Consent and Leadership

September 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve been thinking about consent as it relates to leadership.  It occurs to me that leaders would rightly be those with the most advanced and creative consent skills.  The whole idea of a democratic leader is someone who represents the collective body, advocating for both the desires of the majority and the rights and wellbeing of the minority at the same time.  The concept of consensual leadership, however, seems almost an oxymoron by today’s understanding.  Leadership is generally tied up in power play and understood as control by express means of threat and coercion and the display of power (like what would be commonly deemed appropriate for a dictator, military leader, dog owner, or school teacher) or covert means of manipulation (like what would commonly be deemed appropriate for politicians, advertisers and PR persons, preachers leading their flocks, or seemingly nonviolent parents still exerting control).  It reminds me of the way dating and making romantic or sexual connections is viewed, the skills required for flirting, cruising, or having sex being tied up in the mainstream with power play and “getting” something, while the skills needed for consensual, healthy, and meaningful connections are something are consent skills like self-awareness and authenticity, ability to ask questions despite awkwardness, management of consent paranoia, etc.

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