In the Silence of the Lambs, Who’s Leading the Sheeple? #2 #cong21


If there ever was a time for powerful leadership – it’s now.
Each us needs to show up as the leader we are. There are serious challenges facing us – and we need to work together – in trusted partnership – to deal with them. The time of the lone wolf is over. The lambs are looking to us for inspiration …. trusting us to save them from slaughter..

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Who would be a leader in today’s hungry world?
  2. Not all leaders lead from the front.
  3. Partnership is the new leadership
  4. Trust the Visionary Leaders to inspire what’s possible.

About Eileen Forrestal:

Eileen Forrestal, MB BCh BAO FFARCSI, a retired Anaesthesiologist living in Ireland, is co- founder of Get Up and Go Publications Ltd producing the ‘world’s best loved inspirational diary’. Author of The Courage To Shine, Eileen is now committed to a bigger vision – that of contributing to healing the suffering in the world through words that make a difference –words written and spoken with love, courage and authenticity that inspire, motivate, encourage and empower.

Having spent many years ‘silenced’ by the embarrassment of a speech impediment, hiding in the background of her life, ironically putting ‘people to sleep’ as an Anaesthesiologist, Eileen is now at work ‘waking people up’ to the power of their own words – their authentic self expression – trusting that healing words have the power to positively impact personal, societal and global health and wellbeing.

Eileen, the author of The Courage To Shine – Find Your Voice and Discover the Healing Power of Your Words, is now an author, speaker, coach and mentor, who uses her experience, insight and words of wisdom to inspire positive contribution in the world.

Contacting Eileen Forrestal:

You can follow Eileen on Twitter,  connect with her on LinkedIn and Facebook or see her work on Eileen

By Eileen Forrestal

Leadership is the buzz word on everyone’s lips in the world today.
People talking about leadership, asking about leadership, learning about leadership, reading about leadership, complaining about leadership, wondering about leadership, listening to people talking about leadership, admiring the leadership,
We are busy seeking and nominating and electing and interviewing … and quickly proceed to judge, to blame, to criticise interrogate, argue with, hector and bemoan our lot and withdraw our support.
And seek another leader.
Who are these ideal leaders we seek?
And who, their right mind, would be a leader in today’s world??!!

What is required for leadership?
How do we choose or recognise a leader?
Why do we follow them, and do we need them?

Leaders imply followers.
Leaders are people – just like you and me.
On the ship, the leaders are steering.
Followers are people – just like you and me.
The followers on the ship are depending on the leaders to take them to where they want to go, safely.
The ship’s captain is trusting the people not to mutiny so they can safely get to their destination.

A leader must be able to ‘see’ the destination, and articulate it clearly and confidently – such that others (blindly) follow, trusting what they hear/see is the truth.
That requires truth and trust.
And therin lies the core leadership issue of the 21st Century.
What is the truth and who do you trust?

Some leaders are willing to say ‘I know where we’re going. Follow me. I will get you there. Trust me’.
It’s a big statement. It makes a bold promise, and you don’t know for sure if they believe you.
It’s a big ask. You speak with confidence.
And they say ‘ok’.
What you don’t say is “I know where I want to go but I’m not sure how to get there by myself. I will need your help”.
That uncertainty would leave room for doubt … and fear … and remains unsaid.

You may have leadership thrust upon you. You might accept an invitation or a nomination or a request.
“You go”.
You bravely say “ok”.
And they say “I will follow you, I promise”…
What they don’t say is “unless or until ……….”
That would leave you with doubt .. and fear … and that remains unsaid.

Most people are reluctant to declare themselves as leaders. They know the dangers.
They have seen lambs thrown to the slaughter!
They sit in silence, observing … spectators … wondering how the games will go.

So there you are.
A leader. Leading from the front.
With people who promise to follow you …

While doubt and fear lurk in the background ….

The person who is willing to say “I can and I will”, and is willing to honour that, to play full out and be held to account for saying it, is a courageous person.
For all of us doubt and fear are our constant companions.
What if you fail to deliver?

