In any personal-spiritual development group, there is always someone at the front of the room.
But how they show up in the role varies dramatically.
Here are a few models:
- the ‘absolute dictatorship’, where the leader will reject, ghost or oust anyone who doesn’t toe the line
- the ‘tangled hierarchy’, which is like a covert dictatorship, and tends to be superlatively manipulative
- The ‘democracy’, where everyone gets a voice to the extent that nothing really develops
- The ‘from the floor’, where the leader is dominated by one or more group members
- The ‘wisdom transmitter’, where the leader sees themselves as having something special that the group does not
- The ‘time & place leadership’, where the leader steps forward for the job in hand, because they have the conceptual model, the articulation, and the teaching skills of demonstration, observation and critique – but when not working, they step back into the circle.
You can probably think of others, most likely hybrids of some of these.
And you’ve probably passed through groups with one or more of these models.
Have you noticed how you respond to each type of leader? When you are overawed by them, when you defer to them, when you run a mile from them, when you get frustrated by them, when you hardly notice them?
Perhaps you notice where your conditioning makes you seek out the leader who promises answers, gives instruction, or attracts you with a lifestyle? And maybe you dismiss the ones who hold space for your own exploration, whilst providing a map of the territory? Or the opposite?
In the end, all leadership can only be ‘time & place’, whether the teacher sees it or not. But if they can’t knowingly step in and out of that, they aren’t a good role model. And your attention and energy support them in continuing without change.
That doesn’t make it your fault in any way, shape or form. What we’re talking about here is finding the leader who is committed to accompanying you on your journey, with enough nudges to help you stay on your own path.
Someone once told me they wanted to write poetry like me. Which is a massive, but misplaced compliment. My heart sings that they write poetry like THEM now. And they don’t want to be anyone but themselves.
What sort of leader are you, and what sort of student? Who are you when you are at the front of the room, and who are you when it’s not your time and place?