I walk in an unknown, dust burnt by the sun, street, a busy one, and blocks in a line. Traces of war on walls, the street’s potholes, slow the convoys, and directed arms. Keeping the steady pace, to meet at my place, aimed to displace and cover my face. Shooting and hellfire, despite the scene so dire, I’m back to inquire, and I do see her. I could shoot as well, an angel from hell; they don’t yell and then repel. Torn out of this dream, no way to remain; I hope you’re fine, and we’ll return. A better time, peace, less shooting at least, conquered the beasts and where love wins. Strong to not lose faith, don’t give in to fight, a temporary night, and we’re alright.
Have you ever tried to send positive energy from the inside (e.g., to comfort or heal others) and defend negative energy from the outside?
As a psychologist who has studied the scientific literature and discussions at leading Universities, read ancient wisdom, and experienced and conducted independent interdisciplinary research, this is the best explanation of what we are about from a holistic point of view. We are a constant energetic part of all universal energy, which vibrates in and as endlessly different frequencies. If we want to change anything, the vibration of energy needs to be changed, within and around us.
Don’t fight symptoms. Don’t fight your negative habits. Hopelessness raises the value of chemical aids. It’s hopelessness itself that needs to be addressed in the first place. Hope comes from within. Don’t rely on external approval and support for becoming who you really are and want to be. Use Awareness Intelligence to freeing yourself from others’ opinions and potentially wrong beliefs about yourself that may hold you down (i.e. disturbed, slowed down energy). We are not dependent on prescribed substances, behaviors, or even persons, if we are willing to take control ourselves.
I know, there is still a lot of Newtonian approaches around, which may make sense for the limited capabilities of our eyes observing the slowed down energy fighting gravity that our body represents. For the faster energy of consciousness and even particles on atomic level, however, common sense isn’t applicable anymore as Einstein or more recent quantum physics would tell you.
From a psychological point of view, it seems to be clear that doctors don’t heal; healing occurs within oneself. It’s life itself with all its rich variations, diverse types, and different ways that expect us to know and express what we really need. If life can create new bodies and souls, why shouldn’t it be able to heal the same? We can find everything we need in the life that is in us if we listen and serve it naturally as it is meant to be.
It is too hard to always send positive energy and fight negative energies at the same time. Therefore, rather than taking pills, real healing may require you to quit unwholesome situations, be it jobs or relationships, or anything that is unsupportive of your journey in line with wholesome living. For example, I have even left a faraway country, which I had made my home, as it became impossible to keep the energy balance. Being not welcome by my daughter’s mother while sending them both constantly positive energy took too much. I was not allowed to see you anymore, my daughter, but nobody can take away all the love I’m living to be the healthy, strong, and kind father I’ll always be to you. I hope you will forgive your mother and me some time. I miss you incredibly as I want to be there for you. But I’m sure you can feel that I’m continuing to be your energetic angel, although out of range of being bombarded with negativities all the time. Love you.
Having learned English, French, and Japanese while living and working in different cultures, and as a global citizen, psychologist, and artist, languages (words, images, and the heart) are vital for me every day. Research into the psychology of language, or psycholinguistics, has helped better understand the mental aspects of language and speech with new and innovative implications on how we approach learning from a cognitive, emotional, and behavioral level.
Language organizes thoughts
You can perceive the world with your five senses and experience feelings and emotions without words. However, Ludwig Wittgenstein claimed that “the limits of my language mean the limits of my world,” which I find accurate. What if everything is just “cool?” Reports from people losing language as a result, for example, of brain tumors, evidence that when they cannot describe the world with words anymore, it essentially remains unchanged and, for that matter, unchangeable. Grasping, developing, and changing concepts requires analysis and interpretation of reality, which is accomplished through structured language. Only through organizing one’s thoughts can we fix ideas, reflect on, and monitor them. This inner, explicitly linguistic thinking enables consciousness to become awareness (for my differentiation between consciousness and awareness, see https://mathias-sager.com/2021/05/02/soulfires-flames/). Unfortunately, blissful quitting of thinking in meditation or distractions seems to be more in vogue than thinking critically about one’s thinking; for me, the main challenge of humanity. Again, we may think without language, but language lets us know that we are thinking.