Perhaps it seems easier to say ‘we’. We can win this election; we can win this war; we can win this contract. With your support we can win.
The leader is the person who inspires the fellows on the ship … to trust and collaborate.
The supporter is critical to the win.
All games worth winning are team games with lots of supporters.
We rely on our supporters for our leadership to win … or it will be short lived.
Yes, others are waiting for us to ‘succeed’ or to ‘fail’.
Either way, it’s the players who get to play the game.

What we need now are people who play the bigger games, who speak for bigger visions that we can all share. We must be willing to walk beside them, not as followers but in fellowship, falling into step on the path we are creating, towards the destination we share.

All leaders are eventually toppled.
Leaders set themselves up (or are set up by others) for a fall.
They messed up, the army lost, their followers deserted you, the crew mutinied.
It was their followers who sold out on them.
Or maybe they sold out on themselves?
Maybe they lost sight of their vision?
Maybe they got scared.
Doubt and fear crept in ..

Leadership takes trust and courage. Big ships need strong leaders.
But you cannot steer a big ship by yourself. You need partners. You need encouragers. You need cheerleaders. You need people who see what you see. You need people who trust you.
You need to trust your team, your fellow players. You need to trust yourself.

People want leaders who will say ‘It’s fine, come on, drink the water. Trust me.’
The magic words: Trust me.
Followers are fickle. Frightened by vulnerability and uncertainty, Followers seek safety in numbers and trust the crowd. On our own, we doubt ourselves. When things go wrong, there’s must be someone at the front to blame. We run with pack. We don’t confess we weren’t looking.

In this age of unfettered communication, what do we believe and who do we trust?
We could start by trusting ourselves, and trust there is power and strength in numbers.
“Ní neart go cur le chéile”.
Trust your vision. Align with your community.
It takes courage to trust yourself to say “I can and I will”.
It takes courage to share your vision and to trust others will support you in realising it. Having a big vision, allowing yourself to mess up, bravely getting up and going again, without losing sight of the vision, is part of the process of becoming a great leader, who will be known by the longevity of their followership.

In the words of Lau Tzu: Without a vision, the people will perish.

We are at a critical time in history. There are existential challenges and the future is more uncertain than ever.
Children are the future.
Children need adults to lead them. The adult-child relationship grants it leadership and stewardship. We must take the reins. We must make bold promises that will be a guiding light to their future. We cannot stay cowering in the shadows or sitting on the fence. The time has come. We must lead each other out of the prison of doubt and fear. When we take the brave steps the lambs will follow. That is when we will recognise ourselves as leaders – trusting partners in an adult world – as we spare our lambs from the slaughter and lead them to the promised land.

Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.

#cong21 Leadership is not a destination submission

Leadership is Not a Destination #1 #cong21


Leadership does not have to be the ultimate end point.  Leaders should be able to move forward and step back and use their experience to grow within themselves and foster new leaders.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Leadership needs to be fluid
  2. Leadership has good, bad and ugly faces
  3. Leadership experience needs to be harnessed
  4. Enter Proxy Leadership

About Eoin Kennedy:

Ex teacher, marketing lecturer, startup founder, PR professional, events organiser, digital marketing head and currently working as a content strategist.  The slave behind CongRegation.

Contacting Eoin Kennedy:

You can follow Eoin on Twitter,  connect with him on LinkedIn. or, email him

#cong21 Leadership is not a destination submission

By Eoin Kennedy

You have probably hear the words before ‘I am now on the leadership team’.  Although I am truly happy for my friends and colleagues who achieve this lofty title –  through hard work, skill, determination, courage and skill, I am often uncomfortable with the sense of permanency.  The concept that leadership is a destination, an ultimate place to be, can also bring a set of problems.   It can demeanour the contributions of leading from behind and proposes a sense of rigidity that removes the flexibility to retire from leadership, whilst still potentially delivering more to the organisation.

The rise to Leadership, if it has only one directional flow, can sometimes be the wrong thing.

