Transformational Leadership demands understanding both surrender and co-creation and knowing how they fit together.
First, to define terms, I speak of surrender in its “eastern” sense–giving over to something larger–as opposed to giving up as it is often interpreted in the “western” sense.
Co-creation is a process of partnering with something or someone else to facilitate something new. Both are essential in transformational leadership.
I speak a lot about following the energy and paying attention to “what wants to happen.” However, it is easy to use “what wants to happen” as an excuse for not fully participating in a co-creative process. It is easy to just notice the way the energy is flowing and give in to that flow even if you don’t feel like it is heading in a direction that will serve a greater good. That is passive or western surrender, and there is no co-creation. There is no transformation.
If your leadership is going to be transformational, you must be pro-active and co-creative. That means observing what is happening and assessing whether or not things are moving in a direction that serves a greater good.
If they are, then partner with that energy. Become a steward for it, support it to reach its full potential.
If things are not moving in a direction that serves, then you must ask, “What wants to happen here? What will serve a greater good?”
As the greater potential becomes clear, invite that energy to be present with you and surrender to it in the “eastern” way. Give over to that greater potential that is waiting to break through. Then ask that potential what it needs to come on into form and become its co-creative partner. Surrender, follow, lead, co-create, surrender, follow, lead, co-create–it’s a dynamic dance.
Let’s look at each of those steps just a little more fully. First you listen to what wants to happen–you tap into the potential and begin aligning with its energy. You set that energy free so that it starts to work its magic.
As the energy begins to build and the potential begins to take shape, you surrender to that greater potential that is now wanting to break through, and you follow that energy. It will show you and/or tell you each next step.
As you follow that energy, you then lead those who are working with you to create the optimal conditions for that potential to manifest. That process of surrendering, following, and leading is what co-creation is all about.
The highest form of co-creation is co-creation with potential–with energy. There may be many people working together on the project, but the primary co-creative partner is the potential itself. We think we are co-creating with people, but if together you co-create with the potential, your results will usually far surpass what you might initially have imagined.
This way of leading and working is very challenging for many people because it can feel like there is no structure. It is not linear. Yet, in fact, there is structure. It’s just that the structure is fluid and flexible, able to bend to accommodate every unfolding of the potential. It’s a structure of flow–a different kind of structure that we have very little, if any, experience with. It demands intuitive thinking and being willing to let go of things and ideas when they no longer serve. That thing or idea’s sole purpose may have been to help you take a particular step, and once the step was taken, it has served its purpose. Listen to the potential, surrender to it, follow it, take the lead when the potential asks you to, and co-create.
Transformational leadership moves at a rapid pace. We often can’t see more than a step or two ahead, yet we have a clear vision of a place we’re headed. We must be constantly surrendering to what wants to happen, listening to it, following its guidance, and entering into co-creation with that energy. There is no room for arrogance or attachment. It’s all about surrrender, follow, lead, co-create, and then repeat until the moment arrives when you realize the potential has manifested. The new form has emerged, and you can celebrate.