LEADERSHIP BY INDIRECTION
 Harrison Owen
H.H.Owen and Co.
Potomac, MD
October 1985
(Published in "Transforming Leadership"
Miles River Press)




    Take Charge ! - That, suggests the title of a recent book on leadership (1), is the essential of leadership. The notion of "taking charge" connotes a powerful, controlling force, which, against all odds, molds and shapes an organization in the ways of high performance. The leader emerges as the dominant power, brooking no interference, and directing the destiny of HIS (I use the masculine possessive pronoun intentionally) ship. Taking Charge, Assuming Command, Directing with Authority, are all part of the ideation and vocabulary of american organizational life. But is it adequate, and more specifically, is it adequate to the kind of world we inhabit ?
    We know without documentation, although documentation is readily at hand (eg John Naisbitt, "Megatrends", Alvin Toffler, "The Third Wave", Daniel Yankelovich, "New Rules"), that these are the days of Ready, Fire, Aim. The environment, and organizations within that environment are changing so fast in themselves and in relationship to each other, that the days of quiet planning preceding action are numbered, if not over. Plans are overtaken by events, and the Leader who would Take Charge, Assume Command, and Direct the course of events may be excused if a sense of frustration, and even despair, creeps into consciousness.
    Of course, there are methods and technologies available to deal with the potential mayhem - not the least of which is the rapid increase in the quality, capacity and speed of our ability to communicate with each other given by the omnipresent computer. As the world speeds, so must we speed our capability to bring data and information from the site of decision making to the point of action. Yet the computer, which seems to be our salvation, is also the problem, for as we are able to communicate more rapidly in one area, all other areas slow down proportionately. Einstein was right, when dealing in the world of high energy and speed - everything is relative. We have joined Alice "Through the Looking Glass". Said Alice to the Red Queen, following a mad dash through the garden,
    "Why I do believe that we have been under this tree the whole time!" "Of course," said the Queen, "what would you have it ?" "Well in our country,"said Alice, still panting a little, "you generally get to somewhere else.... if you ran for a long time, as we have been doing." "A slow sort of country!" said the Queen. "Now here it takes all the running you can do just to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run twice as fast."
    Running twice as fast, on the same old track, just does not seem to be in the cards - not unless we can make some major, and highly improbable, changes in human physiology and psychology. It appears that we are approaching, if indeed we have not passed - the point of burnout, witness the current proliferation of "Stress Management Workshops". Perhaps it is now time to follow the advice of Peters and Waterman, and go "Back to Basics". Though the "basics" I have in mind are not the "fundamentals of a business", but rather the elemental realities which underliebusiness - and in fact all of human life. The critical question is - Is the "same old track" the only track, or is there a different way to go ? And if there is a different track - is there a new way of running which is both appropriate to the circumstances and our capacities ? Put bluntly - is it possible to lead without killing yourself ?
    In what follows, I propose to explore precisely such a "new track" (which is, in fact, a very old one) along with a "new way of leading", which has been practiced, in one form or another, since the dawn of recorded history. The New Track exists at the level of energy and spirit, and I would call the new leadership, Leadership by Indirection.
 
 

When events and organizational structures come and go with the rapidity of trees viewed through the window of a speeding train, discretness and form disappear in a blur. For those who seek to lead by controlling each structure and every event, the net effect is severe eye strain and ultimately, despair. However, were it possible to make sense out of the "blur" and pass over or beyond the discrete entities of experience - the structures and events - what is presently a maddening and impossible situation might be converted to something of greater sanity and utility.
    But how do you make sense out of a blur, which by definition is non-sensical ? In physical terms (on the train) this may be accomplished by letting go of the effort to see each tree in its separateness, and concentrate on the pattern or flow. But in the "real world of organizations" such visual slight of hand seems less than possible, unless of course there is "something" underlying the events and structures, which may become sense-able, were we able to perceive it. Taking a bold step - with no effort to prove my statement - let me suggest that the "something" is energy - or more appropriately Spirit. The forms and structures of our world would then become momentary expressions of that spirit as it moves on its way - transforms, if you will.
    Conversations about spirit have typically been reserved to the shadow world of religion - and strictly avoided in the harsh realities of everyday business. It is true that occasionally leaders will slip, and say something about the importance of spirit as in the "spirit of this place" or "esprit de corps". But beyond that, the conversation is minimal, and not generally enlightening. The truth of the matter is that we have forgotten how to talk about spirit, and thus, when called upon to do so, we have little to say. Our "forgetfulness" was not happenstantial; rather a direct derivative from our western scientific tradition which, upon occasion, seems to be saying "if you can't count it, it doesn't exist". Since nobody has ever counted or measured Spirit, at least in terms of therms, ergs, or pounds - there has arisen a tacit (sometimes overt) assumption that it doesn't exist. Most of the rest of the world (numerically) is not afflicted with a similar impediment, but then most of the rest of the world has not been subject to the benefits and liabilities of western scientific thought.
    So we speak of spirit at some risk. But on the off chance that the rest of the world knows something we don't know, and that the lapses of our leaders, when they refer to spirit, are more than just words, I propose a project of thought. Let us suppose that spirit (literally - breath or wind) is that vital energy or force which "underlies" all of physical reality. Our organizations then, including their structures and forms, are purely and simply manifestations of that spirit which may exist in time and space - only to pass away to be replaced by new forms. What endures is spirit. Thus, if we were to "get back to basics" - that which is truly primal - we would see our organizations as spirit and flow, and Leadership would be understood as the capacity to focus the spirit and enhance its power.
 

