Dissertations >> Rafaela Graça Scheiffer - Towards a Non-violent Leadership

Rafaela Graça Scheiffer - Towards a Non-violent Leadership

Rafaela Graça ScheifferRafaela Graça Scheiffer - MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College

This article is part of the evaluation for the elective module 'Leading in the Midst of Complexity' - MSc Holistic Science.

Introductory Extract

In my eyes, everyone is a leader, at least a leader of your own life. My image of a leader is a compassionate human being that reflects people’s light back at them, and in his or her presence people learn more about themselves. So that, they can "be the change that they want to see in the world", as Mahatma Gandhi, a great inspiring leader once said.

In my eyes, to be a leader is not an end in itself. Leadership goes far beyond a rational and logic mind - it exists to serve higher purposes, to genuinely serve people. Companies demand inumerous leadership trainings from their collaborators while making superficial the use of the concept. In western civilization, we have got plenty of challenges during this century, that test our leaders and redefine our perceptions of leadership over time - climate change, high loss of biodiversity, radical alterations in natural cycles of nature as well as, financial crisis and social inequality. It is not possible that leadership is restricted to the pure exercise of power through strategy, resulting in control and prediction. I would rather think that the concept in question has a multiplicity of meanings and does not just correspond to an individual who resolves issues, manages people and generates profits.

According to Bass (1985)¹, traditional leadership is associated to "economic cost-benefit assumptions", and a behavior of leader-follower pattern, such as setting of goals, providing directions, support and reinforcement of behavior. The literature also includes different modalities of leadership patterns, such as authentic, new-genre, complexity, servant and cross-cultural.

Cover image of the article by Rafaela Graça ScheifferAmongst these, servant leaders are my biggest inspirations and I feel compelled to learn from them as much as I can. They are characterized by empowering abilities, such as listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment and building community. Research on servant leadership¹ reveals that followers of those leaders become wiser, freer, healthier and more likely to be servant leaders themselves.

In this article, I draw my interest towards non-violence to illustrate how I started being a practitioner. It is what my tattoo “Om Shanti” reminds me of. Therefore, I present my perceptions in relationship to the thinking of leadership thinkers and bring memories of my behavior in groups.