New Story summiteer and founder of Next Culture Research & Training Centre (NCRTC), Clinton Callahan, posits an alternative viewpoint on leadership versus spacehholding inspired by fellow-summiteer Jo Confino’s recent Guardian article: ’29 qualities for business leaders to create a sustainable society’.
There may be some useful related distinctions between leadership and spaceholding in this article originally published in NCRTC’s SPARK Newsletter.
All best wishes, Clinton Callahan
Leadership is a shadow principle. Circular organizations require spaceholding.
Modern culture leadership skills match the values of hierarchical organizations. The moment you provide leadership to a galaxical, spiral, or toroidal (circular) organization, you force the power structure to shift from a circle back into a hierarchy. Even unintentionally, leaders create followers. This makes leadership a shadow principle.
At present, every United Nations member-state uses a power structure that has an inherent and fatal design flaw: they promote psychopaths. How? In hierarchies, the power positions are obtained by those who do whatever it takes to “move up the ladder.” The people best suited to do whatever it takes to get power are the 1% of the human population born without a conscience, without a connection between their mind and their heart, in other words, the sociopaths and psychopaths.
That is why petitioning any current global (or local) hierarchy to create a bright future for humanity on Earth produces no positive results. Creating a bright future for humanity is not on a psychopath’s agenda. In the past fifty years global hierarchies have been hijacked by the psychopathic agenda – which is: to stay in control and grasp after even more power and money, trying to fill their insatiable emptiness. Modern culture’s power structures will not be corrected. Instead they will be left behind for something less boring and less susceptible to takeover by psychopaths: the circle.
There is a universe of difference between hierarchical leadership and circular spaceholding. For example, hierarchical leadership degrades to fear-based ego-driven control and manipulation to defend territory in the hierarchy. Leaders subtly (and not so subtly…) war against other leaders and surround themselves with followers, wasting wildly diverse resources with top-down decisions. The employees serve the leader who is a father-figure in a non-feedback culture, where competitive “I win, you lose” adversarial meetings feed hungry Gremlins. The work is done for money. The mission statement is mere marketing. Whoever most effectively avoids responsibility wins. Leadership is a shadow principle that fits the values of capitalist patriarchal empire devouring the environment and creating drone-slave followers.
In contrast, spaceholding in a circle is a rotated job of navigating nonlinear decision-making technologies. Ego has no place to stand because the middle of the circle is empty. Spaceholders invisibly use a sword of clarity to serve the team, liberating each person’s 4-body intelligence: physical, intellectual, emotional and energetic – not just the mind. Circles are rapid-learning environments of mutually-empowering context-holders exchanging feedback and coaching, creating high-drama through Discovery Speaking, Dragon Speaking and radical responsibility. Gremlins are used consciously for holding and navigating nonlinear spaces and for accessing archetypal feelings. Spaceholding is a bright principle that fits the values of archearchy – the culture that comes after matriarchy and patriarchy, where archetypally initiated women and men create winning-happening gameworlds.
In a circle, the spaceholder and context holder can be, but often are not, the same person. The objective in circles is to build up as many context holders as possible. There are no power positions in a circle because a circle has no end. The only thing you get to be in a circle is yourself.
Circles make use of at least 13 nonlinear decision-making procedures beyond the three traditional forms (unanimous, autocratic, or majority vote). Consensus is not one of the 13 because straight consensus does not work very well. Its outcome is too easily manipulated by the form of the question. For example, if the question is, “Should the tree be cut down?” one veto keeps the tree standing. But if the question is, “Should the tree be left standing?” one veto gets the tree cut down.
Instead, the circle selects or invents whichever process best serves current needs, for example: Frying Pan, Phoenix Process, M.E.S.S. Process (Mayan Extraordinary Synergy System), Reign of Resistance, The Problem Is The Solution, Kaitiakitanga, Ticking Questions, Follow Your Feet, Push-Pull, Necessity Process, Bellyaching, Journey Into The Earth, and The Exception Makes The Rule. After some practice it becomes clear that nonlinear decision-making technologies craft unexpectedly-intelligent results that shape a new future through integrating an expansion or shift of awareness, rather than simply incrementalizing from the past.
Seed crystals of next culture, centered on adulthood-initiation, already dot the Earth making it easier for the rest of us to expand our understanding about what is really going on and what else is possible.
The wish and capacity of mature human beings to create and experience diverse cultural spaces is increasing. Mobile, Temporary, and Permanent Autonomous Zones already thrive and are rapidly expanding in diversity, number and duration all around the world. Perhaps your most effective escape from the bowels of the capitalist patriarchal empire includes stepping with more commitment into spaceholding roles in your local autonomous zones.
Experiment: Here are three ways to experiment….
1. Reflect intensely this week on your subtle behaviors in personal and professional interactions. Notice when you are habitually behaving as a leader rather than as a spaceholder, especially in situations where it is not called for, or perhaps even destructive to more egalitarian and collaborative ways of relating. If this seems difficult, or if your leadership behavior eludes you, ask one or two people in the environment to help you catch yourself. The purpose is not to beat yourself up or even to try to change what you are doing. The purpose is to simply become aware of the pervasive ways “leadership” as a positive quality has invaded your life and what it might be causing for you and your Gremlin as a shadow principle in contrast with the marketing it receives from modern culture.
2. Choose one of the groups you meet with that still gathers around a rectangular table using a hierarchical meeting format, leader sitting at the head reading from a pre-set agenda reporting about decisions that have already been made. To start your experiment, speak at the right moment using proper protocol and make a formal motion to experiment several times (not just once – because you see the second time what happened the first time) with a differently formatted meeting technology, for example, a circle using a spaceholder instead of a leader, in order to more effectively optimize group intelligence.
Circling the square is a strong alchemical transformation which could be met with significant, although perhaps unconscious, resistance. If your proposal is turned down at first, do not give up. Simply make a similar proposal at a subsequent meeting. If you are persistent rather than pernicious your proposal will eventually be accepted.
When the meeting day comes, explain the difference between leadership in hierarchies and spaceholding in circles. Introduce the Map of Rapid Learning (shown below) followed by a warm-up exercise in groups of three, with the first person delivering a one-minute presentation about the purpose and status of their current project, the second person sitting across from them role-playing a potential customer, and the third person sitting at the presenter’s side providing Beep! Shift! Go! rapid-learning feedback and coaching. Then ask for a volunteer to be the first spaceholder for your meeting. It should not be you. You are needed as a context holder so that this does not turn into a Gremlin feeding session, and also for giving clear and useful feedback and coaching to the spaceholders.
After approximately 7 minutes, suggest that the spaceholding position rotate clockwise around the room to the next person in the circle, with ongoing feedback and coaching from everyone. Continue meeting until everyone knows what to do next. This may take anywhere from five minutes to five hours. At the end of the meeting the last spaceholder ends the meeting by taking a stand to hold space for the team until the next meeting happens, at which time he or she stands up and shakes hands with the new spaceholder, formally passing over the job.
3. Choose one of the groups you regularly meet with and arrange to have a circular conversation in which the group exposes the context of the organization. The context is built out of the core distinctions that explain how the gameworld of the organization functions, reflecting its values and the bright principles it serves. Clearly list your core distinctions. This may take some months to do. The distinctions will reveal the rules of engagement in your gameworld. For example, does your organization distinguish between leaders and spaceholders? Boxes and beings? Low drama and high drama? Responsible and victim stories? Pay careful attention to what this process gradually changes in the quality of your meetings, interactions between members, and outcomes of the projects.