Volume 4: 2010 Abstract 5

Journal of Spirituality, Leadership and Management

Volume 4: 2010

Other-centredness as a leadership attribute: From ego to eco centricity

Heather Davis

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

ABSTRACT: pp. 43-52.

This paper discusses the significance of the attribute of other-centredness to leadership in an emerging world, signified by the convergence of the natural and social worlds and where the means of production is knowledge. Intangible qualities like other-centredness and mindful approaches to leading ourselves and others are central to leadership literacies appropriate for the knowledge-intensive era we are now experiencing. The discourse of leadership runs parallel to the mindsets that emanated from the industrial era and the mindsets that are emerging in the knowledge era. In the industrial era we can see the ‘other’ as being commanded and controlled by the heroic, ostensibly ego-centred, leadership figure. Leadership in the post-heroic knowledge era is more about working with people and the environment in a more inclusive way, i.e. an eco-centred approach. This paper will discuss, through a review of the literature and the investigation of the attribute of other-centredness within a PhD study, the changes in the discourse of leadership over time. These changes can be tracked on a centredness continuum ranging from the ego-centric to the eco-centric. It will be argued that as people become more mindful of their own actions and interactions, an expanded, and in some cases new, sense of other-centredness surfaces. Paradoxically, the seemingly selfish act of spending time and energy reflexively seeking to know who we are often leads to growth, not contraction, of our sense of responsibility to others and the environment, allowing us to see the world as the interconnected whole that it has always been.

Key words: leadership, other centredness. complex adaptive systems, ecologies