Thursday, January 22, 2015

Dualism vs. Yin-Yang

Can Western dualism be compared to Yin and Yang?

We are probably all aware that René Descartes was a major figure in seventeenth-century European continental rationalism. His most famous expression was/is ‘Cogito ergo sum,’( in French: ‘Je pense, donc je suis’) or in English: ‘I think, therefore I am’  ‘I am thinking, therefore I exist’ or ‘I do think, therefore I do exist.’ He definitely shaped or better defined Western polarization culture’s thinking.

René DescartesDescartes defined the roots of Western dualism in ‘Description of the human body’ and the ‘Passions of the soul’ in which he advised that the body functions like a machine. In contradiction to the body, the mind or soul was described as a non-material object that lacks extension and motion and does not follow the laws of nature. This form of dualism or duality has a problem when one proposes that the mind controls the body and that the body can also influence otherwise rational mind. 

The dualism, as a philosophical matter, is then transferred to all themes such as good-bad, heaven-hell, day-night, left-right, man-woman, etc. This polarization is very strict and does not allow any big or small interconnection and/or interdependency. This kind of thinking was strongly supported by prevailing religion in Western hemisphere at the time.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadershipMy quest for different types of leadership brought ‘transformational leadership’ to my attention. The concept was initially introduced by James MacGregor Burns, a US presidential biographer, to be defined as "leaders and followers make each other to advance to a higher level of morality and motivation".

Transformational leadership’ is described as:

  • a type of leadership style that can inspire positive changes in those who follow;
  • a role model for followers;
  • puts passion and energy into everything;
  • inspires, sets clear goals, high expectations and "walks the walk";
  • does not only challenge the status quo but also encourage creativity among followers;
  • offers support, recognition and encouragement to individual followers;
  • stirs the emotions of people and gets people to look beyond their self-interest
  • those kind of leaders have a clear vision and are able to articulate it to followers;
  • always visible and will stand up to be counted rather than hide behind their troops;
  • able to prevent employees from being excessively reliant on their bosses;
  • take and provide feedback;
  • those leaders are good communicators;
  • cultivating staff  to feel empowered and self-guided.
Rather a long list but, if you’ve read my previous posts Servant leadership, Authentic leadershipChange leadership and  Charismatic Leadership, you have already detected some notions of parallelism in all those “different” kinds of leadership.  On those I’ll dedicate one of my future blog posts.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Charismatic Leadership

In my quest of different types of leadership I came across’s definition of ‘charismatic leader’:
“The guidance provided to an organization by one or more individuals seen as heroic or inspiring and who have therefore been granted the organizational power to make dramatic changes and extract extraordinary performance levels from its staff. For example, a business manager imbued with charismatic leadership could be enlisted to orchestrate a turnaround or launch a new product line.”

Well, my first dilemma within this definition is how one can mix up two different roles, namely business management and leadership (see: Leader vs. manager). Although both are needed in an organization they are not interchangeable. Next, in post “Leadership and Charisma” I wrote that  it is not about the definition of a bad/good leader, it is about how he or she should behave and what she or he should aim for to be the successful one. Therefore, the question is not about charisma but rather about what kind of personality has a good leader?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Lesson of Leadership by Biba

To post on the first day of a new year – a challenge in a way. But what else is a leadership if not that too?

Last year was a great year full of changes, challenges and a big loss too. After eleven years of being with us we lost our dog Biba. We've found her in a shelter and since the first moment she made an inseparable and very significant part of our family accompanying us wherever the path took us. She’s always been a very happy dog ready for any kind of action no matter the time, weather conditions or circumstances.

She taught our kids the responsibility for another living being. Yes, it was her doing to teach and to keep watch of our home and ‘our pack.’ She taught all of us how to be happy each and every day, she taught us what a real compassion means, she was watchful and mindful of all and she took her responsibilities with great care.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Inspiring others

For a leader a crucial tool to lead well is to ‘inspire’. I have already covered a difference between managers and leaders (see post: Leader vs. manager). Both roles are important in any organization and they are mostly not even interchangeable. A manager has plenty  management tools to make people work. What about leader?

In the TED talk on ‘How great leaders inspire action’ Simon Sinek said: “We follow those who lead, not for them, but for ourselves. And it’s those who start with ‘why’ that have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them”.

How can one inspire others to do what has been previously envisioned?

walks the talkFor sure, a good leader is a good example and he ‘walks the talk’. People are disconnected from working environment when they feel they are not considered or if they are suppressed instead of encouraged and challenged (more in Leadership and “happy” organization post). A leader has to display  his experience but has to appear vulnerable at the same time. You remember how inspired you were in your youth when somebody  told you a story? So, as a leader, why not use the storytelling instead of commanding? All great leaders from the past used it.