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Of all of the issues and challenges that face us as a society, our abysmal public education system is foremost among them. It’s not hard to identify the reasons for this failure: An archaic paradigm designed for another age and informed by a dehumanized assembly-line model that processes rather than inspires and mentors children; a ritualistic commitment to going through the motions rather than achieving excellent outcomes; a Kabuki Theater of faddish or merely time-wasting professional development and “sensitivity” trainings and purposeless faculty meetings; school improvement plans invested in and abandoned; an overwhelming administrative imperative of avoiding problems that constantly displaces any commitment to educational excellence; overpoliticized school district administrative and governance structures, focused more on ideological and power-consolidating maneuvering than on educating children; an anti-intellectual surrounding culture; a political zeitgeist emphasizing superficial and mechanistic “school reform” ideas which deepen rather than transcend the dysfunctional status quo and kick responsibility down the hierarchy toward those least able to address the structural problems involved; and the same political zeitgeist vilifying government (which school districts are) and starving them of much needed authentic public support. It’s a recipe for continuing and deepening failure.

What’s less obvious is how thoroughly within reach turning this around really is, how capable we are of transforming our public education system from one of the worst among developed nations to the very best in the world, bar none. We lack neither the human ingenuity nor material capital for doing so. Our children are in no way inherently less able to learn than the children of any other society. The challenge of inspiring and guiding and mentoring and educating our children from infancy through adulthood, and of thus liberating the genius of our populace to enable each to thrive individually and all to thrive collectively, is both the most critical and most tractable challenge we face as a society. (See Education Policy Ideas, Real Education Reform , Mistaken Locus of Education Reform, School Vouchers, Pros & Cons for some of my musings on education policy and education reform, and The Vital Role of Child, Family, and Community Services for a discussion of the related issues involving the social institutional and social emotional context that are students are embedded in.)

Human consciousness is the spark of divinity we carry within us, that magical, marvelous wonder that allows us to explore the universe with our minds, both the macrocosms and microcosms,  from the farthest galaxies and most distant times, to the tiny particles dancing into and out of existence and our own elusive inner-selves. It is a captive giant, whose freedom is both the ends and the means of all other human endeavors. It is a tool for our prosperity and spiritual fulfilment, and a source of profound joy in and of itself, the font of our stories, of our arts, of our humor, of our scholarship, of our appreciation and celebration of the world of which we are a part. It is the essence of being human. (See The Politics of Consciousness , Adaptation & Social Systemic Fluidity, The Evolutionary Ecology of Social Institutions, The Fractal Geometry of Social Change, The Evolutionary Ecology of Human Technology, The Fractal Geometry of Law (and Government), Emotional Contagion, Bellerophon’s Ascent: The Mutating Memes (and “Emes”) of Human History, Information and Energy: Past, Present, and Future for some discussions of the relationship between human consciousness and our social institutional and technological landscape.)

This is why I become so excited when I see those too few but so inspiring genuine attempts to realize our potential, to educate our children in the truest sense of the word, to commit ourselves not in some superficial or mechanistic way, but heart and soul, using all of our passion and talent as educators, all of the information and experience available, all of the tools that have been developed and ideas that are now emerging, thinking, imagining, innovating, designing, refining, implementing, improving, refining, modifying, constantly and tenaciously, making it happen.

West Generation Academy is just such a venture, led by a passionate and inspiring principal, imbued with vision and imagination and discipline and commitment, poised to make a dramatic difference both directly and indirectly in the lives of untold numbers of children, and of our society as a whole. Like a butterfly flapping its wings in the turbulent atmosphere, what reverberating ripples it will send out into the suchness are yet to be known. If the school achieves what it is so determined and so well equipped to achieve, it will be a force of nature, liberating the genius of children who will then have a reverberating impact of their own on the world around them, inspiring emulation that then produces new waves of reverberating, self-amplifying success.

