The root word of 'leadership' is 'leith' which means to cross the threshold, to let go of old ways, mind-sets and logic in order to embrace the new; a new way of attending to ourselves, each other and the world. It asks us to recognise the vitality of co-creating new ways of operating beyond the confines of pre-defined outcomes, and demands a metamorphosis no less from fear to courage:
Fear-based leading >> Courage-based leading
Authoritarian >> Emancipation
Leader-follower relation >> Co-creative relation
Motivated by power >> Motivated by love
Blame culture >> Compassionate culture
Risk-averse >> Pioneering
Adversarial >> Inspirational
Competitive >> Empathic
Command and control >> Improvisational
Leadership is, first and foremost, an attitude to life. Life asks each of us to lead in myriad ways, to reach beyond self-interest for the benefit of something greater. By allowing space and time within our hectic busi-ness we may allow ourselves to open up to the inner and outer depths of ourselves. Here are three tips to aid this:
1) Stillness- in slowing down we allow the ego-chatter in our minds to quieten, providing a chance for our awareness to deepen. If we honour this stillness on a regular basis - whether as structured meditation, a morning walk or time alone during a work break - we may allow a deeper consciousness to flow beyond the superficial stream of chatter. This deeper ground of our being - which I call Nature - is an all-pervasive receptive presence that underpins every evolving moment.
2) Synchronicity - As we consciously bring this stillness into the movement of our lives, we may become more aware of synchronistic events, subtly lit pathways and intuitive guidance. In learning to listen to the wisdom of Nature found through the well-springs of the heart, we improve our responsiveness to life's dance.
3) Small steps - Each moment offers us the chance to embrace life with loving attention through our hearts freed from pre-conceived notions, fears and judgements. In opening our hearts to each interrelation we learn to lead with courage (its Latin root 'cor' meaning heart). Here we truly listen to our deeper self and others; we provide a space of reciprocity for sharing authentically within an atmosphere of trust. We co-create solutions uncluttered by the same thinking that created the problems in the first place.
These three movements - receptivity, responsiveness, reciprocity - allow us to courageously embrace the journey of a lifetime, breaking out beyond the shell of our tiny egos into the inter-relational matrix of Nature. Manifesting this in my own life is not a plain sail rather a continuous learning process.
There have been numerous life-defining moments for me, two worth mentioning here regarding my work-life. In 2008 I gave up a well-respected job as Head of Practice for a large management consultancy and set up a sustainability solutions offering from scratch. Tough times as the recession kicked-in with organisations perceiving sustainability as a nice-to-have. Yet I was passionately energised, learnt a great deal and found friends along the way. Then in 2012, I took a bigger leap off the cliff-face of security, status and salary by resigning as Global Director of Sustainability for a large multi-national to embrace the unchartered horizons of being a writer, speaker, adviser and work-from-home Dad and husband. No more executive breakfast meetings or long haul flights, instead I found myself exploring the root causes of our current crises while changing nappies.
Heart-based living has the hallmark of appearing foolish to the head. The 'letting-go' of security in times of uncertainty allows for the 'letting-come' of new steps of change. Each day challenges me to be courageous in small yet self-defining ways. I can't claim to be anything like a master in this, but I have no doubt I am walking the right path.