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An article about LEADERSHIP which was published in the July 2004 edition of CTI's magazine 'The Inquiry'

by Tony Barton

What is leadership? What does the world need in terms of leadership? What impact is possible? What keeps us from stepping into leadership?

As someone who is currently three quarters of the way through CTI’s Leadership programme (yes I’m English!) these questions intrigue me – surely I should have some answers by now – so this article is my attempt at answering those questions – both for myself and perhaps for you.

What is Leadership?

Well it’s kind of easier to say what it’s not.

It’s not what you think it is.

It’s not about becoming someone else.

It’s actually about becoming yourself – which sounds kind of easy doesn’t it – and to some extent that is true and then it can be the hardest thing in the world too.

Let me explain – or at least give you a perspective – my own.

I have always known deep down inside that I am on this planet for some kind of reason other than to ‘make a success’ of my life as interpreted by a civilised Western economy. I never knew what that reason was until I stepped ‘blindly’ into the Leadership programme. It was just so compelling – I HAD to sign up – it was as if I knew that this was my chance to discover….who I was…and why I am here – questions that we all ask ourselves when we are kids growing up – and then somewhere along the line we think we know the answer or more likely we forget to ask the question any more. And I found that this strange compulsion to ‘show up’ at leadership was the same for all the other people on the programme – we weren’t ‘leaders’ –we were just ordinary folk who had some kind of extraordinary desire to find out what this leadership thing was all about.

And in a way that is what I think Leadership is – it’s a quest for understanding, a thirst for knowledge, a desire to be more, a passion for humankind. It’s a way of being in the world – and from that ‘being’ place so much is possible – and all you have to be is yourself – in all your magnificence.

What does the world need in terms of Leadership?

Well it would seem pretty obvious that the current forms of Leadership in the world are not serving us too well – so I guess the answer is something new.

My dream is that there will come a time when the world will recognise the true nature of what it is to be a fully alive human being – and respect that in such a way that people and everything that inhabits our planet earth can truly live in harmony. For me this is a return to our natural state – the way we are meant to be in the world –aware, alive, sensing, feeling, spiritual, communal beings. I know that sounds idealistic or idyllic or unreal AND I make no apologies for that – the current state of the world and our way of being in it fills me with fear for our future and for our childrens’ futures. And that is where I feel there is a need for leaders to make a stand – this is what the world needs from the new leaders – an alternative – a choice – a different way of being – a belief in the sacredness of humanity and the world.

What impact is possible?

That will depend on how brave we are – and how many of us are prepared to take a stand for an alternative way. Our impact will be felt in the world when we choose to live our lives as leaders – not followers. And the impact will be felt at home in our families and among our friends and in our communities – it will be felt wherever we choose to ‘show up’ as leaders. And the impact I want to have is to challenge people to question ‘the way it is’ and to allow them the freedom to see the way ‘it might be’ – to allow them a glimpse of an alternative way of being in the world – a way that makes them feel great to be alive – to rejoice in the prospect of abundance and choice and ease – and a way that allows them to connect with the ‘oneness’ that unites us all in every moment.

My futureself is ‘Brave WaveMaker’ and if I am to make waves that impact on the world I need to start by making some ripples – and I believe I am beginning to do that – the waves will follow.

What keeps us from stepping into leadership?

The crunch question – after all the fine words – what stops us from action?


Fear of taking responsibility: fear of being wrong: fear of being laughed at: fear of making the effort: fear of losing what we have: fear of fear.

It’s not easy is it?

It’s so much easier to leave it to someone else – to other people who are more…more committed than me….more brave than me…more able than me…there’s always a good reason why now is not the right time to step up and be the leader I yearn to be.

And my final thought on that is something that I learned in the meadow at The Mother Tree – it went something like this. For me – and perhaps you too – the thought of ‘being a leader’ can be weighed down with thoughts of struggle and effort and of burden and pain – no wonder it can be hard to step into. And then there is an alternative thought process that can make it light and joyous, easy and painless. Supposing that stepping into my leadership role is as simple as being me – all of me – and that when I can do that I can let go of all the hardship – and slowly – step by small step – begin to make the difference that I know the world is crying out for.

Will I do it – will you?

Watch this space.


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Tony Barton (photo)
Tony Barton
CTI Leader

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