Hierarchical, plan-based, and mind-led
leadership model: A director directs the music, telling
each musician when they are to play and not.
Experiential Co-leadership and
emergent systems model: A group of musicians improvise
music together, melodies and harmonies streaming forth
that no one has planned before hand, and that there is
no director guiding them how to play together. There is
a kind of 'zone' musicians can get into where they are
really tapping in, and things really click. It is a kind
of higher collective consciousness state where you tap
into something bigger than yourself. This model requires
each musician to really tune into each other, to really
listen. The deeper the listening the more creative and
new original spaces the musicians can venture into without
fear of losing the others in the group.
Hierarchy and plan leadership
model: A festival, where the organizer organizers the
whole lineup and scheduling.
Co-leadership and emergent systems
model: At Burning Man anyone can come and build a camp
with a theme there, and run events there according to
their own schedule. The power of the festival comes from
the people. And by tapping into this energy you have many
more nets and events than your normal festival, probably
an order of magnitude more. This is because you don't
just have say 20 organizers that you might have for a
normal festival, you now have something 5000 organizers.
There is still some 'hierarchical'
leadership of Burning Man, but the hierarchical leadership
is more about facilitating and inspiring others to lead.
Hierarchical and mind-led leadership model: Activist organizers
plan the time of a march and how they are going to do
An example of experiential co-leadership
model: There was a bunch of people in the Great Peace
march protesting nuclear proliferation. There were people
who wanted to march at their own pace, and people who
wanted to march together. What happened is that everyone
was given a chance to talk for 2 minutes at a mike. As
everyone talked they somehow took into account of what
people said before while saying their own version. After
everyone had talked there was simply this inner knowing
from everyone about what the right decision was without
their having to be a vote or anything.
This is an interesting form of
'non-voting' democracy. So you do not need to even have
explicit vote to determine what is the best decision.
People simply know inside what is the best decision. This
is the experiential part of the experiential co-leadership
model. It wasn't a mind-based decision.
Hierarchy and plan based leadership
model: A director tells how all the dancers there movements
and when they all come in.
Co-leadership and Emergent systems
model: The movements emerge out of the the dancers listening
to each others bodies and to their own. Contact improv
dance is one example of such an emergent system model.
In Contact Improv the rule is that you stay in contact
with your fellow dancer/s at all time. Out of that emerges
a dance that no one has choreographed. Dances that work
'better' are those where the dancers are really listening
to each others bodies, utilizing a kind of psychic somatic
intelligence to guide each other.
Hierarchy Plan based leadership
model: The boss, the board are the ones who ponders issues,
problems, and what direction to take things next
Co-leadership emergent systems model: In this facilitative
process called Open Space Technology which has been used
by numerous big companies to solve multimillion dollars
issues, everyone is called into one place. It can be a
large group of like 100 people. Then whoever is moved
to can come to the middle and write some issue that they
are passionate. There could be say 8 people who write
something. They then go to a place in the room, and whoever
is drawn to that question goes over and starts discussing
it. So you have these 8 clusters forming. When a person
wants to leave a group they are free to, and join another
group. This is a self-organizing process as they is no-predetermined
questions, nor is it predetermined who will write something.
What happens is that it allows the freedom for a lot of
very useful discussions and ideas to evolve. In some sense
this becomes a board meeting where everyone is involved
discussing what to do. This process can often come up
with solutions to problems that a small group of bosses
cannot, in part because now it is tapping into the intelligence
of the whole as opposed to a select few.
Hierarchy Plan based model : The
development of the Windows operating system by Microsoft.
Co-leadership model: Linux is
an open source developed program that is now rivaling
Windows. It taps into the power of programmers from all
over the world. Everyone is invited to add to the existing
the program. So you have a huge cadre of programmers essentially
volunteering their time to build a program. It works because
a system as developed to allow programmers who have never
met to work together.
Hierarchy plan based model : A
conference who where when everyone talks is all planned
Co-leadership model: People coming
together to share and guide each other. Each person who
comes plays a part in how things end up. There are varying
degrees of this. At a Well Being festival in LA, spaces
are created for people to lead workshops in, but people
determine for themselves when they get there when and
what they lead.
Open Space Technology discussed
above is something that could be tweaked in format so
that it provides a template for how people self-organize
into events and workshops.
There is a conference in Wales,
where when you come you, and where on the first day you
co-create with others what is going happen at the conference
for the rest of the week.
