Karen Kimsey-House

Dance The Dimensions of Leadership

"Leaders are those who are responsible for their world" - Co-Active Leadership

The most effective leaders aren’t those that are loud, extroverted, and attention seeking at every turn. Diverse leaders come in all shapes, sizes, background, and experience. I’ve always thought that we are all leaders, it just depends on our role in the moment or perhaps what we are passionate about in our stage of life. I know that I can be an effective leader in one group yet, I may glide to the background in another group. That’s what’s so magical about true leadership. Just because someone is “in” a leadership position a leader they may not be!

I was thrilled to read the book Co-Active Leadership – Five Ways To Lead by Karen and Henry Kimsey-House. They approach leadership from a different angle. A modern angle with a realistic view. Leadership is not static but moves as we move to different situations or groups. We are all leaders but we aren’t always “The” leader. Life changes as we do and sometimes we all need to change our leadership style or role.

Co-Active Leadership is unique even by its title alone. The “Co” refers to a shared relationship. The ‘Active” is action oriented. Together they become a new powerful leadership style. The authors have had years of experience working with leaders and found that leadership is a choice.  Moreover, leadership is all about being responsible which breeds creativity and freedom. Becoming a Co-Active Leader means taking control of your own leadership and being responsible while doing so. It enables you to see the world in a different way and become passionate about how you impact your world. Co-Active Leadership enables us all to play different leadership roles as we shift from situation to situation. It’s all about being flexible, not static and rigid.

Karen and Henry offer up 5 different “dimensions” within their Co-Active Leadership Model. As you read each one, try to think of a time when you played each role. Think about the setting that you were in and the players around you. How did you feel? How did you react? Were you comfortable in your role? Did it feel right? Which one is your favorite?

·         Co-Active Leader Within – Self Acceptance and Self Authority: This is leadership from the inside out. You are striving to be the best every day by taking responsibility and fully accepting yourself while living with integrity. You don’t feel the need to “fix” yourself. You are whole.
·         Co-Active Leader in Front – Connection and Direction: It’s not all about being the boss for you. You prefer to grow connections with people. You choose to inspire and engage people. You know that you need others to achieve yet, you can step aside to let others glide into the spotlight.
·         Co-Active Leader Behind – Serving and Coaching: This is the role where you are the glue that holds everyone together. You love serving others and give it your all every day to help others grow. You love to be the coach and cheerleader.
·         Co-Active Leadership Beside - Partnership and Synergy: This is where you become the catalyst to partner. You design a bond around shared visions and work with the strengths of others. Likewise, you strive for balanced relationships and are committed to growing synergy within a group.
·         Co-Active Leader in the Field – Intuition and Innovation: This style is a “quiet” internal leadership. You are in this role when you still yourself and use your senses to see the big picture and how you can have an impact. You put your best foot forward with creativity and contribute by slowing down. You strategically use your intuition to bring out your own personal strengths to bring out the best in those around you. You are using your insight and are really being present.

No doubt that as you reviewed these unique leadership roles you saw yourself in each one. Humans are always changing and our leadership must move with us. At times I prefer to sit back and observe while I savor the big picture. I’m in a new job and really feel that before I can step out in front, I need to feel comfortable and really hone in on my inner creativity and intuition first.  As a committee leader in the community I slide more into the role of the “leader in front” or the even being the “leader from behind” as I encourage and empower others.

See how easy it is to switch roles and feel comfortable in all of these leadership roles? Karen and Henry refer to this dynamic as the “Dance of the Dimensions”. Life is a dance as we smoothly move from role to role and as we grow and change. You should never be satisfied with being stagnant in your leadership and you can’t always be the one in the “spotlight”.  You need to partner with others from time to time to share or flip roles. This will help you to grow as a person, leader, and as a member in your community.

Because I subscribe to the rule that anyone can be a leader I really enjoyed “Co-Active Leadership: Five Ways to Lead. It’s a quick easy read with actionable lessons. It reminded me that it’s okay to not always be an “out there” leader. I can be effective from a variety of directions and I may be at my best when I “Dance the Dimensions”. If you feel stagnant in your leadership or want a modern view into the variety of leadership styles, pick up this book today and start your own dance.