The Generation School model is a complete revamping of the structure of schools, not an attempt to reform education by some shallow panacea that appeals to those who live in a linear and oversimplistic world, but rather restructuring the school itself, and its relationship to families and communities. It restructures the space in which education happens, the way in which education is delivered, the calendar and the schedule, the planning and implementation, all in response to the question “what works?” (See for discussion of specific design innovations, and for more information about West Generation Academy.)

But a good model is not enough by itself: Passionate, inspiring leadership is also required; a spirit and energy infused into the project, a zeal and joy and optimism and commitment to turning a vision into a reality. And, rallied by that leadership, recruited and mobilized by it, a team of individuals all similarly invigorated and committed is also necessary. Judging from the presentation I attended a couple of days ago, all of these elements are in place, or are being put into place, by Bob Villarreal at West Generation Academy. Whether the potential that I felt pulsating in that room comes to fruition or not is yet to be seen; but the fact that the potential exists seems to me to be an undeniable reality.

When good things are happening around us, when talented and dedicated people are striving to make a difference, it is incumbent on the rest of us to offer what support we can. We are all in this story together, and all should be striving to work together to write it well. If you live on the West side of Denver, or are just a highly engaged member of the larger community (as I am), consider finding your own place in this exciting and encouraging new endeavor, whether it is as a parent looking for the right school for your child, an excellent teacher looking for the right school in which to work, or a member of the community looking for local initiatives in which to invest your energy and resources. (One small way to show support would be to “like” West Generation Academy’s Facebook page:

Too often, those of us who are most politically and publicly engaged look for what’s wrong with the world and bemoan it, driven by anger and frustration, discouraged and disgruntled. But our real power lies in looking for what’s right with the world and nurturing it, cultivating the best sparks of positive change, blowing on them until they blossom into a brilliant blaze. West Generation Academy seems to me to be a glowing ember of great promise. Let’s lend it our own breath, our own inspiration, and help to ignite it into a roaring fire of realized potentials and expanding opportunities.

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It’s an odd title for a post on this social analytical blog, an odd sentiment for the perennial optimist with an impressive if unusual resume (see About Steve Harvey). But, as I’ve often said, and have even occasionally highlighted in my own case, we are not just disembodied minds cognitively engaging with an infinitely yielding world; we are also fallible and vulnerable human beings struggling with the sometimes terrifying challenges of life on Earth.

But I would not use this blog for this purpose, to address this theme, if it did not also serve some informative function, did not in some way contribute to the large, complex, multifaceted map of our social institutional landscape and our role in it that I am, brushstroke by brushstroke, attempting to paint here. Sometimes, broad understandings are best illustrated by particular examples, and as the voice of Colorado Confluence, it may be that all of my moods need to be expressed for this ongoing opus to develop most completely.

The irony is that the challenges I am currently confronting are trivial in comparison to those of most of humanity, and yet they are crushing me under their weight, particularly because I have an eight year old daughter who depends on me absolutely, and who I can’t bear to let down. We don’t measure our circumstances against global or historical standards, but rather against our own expectations, our own sense of what is “normal,” that of those similarly situated, and can, at times, jump out of Wall Street windows for losing what few ever dreamed of possessing in the first place.

The worst that is imminently threatening me and my family, at least for a while, is that we may have to sell our house and possessions and move into an apartment. But we love our home, our “Casa Azul,” with it’s brightly painted walls and beautiful little garden, as if it were an extension of ourselves, and losing it doesn’t even feel like an option I can contemplate. I can’t accept that it’s one I should have to.

As a teenager, I tried, with imperfect success, to take to heart Thoreau’s admonition in Walden not to live a life of quiet desperation, and not to come to the end of my days wondering if I had ever really lived. (Ironically, in Walden, he also mentioned the burden of having a costly house, the absence of which made one far freer, a lesson I had also lived by until starting a family.) After spending the first quarter century or so of my adulthood serving that commitment by pursuing my dream of writing an epic novel that would distill and express some aspect of the essence of our existence in beautiful and eddifying form, and doing so by pursuing experiences and studies that I thought would best prepare me to discover such a novel amidst the swirls and eddies of our collective consciousness, I’ve spent the last ten years or so (since the novel’s completion) in transition, seeking a path toward more robustly affecting human consciousness through the social institutional landscape which is its embodiment.

