Leading and Following

The Movement Between

Sitting reflecting. I am a week into Living Alive Phase I, just after finishing The Haven Leadership Summit and I find myself reflecting on leading and following.

For some this may seem a bit to Haven focused. Bare with me, or better yet, apply to your own experiences with being deeply engaged in learning, work or some aspect of your life that has been very familiar and involves discovering that you as leader might need to grow and yet also stay in some ways the same!

During the Summit the idea of leadership and followership had come up and I was intrigued and reminded of how much my own journey as a leader has been about discovering the dance between leading and following. There is both an internal aspect and movement that occurs, as well as the external shift from being in a role as leader and as follower.

For me, as I have become more comfortable in my own skin, and to be clear this can be comfortable in discomfort, I find myself much more fluid in leading and following.

Of course there are moments when I am struck by my own strong agenda or vision for what I want to have happen. I like that about myself. I like having a vision and being willing to stand forth and offer a direction. It’s a bit like my belief about judgements. That I am judgemental, I like. I enjoy using my ability to imagine, assume and discern. I also enjoy meeting and ‘clashing’ with new information and someone else’s assumptions. I notice when I am okay in my beliefs, I am quite open to the bump of a new view and can integrate the new information. When I am not so okay with myself, I can tend to fight or flight in some attempt to stay right!. I am finding this is a similar dance in leading and following.

Over the years as a faculty member at The Haven, I have had strong views on what is important and foundational, what needs to stay the same and what seems ‘special’ about our way of approaching group dynamics, aliveness and energy. I recognize that I have at times been defended and quite unwilling to embrace something I judged to be outside of the playing field I called Haven.

I have shifted in more recent years. Some of the shift has come from my exploration of new ways of thinking and experiencing growth. Some of the shift, as been because I keep hearing that others want something different and as someone in a role of leadership I want to be open and receptive.

At the Summit, I noticed so many new faces, new voices speaking up about diversity, leadership, youth, eldership, training, counseling, educating and embodiment. I found myself integrating much of the input into my understanding of The Haven, filtering new theories or thoughts into ways of thinking and embodying that have been so useful to me over the years.

At times it was exciting and I could feel the expansion and inclusion happening both inside me and around me in the room and online. Other times, I noticed my own contraction and fear that there was too much desire for change or something new. At times I spoke of my resistance and at times I simply sat with myself and wondered.

Of course with the Living Alive Phase starting hours after stepping out of the Summit, I have had an opportunity to notice what am I including now as I lead and what might I have dropped.

In truth, I love the Living Alive Phase I format. I find both structure and freedom in what has been a core Haven program for well over thirty years. Yet, I also have moments of wanting to introduce something new or noticing someone is leading us into something new and I have that choice to follow or not.

I am aware of my tendency to get swallowed into my world of The Haven and lose contact with the much larger world around me. So on a day when I have some extra time, I enjoy pulling myself out of my Haven world of leading and following and checking to see what is happening in the world around me.

I would love to hear from you and what does leading and following mean in your world. Is leading a role? Is following a different one? Do you dance in your own life between the these concepts? Are there areas of your life that are working and could use some new and fresh ideas? How do you grow and keep what works?

I’d love to hear from you.