Leading Comments

Leading Comments / January 2003

Look for the February Issue of Integral Leadership Review that includes an excerpt from an interview with Susann Cook-Greuter, author, educator and developer of the Leadership Development Profile.
Note: Due to a very busy month and the illness of my transcriber, there is no December 2002 issue.


I am grateful to the more than 520 subscribers to Integral Leadership Review. Your support means that we can move closer to a way of viewing and being in the world that is integrative, generative and supportive of our evolving integrity – learning to align our theory and our action, our values and assumptions with achieving what is important to us. Also, I am grateful to the many kindnesses, suggestions and offers of support we have received.

The mission of this e-publication is to be a practical guide to the application of an integral perspective to the challenges of leadership in business and life and to the effective relationship between executive/business coaches and their clients. My vision includes that this will be a place where others, as well as myself, can continue to develop and share ideas about Integral Leadership and integral coaching.

> Russ Volckmann


Margaret J. Wheatley, “Leadership In Turbulent Times Is Spiritual,”
Frontiers of Health Services Management, Summer 2002

There seems to be a natural affinity between people who are interested in Integral Leadership and those who have been exploring the implications of the “new sciences” for human systems. We find in the writings on Integral Leadership and business development elements of quantum physics and the new biology. For example, the Integral Development Associates website (see below) even uses an image of a fractal in a sphere as its logo. John Forman’s article is dealing with complex adaptive systems.

In this article we have one of the pioneers of this perspective, Margaret Wheatley, looking at the importance of the spiritual in leadership from the foundation of new sciences. In this article she links the attention to the spiritual in leadership to the existence of turbulence. It is under conditions of uncertainty that people tend to turn to the spiritual (hence, William James’ comment that all religion begins with the cry “Help!”—ed.). We seek control, but Margaret points out that under conditions of chaos we cannot control. Even the meaning of things become questioned.

Under these conditions people turn to leaders (which is a reasons why the Goering quote at the beginning of this issue is so interesting – ed.) for answers. And the leaders want to help.

“Leadership through command and control is doomed to fail. No one can create sufficient stability and equilibrium for people to feel secure and safe. Instead, as leaders we must help people move into a relationship with uncertainty and chaos. Spiritual teachers have been doing this for millennia. Therefore, I believe that the times have led leaders to a spiritual threshold. We must enter the domain of spiritual traditions if we are to succeed as good leaders in these difficult times.”

Here is a summary of Margaret Wheatley’s essential work of leaders:
Life is uncertain: “As leaders, hopefully we can be gentle guides and coaches so that people discover their own life’s wisdom.”
Meaning is what motivates people: “In such brutal times as these, when good work gets destroyed by events and decisions far beyond our influence, when we’re so overwhelmed with tasks that we have no time to reflect for even a moment, it is very important that the leader create time for people to remember why they’re doing this work.”
Service brings us joy: “The joy and meaning of service is found in every spiritual tradition.”
We are interconnected to all life: “As leaders, we act on this truth when we’re willing to notice how a decision might affect others, when we try and think systemically, when we’re willing to look down the road and notice how, at this moment, we might be affecting future generations.”
We can rely on human goodness: This is the first value of The Berkana Institute, where I serve as president. We rely on the great generosity and caring of humans. We know that there’s more than enough human badness in the world, but that badness only pushes us to rely even more on human goodness.
We need peace of mind: “Brief moments of silence can work wonders-silence is truly the pause that refreshes.”
A Request
If you are finding the Integral Leadership Review to be bringing useful, fresh perspectives to the subject of leadership, please think of the leaders in business and life that might be able to benefit from subscribing to this epublication. Please send them a copy or a link to the web site, www.integralleadershipreview.com so that they may explore it. In this time of intense internet communication, we all need to manage our time and read those things which are most relevant for our work, our thinking and our values. It is my hope that many people will find the evolvingIntegral Leadership Review does just that. Your help is deeply appreciated.
Dedicated to Chris Newham with deep appreciation.
Got any? E-mail Russ Volckmann russ@integraleadershipreview.com.
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