The language of images
There are around 7000 languages spoken in the world today. However, there are many more different languages like specialty languages (e.g., computer languages), sign languages, even smell, and the language of images and music. As an artist, I have a visual vocabulary, which sometimes is not translatable to any words that I’d know. My inner speech while painting often isn’t either in German or English, but purely of images. I love to switch to the mode where I utter thoughts with colors. As my paintings and accompanying texts illustrate, the artistic language of colors, forms, and textures is more direct, compact, shorter, and faster than the concepts described in words.
I like that my artistic language for me is more independent from socio-cultural conventions. Although language helps to connect and build communities, it is used to exclude and manipulate. For example, my daughter and I are told not to use German anymore, which constitutes a strategy of maternal gatekeeping and parental alienation. [-> I love you, Natalie! As always, this work is for you!]
The ambiguity of language
The ambiguity of language can easily cause erroneous thinking. That is probably why many of us discover that life hadn’t turned out as we were told and had planned when we were younger. For example, all the promises about happiness primarily addressing only the hedonistic aspects of the term. The same with love; are we always clear what we mean by it: romantic, affectionate, familiar, playful, or selflessly compassionate?
Any language is possibly imperfect, so we all need to find the combinations of levels of perceptions, spoken words, and expressive means that serve us well.
You get an understanding and compassionate ear here, but the most significant benefit lies in permitting me to offend you. First of all, if I didn’t dare to offend, I couldn’t be honest. Being offended offers a real-world check outside of one’s comfort zone. Second, if I solely entertained you, I’d waste your time distracting from the real work to be done. I will, however, offend you with substance, so you can accomplish getting very clear on your worldview / identity: Who are you really beyond social conditioning? What would you stand for if you had the self-confidence to overcome social pressure? Why are you here as a complete human being beyond economic considerations? Also, the feeling of being offended is a warning indicator that is showing you where to look within yourself for unresolved issues.
I may offend people, but I also make it easy for them to forgive me. You’re not alone; my content and approaches contain wisdom that offends quite everyone. I love people in general (not only the proximate ones who flatter me), and that’s why I care to offend you too. To be genuinely kind means to have the courage to offend. Of course, people like sugar. But shall I, therefore, feed them with more of what is not suitable for health? I’ve learned that if I love myself, I have the courage to allow me to get offended (which doesn’t mean to let me abuse, though).
If we feel offended without being able to forgive the offender, we actually say to disagree with the Right of Freedom of Expression. By instilling more fear, people become more susceptible to being offended without the willingness to forgive. And that’s how the freedom of expression gets strategically undermined by authoritarian systems. Today people are brought to be offended by others just breathing (we can even see it by people wearing masks;-)). It’s more important than ever to stand up for the right to offend, which is implicitly part of the Right of Freedom of Expression. So, have the courage to use the right to offend “sacred” symbols (who says they are sacred?), offend emotions and feelings, offend countries, governments, organizations, as well as political parties, religions, and traditions, and cultures.
Living in a comfort-seeking and fear-based materialistic society, my humanistic approach rejecting salvation-seeking from extrospection is offending people, of course. For me, however, respecting people doesn’t mean accepting their illnesses, victim roles, and unfulfilled potential.If we respected such unhealthy limitations, we’d offend humanity (and life, or god, as you like) as a whole. Indeed, many people live life in the offense to life itself as they put material goods over life. Yes, we justify our physical survival (which in our society doesn’t have much to do with survival rather than with a decadent luxury lifestyle) by not assuming responsibility for the many who suffer hunger, exploitation, and abuse.
I deliberately combine the science of psychology, the wisdom of philosophy and the intuition of art. Art is often very well suited to insulting people, challenging them and opening them up to creative and self-reflective thinking. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to offend or hurt someone who doesn’t care. This is the reason why people often have no interest in the artistic (or spiritual).
Group thinking inhibits critical thinking in favor of a wider human community. For example, religions proclaim to spread unconditional love and the universal truth of their respective God, but feel offended by other religions that believe in another God, who in turn should represent the same unconditional love and absolute truth according to these others. That’s the big lie of hypocrites on both sides. Such belief systems do base on exclusivity to offer fearful people the seeming security of belonging, which, however, they nevertheless never experience (therefore their defensive attitude). But there is a more inclusive way to feel more satisfyingly human. Learn to love truly! Love is the opposite of fear. If you’ve learned to get offended, you’ve learned to love. Love is hard to offend; a heart full of love doesn’t get irritated and offended irrevocably; it doesn’t see the world in terms of threats against one’s ego-assumed superiority, advantages, and privileges over others. Instead, strongminds who dare to seek being offended, not for hate but growth purposes, can find what humans actually are looking for: actualizing themselves through meaningful change toward their best self (which can’t be measured by material success alone, to make that clear once more).
