The phenomenological perspective on leadership

What if that inspiring, natural leader we secretly dream of in this era of self-management and citizen participation turns out to be just an ordinary person, with positive and murky sides?

What if, with all our knowledge, concepts, models, theories, and opinions – the building blocks of our modern society – we cannot solve the complexity of tomorrow?

What if our organisations are the best of many worlds and we have nevertheless reached an impasse?

Evolution suggests a new perspective. It stops looking in the past for the causes of our problems. It also stops “constructing” the future, the focus of mainstream coaching and consulting. We look at what the here and now tell us. The phenomenological perspective is what we call this mode. It gives access to creative intelligence and the effortless power of the moment. And it ceases to fight against what is.

The world seems dominated by the idea that you can make your reality and change your life according to your design. This view is increasingly proving to be an illusion. Today’s changes and challenges require leaders to be more in touch with themselves, follow their inner calling, perceive themselves more intuitively and act on how they really are. That can be difficult for many. But anything you overlook (and with our humanity, that is inevitable) comes back to you, without exception. If we listen closely, we can hear a cry worldwide for this way of living, working and deciding.

In a collective sense, we can see it in the form of refugee movements; in a personal sense, in the cases of burnout, overloaded work schedules and empty relationships; in an organisational sense, in the form of conflicts, crises and market losses.

The phenomenological perspective consists primarily of a crystal-clear and unobstructed representation of what we observe. The meaning of what we observe in an organisation or consultation is no longer disputed. We let it sink in and work in us as it occurs. What this perspective creates is remarkable precision, power and effect.

‘It is the reality that liberates, not your effort to be free.’
– Krishnamurti

Coen Aalders is an experienced Dutch change and transition executive, a consultant and coach. He started his career as an officer in procurement in the Royal Netherlands Navy. He holds master degrees in law and organisational psychology (INSEAD) and is trained in systems constellations and the Life Integration Process with Wilfried Nelles in Germany and in Theory U at MIT. 

He has a track record in organisational development, mergers, culture change and crises in the private and (mainly) public sector, and worked nationally and internationally. He worked, amongst others, as a country director with the French technology consulting company Devoteam, as director of the Dutch Land Registry and city manager of several cities.

Observers call him authentic, visionary, sensitive and clear.

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