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Three Tracks of Leadership

The holistic co-intelligence perspective leads us to understand leadership that includes and goes beyond that which is exercised by individual leaders. So we find that the structures and patterns of life lead us, as do the agreements we make with others. Novelty and creativity also lead us. Individual leaders can use these elements of leadership -- and the systems we create can embody them.

Here are the three tracks of leadership recognized so far in co-intelligence theory:

Patterned leadership is provided by established patterns of habit, organizational forms, culture, environment, etc. Our language and metaphors, our assumptions and beliefs, our social practices and conditions (including oppression and democracy), and even our built environment (like how our town is layed out, or how the chairs are placed in a meeting) -- all these things lead us to think and feel and behave in certain ways. So do our psychological patterns (like self-esteem or vivid memories) and the patterns of the natural world, from instincts to seasons to rivers. Patterned leadership provides stability and predictability. Patterned leaders are people who reinforce the existing patterns in which and by which people live. But most patterned leadership is provided by the patterns themselves.

Agreement leadership is provided by the conscious agreements we create with each other, including shared visions, goals, decisions, understandings and contracts. We consent to these shaping our thoughts, feelings, behaviors and lives. Agreement leaders are people who help others to generate agreements and to live by them. Agreement leadership provides coherence.

Creative leadership is provided by any source of novelty or initiative -- usually creative people. Creative leaders aren't always ahead or in the limelight; they can be in the background, providing a context in which new and useful things happen. Creative leadership can also be provided by accidents, challenging events, randomizing computer programs, or creative group processes like brainstorming. Creative leadership provides change.

It is common for creative leadership to generate something new which evolves into agreement leadership when people decide to go along with it, and soon solidifies into patterned leadership, "the way we do things," "the way things are." People forget they are being led -- and what's leading them is their own co-creation. Sooner or later a creative leader or event breaks the spell and a new cycle of leadership begins.

see also

Leadership and Co-Intelligence

Five Styles of Leadership

Thoughts on Generative Leadership

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