On Learning Leadership
As published in the current Breitenbush Newsletter (May - September 2006).

By Larry Rogers, ACHT

Leadership is a word that holds a lot of hungers. What does it mean to be an effective leader? Can leadership be taught? How does one disconnect from rigidity, power and control and connect with Heart and Soul?

Teaching seminars and working as a counselor for many years has taught me that leadership is a learned art. With practice and intention anyone can grow, and enhance their leadership abilities learning adaptation, timing, awareness, pacing, how to grasp the larger view, listening to the energy and slow dancing with authority.

Emotion underlies all of this, always lurking, ready to strike out and take charge. Effective leadership calls us to dive into the emotional soup of life, swim confidently, examine the soup with all our faculties, evaluate any needed course changes, while hanging unto ourselves, having fun and staying present. Our unspoken emotional communication is almost always more vital than our spoken communication.

Presence or state of being is the ability to intervene, swim confidently, and inspire in both verbal and nonverbal realms. Some 20 years ago I attended a seminar and was very impressed with a ‘simple’ process. I asked the seminar leader what made the process so amazing. Upon reflection she answered ”my state of being”. Later, having unsuccessfully tried several times to lead that process using techniques, power, authority, ego, charisma, and persuasion all without success, I found a teacher ready to teach me ‘presence’ and finally I was able to make this process sing. An effective means of learning these skills is by immersing ourselves in the adventure of leadership allowing new insights of self and other to emerge. With quiet awareness and practice, ‘presence’, a cornerstone of leadership, becomes part of our being.

Nelson Mandela was a political prisoner in South Africa for 27 years. Locked away from the outside world he kept his mind free and taught himself the art of leadership. Upon his release at his Presidential inauguration he spoke these words written for him by Marianne Williamson (an accomplished leader in her own right):

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are we not to be?”

Nelson put these words into visible action in many ways, averting civil war. He stayed close to his former enemies, befriending them, releasing them from their fears, which freed all South Africans to begin their healing journey. Seeing Nelson in action, I always experience and feel his presence, and positive change is omni-present.

Staying connected with our ‘Heart and Soul”, going deep inside, with frequent re-evaluation is often the most difficult path one can take. And yet people from all walks of life (parents, teachers, business professionals, community leaders, etc.) are called to move down this path.

© copyright 2007 Contact Larry Rogers at 503-781-6542 or by email.