Awareness: be present, be prepared

Two words that point to new directions in leadership thinking is that of self-awareness and humbleness. What does it mean? The answer is to be present and to be prepared.

I worked with an organisation where the leaders were driven by the desire to be on the leading edge of developments in their field. Any innovation or strategy was quickly adapted and implemented. Change was truly the only certainty in that organisation.

As criticism (and the stress of continuous change) increased, they begin to see any form of criticism or apparent change in market demands as adversity – as a threat to their desire to be on the leading edge. As time went by and the need to change became institutionalised in the organisation. The leaders increasingly reacted from positions of fear. Their biggest fear was not to fail but the fear of being found out as in competent. They lived where fear dictated them to live.

The continuously changes that they made to the programs, systems and procedures within the organisation eventually took its toll. The continuous demands on the staff to adapt to the ideas of the leaders led to uncertainty and chaos as the staff tried to keep up with the stream of change. With time employees and customers lost trust and faith in the leadership team.

The way to respond to changes in the context of an organisation is to create strategies from a position of being present. Being present allows us to both understand and experience the contextual changes. It allows you to imagine the desired outcome and to choose to take responsible actions – dictated by neither fear nor arrogance. From the position of presence, leaders can prepare themselves, their organisation and the people of the organisation to create solutions.


Empathy and awareness together with imagination are the building blocks of hope and meaning.

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