What is Worth Leading?

Can we really sensibly discuss leading as if where we pick to be headed isn’t of central importance?

All directions and outcomes are not equal. People respond with a deeper “resonance” or sense of inspiration to the call of certain kinds of contributions than to others. How can “leadership” be discussed in general terms as if “What” is being led isn’t of primary importance? Is it true that “In the Beginning is leading?” Or is it more sound to consider that “In the Beginning, there is a call to contribute to something considered worthwhile?”

Let me note and have it sit there for a minute, that there is a hypnosis regarding “leadership” that makes it a thing to provide and a quality people want to be seen to have. That is a self-aggrandizing approach to the conversation regarding how accomplishments are called up to happen. Concentrating on the kinds of leadership moves or conversations without regard to what the leading is in behalf of purposely ignores the most difficult and mastery-requiring aspect of leading. What requires real discernment, real listening, real perception is being able to crystallize from all the potential aims and accomplishments that one which galvanizes one’s people and resources in a way that something new and deeply worthwhile is called into reality.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing when people attend “leadership” workshops, or are promoted to a higher position of “leadership”, if they were asked “what of fundamental importance are you dedicated to seeing through to its realization?” This is a different approach than “do you want to exert more leadership?” or “do you want to know how great leaders do it?” This asks for where, as Bucky Fuller once put it, your deep interests and the world’s great needs meet. Without that call, so-called “leadership” is often mere carrot-and-stick motivation of people where deep inspiration is missing. It can include convincing, threatening, cajoling, and manipulating. It rarely includes the deep call for real, fully-engaged contribution.

As a contrast to what I had sit there for a minute regarding the self-aggrandizing orientation to “leadership”, let me note what happens in the best of conversations that are most likely to arrive at new accomplishments. Often, in the most creative conversations for new directions and outcomes, the “leadership” of the conversation moves around the room to different people as they provide their different strengths at different parts of the conversation. It floats. It finds its rightful home for the period of the conversation when it belongs there. There isn’t any “ship”, just “leading” of the conversation finding its rightful advocate at different moments. That makes it hard to identify “the leader” of the conversation. It makes it hard to identify techniques and moves as central to the vitality and productivity of the conversation — as they often are not.

It is often the very call of the opportunity to create something worthwhile that calls leading to it. If so, the palpable sense of “what” is at play is as responsible for leading as leading is responsible for that “what” coming into being and reality.

Isn’t it time we gave something more honorable and open than our egos and our methods credit for having leading happen?


About Ken Anbender

Kenneth Anbender Ph.D. has spent the last 50 years working with more than a hundred thousand people directly on the principles and methods that support the fulfillment of a human life -- in community and at work. He has developed a body of work that is licensable called The Contegrity Approach.
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