In order to explain what I mean I need to bring you through the good, bad and ugly of leadership.

The Good.

Becoming part of a leadership team from middle management to board level is an incredible experience.  It opens the opportunity to bring real change, to channel fresh ideas and experience towards crafting a new vision and building the structures for executing them through strategy and tactics for growth.

It is also a new learning experience.  Leaders are exposed to the raw mechanics of an organisation from financial, personnel through to technology.  They are offered control of the levers that can have profound impact on markets, customers,  the future of the company, the staff and stakeholders.  This power is very attractive and with it comes prestige.  Seeing ones ideas put into action is extremely gratifying, having it acknowledged within your organisation and by peers is additive and it being matched by financial rewards is intoxicating.

A sense of enduring camaraderie also exists within leadership teams, strengthened by the weight of responsibility it entails.

The Bad

The ascension to leadership, although a daunting experience, can sometimes be very underwhelming.  The necessary exposure to raw data from the tedium of financial spreadsheet, personnel issues to operational matters can differ from the high octane expectations.

Moving from the ranks of colleagues to becoming someone boss can sour relationships very fast.  The ‘them’ and ‘us’ perspective rarely gets beyond a short honeymoon period.  Leadership can involve difficult decisions and this can further compound the friction.  Former colleagues claim you have changed and bundle you with any negative connotations of management.  Knowing you are the source of chatter, something you probably participated in, can be very difficult.  This sense of isolation increases the closer you get to the top.

The role also comes with the burden of responsibility.  As a leader you need to make the best decisions for the organisation,  in fact you are normally legally responsible to do so, regardless of how unpopular it may make you.

Leaders rarely have the access to crystal balls and many decisions, although well informed, are made without knowing the true consequences and impact but they are still held accountable by them.

The Ugly

Sometimes organisation promote people to leadership positions purely out of fear of losing them, which in extreme situations can make a toxic person even more dangerous.

The struggle to attain leadership can involve many hard personal sacrifices so the notion of losing it can elicit bad behaviour.  A leader holding on to power beyond their best by date can sometimes focus their energy on maintaining that status  rather than channelling them into the good of the organisation.  Recent presidential elections have shown how this can be disastrous for an entire nation and beyond.  Battles for power at board tables tend to pander to ego rather than company benefit.

Camaraderie within leadership can also create a bubble that fosters group think which can ignore reality. Powerful individuals can quell divergent thinking and a lack of courage to confront wrong doing makes team leaders complicit in poor decision making.  Money, power and status are powerful drugs that can dull minds and be hard to ween oneself off.  Sometimes those in power starve all others of knowledge merely to stay in leadership, to the determent of the organisation.

New Mindsets and Models Are Needed

There are many different flavours of leadership and libraries overflow with’ how to’ text books on the topic but I am always struck by the notion that once a leader, always a leader.  The title is everything.  Why does the definition of success have to be leadership?  Does it have to be a one way street?  Let me explain with examples.

My wife is a healthcare professional and took a leadership position which was recognised as a manager.  She experienced much of what I described above and made the decision to return to her previous position as a regular staff member.  In her current role she undoubtedly acts a leader, something acknowledged daily by her colleagues who turn to her continually.  This is mainly based upon her vast years of experience but also her willingness to challenge seniority due to her commitment to deliver the best care to the patients she serves.  She undoubtedly makes her managers job easier but without formal acknowledgement.  To me the shackles of formal leadership mean the service has missed out.  Her story is not unique.

I also worked with one multinational who operated a ‘reduction in force’ whereby someone could rise to leadership position, which in this case brought with it the glass fronted office, but could at a later time return back to the regular pool of the windowless desks.  Although to some this was viewed as a fall from grace or not being able to ‘hack it’ but to me it was eye opening.  You could gain leadership experience and contribute but also bring that unique experience back to doing your job even better.  Why does a leader have to paid more and pampered better than those who prop them up.  Surely having someone to guide you on a leadership journey who has been there before can only make better leaders.  The wisest person does not necessarily need the title but neither should they suffer lower status or financial reward.