You may have enough “friends” who will tell you what you want to hear and who are happy that you are unsuccessful (because it justifies their own stagnation). If I can’t offend you, I haven’t done my work of serving you decisively. With this in mind, thank you for allowing us to offend each other, not with style, but with substance for learning opportunities for our personal growth, individually and as a human collective.
Wholeness can be felt. We can feel it when the three Awareness Intelligence modes climax into full and sound multi-perspective quality of mind.
Wholeness establishes when the intra-past, the inter-present, and the extra-future consolidate into a mental state, and when intention unites unconditional love, timeless kindness, and purposeful service.
It’s a feeling of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm, which comes from the Greek word ‘enthousiasmos’ that means “possession by a god, inspiration.” The holy inspiration, in my case, is often occurring together with signs like goosebumps and joyful tears as a bodily response to the intensive realization of having become wholly and eternally connected. Awareness so intelligent to be able to embrace all humantime is indeed like embracing God.
When the intelligences of the intra-past, the inter-present, and the extra-future unify into the grid of paramount awareness, an energetic representation of a unified field emanates. In physics, forces are theorized to be transmitted through so-called fields. Deepak Chopra uses, besides the term of the ‘unified field’, also the term ‘cosmic consciousness,’ in which the ‘in-here’ and ‘out-there’ meet.
Awareness Intelligence can be understood as such a field where life intelligence, respectively consciousness, and mentalizing are harmoniously unified.
The unified field of Awareness Intelligence is connecting our thoughts with the nature of life that is within all of us human beings. It is the unified state of humanness that has become all-including and timeless love that lets us witness its power through showers of bliss. It’s that realization of one’s humanity, which is accompanied by a sense of deeply fulfilling enthusiasm.
The term ‘Samadhi,’ as used in yogic practice, is sometimes defined as a non-dualistic state of consciousness, which might be in line with a state of harmonious awareness. Matching aforementioned experience of enthusiasm, Indian Yogi Paramahansa Yogananda describes Samadhi as a blissful state of super-consciousness in which the individual soul is perceived concurrently with the cosmic spirit. Samadhi is considered the final stage of yogic meditation at which union with the divine is reached. And so is Awareness Intelligence at the stage where all its three modes of the intra-past, inter-present, and extra-future point together to a most comprehensive knowing of humantime.
Awareness Intelligence is a maximum mental concentration of psycho-spiritual energy that brings the uncoordinated streams of volatile thoughts of unawareness into one steady river of complete understanding.
Buddhist enlightenment, the so-called Satori, described by Zen Buddhism as a state of the mind that is experiencing the insight into the nature of existence seems to resemble a state of Awareness Intelligence too.
Awareness Intelligence is caring; caring for yourself, for your relations, and the common good. Working hard on something we do not sincerely care about is called stress. Genuine care comes from, by, and with love, as it does not expect anything in return. Sayings like “kill them with kindness” are expressions of aggression and have little to do with true kindness. Bad feelings against others are always hurting ourselves most. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. Chasing victories brings defeat. To live and fulfill life’s purpose of supporting all other life, however, is to be kind. Kindness is not something one primarily does, but it is the voice of who one really is. Human kindness is the very ever-present, non-depletable and everlasting characteristic of humankind.
In the sense of Awareness Intelligence, timeless kindness is the extension of linear time and social relations towards the inclusiveness of the entirety and eternity of humankind.
Humankindism that is kindness in accord with humantime does base on the boundless love and courage that claims the extra-future that’s in for all.
It’s easy to be smart, but difficult to be kind. Indeed, kindness requires courage and strength. Awareness-intelligent thought and courageous efforts to act in kindness reward with feelings of egoless affection, as everybody knows who has ever, for example, only helped a lost tourist despite low likelihood to ever meet again and get reciprocity. By caring for somebody’s soul, we care for the collective of all souls, we affect universal consciousness, thanks to acting in line with Awareness Intelligence.
