Have you ever become caught up in something? A moment? A lie? A deadline? Trying to write a speech? To the extent that you’ve forgotten what really matters to you? It feels like that has happened on a global scale, and it is time to take a breath, look around, and reconnect with what really matters. When we are able to process what our core values are as communities that are connected by international systems, and able to talk through the differences we are likely to have, that is when we will have a form of leadership capable of nuance, compassion, and gratitude. This is the hope that Create Seven gives me.
We need a new type of leader. The qualities we enjoy in friends are so often lacking in leaders: kindness, empathy, the ability to listen, a sense of humour, and perhaps most importantly - trust. Why is this? How has it become the norm for leaders to be childish, antagonistic, and arrogant?
It strikes me that the people we expect to lead our countries cannot be like this in their private lives; one can reasonably expect that our political leaders have friends, partners, families, and that they go about their lives in the most ‘normal’ way possible when not determining our countries’ futures. So it seems reasonable to consider that it is the system in which these people are operating in that enables them to make such poor choices – or, more so than enabling this, this system encourages poor decision making.
It doesn't need explaining that the political structure inhibits our leaders from making long term decisions, or working collaboratively. Being the leader of a political party makes it difficult to elevate other leaders, and say “yes, I agree with that part of what you're saying, and I also believe that...”. More often than not, when these so-called leaders get together in a room the atmosphere is unfriendly, petty, and unproductive. I would love to see a political arena in which leaders can agree with one another and build strategy together, whilst also calling each other out on policies they disagree with in a constructive way. I am doubtful that this can happen in our current political system.
I recently heard Trump described as the embodied potential for a new paradigm. Not necessarily a good one, but one in which the leader of one of the most politically powerful countries in the world doesn’t have to believe in evidence, isn’t rational, and doesn’t have to abide by the social contract. This is big news because it’s not part of the ‘normal’ tradition, but by now sadly old news, and most people have accepted that this is now ‘the way things are’. What Trump shows us is that change is possible. At least half of the United States have accepted Trump as president, and that would have been unimaginable a few years back.
Geoffrey West, theoretical physician, was the person who described Trump as such, and he followed by articulating the need for social innovation rather than material, alongside new metrics for growth, in social or cultural terms rather than financial. West identifies a key question here: can we channel our need for growth into vibrant social phenomena? For it is not only in the political sphere that we see this kind of leadership, it is also in the ever expanding sphere that is the workplace. And after all, this is not only about our work but about our passions, the people we are, and the way we interact.
It certainly feels like there is an appetite for social change, but the actions seems to be happening in pockets outside the mainstream. I am interested in ways that we can shift this energy into the mainstream, and re-engage those who have energy for change, with the systems shaping our daily lives. This is why the Create Seven is so appealing; they actively aim to engage a diverse cross section of society, from corporate managers to members of energy coops; activists to politicians, and run training around new leadership. This kind of work is vital if we are to change the outcomes of leadership systems. Donald Trump paves the way for a future of soundbite politics. We need to create a culture shift in order to enable an environment of deep dialogue, if we are to be able to understand the complexity of the challenges we face across the planet.
The ineffective and damaging leadership that has emerged is compounded by the left's inability to make peace with leadership as a concept. Create Seven deserve praise for encouraging all its participants to take the reins of leadership and find comfort in their power. It will be different for everyone, and that’s ok. The way in which power manifests through you has to feel comfortable, otherwise it will not be sustainable. That’s not to say that discomfort is to be avoided - I certainly believe that some of the most valuable growth comes from places of discomfort. But the way we enact our power has to feel authentic to each of us as individuals. We must be able to look back on our decision makings, especially during hard times, and say “I acted with integrity, and my choices were a reflection of my values”.
This is something that is lacking in the leaders I see on the world stage: integrity. The Create Seven course gives welcome space for participants to feel into what integrity looks like for them, and offers opportunity to reconnect with themselves and the world around them.
Founder of Protestival