Generating ideas, connections, and action

Leadership and Emergence

A Pattern of Change

Peggy Holman shared some insightful reflections as a catalyst at OccupyCafe, a virtual world cafe space envisioning the future of the Occupy movement (check out her powerpoint slides on the vital conversations page).  She talked about the pattern of how change happens and she reflected on what leadership looks like in a movement for change.

All change starts with the disruption of a social system -- a disruption from coherence -- where things worked the way we thought they should, according to assumptions, principles and rules we all knew and understood.   



When there is a disruption we enter a time of not knowing, a period of mystery that often makes us uncomfortable because we have no control over the outcome. All we can control is how we show up in this “space of mystery.”  She described how the more you trust your own inner voice, and feel centered, the more equipped you are to show up in spaces of mystery with a greater sense of clarity.

Leadership is about  “taking responsibility for what matters to you as an act of service.” When we do that we may find others that share our passion. When there are enough connections, we begin to form a hub.

Leadership in a hub operates out of the laws of attraction; people come because there is something about the cause or the person that draws them in, and they stay because they find a place for themselves, where they feel like they can fully show up, contribute and connect (Peggy Holman).

Here are some key actions for leading in a hub:




  • Invite diversity
  • Be welcoming
  • Ask possibility-oriented questions
  • Create opportunities for individual expression and connection to others
  • Reflect together to find meaning and coherence

She also discussed “link leadership.”  Link leadership is often disruptive to hubs since people are bringing ideas from other parts of the network that may be different from those in the hub. Link leaders create ties and connections between hubs - a very important leadership role in moving towards a new coherence. Influential link leaders learn to disrupt compassionately, to bring their gifts in ways that others can hear.

As we in the leadership field seek to catalyze and support network leadership for social change, I think there is much to be learned about the early stage in the change process from thought leaders like Peggy Holman.  What are you learning about leadership and emergence?