This is an excerpt from Limitless Loving Leadership (ISBN 978-1-300-65933-4, 92 pages, $12.99).
I started writing Limitless Loving Leadership in 2009 when I was going through a very difficult time at work. Thinking through and writing about positive, loving leadership was therapeutic for me. It provided me with a constructive outlet for my hopes and dreams which seemed to be trampled upon by my situation at the time. It helped me to explore and make decisions about the kind of leader I was, wanted to be, and could be.
The book originally included 100 chapters. I whittled those down to 50 and only completed 28 of them. Those were published on my blog, The Activist’s Muse, starting in the summer of 2012. These blog posts were original and unedited as they appear in this printed book. The topics were not by any means strategically selected; they merely reflect what I felt most comfortable writing about at the time. This is therefore not meant to be an exhaustive volume, but rather the beginning of a conversation.
It has been almost four years since I first started writing Limitless Loving Leadership. Over that time, I have learned a lot. I have had even more difficult and devastating experiences as a leader. I have pushed myself harder than ever. I have completed more than half of a doctorate. When I read through the original text, I think things like, “oh my goodness, did I really think that?” and ‘I sure have learned a lot since then!’ Overall, I find that this was a highly prescriptive book. I now think, and know in my heart, that prescriptive leadership sucks. Good leaders create openings for emergence, they create waves, they provoke exploration; they don’t dictate. The authoritarian tone of the book really makes me sick. I also think that the book is too linear and simplistic. Yet, there are some really good ideas and beautiful prose in the book that I believe merit our attention. This is why I have chosen to publish Limitless Loving Leadership despite its own limitations as a text.
My first inclination was to make significant edits to what I had written to reflect my current thinking. But in an effort to be an authentic leader, much in the spirit of Limitless Loving Leadership, I am reprinting the original text here along with my 2013 reflections. This will demonstrate what I have observed and learned about myself and the world over the past four years. It will show that I, as a leader, am vulnerable and open to learning. Perhaps I will update this text in another four years with yet deeper and more profound insights into the complexities of leadership.
After each original text and my current reflections, I offer questions and space for you to reflect upon your own leadership philosophy and practice. The end of the book has daily, weekly, monthly, and annual planning and reflection sheets to guide the integration of limitless loving leadership — whatever that means to you — into your everyday life.
Jessica R. Dreistadt