Horizontal Leadership & the Potential to Transform Society


What is the power of effective leadership? What is defined as effective and do we have it in this country?

'A leader always leaves a trail to follow' ~ Qoute in the peguin picture


As I build the BIPOC Sustainable Tiny Art House Community I am being called to reflect on my leadership especially as a woman of color, a maker of art, a mother of creation, a heartfelt magician of transformation, and a diligent curioust of all things. What does leadership mean to me? How can I utilize my leadership skills to leverage power to lift up those in my life especially those open to learning, to growing and excelling as a collective towards the common good of all beings? Those ready to listen, to understand, and to grow together without judgment, without assumption, open to the liminal space between this or that? Seeking to be both &?


In the past few months, I have been seriously looking at my leadership style and how it affects those around me. I have come to notice that it is difficult for me to lead when I am overworked, not meditating, or simply just out of energy. I have come to understand that in order to lead I must not block love, I must not block blessings due to fear, or due to feeling like I must have all the answers. Understanding my intuition in a different way has also led to the examination of what I call the courage to lead. How do I speak up when I witness uneven work-life balance in others? In myself? How do I gain the ability to 'stand' for myself and ask for help when I can't see the forest for the trees?' In structuring an organization into a horizontal leadership format I am being called to truly 'give up' perceived power to disseminate it horizontally amongst the many skill sets on our team and trust that others have the ability to lead, encourage and see things that I can not. In doing so I feel I am stepping into uncharted territory. In this country, we are taught from the time of birth to NOT rock the boat or to hand off our power to a hierarchical structure of leadership which states there is a structure of command and power so you better just go along with 'it.'


I have never been one for 'just going along with it.'


As I gain strength in my ability to follow my intuition, I am learning that 'just going along with it' makes more sense when there is a 'collective understanding' of honest intention followed by swift positive action, which IS something I can trust. But when it comes to following rules for the sake of following the rules, I beg to differ. Just going along with it, just doesn't cut it. In the current paradigm of our time when leaders never have my best interests at heart and make promises they never keep, not once, not twice, but for decades on end, just going along with 'it' seems counterproductive to not only my lively hood but the livelihood of generations of Americans and animals on the planet.


As we move out of the past industrial complexes into a more just future for all beings on the planet I am being called to deeply understand my role in this theatre of hierarchical leadership types. I feel like feeling my way through it is the only route I can go as I have no models that truly speak to my sense of self. This means I will make mistakes and that I just might not get it right the first time and that the practice of forgiveness not only for myself but towards others will have to play a role. I sense there is a better way of understanding this and I ask that my guardians, both dead and alive, guide me on this path. I sense that I will have to bring my own truth and build a container in which folks feel safe enough to be themselves no matter the cost, especially if they are to feel safe enough to act on equality as a team. This to me means stepping back to understand that each being has its own truth and that my truth may not be their truth. That my deep understanding can only be shadowed by their own understanding and together we can walk hand in hand with some sense of relative caring for each other no matter our differences.


When I speak about horizontal leadership I am speaking about the ability to trust the process in which we find ourselves toward making choices together not only in the workplace but also in our personal lives. Balancing what we 'think' we should do or be based on rules made by others, previous generations, and what we 'know' we should do based on heart, is a very difficult balance, especially when we are taught as Americans to trust the process, not ourselves. But, for me, it is one balancing dance I am willing to test and to challenge in myself in order to rise above the current systems that are just not working for the good of all beings. Horizontal to me means instituting opportunities for collective ownership, shared leadership, intentional learning where all take accountability for the choices and decisions made in the organization. Where questions like, 'is it good enough to move forward?' 'Is it good enough for now?' or 'Can I live with this decision until there is a better one or until we grow into a better one?' become the norm. The question that has haunted me for twenty years, is this, 'How do we create new systems that work for all beings on the planet, when we are expected to uphold the only systems we know do not work...socialism, authoritarianism, capitalism, monarchs?' How do we coexist when the world's populace is governed by leaders who pretend to care about the plight of civilization but once in power, give up all empathy for the rest of us? Is it even possible to make a positive proactive change in the face of such power? Am I delusional or what my friends call, 'just another hippie, searching for love?'


Noticing when folks are overworked not able to speak out or asking them to take time off and paying them for that time off to get their head straight is also a part of this idea. Sometimes, folks just want to do the right thing, I know this is an assumption that most may not agree with, but I would rather walk in the world knowing that people ARE trying their best and that their best may not be MY best, but that doesn't mean they are not trying and that doesn't mean it is not their best. And so, if I lead with this assumption, that folks want to be good at what they do, but just don't have the tools or resources, how then does that explain what's going on in our political realm these days? For one, it has always been my belief that in order to even get a political position one must first be required to live the life of the lowest (financially speaking) person in that civilization - what would it look like if every politician was required to be an Americorps member for two years before gaining any political office? If you do not know what an Americorp or Vistacorps is, it's a national opportunity to serve your country in a poor neighborhood working and living on no money or barely any money. I was a Vista Americorps and it taught me many things about the community. About caring for others and understanding the system of our country at a root level.


Sometimes, I feel like the systems we've created do not allow the rich to delve into the effect and the outcomes of their decisions in relation to the poor in our country. So again I ask you, 'What if leadership meant, in order to lead we had to give up our identity of leadership as power and that it meant literally serving?' Serving under the exact conditions in which you EXPECT others to thrive?