Peer Leadership is a dynamic part of a larger view of Leadership that is free of accumulated social and psychological conventions, and based on leadership as an aspect of personal growth.
Every person is in the process of creating, and co-creating, internal frames of reference based on their experiences which they then use to pursue their life. This self-leadership begins in our infancy and continues throughout our lives.
From this self-leadership all forms of leadership in groups, communities, and societies develop. This public leadership always involves a dynamic made up of an individual and surrounding context, and the interplay between the two. The skills and tools of the successful leader relate to the context in which they find themselves.
Peer Leadership is leadership between individuals in a diverse context (society).
Since individual leadership practice in the past has always been related essentially to either race/ethnicity contexts, or the addressing of a common cause for the betterment of a group/society, it is necessary now to look more closely at the personal skills and tools needed for leadership in a society where the primary context is diversity.
The primary skills necessary to be a Peer Leader in a diverse society are the development of our innate Sense of Place, Sense of Person, and competence in the practices of Community and Compassion.
Sense of Place
If we are going to stop viewing nature and ourselves as objects, we will have to change key ideas, or internal frameworks, such as ‘landscape’ for example.
When you look at a tree and see only a two-dimensional object you are imprisoning yourself in a reality system, or mindset called ‘landscape’. But when you “see’ the invisible ie see with insight and imagination the nutrients being absorbed by the roots and rising to the branches and leaves and the act of photosynthesis, you see the whole tree.
An important first step in breaking free of this objectified thinking would be to develop our innate Sense of Place, which means we see with both the head and the heart, with both our eyes and our feelings and imagination.
We are born with a sense of attunement to our surroundings. With the onset of an awareness of separation from our surroundings, our innate Sense of Place is overlaid by our developing rationality and its processes.
To get back in tune with our surroundings we must start to see any place as both a physical act (or geography), and as an idea (or experience). This would mean replacing our present ruling idea of ‘landscape’ with the idea of ecosystem. This means that instead of seeing only an object in a picture separate from us, we see and feel both the visible and invisible processes before us, and of which we are a part.
This is not actually as difficult for the mind to grasp as it first appears because it is well known that we as creatures are made of the self-same elements etc as our apparent ‘surroundings’.
The boundaries between person and place are not as black and white as they appear to the ordinary eye once we give up the framing mindsets of separation and ‘landscape’.
Needless to say the objectifying tendency of the unimaginative eye applies itself equally to people as well, and this will not serve us well in a diverse society.
We, like the tree, are dynamic agents in creating and co-creating our lives, and the profounder challenges we all face now are what guidelines will we create together to live productively and peacefully in our communities, with equity and opportunities for all.