I have had many different experiences of leadership.  As a board member I have had to digest and trawl the data, make decisions, contribute to overall company objectives and lead a team.  As a founder of some start ups I co-lead lead a teams of two.  This served me well as an independent consultant, acting as guiding ear to other leaders, aside from the core service I was contracted to deliver.  My experience meant I understood the difficulties of their role and my independence meant I could seamlessly drift, almost like proxy leadership.  As a father I have floating leadership with my wife. In my current role I am a team member with no formal leadership role.  However I believe my previous experiences mean I can take the dual role of being lead and actively support those in the leadership positions.  This is made easier by the ‘service leadership’ perspective taken by the person I report into.  I understand what I have been insulated from by some else taking the leadership mantle – frequently hours of meetings and translating company policy into meaningful instructions.  Future leadership might be in my future or I might lead from behind but either way, having previous leadership roles means I am better at my job.

My story is not unique.  I have many friends who have gone from leadership roles to team members.  What I witness is leaders who struggle with how to manage them, knowing they could do their job, rather than how to harness them to make themselves better leaders.

My main point is this.  Leadership is something to strive for but it should not be viewed as the end point.  It should not be that static, with the only next desirable position being the next step up the ladder.  Nor should it viewed as a game of snake and ladders where the only route down is punishment.  It should pulse and surge according to ones life stage, energy levels and desire to leader.  Rather than a bell curve it should follow the innovation s curve.  True ‘service leadership’ is potentially hampered by rigidity of tenure.

I would like to propose that formal leadership can be fluid with ex leaders becoming ‘Proxy leaders’ who can lead from behind or ‘transient leaders’ who merely stepping back and return later to the role.  We just need to make it attractive.

Leadership Qualities for a Collaborative Society 3.0 #58 #cong20


“Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen.”
Alan Keith
Covid19 was the catalyst to create collaborations of that would never have been imagined.
The true test was not the best idea or the most potential to succeed. The test was in the people values, fears and behaviours.
Ultimately it was the person centred approach, open communication and giving everyone a voice that made OSVX. Society 3.0 in Beta.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. “Do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg RIP 2020
  2. Keep your HEAD with Humility Empathy Action and Decisiveness
  3. COPE with Clarity, Openness, Perservere and Energy
  4. Hit the Target with Honesty, Integrity and Transparency.

About Gillian Berry:

I am a qualified clinical nurse specialist. Recent roles include Education, Practice Development Facilitation and Project Management. I am driven by Quality, Patient Safety and Person-Centred Care. I hold a HDip CCU Nursing, PGD Infection Prevention and Control, PGC in Clinical Trials Management (Pharmaceutical Medicine), PGC Medical Affairs (Pharmaceutical Medicine), Cert in Quality and Safety. I founded PerCen Technologies in 2019 in response to challenges that I felt were not addressed in Healthcare. They are supported by the first national HIHI call by the Health Innovation Hub Ireland. It was set up to create person centred innovative solutions to clinical unmet needs. Its aim is to use scientific knowledge and the latest technologies to compliment clinical evidence based practice. My EitHealth journey stared in 2019 where I participated in the Wildcard Hackathon in Amsterdam, followed by the digital health validator in Trinity College and IP training. I am also on the EITHealth expert panel. At the start of the Covid19 Global Pandemic I combined her 25 years healthcare and her post grad education to create a process to break the chain of infection. I co-founded OSVX Open Source Volunteers Extended. Which attracted over 1000 STEM professional volunteers, academic institutions, SME’s and Multi-National’s and facilitated 30 projects with a transfer of knowledge and skills.
I am an active member of EmpowerHer and Network Ireland where I support women peers in business and entrepreneurship. I recently won the regional Power Within Champion for my work on the Covid19 response. I am on the EITHealth Alumni as the Regional Coordinator for UK and Ireland. I aim to facilitate the continued success of the EITHealth Alumni, promote innovation and empower the members to continue their health innovation journey.

