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Goodbye to the left vs right way in politics and beyond

Given Prime Minister Morrison has called an election for May 18, I thought it timely to share with my readers an idea that’s gaining momentum that suggests that the old vertical axis of Left vs Right in politics and in many other fields of endeavour as well, is being replaced by a horizontal axis of Open vs Closed.


I first read about this idea in a blog written in November last year by Otto Scharmer – a senior Lecturer at MIT and Co-founder of the Presencing Institute – called Axial Shift: The Decline of Trump, the Rise of the Greens, and the New Coordinates of Societal Change.


Scharmer argues that this axial shift is happening in economics and education as well as in politics. For example, in economics the debate has shifted from government (left) vs. markets (right), to more GDP (closed) vs. well-being (open); and in education the debate of public (left) vs. private (right) is shifting to memorizing old knowledge (closed) vs. whole child, whole systems learning (open).


Scharmer writes that it’s in local communities where there’s the most evidence of the upper open end of the vertical axis growing and blossoming. An example to illustrate this in action is the Lock the Gate movement. This was established to stop mining companies from entering private land to search for coal seam gas. Environmental activists, with the active support of many farmers (two groups traditionally seen as being at the opposite ends of the left vs. right horizontal axis), have banded together to protest against prospecting for coal seam gas and the fracking that often accompanies extraction of the gas. Lock the Gate has had considerable success in many regions of Australia.

And why have I quoted Scharmer in this my AnD Leadership Consulting blog? Because we at AnD are passionate about leadership – not only the knowing and the doing, but also the being of effective leadership – and a shift to the open end of the vertical axis described by Scharmer will require courageous leadership in the fields of politics, economics, the environment and education.


If you need support as you make this shift in your leadership style, contact Kate at [email protected] about AnD’s Leadership Coaching service.

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