“We need leaders who are emotionally intelligent, and able to model and champion co-operative working. They’ll coach, rather than command; they’ll be driven by empathy, not ego. The digital revolution needs a different, more human kind of leadership.” -WEF founder Klaus Schwab in Davos, 2016.
What do we talk about when we talk about leadership? And where does love fit in?
These questions bring to mind the title of Raymond Carver’s collection of intricately woven stories What we Talk About When we Talk About Love. Ironically - through the unfolding of the stories - the assumption that by talking about it we will come to an epiphanous understanding of what love is, is proven fundamentally erroneous by the characters’ futile endeavours to explain it through language. This leads ultimately to a culmination of the treatise with the word “dark”. The fallen light, as night settles, mirrors the darkness in which we abide when we try to define love.
And yet, we all seek love, frequently as that which conquers all; not in overcoming all, but as the highest value to which we aspire as human beings. We warm to the wisdom of much beloved fictional anti-hero Albus Dumbledore’s advice to the young Harry Potter: "Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love."
Depending on whom one asks, the ancient Greeks had anywhere from four to seven words for love, each seeking to define a specific aspect of the experience of love. They include agape (unconditional, akin to divine), éros (romantic, intimate, sexual), philia (filial, virtuous and dispassionate, as between equals), and storgē (which seems to run the gamut from affection and empathy to patriotic love).
In the study of literature, philosophy, theology, across the social, physical, biological, and psychological sciences, and for as long as humans have given word to thought, we have sought to express, define, frame, explain, and uncover the mystery of this thing called love. Spiritual wisdom teaches that love needs not seeking as an end reward and that when our behaviour is motivated by the desire to be loved we do not walk our path; that it is only in living from love that seeks no return, that we move into the love that is purest and closest to divine and is its own far greater reward.
So this love malarkey is a tricky thing to grok.
Alfred Wolfsohn, singing teacher, Jungian psychologist, and stretcher-bearer in the trenches of World War I, survived the unimaginable horror of being buried alive to become the inspirational source of the work of the Roy Hart Theatre in France. In his seminal manuscript Orpheus or the Way to a Mask, he wrote “To love means to touch in all ways.”
This feels less tricky.
If to love - to experience love - is to touch in all ways, then what is it to touch?
Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary offers that it is “to bring a bodily part into contact with something especially so as to perceive through the tactile sense: to handle or feel gently usually with the intent to understand or appreciate”. Further reading opens the possibility of becoming involved with something; touching upon something as in speaking or telling of it; leaving an impression; to induce somebody to give something; to lay hands with intent to heal; to feel; to come closer; to relate; to be in contact; and interestingly, the archaic meaning of playing an instrument, or performing a melody through singing.
And so if to love means to touch in all ways, what if we were to experience it in all of these ways? Many we do. Some perhaps with less frequency. And what of singing?
When we give voice to our breath, through sound, speech, and song, what is it if not the external expression of our internal selves? And what if to experience the absolute freedom of full expression of our true selves, without filters, were to enable us simultaneously to become closer to the essence of all that we are as individuals, and to communicate this to touch others and thus inspire them, invite them, and allow them to do the same. Houston, do we have a recipe for effective leadership?
Our mission at Midderigh Vox is to create ways to engage leaders - through our coaching, voice, and communications work - to embody full authenticity and presence in service of the people they lead.
Servant leadership is the model we aspire to embody, in order to touch in all ways. Our experiential programs employ the vehicle of the voice and the medium of storytelling to uncover the full potential of people to touch those they lead and experience the power of their own voices, as unique to us as our fingerprints and as revelatory of our human capacity for greatness.
From the moment we greet you at the train station or the airport, we invite you into our care, to be loved in all ways, nourished, held, and guided, without judgement through an intensive experience of uncovering the power of your voice and your own infinite capacity to live and lead from authenticity.