#FlashBacks: How to become a great leader

Every Sunday we will be featuring articles from our school’s yearly printed newsletter. This week we flashback to an article written by Christian Baudisch in Issue 3 of WHAT’S NEW.

So you want to be a great leader, a real KaosPilot*)
Well, let me ask you first: What does that mean for you?

In this world that is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous, you want to navigate through chaos, or for consistent marketing purposes, through Kaos. In a world, where change is the new norm, you want to inspire others. And you want to be different, you want to make a sustainable difference, you want to be an entrepreneur, think out of the box, walk the extra mile. But enough bullshit bingo. You want to cut through the crap, build on your contribution to society, build a legacy. Oops, sorry, I promised you no more bullshit lingo.

Frank Zappa once said, to talk about music, is like to dance about architecture. How can you talk about what you could learn, how you could develop, more generally, how students become KaosPilots. How learning takes place, deep learning. And I mean DEEP. Learning about your patterns, your prejudices, your blind spots. Maybe you thought you don‘t have any. That you are reflective, conscious, and especially, that you thought you were open, and flexible.

And then you find yourself sitting with your class mates in a circle, expecting the facilitator (you think of him as teacher) to finally give you the answers, to give you the ultimate tools (the KaosPilot leatherman or any other magical stick). Whenever your facilitator mentions a book or an author, you quickly write it down, you will order that via Amazon (even though you do not like them but they deliver fast and you might need that book tomorrow), because there will be the right answers, in these books there will be the missing links that you desperately need between you now and your successful career as a founder, owner, and leader of a socially responsible and spiritually sound start-up that also makes loads of money and changes the world. So you dream on, you are taught to dream, and yet, there is some- thing out there that is reality, a bit grey, a bit …. and, well ….. (pun intended) ….. realistic.

great leader

Reality right now is, you sit in a circle, expecting answers, and your facilitator does not do anything. He does not give you the answers, he does not present a model, he is just sitting there. First, you think he is waiting, then you start to become uncomfortable, then you become angry. The facilitator just looks and asks: “What is happening?” Well, nothing is happening, you think angrily. As the teacher is not doing anything, how could anything happen? You watch your colleagues, some are scribbling, others are joining in with you in your anger. Why is this guy not doing anything? We have experienced already some unpleasant situations in our education and now this trainer is not doing anything, just looking, and asking what is happening?

Oh my lord, your anger is building up. And you wanted to learn tools, be spiritual (no anger, only love and rainbows, is it not?), you paid for this school, dear money, and now? Nothing is happening.

A lot is happening. Your thoughts race, your blood pressure rises, you feel your anger, you feel your insecurity, you observe your patterns. You notice how you became a victim of this situation, how you saw the teacher as a perpetrator, you see how you made yourself a victim. And nobody else. Not the school, not the teacher, not your colleagues, not the situation. But you.

For the potential KaosPilot
You have seen the great website of the KaosPilots, you have seen the great pictures, people with happy faces, jumping energetically. You may have been to the KaosDays, have talked to enthusiastic KaosPilots. You are inspired, overwhelmed, aaahh, this feels good. You want to apply, you want to be part of this community. Finally, you have found what you were looking for in your life. Finally, an education that is really different, inspirational, inspiring, if you want, even spiritual. Here, you have arrived to be a great leader. You will make your mark. Your life had become became routine, maybe you had hit rock bottom, or at least it looked like a dead-end street. You needed a change, maybe, no surely, here you will find what you have always been looking for. Well, is that too good to be true? Are you prepared to be disappointed, to be disillusioned?

For the KaosPilot after the second year
Well, your enthusiasm wore off a bit. After some loving months, everything new, with a great international crowd, they are not so great, maybe (honeymoon is over, hey?), the magic is gone. Or is it still there, just looks different?
No, wait! You start to notice something.

Maybe only your projections, your unrealistic hopes are gone. The tools, the methods you hoped would change everything are just tools, you cannot ignore gravity, your feelings of anger and frustration remind you that you are human, a mortal (and yet very alive) being. The medicine wheels, the Council Guide Training is not giving you all the answers, it is not THE truth, it is ONE way to look at the world, to look at yourself. The wisdom it reveals is only ONE wisdom. Tools and techniques are only tools and techniques. Even less: “Without the right attitude, a technique is not even a decent technique.” (Steve de Shazer).
You have plans to change the world, you might do some spirit-bio-eco-friendly-sustainable-something, you might sing, drum, write or (insert appropriate verb) to heal the world, you might help others (do they need help or do you need help?), you may start some community initiatives, you may be inspired to do it all. Well, whatever you do, WHY do you want to do it? Do you really want to do it? Have you received open and honest feedback? Are you ready for it? To be a great leader?

great leader

For the potential KaosPilot graduate
Well, congratulations! You made it. Now, these three years are in the past. You have experienced a lot, you tried out things, risked a bit. Where are you now? Well, one journey is over, and the next begins. Life is out there, ready for you to grab it. You are on your own. Of course, you have your buddies, your network, the KaosPilot school will be there, but essentially, you are “grown up and alone” (Peter Turrini). You are asked to lead your life, to live your life, you are asked to make money, to support yourself and your family. What is different now? Nothing? Something? Everything? Only everything, I guess. There is a Zen story, illustrating the satori or enlightenment: Before the enlightenment: cut wood and carry water. After the enlightenment: cut wood and carry water. How is it for you now? All, or most of your plans to do this and that project with others, are gone. Now, you have to prove that your projects hold water. That what you do makes sense, is sustainable (no bullshit!), and may have a business rationale.

You are still human, yes, you have grown, you have matured. You may be better equipped to find YOUR place in this world. You may be better equipped to find answers to your questions. You may even be better equipped to find the right questions for you. Now you know, there are no instant answers, no right answers. All you have learned has prepared you to reflect and to respond, rather than act and react. And don’t forget: you still cut wood and carry water! Enjoy the ride!

*) A letter to both leaders and changemakers in general and to KaosPilots in particular by Christian Baudisch. Christian is organizational acupuncturist, teacher and process guide of the 3rd year at the KaosPilots and CEO of The Really Effective Group.


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