcher and author of, “Higher Education Violates its Social Contract.” He is concerned that the people of the United States have lost their historic and pragmatic problem solving ability, particularly in relationship to global changes and challenges. In this process, what he believes is invisible to the nation’s leaders: the coming crisis in higher education, particularly the mounting costs and constricting of access to university level learning and innovation.
“The privileges of institutions of higher education are easy targets for demagogues. [Witness the former Superintendent of Education in Arizona, now the state’s new Attorney General, who is determined to eliminate all courses focused on ethnic studies offered by public schools and universities in the State.] If higher education keeps faith with its social contract [of affordable access], these demagogues are rendered harmless, and the social contract continues to thrive for both sides—citizens and higher education. But if higher education continues to violate the social contract, it risks bringing enormous damage to this proud, gifted and mindlessly comfortable pillar of American culture” (13).
Charles Lindblom warns us that in the communication era we must be aware that increases in communication are accompanied by increases in control. Mary Boone seeks effective leaders who “are sense makers who are attentive to the world around them in all of its complexity. Leaders need to forego the temptation to seek the easy answers, simple measures, best practices, and executive summaries. Instead of trying to make things simple for themselves or others leaders need to embrace complexity and, as
Susan Mitchell put it, ‘attend to more of the world’” (17). Ralph Keyes urges decision making that takes into account all of us, particularly the onlookers. He applies this to organizations, as well as the nation. Norbert Ehrenfreud decries the sabotage of the International Criminal Court. And so on. One fascinating essay after another.
John Vasconcellos’ essay is one of the longest ones: “Let Us Now Live Heroic Lives.” I began reading this with some trepidation, having recently been called to attend more to the notion of the hero archetype in American politics. He accounts for current life conditions with the perils in three major areas:
1. The breakdown of just about every one of our current human operating systems (financial, health, education, prison, etc.)
2. The dreadful divisiveness of our politics coupled with the seeming dysfunction of our governments.
3. The new ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’: global warming, endless warring, gross financial inequality, and displaced/mistaken identity politics (135).
He would have you understand that he has spent many years exploring and learning about self through a variety of therapeutic and developmental modalities. Further, he believes that some such learning and development is essential to all of us in our engagement with seven major revolutions: “our gender, our race, aging, economy, technology, communications, and ultimately, our revolution with regard to ourselves” (138).
Embedded in the latter is our hope for all of the others and for engaging creatively and effectively with the perils that face us. In effect, his argument is not unlike that of Ken Wilber who argues for accelerated development into higher stages of consciousness to create a critical mass to effectively confront the challenges of life on this planet.
Vasconcellos sees cynicism as one of our significant barriers to such development. The antidote to this and other barriers is developing our awareness the mind/body unity. “If we are to overcome all three of our peril sets and assure our survival, we must individually and collectively commit to promulgating a healing formula and modeling it by our faithful practice” (148). Further, “each of us must begin with our own personal recovery program”(148). This offers the potential for a new politics of healing and hope.
Mark Walsh, “The Rise of Conscious Business: Why Everything Matters and How Values are Re-Enterng the Workplace,” Integration Training Journal—Mark Walsh’s Blog, Brighton (Sussex)/London UK.
This is simply to call your attention to this integral thinker’s insightful article on conscious business: http://integrationtraining.co.uk/blog/2011/01/rise-of-conscious-business.html