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…

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