We’re in today. Living it, breathing it, buying it, eating it, voting for it!
If this is today though, what was yesterday? Why was yesterday like yesterday? Why not like the day after or the day before?
We are still waiting for someone to define today. Give it shape, hope and a tomorrow.
But then again, why is that someone important? Why do we look to someone to bring that shape to tomorrow, so that we can survive the today?
In Old English laeden was ‘to cause to go with one’ the causative of lioan ‘to travel’. As a noun the word lead first got recorded in c.1300 as the ‘action of leading’ and by the 1560s it meant ‘the front or leading place.’ Very spatially defined – as a journey, as a position.
By 1990, Bass had researched deeper into this journey describing it as a universal phenomenon, “… the focus of group processes, as a matter of personality, as a matter of inducing compliance, as the exercise of influence, as particular behaviors, as a form of persuasion, as a power relation, as an instrument to achieve goals, as an effect of interaction, as a differentiated role, as an initiation of structure, and as many combinations of these definitions.”
This writer is a little partial to the old English definition though.
It seems to ask permission, very convincingly, to accompany someone on a journey, to travel down a road together and hopefully reach a destination. If not, at least we saw something new and have company to tell the tale as someone else, somewhere else, tries another road to another destination.
But this is just a heavy poetic layer on an extremely complicated and conflicted process – one that philosophers, educators, policy makers and leaders themselves are negotiating with. It is the eternal struggle for meaning – a definition today, to guide tomorrow.
The fact that leadership is a universal phenomenon is also inescapable. This “…doesn’t mean it is a unilateral point of view that would exclude debate; on the contrary, it indicates the element that can be the basis for further dialogues between different partners, because all singularities on the periphery have been discarded.” (Reflections on Philosophy and Human Dignity, Pierre Sane, Senegal; © UNESCO 2011, All rights reserved).
For the purposes of this blog, this becomes convenient. It allows this writer to navigate singularities, particularities and look for the universal that binds and forms the foundation for dialogues on leadership across boundaries and enclosures.
The Leader Letter is at the start of a journey today. It hopes it can convince you to come along this road – perhaps the more there are searching the better the vision of the destination. And perhaps, if we’re lucky, a shape, a hope and a tomorrow.