Leadership LO17352 -Free monthly essay

Sun, 8 Mar 1998 19:04:06 -0500 (EST)

I write a monthly essay on leadership that I email free to approximately
1500 readers worldwide. Recent titles are: ORGANIZATIONAL MINDFULNESS;

If you would like to receive this free monthly essay leave your email
address with tomheu@aol.com

EXPERIMENTAL LEADERSHIP is attached as a sample.

Pamphlet 7


by Tom Heuerman, Ph.D.
with Diane Olson, Ph.D.

A pamphlet is an unbound short essay on a current topic.
Pamphlets were a popular way of communicating during the
early years of the United States. A pamphlet could be produced
quickly, could be distributed efficiently, and could share
important and timely information. We will appreciate your
comments and ideas about our pamphlets.

In his book, Servant Leadership (1977) Robert Greenleaf wrote of England's
George Fox, seventeenth century founder of the Religious Society of
Friends. Early in his ministry Fox, an earnest seeker of truth, wrote in
his journal:

I had forsaken all priests. . . and those called the most experienced
people; for I saw that there was none among them all that could speak to
my condition. And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone,
so that I had nothing outwardly to help me. . . I heard a voice which said,
'There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition.'. . . And
this I knew experimentally.

Greenleaf credited Fox's forty years of extraordinary leadership to the
gift of knowing experimentally which led to ethical practice in all areas
of his life. Fox's contributions included: a new commercial ethic, equal
status of women, education for all, and opposition to slavery 100 years
before the American Civil War.

Experimental leadership was largely absent during the industrial era which
required conformity by obedient bureaucrats and technicians. For
approximately 300 years, many people gave away their right to think for
themselves in exchange for the illusion of security. Alienated from their
inner lives (the source of experimental insight) many people treated
others as objects.

For example, a senior manufacturing executive said to me, "I don't like
people problems. I'm a machine kind of guy." The pain in the hearts of
those who work for this manager reflects that belief. Like many other
people in positions of power, this man doesn't understand he is connected
to those around him, and what he does to them, he does to himself.

I hope he becomes aware of the enormity of his impact on others. I hope he
comes to understand that no one has the right to harm another human
spirit. I hope he comes to understand that true leaders never, ever turn
on their followers. His good intentions for his company are not enough; he
needs to be aware of the impact he has on others for those impacts are
harmful to many people on and off the job and to his organization. I hope
the employee who said, "I just want a decent leader to follow" will have
his wish come true. The times we live in require more of leadership than
this executive is providing.

We live in a world undergoing a transforming creative process, and the
times are frightening. Fear of the unknown is a normal state. The threats
to life as we've known it are real. The challenges are great. Within
organizations, fear is rampant. People fear uncertainty, loss of their
job, loss of status, loss of control. Men and women question whether they
are competent to do what a changing world requires. Employees mistrust the
competence of coworkers and managers. People doubt themselves. Women and
men fear additional work, and the impact of so much change on their
families and health. People fear the loss of themselves to inauthenticity.
Despite profound anxiety, most fear leaving organizations to pursue their
dreams. Perhaps the greatest fear is of life itself. I believe the aspect
of leadership needed most today is the courageous person who lives by
ethical values and thinks independently; one who leads experimentally.

Experimental leaders do not identify with rigid schools of thought or
specific groups whose boundaries they will have to defend and whose rules
they will have to follow. They do not blindly follow the scientific method
and are not new age thinkers. They will not conform to the academic
worldview or the organizational development paradigm.

Experimental leaders are artists. Their meaning, direction, and
inspiration come from their powerful vision, deep ethical foundation, and
profound sense of purpose. They identify with life itself and understand
life's natural creative process. These leaders form a symbiotic
relationship with others evolving together to a higher consciousness and
wisdom. They know experimentally what to do and have the courage to follow
that course daily-regardless of what others do, say, or think.

Greenleaf asked, "Who is the enemy? Who holds back faster movement to a
better world? Who is responsible for the mediocre performance of so many
of our institutions?" It's not the evil, stupid, ignorant, or apathetic
people nor the executive who doesn't like people problems. If the world is
transformed there will still be evil, stupid, ignorant, and apathetic
people. The enemy is indifference. The enemy is those with power and
responsibility who lack the courage and conviction to hold others
accountable for their behavior. The enemy is the indifference of each of
us when we fear to live authentically. We are not victims of poor
leadership; we are its co-creators. We will not have a better world or
better organizations without authentic and courageous leadership and

We need to mentor and nurture the capability of knowing experimentally in
today's leaders. More than technical knowledge, we need strong ethical
leaders who will raise moral standards in a time when much of leadership
is, Greenleaf wrote, "in the hands of the gross, the self-seeking, and the
corrupt." We need courageous leaders at all levels who trust themselves
and are not afraid to make a decision. Leaders who tell the truth and
stand up to injustice, mediocrity, and selfishness. Leaders who cast aside
political correctness for truth and integrity, who judge behavior, and
hold others accountable to live by the shared values that are
indispensable in a community. In a living system, all are responsible and
can influence life's dynamics. Each of us can choose to live
experimentally and to lead.


Tom Heuerman TomHeu@aol.com

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