The dialogue on leadership is probably as old as civilization. Luckily we have shifted from the ancient roman idea of the emperor as the supreme leader, even sometimes thought of as a god, to something more integrated. Still, we have a long way to go to face our challenges of being sustainable as individuals, organizations and planet.
So, what aspects are important in that integration, and how do we get ourselves to wake up to our fullest selves as leaders? In this blog, I share my view on that, well anchored in research, briefly outlined in 4 aspects in below.
Vertical development and integration. Most important is knowing your Self. Vertical development, is the scientific field of how we humans develop. Which patterns we all share. We use this lens to understand ourselves, to consciously meet our selves in more facets, opening up for integration of our whole selves. In doing so, we open up for expansion and growth of our consciousness. And by doing this we become happier human beings, better leaders with a more sustainable perspective on self, organization, and planet. With a more integrated understanding of these inner aspects of self, we also grow the capacity to understand and meet others where they need to be met, without compromising our own needs. Serving growth at both sides.
Integration of self is tightly tied to the vertical aspect of development. It is about realizing that everyone of us carry all developmental stages as a parts of us. Aware or unaware. When these parts of us are unaware, we will inevitably be “hijacked” by them from time to time, with destructive, controlling, or reactive leader behavior as a result. Integration of self is about finding the courage to meet and love all your inner figures. To see that they carry gold. Gifts for you to use from an integrated stage. When we do, we get access to use our full range. Our full capacity as leaders and human beings.
The dance of development, the infinity 8, is a model of how we develop and grow. Setting aspirations for our growth, which we all do all the time consciously or unconsciously, may trigger an inner conflict enabling us to meet the parts of us standing in our way for that aspiration. We encounter shadow. Parts of us ready to be seen, healed, and integrated. To unlock the gifts hidden in the shadow. The infinity 8 can be applied to individuals, pairs, teams and organizations, and is a way to meet our challenges with a more open heart and curiosity.
The SOS. We all benefit from understanding the interplay and interconnection between the Self (me), the Other (the ones I relate and create with, and the Situation/System (e.g. organization). How, in every moment, we are both affecting and affected by the Self, the Other and the System/Situation. By understanding this at a deeper level, leaders grow the ability to shape initiatives and execute a leadership that create value in all three perspectives, strengthening both Self, Other and System. By doing this, the emergent skills of the organization, necessary to navigate the VUCA world, is evolved - both internally and externally. I also love that the acronym translates to Save Our Souls
Cycle of Co-Emergence. The Cycle of Emergence is a model for how we move into action. How we, as individuals, become aware of our environment, and in this awareness consciously (or subconsciously) choose to activate or not. When we broaden the cycle of emergence to a collective cycle, a Cycle of Co-Emergence sensing and creating awareness together, we as leaders will unlock inherent power of the organization. Why? Simply because a collective awareness enables collective action. And individual power in synchrony creates a huge collective momentum. This is a central part in navigating and co-creating initiatives emergently. Needed in our volatile, complex world.
These four aspects of being a human together with other humans, shape the foundation of all sustainable leadership. Or rather - shape the foundation of being human. Understanding how we as humans really function internally, and how that plays out in the way we collaborate and structure our work is essential to be able to lead. When starting to integrate these aspects, we start to shift the templates on which we shape the understanding of our world. We start to re-draw the constructions holding our reality. In this, our experience shows that we start to widen our perspectives. We start to open up for more options. We start to approach the field of all possibilities. Together.
This being said… when we don’t start from the beginning: with understanding and integrating our selves, the other aspects risk to end up being not more than makeup on a pig – if you excuse the metaphor. Authenticity IS the first step of leadership. And Authenticity cannot be achieved without knowing, accepting, and even loving who you are.
And that is a beautiful, and sometimes painful journey, that always pays off. Magnificently!