Organizations as Spirit
 

    Imagine that your organization is no longer a collection of bodies, buildings and machines. Rather it is a flow of energy and spirit directed towards the accomplishment of certain concrete tasks or objectives. The essential task is to keep the spirit coherent and directed upon the job at hand. Under the circumstances, turbulence is to be avoided, if only because that represents a non-productive dissipation of energy. By the same token, little side-eddies of spirit constitute a net drain on available power, for they are not focused upon the task at hand. Ideally, the spirit will be focused with laser like intention upon the job. The quality and level of power will be sufficient for the task, but no more. Too much power, and the "deal will be blown". Not enough, and things will never lift off the ground.
    But notice that there is not just one job in the immediate future, but a series of them. If we have learned anything about the nature of our present environment, it is that things are in constant change. Therefore, we may assume that whatever the new job may be - it will be different from the present one. That is the meaning of ready, fire, aim. In the "old days", we might expect to the same old thing, time after time, but at the moment, the "same old thing" comes almost as a surprise. Like AT&T, we wake up one morning and find that the whole world has changed. We used to be the "phone company" - but now it seems that our spirit is required to focus upon whole new occupations, quite unlike anything we have attempted before.
    So the issue in front of us is not just "doing the job", but perhaps even more importantly, redirecting and reconfiguring the energy and spirit to perform a whole new task - quite un-related to what went before. The military has a phrase which neatly captures the idea - "redeploy the force". Indeed the military is a prime example of the issue at hand. Under the conditions of peace, there is a structure (configuration of spirit) which is appropriate to the circumstances. But under the conditions of war, something very different is required, and the "peace time" way of doing business will no longer work. The difference in circumstance may be obvious, but the time available for the change is infinitesimal, indeed it may well be measured in nano seconds. Traditional strategies for transition management are overwhelmed by the speed and magnitude of the change, and victory will go to the swift. How do you focus spirit and, if required, cause its rapid re-direction ? Superficially the needed action may appear as a flurry of memos and orders, which all too often are lost or mis-understood. But what is that alternative?
     We would do well to remember that the object of our concern is spirit and energy. Whatever it is that we do, should be appropriate and efficacious in that realm. At this point, we might borrow a leaf from the notebook of the high energy physicists who had an analogous if not similar problem. For them the question was, how do you focus energy so that a particular task might be accomplished - splitting an atom for example. They discovered that sledge hammers were too gross and chemical reactions did not reach the level of intended activity. In short the old ways of directing the elements of the environment were ineffective at the level of their concern.
    To direct energy, the physicists had to use energy. Concretely this meant constructing cyclotrons and linear accelerators which could create hugh energy fields (magnetic fields) through which they might shape and direct the errant particles (or were they waves ?) towards their intended destination. When the focus was clear, and the power great - the task was accomplished. The atom split.
    The analogue, for our purposes, is the culture of the organization. Anthropologist Edward Hall (2) says that "culture is man's medium", which we may understand as the nutrient milieu in which man, in all aspects, grows. Culture should not be confused with its artifacts - specific pieces of art, architecture or music. Each of these artifacts is expressive of culture, and important for the shaping of man (we really should say spirit) - but culture is something more. Culture is the dynamic field which shapes and forms the spirit of man.
    In powerful, well formed cultures, the spirit is strong and tasks are accomplished with dispatch. But when the culture (dynamic field) becomes weak, flaccid and incoherent, the spirit loses its intention and direction. So if our intention is to insure that the spirit of a particular organization is adequate to the task at hand, and to those tasks that may lie just over the horizon, our area of operation will be the culture of the organization.
      But how can we effectively influence something as diaphanous as a "dynamic field" ? A clue is provided by the word "culture" itself. You will notice that the first four letters of the word culture is cult. This suggests, at least in terms of the structure of the way we say things - that somewhere in the heart of every culture - there is a cult. While it may be on the order of "chop linguistics", the derivation of words "cult" and "culture" are interesting. Both come from the latin "colere" which means to nourish or grow. The word "cultivate" comes from the same root, as also "agriculture. So what does the "culture" grow ? Man. Or more accurately, man in all his dimensions. On the assumption that words are more than an assemblage of letters, but rather may tell us something useful about who we are, and how we got that way.....we may be led to an interesting thought. If the object of our concern is spirit, the medium is Culture, and the mechanism cult.
      The use of the word cult may conjure up images of Jonestown and other strange phenomena, and certainly that is the way the word is most often used today. To assume, however, that the definition of "cult" begins and ends with the Jonestowns of this world, is to place un-necessary limits on a very powerful word. While it is quite true that aberrant forms of cult can be strange even demonic, cult in itself points to a much deeper and more powerful reality. For the cult is that mechanism, internal to culture, which establishes values, behavioral patterns - in short, the way "things get done" or "should get done" in a particular culture.