To do so, first I taught high school, then went to law school, then did some short contracts addressing child and family and mental health services. But I find myself now both unemployed (or nearly so) and apparently unemployable. The institutional world assumes I have no place in it because I dared to live a life which frequently deviated from the well-worn paths signalling to institutional actors a readiness to play a prescribed role in an adequately ritualized way.

At the risk of sounding bitter (which, unfortunately, I am, a bit, at the moment), little happens of great significance without imagination and a touch of bravado, and yet the institutional captains of social change cling to their unimaginative and safe check lists instead, and, by doing so, virtually guarantee that they will at best facilitate marginal improvements even under circumstances in which dramatic transformations are possible. That, of course, leaves me, with great talents and passion and a particular insight into how to ply those social systemic opportunities to maximum effect, and a desire to put all of that to work and to feed and house my family by doing so, out in the cold, almost literally, for not enough squares next to my name are ever checked off (though the squares next to my name that would be, were the producers of such checklists able to imagine greater possibilities, far exceed in value and scarcity and difficulty of being reproduced any of the superficial and easily rectified deficiencies that disqualify me). It’s enough to make one scream, which I am clearly in the process of doing, at least virtually.

I know, profoundly and absolutely, as most who have seen me in action or have read my musings know almost as certainly, that I have something unique and valuable to contribute to this human endeavor of ours, that I am able and eager to do so with intense discipline and contagious enthusiasm, and that my impressive but atypical resume is part of what recommends me for positions that that same impressive but atypical resume prevents me from getting.

It is that last fact that is driving me to the brink of despair. As I wrote recently on my Facebook page, I’m stuck in the mud on the road less traveled, hauling a cartload of esoteric cognitive wares. The night is deepening, the weather worsening, and those cherished trinkets serve no purpose unless I can get them to market, and get out of this desolate place.

Most recently (and the catalyst for this musing), I was invited first for a phone interview for a position that would be perfect for me, as the program director for an educational initiative whose logic I am intimately and professionally familiar with, and whose potential I am keenly aware of. I misread the signals, mistaking an invitation the next day to schedule an in-person interview, despite being told on the phone that such interviews would not be scheduled for a few more weeks, as an indication that they were particularly impressed with me, and wanted to move forward more quickly.

I decided to spend all of my limited political capital to seal the deal, excited and relieved to have finally found both the perfect position (which I had not yet encountered in a year and a half of looking) and an apparent reciprocal recognition that I was the perfect person to fill it (a recognition which, at least on their part, turned out to be illusory). I emailed friends and acquaintances who hold or had held public offices (including one U.S. Senator who generously came through for me), particularly those associated with education, executive directors of nonprofits and other prominent public figures, and asked them to contact either my interviewers or members of the board of trustees of the organization to which I was applying, which most did, effusively praising me. Some of them, I cannot ask again. Others, I’m embarrassed to continue to impose upon. It was capital spent and now depleted or diminished.

I arrived at the interview yesterday, unfortunately completely sleep deprived (unable to fall asleep at all the night before, something that rarely happens to me, but happened this time), only to discover my error; whatever the reason for the accelerated interview schedule, it was not some particular enthusiasm for me as a candidate. One of my interviewers, it seemed to me, was looking for candidates that satisfied the conventional check list, which I never do. I was thrown off, answered a couple of questions badly, became too animated when expressing my passion for the mission that the position represented to me, and was thanked at the end of the interview for my interest, and told that I would be contacted by the end of the week as to whether I would be invited for the next round a week and a half later.

I fell from the brink of salvation to the depths of despair in the blink of an eye. My dream job seemingly within reach was a mirage that shimmered and disappeared in the hot desert sun. I have been unable to recover from the disappointment. Even if, improbably, I am invited back for the next round, it was clear that the criteria to which I will be held are the criteria that discount me. My unique talents, my ability to rapidly learn whatever knowledge and skills are required, my passion and creativity and social institutional savvy, my leadership qualities and organizational acumen, all are irrelevant at the levels at which I must enter, because they’re qualities too valuable to be valued, in too short supply and too hard to measure to be placed on the check list of criteria to be considered.