Contacting Gillian Berry:

You can connect with Gillian on LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter or send her an email.

By Gillian Berry

See Gillian’s presentation below that she delivered at CongRegation 2020.


Society, in the Past, in the Present and in the Future. #9 #cong20


Society is complex and is made up of various personalities.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. We need to learn from the past.
  2. We need to be open to developing.
  3. We need to look forward to the future with positivity and hope.
  4. We have little control of what goes on around us. However, we have control of ourselves to take care of our society.

About Gerard Costello

I am a Community Alert Development Officer for Muintir na Tire, advising and supporting Community Alert Groups in the Western Region of Clare, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon and Longford. I went back to collage as a Mature Student and studied Community and Family Studies for four years.
I am involved in various community committees.

Contacting Gerard Costello:

 You can contact Gerard by email.

By Gerard Costello.

Society, in the past, in the present and in the future. What have we learned? what are we learning? what can we learn for society?

‘Society’ has a lot of interesting angles, definitions and examples with a wide varied implication to people. The word society prompted me to look up various sites for their definition of the word Society to see what the written thinking was before putting my thoughts and learning about it on paper. The following are some of the various answers.

‘A society is a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Societies are characterized by patterns of relationships (social relations) between individuals who share a distinctive culture and institutions;

‘Society, the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community’.

‘It is said society is made up of the community of people living in a particular country or region and having shared customs, laws, and organizations’.

‘Society can be the totality of social relationships among organized groups of human beings or animals’.

‘Society is a system of human organizations generating distinctive cultural patterns and institutions and usually providing protection, security, continuity, and a national identity for its members’. However, the one I like best is.

‘Society: The totality of people regarded as forming a community of interdependent individuals working for the benefit of society’.

My analysis from the above definitions of Society relates to, a group of people, their interaction, subjected to the same governing authority and cultural expectations within a community working for the benefit of society. However, this year 2020 has created some change to Society showing us how vulnerable we all are and how quick we are to change. I think we need to look back to see where we have come from in society to appreciate what we have today and work safely on developing a more balanced healthy society into the future. Each day of our lives we enter an unknown arena which we have to move around in, to entertain and to be entertained within.

When I think of the word society and where we have come from reminds me of a life experience. This is a synopsis I have around society and changes which I remind myself of when having a bad day. On a fine summers morning in the year 2015, I stood in front of a replica of ancient Ireland. This replica, related to where people lived long ago in places called Crannogs. On my visit to the model site of ancient Ireland I stopped in the warmth of the early morning sunlight and gazed at the images developed in this village setting. As I rested I could hear the birds singing, the sun was shining on my back. I was after driving to this tourist attraction from the hotel I was staying in when on holidays with my family in the South of Ireland. I was after a full Irish breakfast. I had gone for a relaxing dip in the hotel pool, sat for a while in the steam room and relaxed in the Jacuzzi. It was early August and day four of a six-day break away from home and work in the West of Ireland. My life in society year 2015.

I watched the images and the surroundings and realised what I was looking at depicted what would have been the way of life for my Great – Grand Parents and what Society and the environment was for them and others at some stage. Their homes were Crannogs made of sticks, clay and vegetation. Heated with the flames of burning timber in an open fire. No windows. No solid door, just a flap. No running water. No electricity, Very little clothes.

I have told people about my experience of this model site and my family connection to that society and said to people, your family came from the same environment. Some people agreed with me and others have said no, their family had a two story house. They may be correct, who am I to judge. But, if we go far enough back in time I may be correct to say that our ancestors came from a life where they lived as part of a society in a Crannog.

These Crannog homes were simple and home to families. What I saw in that image before me was, simplicity with very little comforts. However, the questions I ask is, did everybody live in a Crannog during that age? and was life as simple as I could see? had these people no comfort. Was society like this for everybody back then? Was the simplicity of life a good or bad experience? Has society really changed and will society change in the future?

