Scarcity, Mysticism & "Can't"- Creative Tensions for Leaders

22 Feb

julioetcharts via flickr

You are a leader. I said it. You are a leader.  What is your visceral response to  those words?  Do you :

  • Roll your eye and grimace?
  • Sigh heavily and put your head down?
  • Thrash about as if I just tried to put a straightjacket on you?  (seriously, i hope not this one)

The Tug of War in Leadership

For some time I have wondered why leadership is both a desired and a loathed position to have.   We want it because it signals respect and a certain amount of freedom.  But we reject it because it means responsibility and accountability. It is a tug of war .

Are you caught in between the DESIRE  and REJECTION of being a leader?

In the management world, that tug of war is described as creative tension. Creative tension is THE most important part of personal mastery.

The gap between vision and current reality is also a source of energy.  We call this gap creative tension…There are two possible ways for the tension toresolve itself.  Pull reality toward the vision or pull the vision toward the reality.Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline

Leadership  Creative Tensions -Scarcity, Mysticism & the word “Can’t”

Reality: People apply the scarcity principle to leadership.    The words ” gap” and “pipeline” have become all too common and acceptable to describe the current leadership situation. ” We don’t have enough” is echoed too often.

My vision:

Stop with the sky is falling, mantra.  There are an abundance of leaders working all around you willing to lead.  Are they worried about being qualified to lead? Yes.  Do they want to do a good job? Yes.  Would they like some skills and support in order to transition into this new position. Of course.  But they are here and you need to look at them.

To my peers in future leadership, I pledge to :

Show you  the chances that you have to exercise your leadership every day.  I will point out existing opportunities and I will help you strategize more  possible opportunities if you feel like none really exist.

There are opportunities to be a leader:

  1. every day
  2. at all levels of organizations
  3. in all situations


Thinking of leadership as a mystical designation.  We continue to perpetrate the myth that leaders are divined.  They are not. They do have followers, though. And that is kind of magical.

My view:

Leaders do not get pulled out of the sorting hat as in Harry Potter. I agree with this view of leadership:

“throughout the course of their lives, people must take on leadership roles to carry out responsibilities to their workplace and their communities.

Center for Creative Leadership

When the question ” who is going to own this process, project, etc? ” is asked; the leader’s mindset is “ ME”. You may not  see it as  a leadership opportunity at the time,  but you do see it as something that has to get done . How many times do you volunteer to do a project or work with a team ?  Guess what?  *pointing upward* You are a leader.

My peers of future leadership, I pledge to :

Explain and explore the different types of non-profit  leadership capacities that are available.  I will teach and share  the leadership skills  that  I know  and try to identify resources for the ones that I don’t .   Most importantly, i will try to provide a   peer community of your peers who will serve as the true brain trust for your to learning.

Reality: People say that we want to be considered leaders but they cannot or will not develop their leadership capacities.

My view  :

Much like you may want that promotion, you have to want to be a leader.    It just will not happen any other way.   Yes, it will take your commitment to learn and exercise  the necessary leadership skills.   And many of those skills are  soft skills that deal with how we act and  react to varieties of people and situations.

For my peers leaders, I pledge to:

I will continue to ask the questions and facilitate the conversations to  show that leadership opportunities  already exist.   I will continue to cajole and  persuade you to get the skills training that you need .  And I will continue to illuminate  the current leadership and  the funding community about the opportunities to cultivate leaders that is all around them.

Myhappy place- Come on in

In the visions that I have ,  my peers are ready to become great leaders  because they are no longer afraid.  They  have developed a personal mastery mindset about leadership and decided to step into their role as prepared as possible and ready to lead.

I want to help you . But only  IF you  have chosen to  personally master your leadership. I will not ” develop a leader”;  I will help you master the leader you want to become.

You are a leader. You are leader.  You are leader.  Can you see my vision on the horizon now?




2 Responses to “Scarcity, Mysticism & "Can't"- Creative Tensions for Leaders”

  1. Maureen Carruthers February 22, 2010 at 8:50 pm #

    You make a really important point. It’s easy to assume leadership is about a job title and that it is bestowed from on high. Rather than wait for someone to decide you are ready to lead, start stepping up to the leadership opportunities around you. Ask good questions in meetings, suggest new solutions, volunteer for projects. Before long you will find that by behaving like a leader you have become one.

    • socialchangediva February 25, 2010 at 8:49 am #

      Hi Maureen-

      This is my approach to leadership. I think we have the opportunity to practice leadership skills in most situations. Yes there are politics involved but if you talk about progressing through the leadership ranks, you have to seek out and use those everyday chances.

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