Editorials of Nancy Roof

What Kind of Leader Are You?

Dear Friends of Kosmos,

Sometime ago my son asked, “Mom, what kind of leader do you
think you are?” I was taken aback as I had actually never thought
about myself in this way. I automatically began thinking about
political leaders such as Mikhail Gorbachev and Kofi Annan, or
business leaders such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, or media
prophets such as Bill Moyers, or religious figures like Christ and
the Buddha. All of these leaders held positions of power in their
respective fields and had significantly influenced world society.
As my son prodded me more, I began to realize that I was a
leader, but an entirely new kind of leader. I thought of myself
more as a server, dedicated to making a better world—perhaps
a visionary leader of the emerging future that C. Otto Scharmer
speaks about in his fascinating article, or that John Schmidt
describes in his integral article on Living Leadership, or perhaps
an authentic and intimate leader that Victoria Wilding portrays
as vulnerable and powerful at the same time; a new kind of leader
motivated not so much by the need to control, but more by the
power of attraction.

I thought about how situations and life conditions evoke different
types of leadership and about the kind of evolutionary leadership
practiced throughout the ages; tribal leadership by elders, heroic
power-driven leadership when danger is imminent, authoritarian
leadership for law and order, the leadership of the entrepreneur,
group facilitation for consensus, leadership based on competency,
macro-leadership that mobilizes the global world, and inner
guidance of the subjective worlds of our interiors. It seems that
the most effective new leaders are resilient, able to change leadership
styles according to the needs of the moment, present to the
complexities of the age—surfing on the crest of the wave of the
emerging future.

My son’s questioning opened up an expanded vista of possibilities
to me as I began to explore hard and soft power—one based on
force, command and control and the other based on the power of
attraction. Mikhail Gorbachev says that politics is lagging behind
other institutions in meeting the realities of the 21st century
and that it needs the soft power that global civil society offers in
order to heal humanity’s divisions. Gareth Evans, an authority on
international crises, says that ineffectual leaders are one of the
major causes of global problems. Leadership requires being at the
edge of the wave and knowing what needs to happen next, he says.
Who are our leaders as we stand at the dawn of an emerging
complex world civilization? A few things that come to mind are
those that serve the needs of the times, harmonize different value
systems, develop interior balance, facilitate resilience to change,
practice both hard and soft power, and lead with authentic being
and sustained will and purpose.

Perhaps leadership is not what we think it is. Perhaps we have
chosen our leaders for a past era rather than for the needs of the
present. Nothing could be more important for the welfare of
society than the people whom you and I choose to be our leaders.
Kosmos is sending out a call for visionary leaders to step forward.