Through timeless kindness, which heals, liberates, and amplifies the consciousness of all humanity and time, therefore, opens the inter-present into parallel time.
The ineffable bliss of giving up one’s fictitious personality comes from detaching from the experience of momentary being and serving life itself that comes in the form of another human soul in need. True kindness is the ticket to detach from time and to access eternity. It is eternity where we all meet at the same time. The ability to surpass the fear of losing oneself in service to others points to all three doors of humantime.
Research finds that hostility is a leading cause of attracting illness. Acts of kindness, even if only observed or imagined, increase the serotonin level in the brain’s reward system, which supports states of well-being. That’s how compassion and generosity become a major predictor for good health.
The awareness about the existence and functioning of humantime is vital to understand what mindfulness might mean. There are as many legitimate opinions about what the problems of the world are from a socio-cultural perspective. Awareness Intelligence, on the other hand, is not based on opinion.
It is the capacity to position human life in time and to identify the socio-temporal constellations that are respectful of all life at any time.
It cannot be iterated more how important it is to stretch and bend time into the circular and parallel nature that let us see that caring for others’ future is supporting the same life that gave birth to our own anatomical existence.
There is nothing anybody can ever take away from us, which will not be taken away by life itself very soon anyway.
So, don’t destroy your life through being fearful of loss and becoming hostile in the process of trying to protect it in vain. Show life that you know it better. Enjoy the power of timeless kindness that is always available to you as the most critical source of sanity and health.
Evan Esar, a 20th-century American humorist and author, wrote, “Character is what you have left when you’ve lost everything you can lose.” You can find your source of kindness wherever you are in life. It is the independent and universally valid currency available even when you’ve lost your wealth, social status, or business and private network.
Kindness is the inexhaustible human energy from within. Accessed through Awareness Intelligence, it is irresistible and rewarding in itself in that it makes us and others feeling good about us and others.
Mahatma Gandhi recommended going every year somewhere where one has never been before. Becoming uprooted in some way or the other indeed may provide for an eye-opening experience on what is left after we’ve lost everything we can lose: Timeless, universal kindness coming from a strong character that nobody and nothing can take away from our control. In that sense, on what side of the world and with whatever we end up, if we always stay genuinely kind to ourselves and others, we can’t feel gotten lost by any means.
Kindness represents a threat to institutionalized materialism. Sometimes kindness is even decried as selfish narcissism because it does not discriminate in favor of the group calling it that way.
If kindness is sourced from the intra-past, displayed in the inter-present, and intended to serve the extra-future, the very opposite is true. That’s timeless Humankindism resulting from Awareness Intelligence.
Love often is mentioned as the most important ingredient in life. Despite being considered the greatest energy in the world, it’s one of the least understood powers too.
Who and what one is not aware of, one cannot love; and which is not loved, one is not properly aware of. A readiness to love is necessary for it being expressed and recognized.
If not made explicitly aware, the emergence of love occasionally appears quite arbitrary. Awareness Intelligence along with the dimensions of the different social relations and time as visualized by the socio-temporal matrix, invites love to arise more likely and both more specifically and more broadly. Real love is unconditional. Real love does not seek to get; its reward is to give, while even this opportunity is unconditionally unexpected. By awareness-intelligently knowing how to arrange relations and time to establish transaction-free relationships, for example through staying in the inter-present without past resentments and future expectations, love becomes a genuine expression of the soul.
There are different types of love, and there is romance. “Romance is tempestuous. Love is calm.” as a Mason Cooley’s aphorism goes. The different levels of love along the Awareness Intelligence modes build on each other harmoniously. Love is the light, the awaring appreciation of source energy, the socio-temporally infinite holy quality of pure life.
Only if you see this source of love in you, you will find it in others too.
Noticing others’ loving energy causes strong emotions of affection and attraction to them. Love is of lower quality if there is a shortage of awareness about everybody’s access to the same source of love. The extension of empathy to all souls, whether they have the Awareness Intelligence to express it too or not, enables compassion. The compassion of the extra-past in that sense is the knowing that at the core of all human expression is the identical love that we’ve discovered in our intra-past and that we joyfully yet without attachment experience in our affectionate inter-present encounters and relationships.
