Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Q: Is enabling a negative concept? As in certain psychologies?

This from a private e-mail question... Do I mean the enabling that carries negative psychological connotations?

My answer:

Words do not generally connote something desirable or undesirable a priori in my view of open learning as leading. When I define something, I am not stamping my foot so as to say this is the lawful meaning of this word. I am attempting to illustrate a narrative that makes sense about how I see leadership evolving. Thus, enabling cannot have one connotation. But that is an easy semantic/postmodernist retreat I don't much care for as an answer.

More substantively, I argue that a moral weight is necessary in leading. What that means for me now is that people must struggle with challenges in order to lead. Specifically, it is a demand to lead as a servant (yes, Greenleaf's servant leadership...of a sort.)

Enabling (what?) is the full question I want a leader to ask. There is no pat answer and cannot be if leading occurs. Too much structure and one gets "right" answers--agenda-based conventional leadership. I don't buy that form as current in most instances. I would call that form of leadership the politics of "I know better...follow me."

Of course certain situations are comparatively easy to judge (don't kill [usually]) but only those involving real moral weight of service really entail leadership. Where leaderless orgs take us is to a much more open and flat environment--not one where there is mayhem and libertarian nonsense, but one where responsibility is cultivated through demands for mutual respect.

In that sense, the enabling I speak of isn't the enabling of a enabling the taking of a controlled substance abusively. It is the choice of enabling a positive capacity to cope (learning). This sort of leading is much more dialogic and collaborative...leading to "flat classrooms" and learner-centric environments of work and human development.

Hope this makes my point a bit clearer, but there will be more to come in the blog. I hope you choose to comment there...your thoughts always welcome regardless.

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