Wednesday, May 4, 2011

“Essential Leadership Qualities” and Shamanic Skills

David Morelli of Everything Is Energy is launching a leadership training program, Enwaken, based on a list of four “essential leadership qualities.” There are introductory videos describing each of the leadership qualities, which can be seen at the links below. Among the various kinds of leaders, Morelli seems to specifically be thinking of people who take on the challenges of creating change in people’s lives or in the world. They won’t succeed, he says, without these qualities:

  1. Presence. For you to be a leader, people have to notice you.
  2. “Leaders create,” designing a course of events rather than just selecting among the alternatives that are offered.
  3. “Leaders make their vision bigger than the obstacles that are in the way of their vision.”
  4. The ability to project energy into work, a space, a group, or a project.

When I first saw the list, it struck me that the four qualities Morelli picked are all traditional shamanic techniques, related to shapeshifting, will, seeing, and attention. It turned out I wasn’t just imagining this shamanic connection. In a subsequent discussion, Morelli specifically describes the shamanic technique of “holding a container.” In its most familiar form, this means maintaining a comfortable energy in a room where people are working together.

Traditional leadership training from the second half of the 20th century is based on a combination of World War II military culture and sales culture. Using shamanic culture as a starting point instead might seem like an abrupt shift, but it probably makes sense at this point. The vocabulary of shamanism is more familiar and accessible to most of us, by now, than the points of reference provided by sales jobs and a war that happened a lifetime ago. To put it another way, more of tomorrow’s leaders have seen a Harry Potter movie than have led a battalion into Germany.