Love the people for who they really are, not for what they allegedly used to be, or for what they supposedly are expected to become, do, or have in the future. Un-condition yourself, learn a new language of love that is free from beliefs based on stories you have adopted. With Awareness Intelligence it’s possible to disrupt the conditioning into misbelieves and to unlearn unhealthy habits. Trace back your story to where it started, all back to the only origin of truth there is. Express your language of respect by letting others become who they really are too.
Find and deliberate your purpose based on such unconditional tenderness. That’s all you are. And you are it all. You do not love. You are love. Unconditionally.
There are individual, organizational, and societal human and technological approaches available today. However, there is little integration of these dimensions into a coherent mindset, educational concept, or cooperative platforms. Therefore, I’ve dedicated the last couple of years to the study of leadership, learning & development, psychology consequently from cross-culturally, multi-disciplinary, and inter-generationally cooperative perspectives. And I’ve performed intensive testing of a, as I think, new discovery of a pattern of the human mind, which I’m calling the ‘Tripod Mindset (TM).’ I have found that three logic matrix-derived socio-temporal conditions put together to a “tripod” mindset would eliminate random, imbalanced, and unconnected ways of traditional and contemporary human thinking in favor of more healthy attitudes and drive for positive human evolution.
Tripod Mindset (TM) Highlights
My background in education sciences, leadership, art, technology, and psychology have equipped me with different perspectives on individual, organizational, and socio-cultural functioning. My navigation between the philosophy of time represented by the past, present, and the future, and the intra-, inter-, and extra-personal dimensions of information and communication (technology) have led me to discover a, as far as I’m aware of, novel and lawful socio-temporal matrix in which our temporal thinking about ourselves, our relationships, and humanity consolidates.
The mapping of thousands of (scientific) resources to the matrix of aforementioned socio-temporal dimensions revealed the striking finding of three coordinates that jointly form a set of mental states that governs human psyche and thriving, which I’m going to call the “Tripod Mindset (TM).” The further study of TM as an interdisciplinary concept shall explicitly consider aspects such as the Internet as a tool for democracy and global citizenship. The time seems to be ripe for leading the way to more distributed and participative approaches including a broader range of stakeholders globally. For example, the TM can be translated into design principles, which would be informing the development of next-generation and more cooperative online platforms that integrate the intra-past, inter-present, and extra-future thought patterns necessary for progressing agile approaches and human flourishing in the virtual and physical world.
Also, the TM could be used to get a balanced view on how sustainable (from an individual and collective point of view) any kind of services and products are. Are they based on a mindset that is backward oriented, protective of the status quo, or facilitating innovation? What does each of these temporal aspects mean for the individual, the team, and the broader communities’ respectively the human context? The consistent integration of such a coherent “tripod”-stabilized mindset view will guarantee not losing sight of all that is important for true next-generation solutions.
There are many apt formulations, and rich collections of human qualities proposed to be packaged into so-called mindsets that are deemed to be favorable for individual well-being, organizational performance, or societal functioning. However, looking at worldwide suffering, competitive challenges, and societal issues, there is, apparently, still a lot missing regarding a more holistic, systematically consistent, and continuous awareness that leads to positive human behavior. Technology progress, for example, may enable positive change, but it will not be without a change in human mindset that an improved development and use of technology will occur. The Tripod Mindset (TM) has the potential to inform a new type of guiding principles in sociology/psychology, education, communication, and technology with a disruptive impact on how humanity’s collective mindset, and participative and cooperative policies and economies further develop.
Parental Alienation More than twenty years ago the late author and renowned child psychiatrist Richard A. Gardner coined the term Parental Alienation Syndrome. He used this term to characterise the breakdown of what was previously normal and healthy parent-child relationships during divorce and child custody cases. The definition of parental alienation according to Gardner is simple. One parent (in […]
The life and work of author and speaker Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, who died at the age of seventy-five in 2015, provides the opportunity to reflect on leadership from a holistic perspective beyond a specific organizational setting or national politics. Dyer’s many best-selling books on the practical psychology of personal development towards a positive transformation for all of humanity  brought him the nickname of the Father of Motivation by his fans . Writing and meditating on Maui on Eastern Philosophies like Taoism, the Sage of Maui covers the self-conscious wisdom category of the self-help genre . Like in the book ‘Wisdom of the Ages,’ Dyer’s messages focus on virtuous love, inspiration, and patience as found in Confucian, Christian, and Thoreauvian teachings . Having written ‘Erroneous Zones,’ one of the most famous books of all time , and if leadership is about influence, Wayne Dyer was an enormous leader in influencing masses around the globe . Although not limited to an organizational goal setting context, the topics Dyer was promoting represent the core of the study of leadership and address change, motivation, inspiration, and influence .
