Leadership & the Future

How do we create the future? How do we bring about transformation from

a past that we find less than desirable? A lot of us experience problematic contexts that we need to change. Changing the context we have been used to living in is not as easy as it sounds. We have been used to living under a certain paradigm that shifting into a different “space” truly means moving out of our comfort zone.   Erhard et al. (2013) discussed about the concept of a leader and the leadership function in temporal domains. The leader existed in a temporal domain of a created future. This future is described as one that fulfills the concerns of relevant parties that the leader and those being led come to live into. This future is a product of their being and action in the present.

 

Werner and his colleagues talked about how the “future” is the domain by which the concepts of a leader and leadership exist. In fact, the future is fundamental to leadership. Think about it, without the concept of the future, why would there be a need for leaders? There must be a “future” that the leader is leading his followers to.

 

Werner et al. noted that in order to be effective in understanding how we  can fulfill our responsibility as leaders, there is a need to deconstruct your existing frame of reference for the future. You need a new frame; one that offers you with the kind of access to the future that allows you to have power. You need a frame of reference that enables you to create your future. In this discussion, let me just request what Werner and his colleagues requested of us, let us create for ourselves the possibility by which we can accept our discussion about the future without preconceived notions about it from our past understanding and learning.

 

Talking about the common frame of reference for the “future,” we can probably come up with different kinds of futures. This is true. There are different kinds of meanings to the term. It can refer to a goal one is working toward. It can be a hope or a dream you have. A future can also be a scenario that one fears or worries about; one intends to avoid. Werner et al. noted that one future that does not exist is one that is “certain”. Most of us can agree that the future is never certain. But how many of you believe that “the future always exists only as a possibility” (p. 566).

 

 

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What context have you set for yourself?

A World that “Works”

Often times people displace them by engaging in things they don’t like, getting mixed up in affairs they don’t believe in or expressing things they are not convinced of themselves. There’s no such thing as “I have no choice.” or “I’m still waiting for something better to come along.” You have the power to make changes and transform your life. As a space for transformation you are not bound to or counting on anything else.

 

You are a space by which your life happens. Know that you can create space for transformation. You have the ability to go from whatever kind of life you lead today to the life that you’ve always intended.   In fact, everything in your life depends upon you. With this in mind wouldn’t it be silly to engage in things that you don’t like or torture yourself in order to make a living. Do what you are passionate about and put all your effort in that. That future is something that you deserve. Why displace yourself by engaging in actions that you don’t intend to engage in?

It just doesn’t make sense. Maybe you’ve encountered a complaint between you and a client at work. And although you see the point of the client, you bring yourself to say “Just doing my job, ma’am/sir.” That’s not how it should work. If you truly believed in the cause that you were supporting you would be able to give more evidence than simply your job description. Do the things that you love and you will find your transformation will come naturally as you go.  The context of leadership is about making the decision to be the better you. You are a space by which your life unfolds. You are the one that sets the condition for change in your own life. Accommodate others in your model of a better life. Set your eyes towards a way of living that benefits everyone.  Transformation isn’t about getting ahead of others or doing better than others. It is about surpassing you and inspiring others. Contribute to the world with the use of your talents and encourage others to be open to their own transformation.

 

 

 

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Have you set the intention to contribute to the world?

The Group Word

It is impossible to listen to the person, situation, or circumstance in a new and open manner if the only voice you are listening to is one that is predefined with past opinions, interpretations, assigned meaning, certainties, concepts, and beliefs (Platt, 2007). You hear you “already-always-listening” before you hear anything else. This creates in you an auto-response to whatever you encounter in life. Thus, it drowns out newness and possibility. The inability to experience and receive newness and possibility will cause you to fall into a rut and make you feel stuck in an uninspired life.

 

An “already-always-listening” will also drain the life out of your relationships. No matter what you talk about with another person, you will not receive anything fresh or intimate. The ambience for your conversation will be predetermined. You engage in the conversation for the sake of conversing, and not because you are truly engaged in it. The entire conversation becomes a chore, rather than an opportunity to take the relationship to the next level.   Promoting and contributing to a “you and me” world says you need to eliminate the “already-always-listening”.

 

Always already listening stops people from contributing to you and as a result, you also stop contributing to others. There is a voice inside of you saying, “I already know this.” You must show how to respond to this inner voice with a “Stop telling me what I already know.”

