Leadership Development: the roots of change

Posted on August 16, 2009


The first step in change, for an individual, an organization, or a community is changing deeply held beliefs about change.

Is it possible to change?

Do I have the ability to change?

Do I have the will to change?

The questions about change have to change;

From “When is change coming?” or “Where can I look to find change?”

To “Change begins with me. How can I make this happen?”

Change requires a paradigm shift from consumer to contributor, from taker to giver, from sitting back and waiting to leaning forward, ready to take action.

Change is not something that happens to me, change is something we do.

No authentic change comes from without.

Change is real only if it comes from within.

Lasting change begins in our hearts. Then we act authentically from our hearts; from our values and beliefs, from our character. Authenticity compels people to sit up and take notice.

“General H. Norman Schwarzkopf defines leadership as ‘a potent combination of strategy and character, but if you have to be without one, be without the strategy’. Character is the critical link between strategy and execution. The character of the leader is what engenders belief, not clever ideas and fancy rhetoric. The character of the brand is what engenders customer loyalty, not clever advertising. People aren’t stupid. They quickly discern what is authentic from what appears to be empty propaganda. People (customers, voters, employees, shareholders) discern character by sensing ‘intention’.”

Brian Bacon: Leadership in Times of Crisis

Change requires leadership throughout an organization or community. “Anytime the actions of a person are moving others forward in life, this is leadership.”

Leadership must come from the front, from the side, from the back, from the bottom, and from the top of organizations or communities.

First you must become the change you want to see. Live it authentically, in everything you do. Then there will be no question of how to lead. Simply be, then act. Be yourself. Then do what you know is the right thing to do.

The Path of Leadership from the Heart

“Today, everyday leadership practices focus primarily on what is visible.” What is necessary now “is to develop a deeper level of knowing, a deeper level of awareness. This will enhance both decision-making and creativity.”

“The process of becoming aware, is punctuated by three specific ‘gestures’ or inflection points. Each gesture or inflection point shifts the structure of attention from one level of emergence to another:

“From (1) ‘suspension’—overcoming habitual patterns;

“To (2) ‘redirection’—turning one’s attention from the object to its source; and

“To (3) ‘letting go’—changing one’s quality of attention from looking for something to letting it come.”

A Dialogue on Leadership: Illuminating the Blind Spot (p. 9)

The Art of Leadership from the back and from the front

“Leadership requires more than skills and business acumen, great leadership is an art form that requires qualities that signal a capacity for relational and intuitive processes.

“Presence, compassion, integrity and inquiry are qualities that enhance leadership in today’s fast moving, complex world of organization.

“Presence is the embodied capacity for expansion, the ability to extend energy that carries the context and meaning of the organization and what it stands for in a global perspective.

“Compassion is the authentic awareness that our lives are interconnected and the embodied message – ‘we are all in this together’.

“Integrity is manifested through transparency and provides a basis for credibility and accessibility.

“Inquiry is the ability to tolerate uncertainty as an arena of possibility and innovation.

Wendy Palmer: Somatic Intelligence—the Art of Leadership

The Greatest Challenge of Leadership: Self-Deception


The most challenging part of becoming aware of our actions is to recognize one of personalities favorite strategies, self-deception. For a leader, the capacity to be aware of a survival energy pattern emerging creates transparency and a choice point. She can choose to make a shift in energy. Self-deception shows up as an impulse to control others and the outcome without taking one’s own behavior into account. Remember, the personality references on (defers to) control, approval and safety. Rather than looking inward to become aware of how we are participating in a difficult situation the personality looks out at other people and sees how they need to adjust their behavior. A leader who is willing to acknowledge this and make a shift in her energy pattern brings a combination of humanity and centeredness to the challenges of attending to the immediate details of the moment within a sense of the larger context of past, present and future.

Wendy Palmer: Somatic Intelligence—the Art of Leadership

Authentic Leadership in Action


“Authentic Leadership in Action is a transformational journey of learning, growth, and skill-building that leads to the profound renewal of our organizations and communities.

“What exactly is authentic leadership and where does it come from? Although it may be hard to define, most of us know it when we see it. We recognize it in personal examples, whether it is an historical figure, our minister, our CEO, a neighborhood grandmother, or a politician who is truly inspiring. And we recognize it in our own best moments. When we are authentically present and true to our own internal compass, we are able to bring out the best in others. We are able to communicate without pretense and manipulation because we are not hiding behind ego or driven by fear. We are confident because we trust in the natural intelligence and goodness in ourselves and others. Seeing clearly what is and what could be, we are able to act decisively and effectively.

“In today’s world, authentic leadership is like a breath of fresh air. And it is needed everywhere. We are all being called to rise to this challenge, whatever our position or domain of work.”

ALIA Institute