“All value is co-created.
It is the outcome of collaborative enterprise.
It is formed in and from relationships.”

Chris Whittington will be speaking at Norwich cathedral on 'Leading from the Centre – Awareness, Humility and Transformative Leadership’ at the diocese’ annual Headteachers' Conference.

In his session, Chris will talk about the development work he undertakes with leaders and leadership teams, which is rooted in a “collaborative anthropology” and the belief that transformative leaders:

  • Possess a depth of self-awareness;
  • Embody a rare combination of humility and focussed resolve (attention); and
  • Are collaborative and other-centered.

Speaking about his leadership work and forthcoming talk, Chris commented:

“We are interdependent beings who flourish (individually, socially, corporately) when we live and organise ourselves in ways that reflect and embody this. As organisations increasingly understand this, leadership is transitioning from hierarchical structures to more flexible, team-centric models that support collaboration and empowerment.

Yet we continue to find this transition hard.

Unfortunately, many aspects of our culture promote a strongly individualistic anthropology. We are encouraged to view others as if they are largely or entirely separate from us, to live at a conceptual distance from each other, whether this “other” is another person, a group of people or the environment. And so, it is no great surprise that we frequently organise our lives and places of work in ways which reflect this, which encourage rivalry and competition over collaboration and friendship, and which an increasing number of people say they experience as dislocated and dislocating.

But it doesn’t have to be like this.

I believe that through the cultivation of a deeper awareness of our interconnected, interdependent nature and the alignment of our lives to this, the communities in which we live and work can be transformed. That if we better understand how we are constituted and in and through our relationships with others, we might have a better chance of living and organising ourselves in ways that reflect and support this - which must always mean our flourishing together.

We are not self-made, as people, as leaders. We are part of an interrelated whole. We are who we are because of this whole. We are intimately connected to everyone, to everything. Which means that our actions have direct influence and impact, beneficial or otherwise, on this whole.

To really take this on board, to really embrace this, requires us to hear a very clear call to tread lightly and reverently as leaders, to be mindful of what an extraordinary privilege and responsibility it is. The decision to cultivate the awareness and attributes for truly collaborative leadership is in many senses profoundly counter-cultural.

Leadership is an extraordinary privilege and gift. Not something to be grasped and worshipped but acknowledged in self-forgetful service and compassion.”

Chris is a partner and head of education at Anthony Collins Solicitors, working with leaders and leadership teams across the country. He was introduced to awareness practices at 19 while living at a Benedictine monastery, studied at the Dalai Lama’s monastery in India and has been COO of an international organisation teaching awareness practices in over 70 countries.