I recently read the book Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future, by Peter Senge, et al. This is a deep read about leadership development and growth, and the cultivation of our humanness. Part of our growth and development as leaders is having exquisite awareness of who we are: our strengths, our passion, our life purpose. The other is our awareness of what is needed in the system that we are operating in and a desire and willingness to let go of the individual for the sake of impacting the whole.
Presence explores how we increase our awareness of the whole, both as it is and as it is evolving into the future. We then can choose actions that create alternative solutions. Listening is part of what is needed to be present to the whole (or the system's possabilities), but "presencing" is like listening on steroids, going way beyond the lens of our past experiences and to a place of openness that encompasses all that can be created from, including yourself, pure potential.
The authors describe those moments when it all becomes crystalized, that moment of insight, of deep knowing that propells the system to evolve and emerge. Often I have felt this feeling when I'm working with a group or system. It air moves from a feeling of uncertianty, to solid, grounded, aligned and yet hopeful with a tinge of excitement. The group sees the future and hungers with anticipation to move toward it. I feel it also when I have been mulling on some new concept and it decides it is time to take form. Crystalized intent. You just know, "oh, that is what needs to happen now."
The Co-Active Level 4 model of leadership, means marrying level 3 with level 1 listening, or hearing what is happening in the level 3 (space) and having a level 1(personal) urge to take action and impact it. Like sometimes it is just all too dull, and you decide to shake things up. Or maybe, the world seems to be spinning out of control and you clearly see the part you play in bringing it back toward balance. Like not making a run on the stock market.
Leadership is about presencing what is happening now, and what wants to happen next, and your part in all that. Leaders do this, not from the place of being run by the past but rather by stepping in to the future. It is a life long journey of being aware.