I Lead


“Responsibility is the price of freedom.”

Elbert Hubbard

We are entering into an era of consciousness in which we can, finally, stop betting on Leaders as we know them today.

When we talk about organizational leadership, we are usually referred back into an individual figure that we define as ‘Leader.’ According to the conventional definition, this person, woman or man, ‘inspires others into achieving a purpose.’ There’s no doubt, specially in the organizational dimension, that these people don’t only exist, but are essential architects in the construction and management of the company. There’s endless literature addressing from most diverse disciplines leadership, as well as plenty of examples that illustrate the qualities that the so-called ‘leaders’ develop and which, in the field of human capital, are called: ‘leadership skills.’ These skills, supported by sophisticated management systems have been defined, from hard data and experience, as universal. For example, no one would argue that how to inspire others through his or her actions is indeed a default competence of a leader. Congruency, as well, is one of those skills that has been, throughout history, archetypically present in such individuals.

The large-scale mass production and exponential data processing power that initiated with the Industrial Revolution, and the technological boom of the millennium, has, for the first time, allowed humanity, not just to have access practically to all knowledge and information available, but to be able to exploit it. This involves, on one hand, access to a more complete map of reality and, therefore, more complex; and on the other hand, the possibility that individuals can actively participate in the construction of such reality.

Regardless of what kind of ‘complexity’ appears in our lanscape, according to Harvard Business Review, only 5% of leaders today, perform from the necessary perspective to manage the complex systemic change. Therefore, increased access to development, makes leadership much more complex. Consequently we move from the ‘one-leads-many’ approach to a more actual ‘many-people-sharing-one-purpose-leading-themselves.’ The impact social networks have on people’s lives in concert with millions of free voices in the world, have generated a recent phenomenon that’s here to stay. Consumers today are gaining strength through organized consumption; citizens through civil participation with global reach; and employees in the co-creation of organizational culture.

In the bigger picture, though the conventional leader is still present, the rise of many ‘I Lead’ individuals is not only weakening the first, but encouraging more and more of the latter. The ‘I leaders’ are ordinary people who speak out in a coordinated effort to achieve a goal they have in common, and who transcend the classical alienation coming from the archetypical figure of a messianic leader. Indisputably, it is becoming less and less likely that the figure of a singular leader would be enough to move groups of informed individuals who can clearly see his or her ‘bright’ side as well as his or her ‘shadow’ side. It is also becoming less and less likely that informed individuals would be seduced by ideas but more by the collective voice which is congruent with each individual´s purpose. We need less leaders that inspire and more free people who take responsibility and inspire themselves.

How does this manifest among organizations?

In the Human Resources forums, each time more and more people talk about the well-known Millennial Generation, who are becoming part of organizations. Young people discouraged by ideas that were sold to them and didn’t work. Children of the global crises who were born connected and grew up with a device in hand, and who can, from a desktop, contribute to the construction and destruction of institutions, governments and businesses. Young people who are hyper-informed, who manifest in their consumption habits and in their loyalty to their employers their core values ​​in action, and in many cases transcend the depleted ‘job security and the assurance of a career plan.’ They want more. They speak out, take out their wallets and they engage where they find, more than economical retribution, purpose.

Some organizations understand it, others don’t. Some are still leaning and keep investing on their leadership team, that is undeniably the most influential because of its systemic weight. These organizations, from the conscious development perspective, could be defined as ‘conventional’. Other organizations, however, have understood that, from a historical point of view, businesses are comprised of individuals with an exceptional self-leadership potential

I lead

Within the leader-group binomial relationship, the ‘group’ is becoming more and more developed. As time passes, the conventional leader will have to develop more facilitation skills and less management skills. That is, a leader who builds with other ‘I leaders’. Free and responsible individuals, that equipped with tools and information, manifest their values through action, and depend less on an external individual to guide them. Hierarchy seems to not be enough. Never before did the affirmation ‘culture eats strategy’ had been more valid. The organizational development strategies based on historical conventions are irrelevant to the employee who is informed and who breaks away from the organization’s control, and who is, not only eager to participate, but also is capable of doing it.

Some organizations have understood it and are co-creating together with the stakeholders, a culture of individual responsibility and coordination that is being supported by integrity. “If you are here it’s because you want to be here, not because you have to… and if you want to, you can create with us”; “If you buy with us, it’s because we give you the most value and if we are not, we do want to be, so let us learn how to.” Both statements presume a paradigm that returns to employees and consumers the responsibility of their choices, and opens the door to the collective knowledge to work as a change agent in the development towards having more value for all. It is not enough to tell employees ‘what to do’, instead it is more powerful to inquire about their perspectives, to then find means of shared efficiency that have concrete results that are better, not only economically, but in the individual welfare.

The ‘I leaders’ that are in organizations today, aren’t the functional leaders, or aren’t necessarily the ‘high-potentials’. The majority of employees can move mountains when they learn to collaborate from the standpoint of responsibility. The ‘I leaders’ are the men and women that when they connect between each other and also with a higher purpose, they emerge in organized communities, they emerge as true change agents and find it not only their daily doing, but in its integration by freely adding a sense that transcends one person’s calling. If anything, from the point of view of organizational development, we should invest so that employees operate from a place of unconditional responsibility for organizations may finally be nurtured from the perspective, the dreams and the creativity of many individuals and not only of a few ones.

I Lead

Everything starts with I


“The question is not ‘Can you make a difference?’ You already do make a difference. It’s just a matter of what kind of a difference you want to make, during your life on this planet.”

