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Theory U Leadership

Key Idea   

The challenge for leaders has always been to see into the future. Theory U leaders have taken the time to hone the skills and practices needed to realize that future, whether it’s becoming aware of their own blind spots, listening for possibilities that others do not hear, or developing the ability to “see” what is invisible to others. The actual term “Theory U” represents the U-shape process that will enable leaders to shift their attention to ultimately grasp a future (or a possibility) that depends on them to bring into reality. 

Book to Read

Theory U: Leading from the Future as It Emerges
by C. Otto Scharmer (2009)

Quick take from the Book

 Scharmer has identified five principles or practices that help leaders realize their best future:

  1. Co-initiating (listening to others and to what life calls you to do)
  2. Co-sensing (listening with your mind and heart wide open)
  3. Co-presencing (retreating and reflecting, allowing your inner knowing to emerge)
  4. Co-creating (prototyping in order to explore the future by doing)
  5. Co-evolving (growing by seeing and acting from the emerging whole)

Quote of Note  

"Our old leadership is crumbling similar to the way the Berlin Wall crumbled in 1989. What’s necessary today is not only a new approach to leadership. We need to go beyond the concept of leadership. We must discover a more profound and practical integration of the head, heart and hand – of the intelligences of the open mind, open heart, and open will – at both an individual and a collective will."   — p. 20

Related Styles: Quiet Leadership, Heroic Leadership

Return to List of Leadership Styles