Stage Three Leadership: From Good Ideas to Unified Action
As we move toward space, a new standard for leaders is necessary. Cooperation and coordination at a level currently thought impossible will become essential. “Stage Three Leadership” is a blueprint for developing humane, competent leaders who can fulfill the possibility of Unified Action in an unforgiving environment.
Unified Action means sharing the same boat, while traveling one’s own path to a common destination. You don’t have to like or agree with the other voyagers, but your mutual dependence is absolute. To live in a condition of Unified Action is like being a trapeze artist — you had better catch the other person, and they had better catch you. You need not agree on style, but timing is critical.
In practice, Unified Action demonstrates concern for the needs and interests of everyone involved. This is immediately obvious when it comes to your own children, job or close friends. It is less obvious, but equally real, when it comes to the future of humans in space. Moving beyond the planet of our origin is literally a global issue. As with issues such as weapons of mass murder and the destruction of irreplaceable ecosytems, the fate of humanity as a whole is involved. Only a cooperative response beyond anything we have previously achieved as a species can enable us to successfully address these issues. Yehezkel Dror(1) calls this collective response “Raison d’ Humanite,” and declares it a normative imperative. This imperative is the cornerstone for Unified Action for the future of humans both on earth and in space.
The Talmud says that there are thirty-six righteous people in hiding who, if they can find each other, will transform the world. This is a suitable metaphor for the quest to find, develop and support Stage Three Leaders. These rare individuals embrace Dror’s normative imperative at a global level and are also competent in achieving technical, administrative and financial bottom lines. They think on a scale of generations while acting in real time. Developing Stage Three Leaders is akin to nudging evolution, like teaching fish to crawl from the sea to the land.
Through thirty-five years of helping private and public organizations manage change, we have distinguished three discrete developmental stages of leadership excellence. Stage One Leaders are successful by conventional measures and produce results. Yet they often undermine the creative process of moving good ideas to Unified Action by devoting excessive attention to immediate trans-actions, instrumental relationships and bottom lines of order and control. We are all familiar with Stage One Leadership — a mindset in which leaders and groups are usually reactive to circumstances regarding constituents, strategy, structure, process and people. They do what is necessary to meet the requirements of the moment, but seldom look further ahead.Download Article 500 Club