So writing this is my therapy and my refuge. It is my note in a bottle, flung into the sea, giving me hope that maybe someone will find it and send a ship out to fetch me. When you find yourself stranded on a desert isle, you grasp hold of what hope you can.

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In the Perspective section of last Sunday’s Denver Post, Ray Mark Rinaldi wrote an excellent piece exploring the two competing development visions for Denver’s Union Station (Who’s on the right track with Union Station plans? What I like about this article isn’t just the informative discussion of a single issue of current significance, but rather how it focuses on one instance of a more general challenge we face: Public Entrepreneurialism.

In all of the ideological noise, the competition of those who consider government the enemy and those who consider corporations the enemy, we don’t discuss enough the shared enterprise we are in, in which both government and corporations are problematic but indispensable players. Treating the public sphere as a popular entrepreneurial challenge, with one of the issues being how best to articulate that public entrepreneurship with the private sector to maximize our welfare through the most robust and efficacious utilizations of both, is exactly what we need more of. This is a wonderful discussion of that oft-forgotten but critically essential aspect of public participation and discourse: How we can act together in productive ways to improve our social institutional landscape. Let’s hope that is the kind of conversation we have more of in the future, displacing the one we already have far too much of.

Public entrepreneurialism is a concept that can join the pantheon of entrepreneurialisms, along with commercial, political, and social entrepreneurialism. Commercial entrepreneurialism requires no elaboration: It is what is normally referred to by the term. The development and implementation of a commercial idea in pursuit of private profit is commercial entrepreneurialism, and it plays a vital role in the ongoing evolution of our social institutional landscape.

Political entrepreneurialism involves political leadership outside of the established and official political landscape, in service to fomenting fundamental political change rather than preserving or operating through the status quo. Gandhi, King, revolutionary leaders and leaders of radical political movements, are examples of political entrepreneurs. They might leverage assets, mobilize resources, and divert profits of other enterprises toward the political goal. Clearly, commercial entrepreneurialism can be a strategic component of political entrepreneurialism.

And, similarly, political entrepreneurialism can be a strategic component of social entrepreneurialism. Social entrepreneurialism isn’t about changing regimes or merely expanding the franchize; it is about altering the culture. Changing the political landscape may be a means to that end, but, for social entrepreneurs, it is not an end in itself. Political entrepreneurs are often also, to varying degrees, social entrepreneurs: Certainly, King was a social entrepreneur to a very large extent, and Gandhi to a lesser extent. (Gandhi’s goal was primarily political: Indian independence. King’s was primarily social: The end of racism.)

But political entrepreneurs do not need to be social entrepreneurs: Many revolutionary leaders are simply trying to topple the current political power structure and replace it with what they believe to be a preferable one, because they believe the preferable one better serves either the public interest or their own interest, or the interests of those close to them, or some distribution among these, depending on the degree to which they are acting idealistically or cynically, and selfishly or altruistically.

All three of these forms of entrepreneurialism, on average, involve a higher proportion of charismatic authority than other forms of leadership (see What is Leadership?), though rational and traditional authority may well be invoked as well.  Social and political entrepreneurship probably rely more than commercial entrepreneurship on charismatic authority (though commercial entrepreneurs are often charismatic; think Steve Jobs), if only because the rewards of the former two are less immediate and less fungible: Those who follow, or work for, a commercial entrepreneur can do so for the promise of income without being otherwise persuaded, while those who follow political and social entrepreneurs generally have to be convinced of the ideals for which they are working.

Public entrepreneurialism is something different from all of these, articulating them into a single enterprise, and doing so from or through the established power structure rather than in opposition to it. It involves the mayor who has a vision for his or her city, the governor who is focused more on long-term development than short-term indicators, the president who has a vision for the country that guides his or her policies as much as or more than the ephemeral tides of political exigency.