      The contemporary interest in Organizational Culture is a start, but to be more than a mere curiosity, that interest must move beyond superficials and appearances, down to central mechanisms, and what those mechanisms do. Cult is such a central mechanism. Whether it be a department store, AT&T or the corner Drug store, there lies at the heart of that culture some "entity" who's job it is to care for how things get done around here. What is the proper mode of behavior worthy of reward - and concurrently - what is improper, worthy of censure. The operation of the cult may be quite informal - a vague, but powerful sense of how things are here. Then again, the cult may become quite visible and structured as in formal religions and other large organizations. But the task is always the same; the specification right and wrong - values, which is really just a way of talking about the quality and capacity of spirit desired.
      To effectively operate at the level of spirit, with the intention of focusing that spirit in meaningful ways, the key is the cult at the center of the culture. But how does the cult accomplish its task ? The means may appear as black magic, or rigid authoritarian control, and it is true that some cults operate this way, and thereby effectively constrain the spirit of man and limit its growth and development. But that need not be the case, and indeed to stop with these answers is to miss the essential "tools" available to the cult. It is also to confuse means with effects, for the "tools" of the cult are neutral, albeit powerful. They may therefore be used in very destructive ways, but such destructiveness is not inherent to the "tools" themselves. It is value-added by the users.
      The tools of the cult are essentially two; Myth and Ritual. In common parlance, myth refers to idle tales from another age with little truth and less utility. That is typically the best we can say about myth. Ordinarily myth means lie or falsehood. Such an understanding is far removed from a classical definition, but more to the point, the definition limits or precludes our ability to perceive and utilize and very powerful aspect of our common life. Myth is not "just a story", rather it is THE Story - the narrative context in which our lives make sense. Myth is neither "true" nor "false" - but rather behind truth, as that setting or paradigm (see Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago 1962) through which we perceive the true to be true. Ritual is simple acted myth - THE story set to music and movement. In simplest terms, myth is THE story of how things are around ere. When you know THE story, everything makes sense. If you don't know THE story, it's all one big mystery. Thus it is that the fortunate "new hire" in an organization is taken out and told the "real story". That is myth.
      More formally, myth is a likely story which arises out of the life of the group, through which they experience their past, present and potential. As a likely story, myth could have happened, but that need not be the case. As a matter of fact, some of the best myth never occurred historically, but it still does a marvelous job in communicating the spirit of a place. So myth is not history, but that does not make it any the less powerful.
      Myth arises from the life of a group, which means that the terms of the story are indigenous to that organization and no other. Myth is literally our story. This means that it will probably sound quite strange to everybody else. Indeed one of the clear signs to an outsider that he or she is hearing the myth of some particular group is when a story is told with awe and excitement which hardly seems to merit either. But that will always be true for the outsider - and in fact defines the outsider as just that. When you know THE Story, and the story is yours, you are part of the group. If you don't know THE story, you just don't belong.
      Lastly, myth is the means through which the group comes to experience its past, present and potential. On the simplest level, myth recounts how everything got started, what seems to be happening at the present, and where it may all end up (otherwise known as hopes and dreams). But myth does not simply work at the level of "facts about" - but rather it creates the circumstances under which the members of the group actually experience what went before, the significance of the moment, and the power of the dream for the future. In providing this experience, myth does not operate by black magic or mirrors - but rather in the manner of any good story.
      Good stories - really good stories - don't just give you the facts, rather they make things so real that you are really there. We say of such a story - "they capture the imagination", and that is quite literally what happens. Really good stories create an open space in which the imagination grows. Details are important, but only as the way of defining the "space" in which the story takes place. In many ways - the critical thing is not what is said, but what remains unsaid. And if you think about where the story takes place - it clearly isn't on the printed page. It becomes internalized so that the story is you, and you are the story. The art of the storyteller, not only captures the imagination, but more importantly - it captures the spirit.
    Myth does no less. As the myth is told, those who participate not only hear the facts, but they are introduced to the spirit of the organization, not by way of fine anatomical description, but inasmuch more immediate and self-validating fashion. In the open space created by the myth teller, the spirit of the organization appears as a holograph and captures the imagination and spirit of the hearer. To the extent that the hearer becomes immeshed in the tale to the point that the spirit can be smelled, seen, touched and tasted - the story or myth comes to define reality. Truth is true because it accords with THE story.
      What myth really does is image the spirit, not with the kind of "objective" separation experienced in the art gallery where observer stands over against observed, but rather with an immediacy that excites, empowers, shapes and enhances the spirits of all who participate. He or she who tells the story defines reality and consequently, all the activities appropriate to that reality.
At this point we may return to the consideration of leadership. To the extent that leadership is concerned to focus the spirit of an organization on the jobs at hand, the means is myth. How all of that might take place may become clearer with an example.
 