As the nation has aged, the elements that bind society together have multiplied and grown strong.’ Well, when I gaze around today we have come a long way in this society from the Crannogs. We have access to everything, to houses with everything in them, from windows, doors, electricity, heating etc. Or have we everything in society? Can we change much more? However, have we grown strong with age to much when you stop and think what Covid 19 is doing to society? Can we do anything to improve. Personally what I have in society today is in abundance compared to my ancestors. However, I fear losing what I have due to, viruses, crime and lack of development leadership.

We have become a society of blamers, demanders and whingers living a franticly stressful life. The way society is managing life is causing it to move at a rapid and stressful pace. Technology for one is advancing at such a fast rate that the mind can’t keep up with it and the body is breaking down under the pressures of modernisation. Society is leaving technology to do the think, resulting in a loss of neighbourliness and the loss of community spirit. Society needs to balance the use of technology and the personal connection in order to have a better one. We have no one else to blame, but ourselves.

Sometimes we lose sight of our purpose in life and our road map. Having a good society with balanced leadership, a purpose, aims and solutions can help people achieve goals. Goals only come about with aims and actions. As a society are we stopping and thinking or thinking and stopping. Sometimes achievement not the person, defines what we are and who we are in Society. I say this on the old fashioned statement of society, she is a Doctor, he is a Solicitor verses she is only or he is only. We are all members of society and we are all needed to help keep the wheel of progress turning.

What others want from society in the future I have no control over. However, being a member of society I do not expect perfection in products and services, but I expect that leaders, corporations and people will always act responsibly. It is said, there are three ways of doing something. 1. Your way. 2. My way. 3. The right way and more recently there is a fourth way which is, don’t do anything. Society can’t stand still and just do nothing. Society hinges on and has hinged on the first three and without a balanced measure of mutual respect there can be no ordered lawful society.’

For me, learning in the future is a must for society to progress in unity: From experience of becoming a mature student in my late forties and having never gone to collage until them I have to say instructed learning is required at all levels of society to be able to progress for the good of all. However, time, support and encouragement needs to be given to those who find it difficult to learn as not everyone can achieve straight A’s. We need to question ourselves? ‘Where do we draw the line between individual freedom and good order in society?’ We need to learn from the past. We need to be open to developing. We need to look forward to the future with positivity and hope. In relation to the crises Ireland as a nation is going through with Covid 19 the primary focus of learning and aid must be to rebuild the elements that hold society together.

A quote I came across, ‘If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are ‘the father, the mother and the teacher’. This is very apt when it comes to learning within society. We need the three teachers to play a part in our development. When it comes to the actions of society towards development as another quote refers. ‘The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish’. This has become a problem in some communities mainly because of the lack of proper leadership.

Fear, life commitments and financial demands are some factors which drains the availability of volunteers to help develop society and this is a concern which needs to be addressed especially in rural Ireland. Interestingly the next quote worries me, ‘A person who cannot live in society, or does not need to because he is self-sufficient, is either a beast or a god’. Humans must have laws and must enforce those laws in order to maintain order in society.’ We make compromises with individual integrity in order to allow society to function. However, the problem is some people have little or no respect for themselves or others.

To conclude, after reading some of the definitions of society it was very thought-provoking. It is said that to go forward sometimes one must look back. In order for society to advance, people need to look back to some of the golden ages in the past and learn from the actions which took society to where we are today. Highlighting problems is necessary in order to encourage change. Society is in danger of sleep walking into a new arena without looking back at where we have come from, creating targets for the future and taking on aims so as to achieve goals for the good of society. Learning is needed by all and basics relevant to each stage of our lives needs to be thought to us as Children as Adults and as Older People. However, to much information is a problem to society, causing confusion and frustration.

Societies judgement of a person by wealth – image puts great pressure on those who struggle to make ends meet. Society is complex and is made up of various personalities. As a member of today’s society I have to embrace the environment which we are given and live as safely as possible. My wish is to work to achieve what I need, without offending or harming others in the process while also helping others on my life journey in today’s Irish society. We have little control of what goes on around us. However, we have control of ourselves to take care of our society.

