Thursday, 1 December 2016

Arnold Timmerman - Leadingship

Circle Network Book Review - LEADINGSHIP – Exploring the Essence of Leadership Dynamics by Arnold Timmerman Published by Business Books Paperback £9.99: Kindle £7.20 Author website:

Arnold Timmerman is a retreat organiser, tour and holiday guide, and speaker at training days which build team dynamics. The book begins with the question ‘If leading and following were non-personal, who would you be?’ The question poses another question - why do we give away so much power and control to leaders? We are content to be led, rather than find our own creativity and power! 

This book questions! No-one is a leader all the time. They might have expertise in one necessary area, but in many other fields, they will be led by those who know more than they about specific subjects. Many will be led but are capable of far more. We live in a time of expertise and no-one can know everything about all subjects. If there are 7 billion people on this planet, each one is a leader in some capacity, and each one will also be a follower in many other ways. Many leaders are nothing more than duplicates of their heros, without individuality, without questioning or without personal development. They are inauthentic, and lacking both passion and inspiration because leadership gives them a power that they would not otherwise possess. There is an illusion of control, such as a dog owner has over their dog when it is not on a lead. Never give a command you cannot ensure is carried out. Most people don't want to be a follower, and if they do, they want to be led somewhere that benefits them.

Many people choose to be a leader because they fear and crave and not because they have something special to offer. Responsibility is an important aspect of all leadership; power without responsibility is dangerous. Our leaders easily become dictators, snatching power over others rather than empowering others. Even leaders with something valuable to impart can find that gender, background, personality, belief systems and experience of all kinds will cause obstacles to progress because some people refuse to be led. (Enneagram personality types are used as a tool to demonstrate how each type responds to leadership situations). Women also have different issues to men about this subject.

The Netherlands born author, Arnold Timmerman has edited lifestyle and travel magazines and was the European Director of Conscious Company and he provided leadership seminars. Now he is involved with a new type of leadership which has emerged from examining the language of leadership. He has established a word for a new collaborative way of leading - ‘leadingship’. For instance, one of the examples takes place at a conference where he is the speaker. One of the delegates complains that the conference is running late and he must leave. The delegate wanted the leader to take responsibility for the loss, to accept blame for the inconvenience. In actuality, nothing was lost, the delegate led his own life, left the auditorium and got on with his business – he became a genuine leader of his own life in that moment, rather than a person sitting, being fed with information, and therefore being a follower.

Learning more communication skills and more training techniques is unhelpful. Native American leaders are listeners rather than speakers! There is a shared importance, the enquirer/seeker being of equal importance to the person who shows the way. True leadership is supportive without a ‘power over’ structure. Leaders need a less vertical and more horizontal input, more akin to mentoring, managing, teaching, training, role modelling and coaching than leadership per se. 'Leadingship' is a process of accompanying someone on their journey rather than telling them how to get there. Structures need to change from the top down. This is how I see this new idea, though others might see it differently. To read articles on Arnold Timmerman's blog, take a look on this link:

Reviewer: Wendy Stokes (see Wendy's article on leadership in an extract from her book on this link:

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