 

The Jonathan Corporation
 
 

    The Jonathan Corporation is a small ship yard located in Norfolk Virginia. At the time I was working with them, they had a total of 500 employees, but they were doubling in size just about every year. A prime force behind their expansion was the fact that they were exceptionally good. Indeed they were the only shipyard in the United States which had never not brought a ship in ahead of schedule and within budget. They were, in short, a truly high-performing system. The issue of the consultation was - how to keep them that way. The president clearly recognized that as the number of people increased, so did the likelihood that the spirit and drive which marked the place might become diluted. Jonathan would not be the first organization which failed by succeeding.
    My assignment was to analyze the culture in order to provide the president with a strategic view of what made them so good, and further, to suggest ways in which the focus and intensity of spirit might be maintained over time. The first step was to identify the operative myths. This was done through an extensive set of interviews covering all levels and sectors of the corporation. By the conclusion of the interview process, five central myths had been identified which set the tone or defined the spirit of the place. In no particular order they were:

The International House of Pancakes In the early days of the corporation, before it really was a corporation, the president and his close associates would gather at the International House of Pancakes with a pocket full of dimes. Some of the dimes were used to buy the coffee, and the rest went to feed the pay-phone which did duty as the corporate switchboard. The value in this story was quite clear - "We don't worry about surroundings - just get the job done".

The Phoenix Very shortly after the corporation started, a small group of senior members decided that the pastures were greener on the other side of the fence. More to the point they wanted their own pastures. Consequently they left Jonathan and created Phoenix Marine. Immediately after the departure the president assembled those who remained and explained the situation. He indicated that he intended to compete "nose to nose", but that in spite of the pain and disruption caused by the schism , he acknowledged the right to such a choice, and the basic competence of those who made it. A year later, the Phoenix had died, and Jonathan remained. The value communicated - even in moments of intense competition people will be honored and respected for what they are.

SS Speer The SS Speer was a naval ship which had an unfortunate encounter with an oil tanker. The navy estimated the damage at $2,000,000, and Jonathan bid $ 915,000 for the job. The nearest other bid was $ 2.5 million. Since this was Jonathan's first such bid, the Navy was understandably curious about the numbers, and asked to see how they were generated. After looking, they had to admit that it all added up - but some skepticism remained. The Jonathan crew began work in the middle of winter under terrible conditions. They worked around the clock, and refused to acknowledge fatigue. But victory was sweet. The ship was ready two days ahead of schedule for $ 913,000. The value communicated - "We can do it."

