Leading from Sage

Leadership and Positive Intelligence Rod Miller

Leading from Sage

The goal of positive intelligence is to shift our mindset from being trapped by our saboteur’s voices to being held in our sage’s wisdom. The sage place is the place within and between us where we come into awareness of our essence and connection with everything that is. When we are in sage space, we are open to the unfolding mystery of life. Spaciousness, timefulness, resourcefulness, freedom and love characterize the sage place.

Leading from sage adds incomparable new dimensions to how leaders think and what they do. Something uniquely empowering happens when leaders and leadership teams focus their attention on the sage in them and between them. The simple act of being open to what each other is sensing in sage space can turn a team in a wholly different direction from how they originally perceived it.

The fundamental task of leadership is to move from saboteur dominance to sage freedom and so allow creativity to emerge. There is expanding potential within groups to uncover and live out of what is resident and moving within them. When leaders are invited into sage space together, time expands, space opens and awareness heightens. Individuals and teams find their way in the present and are responsive to the many nuances and hints that lead to successful outcomes.

Leading by Not Knowing

Leaders know and do not know what is needed in order to lead. They have goals, a personal purpose, a purpose for the group, and a stake that orients them and keeps them focused. They work from their hunches, urges, desires and hopes. They come from experience, skill, talent, and expertise. They use power, position, role and accountability to get things done. When we say we want people to lead, we usually assume that leaders know what to do. However, if leaders do not come from the sage place, something critical is missing. For in sage space, leaders engage from an encompassing awareness of the whole which takes them beyond a critical analysis of the parts.

Leaders are at their best when they come from their true (sage) selves and not their separated (saboteur) selves. When accessing their true selves, it is less about isolated knowing and more about participating in deeper knowing. In sage space, leaders serve. Leaders actively wait and listen to all that is going on around and in them. Leaders integrate heart, mind and body. Leaders trust God, trust themselves, and trust their teams. Leaders ask. Leaders give and let go. Leaders invite others to co-imagine, co-discover, co-create and co-fulfill. Leaders intentionally invite their teams to move from saboteur to sage in order to allow and bring to fruition what wants to emerge in and through them. Being in sage space keeps leaders and groups open to what is possible.

What are the deep desires of groups today?

We are living in a time in which the ways the organizational structures, which we have relied on for centuries, are crumbling. Rapid change, unpredictability and uncertainty, accompanied by anxiety, has become the norm. Psychiatrist and spiritual director Gerald G. May, in his book The Dark Night of the Soul, conjectures:

Perhaps many of the troubles we experience collectively are really manifestations of a communal dark night of the soul. If so, then some of the turmoil we experience in marriages, families, organizations or cultures might not be due to something gone terribly wrong. It might be a sign of something going exquisitely right, of divine action carrying us darkly through spaces where we would not and could not go on our own toward a place of greater freedom and love. (pp. 178 – 179)

That place of greater freedom and love is the sage space. It is a beautiful portrait of the shift highlighted by Positive Intelligence from saboteur based fear to sage based love. Leaders will do well to realize the profound impact of Positive Intelligence and the possibilities it has. Our saboteur voices alone are not capable of carrying us through the dark night we are experiencing. Saboteur motivations such as success, status, recognition and material gain are no longer the main drivers. As they fade, sage realities are taking their place such as compassion, discovery, innovation, purpose, integrity, fulfillment, and connecting with sage essence in community. Positive Intelligence has been created and become available to us at just the right time.

Creating Sage Space

Sage space is about coming from the power of empathy, explore, innovate, navigate and action. Leaders who invite sage space are going to make it possible for institutions, groups and individuals within them to get in touch with what is hidden and other and yet is also of and near. Sage space is continually sourcing those who embrace it. People are crying out through the darkness for something they may have trouble articulating. Those who enter sage space together will find an open adventure of vulnerability and delight. Leaders will speak to the deepest needs of individuals and groups today by utilizing Positive Intelligence to invite them into sage space and going there with them.

I believe Positive Intelligence is a gift and an opportunity for you which can make all of the difference in how you relate and what you do going forward. It has the capacity to renew your purpose and sacred calling. It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to bring it to United Methodist leaders today.