The Leader and the Organizational Dimension
Because organizations are, in the end, webs of relationships, they are dynamic, living systems. Leaders cannot control dynamic, living systems, but they can disturb them (Wheatley, 1999). Leaders who influence organizations in an efficacious manner form a comprehensive understanding of both the theoretical and practical workings of organizations. Identifying the mental models individuals hold about the organization that collectively identify the organization is inherent to the development of mature leadership that can transform organizations at fundamental levels.
Transformational changes within the organization can occur when leaders identify and change the thinking of the organization. The identification and examination from many angles of the complex and difficult issues associated with mental models requires the ability to engage in dialogue. Genuine dialogue involves listening without judgment, reflecting on thoughts and feelings, respecting differences, seeking deeper levels of understanding, releasing control, and identifying underlying, unstated assumptions (Daft & Lengel, 1998; Senge, 1990).
Wheatley (1999) suggested healthy systems connect to more and more of themselves by strengthening the relationships within the system. Creating organizations based on networks of relationships requires moving from personal to shared visions and this means reconciling individual purpose with organizational purpose (Senge, 1990) by deciding together what we want to create (Block, 2002; Wheatley, 1999). Quinn (2000) contended that leaders facilitate this process by creating the conditions for productive communities to emerge and that these conditions require systems of relationships in which members share a common purpose and each works for the benefit of all (p. 28). The internally driven leader is required to wrestle with issues such as the intent versus the impact of each action that is taken; the role of blame and forgiveness in organizations; and the deepening of both justice and mercy.
Questions to explore through coursework in this dimension include:
- What kind of leadership creates an organization that is a place of infinite possibilities?
- What is the role of the person in creating positive organizational change?
- How can organizations be leader-full (leadership is shared among all people at all levels) yet be led at the same time?
- How can the sacred and miraculous become valued in organizations?
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