Leadership when pinched: Redefining Power

We are living in a business world of downward forecasts, slipping GDP growth, shrinking middle class, declining consumer confidence and spending, erratic stock market, and…yes…financial earthquake.  And yet, behaviors and mindsets are all the same.  Most economists don’t forecast an improvement until 2018.  What should leaders do in a time when everyone is pinched so hard?  How do we shape the path forward?

I attended a leadership seminar earlier this year in Atlanta, and was amazed by how all speakers were saying the same things for years with slightly different terminologies.  The new buzz word in the business world is influential leadership.  While that’s good, it lacks the fundamental shift that we need in our thought process and actions.

A few thought leaders have touched on the high need for “feminine values” and “soft powers”, but none of them clearly defined these terms that seem to be loaded with polarizing reactions. That’s why I have developed emotional and cultural frameworks for my consulting business, to steer away from gender stereotyping of these critical business and leadership models.  This will be explained in details in my book, but I’d like to share a few highlights with my loyal readers.

Riane Eisler in her book “The Chalice & The Blade” explains a remarkable Cultural Transformation theory with two very different social models:  Dominator and Partnership.  The Dominator model is the ranking of one half of humanity over the other.  The Partnership model is based on the principle of linking rather than ranking.  Feminine values are associated with creation, life generating nurturing powers and giving – versus taking, conquest and domination that are often associated with masculine values.  This is not the battle of the sexes or genders, for we all know not even in our male dominated world not all women are peaceful, giving and nurturing and many men are.  I am referring to human values that have become a business and social imperative in our current economic climate.

As both technology and society have grown more complex, the survival has become increasingly dependant on the direction of cultural evolution. The virtual worldwide web reveals both possibilities and cultural shadows.  It reveals collaborations and alliances as well as exposing famine terror and epidemic greed leading to global financial collapse.  As a result, we’ve seen a step backward to our defensive needs (food, safety, basic living essentials) instead of shifting to higher needs of growth, actualization and our interconnectedness with all of humanity. It’s time to consciously and collectively choose our own cultural evolutionary path.

Sounds too woo woo or too soft?  Not really.  The need to control and dominate is a feeling of powerlessness…control or be controlled.  I believe it is time to redefine power as less need to limit or control other and define power as affiliation, linking and partnership. That means leaving behind the hard, conquest and domination oriented values.  Replacing conformity and uniformity with individuality and diversity.  Focusing more on relationships than on hierarchies.  Balancing of intuition with reason and logic.  Balancing competition and cooperation.  Making conflict productive rather than destructive.  Embracing equality, justice, freedom, openness, trust, honesty and integrity.  A New World leader ought to possess all this power, and must know that it is time for a partnership society where neither half of humanity is ranked over the other, nor inclusion equated with inferiority or superiority.

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