Archive for Organizational Research

The thick and thin of it

Clifford Geertz, the cultural anthropologist who influenced the practice of symbolic anthropology, wrote “analysis, then, is sorting out the structures of signification…and determining their social ground and import.” (Geertz, 1973, p. 9) Geertz was concerned that anthropological research was more interpretive than anthropologists admitted. To paraphrase, they were explicating other’s explications of explications. What Geertz was saying is that anthropological writing is fiction in the sense that they are made and fashioned but they are not false.

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Leadership of Attractors

In my last post I discussed how leadership could be viewed as interactions that create attractors. These are usually tactical, day-to-day, seemingly minor events that shape our landscape. These attractors can coordinate activities, stabilize groups, or even start radical movements. This is seldom talked about as the stuff of leadership yet I believe that it is as important in moving a group forward as anything that a single person who has been given the title of “Leader” can do. Nonetheless, there are people who either have the title or those that people informally look to for guidance. Other than creating many point attractors (sometimes called micromanagement), what can these people do to influence large areas of the social landscape? Are there ways to “lead” attractors?

 

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Attractors of Leadership

Recently, I’ve been thinking about attractors. What are they? Where do they come from? Where do they go? And specifically, where does leadership fit in this picture?

This the other morning I woke up with a strong desire for a cup of coffee. Getting coffee became a significant goal. Perhaps it was because of waking up to a radio news article about the benefits of coffee or perhaps it was because I needed caffeine. Obtaining coffee was a strong attractor. I could make coffee at home, drive to the local Starbucks, or drive to work and make coffee there. Getting a later start than I wanted, I decided to make coffee at work. Finally, cup in hand, I moved on to the next goal – writing a blog. As soon as I had my coffee, it was no longer an attractor. In fact, if you had offered me another cup while I was still drinking my first, I’d probably decline. Such is the case with goals, once attained they are no longer attractors. Attained goals become repellers or at the very least, are no longer attractors.

 

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