28 Nov Existential Leadership
Not sure if there is a such thing as existential leadership but there are some ways in which I look to lead others in this way. In postmodern times systems are required to explore change in ways that are different from previous generations. In the past change was addressed with linear processes where the powers that be developed a plan and then rolled out that plan throughout the organization.
This no longer works. We live in uncertain times and systems face extinction if they cannot re-vision themselves. The re-visioning process requires a ground up approach instead of a top down approach. We live in a socially connected and digital age where information comes easy. We can access the success of others in minutes and engage in how it could apply to us. For much of what needs to change there is no longer a known, rational answer to the problem.
Not having ready made answers to problems creates angst and anxiety for those doing the work. Rallying the group to collaborate and come together isn’t as easy as you would think. Not everyone wants to take the responsibility to solve problems. Existential leadership is encouraging people to embrace the uncertainty of what lies ahead and walk into the unknown together. Concepts like authentic relationship, responsibility, and uncertainty have arisen from existential exploration of what it means to live in this world.
The new economy requires constant creativity, which means individuals and groups will constantly have to step out from comfort and take risks. Leadership in this area is important in how we pull people together to march into uncertainty together, creating something new, transformative, and fresh. The reward is no longer being the recipient or victim of someone else’s ideas, but enjoying the experience of owning the solution, the product. But as much as we might think everyone would enjoy this, they do not. Why? Because it creates fear and anxiety. To be responsible for our lives means we must fully face them and take them on. To be responsible for solution means we must fully face the problem and take it on. There is more risk in ownership than there is in being told what to do.
So far, this is what has been a part of my existential leadership.