At Foo camp, an internet developer
gathering in Silicon Valley a white board is put with
time and spaces, and people who arrive at the gathering
sign up on the white board to speak.
There is a name for these events
where the content is driven by the participants is called
2. OBSERVATIONS about
Hierarchy: Accent is on power
Co-leadership: Accent is on listening
Co-leadership: It requires more tuning in to each other.
The musicians really have to listen to each other. Things
emerge out of a listening space.
Hierarchy: The accent is on the will.
Co-leadership: The accent is on the heart. (Not to say
that the will is not also very important, but you could
say the will serves the heart)
Hierarchy: Oriented towards achieving
Co-leadership: Oriented towards the present moment, holding
space, entering resonant spaces, 'expanding' group space,
Hierarchy : Leader motivates followers
to achieve objective.
Co-leadership: Everyone inspires and catalyses everyone
else to do their nature, their passion
Hierarchy: Authority is from the boss.
Co-leadership: Authority is from tapping into spirit which
is universally accessible.
Hierarchy: Accent is on how well someone
does a job.
Co-leadership: Accent is on how well people relate to
Hierarchy: The intelligence of the system
as a whole is concentrated at the top.
Co-leadership: The intelligence is distributed throughout
the whole system.
Hierarchy: Leaders may use posturing,
fear, carrots and other things to influence and organize
events and action.
Co-leadership: Emotionally opening, being authentic opens
us the space for things to reorganize themselves.
3. THE CONTAINER. PRODUCT
The container in the hierarchy model
is the plan, and to do what the boss says.
The container in the co-leadership model
can be the rules of the facilitative processes like Non-violent
communication, Heart Circles , Appreciative Inquiry, Open
Space Technology, or World Café. Each of these
processes has certain rules, e.g in Non-violent Communication
the idea is that one uses I statements, and expresses
one emotions and needs. These rules guide the process.
The container is also in some sense how self-aware and
other-aware you are. The more self-aware and other-aware
you are the more the process flows.
The container is in some sense the self-referential
nature of the process. Self-referential processes, feedback
loops allow a system to readjust itself. So when a group
self-reflects on how the process is working for them,
when they self-reflect on their emotional state, that
act itself readjusts the group so that it is more in alignment.
A group doesn't depend on a boss to realign it, it does
it itself. The intelligence that allows that to happen
is distributed throughout the whole system.
The container in the co-leadership model
is the degree we are in our bodies. This is because our
cells, our meridians, our organs etc all contain intelligence
about everything that is happening. The more we tap into
this, the more aware we become of what is happening, and
the 'safer' everything becomes. The more we are able to
drop into our bodies, the more we are able to create an
energetic container that can transmute all sorts of negative
The container is the co-leadership model
is psychic guidance. By opening up to how spirit wants
to guide us, we are constantly guided away from pitfalls
that we do not yet even conceive of. Spirit constantly
is adjusting things so they work together in more harmonious
The container is our awareness of our
emotions, our anger, our guilt, our sadness, our jealousies,
and how that drives our processes and group processes.
As we increase our awareness of this and our ability to
deal with others emotions, the whole group has created
a safe container for traumas and conflicts that may occur.
The container in the co-leadership model
is also the resonant space that everyone creates together.
Things which look like conflicts in more superficial spaces
do not look like conflicts in deeper, more resonant spaces.
The container in contact improv dance
can be guidelines about being careful of doing certain
things to different body parts, or tips about how to listen
to one's partners body. The container is the resonant
space that is created in the dance place. And the container
is the degree that the participants are in their body.
The more in they are in their body the safer the dance
The hierarchy model is focused on end
results. The co-leadership model is focused on the process.
When we focus on the process we do not always know what
where will end up. What often happens is that emotions
and other blockages are transmuted in the process, there
is a release, a widening of perspective, it's almost as
if the whole group wakes up to a higher level of consciousness.
The co-leadership model does end up
with results - Burning man is an mind-blowing festival,
Improv troupes come up with amazing performances, the
Great Peace March ended up being very successful, its
just that you cannot plan, you cannot know at the start
how things will end up.
Alpha Lo, one of the organizers
of a Gathering of Emerging Leaders of All Ages: Transformational
Activism to Birth a New Paradigm shares a letter about
what he has learned experientially about co-leadership.
The hierarchy model is based on trying to get results
in a fixed 'space'. The co-leadership emergent systems
model is about increasing the 'space', we expand the heart
space, the emotional space, the psychic space. We expand
it through somatic exercises, through heart exercises,
through facilitation techniques.