A practical, humorous, personal, and sometimes too self-confident leader?
As a Welch proverb puts it aptly: “The hand will not reach for what the heart does not long for” , p. 38. In that sense, Dyer’s messages speak empathically to the core desires of people through practical, humorous , and personal  stories, presented as inviting offerings rather than pushing rules. Practical intelligence is of high importance for leaders . Indeed, Dyer focused on outcome rather than intellectualization , one possible reason why he chose the career of an independent writer rather than continuing his university job, which he saw limited to producing papers for the sake of a small self-serving academic community . It was Dyer’s high self-confidence that allowed him to, for example, tell “the shocking truth” he was so convinced about publicly  and therefore intuitively take required risks to advance his growth as a leader . Dyer got accused of plagiarism of Albert Ellis’ Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) . However, he did seemingly ignore what other people think of him  and unwaveringly continued his mission.
Life transitions and openness to experience
Assertiveness is the candid expression of one’s desires, opinions, and feelings and may help to get the recognition that is a powerful human motivator . Wayne Dyer’s public exposure of his style in writing and speaking may have also reflected a personality tendency of extraversion. In the US, extraversion is a personality trait showcased to create a societal image of openness and friendliness . It is therefore difficult to say how much Dyer’s demonstration of extraversion is part of his working brand to reach the goal of spreading his messages as much as possible, and how much, in comparison, he enjoyed his extended writing retreats on Maui from a more introvert perspective. In any case, according to his children’s accounts, he naturally loved to lecture and entertain others with his vast knowledge . Extraversion and openness to experience are personal characteristics that strongly relate to leadership effectiveness . Wayne Dyer’s openness to experience may be well seen in his demonstration of mindfulness that allowed him to accept new and demanding situations, to further develop his self-image, to promote changes, and to let go of attachments . Dyer went through different career transitions and lived over time with three wives and eight children . He also underwent a spiritual transformation in his “meaning stage” of life. These may be lessons of what Dyer framed in his film ‘Shift’ as “What was true in the morning has become a lie in the afternoon” .
Between charismatic mentorship and rescuer syndrome?
Regardless of the leadership position, it seems that the opportunity to help others’ personal growth, rather than sources of satisfaction like power, salary and status  represented the main motive of meaningfulness for Wayne Dyer throughout his life. Dyer spent parts of his childhood in foster homes. However, he described himself as seeing and remembering mainly the positive aspects, what helped him already at the age of three to help others in overcoming their despair . It may be this “naturally” developed talent of soothing others distress that adds a charismatic quality  to Dyer’s personality. In his thirties, Dyer visited his father’s grave and could resolve his anger towards that person who had left a wife with small children in a difficult situation. This pivotal event of forgiveness might not only have unlocked Dyer’s potential as a writer  but may have been necessary not to let the urge to mentor other people become a self-serving compensation for emotional and psychological issues; which would also be known as the rescuer syndrome .
Holistic leadership: inspirational motivation, trust, and loving service
Like Einstein and Emerson, Wayne Dyer believed in the Transcendentalist ideas  of the human soul being able to intuitively connect to the spiritual truth that creates a collective consciousness , itself capable of reconstructing the world . Wishing to lead a God-realized life  and occasionally named a self-help guru  and pied piper of the movement , Dyer could be suspect of suffering self-perceptions of grandiosity . However, Dyer believed, and that’s the position of equality that might have been so appealing to his diverse readers, that the divine realm is available to all . Such an uplifting vision is inspirationally motivating and contributes to a new-genre leadership style that emphasizes an environment of trust and feelings beyond what is necessarily found in transformational leadership . Dyer may be an example of one of the newest leadership theories, that is authentic leadership, and which is true to its values . As a friendly, amiable, assertive, and serving ‘soft leader’ , Dr. Wayne W. Dyer lived the messages he taught . It is loving service and unselfish love that makes holistic leadership .