 

In conversations, do you show up for people as one who cares for them? It is one thing to say, “Yes, I care,” and it is another to show them you care. Iqbal (2013) tells us, “Genuine listening is the foundation of caring and relationship.” When you listen to others and do it as if they are a person of worth, it shows you care about them and your relationship. When you listen to them as a person who matters, then you reveal you truly value the relationship. Stop everything that you are thinking, saying, and doing, and listen. Genuine listening means you create a space for the other person to show up and to express himself or herself to you fully. When they feel that you have “gotten” them, then they would feel that you have valued the time you have spent in a conversation with them. When they feel that you have gotten them, then they will feel connected with you, and vice versa. This is where intimacy is built.  The listening is the background that gives meaning and shapes that which shows up in the foreground.  Too many of us get busy on ‘fixing / dealing with’ the foreground (the events that occur) and few of us work on the background: the listening.  Yet, the power, the leverage, is in the listening! (Iqbal, 2012)

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What do you think have you missed because of the lack of always already listening?

A Good Leader Rids of “Always Already Listening”

Most of us do not realize that the kind of listening we have is akin to a station on your car radio; it is already preset (Platt, 2007). Most of us presume how things will go from then on. It is usually based on the sum total of your opinions, interpretations, ascribed meanings, certainties, positions, beliefs, concepts, and what you already know to be true. Werner et al. (2013) calls this your “already-always-listening”.

It is significant for us to be aware that when we listen, we usually do not listen as if we are empty vessels, ready to be filled with information and understanding. Our listening is almost never in a blank state. Erner et al. (2013) pointed out, “We assume that whatever someone says to us (that is, what enters our ears) registers in our listening (lands for us) exactly as it was said” (p. 43).

 

It is one thing to hear what is being said and it is another to actually listen. Our hearing depends on the physical state of our ears. On the other hand, we usually do not know that there are things that constrain and shape what registers for us in our listening.  Erhard, et al. called it the “already-always-listening” because first, it’s already there in our listening. At the same time, it is always in your listening.

 

Some people have an “already-always-listening” towards heavy metal music, labeling it as pure noise, every time they hear music in that genre. They have not stopped to identify the constrains that were placed there by their “already-always-listening.” It does not just apply to musical taste. More importantly, it is important to identify people in your life for whom you have an “already-always-listening” before the person even opens their mouth. It can be your mother. It can be your spouse. It can be your children. It can be your boss. It can be your employee. The point is “already-always-listening” is likely to be a negative judgment, evaluation, or opinion that you have about that person. Your “already-always-listening” for that person is bound to constrain or shape your listening, no matter what that person says. This prevents you from recreating for yourself what was said to you in an accurate manner. In short, you will only receive what you think you already know, not what the other person is really sending to you.

 

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Do you still have always already listening?

The Group Word: The Church

The Group Word for the 12 Apostles is the same Word that Jesus intends for us to have as a church, one body of believers. These were Jesus’ final words before he went back to his Heavenly Kingdom.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

 

Jesus left this Word not just for the disciples he left behind. It is the mission of the church up to today.  No matter what strategy is used throughout the years that Christianity is being shared, the purpose is still the same. Believers are called to share the Gospel and to point people to Jesus. Believers are called to help others how they can be Disciples of Christ. Discipleship is done within a group, within a body of believers.  No one can ever really be a Christian by themselves. There are no lone Christians. The Bible says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

 

In another verse, the Bible says, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). The Group Word glues together the members of the group as one. Believers may come from different parts of the world, they may have different socio-economic backgrounds, they may have different interests and hobbies, but the Word of God unites them.

 

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Have you ever felt like you intended to be a lone Christian and that you did not intend to belong to the church body? Why did you feel like this?

 

12 SPIES

After the Israelites were freed from Egyptian bondage, they journeyed toward Mt. Sinai, in accordance to the Group Word that they have received from Abraham, which was delivered by Moses. The Lord provided food, water, and protection in the wilderness (Weliever, 1998). After being numbered and organized, they were not ready to enter the Promised Land. Like any endeavor, there must be a collective intent to accomplish a goal. They co-initiated. There must also be planning and preparation. The Israelites set out to survey the land (Deuteronomy 1:20-23). This was in line with co-sensing. They were set to observe what they were going into. They intended to open their minds and hearts to the task at hand. After 40 days, the 12 spies that were sent out returned and admitted that Canaan was a wonderful land. However, they expressed doubt that they could conquer these strong people. Only two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua, said they were able to take the land (Numbers 13-14).

