Names and shapes

The strength of understanding
by Carles Flo
In one of his lectures, the philosopher Alan Watts said:

“Look, here is a tree in the garden and every summer it produces apples, and we call it an apple tree because the tree 'apples'. That's what it does.”

Doing is one thing that we tend to give great importance to. In the professional field, knowing what others do is very practical. It helps us to reach the conclusion, for example, that if a computer is damaged, it is better to call a computer technician than an electrician.

In our world, to communicate and know what we are talking about, we associate a name and a shape to things. An apple, for example, has a definite name and shape that allow us to differentiate it from a banana. Then, what we do is to endow things with meaning, usually associated to our liking or not liking. This is what makes some people say that fuji apples, even though they have a less colourful coloration than royal apples, are more tasty due to their taste quality. But there are other people, including the farmer that produces royal apples, who will not agree with that statement.

If we allow ourselves the license to take the phrase of Alan Watts and translate it into the concept of leadership, the leader would be the person who leads, which is what the leader does. The problem in the case of the leader is that, unlike the apple, it is not completely clear nor the shape or meaning of the concept “to lead”. Hence, the word leader is usually followed by an adjective that makes it more or less likable.

What is, then, the problem we find ourselves with when trying to define what is to lead? The problem comes from the lack of axioms. An axiom is such a clear and evident proposition that it is admitted without discussion and, as a consequence, produces certainty. You expect to get apples from an apple tree. If what the apple tree gives are bananas, there is no doubt that the apple tree is not such a thing. We call this certainty. But, what happens with leadership? Is there any axiom that allows us to affirm without fissures what is to lead and how it is done?

The extensive literature on management has tried, for years, to delimit the meaning of the word lead, delimiting and classifying leadership styles. We have tried to convert the verb to lead in to an object, to be able to analyse and define it. But to lead is a word that avoids the annotations since, more than one thing, it is the result of a huge sum of events in which many variables intervene.

The variables can be internal, linked to the leader's knowledge of himself, and externally related to an increasingly complex and changing environment. Considering this fact, when we were preparing the leadership program that we are presenting to you, a key question arose. The question is: what is the correct attitude that a leader must adopt in order to know himself better and to move in a world that is so highly complex and ever changing?

The answer we came to is that a correct attitude is one that derives from a force that tends to add information and that is what interests us here: the strength of understanding. What we seek, finally, is to reach that experience that some refer to as insight, a moment of full understanding, of knowing, that eliminates doubt, that helps us make decisions and that guides our actions.

So, the challenge we face is how to obtain understanding to be able to respond with a correct attitude to the situations that we as leaders have to live. To be able to do this, what we need, from our point of view, is a good map to guide us. A map of human development that allows us to know how we, the others and the world function, and that gives us indications of where to go to express our full potential.

In this leadership program we work with the most detailed, comprehensive, inclusive and complete map that human beings have been able to develop to date: the integral map. If you want to know more, we invite you to join us. Welcome to Integral Leadership Training.