Who’s On First, and Who’s Leading?

by Emanuel Kuntzelman 

Remember that Abbott and Costello comedy routine about “Who’s on first?”  Time magazine named it the best comedy sketch of the 20th century.  Not bad for a simple idea of the confusion involved when the first baseman’s name is actually Who.  Who?  Yes, he’s on first.

Who’s on first, or who’s naturally leading us on the way, is a matter of our perception.  It might be funny that we can’t figure out who Who is in a comic moment, but it’s not quite so humorous when we don’t know who’s up first in our own mind when we are looking for inner leadership of our own.

I had a conference call today with Penney Peirce, Rachel Hamilton and Pam Kramer to discuss the content of our Leadership Transformed retreat coming up on May 30 in Chicago, and Penney, the author of Leap of Perception, not surprisingly said that identifying the leader in ourselves is a matter of perception.  When we ask just exactly who is in control of our lives, the answer often comes down to whom or what we perceive as the decision maker.  Is it our higher or lower self, the emotional or rational self, the left brain or right brain?  Who, in fact, is on the first base of our of decision making?  And that is a question, not a statement.

As to who that person is–might be all of the above.  Improv artist Rachel explained that when we are engaged in interaction, the best solutions often arise as a combination of ideas.  Within a cooperative environment with a will to find answers, the “yes and…” approach keeps things flowing.  With others, and within ourselves, we seek agreement and contribution.  We add on to, say yes and contribute, to the flow of ideas, with other people and with the myriad thoughts in our own minds.  In the end, we all agreed, it is actually the flow that is leading the way.

In order to be great leaders, we need to understand and get into phase with the flow of the process that is taking place.  The old paradigm of leadership told us to have everything figured out beforehand and just tell it like it is.  The service model of leadership would have us gather as much information as possible and then ask how we can support the needs of the leadership demand.  In the emergent view of today’s leaders, our decisions are neither pre-determined nor assumed after the facts.  We find the frequency of the flow, like catching a wave when surfing, and move forward with the energy of the system.  Nothing is forced, nothing is considered in hindsight.  We simply set our sights on the shore and let it flow, remembering to stay balanced and centered with a keen sense of perception of exactly who’s in charge.

Rachel, Pam, Penney and I plan to take these concepts on a journey that starts with soul’s intuition and reaches a spiraling energy of social action.  In the flow of that process, we might finally determine who’s on first and who’s leading the way into our transformative future.

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