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There are significant differences between leadership and management
In our contemporary world both leadership and management may be required and co-exist in different situations, but the identification and understanding of their distinguishing features is important if we want to use both of them effectively and eventually think about shifting the emphasis towards managers who are real leaders too.
Having been in diverse leadership and/or management positions in educational institutions and schools, business and consulting firms, military/public service organizations, media and communication practices, as well as leisure/sports clubs and civic movements over the last 20 years, I’ve reflected on the difference between leadership and management from many different angles. I’m always coming back to the conclusion that the concepts of leadership and management are not as related as the popular interchangeable use of the terms might suggest.
The ultimate market-participating organizational SMART goals versus dreams and visions
Like a path is leading to a different place, or a sheep can be led into a stable, human leadership can be defined as leading something or somebody towards a certain direction. It is said that leadership requires meaning; meaning that is represented and communicated through goals. Although managerial and leadership goals should always be believed to be achievable, the type of goal formation process and quality of goals themselves involved in leadership and management differs significantly .
A leader typically is self-guided by intuition and his intimate moral understanding, while a manager is hired by the board of directors pursuing shareholders interest for securing maximized return on their investments. In case of doubt or conflict, the financial interests always have to succeed over other values in a for-profit organization. Manager’s success is measured by how accurately they achieve the business goals. The more long-term, the less predictable the attainment of goals becomes. Leadership tolerates not directly measurable long-term results . Managers, in contrast, for above reasons preferably are to set short-term goals. To ensure that goals are as clear and realistic as possible, so-called SMART goals are commonly used in the corporate world, which ought to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Leaders may not only not have SMART goals, but even allow more vague dreams and visions that are often requiring significant imagination.
There is a difference between the concept of power based on formal authority and influence through inspiration
One broad approach is to define leadership as the interpersonal dimension of management that comprises the “ability to inspire confidence and support among the people who are needed to achieve organizational goals” (, p. 5). Frequently leadership gets confused with authority, seeing power as being based on formal roles. The formal assignments of a manager or officer let people notice legitimacy and comply with instructions because of fear of negative consequences in case of non-compliance . When saying that leadership requires power, it is, however, not this authoritarian capability of incurring costs (for example in the form of punishment) for the people who refuse to obey . Authoritarian regimes as examples of tight leadership in the form of control and prescription are generating poor results for the people. Instead, it is the ability to inspire for a voluntary fellowship by unforceful means that is resulting in individual prosperity, well-being, and peace through personal self-determination and fulfillment. Real leadership allows people self-leadership.
Leadership goes beyond the leadership aspects practiced in business administration
When the sum of the leadership structures followed by society is called culture , then the sum of management structures of market-participating organizations can be seen as the economy. Leaders create culture through the leadership structures they leave behind (, p. 11), while managers build administrations through the organizational patterns they establish. This thinking is in line with the terminology used in managerial education, where the top courses for aspiring or acting executive officers award for the title of the Master of Business Administration. Increasing parts of businesses consist of technology and digital resources, whereas human aspects tend to be further pushed into the background. Emotional and organic elements are taken out from the management of resources in favor of optimal planning accuracy. Again, although there may (but doesn’t have to) be some deal of leadership involved as well in steering a business, a real leader would never be reduced to be an administrator in that sense.
The irrelevance of leadership in the management of expectations
As Rudy Giuliani once put it, leaders first figure out what’s right, and then explain it to people, as opposed to first having people explain it and then just saying what they want to hear (, p.3). Indeed, managers tend to behave in a manner more or less in line with the management style endorsed within their country, industry or organization . Firms choose new executives whose values are consistent with their own. If an executive is not filling the role as expected, he will be replaced with somebody who adheres more closely to expectations. From that perspective it is essential to have a rider, to use this metaphor, who holds the reins of a horse put before a cart, but any other rider who follows the relatively simple rules how to guide a horse and carriage can carry them as well. You can even let a child play the carter. It can be observed that the horse’s, respectively the organization’s personality, to come back to the organizational context, is actually more important than the “leader” himself .
