Truly transformative leadership arises from a depth a self-awareness, embodies a rare combination of humility and focussed resolve, and is characteristically collaborative and other-centered. At our October lunchtime Meditation session, Chris Whittington explored the radical expression of leadership seen in the life of Christ, where humility and service are one and we are invited to “be of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing” (Philippians 2:2).
Chris’s words connected powerfully with people in the room and led us all into a depth of profoundly simple silence that anchored and changed the perspective of the working day. In feedback, people valued “Deep reflective truth, open honesty, inspiring challenge”, “the combination of input and space” and “Wonderful re-affirmation of valuable approach to leadership so lacking in society and the workplace”.
While recognition of the vital importance of humility and awareness struggles to find expression in contemporary leadership training, the Christian contemplative tradition offers an extraordinarily rich pool of wisdom to drink from, a doorway to a profound re-orientation in our understanding of ourselves and our relationships with those around us.
“We are not self-made, as people, as leaders. We are part of an interrelated whole. We are who we are because of this whole. We are intimately connected to everyone, to everything. Which means that our actions have direct influence and impact, beneficial or otherwise on this whole. To really take this on board, to really embrace this, requires us to hear a very clear call to tread lightly and reverently as leaders, to be mindful of what an extraordinary privilege and responsibility it is.”
A couple of “nuggets” of wisdom that Chris shared were, first, Bernard of Clairveaux’s simple wisdom, “Know yourself” and, secondly, the encouragement from the author of the Cloud of Unknowing to allow “A true knowledge and feeling of oneself as one is”, which then also enables an other-centred focus in leadership. And there was much, more more to reflect on…
I’d strongly encourage you to read the full text of Chris’s talk, available here.
If you’d like to meet to discuss this, there’s an open offer to arrange a coffee – just contact Sarah Thorpe on firstname.lastname@example.org or Steve Bavington on email@example.com or Chris Whittington on firstname.lastname@example.org.