Taken from Black Ants and Buddhists, thinking critically and teaching differently in the primary grades by Mary Cowhey.

We’ve been talking for a while about the interaction of a team while facing challenges in their organization, or even in society. From interpersonal challenges with a specific person, as your boss, your employee or friend, to the challenges of the financial statements, such as EBITDA, the We always emerges. The We component refers to what is understood as inter-subjectivity, two or more people referring to something concrete. For example: a team deciding on the best strategy to reduce costs.

Even though the world is becoming more and more automated with processes being operated by systems, nearly every challenge we face, at some point, needs to be addressed with a conversation. Whether it’s about lending, asking, negotiating or inquiring, in our daily work, almost everything is manifested, in one form or another, in an interpersonal interaction between I’s in a We space. During work, we face and solve challenges in the We dimension through conversations, but it all starts with I. In order to have more effective results for all parties, it is essential to be very clear that as We is the space to face challenges, I is the only dimension that can have a significant improvement in We and impact It: the objective reality.

Everything begins with I means everything starts by becoming aware of what I feel, dream, understand, listen, wish, what I… Because conscious or not, the entire weight of I is present, as if it were a transparent bubble that defines my experiences at the We level. Therefore it also defines the experience of the other I who are part of the We, with whom I interact.

Everything begins with I also means that if I am capable of setting the I in service of the We, every aspect of I—everything I feel, I understand, I believe and so on—is in service of a better We, in a way that honors and feels comfortable; subsequently the It, which is the challenge, together with the We and the I is in much more balance. So everything begins with I also refers to the possibility that the challenge we face can be confronted in a better way if I am aware of my impact at the I, We and It level.

A first step to practicing the I within the We, is to speak in first person. Talking about what I understand, I think, I feel and I… leaving aside the common: one, i.e. “when one works too hard, one gets stressed” or “there is always a lot of work” changing it to “when I work too hard, I get stressed” or “I have a lot of work.” Undeniably everything begins with I means that everything begins and ends where my responsibility is.

Everything starts with I

Find One Million Dollars in Your Business in One Hour


“I have one major rule: everybody is right. More specifically, everybody —including me— has some important pieces of truth, and all of those pieces need to be honored, cherished, and included in a more gracious, spacious, and compassionate embrace.”

Ken Wilber

As I have been developing my consulting work to focus on what I call today conscious management, it has become easier to demonstrate with facts the direct relationship between the developmental level of leaders and its teams with business performance.

In other occasions, we have already spoken of Conscious Capitalism, where Rajendra S. Sisodia and John Mackey demonstrate how organizations that have transcended conventional leadership and the zero-sum approach, even transcending social responsibility as the formula of ‘giving back to society’, have shown that value return for all  stake holders is far above the industry’s standard. Rajendra S. Sisodia, David B. Wolfe and Jagdish N. Sheth in their book Firms of Endearment say that:

A humanistic company is run in such a way that its stakeholders—customers, employees, suppliers, business partners, society, and many investors—develop an emotional connection with it, an affectionate regard not unlike the way many people feel about their favorite athletic teams. Humanistic companies—or firms of endearment—seek to maximize their value to society as a whole, not just to their shareholders. They are the ultimate value creators: They create emotional, spiritual, social, cultural, intellectual, ecological, and, of course, financial value. People who interact with such companies feel safe, secure, and fulfilled in their dealings. They enjoy working with or for the company, buying form it, investing in it, and having it as a neighbor. [i]

In our consulting work, we are often invited by Human Resources or by Organizational Development, which makes it difficult to prove how there is a correlation between the developmental level of a person and its team with business performance. Going beyond the beliefs that a leader can make an organization achieve extraordinary results, the question we always get is: what is the economic benefit or the return of investing on the development of a leader and its team? My work is not about developing a leader, nor is to help improve the organization. What my colleagues and I do is to talk with our clients about the business challenges of the company, together we look at the threats the business is facing and we help them integrate the entire team’s perspective.

Companies are generally used to a hierarchical culture, where challenges are faced according to the vision of the most experienced person or the one with the highest position. Our job is to facilitate dialogue, where everyone can express their vision and integrate perspectives co-creating in this way, opportunities that would otherwise not have been visible.

It is impossible to find solutions that are different when team members, supported by consultants and experts, are used to defending their point of view. However, if instead of focusing via the conventional PPT presentation meeting format, challenges were addressed by placing them on the center of a table, with dialogue being facilitated to agree on the objective, caring for the inter-subjective and ensuring that each team member is in a good place, the potential benefits of the company will emerge and amazing possibilities of performance will arise.

When individuals transcend competition and arrogance, by taking sit  at a roundtable (figuratively), they allow themselves to first understand and then talk about the business challenges. It is here, where we may find huge profit. Putting a multidisciplinary team to discuss and co-create strategies to reduce spending, increase market share, improve EBITDA and to ensure performance of the organization, is an exercise that organizations rarely do and in our experience can generate a huge benefit within hours. It is useless to teach leadership, embark on a culture change journey or spend a weekend doing outdoor teambuilding courses, if it is not precisely the strive to overcome business challenges that serve the team development itself. All that is required is that team members address a challenge the company may be facing. Then talk about what they see and understand what others see. We call this co-creation and it’s only possible when the leader is leading himself and joins the team with full responsibility, humility and integrity.

[i] Sisodia, Rajendra, David B. Wolfe, and Jagdish N. Sheth. Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose. Upper Saddle River: Wharton School Pub, 2007. Print.

Find One Million Dollars in Your Business in One Hour