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The Longest Journey is the Journey Inward Published: Sunday, July 6, 2008 By: Dr. Manuel Ángel (Coco) Morales

It was Mahatma Gandhi who said that you must be the change that you want to be.  Change is an inescapable part of social and institutional life.  It points to the transition from individual team contributor in a departmental or a bureaucratic structure to a new setting in a more flexible arrangement characterized by multiple and constant exchanges.  Within this context an increasing challenge is to help organizations incorporate collaborative values and practices in everyday ways of working.

A culture of collaboration is a deeply shared belief system that places real value on and fosters a practice of working collectively to boost organizational execution, learning, adaptability and flexibility.  A thing to acknowledge is that CULTURE IS A LEARNED PRODUCT OF A SYSTEM’S OR AN INSTITUTIONAL EXPERIENCE.  The system or the institution is considered as whole and as an aggregate of its part.  Thus, a system is more than a collection of parts or the sum of its parts.

To understand the dynamics of organizations as open system (highly influenced by the global and local environment), and the capacity for using individual as an actor of the system, the organizational scientist stresses the notion of REFLEXIVE CONSCIOUSNESS as an exercise and profound or deep attention turning back on its own source and gradually constructing the concept of oneself.  Looking in the mirror, stepping on the scale, and reading a piece of work that you have written are examples of experiences that involve this kind of meditation.  Leadership is about serious and profound reflective consciousness. 

The interpersonal dimensions of selfhood are the inherent connections we, as individuals, have with others.  Presenting the best of you in everyday life, studying before making a good presentation, feeling warmth and happiness during a reunion with colleagues and friends are experiences that reveal the interpersonal nature of the self.

The executive function represents the capacity of making decisions not only with facts and pieces of information, but with values, sensibilities, emotions and sets of constructive passion.  Complying with complex responsibilities and keeping the intensity of work even in the face of exhaustion are experiences that involve the leadership function.

Some good scholars and researchers have develop methods for using the self as part of the complex process of leadership and management, and one system that is very beautiful is that of MUSIC (Mastering the Use of the Self as an Instrument for Collaboration, Glavas, Jules an Oosten 2006).

Music consists of three components: input, process and output.  They represent a conceptual division but in practice they occur simultaneously, with each part feeding the other.  The input component consists of self-awareness and organizational awareness.  The leader needs to be aware of himself/herself in terms of mental models, fears, ego, and everything that can contribute or detract from quality of work and from the organization (execution, expectations, organizational culture, decision-making, patterns, and influences) before acting or taking care of business.  The process component consists of the self and its interactions with others.  At the start of the work, usually the self and others are separated, but the effective leaders is able to join others and form the we company.  This is a dynamic of coupling the you company with the we company.  The output component is about performance; learning; adaptability and flexibility.  Output gives direction and knowledge foundation to the working process.  If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t be able to get there at the individual and organizational level.

Finally, from a profound leadership perspective if one is working to create a culture of collaboration its an imperative or an obligation to: 1) know yourself (knowing what you are feeling and using these preferences to guide decision-making); 2) know your focus (establish what you can offer to the organization); 3) know your surroundings (become aware of the market); 4) know the scope of your influence (being aware of yourself and of the organization permits you building a culture of collaboration); 5) know when to change behavior’s (learning what works and what doesn’t)

As Dag Hammarskjold, the United Nation secretary general and Nobel Peace Prize winner said in 1961: “The longest journey is the journey inward”. 


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