Spirit Wagon In the early days, when Fridays rolled around so did a pick-up loaded with beer. Worked stopped in the yard, and all hands were invited to share a brew. Value communicated - "We celebrate our community".

Norma's Apartment A secretary by the name of Norma arrived home to discover that a fire had destroyed virtually everything she owned. Within 48 hours, without an official prod from anybody, money and material came in from all over the corporation, and Norma was back in business.. Value - "We care for each other."

    These stories, with minor variations appeared in virtually every corner of the organization, weaving a tapestry of meaning which defined and preserved the spirit of Jonathan. In understanding how this worked, it may be useful to think of Jonathan as a drum head with each story adding it peculiar flavor or tension. Thus no one story does the whole job. Rather it is the interaction of all the stories which produces the dynamic field (culture) within which the spirit of Jonathan grows.

Leadership by Indirection
 

    Leadership by Indirection means leading at the level of spirit. The essential tools are offered by the myths of the organization, and the process may be understood as the manipulation of the mythic structure in order to tune the dynamic field and thereby focus the spirit on the task or tasks at hand.

    I use the word manipulation with cautious intention, recognizing that for some people this is a "red flag" word, and well it might be. However, it should be remembered that "manipulation" has two primary definitions (Webster's Seventh). The first definition is "to manage or utilize skillfully", and it is in this sense that I use the word. The second definition, however, is a useful reminder of the dangers involved. That definition reads, "to control or play upon by artful, unfair or insidious means." If it is true that the realm of spirit is as elemental as I suggest, and its power so pervasive - then those who operate at this level must do so, not only with care, but also with clear, life enhancing values. The alternative will lead to the destruction of the human spirit. It is well to remember that perhaps the outstanding practitioner of what I am talking about, in modern times, was Adolph Hitler.
    So how do you "tune the field" in order to enhance the capacity of spirit in addressing the tasks at hand ? Suppose that the job at hand was the construction of another ship. The requisite "tuning handle" is the USS Speer which capture the kind and quality of spirit necessary to do an outstanding job under most difficult circumstances. In order to guide the spirit in this direction, it is only necessary to bring this myth to a high level of consciousness in the culture of the organization.
    Doing that may appear to be a difficult and arcane act - but in fact it may be accomplished in the same way that any good story teller enhances his tale. The key is orchestration or playing the tale in as many different ways as may be useful and appropriate in the culture, so that the spirit of the people resonates in a powerful and productive fashion. The actual means of orchestration may be as simple as passing out SS Speer "T" shirts to all hands as a palpable artifact of the story. Or it may become more complex as in the creation of a Corporate Hall of Heros in which the faces and deeds of those who went before and re-presented. Indeed the means of orchestration are limited only by the imagination of the leader, the available artforms of humanity and the dictates of good taste within that culture.
    The latter point - "the dictates of good taste in that community" is not a small one. Just as Wagner does not appeal to all, nor does Michael Jackson - some things will go, and some just won't make it. The wise leader has a keen sense of propriety - an awareness of what really resonates with his/her folks.

