The Ethic demanded is of Engendering Leadership

by Philip Boxer

The presentation describing this pathway within the 3rd epoch domain explores what is the ethic underlying this way of approaching the relation of an organization to its wider ecosystem?

Under edge-driven competitive conditions, leadership must support a questioning both of the structures underlying the capabilities of the organisation and of individuals’ valencies for how they support value-creation.  For an organisation to be dynamically responsive to its clients in a way that is sustainable, this means balancing the consistency of each response to a client’s situation by an interest in its incompleteness.  Engendering leadership enables this balance to be held in its pursuit of learning.

There are a number of challenges that an organisation faces as it goes relational and becomes edge-driven. The challenges arise in seeking to create effects in clients’ situations that reduce clients’ value deficits while at the same time remaining sustainable as an organisation.  Foremost amongst these are the parallel processes that need to be sustained by governance structures rooted in an alliance with the client-in-their-situation. Another challenge is in overcoming the forces of maladaptation that stand in the way of such alliances. Going relational thus involves more than the Hippocratic Oath to ‘do no harm’.  It involves doing as much as possible for the client without jeopardising the sustainability of the organisation. A key question, then, is why individuals should choose to do this.

The earlier pathways have addressed this question in terms of the interests of organisations in supporting the changing competitive dynamics of ecosystems. But what do these changes demand of individuals working for and within organisations?  The temptation has been to encourage individuals to be dependent on the organisation to support their identities through the roles on offer.  While organisations these days make fewer and fewer long-term commitments to their employees, there is nevertheless still an implicit bias to do as much as possible for the identities of senior management and shareholders while not jeopardising the relationship to customers.  Overcoming this implicit bias involves a change in the kinds of identification that are supported, underpinned by individuals’ valency for particular ways of being. Going relational involves individuals developing a different relation to their valency.

Personal valency is rooted in the way an individual takes up a relation to what-is-going-on (wigo) that is also implicitly a relation to what remains lacking in that way of organising wigo. The individual experiences a value deficit just as much as does a client, so a choice between the interests of the employee and those of a client is a matter of balancing their respective interests. The point about going relational is that it is a response to a fundamental shift in how this balance must be held in creating value for the client.  To make sense of this, three layers need to be distinguished in the way an individual takes up a relation to wigo.  First there is the auto-noetic layer of conscious speaking about wigo. Second there is the noetic layer below the layer of consciousness that is implicit in the way the individuals’ behaviors are themselves a part of wigo.  A third a-noetic layer is then needed to give an account of an individual’s valency for the way their second noetic layer is organised. This a-noetic layer is radically unconscious in the sense of being unknowable in any direct way.

To understand this, it is easier to start from the way the relation to the client’s lack is held by the behaviors of an organisation.  There are thus real traces left by real objects, intentional traces arising from the way patterns of behaviour are experienced, and traces-of-absence arising from the way patterns of behaviour are experienced as not present.  These three kinds of trace define three separate kinds of surface, a primary task surface arising from behaviors, a domain of relevance surface arising from the way behaviors are experienced, and a primary risk surface arising from the way behaviors are not experienced.  An organisation is founded and subsequently develops by the way these three surfaces are held in relation to each other. In this sense, the organisation is this way of knotting the three surfaces together in the a-noetic layer.

These three surfaces come to be known only by the data in the second noetic layer arising from the way the individual pays attention. The valency of an organisation is thus the way this knotting is taken up by an individual in the second noetic layer as a way of realising their identification, complete with its implicit relation to lack.  Different kinds of identification thus create different kinds of strategy ceiling on the way behaviors are organised in relation to clients.

There are an equivalent three surfaces in the relation of an individual’s neural networks to their embodiment so that while there is a valency for the way an individual takes up their identification per se, there is also an implicit valency for the way an organisation provides support for the individual’s identification. The different ways in which this is done are then reflected in the different ways in which learning can take place.

There are then two sides to valency.  These need to be considered in order to return to the question of why individuals should choose to change the way in which they take up their identification. On one side is the consistency that is the way an identification is taken up, while on the other side is its incompleteness.  This incompleteness, experienced as a relation to an irritation of doubt, a value deficit, a structural lack, or a disrupting ‘Real’ identification, makes a radical non-rapport apparent between the current organisation of consistency and an ‘otherness’ that is quite other – an extimate symptom of lack.  Engendering leadership, then, is an approach to leadership that holds this non-rapport in order to create the conditions in which innovations, qua getting past third moments and their crises, may emerge that can sustain learning and adaptation. Individuals should choose to change the way they take up their identification for the good in being alive to wigo as much as for the good of the larger ecosystem.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.