It also involves those who try to influence them, not to change the nature of the game, but to play the game that exists more beneficially. Commercial entrepreneurs exist on a continuum ranging from the purely profit-motivated to the socially idealistic and visionary, and political and social entrepreneurs exist on continua ranging from extreme radicalism to subtle tweaking of existing institutions. Those who occupy the ranges closer to the latter poles become more involved in public entrepreneurialism, in partnership with others who occupy the more visionary range of elected and appointed office and bureaucratic careers.

Martin Luther King Jr., for instance, was less radical, less rejecting of the status quo, than Malcolm X; the American Revolutionaries less revolutionary than their French counterparts. The former were more willing to retain much and make changes mostly on the margins, moving the sophisticated package of human history along a slightly diverted trajectory rather than trying to destroy what was and replace it en masse with what they believed should be.

Public entrepreneurialism is characterized, for instance, by the vision touted by recent Denver mayoral candidate James Mejia, involving developing the river front in much the same way that San Antonia did in the latter’s creation of its famous River Walk; and by the vision espoused by now Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper during his campaign, in which he discussed a vision for Colorado that revolved around articulated roles for political, social, and commercial entrepreneurs (see A Positive Vision For Colorado).

Public entrepreneurialism can emphasize different aspects of our social institutional landscape: The economic, the cultural, the aesthetic, the charitable. It can focus on improvements in education, or in the delivery of social services, or in the production of wealth, or in the promotion of fairness and justice and human decency; but, at its best, it involves at least a little of all of these, emphasizing one more than others in each project, but pursuing projects which, taken together, emphasize all of these values.

We are indeed in a shared enterprise, one which we can participate in by “railing against the machine,” or one which we can participate in by “rallying agents of the organism.” The former is often more emotionally gratifying, assuming the role of someone external and superior to that which is. The latter is more productive and realistic, recognizing that we are indeed a part of something larger than ourselves, something that has a history and a value worth preserving and developing. Public entrepreneurialism can be bold, idealistic, even radical at times. But it is the kind of change realized through the realization that no viable change occurs that does not leverage what is to create what can be.

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Having recently received a poignant lesson in what effective leadership isn’t, I decided to explore the question of what it is, by considering how individual efforts articulate with what I will call “the social field” (and have previously called “the social institutional and technological landscape”). I will discuss two kinds of leadership: Authoritative Leadership (broken down into Traditional, Rational, and Charismatic), and Surreptitious Leadership (a particular segment of the broader category of “surreptitious power”), as well as how leadership articulates with the innovation and diffusion of ideas. Then I will consider all of this in the context of my overarching social systemic paradigm (see Adaptation & Social Systemic Fluidity, The Evolutionary Ecology of Social Institutions, The Fractal Geometry of Social Change, The Evolutionary Ecology of Human Technology, The Fractal Geometry of Law (and Government), Emotional Contagion, Bellerophon’s Ascent: The Mutating Memes (and “Emes”) of Human History, The Politics of Consciousness , Information and Energy: Past, Present, and Future, The Evolutionary Ecology of Audio-Visual Entertainment (& the nested & overlapping subsystems of Gaia), The Nature-Mind-Machine Matrix).

Social change occurs primarily through three types of interacting mechanisms: Innovation (see, e.g., The Evolutionary Ecology of Human Technology); social evolutionary drift (see e.g., the first six paragraphs of The Fractal Geometry of Social Change); and social organization in service to cooperative ends, frequently in conflict or competition with other organized efforts to accomplish what are presumed to be incompatible ends (this includes intentional social movements, such as, e.g., Transcendental Politics). Generally, these three mechanisms organically articulate to generate the ongoing dynamic of human history. While any enterprise is a portal through which our wills can, with varying degrees of consciousness, interface with this dynamic of change, there are certain institutional processes and roles through which human beings attempt to harness and channel the integrated processes of human history. These are found in the realms of politics, economics, culture, and religion.