  A New Story It happens, upon occasion, that the manner in which the spirit is shaped is no longer appropriate to the environmental conditions experienced by the group. At such a time it becomes necessary for the spirit to assume new form (transform) - or alternatively - face the real possibility of extinction. Such is the case presently with AT&T which used to be the phone company, and now finds it essential to find a new focus for its spirit appropriate to a very new and different world. AT&T is by no means unique, and as our age progresses, it seems reasonable to assume that what may now appears aberrant will shortly become the norm.
    Leadership under the conditions of transformation is a very different creature, and certainly a far cry from the old model which saw the leader tightly directing the forms and events of corporate life. In transformation, the forms tend to dissolve, and the events pass with such rapidity that they merge one into another as the spirit of the organization seeks a better way to be. Directing transformation by memo is rather like splitting atoms with a sledgehammer. It won't work.
    But how do you lend new shape to spirit ? The answer is you tell a new story - or more accurately - create a new and more appropriate myth. By way of example, consider the situation of the nine cities and four counties which constitute the region in southeastern Virginia known as Hampton Roads or Tidewater. For three hundred years these several municipalities had spent the majority of their time in conflict or self inflicted isolation. Over the 300 year period, this condition of warring fiefdoms made little real difference, for the cities had no real need for each other. However at the end of World War II, the situation began to change quite radically. It all began in the city of Norfolk, where through local and federal efforts, a dismal place was physically renewed. With the success of that effort, the local leadership began to look beyond, to the region as a whole, and recognized that for the full potential of the area to be realized, it had to be treated as a unity. Each part was inextricably connected to all others - but nobody was very happy about the situation.
    The thought of regional unity was anathema in most places, but the emergent leadership thought it worth while to give it a try. On the assumption they couldn't do it all at once, they began what might be called a step by step process. At one time it was the police, then fire or transportation. The effort was to secure cooperation in one area - which might then lay the ground work for future union. But as this effort proceeded, it became clear that the results were not as intended. Typically, the leaders in some service area would gather with the best of intentions. On the first day, there would be "love and light". By the second day, the politics of 300 years would descend on the table, and by the third day, everybody went home feeling that the quest was vain.
    In 1980, I had occasion to do some work in the region, through which I came to know much of the local leadership, and became familiar with their frustrated efforts. At one point, I proposed to the leadership that the tedious, one step at a time, approach was doomed to failure, and that they would never succeed in their hopes for regional unity until they managed to fashion a dream that was large enough to include everybody - all 1,200,000 people situated in nine cities and four counties. They would have to abolish the turf battles by imagining a turf so large that nobody felt constrained. But at the same time, this dream had to be attractive enough so that people would want to be involved. And it had to be doable, in the sense that it was technically feasible and within the realm of possibility for that region. I could have said myth instead of dream, but I felt that I had already approached the limits of credibility, and one more step, even in the interest of accuracy, would be too much. The leadership was intrigued, but by no means convinced. They did, however, ask me for an example of such a dream. I replied that if I were living on the edges of the largest natural deep water port in the nation (Hampton Roads), I might dream that this place should become the place in the world from which the oceans might be exploited for the benefit of mankind. Clearly such a dream was large enough to involve virtually everybody. It was also attractive in that somebody was going to seriously address this task - and eventually that somebody would reap large rewards. And lastly, it was certainly within the realm of possibility, not only in general, but specifically in terms of this region which already possessed major ship yards, was home port of the Atlantic Fleet, Jacque Cousteau , NASA and NOAH.
    Over the course of the next 4 years, this dream was orchestrated into reality. Beginning with a series of meetings involving all the leadership in which they actively and intentionally visioned what it might be like to live in a world described by this dream - on through endless small groups, community gatherings, symposia and the like - the dream was fleshed out and made real. On one level, the effort appeared as a "standard community planning exercise" - but there was a difference. Although numbers were generated and reports written, the real activity took place at the level of ritual and myth. Each time the leadership gathered, the new story was told in color form shape and sound. But the story was not so much about the Sea and its bounty, as it was about regional unity. And the telling of that regional story was accomplished not so much by words as by physical re-presentation. The assembled leadership, was the story and even though their words might express hope for union "some day", the fact of their physical presence together spoke of union at that moment.
    As of the moment, it seems that the new story has been born, and is effectively channeling the spirit of the region in new directions. Where as two years ago it was standard practice to presume a parochial viewpoint, from which one might argue for regional cooperation - it is now just the opposite way around. And there have been very tangible results too. Perhaps the most remarkable is that the region jumped from being the 143rd market area in the United States to join the select few in the "Top 50" as number 33. This was not done by mirrors and black magic, but rather by the simple expedient of ending hostilities. It seems that up to the time of the project, the local hostility was such that it was impossible to get all the cities into the same statistical reporting area. Hence the largest aggregation ranked number 143. But when they all got together, they "miraculously appeared" in the charmed circle of Top 50. That is not the only change. There is now a functioning regional sports authority which is hard at work with site planes for a regional stadium. The United Ways are now the United Way - and even the Chambers of Commerce are about to take the final leap.
    But the real difference is a change in vision, a change in story - which has allowed the spirit of the region to gain expression in a new and more powerful way. The impetus for that change came from leadership operating by indirection. Not that there were any alternatives, for no common structure existed within which any one person (or several persons) held authority over anybody else. Leadership by memo, command and direction was ruled out, as indeed it is in most situations where truly major change of spirit is involved. Even in those circumstances where it may appear that the structures of authority are present, real change and lasting change is rarely if ever effected by memo and command. Such change occurs when the spirit changes, in response to Leadership by Indirection.

1. Bennis, Warren Taking Charge - In all fairness to Bennis, his book actually talks about a rather different view of leadership, but his choice of words (take charge) fits right in with the bent of mind I am talking about.

2. "Beyond Culture", Anchor/Doubleday, 1981, pg 16