The dinner was set around a massive circular table in the company boardroom. The CEO and his executive team were sitting around the table when I joined them. What I saw and heard of that group during that dinner, and the way I experienced them as I sat with them, was unlike anything I had experienced in the business world before.
When I was in my teens and in science class in high school, we did an experiment in which we laid a clean sheet of white paper on a flat board. On top of it we placed a magnet. Then, raising the board up slightly, we sprinkled iron filings over the magnet and on the paper around it, while gently tapping the board. The iron filings lined up on the paper and around the magnet in the shape of the magnetic field emanating from the magnet. You probably did this same experiment yourself in high school, yes?
That, I thought, is what the group sitting around the CEO is like. They were fully and naturally aligned with him. The group was "as one". Groups "as one" weren't new to me. But this group, this "as one" group of executives aligned ie clearly aligned with their CEO and founder as if they were all comprising the same magnetic field (so to speak), was new to me. It wasn't until another twenty years or so had passed before I could distinguish and articulate what I had seen.
When I started to read and experience and get Werner Erhard's new breakthrough work with leadership, it altered everything I had previously thought leadership was all about. My earliest model of a leader was someone like the knight who carries the flag on his trusty steed and, with a blood-curdling scream, yells "Cha-a-a-a-rge!", at which everyone follows him into battle. OK, so there's literally no knights on steeds doing battle in the world of business today. But still, that was my model: the leader is the guy who yells "Cha-a-a-a-rge!", and all the other guys follow.
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