6th May 2013

Leadership Discoveries as the Waves Recede

Just over a week ago I participated in the powerful experience of the Purple Beach Launch (, created by Annemie Ress and her team.  I didn't want to pre-limit the creative and innovative potential of such a vibrant group of people in defining what it gave me too soon. Now, as the waves recede, I am left with a number of powerful learnings …

1. Intimacy

Three aspects here:

  • How can we ensure that a generation brought up on Facebook/Twitter has the emotional resilience/courage to understand and value true human intimacy?  Looking around today, the previous generation hasn’t, on the whole, done that well itself …
  • Fear of intimacy - with self as well as others - lies at the root of family and organisational dysfunction. How can we enable people to develop intimacy in the environment of fear and greed in social/commercial organisations, using mindfulness, EI, presence, purpose etc., in ways that are meaningful and actionable for them? 
  • To truly ACT (Awareness, Connection, Transformation) requires comfort with intimacy.  When the very tools that enable us to develop this can so easily become annexed by our ego defences (i.e. a means of proving to ourselves who and how good we are, instead of making us comfortable with the fact that we "are not" and need the constant evolution of connections to grow), what do we need to stay true to the constant emergence of the world we create? 

2. The Joy of Ignorance

The Purple Beach experience confirmed something that has been bubbling up for me over the past months:  “Heroic Certainty” (as a desirable leadership quality) is dead!  

The fundamental fact of leadership today is that no-one "knows" (if they ever did?).  Just look at the comedic potential of the UK chancellor standing up in parliament trying to convince the country that he knows what is going on in the global financial system at the same time as the EU are sanctioning a member government to steal 10% of their citizens’ bank deposits! Now, more than ever, anyone who says “I know what is happening and what to do – follow me !” is clearly deluded or lying.  

The best the leader can have in our “VUCA” (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world with its “Wicked” problems is a good working hypothesis.  

Being comfortable with the fact that I don't know, and don’t "have to" convince others that I know, means that the first thing I want to do is ask others "what do you see?" - and increase my awareness, connection, and the chances of getting a better answer and a more effective course of action.  It also means that I need to find the followers who understand these issues – who are comfortable with uncertainty, who wish to be a part of the answer and who distrust easy answers and those who pedal them.

The leaders of the world to come will be those who celebrate their ignorance as the basis of their strength.  The journey will be shared ... promoting collaboration, sufficiency and sustainability over fear and greed. 

Thank you, Purple Beach …                


Posted by Jefferson Cann

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