red tulips | copyright Jill J. Jensen

 

 

Margaret (Meg) Wheatley

a systems-thinking leader offers alternative ways we can 'be' in the world

 

In the early 1990s, Margaret Wheatley's book Leadership and the New Science appeared in the business literature. In a relatively small package, Wheatley explained such imposing scientific theories as fractals, quanta, chaos, and complexity, showing how these concepts could be applied to the ever-changing landscape of human activity in the business sphere.

During the last fifteen years, Wheatley has continued to watch the living biological systems of nature and extrapolate the underlying patterns and organizational structures to human interactions. Her books point us to ways we can get along with each other and live in the world more beneficially.

In addition to Leadership and the New Science, Wheatley's writings include A Simpler Way; Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future; Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time; and Perseverance. For business books, they demonstrate a wonderful combination of qualities: readable, thought-provoking, and applicable to current situations.

Wheatley bases her business ideas on observations taken from years as a consultant to organizations large and small, ranging from Fortune 100 companies to small town churches and everything in between. Her Berkana Institute, whose motto is "the leaders we need are already here," offers a coordinating space and the resources for encouraging individuals to take on leadership roles in their communities and lives.

For a taste of her writings, check out Wheatley's website — and then you may want to check the bookstore. On her site, you can also find links to her books and tapes, as well as a calendar of her speeches and presentations, some of which are open to the public. She's as engaging in person as she is on the page — and she wants us to be, too.

Whether or not you are an "officially designated" leader anywhere in your life, you can benefit from Wheatley's discussions about the organic nature of leadership and her examples of how we can each demonstrate the concept at home, at work, and in our communities.

 

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