This is the first of probably a number of blogposts on learnings and thoughts on leadership – a topic I’ve been confronted with over the last 18 months.
Knowmads, my school, has been mainly about personal leadership. About leading my own life, being responsible for myself, taking ownership for my thoughts, emotions, actions and future.
The half year after Knowmads was about personal leadership in action. I tested whether I was able to take my life in my own hands without the safety net of a school and community that would guide and support me.
And the last year has been a lot about leadership. How do I lead a group and an initiative?
A group convenes around a strong purpose. Often this strong purpose is carried by one individual, while the others feel a strong resonance. Peter König calls it source , others call it differently.
The learning here is that though people come together for a purpose, it needs someone to verbalize and carry the purpose. Someone needs to feel the need and purpose and call for the movement or gathering.
So people don’t gather around a person, but around a purpose, carried by a person, I think.
This person has a strong clarity, a vision, a sense of right and wrong or direction – and the courage to speak it out loud. You could say, within them the worries and longings of their community crystallize and take form.
If you find yourself in that situation, you have lots of choices – so many they might overwhelm you.
What is the kind of leader you want to represent? What is the kind of organization needed to fulfill your cause? How can you work with the people that joined you?
Seth Godin suggests in his Tribe book that the primary job of a tribal leader is to connect and strengthen the tribe.
I think that’s good advice. And something I can learn lots about.
I thought I had to wait
or to push
or to come up with solutions
or come up with problems
or be a good example
or make some pressure
or have less people to work with
But all those have not yielded long-term results, so far.
On the other hand, I know movements and organizations where a large percentage of members are impressively active (AFS, MakeSense, AIESEC to name a few) without an apparent leader telling them what to do and where to go.
What they have in common is lots of care in how they connect and strengthen their community. One could almost say that one of the main activities of the organization is to bring people together in a good mood and fun setting so they can connect and enjoy each other’s company. From there, activity develops.
One learning about leadership.