Nourishing Informal Leadership Everywhere

Learning to see and support what’s already right in front of us.

Yesterday I articulated that the current methods of trying to transform society as a whole, by transforming formal leaders of organizations and then transforming the organization in turn, are often limiting.

They’re limiting because they’re often inaccessible (and perhaps even invisible) to any individual primed for transformation because they’re targeting formal leaders first and foremost. Thus a person who isn’t a formal leader within an organization may not realize that these classes can actually help them take leadership of their life as a whole.

They’re also limiting because they’re often unaffordable to a person who doesn’t have a salary typical of a formal leader, since the classes can easily be in the thousands of dollars (not even including the air fare to get to the class). Thus a person who isn’t a formal leader can’t simply choose to take them in the same way a formal leader could (perhaps even writing off the class as an executive developmental expense), because the price point inhibits it.

Seeing Potential Leaders Everywhere

Why I’m so adamant about trying to break down these barriers that can be limiting people and preventing them from transforming themselves is because we are living within a world where there are often amazing informal leaders all around us, readily primed for transformation, but they often go unrecognized and unrewarded (even by themselves), be it within organizations or even outside of them. Richard Barrett in his book Evolutionary Coaching reiterates this when he mentions a quote from Bill George’s book True North.

An enormous vacuum in leadership exists today—in business, politics, government, education, religion, and nonprofit organisations. Yet there is no shortage of people with the capacity for leadership. The problem is we have a wrongheaded notion of what constitutes a leader, driven by an obsession with leaders at the top.

Bill George, True North

And I would even go so far as to say that because of this “wrongheaded notion” of what constitutes a leader, most conventional organizations today are actually impeding the natural leadership capacities and growth of their people, rather than helping to foster and nourish them. When this happens, these people often need an “exist strategy” of some kind to find environments more conducive to their growth, as Richard Barrett notes below.

If the cultures they are embedded in hinder them in their developmental journey you may need to help your clients develop an exit strategy: help them find an organisation, community or society that will be better able to support them in their human emergence.

Richard Barrett, Evolutionary Coaching

Informal Platforms for Creative Growth

Thinking back on my own journey, particularly around the 1990s with the emergence of the Internet and Web, I could tell that I was looking for something more in my professional work life but I wasn’t finding it. I think this is why the background of my life starting shifting more to the foreground. In effect, I started to create and cultivate communities online around video games, becoming a leader within them, which in turn helped me to take leadership of the growth of my life in ways that formal work environments and organizations weren’t letting me do.

However, interestingly enough near the end of the 1990s, because I was becoming more and more comfortable and confident in my abilities, both as a Web developer / designer and as a leader, I leaped at the opportunity to work within a local web firm which built online communities hubs for some of the largest video game developers at the time (i.e. Sierra Studios, Activision, Konami). Even though it was initially just a junior position, within six months I had quickly become a Senior Web Developer within the company and was mentoring others on standards and emerging best practices, even in areas outside of my usual expertise (i.e. proposal writing, etc).

This is what I’m trying to get at as a whole. We need different informal platforms for growth and leadership because our existing formal institutional platforms are often still working on a lower level of consciousness which is often limiting our growth. Therefore if we can find newer informal ways of connecting, empowering, and inspiring ourselves individually and collectively, I believe we will see an explosive developmental growth in our society as a whole that we haven’t seen in centuries, whereby we will see community “guilds” overseeing the emergent practice of character development (i.e. soft skills) rather than just craft/trade development (i.e. hard skills).

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