 

While the 10 other spies correctly saw the height and strength of the inhibitors of the land, they lacked in the sensing department. They only saw the obstacle. While they saw that the land was indeed bountiful, the 10 other spies could not see the most important thing. It was God who will enable them to claim this land. They took for granted the fact that they were not going to do this by their own power and might.

 

Scharmer (2007) said, “When sensing happens, the group as a whole can see the emerging opportunities and the key systemic forces at issue.” Joshua and Caleb were the ones who were able to successfully sense the issue at hand. They did not just sense the obstacles, they sensed the source and they sensed the rewards of the victory that was promised to their Nation (group), a promise that was passed on from the time of Abraham.

 

Weliever (1988) described Caleb and Joshua to be different. They had a different disposition and a different attitude toward God and his work. They saw themselves as co-creators with God for the promise that was given to the Israelites. They said it themselves: “We are well able to overcome” (Numbers 13:30, emphasis added). These were the attributes of that these two young men had:

 (1) Faith. They said, “We are well able to overcome” (13:30). They

believed in themselves, in their fellow Israelites and most

importantly in their God.

(2) Confidence. Concerning the Canaanites Joshua said, “The

people are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and

the Lord is with us” (14:9). They had the confidence in the outcome

of this undertaking, because they knew they were doing the will of

God.

(3) Courage. Joshua said, “fear them not” (14:9). He was not afraid

of the giants, the walled cities or the strength of the people.

(4) Action. Caleb said, “Let us go up at once, and possess it”

(13:30). Positive people say, “Let’s go and do it now!”

(5) Thankfulness. They understood the land was a gift from God, a

blessing due to his delight in them (14:7-8). True appreciation for

one’s blessings will lead to action and obedience. (Weliever, 1988)

 

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What can you learn from the behavior of the spies?

The Group Word

God did not create us to go through life on our own. We are not designed to be alone. We are wired to be social beings. When we do try to accomplish things by ourselves, we fall short because we were not intended to do it that way. Even in Genesis 2:24, we see that the man becomes one flesh with his wife. This is a picture of two individuals coming together to form a family. Individuals are intended to come together as a group.

 

The group is a solitary unit, but it is composed of many individuals coming together because of at least one thing that unifies them. The Group Word is about the coming together of a number of individuals into one.

Notice the pattern when God intends for a change to occur in a nation — He gives a group word — instruction is given to a nation, such as that of Israel, the 12 Apostles, the School of Prophets, and the like.

 

We see the Self evolve within the group. One can only grow and progress within the group. The power of the Group Word is to bring individuals together as one.

 

Language creates the group. No one can really belong to any group without the use of language (written or verbal). One has to say, “I belong to this group,” the same way that Christians say they belong to the church or Christ, or Americans say they belong to the nation of the United States of America.  The Group Word moves the group towards change and action. Simply put, the “Group Word” is the manifestation of how language can tap into the collective potential of the group to bring about leadership capacity for transformation.

 

 

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What is the GROUP WORD for your nation?

The Leader as a Steward

Leaders who have actually made a difference in the world exhibited some

form of custodian or stewardship. These are the leaders who sought to serve

rather than protect or gain self-interest. People have looked to them for guidance

and direction even in times of indecision, turmoil or trouble.

 

There was this man named Cincinnatus who lived in the 5th century B.C. in the Roman republic. He was a farmer. When the Roman army was surrounded, they called upon this man to lead them into victory. McKinney (2009) said, he came, he saw, he conquered, and then he went home and went back to plowing his field. He gave up the reins of power and went back to his plow when the task was done and the crisis was over.  True leadership is about selfless action. It involves taking yourself out of the picture and considering the needs of the group as a whole. It is a mindset that involves thinking about what other people need into account when even your own needs are pressing. Now we ask, does this kind of leadership still exist in the world today? The answer is yes. How, you ask? The answer is simple: It’s everyone’s business to create this kind of leadership in this world. This means, it’s your business too.

