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The Visionary, The Server, The Warrior & The Merchant

Successfully guiding organizational change in today’s chaotic marketplace requires not only a new way of thinking but also a new way of leading. The traditional ways of leading organizations served the purpose of allowing leaders to achieve the results we have historically witnessed - until now. But, as coach practitioners and organizational leaders, we must recognize that these strategies and tactics are no longer sufficient in a modern and continuously evolving world.

Leaders need to assess, update, and expand their leadership maps. Existing beliefs about leadership in organizations were influenced by years of mechanistic thinking. For example, traditional leaders pride themselves on “getting the job done,” they recognize individual performance, they are pre-occupied with power and politics, and they focus on the short-term results. They make decisions solely based on the observable facts and “rational” information.

In order for change agents’ views of leadership to be congruent with the new way of thinking, they must expand their perspectives. They must not only value individual performance but must also value team performance. They must search for purpose, value, and ethics in their lives, including their personal lives. They must allow themselves to make informed decisions by taking into consideration their intuition or “gut feelings.” Today’s leaders must not only develop themselves from the outside, they must seek to recognize their internal wisdom and values and peel away the layers to get to the essence of who they really are.

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Leaders who guide organizational change, and those that guide these leaders as well, must explore and expand their roles beyond those of planners, organizers, staffers, directors, and controllers to more sophisticated functions: visionaries, servers, warriors, and merchants.

Below are some insights into these more complex “expanded” roles adapted from Peter Koestenbaum's who developed the paradoxical Leadership Diamond model:

The Visionary

The visionary clearly sees the big picture, the entire landscape. Rather than viewing life from the ground like a mouse (nose to the grindstone), the visionary soars like an eagle who sees the landscape with sharp eyes and how the parts of the whole interrelate.

The Server

The server pays attention to what touches the heart and what has meaning in people’s lives. The server reaches out to people in empathetic acts of service to others including himself or herself. The server understands the meaning of dignity and respect--you affect them and they affect you.

The Warrior

The warrior is action-oriented, but not in a controlling way. Rather, the warrior has the courage to act in service to others. Courage means taking initiative, being a self-starter, alert, and choiceful. The warrior is like a tree that is firmly rooted in its vision and values, yet is able to bend and be flexible in how it takes action to enact its vision.

The Merchant

The merchant deals with reality, focusing on facts, data, numbers, avoiding temptations of wishful thinking and sentimentality that is not consistent with one's vision and values. The merchant is aware of the acceleration of change and makes decisions about how to expend resources in the context of reality mindful of the vision values.

In my experience in working with organizational leaders and coach practitioners, I know that all four of the new leadership roles are already present in each of us. But in the process of evaluating and adapting our leadership skills, we must ask ourselves, “How much do we access these roles and how congruent are we when enacting these roles?” Are our actions consistent with our vision? Are we serving those who are important to our vision and necessary to implement the organizational change we intend to manifest?

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