leaderless leadership

This is an excerpt from my presentation to the Simply Living 2012 Annual Meeting and membership potluck dinner, upon the announcement of the Board of Trustees’  selection of me as Board President. The date was Saturday, February 25 and the place was the social hall of the Maynard Avenue Methodist Church, where the Simply Living office is located.

The concept of a leaderless model of leadership fascinates and attracts me…basic, grassroots, horizontal and non-heirarchical rather than the vertical, top-down structure we’re accustomed to.

Leaderless leadership sounds like an oxymoron, but it is only contradictory as a paradox of our language.  As a working principle, such as some themes examined by the author Meg Wheatley, leaderless leadership has existed as a systemic model that has worked for millions, perhaps billions of years with Gaia, our planet, Earth.   I don’t yet know how to practice this model, but I am confident that  Simply Living is the laboratory in which to experiment with this different paradigm for our greater good.  

So, if we insist upon adding titles to our names then call me Board President if you like, and I’ll preside over a board of fellow-presidents, leaders, each and every one.  Am I a leader? YES. And so are YOU!

What attributes do you possess that empower you to lead?  IDEAS.  VISIONS.  A notion of the community you dream of participating in with your family and friends.  This is all you need to lead…you have it…your vision and your capacity to communicate your ideas, your passion.  The internet has provided the tools:  e-mail, social media, video-sharing, blogs.  These tools serve us as fellow-leaders, as co-creators of our community of intentional living, of sustainable lifestyles, of compassionate interaction.  Ours is a joyful community, our lives in deep harmony, beauty, and the power of growth and regeneration in a manner not destructive of Earth.

So, lead, with me, lead with Simply Living in awareness with resilience, and self-organizing with creativity.  In the spirit of  Viktor Frankl, let’s lead and live our lives with MEANING.  And finally, as Meg Wheatley encourages us:

“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”

My call to you as incoming president…JOIN US IN THIS DISCOVERY.

About orangeacorn

We are, I believe, and everything is, in perpetual unfolding/enfolding/evolving. By surface appearances, we're in turmoil and fearfullness, but in fact our existence is on the edge of a new way, beyond the US versus THEM we have grown with. I encourage you to join me over coffee or tea in face-to-face encounters. I call this exercise, "CAFFEINE COMMUNION: Encounters with Paradigm Pioneers." I'm a Columbus, Ohio husband, father and citizen. I practice string band sounds from the ridges of Pocahontas County, West Virginia, the vortex of the ancient drone.
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3 Responses to leaderless leadership

  1. eve says:

    Jim, I wonder if you have any familiarity with Quakerism. I found a lot of valuable insight into this kind of leadership, pulled from within rather than imposed from without. I highly recommend A Hidden Wholeness by Parker Palmer. It is the most resonant reading for me around the processes involved in becoming more human and more ourselves in community without shaming, pushing, cajoling, or creating a herd. Meg Wheatley is good, very good, but reading her stuff I still felt a bit of pushing, instead of allowing & inviting (but that was my own personal experience through my own foibles and desired outcomes).


  2. Rae says:

    This is very inspiring and I can imagine that it had a terrific reception at the Simply Living potluck. I will strive to follow your example in many ways.


  3. Pingback: Follow the leader, or DIY society? « clearskies, bluewater

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