Seven Theory U Leadership Capacities
The journey through the U develops seven essential leadership capacities.
1. HOLDING THE SPACE OF LISTENING: The foundational capacity of the U is listening. Listening to others. Listening to oneself. And listening to what emerges from the collective. Effective listening requires the creation of open space in which others can contribute to the whole.
2. OBSERVING: The capacity to suspend the “voice of judgment” is key to moving from projection to focused and peripheral observation.
3. SENSING: Seeing the system from the edges. The preparation for the experience at the bottom of the U requires the tuning of three inner instruments: the open mind, the open heart, and the open will. This opening process is an active “sensing” together as a group. While an open heart allows us to see a situation from the current whole, the open will enables us to begin to sense from the whole that is wanting to emerge.
4. PRESENCING: The capacity to connect to the deepest sources of self—to go to the inner place of stillness where knowing comes to surface.
5. CRYSTALLIZING: When a small group of change makers commit to a shared purpose, the power of their intention creates an energy field that attracts people, opportunities, and resources that make things happen. This core group and its container functions as a vehicle for the whole to manifest.
6. PROTOTYPING: Moving down the left side of the U requires the group to open up and deal with the resistance of thought, emotion, and will; moving up the right side requires the integration of thinking, feeling, and will in the context of practical applications and learning by doing.
7. CO-EVOLVING: A prominent violinist once said that he couldn’t simply play his violin in Chartres cathedral; he had to “play” the entire space, what he called the “macro violin,” in order to do justice to both the space and the music. Likewise, organizations need to perform at this macro level: they need to convene the right sets of players in order to help them to co-sensing and co-create at the scale of the whole.
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