LILA ~ Learning Innovations Laboratory at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

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Leadership as Possibility-ship

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Dr. Nicolaides introduced the concept of “generative knowing,” defining it as away of being and becoming that creatively activates potential and restores many rhythms of learning. This concept can serve as a bridge to a fundamental query: Why are we continuing to meet the moment as if stability exists? This question emphasizes the importance of responding to complexity
and creating conditions for emergence. This means not simply adapting to change or difference, but actively engaging with it.

Dr. Nicolaides imagines leadership as submersion, where organizations must compost elements of the past to facilitate growth and transformation. Submersive leadership can shift our focus from solvingproblems to cultivating conditions for generative learning, thus underscoring the value of sensing and responsiveness. In order to embark on this fundamental shift, she suggested that leaders embrace vulnerability. Why? Vulnerability is the window to connection, and connection lays the path to transformation. Vulnerability can act as a catalyst for systems change, creating space for creativity and transformation.

Generative knowing is akin to the process of cultivating the capacity to see through structures, knowing that they have become little more than what is expected of them. We can work on developing a practice that supports a wholly new way of understanding and shaping the world we live in.

What is leadership that creates conditions for generativity look like? What if leadership was called possibility-ship? If my role as a leader is to create the best conditions for you to learn and grow and make a difference in the system, then as a leader, I’m creating possibilities.  



Harvard Graduate School of Education