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An article about LEADERSHIP
which was published in the July 2004 edition of CTI's magazine
by Tony Barton
What is leadership? What does the world need in terms
of leadership? What impact is possible? What keeps us from stepping
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
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.