BOOKS | Synchronicity: The inner path of leadership, by Joseph Jaworski (Berrett-Koehler: 1996).
Many books about leadership view the subject as being akin to mechanical engineering: How do you get all those people to act in just the ways you want them to? These types of books view "successful" leadership as a means to achieve efficiency and effectiveness, mostly defined in narrow commercial terms, and without paying very much attention to human characteristics of both leaders and the led. Jaworski's book is entirely different and, as such, extremely appealing to us at THNK. By way of a detailed account of his personal life story, he extrapolates on what meaningful leadership is all about.
In this book, Joseph Jaworski makes an appealing case for servant leadership, where the leader looks out for the group, rather than his self-interest. Servant leadership is relationship-oriented, creative, and constructive and encourages the release of human possibilities. Synchronicity illustrates that leadership should be about enabling others to break free of limits that are created organizationally or self-imposed. It contains profound insights about organizational learning and effectiveness.
The book touches on a wide range of topics that resonate with most of us at a deep level: integrity, commitment, responsibility, values, meaning, vulnerability, trust, collaboration. They are concepts that appeal to many, and yet few have succeeded in implementing them in their daily lives. Beyond that, the book is a living testament to the importance of finding your true self and listening to that small voice of intuition that can steer you in the right direction. The old models die hard. Still, change is in the air.
A particularly telling observation: Jaworski notes the the busy-ness of his earlier life as symptomatic of a larger of dis-ease in our culture. We spend too much of our time on activity and too little time on being present to what is really happening around us. We fear having too much time to reflect, instinctively knowing that we are going to have to face ourselves and our lives at a deeper level than we are comfortable with. At the same time, we are hooked on the notion that commitment and activity are inseparable. So we create a continual stream of activity, making sure that everybody sees us doing lots of things so they will believe that we are actually committed. If we stay busy enough, maybe we will even convince ourselves that our lives had some meaning after all. Often, Jaworski argues, it takes a crisis to cause us to question the value of our lives and our activity.