What Every Good Leader Knows

The Naked Now, Richard Rohr, 2009. Chap. 29

Here are some insights into what every good, nondual leader knows and practices, whether in the workplace, at home, or in the classroom. Good leaders:
  • See alternatives.
  • Influence and inspire people more than by ordering or demanding.
  • Know ahead of time that every one-sided solution is doomed to failure. It is never a final solution but only a postponement of the problem.
  • Learn to study, discern and search together with their people for solutions.
  • Know that total dilemmas are very few. We create many dilemmas because we are internally stuck, attached, fearful, overidentified with our position, needy of winning the case, or unable to entertain even the partial truth that the otheer opinion might be offering.
  • Work for win/win situations by searching for a middle ground where the most people can find meaning. (This is hard to do if you assume you are the higher, the more responsible, the in-charge, the senior, the more competent -- or once you have made a harsh judgment about the other.)
  • Know that there is no perfect solution. This is the lie and false promise of the dualistic mind, polarity, and all-or-nothing thinking.
  • Know that seeking exclusive or overly rapid recourse to the law is an easy way out, and often just a sign of laziness or fear of taking responsibility.
  • Know that the rule of law and obedience can inform you only about what is illegal or immoral; it cannot of itself lead you to God, truth, goodness, or beauty (Rom 3:20; 7:7).
  • Know that rapid recourse to the law might be seeking the will of God, but it might also be seeking to avoid the responsibility, the necessary self-doubt, the darkness, and the prayer required to live in faith, hope, and love.
  • Know that when done well, compromise and consensus-seeking is not a way of abdicating essential values, but very often a way of seeking -- and finding -- other values, especially community-building, along with giving more people a personal investment in the outcome.
  • Know that wisdom is "the art of the possible." The key question is no longer "How can I problem-solve now, and get this off my plate?" It is "How can this situation achieve good for the largest number and for the next generations?"
  • Keep prayerfully offering new data, until they can work toward some consensus from all sides.
  • Want to increase both freedom and ownership among the groups -- not just subservience, which will ultimately sabotage the work anyway.
  • Let people know the why of a decision, and show how that is consistent with the group's values.
In short, good leaders must have a certain capacity for non-polarity thinking and full-access knowing (prayer), a tolerance for ambiguity (faith), an ability to hold creative tensions (hope), and an ability to care (love) beyond their own personal advantage.
Meditate on this list from time to time.