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Integral Coaching as Servant Leadership

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(excerpted from “Integral Leadership Coaching: A Partner in Sustainability” by Lloyd Raines, published March 2007, Integral Leadership Review.)

Robert Greenleaf (1970) took an innovative position on leadership, setting forth a new framework called “servant leadership.” The essence of leadership, said Greenleaf, is the desire to serve one another and to serve something beyond ourselves, a higher purpose.

My sense is that this larger context is the defining narrative of our work as coaches and leaders, and it begs to be with us, a voice of conscience bearing witness, taking note of what is in front of us, and bringing this awareness into our conversations as we lead and coach.

Anything less is a convenient paring down of the bigness of the story we live in. Ultimately, our self-interested, short-term motivations come back to bite us hard. Short term benefits for some at the expense of many, lacks a moral maturity. We may do well to study anew the basic connections between things: What depends upon what? Who depends upon whom? Many indigenous people have understood the connections between the individual, community, nature, and cosmos in ways our culture and institutions have forgotten. We remain in peril because of that forgetting and the fragmented worldview that incapacitates our abilities to see what needs to be seen, and do what needs to be done.

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