At the heart of the crisis of leadership and followership is the underlying crisis in trust. Less than one in five people believe their leaders (in business or government) will tell the truth especially about challenging issues.[i] How can we possibly overcome the challenges facing us globally and locally without trust?
One interesting factor discovered in studies of trust is that there is a paradigm shift going on; we are twice as likely to trust our peers, as we are anyone we perceive as a positional leader. This is an even stronger generational trend (younger generations trust their peers more than Baby Boomers).
This trend confirms my belief that the culture of leadership is shifting towards shared leadership. Another interesting trend is that small businesses and smaller organizations are trusted more than large corporations or institutions.
One of the challenges facing Our CoLeader Connection is repairing trust in the activities needed to lead others towards a shared vision and purpose. The Occupy movement was an example of the challenge in organizing a nonviolent movement for economic justice generated by people who rebel against any form of positional leadership. Is that sustainable?
I believe we have considerable work to do before everyone has the capacity to lead. Our families, educational system, and workplaces are not educating and developing people to claim their personal power to change these very systems… they are focused more on shaping conformity to existing systems and institutions.
In addition, research into stages of human development indicates there is a need for vertical development. Vertical development refers to an evolution or transformation in an individual’s mindset. The outcome of vertical development or transformative learning is the ability to think in increasingly interdependent, integrated, complex, systemic, and strategic ways.
Looking back on my own development through the transformations of my ‘self’ as a leader, I understand the ways I use my personal power have changed. I may have valued shared power earlier in my journey, but I have only recently developed the ability to assess complex power differentials (and complex rankism). I understand the diverse mindsets that shape how individuals exercise power. I understand how our experiences and our heredity shape our consciousness. I am more able to adapt and be flexible in my own use of power. I finally feel that I have the capacity to engage in CoLeading and Shared leadership.
How could a CoLeader community of practice accelerate the vertical development or personal transformations that are needed to truly change our culture of organizing human effort for shared purposes?
My hope is that we are becoming a catalyst (accelerator) and alchemist (blending diversity) – a community of practice capable of being a powerful force for cultural transformation.