How Do You Define Cutting Edge Leadership?

“Both as a natural byproduct of perceptions of broken leadership that has resulted in the current crises and in the need to find new leadership to resolve crises (...) How do you define leadership that is cutting edge and what program models hold promise?” 


Dave Suss - KFLA Board Member, Tom Gallagher (KNFP-10) - Director, Ford Institute for Community Building, Betty Overton (KNFP-09) - V.P. for Academic Affairs, Spring Arbor Univ., Kevin Fong (KNFP-14) - Founder, Elemental Partners

I believe programs that provide individuals the space for critical self reflection coupled with a framework through which to understand the underlying systemic dynamics that exist in groups, organizations or communities. While it has been around for a while now, I find that I come back to Ron Heifetz’s leadership concepts around technical versus adaptive challenges which are informed by the Tavistock methods around group relations.

This work couples well with Robert Kegan’s Adult Development theories. He has a relatively new book entitled "Immunity to Change" which thinks about how we overcome adaptive challenges as leaders – both personally and professionally.

Marshall Ganz is doing some interesting work around the role of Public Narrative and community organizing. He describes leadership as enabling others to achieve purpose in the face of uncertainty. I find his approach more formulaic, but it can provide a useful framework in which to think about one’s own passions and how they connect to others who are similar and different from ourselves.

His organizing class inspires students from across the University to start organizations or movements. That network would be a useful link to young people interested in these topics.

This is one addition: I think it is worthwhile looking at the Aspen Institute’s programs. They are expanding quite a lot. I believe that this is a good example of a program that takes leaders who have already been quite successful and links them to other quite successful leaders which helps them create a good network, but might not in the end impact their community as effectively as they could. That said, they are certainly a player and well funded. It would be worth looking at the model.