Opening up to Possibilities

This article frames leadership as emphasizing in-the-moment interventions, whether by formal leaders or others, toward building shared understandings to enable change with contentious—messy—problems. This is a departure from established approaches that tend to be grounded in concerns about who exercises leadership and the relationships between the actors, whether in conventional leader-follower configurations or more contemporary variants. Drawing on 30 years of research by one of us (Langer) into mindfulness – not of the meditation kind – in a variety of settings, the article not only considers leadership action in making headway on contentious problems but also reassesses the subject of leadership itself.

Some back story about the article: Ellen Langer’s work, particularly through her 1989 book, Mindfulness, has been a major influence on my thinking about leadership. I visited Langer at Harvard in 2010 and as an outcome of that visit we decided to write an article together. This piece is the result of that collaboration.

Don Dunoon and Ellen Langer
Integral Leadership Review, October 2011 (np).