Innovation and leadership are the two intentional mechanisms of social change. They can coexist -a leader can innovate, and an innovator can lead- or either can exist on its own -a leader can rely on established techniques, and an innovator can innovate without making any attempt to influence other human beings. Certainly, they are more robust together: Innovative leaders tend to capture our imaginations more, and thus be more charismatic and compelling, while entrepreneurial innovators, especially in the modern era of highly complex technologies, generally need to rally others to their enterprise in order to successfully innovate.

But, regardless of the degree to which they are braided currents in the stream of history, they can be considered separately in order to understand each and both better. I’ve given more attention to innovation than to leadership on this blog; hopefully, this essay will help establish a more optimal balance.

Leadership does not have to be dedicated to social change. A leader can try to preserve a desired status quo, or to resurrect an admired past condition. But, since the world never stands still, leadership affects the dynamic of change over time, even if it does so by seeking to regress or stagnant.

Leaders can occupy established positions as well as create new ones. But, intentionally or not, by becoming focal points around which others rally (or around which other’s actions swirl), they are conduits for the creation and spread of both their own preferred memes, and catalysts for the counterreactions of those who prefer other memes in their stead. As such, even the most conservative or reactionary of leaders, or the most humble and unassuming, are vehicles of social change: Change is the one constant, and leadership is one vehicle by which it occurs.

In most conceptualizations, effective leadership requires that the person in whom it is embodied is perceived by others to possess some kind of “authority.” The early 20th century German sociologist Max Weber identified three kinds of authority: Rational, traditional, and charismatic. Charismatic authority is that aspect of authority that is vested in the personal qualities of the leader. Examples of leaders who have successfully relied primarily on charismatic authority are those renowned civil rights leaders (e.g., Martin Luther King, Jr.), rebel and revolutionary leaders (e.g. Gandhi), and, in some cases, tyrants who have wrested power from existing governments. But such leaders also exist in more humble movements, in classrooms and community organizations, in nonprofits and government agencies. Charismatic authority is generally a vital ingredient in any effective social movement, on any level.

Traditional authority is that authority that vests due to the ancient (often, though not always, archaic) traditions of a given society. The authority of parents, elders, tribal chieftains, and clergy are examples of traditional authority. This can be considered authority derived from cultural habit, from some deeply embedded and not generally re-examined informal hierarchical structure that simply endures across the ages.

Rational authority is that authority that vests by conscious design, a function of modernity rather than antiquity. Occupation of formal, modern governmental and bureaucratic offices are the quintessential examples of rational authority, from the President of the United States to the clerk at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

These three forms of authority can coexist and interact. Charismatic authority is often a vehicle to being assigned rational authority (e.g., a charismatic candidate is elected to office), and rational authority is often a codification of some pre-existing traditional authority (e.g., the organizational structure of a modern religious institution derived from the ancient traditional authority vested in religious leaders). Religious leaders exercising charismatic authority is a common occurrence (e.g., Martin Luther King, Jr.; Ayatollah Khomeini).

What we conventionally think of as “leadership” is well mapped-out by these three variants of authority. But that conventional conceptualization only identifies one general form of leadership, what I am calling “Authoritative Leadership.” I believe that there is another kind of leadership as well, one which, again, can coexist and interact with Authoritative Leadership in various ways. I call this other form of leadership “Surreptitious Leadership.”

Surreptitious leadership can take the form of being “a king maker,” making behind-the-scenes arrangements which help imbue others with authoritative leadership. Sometimes, this involves some elements of localized authoritative leadership mobilized in service to cultivating broader authoritative leadership in others (i.e., those close to the surreptitious leader perceive in him or her local authoritative leadership, which is then exercised in service to broader surreptitious leadership). Often, these people are not really “surreptitious,” but rather are perceived as the real power behind the person nominally given the position of authoritative leadership through which the surreptitious leader is operating. For example, Karl Rove, the conservative political strategist who orchestrated the election victory of George W. Bush, was a not-so-surreptitious surreptitious leader (and perhaps Dick Cheney, thought by many to be the real power in the Bush administration, as well).

