The following article by John Renesch appeared on the internet magazine Management General the second week of March 1998.
These times call for a kind of leadership never before required of human beings! All the clichés are useless. In fact, most of the present criteria for leadership are outdated –they are outright dangerous if humanity is going to successfully transition to a new planetary consciousness.
The leadership the world needs today needs to come from the business community. Many visionaries have agreed upon this. After all, the economically-driven business enterprise community is, de facto, running the world, whether we like it or not. Government, education and religion are all tails being wagged by the dog of private enterprise, principally the large multinational corporation.
So, that’s where leadership needs to come from. Now, what kind of leadership do we need?
If we are to successfully transition to a new planetary consciousness and transcend the global ecological crisis, the unemployment problem, the growing tension between the “haves” and the “have nots,” and all the other concerns facing us as a species, we need to be more conscious. As Einstein stated years ago, we can’t solve our problems thinking the same way we did when we created them.
New thinking doesn’t mean thinking new thoughts. It means thinking differently! That may be difficult to grasp, especially for business folks who are so pragmatic and bottom-line oriented. For people who have been trained and who have worked in environments that reward physical and material success, results that can be measured, just hearing conversations with words like “consciousness” or “new thinking” is difficult to grasp. It’s even harder for such people to embrace the concepts as a serious endeavor.
But it’s important for everyone to try: leaders of the future will be men and women who are keenly aware of the larger context of things. They are not merely focused on the content or the form of things — like technique, procedure, methodology, shape, form or application. These mostly fall into the physical or material plane of reality.
New leaders appreciate the value of the non-physical and non-material aspects of reality, heretofore unexplored for most business people. These leaders recognize the value of context — the source, intentionality, integrity, vision, values, and the larger purpose of things.
Able to appreciate context, the originating abstraction of the project, product, service or company mission, these leaders also are sensitive beyond what they see and hear. They have a keen sixth sense that allows them to discern beyond the physical senses. They can pick up on “texture of the space”, like knowing something or someone isn’t right without any rational reason.
In this way, they are “irrational.” They are deeply intuitive and can instantly pick up when the texture changes, like a dog behaves just before an earthquake.
These leaders possess a strong knowing that goes beyond mental capacity; this knowing relies on their deep sense of interconnection with others, an appreciation for what philosopher Martin Buber called the “between.”
Sound crazy and off-the-edge? If it does, you might look at you own attachment to the fixed status quo and your own appetite for rehashed dribble from the latest leadership guru wanting to build a reputation by identifying the “five key qualities,” the “way to lead,” etc.
We all have attachments to the way things are. It shows up differently in each of us, but we all resist change somehow. That’s what makes real transformation so difficult. But we must all stop the drivel and start leading as if our lives depended on it. They do.