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The Ark of Leadership: A First Sample Chapter

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There is truth in both these approaches to learning (making mistakes and confronting the real world). Both approaches offer an important correction to the cautious tendencies of the thoughtful leader. We can re-introduce STS at this point. We find that STS exemplifies the Ruby Red emphasis on doing and learning by doing—and the Azure Blue vision of a workplace democracy. Perhaps, there is a meeting place for Red, Blue and Yellow in the enactment of STS. At the very least, the role played by all three primary leadership perspectives and practices in the initiation and maintenance of STS brings to the fore a fourth leadership perspective and practice—namely the Rainbow (to which we are about to turn).

Before leaving the domain of Golden Yellow and the promise of STS, we must ask a disturbing question: why isn’t STS more widely engaged? Why has it been abandoned in many organizations where it was introduced. We propose that the answers to these questions reside at least in part in challenges associated with Rainbow leadership. It seems that Rainbows are not always created with enthusiasm and Rainbow leadership can lead to burnout and disfunction. But more about this shortly. First, we identify several of the distinctive characteristics of Rainbow leadership and its close alignment with Best Practices 3 and 4.

The Collaborative (Rainbow) Leader and Best Practice 3 and 4

The three primary and three blended colors gather together when creating a Rainbow. The same occurs when diverse leadership styles and Best Practices are assembled and integrated on behalf of inspiration, diversity (differences) and community. They are also brought together so that the very important and varied roles played by leaders are acknowledged and honored. Leaders, in other words, are appreciated—and in this appreciative setting they can work from their distinctive strengths to assist the achievement of important goals.

This fourth Rainbow leadership style has been given considerable attention over the past two decades. Under the best conditions, the collaborative Rainbow leader works with groups of people to engage and enhance all forms of leadership that are inherent (and often undiscovered) in these groups. The collaborative leader provides the ground for an organization. She anchors the inspiring leader’s vision, as well as providing a balance between the decisive actions of an assertive leader and the caution of a thoughtful leader. It is through the engagement of Rainbow leadership that an organization can be most agile in the face of challenging VUCA-Plus challenges.

Appreciating and Expanding Existing Resources

Whereas the assertive leader consumes resources and the thoughtful leader conserves resources, the collaborative leader expands the use of existing resources. While the inspiring leader tends to recruit resources from outside the organization or grows new resources inside the organization, the collaborative (rainbow) leader draws attention to unacknowledged ideas and competencies within the existing organization. She appreciates that which already exists and encourages use rather than conservation of existing resources. And with this appreciation of existing resources comes an inevitable attraction of new resources. We are much more likely to assist an organization that is already filled with engaged resource than supporting an organization that is struggling to find resources (and often does not make effective or full use of the resources it already has).

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