 

Wherever you are, whether you are involved in the government or business, guiding young minds, leading a family, a sports team, or a committee, a class project, or a carpool, everyone has a leadership role to play. We are thrust into many different leadership roles again and again, throughout our lives. We are all responsible and accountable for the groups we belong to. We are all leaders.  (McKinney, 2009)

 

The term “custodian” is the same as the word “steward” as it is used in the Bible. The steward watches over whatever is placed under his or her trust by the one who owns it or for those who will benefit from it.

 

Stewardship is a service performed for others. It is not about ownership or control. It is not a technique. It is who and what the leader is. It is an attitude—a state of being—a way of looking at the world. But it is not the passive, hands-off leadership that some have attributed to this way of thinking. It is a component of leadership without which leaders cannot fully function. (McKinney, 2009)

When we talked about leadership that follows a stewardship approach, this means that leaders do not take away the freedom, choice, accountability or responsibility of the followers. Just as the leaders should serve and protect the welfare of those they lead, the followers must be enabled to do the same thing. The followers must also operate in the mindset that they must act in service and selflessness. This creates a kind of self-leadership at all levels of the group. Moreover, McKinney (2009) noted how this promotes an environment where each member of the group is empowered and motivated towards the good of the whole group, because it is in the best interest of all.

 

Block (2013) described stewardship as, “an umbrella idea that promises the means of achieving fundamental change in the way we govern our institutions” (p. xxiv). In the old days, a steward was someone who protected the kingdom while those rightfully in charge were away. A steward was usually placed in position to govern for the sake of an underage king. Looking at this historical concept of leadership, the “underage king” in our present context is the next generation. We choose service over self-interest because we intend to build the capacity of the next generation to govern themselves (Block, 2013). Stewardship is about the willingness to be accountable for the well-being of the larger organization by operating in service, rather than in control, of the people around us.

 

We must ask ourselves: Is our leadership fueled by self-interest or shared success? Self-interest promotes the leader, while shared success promotes the team (Hudson, 2013). Self-interest pushes itself into the spotlight, while shared success pushes others into it. Self-interest passes the blame for failure, while shared success takes the responsibility for it.

 

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When Leaders are Selfish

In a world of “you or me,” for me to win, you have to lose, or vice versa. In a “you or me” world, for me to look good, you have to look bad, or vice versa. In this kind of world, my success will not include your success. This principle holds true even for leadership. A leader who lives in a “you or me” world needs to protect his or her self-interest in order to win. For most part, this creates a state of unworkability within the group he or she is trying to lead.

 

 

According to Platt (2011), if you look closer, this “you or me” world is an illusion. The truth is, the world we live in is a “you and me” world, wherein if your end of the canoe tips over, we both end up in the water. Platt (2011) pointed out, “We live in a “you and me” world which we’re erroneously running according to the rules of a “you or me” world.” This explains a lot why things are not working as well as they are designed to work. You cannot say there is “plenty and enough for everyone” when everyone else follows a “winner takes all” attitude. In a “you and me” world, workability is grounded in the experience and the realization of who each of us really are (our beings).

 

Van den Broek (2010) discussed about how the recent financial crisis was partly due to the leaders’ abuse of their power for self-interest. Leaders are responsible for promoting the welfare of their followers. However, instead of employing their power for the greater good, leaders are tempted to use it instead for self-serving ways, wherein only their welfares will be served. In order to achieve the goals of the group, leaders are given power and as a result, group members have to surrender some of their own power. This is the power balance that leadership creates in a “you or me” world. Group members will try to keep the power gap as small as possible, while leaders intend to maintain or increase the said power gap. Sometimes, leaders go over board and those kinds of leaders are the ones we label as “power corrupt.”  What must we do in order to work against power corrupts? A stable system in which leaders are secure but accountable could provide a favorable context for group success. Changing the hierarchy within the group can also improve the chances of group success. Hierarchy in groups should be as flat as possible and power must be distributed amongst individuals.

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Are you helping promote or hinder the welfare of the people you are leading?

BE-DO-HAVE

How many times have we or other people said, “If only I had that promotion with that salary, then I’d be happy.” We are over-focusing on that ideal job, discovering the career we intend to pursue or going after the next promotion, as a way of creating meaning in life.

 

This mindset causes you to suffer or to lose energy when you are without the ideal job. If ever you do get the ideal job, the joy you gain is often short-lived. Life purpose is bigger than the position you hold. It is about commitment that goes beyond the job title. It transcends the position so that the life purpose can be fulfilled, whether or not you have the position. The point is this: Leadership is not about a position. Genuinely transformative leadership can only exist in the absence of self-interest.

