Project 11.2
...the necessary, new axis for Leadership Development

(Excerpts from media interaction)

11.2... Commonly referred to as 'escape velocity'... the force required to escape the gravitational forces holding things back...
A recent task force, created under the aegis of Michigan State University Extension, was charged with articulating a conceptual framework to guide existing and future Leadership Development efforts. It recognised the inadequacy of today's LD programs in its implicit philosophy, that leadership rests in individuals who must be capable of inspiring and influencing others to solve problems and achieve goals. The task force later stated that LD for the 21st century is holistic. It is centred in groups, organizations & society, rather than individuals. It engages more than the intellect, and grasps the heart, mind, spirit & energy.

William George, an expert on Leadership Development from Harvard Business School, is looking to the East as a model for developing strong business leaders. He recently teamed with Tibetan Buddhist master Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche to present mindful-leadership, a secular process to explore the roles of self-awareness and self-compassion in developing strong and effective leaders. Its goal is to bring together Western understanding about leadership, and Eastern wisdom about the mind, developed from practices that have been used for thousands of years Peter Senge referred to the prevalent 'heroic' view of leadership as often being based on a deficiency view of people, clearly shifting the debate from what is no longer adequate to 'what else is there'.

Project 11.2 is that journey to explore, seek and secure "what else is there" for leadership-development in future...

Prevalent Thought Streams...
PTS 1... A key question in any discussion on leadership is whether or not a leader's personality is a factor of decisive importance in the leadership role, OR whether society’s structural demands impose a certain logic of behaviour and role expectations that define the style and the essence of leadership. There are two main traditions of thought... the one focusing on the role of a powerful individual and the other relying on powers of the community.

PTS 2... Many western paradigms attribute to the position of Chieftaincy, individual (masculine) qualities of a person; his courage, wisdom, bravery, shrewdness, physical strength, and perseverance. Western individualism also draws on the traditional concept of authority that allows for the epic hero, the bold leader, the imaginative warrior, the conqueror of the unknown. One might think of this as a "great man" approach. It is patriarchal, ideographic, and oriented toward external success, rather than diligent implementation of the community's norms and values. The ruler is not to be judged by exogenous moral principles; rather, the latter are to conform to the ruler's will. This ethics of governance has been clearly individualist, from its inception.

PTS 3... Many Eastern archetypes however, flourished with communitarian understanding especially in South and East Asia. The Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh contains a discernible, narrative "of a young ruler instructed in civic responsibility through divine inspiration". The Mahabharata moves this much further. In China, the relationship between individual power and the community based ethics, was a key platform for Confucians, Taoists, Mohists, and Legalists. All these thinkers saw leadership as "an ethical hierarchy led by virtuous leaders". Success and power were traced to the collective, aggregate qualities of the social whole, to the habits, traditions, ethical and religious norms of the community.

PTS 4... The choice between the two views of leadership always evoked debate on some of the key ideas of select Asian/Eastern and European/Western contributions. Over the years the Western canon zeroes in on the individual and "own" will as the prime source of leadership, and the art of the possible. The Eastern/Asian traditions, diverse and dissimilar as they are, nonetheless all focus on the art of the necessary. One, based on the normative 'ought' side of action as required by society, and the other springing from the transformational visions of the person. One stressing on collective wisdom, and the other on individual spirit.

PTS 5... In the West, intuitive knowledge has often been secondary and devalued in favour of rational scientific knowledge, and the rise of science has even led to claims that intuitive knowledge is not really knowledge at all. In the East, the tradition has been to celebrate the importance of the tacit, intuitive knowledge compared to the explicit, rational information. The Upanishads for instance speak about a higher and a lower knowledge, and associate lower knowledge with the various sciences.

PTS 6... Taoist philosophy recognizes that the Universe already works harmoniously according to its own ways. The how, the Tao of intention and motivation are the key. The sense of Wu Wei, the concept of 'effortless action' is a part of Taoist martial arts such as Tai chi. In Neijia (Ninja), one of the aims is to be able to fight in this state. There is no ego wishing to aggrandise itself by punishing the opponent, and every move is performed effortlessly before one has time to think. One blocks every move by one's opponents, yet for all parties involved one might be playing with clouds (it's painless and without harmful consequence. Wu Wei complies with the main and distinguishing characteristic of Taoism, that of being natural. Laozi's writings manifest Wu Wei on how leaders should govern their kingdom. Ruling a big country is like cooking a small fish. When you're frying a small fish, too much poking will ruin it. Hence real leaders create general policies and direction, but do not micromanage. To do this well, we must understand the ways of our people and not go against the grain. To apply wu wei to any situation is to take natural action that is wholly in harmony with the Tao in a completely natural, uncontrived way.

PTS 6... As per the Samkhya School, the real journey, the exploration of discriminate knowledge, is knowing the difference between conscious Purusa & unconscious Prakriti. Samkhya teaches that knowledge (viveka) is attained by one's own development of the higher faculties of discrimination. This is often achieved by meditation and other yogic practices as prescribed through the Hindu Vedas.
Samkhya theorizes that Prakriti is the source of the perceived world of becoming and contains 24 'tatvas' including intellect (buddhi), ego (ahamkara) and mind (manas). Prakriti, as the 'mool-tatva' is composed of three essential characteristics, 'tri-gunas' (sattva, rajas, tamas). Samkhya provides deep understanding of intellect, mind, ego and pure consciousness, which has always been the real journey of exploring discriminate knowledge.

PTS...7. The five- elements, are part of common folk-lore in most parts of the world. These elements have become a basis to understand suffering and for liberating oneself from it, with spiritual & even religious overtones. However, almost all scholars clarify that these elements have to be understood as the base for all "observation of real sensations" rather than just spiritual philosophy. It is in this way that these elemental processes came to form the basis of the calendar, astrology, medicine, psychology and most other disciplines in the East.


The understanding of leadership is often focussed to the exclusive and expert practice of a skill or accomplishment of a task often driven by individual excellence. There is no denying the place for this heroic display, but there is need to broaden this understanding to include other definitions driven both by real contextual differences and emerging contextual possibilities.

This point of view, shifts Leadership Development from a packaged curriculum to an evolving, customized educational process focused on building self-awareness, compassion, and relationships. Leadership Development moves from explicit leadership-development programs to ‘tacit’ experiences embedded in concrete issues relevant to the participants in the process.

Project 11.2... escaping the gravitational forces that hold us back from creating the future.


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