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A Story of a Post Heroic Leadership

A leader attending one of our 9-month programs, shared how the program had shifted his way of acting and interacting as a leader. His organisation, a 500-employee strong software development organisation, was facing challenges. Both the product and the communication flow of the organisation felt disconnected. There was a lack of flow both between teams and within the product itself. Instead of acting as would have been expected, gathering the management team or forming a taskforce to create an action plan, he paused to reflect. 

He gathered the management team, not to create a plan to address the challenges, but to shape co-awareness, knowing that only from a deeper awareness can any complex challenge be addressed. 

"Today we’re not going to perform."

He brought his team together for a full day with the invitation, “Today we’re not going to perform. We’re not going to search or hunt for solutions and actions to address our challenges. Today we’re going to listen deeply, to sense together what is going on beyond the obvious, and let that sensing emerge into a collective awareness. If we end this day having achieved nothing, that may well be the best result we could have crafted.” 

The team gathered and looked at all the data they had: SWOT analyses, risk analyses, and their own awareness from their different parts of the organisation. They worked with three simple rules, 

  • “We stay in generative dialogue - we don’t discuss or search for solutions. 

  • We engage in the dialogues that emerge, staying present in the moment. 

  • We articulate what we sense, what we see and what we become aware of, together.” 

Being in this emergent process for the first half of the day revealed in new depths what was holding the organisation back. They suddenly saw what they had been looking at all this time, and a collective understanding started to take shape. Everyone was seeing the same thing. From there, one small but very clear intervention formed. 

In not searching for the action, the action that wanted to manifest showed itself when the team created space for deeper listening. Documentation of what they had seen, and what intervention they suggested, was compiled and sent to the organisation. Responses came from all over, “Finally, you understand my reality. I feel heard.” Change started to happen immediately. The organisational flow started to shift from dysfunctional to functional. 

A month after this session, this leader went on parental leave for six months. He was a little worried that the initiative would fade but hoped it would continue to grow. Six months later, on his return, the seed that was planted during this session had grown and was now a key for how organisational collaboration was shaped within the entire department. It had grown and evolved by its own power, even in his absence. 

As this story shows, pausing the immediate action of our heroic figures and engaging in deeper listening will reveal depths that we can never see while running. Gathering, in presence, and co-sensing into the now to let co-awareness form will reveal that which can truly enable the shifts needed. Action can emerge from there. From inherent power. This is a fascinating story of post-heroic leadership in a large organisation. For this to be possible, we need to be confident in opening to the unknown. In letting go. In trusting the emergent process of life to guide us.


If you are curious about our inner Heroic and Post heroic figures, we share free introductions on the resources page, or sign up for one of our free 1 hr sessions.

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