The Four Fields of Leadership: A book review by Bob Morris

The Four Fields of Leadership: How People and Organizations Can Thrive in a Hyperconnected World
Tom Goodell
Rowman & Littlefield (September 2020)

The power of intentional leadership and how it nourishes emergent leadership

In the healthiest organizations, there is effective communication, cooperation, and (especially) collaboration at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. Moreover, everyone feels empowered to take the initiative when there are questions to be answered, problems to be solved, or loose ends to be tied up.

Leaders of the healthiest organizations agree with Tom Goodell that leadership must be redefined in terms of [begin italics] unifying principles] within four interdependent fields: Self, Interpersonal Interaction, Teamwork, and Enterprise. He devotes a section to each field. Connectivity between and among these fields demonstrates that “leadership is a dynamic condition that arises from the interaction of individuals.”

Invoking horticulural terms, I think intentional leaders have a “green thumb” to “grow” other leaders within a “garden” that requires continuous nourishment and constant protection. They demonstrate that the fundamental purpose “is to enable cooperation and collective action.” They have a highly developed consciousness, a view of the future, the ability to make smart decisions, and a determination to help as many people as possible to accelerate their personal growth and professional development.

With regard to what Goodell characterizes as the Spectrum of Leadership (from emergent to intentional) and the Four Fields, they “present a humbling view of leadership. This vision means that you are not in charge, no matter how much you want to believe you are. You are a participant [a servant], but you are not in charge. And if you don’t participate in the ways that serve the greater good, you put you and your enterprise at risk. This is the heart of Field Leadership. You are here to serve those you lead, the enterprise of which you are a part, the planet as a whole. The extraordinary and daunting challenge given to Field Leaders is to guide us through the current period of transformation and realize the wild possibilities of the Age of Connection.”

Hyperconnectivity includes but is by no means limited to humans as active participants. Disruptive technologies must also be included and, whenever and wherever appropriate, given full partnership. For example, artificial intelligence (AI); sensors and the Internet of Things (IOT); autonomous Machines — robots, cobots, drones, and self-driving vehicles; distributed leaders and blockchains; virtual, augmented, and mixed reality; and 5G networks and satellite constellations

I commend Tom Goodell on the abundance of valuable information, insights, and counsel he provides in this volume. His is a brilliant achievement. Although there is no reference to Tao Te Ching, he and Lao-tse seem to be kindred spirits in terms of their perspectives on leadership. Consider this passage:

“Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.”

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