Fitness and Connection

This quest for Integral Leadership and Governance is proving to be a great learning adventure. The email that I shared in the Leadership posting released all sorts of energy. The key tension that it comes down to was between fitness (yang) and connection (yin). Connection was the key driver for people in the group, and also the key theme within the organisation proposal. What my earlier mail attempted to address was the need to be smart about fitness—that is to say, who is fit for what function in the organization? Ken Wilber refers to two perspectives on fitness—one is “vertical solidarity”, and that is a stage of development that fits that of your peers and what a function demands, and “horizontal solidarity” which can refer to the specific capacities needed for a certain function. The implications of “vertical solidarity” and depth in the evolutionary perspective can shake people up, for what it means is that some people are more “evolved” that others (which doesn’t make them better or worse people, just people with access to greater complexity in whatever line of development we are talking about, e.g. cognitive, emotional, interpersonal etc).

The people that we want in key positions in the organisation need to have the second tier perspective in order to be able to hold that centre of gravity in the collective. That means that when someone jumps in full of passion wanting a certain position in the organisation, first one needs to check the “solidarity”, and if that fit is not there, then it means exercising ruthless compassion and trying to help them find another place to channel their energy (inside or outside the organisation). Of course, if there is heavy ego-involvement, then you are in for a rough ride…Following that line of thinking, means that someone or some people need to be the ones to make those distinctions, and they should actually be the ones with the most developed perspective to be able to see the rest as clearly as possible. Which means that if you are not one of those people, then the implications are that you will need to accept that you may reside at a stage that is less complex than that of others. And that’s tricky, especially for the ego…

What some people see in this hierarchy is an old pre-modern (SD Red/Blue) hierarchy where the boss decides everything and you’d better follow the rules or be punished, rather than a second tier natural hierarchy where the vertical and horizontal solidarity emerges naturally and is accepted as obvious, without attachment to status or position—purely in terms of the good of the whole. The resistance tells you what stage people are at—you simply can’t see stages beyond your own.

Now what happened as I held those boundaries and all sorts of heavy energy swirled around them is that people began to question their own position in the organisation. What is happening, is that the whole is evolving, and we parts are being forced to find new alignments. As a whole develops, the parts refine themselves and their relationships into more functional and natural focus and alignment. Limitation leads to release. If we had allowed that evolutionary tension to slip by trying to keep everyone happy and not holding our integrity, then this step would never have happened. Not always easy, but no-one ever said it would be…


I wrote a mail today to the group who are developing the CHE’s organisational structure.
I was trying to express clearly what the nature of Integral leadership might look like. I
have no idea what kind of response it might trigger, and all kinds of doubts kicked in
after I sent it, yet deep down I know that we cannot compromise on this if we are going to
make a real impact. History will tell if I got this moment right…

“The issue is that of leadership, and particularly the order part of the chaordic design. I
found in general too much emphasis going on the chaos and self-organising side –
particularly statements such as “Amongst the stars [people] there is no leadership.” We
are going to need very strong leadership in this organisation. By leadership I mean
holding the boundaries that will create the right kind of space to make this truly a
second-tier organisation. A leadership team from this perspective will contain people
who are a step ahead on the Spiral of the main body of CHE members – that is a core
principle of Spiral and Evolutionary Leadership. That means that we will not be electing
leadership in a representative democracy process, which tends to return the average
rather than leading thinking. Representative Democracy is a manifestation of the Green
system and will not deliver the kind of leadership that we need.

“The pull for this organisation to slip down into a flatland Green form will be great. We
will need leadership with the clarity and courage to hold the tension into second tier if we
are going to be successful in our endeavours. I intend to lead this organisation for the
immediate future, and to do my best to make sure that the people we have carrying out
different functions are there because they are the best people to do that – and that
judgment has a vertical element (centre on the Spiral) and a horizontal element to it
(capacities, skills etc). I will take responsibility for safe-guarding the verticality and
stratified democracy in the organisation. This will of course encounter resistance (and
you may even feel it in yourself as you read this), but if it didn’t then we would already
have done our job and there would be no need for the CHE. I for one am going to ensure
that that evolutionary tension remains in place, and am ready to explain it to anybody
who is ready to listen.

“Expect flak, expect projected pain and hurt from the sensitive self, expect people leaving
the organisation because they can’t handle it. The numbers that remain will give us a true
picture of how established second-tier really is in this country. Maybe there are people
amongst this very group who don’t resonate with the leadership I describe above and
decide to leave. I hope not, as I feel deep down the huge potential that we have, and the
learning edge that we need to be on ourselves if we are to authentically trigger this edge
in the society. However it is ultimately up to each individual to feel where they can
contribute most at this critical time.”

Natural Hierarchy

The last week has been awesome, culminating in the Klaar om te Wenden event with 900 people and an energy that this country will find hard to resist. What we pulled off could not have come out of the old ways of thinking and being—they told us so themselves! This was a test to see if we at the Center for Human Emergence were really serious about walking our talk and making it happen. I believe we passed with flying colours. Always more to learn of course, but now is a time for a major pat on the back, to stand proud and tell the story of this great step. One of things that dawned on me (in one of those bybaby-enforced early morning meditations!) about why we managed what we did, is around how we seemed to embody the concept of natural hierarchy. That is to say that people took on the things that they and others knew they could do best, beyond concerns about status and reward, with the good of the whole as the prime driver.