I’m sad to report that in the past few years, ever since uncertainty became our insistent 21st century companion, leadership has taken a great leap backwards to the familiar territory of command and control. —Margaret Wheatley
Center for Action & Contemplation
There is no greater training for true leadership than living in the naked now. There, we can set aside our own mental constructs, receive input and ideas from all directions, and lead even more creatively and imaginatively—with the clearer vision of one who lives beyond himself or herself. This is surely why some of Christianity’s great mystics, such as Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), and Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582), were also first-rate leaders, motivators of others, and creative reformers of institutions.
Here are some insights into what every good, servant-hearted, nondual leader knows and practices, whether in community, in the workplace, or in the classroom. Creative leaders:
- are seers of alternatives.
- move forward by influencing events and inspiring people more than by ordering or demanding.
- know that every one-sided solution is doomed to failure. It is never a lasting solution but only a postponement of the problem.
- learn to study, discern, and search together with others for solutions.
- know that total dilemmas are very few. We create many dilemmas because we are internally stuck, attached, fearful, over-identified with our position, needy of winning the case, or unable to entertain even the partial truth that the other opinion might be offering.
- know that wisdom is “the art of the possible.” The key question is no longer “How can I problem solve now and get this off my plate?” It is “How can this situation achieve good for the largest number and for future generations?”
- continue finding and sharing new data and possibilities until they can work toward consensus from all sides.
- want to increase both freedom and ownership among the group—not subservience, which will ultimately sabotage the work anyway.
- emphasize the why of a decision and show how it is consistent with the group’s values.
In short, good leaders must have a certain capacity for thinking beyond polarities and tapping into full, embodied knowing (prayer). They have a tolerance for ambiguity (faith), an ability to hold creative tensions (hope), and an ability to care (love) beyond their own personal advantage.
Jon Meacham/The Soul of America, The battle for Our Better Angels
“The Presidency is not merely an administrative office. That’s the least of it. It is more than an engineering job, efficient or inefficient. It is pre-eminently a place of moral leadership.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt, who knew much about the possibilities and perils of politics, wrote shortly before her death in 1962, “The course of history is directed by the choices we make and our choices grow out of the ideas, the beliefs, the values, the dreams of the people. It is not so much the powerful leaders that determine our destiny as the much more powerful influence of the combined voice of the people themselves.
“You do not lead by hitting people over the head. Any damn fool can do that, but it’s usually called ‘assault,’ not ‘leadership.’ I’ll tell you what leadership is. It’s persuasion, and conciliation, and education, and patience. It’s long, slow, tough work. That’s the only kind of leadership I know, or believe in, or will practice.”
-Dwight D. Eisenhower