I’m continuing to work through Presence. The chapter on presence as a form of leadership is one of the strongest for me. It articulates a non-heroic idea of leadership that I really agree with. Here’s the nub of the argument as articulated by co-author Betty Sue Flowers:
One of the roadblocks for groups moving forward now is thinking that they have to wait for a leader to emerge – someone who embodies the future path. But I think what we’ve been learning… is that the future can emerge within the group itself, not embodied in a ‘hero’ or traditional ‘leader.’ … we have to nurture a new form of leadership that doesn’t depend on extraordinary individuals.
I found her quite eloquent on behalf of on older wisdom of leadership that emphasised the cultivation of awareness:
The old idea that those in positions to influence such organizations’ power must be committed to cultivation or moral development has all but completely disappeared… the ancient Greeks and Chinese believed such cultivation required a lifetime of dedicated work… But many people seem to think these old ideas don’t speak to the realities of today’s technology-driven world… our leaders are more likely to be technologists than philosophers, focused on gaining and using power, driving change, influencing people and maintaining an appearance of control.
I’m not big on poetry myself, but I enjoyed this, quoted in the book:
Why are you so unhappy?
Because ninety-nine percent of what you think,
And everything you do,
Is for your self,
And there isn’t one.
Hmm, I’ll try to keep that in mind!