I’m going to take a break from the series I’ve been writing for the last few posts. It’s not that I’m getting bored with it, but rather that I’ve had another realisation after attended another Servant Leadership course. And here it is.
The 2 models that are contrasted in Servant Leadership are unilateral vs mutual learning. The key word for me in that is learning. It feels to me that the unilateral model doesn’t allow the individual to learn from others. Their position is right and everyone else is wrong. Perhaps there is some learning involved, but it certainly isn’t done willingly. Rather, it is more likely a forced learning.
Mutual learning believes that there isn’t a right or wrong, but rather differences that can help us understand the world better. When we are presented with someone else’s perspective we have the opportunity to grow and integrate that perspective into our own. This is a learning experience.
What’s fascinating for me is that these 2 a completely different mindsets. They represent fundamentally different ways of viewing the world. When I’m unilateral, I have an anxious, closed view of the world. There are clear boundaries around me. I have a view of how things are and how I want them to be. These views and perspectives are within my boundaries. Anyone else’s views are outside the boundaries and in order for me to feel safe within my boundaries, I have to see your perspectives as ‘wrong’. This creates distance between us. This reinforces the ‘us’ vs ‘them’.
When I’m mutual learning, I’m filled with an open sense of curiosity. I want to know more about you. I see the things I know as simply a small part of a much bigger whole. The things I know or have experienced are the edges of my boundaries and I feel a hunger to stretch those boundaries further and further, to learn more, experience more and bring that into a more fuller ‘me’. With this mindset, every interaction is an opportunity to learn more, become more, experience more.
Unilateral values the finite. It’s a scarcity mindset. Mutual learning celebrates the infinite. It revels in abundance.
Which do you choose?