Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ecological Leadership

Coming up with a name can be challenging.  When I decided to start a new leadership blog, the first hurdle was what to call it.  I wanted something short, concise, and easy to remember that related to what I see as a big need in our world, attention to leadership and our environment. I did some quick “goggles” of my initial thoughts “EcoTalk” and “EcoLead”, but they were taken.  That left me with “Ecological Leadership”, not so short, but perhaps more meaningful. 

So what does it mean?  Ecological is of course related to ecology – defined as the science concerned with the interrelationships of organisms and their environments.  Leadership that I am interested in involves leading in the sense of guiding on a way or to direct on a course or in a direction.  This type of leadership is not about one individual taking charge, but many individuals coming together.  So what this blog will be about is a place to delve into how we interact with our environment and hopefully look into methods to guide us to interact in more holistic ways with it.

In doing my initial name research, I came across a fascinating paper called “The Ecology of Leadership” which was written by Kathleen E. Allen, Stephen Stelzner, and Richard Wielkiewicz.  The text of the paper can be downloaded here.   The ideas laid out in their paper resonate well with the type of things I hope to delve into on this blog.  Some highlights from the paper follow.

Leadership based on position and authority is inadequate for the challenges we face today. We need leadership which increases our capacity to learn new ways of understanding, defining, and solving the complex problems we are facing. 

We need a new metaphor for understanding leadership. Mechanistic metaphors assume that an individual leader has the ability to direct an organization independent of other systemic forces that act upon it. What is really needed is a metaphor that more accurately reflects the living systems in which leadership processes operate.

Leadership processes need to take advantage of the multitude of talent or capacities that exist within the organization.

An ecological metaphor serves to remind us of the environmental issues that must be at the forefront of leadership processes. Without a healthy and healthful physical environment in which to exist, all organizations are at risk   

A systemic view of leadership brings forth the importance of a long term perspective in the evaluation of the individual actions and systemic forces out of which leadership emerges. It calls for a perspective of not just weeks, months, or years, but decades, generations, and centuries.

Older generations connect with younger generations which connect with unborn generations. 

I’m not sure I have the endurance to keep this blog going for centuries, but at least for the next few weeks I hope to delve further into ecological leadership. 

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