Leading Comments

June 2012 / Leading Comments

Russ Volckmann

Recently, I had a phone conversation with a colleague who has contributed to ILR in the past and who is in what Barbara Kellerman, Harvard Professor and author of the new book, The End of Leadership (see interview in this issue – a must read!) calls the “leadership industry.” That she is a part of this community is not surprising for I suspect at least half of the people who contribute through articles, reviews or interviews are in that line of work. They include trainers, consultants, academics, authors and some I may have forgotten about. This was a good conversation with a very busy world travelling trainer and with whom I have felt a strong connection since before I met her in person. As it turns out, she has not looked at an issue of Integral Leadership Review for some time. It happens occasionally that someone whose work in leadership seems embarrassed to tell me that and I always feel a profound sense of disappointment.

I don’t think this disappointment is ego driven. I think it is because I believe that what we provide in ILR has so much value to anyone interested in leading, the leader role or leadership practice and/or development, that each would look forward with anticipation to the next issue, even if to find but one gem that they would carry forward in their thinking and their action. One of the reasons I hold that belief is that we are unique as a publication that bridges many worldviews and domains around topics relevant to those interests. Here is a place to find that gem, that insight, that inspiration that can make a difference.

I have a colleague, someone who actually has a stake in ILR, who consistently refers to it as an academic journal. I suspect he rarely reads it, as well. We are, of course, an academic journal and more. We are a journal of practice and of reaching out beyond academic boundaries for fresh perspectives, ideas and experiences that can contribute to an integral, transdisciplinary, developmental, more holistic approach that increases the odds for generative success in these challenging times. This colleague is also in the leadership industry.

Whether or not you are in the leadership industry, the interview with Barbara Kellerman should prove to be at least affirming of the need for this larger view. It will also point to what a failure the leadership industry has been in achieving generative results while generating billions of dollars a year in profits from business and governments all around the world. To accomplish such financial success must be a pointer that there is something important about leadership, something to be learned, individually and collectively. But most of those in the leadership industry have been caught with their blinders on and, if we are to be cynical about it, have adopted beliefs and commitments that are more about serving their own bottom line than to making a difference in the world. Pretty harsh, right? I would welcome articles from folks that controvert this.

A wonderful example of exceptional scholarship and relevance for generative learning and action is Barrett C. Brown’s work, which we explore in another interview. In addition, you have an opportunity to read an interview that Ken Wilber did with Barrett and made available as a two-part audio on the Integral Life website.

An interview format also serves as the foundation for a piece by Bonnitta Roy, a past contributor to ILR and leader of the Magellan Courses, and George Herget, the President of the Southwestern Mounted Search and Rescue team based in Tucson, Arizona. Bonnie has worked with horses and people for years. Take a look at what they have learned from their experiences with horses and leadership.

For a more academic experience we have some offerings that offer material highly relevant to those willing to read and think. This includes Maretha Prinsloo’s research on consciousness models, which if you read Leadership Emerging, you will find it is a topic gaining more and more attention in the popular and academic leadership literature. Add to that my own article on Diversity and Integral Leadership which encapsulates both an integral approach that I have been recommending for some time and links it to how we use language in the leadership industry. I am convinced that our sloppy use of terms around leadership is what allows folks to get away with making those billions in development while producing little in results. Then, for another work related to this theme from a very different perspective, try Arthur ten Wolde’s “From Freedom to Awareness: Towards Personal Leadership, An Essay about Yin, Yang and Thinking Styles.”

We also have a couple of articles involving the world of money. Patricia von Papstein returns with a challenging article about investing. Also, Wali I. Mondal and Mark Peters bring us up to date on the world of microcredit and a need for a shift in leadership.

Our Notes from the field include some events in New York City featuring folks like Terry Patten, Martin Ucik, and Thomas Hübl. And there is a must read report on the Integral Theory in Action conference held this past May in Santa Cruz, California. The report was provided by Mark McCaslin. I found his comments on Don Beck, Barrett Brown and Brett Thomas to be particularly interesting.

Don’t miss the columns of Don Beck on spiral dynamics, Alfonso Montuori on transdisciplinarity, and ILR Associate Editor Mark McCaslin on integral. I cannot emphasize more how important I believe these columns to be. If you read nothing else, at least take a look at these exclusive publications. Bruce Gibb has provided us with a deep and thoughtful review of Haidt’s book, The Righteous Mind and my own reflections on Thomas Hessel and Edgar Morin’s The Path to Hope.

There is more, of course. Everything in here may not be your cup of tea, may not be all that important to you. However, if you are interested in leadership I am certain you will find one or more items that will address your interests. Welcome to the June issue of Integral Leadership Review.