On the Piazza, Lucca, Italy
Once we understand the origination of a given paradigm, we can map how it might evolve empathetically — as well as assess how difficult it might be to move groups of people up the Spiral to higher levels of connectivity. Servant leadership is one paradigm that can motivate a group of individuals — leaders in the business community — to start that journey. Even though, as we’ve seen, servant leadership rests on independent, trust-based relationships, it is a status trigger for those down there in external relationship v-Meme land. Getting to deny, then proclaim oneself striving for servant leadership is good bait for the status conscious.
But because it is based not on title, but an aggregate of empathetic relationship construction and actual performance, anyone that’s healthy in the head is along for an upward ride. That’s the point of Servant Leadership 1.0. It’s an implicit evolutionary ladder. You do the various tasks — build your team, focus on performance and measurement, catalyze your team, and so on — you’re going to grow empathetically. Because you have to.
Servant Leadership 2.0 is also an evolutionary, empathetic ladder — with Servant Leadership 1.0 nested inside of it. But with its focus on self-awareness, and inner development of the individual, it unlocks larger potentials in terms of leadership team function. And because mindfulness training is millennia-old, far more evolved minds have debated and discussed it.
But if you have to boil it down, it’s going to come down to two core practices. The first is debate with others. One has to open oneself up to exchange with other constituencies — the broader, the better. It can’t just happen with a bunch of white men sitting in a board room. The broader the constituencies, the larger the growth.
The second is meditation and reflection. The two are tied intrinsically together, because you simply can’t get to the silence of meditation without reflection. For me personally, it happens on my bike — I start riding, and after about 30 minutes of getting through my stress and anger about whoever I perceive is doing me wrong today, I get to a point of positivity, and then start thinking about the good things in my life. And then, after about 15 more minutes, I’m through those thoughts. And then there’s just me.
Debate is an intrinsic element of learning to build independent relationships with others. Anyone that aspires to servant leadership has to effectively, empathetically master it — because without it, the information coherence in the channel simply can’t be sufficient for the effective leader to receive accurate information. That means the Servant Leader must place-take constantly, because if not, the person they are talking to may shut down, and not tell them something critical they need to know. The quality of the grounding of experience with others is directly related to the openness one approaches the dialogue.
And as well, reflection and meditation must be core practices for Servant Leadership 2.0. Why? Because without an inner dialogue, where one deals empathetically with oneself, how can one develop an honest dialogue with our own insides? Because if we want to have data-driven, trust-based relationships with others, the first person we must construct one with is ourselves.
Once we accept this paradigm, many pathways open up for development of Servant Leadership 2.0. There may be some direct algorithmic training involved — breathing exercises and so on. But by and large, it’s going to involve interacting with others — experiential learning. Varying the scales of such learning, both temporally and spatially — from short-term to long-term relationships, as well as friends here, and friends across the globe, in different cultures and places — is key.
When enough of a cohort of such individuals are gathered together, the possibility of interconnected, empathetic collaborative teams offer a pathway to larger, Global Holistic modes. No one independently needs to be the spiritual master. It’s the whole — not the one. And skilled in open debate, as well as private reflection, decisions can be jointly made that benefit the larger whole. That’s how you get Global Holistic out of a team of Global Systemic thinkers. Each one is a self-aware node on their authority and realm of influence and responsibility. And because all parties are well-formed, they know what they know — as well as what they don’t. That then yields to the integrated landscape necessary for running the modern, empathetic global corporation.
Further Reading: Some interesting work on the development and merging of rational thought with spiritual practice. Though I haven’t heard much since I read about this four years ago — teaching Tibetan monks neuroscience — I’m wondering how Arri Eisen’s work has proceeded. Not surprisingly for followers of this blog, the development of a rational spirituality opens the door, when even previously unexposed, to the methods of science.