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Transcultural Friendship: Our Political Future

Chapter Six: The Future Human

Section 19: Leadership

 

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Dancer with African Rhythm Messengers performing at the San Jose America Festival on July 4, 1998.

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While the distinction between leader and follower is less in higher order systems than in lower so that all the competencies of this chapter are fundamental to leadership, there are particular responsibilities applicable to people central to the system. Such leaders are responsible for establishing norms and policies that promote and reinforce the qualities and conditions discussed in this chapter. They must also structure roles and tasks to promote system competence:

 

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 Perhaps most important is that the system's roles and tasks should be designed so that:

 

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a) the individuals may experience a higher degree of psychological success, confirmation, and essentiality than of psychological failure, disconfirmation, and non-essentiality;

 

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b) the individuals are encouraged to give, and the system should be designed so that they receive, information about their efforts and about the degree of competence that is directly verifiable and minimally evaluative;

 

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c) the individuals should be guided by policies and practices that are minimally contradictory and bind producing;

 

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d) the groups are encouraged to take responsibility for defining their tasks, controlling the quality of their efforts, rotating leadership according to those who are most competent for the task at hand, and developing skills to examine continually the inner workings of their system;

 

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e) intergroup relationships should be so designed that frequent membership or rotation, superordinate goals, and interactions are defined in a way that win-lose dynamics are minimized and problem solving is emphasized (Intervention Theory and Method, Argyris, p. 47).

 

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Leaders of large-scale systems will have to have special competence with mass communications. They are responsible for ensuring that accurate and useful information reaches the public so that the latter can make informed choices. Public opinion will need to be tapped through statistical polls and eventually instant referenda through interactive television. The leaders will have to assure that the public feedback is organized (probably with the use of computers) into usable form. The leader must be effective at using the media to persuade people to realign their interests so as to make the system more synergistic.

 

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Leaders of higher order systems must be prepared to adopt autocratic styles when the situation calls for it. For example, when conflict degenerates, an autocratic military may be most effective for achieving victory. In this sense, higher order systems "contain" lower systems. In other words, political friendships include democratic competencies, which, in turn, include autocratic competencies.

 

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The different level systems vary in the extent to which leadership and followership may be distinguished. In an autocracy, one's leadership perspective and interest determine the actions of all the followers. In a democracy, the leader is responsible for optimally coordinating the perspectives and interests of the "followership".

 

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The greatest fusion of leadership and followership occurs in political friendship. Everyone is a leader -- not merely in influencing decisions, by promoting their own narrower interests, but in being responsible for coordinating all interests and perspectives into synergistic plans for action. The leader is the one who convinces everyone else that one's plan is the optimal coordination. This convincing is not the result of the exercise of power, but of wisdom and educational expertise.

 

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Since wisdom itself is the product of education, education may be considered the premier tool to a political friendship. Education for what? This is the question of purpose with which the next section is concerned.

 

 

 

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