Leadership in Reflection

Jack Kruf

Leadership is redefined after every crisis. New ideas and reflections on what happened (was Covid-19 a white swan, was it a black swan?) and what the role of the C-Suite and of public leadership was or should have been, are numerous. Really hundreds and hundreds of articles find their way each day on the world wide web.

In my personal view – following the lessons of the forest – has every organism to make the maximal use of the factors light (energy), water and nutrients. These help it to just be, to exist, to flourish, to live and get offspring. the factors also influence the chances of every person, animal, flower, the daisy (Bellis perennis L.), because every species has unique capabilities. What seems to be clear is that these basic factors – literally and in more so in figurative ways – have changed dramatically during the crisis. It causes a shift. The wisdom of Darwin comes in.

Even daisies have to constantly compete for the available factors of life to find their way up. Like we all have to do. And yes, some stand out of the crowd, like on this picture. Leadership can be seen as a result of the biotic and abiotic parts of the ecosystem and not – as many of us try to reason and argument, about personal skills. It is driven by basic mechanism of survival (‘of the fittest’). In the forest, leadership is not the driving concept as such – as we know it in public governance schools, but more a result of this need within the ecological web. The state of leadership can be considered as an indicator of the state of the underlying system, and is not per se as a personal set of skills.

It is interesting to read about the many reflections on leadership today, just after a crisis – they highly differ by the way from thoughts before the crisis, as ever. For daisies, we ecologists know how it works, where and why they grow and what this is saying about their environmental circumstances. Well, that is interesting. For humans it seems to be less clear. Still the dominating city sciences, like Public administration, public management or public governance, provide us not with answers on the aspect of the indicatorship (no, not dictatorship) of leadership within the system. The eruption of (scientific) studies and reflections seems to indicate we lack proper criteria to measure leadership as a quality of the system.

Covid-19 will give us ‘leadership in reflection’, that is sure. But let us not forget – a plea as ecologist and a city manager (still vibrant) – that leadership is a consequence of something else in the system. Let us therefore dig deeper, prevent the superficial and quick analysis, the running to solutions behaviour and the blaming and really come with new thoughts than just a new set of personal habits (8 or so?). Maybe the daisy, this beautiful and clear flower of the forest, can guide us on this.

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