Leadership and its Development…part of the problem?

Cast your mind back to a time before this tiny virus had us in its grip.

How were we doing?

If there was an end of term report card what might it say?

Well, of course, we have worked hard. We have been industrious. Much has been achieved.

  • The world has been shrunk. Men on the moon. Women in to space
  • Massive improvements for many in medicine, health and wealth
  • A greater choice of consumer goods than ever and more sophisticated financial products and services to help us own them

But it is not all puppy dog tails and sweet, sweet roses.

  • Globally we have millions of people without enough food and shelter fleeing wars and discrimination – running from their fellow humans
  • Habitat being destroyed and species extinction running at alarming rates
  • Climate collapsing, with real fears that sea level rises will make the floods caused by increasingly warm winds carrying higher than level moisture levels look like April showers
  • Plastics, visible and invisible inside our bodies and in every place on earth
  • Widespread deplorable practices of animal husbandry required to provide us with affordable volumes of flesh, milk and eggs
  • An accumulation of capital, wealth, by a few massive corporates, celebrities and billionaires. While millions live and die in poverty with little or no chance of escape
  • Societies patterned by unfair discrimination
  • Air that is not safe to breathe. Water that is not safe to drink. And a civilisation that can be bought to its knees by such a simple thing
  • Our children suffering levels of anxiety and poor mental health that we have not been able to respond to with timely care and compassion
  • Hundreds of millionaires, billionaires, politicians and celebrities taking private jets to Davos to wring their hands over the state of the world

For some the message is loud and clear. Leadership is failing us. As leadership developers we have to accept, explore and develop our role in this.


There is another story…

I’m sure some will not buy this narrative. It certainly isn’t the ‘whole truth’. Some may say that our scientific and technological prowess, capitalism and our ingenuity has raised the standard of living world wide. The greater the challenge thrown at humankind the greater our creative response. We will prevail. Humankind really will overcome all of its troubles.

Personally, I am not buying it. History suggests we shouldn’t buy it.

Every civilisation so far has had a rise, and a fall, often through over-confidence and hubris. Humility and uncertainty have been crushed by power, arrogance and self-belief. Until the whole pack of cards comes down.

For those that say now is not a time for reflection but a time to roll up our sleeves and help, I say thank you. Godspeed.

But perhaps some of us can help best by exploring whether leadership and leadership development is failing us and the planet? And if it is, then as leadership developers, educators, citizens, what is our role in this?

And how might we learn and develop ourselves and our practice?

Do you hear this call? Are you curious?

A Fresh Dialogue?

Over the coming weeks and months we will hold a series of online meetings with an aim to develop a generative dialogue to explore this issues surrounding Leadership and Leadership Development with a view to learning together and looking for possibilities of a new way forward. To generate a community of people who carefully and gently construct and develop a ‘pool of shared meaning’ from which new possibilities might form.

Pool of shared meaning
The Pool of Shared Meaning

Are you interested? Curious? Would you like to join us?

John Varney of the Centre for Creativity in Management and I will be hosting some online meetings in the coming weeks, provisionally titled ‘Learning to do together what we can’t do alone’ and we would invite you to join us.

All sessions are free to join. Come to one or more. We would love for you to join us for the whole journey wherever that may take us – but dipping in and out is fine.

There is also an option to pay to cover costs and make donations that will support us to develop the work further.

Questions and comments welcome! Please do invite others who you think might heed the call to join us. Share this post. But also issue personal invitations.

We need to learn to do together…what we can’t do alone.

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