Emergent leadership in volatile times
Create the conditions conducive for co-creation and it will naturally flourish.
Positive virtuous cycles start to unlock as people find the optimal pathways for their own value-creation potential, with the desire to overcome challenges, learn, help and share experiences feeding it. Less energy is siphoned from value-creation activities to management overhead, leaving more available to move forward with the vision of the organisation and innovate. Self-empowerment and collective orientation overcome challenges with opportunities; the leaders refocus their attention from management to empowerment – encouragement through coaching, rather than management through fear.
All biological systems have an emergent quality, as all living structures (including social and organisational) are emergent structures. Emergence has a self-generating quality, where individual parts of an ecosystem interact to provide an emergent order (an unfolding of events that are self-fuelled by the actions and interactions of the parts). Emergence is when an organised, complex and/or cohesive pattern or result arises – often unpredictably – from a series of individually simple component interactions. This is the nature of nature.
Emergent leadership (as referred to by Fritjof Capra) encourages an environment of continual questioning and new approaches to problems. This culture of emergence needs to spread beyond the organisation to the stakeholder community, hence encouraging emergence across the business ecosystem, thus improving resilience of the whole and the parts.
Increasingly as the organisation is required to become more emergent so leadership is more about empowering, empathising and encouraging interconnections, innovation, local attunement and an active network of feedback. As organisations and business ecosystems become more self-organising and self-empowering, the working environment and culture becomes more emotionally and mentally healthy, where business goals are met without sacrificing personal values and integrity – in fact quite the contrary, where work acts to reinforce personal integrity in providing a rich emergent experience for individual and collective learning and ethical growth.
It is up to us to unlock our creative potential, to evolve and utilise our talents to our best endeavours, and it is also up to us to help others to unlock their creative potential in their time of need, and in so doing helping them help themselves and others. The more we open up to our environment, the more we tune in to the interconnected nature of business life, sensing and responding in the most optimal way.