Greenleaf writes:…By optimal balance between the two is meant a relationship in which both conceptualizers and operators understand, respond, and depend on one another, and in which neither dominates the other. …the council of equals with a primus inter pares serves best when it is predominantly conceptual. Whoever in the council has the greatest team-building ability should be the primus, even though someone else may have a higher-sounding formal title.

A team builder is a strong person who provides the substance that holds the team together in common purpose toward the right objectives. This is accomplished by asking the right questions. If a group is confronted by the right questions long enough, they will see through to the essence and find the right way.

Greenleaf packs a lot into these few sentences. It seems to make sense, to me anyway, that seeking a balance between the conceptualizer and operator would serve all well. The challenge is to not only to ‘seek’ to understand but to actually come to understand the other, then to learn to respond – not react – to the other, and then to learn to depend (interdependence?) on the other. If we stop here this challenge is enough to keep a conceptualizer-operator relationship engaged for some time.

Greenleaf’s idea of who should be the ‘primus’ in the council of equals is also challenging. On a number of occasions I have attempted to influence an espoused council of equals to choose as primus the person on the council who had the ‘greatest team-building ability.’ If no one on the council was adept at this then I invited them to add this person to the council and then choose this person as primus. I never had a council accept my invitation. I never experienced a council that espoused Greenleaf’s concept to choose as primus the person who had the ‘greatest team building ability.’ The primus was always the ‘chair’ – even though many of them were not adept at team-building (some of them thought they were). I still think that Greenleaf’s idea is an excellent one and I would like to see it enacted at least once.

Finally, Greenleaf, again, emphasizes the importance of inquiry. Inquire-Listen. How many of us Inquire-Talk? Greenleaf’s question (paraphrased here): ‘When I speak, how will my words improve the silence?’ It continues to be quite challenging for folks to ‘Inquire-Listen’ (as Greenleaf advises: ‘To listen first in order to understand’). When it comes to inquiry it is also a challenge for us to frame questions from a place of not-knowing.

So, I invite us – you and me gentle reader – to reflect upon all that Greenleaf invites us to consider today. What will emerge for us as we take some time to reflect?

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