In the movie “Shrek,” the ogre Shrek has an interesting dialogue with the donkey. He describes himself as person with layers – essentially an onion. Walker’s book, Leading out of Who You Are, is a bit like peeling away at the layers of one’s leadership personality over time. Like an onion.
Residing with the “comb of experience,” the book provides me with an insight to my leadership style over last 4 decades. The early years of front and backstage living revived old memories of trying to find my way. I refer frequently to Poole’s description of apprenticeship. when I think of leadership. In the U.S. Military we are thrown into an apprenticeship period of 1-3 years. In the process, we encounter crusty old sergeants who show us the ropes. We learn that there is a difference in “running” a unit and “leading it.” That is the first year or so.
In the next couple of years, we absorb the leadership techniques of our superior officers. In time decision making is woven into our leadership DNA. We make decisions out of habit (for good or ill).
If we are fortunate, our decision-making skills are honed in part one of our mission, preparing for war. For many, the environment may change to the second part of our mission, fighting the war. Differentiated leaders are needed in part two.
Walker’s Ven diagram was new to me. Especially when I template it over my 23 years in the U.S. Army. Trust, vision, movement and goals were musical chords that rang true to me. They also echolocated off Poole’s 52 cards/attributes.
The center piece of power at the nexus of the diagram caused me pause. Frequently, my wife has said to my children (and sometimes to me) that we can use our gifts (our superpowers) for good or evil. As Peter Parker (Spiderman) learned, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
There are choices in the use of our power, and here comes the onion layers: personality power, resource power, experience power, expert power, positional power, physical power, and spiritual power.
Walker writes, “It is neither good nor bad to be powerful: the issue is how power is used. It is a question of praxis.” (p.53)
The Russian Czar Vladimir Putin, the Emperor of China Xi Jinping and others that grip to their imperial nostalgia are becoming the essence of defended leaders. Hunting down and eliminating successors, breaking down governmental checks and balances, makes them free to upset the world order. It makes my chest tighten.
A new Cold War looms on the horizon, a hot one rages in Ukraine. The decline of globalism, isolationism restored. All this because of the leaders, the new seekers for power, are making their play.
Clearly, I have been impacted by the “Oscar” ceremony awarding best movie this week. I end with another movie quote…
Frodo: ‘I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.’
Gandalf: ‘So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.
 Simon P. Walker, Leading out of Who You Are: Discovering the Secret of Undefended Leadership (Carlisle: Piquant, 2007).
 Eve Poole, Leadersmithing: Revealing the Trade Secrets of Leadership (London ; New York, NY: Bloomsbury Business, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2017).
6 responses to “領袖興起！(Leaders Arise!)”
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Hi Russell, You mentioned the different layers of power. Walker named quite a few! I am curious to understand more about your thoughts on unacknowledged power. As all forms of power can be used for good or ill I can’t help but to wonder if we need to be more aware within ourselves and with others where the unacknowledged power is in any given system. I think this could lead to greater authenticity and trust in relationships. How do you conceptualize unacknowledged power as an asset rather than a hindrance? What would be concerning to you regarding unacknowledged power?
Hi Jenny, Thanks for your question. It caused me to think about unacknowledged power in two aspects of my life. One here in Colorado Springs and one in Hungary.
When I registered GoodSports as a non profit twenty years ago (ish). I gained “founder” points. As time progressed, my family returned from Hungary, but there lingered an “influence” that I now understand to be unacknowledged power.
Like the example on page 55. Any lack of comment or buy-in can alter the decision making process for the Hungarian director and board members. I have to be so careful in what I say.
On a more daily note, I have to be careful of this “influence” on my special needs daughter’s day. If I am moody and negative, this leaches in to her emotional well being. I HAVE to be positive, or her natural depression/negativity will start her day as she walks out the door.
Unacknowledged power? Definitely a real issue. One that can be harness “for good or evil.”
Thanks for your question…Shalom…Russ
Russell, where do you think our World leaders would need intervention or an ego check before they become defended leaders who are corrupted by power? How do we create world leaders who are undefended? Does that exist? Thank you for your insight in this book.
I am enjoying this class because everything is new to me. I love the comments of the cohort, however, I have been wondering when/if we were going to discuss the dysfunctional/power craving individuals that might ignite World War III.
Putin (Russia), Xi Jin Ping (China) , Erdogan (Turkey), Orban (Hungary) are all men that spring from a different leadership model. Walker seems to have missed those persons springing from an imperialist background.
Our books seem to cater to 1st World leaders/1st world problems. However, we have a looming Cold War II and a Hot war in Ukraine. People are dying.
Africa, Asia, South America leaders are not looking at teamwork (ala Poole) or even from a Walker perspective.
I don’t want to be all doom and gloom, but Revelation describes a time of trial and tribulation.
Peace is not the events that bring the 2nd coming.
I really don’t have an answer on how to reform the dysfunctional leaders of nations states. Sigh…
I will seek an answer to your question…Shalom…Russ
I am fascinated by this statement, “There are choices in the use of our power, and here comes the onion layers: personality power, resource power, experience power, expert power, positional power, physical power, and spiritual power.” What do you think the biggest challenge is to knowing when to use our power?
Hi Jonita, as older leaders we unconsciously use our power(s) as part of our “style.” I doubt we ever pause to consider which power tool to use. What I like about the book was that we get to identify the different tools and perhaps Mentor our apprentice leaders on their proper use.