Reclaiming Leadership for the human spirit
An Interview with Margaret Wheatley
July 5, 2018
In this episode, Angie interviews best-selling author, speaker, teacher and formal leader, Margaret Wheatley. Meg talks in detail about her new book, Who Do We Choose To Be? Facing Reality | Claiming Leadership | Restoring Sanity, and reveals why she is so driven by her “unshakable conviction that leaders must learn how to evoke people’s inherent generosity, creativity, and need for community”. She also describes how leaders can experiment with complexity theory and systems thinking to better understand the role of emergence and interconnectedness in their work. Meg offers a powerful and thought-provoking message for courageous leaders of this time, calling on them to become “warriors for the human spirit”.
Meg Wheatley is an author, management consultant, and systems theorist. She applies theories of change and chaos theory to organizational culture and leadership. Meg is also the co-founder and president of The Berkana Institute. She received her PhD from Harvard University and has written 9 books including the classic, Leadership and the New Science.
Quotes from this episode:
“We have to give up the paradigm of command and control, of treating people like machines, of denying the fact that people are creative and have deep inward motivation.” — Meg Wheatley
“When people work within the complexity paradigm, you understand that life organizes without control there are dynamics and processes that lead to what Stuart Kauffman, the great complexity scientist said, ‘you get order for free’.” — Meg Wheatley
“My own work now is not in trying to shift the paradigm, but trying to wake up a few devoted, dedicated people to be leaders for this time, which means being warriors for the human spirit.” — Meg Wheatley
“Claiming leadership for me is a conscious choice to step forward with courage, with a stable mind and in a community of other warriors so we can be a peaceful, thoughtful, discerning presence for others.” — Meg Wheatley
“If you are really studying complexity theory and systems thinking, than you are being introduced into deeply spiritual recognition that the world is interconnected and everything depends on everything else.” — Meg Wheatley
“What spirituality means for me is to recognize that I am a minor, modest participant in a very large mystery.” — Meg Wheatley
“Fritjof Capra—who is a dear colleague and friend—his work on living systems theory is the best that’s out there and I would urge any of your listeners who don’t know his work to go to fritjofcapra.net and see what he is offering these days.” — Meg Wheatley
“For me the most overarching, most profound learning I ever got from complexity science was about emergence, and that’s what we are living with right now.” — Meg Wheatley
“This process of adapting as you go is what we humans have completely lost sense about, we just plunge ahead, but every other living system on the planet uses it’s intelligence, uses it’s sensing to take in information from the environment. They have a fundamental freedom in that they can decide what to notice and then they can decide how to respond to what they’ve noticed.” — Meg Wheatley
“There is no real boundary between an organism and its environment. It’s just a constant energy flow and it’s a constant exchange of information and the organism adapts.” — Meg Wheatley
“One of our fundamental flaws is that we believe evolution is a synonym for progress and it’s not.” — Meg Wheatley
“We keep trying to change the overall culture, which is always an emergent phenomenon, by working backwards, by changing the parts, but it doesn't work that way, life doesn’t change that way.” — Meg Wheatley
“If we understood emergence, we would understand our work better because so many of us, myself included until about 8 years ago, were totally focused on changing large systems in order to change the world. The world needs changing but these large systems are emergent phenomenon, they cannot be changed.” — Meg Wheatley
“If we all became more reflective, we would become much better equipped to be of service to this time and we would be much more content. It’s the franticness, the rushing around and the withdraw from one another that is really creating this disastrous time for the human spirit.” — Meg Wheatley
“Because we are all interconnected, we are seeing things differently, so of course we are going to be in conflict.” — Meg Wheatley (quote not in recorded episode)
Resources from this episode:
Meg is also the co-founder and President of the Berkana Institute
She will be teaching a leadership course at Cape Cod Institute July 23 - 27 2018. This course will be "a five-day exploration to discern the contributions we choose to offer as leaders of organizations, communities, and families -- for this time."