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Here's a question.
Is an ant an animal in its own right, independent of the colony it belongs to?
Certainly there is no way the ant could survive more than hours on its own. It depends on others for specialised roles, like security, gathering food and reproduction. Each ant on its own has no real meaning or worth. It exists only for the benefit of the whole colony.
Each ant follows just three simple rules and from this emerges the complex behaviour of the colony, behaviour so flexible and robust that I have been unable to eliminate the colony from my house. Managing the space between
Is a human an animal in its own right?
Obviously, as human beings we have more independence than an ant, indeed my deepest belief and most of my career has been about stressing that each individual life is precious and special, each of us is a genius with a unique part to play in the world, which, without any one of us, would be a poorer place. However, like ants we could not survive for long on our own, we have specialist roles like security and producing food and we need each other for reproduction. I suspect visitors from outer-space observing humans objectively would see us as colonies more than individuals.
Margaret Thatcher famously said:
"There is no such thing as society:
there are individual men and women,
and there are families."
I think the ancient Chinese poem attributed to the Sage Wu Wei Wu, is more correct:
"Why are you so unhappy?
Because ninety nine percent of what you think,
And everything you do,
Is for yourself,
And there isn't one."
From the space ship, we are all so deeply connected, "I" is just a symbol representing something that doesn't really exist. At this level there is no such thing as a person, since, most of our meaning and most of our worth comes from others. From ground level, we are all special individuals. Whichever level we chose to look from, we must never forget that our part is only a part. While we need to understand ourselves deeply so we know how we can contribute to the whole, we should never forget that it's the whole that we serve. It's the whole that gives us meaning and worth; and that without the whole we are nothing.
Scientists tell us that connectedness is the defining characteristic of the universe. I'm sure when business people catch up with the scientists in this understanding, this new world-view will be at least as influential as the industrial (isolation) world-view introduced by earlier scientists like Newton, that still shape most management action. Actions like measuring organisational performance by adding up the performance of isolated business units, firing individuals when there are difficulties, or selling off individual business units, without taking account of how the larger systems may be the problem.
How will the new connectedness world-view shape management action? When managers start to understand that we are far more connected than most of them thought, they will see that the thoughts they carry in their heads directly impact others even if they are unspoken. They will see that the 'space' between individuals is not empty. It is full of energy made up of trust, feelings emotions, information and love. As irresistible leaders they will need to manage this 'space' at least as deliberately as they manage the individuals.
In my Irresistible Leadership Program I help managers see their world are far more connected than most of them previously believed and work through the consequences for managerial behaviours. As Jim Law of Te Kura, The Correspondence School said:
"It changed the way I see my reality."
I also help them see that collaboration is a stronger force than competition, and discourage competition, especially within the organisation.
Give me a call if I can help. In the meantime: Think BIG!
Virtual Group Business Consultants
free phone: 0800 4 virtual or +644 570 0727 or Skype Bruce.Holland
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Key words: Leadership, leadership development, leadership management, leadership training, leadership program, leadership skills