Building from the Past
Building from the Past
Leadership predates the emergence of humankind, for example from animal origins and pecking orders, seen most significantly with the dominance effects in primates. I introduce the Old World Leaders’ (OWLs ), which includes (but does not necessarily begin with) the Greek Philosophers.
We can ask: Is this about putting new wine in old bottles?
As with many of our old proverbs, the following originates from spiritual scripts:
‘Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out and the bottles perish , but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.’
It is thus not the ‘content’ that is important (whether it be ‘old’ or ‘new’ wines – or leadership thinking) but rather its preservation. One of the main themes of the argument is that leadership (as with wine) is context specific.
To illustrate; glass bottles today are far more resilient , and recycling is actively encouraged. During biblical times (in the old world) ‘bottles’ were made from the skin of goats. Pour new wine in, the skin stretches and perishes. What we need to do, then, as with wine, is to preserve both the old and new ideas and consider these within differing contexts.
The bottling of wine is a useful description of the context of leadership. In the ‘old world’, new forms of leadership would be likely to ‘stretch’ the capability and capacity of our OWLs.
The bottling of wine is a useful description of the context of leadership. In the ‘old world’, new forms of leadership would be likely to ‘stretch’ the capability and capacity of our OWLs. The onslaught of the challenges of the Enlightenment faced New World Leaders (NWLs) along with the Renaissance , followed by modernity and industrialisation. In a global world, this is much easier for our Global World Leaders (GWLs) who lead in a post - modern , post - industrial and more chaotic world. Time is thus one of the main currencies of leadership.
HAS LEADERSHIP BEEN TOO SOLITARY, POOR, NASTY, BRUTISH AND SHORT?
Adapted from Thomas Hobbes’s, the Leviathan, who was writing at the time of the Civil War in England , we can ask this question of leadership.
Leadership theories began their journey with our OWLs focused on the innate qualities of an individual. With the coming of a New Order through enlightenment and then, modernity, this then evolved in to a study of the behaviours adopted, the situations in which leadership takes place and leadership that is specific to particular functions. These theories have their place, but arguably they tend to ignore leaderships’ increasingly important dynamics within a changing context of uncertainty.
Even today, the ‘individual’ is the focus of most leadership studies; from earliest times, theories have focused on what it is that makes individuals good leaders. We need to think differently and to reimagine what leadership could really be.