Join getAbstract to access the summary!

The Spirit of Leadership

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

The Spirit of Leadership

Liberating the Leader in Each of Us


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

The new age of leadership requires evoking the Spirit, believing that whatever happens is the only thing that could happen, and knowing the Dragon. If you are "new age" enough so that doesn't sound fuzzy to you, you're ready for business, the spirit way.

auto-generated audio
auto-generated audio

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Concrete Examples
  • Eloquent


Harrison Owen suggests that there is a gap in leadership, because we are going through chaotic, transforming times, and traditional leaders can no longer be in control and protect us from it. However, instead of looking for leadership in the few or "the One," we should recognize that all individuals have the capacity for leadership and, through self-organizing activity, appropriate leadership will emerge for different tasks. He is especially impressed by the power of the informal organization to achieve results and for true leadership to emerge from the interaction of people in this informal milieu. He identifies leadership with the power of Spirit to inspire others. Five functions of leadership are the focus of the book: evoking Spirit with vision, growing Spirit with collective storytelling, sustaining Spirit with structure, comforting Spirit at the end, and reviving Spirit to move through a period of grief at endings and move on. The book is written as an essay or narrative, with observations, examples, and opinions about what could or should be. While Owen’s book reflects a trend in business to provide more meaning and purpose through spiritual underpinnings, some may find his discussion of "Spirit" somewhat fuzzy and hard to grasp. The language of the book is occasionally rambling and his claims don’t always seem totally convincing. However, the book presents the subject of leadership in a fascinating new light.


The Lack of Leaders Today

Today, corporate America lacks strong, charismatic, decisive leaders compared to the "leader of yesteryear." Current leaders are colorless and more given to defensive strategies to preserve the past, rather bold steps to define the future. Where heroes and leaders exist, they are generally rogues, such as corporate raiders and others pursuing a Darwinian "survival of the fittest" strategy.

We lack leaders today because of the huge amount of societal change and transformation. We used to look to leaders to help create order and action plans and to help us overcome uncertainty and doubt. But now chaos and paradox have become normal and instead of certainty, we can at best achieve only a high level of probability. Thus, leadership today is doomed to fail when we expect leaders to provide the order, structure, and certainty they previously furnished.

The Emergence of a New Kind of Leader

We can’t really expect the leadership of the few or "The One" to have all the answers or the ability to "protect us from chaos." However, a new type of collective leadership is emerging in response to this time of transformation. This collective ...

About the Author

Harrison Owen is president of H.H. Owen and Company and the author of six previous books including Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide. He has worked with a variety of organizations including the National Institute of Health, the Veterans Administration, urban community organizations in America and Africa, and the Peace Corps.

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

By the same author

Related Channels