Why has conventional leadership reached a ceiling?

Our world is changing faster than ever. Boundaries are blurring. Complexity is everywhere. Technology is changing the game. Hyper-dependency continues to increase. Politics and big business have lost our trust, and to some extent their legitimacy. And the media is trapped, lurching from one ‘breaking news’ event to the next, looking for who is to blame.

We are all living and working through a period of increased Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity – a VUCA world – and the danger of this is that we can easily fall into fragmentation and protectionism. Yet the inherent beauty of complexity and chaos is that it naturally re-patterns and reorders.

If we have the courage to hold the ‘container’ for long enough, working through the discomfort of not knowing, and not collapsing the space because of fear, impatience, insecurity or lack of skill, then new patterns of thought and action will emerge.

So who’s holding the space for the new to come forth? It’s not the G8 or the G20. It’s not the UN. So who? It can’t be the so-called superpowers. And, at the other end of the spectrum, it can’t be smart mobs.

What is needed now are…

  • Governing systems that tap into the collective intelligence of the whole
  • Organising systems that embrace difference as the difference that makes the difference
  • New ways of thinking, relating, learning and organising that enable organisations of all kinds to reconnect to their core purpose, so their purpose becomes an energetic and creative wellspring from which to generate breakthrough strategies and innovations
  • Leaders who can help us bring our wholeness – our intellectual, emotional, social, physical, and purposeful selves – to work on a daily basis
  • Educational systems that support a deeper journey of self-discovery – enabling every child and young person to deep-dive into their sense of self, and learn how to build co-creative relationships with others, with their families and communities, with the diversity of life, and with our planet
  • A creative synthesis between digital technology and human process design
  • Ways to help Generation Y become unimaginably wise
  • A shift in our individual and collective consciousness

These needs are both dramatic and exciting. Without the emergence of new leadership models (and more importantly new leadership practices) that understand that objective, mechanical and Newtonian worldviews are no longer representative of the world we live in, we will remain stuck, banging our heads against the glass ceiling. This ceiling is ‘us’ getting in our own way, blindly arguing from and for our own limitations.

Fortunately, we are already catching glimpses of a new and next generation of subtle leadership skills. The only problem is we have to breakthrough our own glass ceiling to be able to claim them.

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