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Leading is not what it used to be. No matter how experienced and successful you have been in your leadership roles to date, no one can be prepared for what is coming. The world is changing too fast and there are too many interlinked variables. Our organizational situations are complex and therefore unpredictable.

And this leadership challenge makes me feel excited and hopeful! Any feasible response to our current human predicament must include rapid, radical inner growth: the kind of evolution that humans are uniquely qualified to lead. A new form of leadership is the catalyst we need heralding the future we are waiting for.

As a human development professional, I know that people don’t change radically until they feel sufficient pain. The more open we are in sensing discomfort, the more likely we are to change quickly to capitalize on the opportunities that are arising.

What do we know about this new form of leadership?

This new world calls for not only the agile/creative/purpose-oriented leadership that we find in the senior ranks of our best organizations. Our unprecedented global challenges, the poly-crisis of economic, geopolitical and ecological instabilities, is inviting us to slow down into a much more wholesome, intelligent, compassionate and potent form of leadership. Let’s call it Integral Leadership.

…the poly-crisis of economic, geopolitical and ecological instabilities, is inviting us to slow down into a much more wholesome, intelligent, compassionate and potent form of leadership.

We know that Integral Leadership builds on the Creative Mindset that corresponds to an agile way of working. Creative/agile leadership requires that we are conscious enough to know when our more primitive stress responses are in control. Our actions must be purposeful, motivated towards creating something rather than towards protecting ourselves by trying to be right, be liked or be in control.

The leaders who are consistently able to achieve this level of awareness and personal purpose are leading from a self-authoring stance, defined by their own sense of what is good and right, versus depending on what is conventional or the opinions of others. This leadership operating system correlates strongly with business results. And it calls for uncommon attention to personal development, awareness and performance.

And yet, our world situation is demanding more.

Thought leaders Bob Anderson of The Leadership Circle, Nicholas Janni, author of Leader as Healer and Otto Scharmer creator of the U-Process are unveiling the outlines of a more sophisticated form of leadership that is at home in the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) and BANI (Brittle, Anxious, Non-linear, Incomprehensible) world we now live in. Here are some quotes to give a taste of it.

Integral leaders are those rare leaders capable of catalyzing breakthrough innovation that, not only transforms technology, products, and services, but also the economic, organizational, political, and social systems that herald a new, emergent, higher-order, sustainable, and thriving future for the planet and all living beings.
–Bob Anderson, Co-Founder of The Leadership Circle and Author of the whitepaper The Future of Leadership is Integral Informed by Unity

To face the scope and threats of the 21st century challenges, today’s leaders must possess potent powers for logic, reason, discernment and strategic forecasting. Yet, they must also be empathic and therefore embodied, grounded and intuitive.

–Nicholas Janni, Author of Leader as Healer, Business Book of the Year 2023

Leadership is about being better able to listen to the whole than anyone else can.
… It is this shared awareness that allows for fast, flexible, and fluid coordination and decision-making that are far more adaptive and co-creative than any other organizational model currently being used in major societal institutions.
–Dr. C Otto Scharmer, Founder of Presencing Institute and developer of the Theory U


And in the slip stream of these thought leaders, we find paradigm shifters like film-maker Nora Bateson, who are plunging us into this new world of embodied leadership/being.

Leadership does not reside in a person but in an arena that can be occupied by offerings of specific wisdom to the needs of the community. So leadership is produced collectively in the community, not the individual. The individual’s responsibility is to be ready and willing to show up, serve, and then, most importantly, stand back. Leadership for this era is not a role or a set of traits; it’s a zone of inter-relational process.
–Nora Bateson, Founder of the International Bateson Institute and author of Combining


This new form of leadership requires that we wake up in the most practical sense: to know what is true in each moment while tracking what is arising. Through deepening  present-moment awareness and broadening scope of concern, I have seen glimpses of the effects of connected intelligence such as extraordinary human alignment and creative solutions resolving multiple issues simultaneously. At times there is an embodied realization that I am not separate from the world I intend to lead and my part in the change we are in is essential.

I am eager to flow along on this journey with leaders of all kinds who also feel the promise.