But there are other forms of surreptitious leadership as well. Perhaps the quintessential example of surreptitious leadership is the “Chinese Servant” archetype employed by John Steinbeck in East of Eden. Lee, the Chinese servant in the household, who pretended to speak only broken English, was really a highly educated and extremely wise individual, who confided in another character that he liked being a servant because it enabled him to control his master. In other words, he played on stereotypes to make himself invisible and non-threatening, but to position himself to whisper in his master’s ear in ways which guided his master’s decisions, who in turn affected others.

This pure form of surreptitious leadership is quiet, humble, and unassuming. It seeks neither credit nor glory, but rather allows others to receive them in order to remain most effective.

There is a subtle distinction between surreptitious leadership and surreptitious power. Though the former generally requires he exercise of some form of the latter, the latter can exist independently of the former. So, for instance, J. Edgar Hoover was famous for his surreptitious power, his ability to blackmail prominent office-holders (including the President of the United States) with information that he had illicitly procured through misuse of his Federal Bureau of Investigation.

This is a case of information being used to control those ostensibly with more institutional power, but not necessarily an exercise of surreptitious leadership. If, for instance, it were utilized only to procure wealth and luxury for the person employing it, it would be surreptitious power but not surreptitious leadership. The more it is used to affect public policy formation, and to channel the actions of multitudes of others down desired paths, the more it becomes an example of surreptitious leadership.

As in the earlier examples of surreptitious leadership, it often involves localized authoritative leadership exercised in service to broader-based surreptitious leadership. So, just as Karl Rove authoritatively led his staff and followers in order to surreptitiously lead the nation, so too did J. Edgar Hoover authoritatively lead the FBI in order to exercise surreptitious power over individuals holding the highest offices of the land.

A broader hybrid of authoritative and surreptitious leadership involves authoritative sources or counselors that surreptitiously lead. The archetypes for this are: 1) the viziers or ministers who counsel, and are the real power behind, sultans and kings; and 2) the philosophers whose ideas are employed by authoritative leaders. Examples of the latter (sometimes called “opinion leaders”) are the 17th and 18th century Enlightenment philosophes whose ideas informed both the “Enlightened Monarchs” and the revolutionary leaders of the late 18th century, and the 19th century American transcendentalist philosopher Henry David Thoreau, whose ideas informed both Gandhi and King.

The best leaders combine elements of all forms of leadership -mobilized in service to the innovation, selection, diffusion, and implementation of ideas- not necessarily by occupying every role, but by recognizing and mobilizing every role, channeling their forces and orchestrating rippling transformations which serve the purpose to which their leadership is dedicated.

And so leaders of all kinds -the three varieties of authoritative leaders, and the various forms of surreptitious leaders- are nodes in our dynamical social networks through which memes are collected, synthesized, refined, disseminated, and employed. In The Fractal Geometry of Social Change, they are intensifiers, nodes at which the described dynamic is invogorated according to the wills of those occupying those nodes. Their leadership can be more local or more global, broader or narrower (i.e., affecting broader or narrower ranges of “colors” in The Fractal Geometry of Social Change), more or less salient (i.e., establishing lasting and significant change, or created mere momentary ripples).

Whether authoritative or surreptitious, or some hybrid of the two; whether innovative or derivative; whether more global or more local; whether broader or narrower; leadership is about facilitating change. It is less about the person who occupies the role than how they affect the patterns into which they have effectively tapped (though, of course, the person who effectively taps into those patterns is honored and admired, or reviled, depending on for what purpose and to what effect). The best leaders are focused not on themselves, on their own desires or beliefs or self-glorification, but rather on the world around them, the people they are tryng to influence, the ideas with which they are working, the currents of history they are attempting to navigate. Leadership is more about conducting than commanding, inspiring than imposing. It is not, as we often think, the placing of oneself above others, but rather the immersion of oneself into the system composed of others, in order to affect that system most profoundly.