Leadership has become a slightly suspicious term over the years. From an elegant term full of responsibility and capability, many people today associate leadership with misuse of power and corruption. The more anarchistically inclined may have come to the conclusion that the time for leaders is gone, that we are now all our own leaders, and we don’t need any guidance in any area, be it political, social, moral or spiritual.
But however attractive such a radical idea may be, it is difficult to see how we can function together as communities without using the accumulated knowledge of the past and some kind of organizational levels — if there were no such thing as leaders. What is perhaps more realistic, and also desperately needed, seems to be a new type of leader, based on principles far from pure hierarchy and privileges of the few.
The approach of Dr. Jack King is a great inspiration for a new approach on the concept of leadership. His spiritual teachings deal thoroughly with the concept of leadership as service. Apart from numerous blog posts and coach work, Dr. King has written two books on this particular subject. These books are written in a form that can be approached by most ages, and are full of wisdom on this subject.
In Where the Mountain Meets the Sea, and One with the People: Everything You Need to Be the Leader They Need! Dr. King uses the novel form to explore the idea of bringing in timeless teachings from the traditions and culture of the 19th century American Indian ancient wisdom into the role of the leader. Both books are set on the top of a grand mesa in the four corners region of America’s Southwest, where Sani, a very old and very wise Navajo man, prepares his adopted granddaughter, Topangah, to take her very special place among the people. With the help of a few friends (Eagle, Buffalo, Bear, Sasq’ets, Wolf, Turtle and Beaver), Sani introduces Topangah to the great teachings of the Anishinabek’s Seven Grandfathers to help her learn about life, love and leadership. The latter book connects the teachings with the 21st century corporate world.
The serene form of calm conversations and ceremony is perhaps exactly what we need to take the concept of leadership further. The step needed seems to be that any leader has to work from the inside, to be able to have something to give to the outside.
The idea of the leader as someone who now needs to reassess the value of functioning from the inside, rather than having the right social tools, seems to be spreading in a more general sense. Best-selling author Peter Scazzero’s book The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team, and the World, uses the Christian belief system to help transform the concept of leadership, and a wide array of webinars, books and websites are set up to support leaders from an emotional perspective. The movement seems to be towards the leader as someone who first has to transform from within, and find the emotional and spiritual maturity necessary to be able to have something to give to others.
Dr. Jack King’s books are a great example in what direction to move with the leadership concept. It provides a platform from which to take a clear stand on the belief that leadership is love manifest, maintaining what the people need most is not more leaders but, rather, to know love and compassion through their leaders.
Young heroine Sani says this about the role of leaders: “They begin their work from where we are, not where they want us to be.”
Could it only be so. It will be interesting to see what direction the leadership role will go from here. Let’s hope that ancient wisdom, from whatever culture, and emotional and spiritual maturity will be seen as the requirements for leaders very soon.