The 4th Integral Leadership in Action (ILiA) conference took place from October 15th – 18th at The Crossings in Austin, Texas. Keeping connected to the inquiry of “What is Integral Leadership?” ILiA took the bold step to focus this conference on consciously leading and living through turbulence and transformation.
The Crossings was a excellent venue for the conference: situated in the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve overlooking Lake Travis, The Crossings is a learning centre, a wellness centre and stunningly beautiful—from the sundeck to the sanctuary—and along with the excellent weaving and holding by Jeff Salzman and Michael McElhenie, ILiA had certainly provided an integral space for a conference that aimed to engage with turbulence.
Now it is fair to say that I have a high level of woo woo…I had been invited to ILiA 4 to run the morning Integral Life Practice sessions and offer a breakout group looking at how Habermas, Theory U and Yogacara, when set within an ILP framework, can help support Integral Leadership. But I am sure that you do not what to spend the rest of this report reading about complex models and how they interact with each other to provide a framework that can deepen leadership.
So before I dive in let me just say that it is the woo woo that brings me to ILiA: the chance to meet people I have not seen for a year, listen to some of the most inspiring speakers in the integral movement, and all in one place.
At this point in the evolution of the integral movement we find ourselves stepping into the place between turbulence and transformation. If I can use Genpo Roshi’s Big Mind model, we can see turbulence and transformation as horizontal development and the vertical axis is the order of consciousness that we as integral leaders manifest to support the move from a dissonant structure into a space in which transformation can take place.
And it was the “how to” that kicked off the conference with a Key Note speech from Don Beck—I do not need to say much about Don, but what I do want to say is it felt I was witnessing a man coming to the end of his time and a man who knew this. It was with dignity that Don stepped into the space that has at times, I feel, been quite vicious toward him. Don is Don and you just have to love him.
But at this conference it felt as if Don was passing on the work to those who were to follow. I have seen Don and worked with him but this keynote—rolling right back to a video of him in South Africa had the feel of a retrospective. And the polarity that Don offered an ending and a beginning was, for me, picked up by Barry Johnson and The Infinity Factor; from Barry’s notes.
“This energy system holds both poles apart to differentiate them and keeps them together as an interdependent pair.”
Barry showed us that by paying attention to the Infinity Factor and how it links through and around the four quadrants, it creates a system that allows the integral practitioner to hold multiple perspectives.
This was followed the next day with Bill Joiner demonstrating that within the polarity of turbulence and transformation, leaders are required to develop agility. Bill’s theoretical model of the levels of leadership agility as competencies did not detract from the need for Integral Leadership to be both being and becoming.
And it was our agility to work with the levels of development that Rand Stagen asked the conference to address, so let me offer you his inquiry: As a leader, do you do 2–2 or 2–1, do you work only with second tier clients or do you work from second tier but with first tier clients.
Now that you know the relationship matrix, are you using the right language to engage your clients? Rand showed how Stagen had developed ways of translating integral to the different levels of the spiral.
The conference closed with Frances Johnson opening up to the importance of developing resonance as a leader. Given that we had been dealing with turbulence, this was a great way to end the conference—with a positive keynote looking at how Integral Leadership supports, through its resonance with spirit, the growth of others.
There were breakout groups a plenty—from Zachary Stein to Terry Patten; from embodied mind to embodied spirit.
So my field report ends with my reflecting that however we look at the world, something new is emerging, something we have no referent for because there has never been a consciousness that is manifesting like this before. We need ILiA to keep the inquiry going: What is Integral Leadership? ILiA holds a space, and in this space we can dialogue, meet old friends and make new ones and support each other as we work to lay down this new Kosmic Groove.
Gary Hawke is an Institute for Learning licensed teacher and UK Health Professions Council Dramatherapist based in London. He has worked as a teacher and therapist for 20 years and currently works in the field of psychospiritual education with prisoners and young children. For the past 2 years he has run the morning ILP sessions for ILiA.
With Confluent Living Gary leads the London Integral Life Practice group and has run a variety of ILP workshops, including facilitating ILP work with Terry Patten at the Enlighten Next centre in London. Gary is also a partner in the Integral Wisdom Movement being directed through Whole Life Whole World. firstname.lastname@example.org