Cultivating New Leadership for Sustainable Change
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The environmental, social and economic challenges that we face today invite us to think that both, the modern social system and the predominant type of hierarchical and patriarchal leadership, need revision and change. These unprecedented challenges demand the emergence of a new type of leadership. But what does this mean?

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us”. Joseph Campbell, mythologist and writer.

What is a leader?

Many people can see the figure of the leader as something unattainable, something only destined for special individuals who do extraordinary things. This theory of “innate” leadership comes from ancient Greece, in which the leaders were warriors, usually men and with almost divine powers, who fought bravely in battles, to return home as great heroes. This vision of the leader has persevered to this day and does nothing more than preserve a culture of Win-Lose, in which the power and strength to move the world resides in the hands of a few people.

However, it was not always that way. The origin of the word leader, both of the Germanic “laidho”, and of the Indo-European “leith”, means the “bearer of the burden”, the one that “crosses thresholds”, the one that develops its capacities for the benefit of its community.

This vision of the leader who works for others is what the current ideologies and initiatives for change are trying to recover, in order to generate the necessary global transformation. According to Peter Senge (2015, 1):

The deep changes necessary to accelerate progress against society’s most intractable problems require a unique type of leader — the systemic leader, a person who catalyzes collective leadership”.

Leaders for the Win-Win-Win Culture

The first thing to take into consideration in promoting a new type of leadership within the Win-Win-Win culture is to recognise that we are all leaders, and that we all hold within us the necessary potential to generate the change we want to see in the world.

Nonetheless, this is not enough. As Peter Senge previously stated, this moment demands that we recognise ourselves as systemic leaders. So, what is a systemic leader?[1]

● It is a conscious person, who knows how to recognise prejudices and blind spots. It is a person who knows that the capacity to see and change the world is closely related to the ability to see and change himself/herself.

● It is a person who is aware of the interconnectedness of all things. Everything and everyone is connected and we are creators of our own reality at every moment, through our decisions, which is affected by the contents of our unconscious minds.

● Knows the importance of working at three levels: Individual (with oneself), Relational (with each other), Global (with the world).

● And of course, who can think globally and act locally.

As expressed by John Croft (1991, 96):

“Our new leaders have to be democratic, egalitarian and peaceful instead of dominating, elitist and persecutors of conflicts. New heroes have to see themselves and others as part of nature, and not as opposed to it. They have to reconnect with their own internal ecology, that part of us that we have silenced, that remains asleep, like a hidden dragon, buried deep in our subconscious. Discovering the meaning of existence will free your creativity. This is why personal development; community work and environmental action go hand in hand. All this is united in the center of our being”.

Developing Collective Leadership [2]

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders”. Ralph Nader, lawyer and political activist.

As we empower ourselves as systemic leaders, soon we will find ourselves operating in such a coherent field that other people with a similar shared purpose will inevitably approach us. We will no longer act individually, we will then open ourselves to collective leadership. This collective leadership can be cultivated and developed. Here are some keys for it:

Lead with flexibility: our leadership will emerge and rotate naturally based on the nature, and specific needs of the task to be performed and the knowledge, motivation and experience of the people in the team. Therefore achieving better results as well as greater personal satisfaction.

Motivate Motivate Motivate: to get to know ourselves and our colleagues better. It is important to perceive and understand the ways of others, in addition to giving support to each other, by motivating each other tirelessly in our development process.

Reflect constructively in groups: reflect together on our thoughts, challenging our own assumptions and worldviews. Constructively converse about them. Appreciating points of view that are different from our own will lead us to create more authentic relationships.

Ask generatively: it is important that all the voices within a team are heard, for this it is important to involve everyone by using genuine and generative questions.

Unleash collective intelligence: cultivate the ideal conditions for the emergence of collective intelligence. Create spaces where people can come together to speak their truth, reflect on what is really happening, explore options beyond traditional thinking and seek changes. This will generate new ways of thinking, acting and being.

Know the edge of chaos: learn to work on the edge of chaos in your team, as the place of maximum creativity, where innovation happens. Navigating chaos means being able to let go of excessive control, walking through the processes of confusion and conflict, until clarity is reached.

[This text has been extracted from the book written By Julia Ramos & Beatriz Gallego. Dragon Dreaming in Action. A guide to designing projects for personal growth, community building and service to the Earth. 2018]

The book will be published in October 2018. For more information, please write: julia(at)

About the author: Julia Ramos. has lived in and travelled to over 30 countries. Passionate about life, people, music and nature, she loves facilitating inner and outer change by breaking paradigms. People describe her as friendly, energetic, and committed to helping others. Julia has completed two Masters degrees; the first being in Leadership and Strategic Sustainable Development (Sweden) and other in Communication and Public Relations (Spain). Prior to her her post-graduate education, she attained a B.Sc. in Hospitality Management (Switzerland). Julia holds extensive years of experience in Hospitality, Event Management, as well as Public Relations & Communications. She has dedicated her most recent professional years to supporting teams of people in designing projects that bring change to the world.

[1] Kahane 2000, Senge 2005, Jaworski 1999, Senge et al. 2004, Harman 1996, Bohm 2014, Croft 2014 — #13, Croft 1991, Scharmer and Kaufer 2013, Senge 2015.

[2] Jaworski 1999, Croft 1991, Senge 2015, Croft 2014 — #13, Koglin et al. 2016.

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