Filling the Ice House, 1934 oil on canvas by Harry Gottlieb
Since working and pursuing a Ph.D.–both fulltime–are so consuming, my opportunities for blog posting are extremely limited. However, I recently submitted a conference proposal that reflects my research thinking that excited me a great deal. I wanted to share it, in the hopes that it would spark interest and conversation.
The title of the proposal is “Commons Competencies: Rethinking Hard and Soft Skills for a Disruptive Era.” I recently submitted it to the upcoming the 21st Annual Kravis-de Roulet Leadership Conference at Claremont McKenna College in California. The conference theme is Understanding and Assessing “Soft” Leader Skills.
Since my research is focused on the developmental processes of post-industrial and sustainability leadership dynamics, I thought it would be a good opportunity to refine my thinking. The basic premise explored by the proposal is that while it is true that “soft skills” promote a more humanistic flavor of leadership practice than that found during the industrial era, this notion still undermines creativity and innovation by subtly reinforcing the same kind oppressive mindset found in traditional, hierarchical approaches.
I instead propose a new framework based on a synthesis late stage developmental models (such as that proposed by Robert Kegan or William Torbert) with the social orientation of an intellectual “commons” (as recently advanced by Pisano and Shih in Harvard Business Review). This combination allows me to cultivate the idea of advancing collective skill orientation—through the idea of “commons competencies”—over an approach privileging individual skill sets.
I thought this was intriguing idea, but it stills needs a great deal of further development. Also, I knew that this conference regularly attracted many established leadership scholars and other assorted heavy hitters, so I wasn’t going to be terrifically disappointed if I wasn’t accepted; however, earlier today I did receive an invitation to take part in the conference’s Poster Presentation. That’s great—although given it’s on the other side of the country I am not sure that I will attend.
In the meantime for anyone who might care to explore these ideas further my original proposal and resource list can be downloaded in .pdf format here.
As always, comments—particularly those that will help to strengthen my basic premise—are very appreciated.