Leaders emerge when there is an urge for change or the need to resolve a crisis or conflict
Leadership creates change, often of dramatic dimensions, such as when completely new market dynamics are developed, societal perceptions are shifted, or more diverse cultures emerge. Management on the other hand often is concerned about maintaining predictability and order . Let’s think about why and how changes are managed in organizations. A big part of organizational administration deals with tracking changes to protect the status quo of power balances and interests of stakeholders and resources that contribute most to the profitable business. Such times of contentedness and stability are not calling for leaders whose strength is to move towards widening the range of beneficiaries. It is the time of crisis, in which leaders emerge. Managers monitor operational excellence of their subordinates typically in periods of economic strain. Charisma arises when there are heightened levels of distress among an increasing number of people that can be of not only financial but also psychological nature, constituting an individual and collective crisis of meaning that demands answers. If the problem is sought to be solved by somebody else, the ground is fertile for people to follow a leader who convincingly directs toward a comforting solution . It has to be carefully evaluated whether these promises are meaningful and serving the common good, or whether there is an overemphasis on leader-reliance for whatever reason. Leaders are also required in situations of conflict. Conflict as the opposite of leadership is characterized by the absence of a functioning leader-follower relationship, typically because of disagreements related to a common course of action .
There is little leadership required and even possible in corporations
Following the argumentation so far, it is conceivable to suggest, assuming a bit a black and white perspective, that in organizations, at ordinary times there is little leadership required and even possible. Instead, what is required is a disciplined management that administers an organization to stay on track without visioning any significant change that would require leadership. Abraham Maslow regarded leaders as self-actualizing individuals who are self-determined, independent of culture, and following their inner guidance to help their fellow humans. For a leader of such qualities a narrow corporate environment likely would be unsatisfying at least and possibly over longer or sooner and would also be ethically conflicting. Executives of big corporations have contributed to the mistrust in corporate ethics due to their perceived focus on self-promotion and excessive greed. What seems to be required is more compassionate leadership in the service of others respectively in the view of the broader society and humanity beyond an institutional context .
The difference between moral, ethics, and professionalism
Ninety-nine percent of the global wealth is controlled by the top one percent of richest people. The issue is that this causes, for example, the daily death of tens of thousands of innocent children who are left without the necessary means to survive, such as food or health care. Unfortunately, as long as it is a tolerated practice that the already highly concentrated wealth is invested almost exclusively in opportunities that further accentuate this income and wealth inequality, there is little hope that compassionate (moral) and ethical leadership will prevail. Corporate social responsibility struggles to demonstrate a positive impact on the single measure bottom-line of financial profit generation, why it remains not much more than an afterthought. On the one hand, public relations and marketing communications of organizations increasingly use language that includes terms like ‘sharing,’ ‘love,’ ‘community,’ and ‘better world for all,’ to brand themselves socially towards consumers who are willing to pay a premium for such labels. This is true even for industries such as tobacco and arms. On the other hand, corporate ethics training is poised to be mere professional instruction on how to operate within legal constraints without jeopardizing business performance. This may be diligent management to serve capital, but not leadership to improve the human condition.
Shaping the role of genuinely great managerial leadership
Again, in all kinds of organizational settings, there may be a necessary mix of administrative and leadership qualities at work, suggesting a combined role of a ‘managerial leader’ .
Maybe the understanding of managerial leadership as based on self-actualization could further evolve to increasingly focus the help of other people in the organizational context while also not losing sight of the fairness towards and the well-being of people in the broader national societal and even global humanitarian context. Importantly, we should not forget that such a broadening of the benefits of leadership requires courageous first-/early-moving followers, who lead others not to remain passive bystanders but to support change towards growth and development of all actively. Asking managerial questions for organizational survival is foundational, but without further questioning on what basis, to what extent, and at whose cost, it is difficult to see real leadership added to management. The more inclusive and compassionate questions get expanded to the scope of all humanity, the greater the leadership involved.
In the current economic and competitive context, cooperation may indeed risk losing some battles in the field of short-term inter-organizational rivalry. However, already today more than ever, genuinely great managerial leadership also can become a competitive advantage and an opportunity for priceless emotional rewards for our all well-being. I think we are on the way to return to a more overall life-relevant philosophical understanding of leadership in which everyone’s full human potential is embraced. In that sense, leadership beyond management is relevant and possible for all of us. If we all assume a managerial leadership role, we don’t need managers anymore. Let’s take the chance.
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