CornerStone Consulting Associates
Leadership and the Iceberg

There's a lot going on in organizations that doesn't meet the eye.

There are a lot of puzzles. Organizational life is something like an iceberg. Most leaders are aware of only about one-tenth of what is actually going on -- the tenth they can see and hear -- and often they think that is all there is. Some suspect that there may be more, but they don't know what it is and have no idea how to find out.

Not knowing can set an organization on a dangerous course. Just as a sailor's fate depends on knowing about the iceberg under the water, so an organization's fate depends on understanding the needs and patterns and feelings that lie beneath everyday organizational events.

Fortunately there are solutions to many of these puzzles. And for the ones without solutions, there are enabling ways to build bridges of learning and understanding. It is the role of leadership to find and share the known solutions. It is the role of leadership to guide the entire organization onto the path of building the new bridges. The Leader learns to see the structure below the water and to help the entire organization to see as well.

In this age of rapidly expanding technology and means of connectedness, we are also learning many new things about people's relationships with people. It is in this arena of relationship that successful organizations are born and thrive. We're entering a new era of the development of mankind where people can begin to work and live more comfortably with one another.

Leaders have the responsibility to establish the conditions for the growth of an organization's most important asset -- the individuals that comprise the organization.

These are some of the qualities to be found in members of sustainable organizations:

  • Whole people who treat other people as whole people -- as individuals, different in totality from every other human being.
  • People who are forthright, strong, tender, healthy, vigorous people who use their intelligence to make the changes necessary in their organization to keep it up to date.
  • People who take initiative in a constructive way, not waiting for others nor blaming them for not acting first.
  • People with integrity and ingenuity -- not avoiding criticism, but rather seeking it as a means of change and growth.
  • People who bring their whole being to the workplace -- mind, body, spirit -- and use their balanced selves in the performance of their work.
  • People who are in touch with their inner feelings and are not afraid to use their wisdom and intuition, even in the face of resistance.
In the hands of people like these, led by people like these, the challenges facing organizations could be quickly solved. Opportunities and choices would be available for everyone.

Organizations are in the beginning of another evolution. Probably never before have so many people been discouraged and dissatisfied with the state of affairs in organizations. There are huge pockets of people demanding change. There is a cry for greater individual self-esteem and the nurturing contexts that support it.

We are seeing the beginning of the end of people relating to people in organizations through force and stereotypes. Old traditional, entrenched, and familiar attitudes toward management and leadership die hard. It's up to each of us -- wherever and however we can -- to take the leadership initiative to bring about new ways and the system structures to support them.

© CCA 1998

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CornerStone Consulting Associates
Bringing Systems to Life
2761 Stiegler Road - Valley City OH 44280 - US

fax: 330-725-2729