The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Is and can be

In their book “Humble Leadership” Edgar and Peter Schein invite a new form of leadership. They propose to shift to a different level of relationship that allows for a less transactional-based type of leadership.

To help see where leadership should be on the relationship continuum they describe 4 levels:

  • Level Minus 1: Total impersonal domination and coercion.
  • Level 1: Transactional role and rule-based supervision, service and most forms of “professional” helping relationships.
  • Level 2: Personal cooperative, trusting relationships as in friendships and in effective teams.
  • Level 3: Emotionally intimate total mutual commitmentss

For many leaders, this describes the shift from level 1, where most of them perceive the need to be heroes and the ones who have the answers, to level2. The reason they foresee this need is that the complexity of tasks has outgrown our ability to deal with them as heroes. The coordination of teams requires o much more knowledge than one person can have, that without being humble a leader will not find the answers or decisions needed.

However, setting out on this journey requires taking into account where the teams are now. That is, what they need now and can do in the current situation. The same is true for the leader, who needs to support his team on the transition from one level to the other.

The hard work is to accept that the individuals in the team will take their time to get there and that wherever they see level 2 might not be where everyone else sees it.

It’s a journey teams embark upon. There is no magic button shifting the team from where it is into the desired state of relationship.

It’s dealing with the tasks the team has to handle today and at the same time inviting them to take a path towards more effectiveness. It has to remain true even when there are urgencies.


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