 

When you are able to extend your life purpose beyond self-interest, you will realize the true meaning of life. Some people get caught in the trap that life purpose is solely personal. It’s not just about what you have to achieve or what you intend to have in your life.

 

The “Be-Do-Have” mindset

 

You have to be something, in order to be able to do something, that will allow you to have something. Nature dictates action, and action will produce the breakthroughs you intend to have in your life.

 

A lot of times, we are confused with this process. We usually try to perform or to act so that we can have the breakthrough we intend for our lives. We try to force our way into having a great job and a high salary, when we have not become the Space for success. Do you get what I am saying here? If it is not in your being, your actions will lack integrity. When your actions lack integrity, it will reflect in the fruits they produce.

 

Other times, people follow a “have-do-be” mindset. They think that if only they have this or that, that they can do this and that, and they become something. For example, people think that if they have a million dollars that they can give to the poor and they can become a philanthropist. However, we have to change this mindset. You can start by being generous. In your generosity, you can give with all your heart what the Lord has entrusted to you. The Lord said, you reap what you sow. The product of you being generous and giving to the poor will be more blessings to impart.

 

Leaders have to be genuine servants and stewards. It is only through the integrity of their beings where they will be able to perform true service and stewardship. As a result, they would be able to bring about true transformation to the group.

 

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Which mindset are you living out? The Be-Do-Have or Do-Have-Be?

Humanity is the highest level of ourselves.

We are part of humanity. Humanity is the highest level of ourselves. Humanity is part of who we are. Whatever we make of our lives matter on an individual level, but more than that, it matters to how humanity is shaped.

According to Erhard, creating a context of a world that works for everyone is not simply a step to move humanity forward. Instead, it is the context by which our history will begin to make sense. Transformation fulfills what has gone before it. You and I have a role in the process.

In the words of Albert Schweitzer, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: The only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” We cannot live for ourselves. Genuine happiness, on an individual level, can only be experienced by serving others; by serving humanity.

 

Service of others is not an easy thing to give. You expand yourself; you expand your ability when you serve. The process of meeting the challenge of delivering the needs of others enables you to grow as an individual person.

Serving others is a huge project in itself. What can you do for humanity? The Bible says you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). This means you were not mass-produced. You have a unique skills set. You have a unique role to play in this world.

Erhard tells us that we must decide what project we are willing to take complete responsibility for. Commit to this project. Ron Smothermon (1980) tells us that relationships exist within defined boundaries. People have a certain level of expectations toward us. If others cannot expect any commitment from us, then there is no true relationship. We communicate commitment in our relationships.

In any relationship, we are the ones who will decide whether commitments can be spoken or unspoken, and we are the ones who will clarify and define the commitments or even avoid making any commitments (Smothermon, 1980).

However, we must know that relationships wherein commitments do not exist do not actually work. Whether you claim that you do not know the essence commitment or you do not know how to commit, you are still responsible for declaring this with the people involved, most especially to those who are expecting something from you.

As you express your commitment, you can trigger others to do the same. This is already a step closer towards creating a world that works for everyone. Your willingness to express yourself in commitment is an essential part the process. Do not wait for something to happen to you before you commit to transforming the world. Erhard tells us to take responsibility for making something happen. Keep at it until you create a successful experience for everyone.  Find a mirror; look at the person staring back at you. Tell that person, “You can make a difference.”

 

 

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What difference is God calling you to make?

Community and Success

Success in reaching the goals set is achieved through relationships with others. The future is constantly created through conversations with others – asking and creating commitments, making requests and promises through actions. The successful coordination of relationships is the coordination of commitments expressed in the acts of language (Selman, 2007).

Language and communication play an important role in our relationships while relationships also play part in our success as a community. When we set and try to meet a goal as an individual, it is just normal to have other people help us meet that goal. How much more if we, as a community, set a goal and try to meet it? It should give us better results than us as individuals.

As a community, we should make sure that we develop a culture that forms relationships that will be a strong foundation. When we develop that kind of culture, it brings us halfway to success because it puts us in a position where, we can stay strong despite adversity and trials.

As we often say, and we will not be tired of saying, two heads are better than one. We should see each other through. It must be instilled among us that our success is also our community’s success; and our failures are also our community’s failures. As it was written, if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it (1 Corinthians 12:26).

 

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