When a business becomes everybody’s business it soon becomes nobody’s business. This too me is the evolving structure of society and without the support of formal leadership and governance, society is going to become wild and out of control. The onus is on government, institutions and society to work together for a just and equitable social order. We are not given many opportunities to discuss or give inputs into the way society is and could develop. However, thanks to CongRegation for the insight to provide the opportunity for members of society to discuss, engage and learn. I look forward to CongRegation 2020, the findings and feelings others have about society.

distributed leadership #15 #cong19


I believe leadership can arise (emerge) spontaneously. It can manifest through a statement, an action, a relationship, or a process.
Supporting people to give authority to their creativity supports leadership. Each person becomes encouraged to offer their intuitive sense of direction to a situation in an instance of knowledge or authority. This is leadership distributed across the collective (group, team, community) or context (project, process).

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. creative activity, initiative, enterprise, and leadership all exercise a common muscle
  2. that muscle is best exercised in a social setting
  3. we could call that muscle authorship
  4. authorship is about standing up for the progress of an idea into the world

About Jeffrey Gormly:

i use my creativity to make space for yours

Contacting Jeffrey Gormly

You can connect with Jeffrey by email.

By Jeffrey Gormly

“In truth, the right way to begin to think about the pattern which connects is to think of it as primarily a dance of interacting parts”
Gregory Bateson, Mind and Nature

I work with an idea of leadership as an emergent property; that is, I believe leadership can arise (emerge) spontaneously. It can manifest through a statement, an action, a relationship, or a process.
Supporting people to give authority to their creativity supports leadership. Each person becomes encouraged to offer their own intuitive sense of direction to a situation in an instance of knowledge or authority. This is leadership as spontaneous, improvised, fluid, and mediated by context rather than some outside authority. This is leadership distributed across the collective (group, team, community) or context (project, process).
In this work I focus on creating (choreographing) conditions that allow and support leadership to emerge. Creative practice encourages attentiveness, physical liveliness, concentration, a refinement of the senses of seeing and listening, and invokes or rehearses a hypothetical ‘sixth sense’ of telepathy or intuition (imagination).
The intention is to have fun, build an ensemble, promote full presence of mind, raise concentration levels, and tune everyone in to what I playfully refer to as hivemind, a kind of collective intelligence which encompasses self, each other, the space or larger context, and the task at hand. It’s about creating an ensemble out of a group, and staging situations that allow people to voice their intuition, their own sense of direction, with authority, and perhaps offer that to the group as a gesture of leadership.
An authentic experience of creative process includes developing and trusting intuition; listening to oneself, others and the situation; bravely expressing oneself freely; not taking things personally; trying things out; not knowing for sure; rehearsing and reflecting.
Playing with the idea of hivemind offers the chance to explore and experiment with relations between part and whole, between individual and collective; to ‘tune in’ to the larger creative, thinking, or growth processes taking place; to sense what needs to be said; and place thoughts, dreams, desires, wishes, creative ideas and free associations into an open, communal container.
Individuals can also let go of troubling or difficult issues by placing these thoughts into ‘hivemind’ and allowing them be understood as a ‘symptom of the system’. This encourages free speech and direct address of the situation, without triggering interpersonal conflict or disagreement. It offers the opportunity to freely say what needs to be said, without being tied to ownership of these tidings, in a kind of ‘immunity from prosecution’.
Underlying this work is a belief that creative activity, initiative, enterprise, and leadership all exercise a common muscle, and that muscle is best exercised in a social setting. We could call that muscle authority, but I prefer to think of it creatively, as authorship.
Authorship is not about claiming the origin of an idea, but standing up for the progress of that idea into the world. It is a kind of leadership that manifests in an instant, a gesture committing us to what we feel we know to be true or possible, in that moment expressing our belief and passion about that possibility and shaping its trajectory.
We identify this courageous gesture as leadership because it gives voice or action to something-needing-to-be-said: intuition, we could call it: trusting our own knowledge about creativity, community, economy, culture, and allowing these dynamics to take form through their own process.