Leadingship by Arnold Timmerman-Free chapters

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Readers’ comments:

‘In this global economy, in a time of transparency, people have low-tolerance for old school ways that are no longer relevant. I consider this book essential reading for conscious, passionate people who intend to make a positive difference through their work.’ ~ Marilyn Suttle, Founder and President of Suttle Enterprises LLC

‘I am blown away by this book. For some reason most books on leadership leave me a bit bored, but this one speaks to my heart and soul. I love the recognition that Arnold brings that we are all leaders and also followers, and its often more about tuning in to the flow of shifting from one state to another that allows us to be authentic, sharing our wisdom. From this space we can bring our true gifts and qualities to the table when they are most valuable.’ ~ Francesca Cassini, UK, Producer at At The Crossroads Movie Ltd

‘This book speaks with the same intensity with which the author listens to you. An absolute must-read!’ ~ Jan Cramer, BOLD Interim Professionals& Executive Search

‘Leadingship is an idea that totally resonates with these complex times. We need co-intelligence way more than we need bright individuals. We do not need to share power but to truly empower all players. We do not need followers but co-leaders. I highly recommend this book.’ ~ Jan Bommerez, U.S.A, International speaker, coach, author of bestselling business books

‘Arnold Timmerman’s book issues a challenging invitation to find the leader within you. Instead of pat prescriptions, he invites you to enquire deeply about what your own direct experience has taught you – and to question your assumptions. He asks searching questions about whether responsibility and being in charge become comfort-zones for leaders that stop them from meeting the greater challenge of leading from intuition and inner wisdom.’ ~ Dr. Heather Grabbe, Executive Director of the Open Society Institute Brussels and Director of EU Affairs for the Soros network

‘This book really gets to the core of the essential ingredients to great leadership: authenticity and passion! Arnold strips away at all other and more superficial qualities of leadership and gets to the heart of what really matters: truth. It is my sincere hope that leaders from all walks of life will discover this paradigm shifting “leadingship” perspective and have the courage to consider how they could explore some of the leadingship concepts for themselves, their teams and their organizations. Not an easy task but one that I suspect will become a necessity as more and more leaders are denounced for their ego driven and unconscionable actions. This book will surely guide anyone interested or even just curious about transforming their perspective on leadership from the inside out!’ ~ Nathalie Ménard, Canada, Principal Consultant and Coach, Sofie Consulting Inc.

‘This stuff is so strong, that if you could eat or inhale it, it would probably be illegal:-)’ ~ Ofer Eyal, Israel, Product Manager Freescale Semiconductor, business coach

‘I found the experience of it enlivening, inspiring and exciting. For me this book points to a way of being in the world that is not only deeply enriching and transformative but also the master key to creating a sustainable, enlightened future for all. Thats why this body of work is so important and of its time.’ ~ Dr. Mark Atkinson, U.K. , author of The Mind Body Bible, True Happiness: Emotional Health and others.

‘I read this inspiring book in one sitting. Timmerman has a simple way to write using his own experiences, which allows the reader to grasp the essence of each chapter, then invites them to explore it for themselves through self enquiry. It makes for an interesting read and a challenging exercise in developing your own power, through authenticity and leading skills you would never expect.’ ~ Valerie Hayes, U.K., International events co-ordinator

‘Brilliant read and an excellent pointer for leadership.’ ~ Paul Davies, Spain, ex-diplomat, Conscious Leadership Coach

‘Wow, this is an announcement to the world!’ ~ Irit Lifshitz, Israel, Independent business consultant & events manager

‘Leadingship by Arnold Timmerman taps into the dynamics of leading and being led, and how that synchronistic tango creates the successful characteristics of a true leader. This means when you have the ability to let go of control, when you need to, it exposes the true leader within each of us. He takes you on a journey of examination and enlightenment so that within you, you can choose what type of leader and follower you are.’ ~ Tracy Repchuk, Internet Marketing and Social Media Strategist Bestselling Author of 31 Days to Millionaire Marketing Miracles

Exploring the essence of leadership dynamics

If authenticity and passion were in charge…
If leading and following were non-personal…
who would you be?



1. 7 Billion leaders, 7 billion followers
2. Authenticity vs copy paste
3. Passion: the emotional compass


4. The feared unknown
5. Being in charge
6. Responsibility


7. Communication
8. Filters
9. Leadership language



The word ‘leadingship’ is not new. It was just new in 2009 to this leadership seeker. After two decades of trying out highly recommended and researched versions of leadership, I started exploring what personal leadership qualities were already available within me. In all honesty, I was hoping to come across a unique selling point, something that would make me stand out as a leader amongst many people. Instead, this ego-driven treasure hunt led me to the experience of leadingship – non-personal, bigger than me, neutral, very dynamic, outrageously inspiring. This seemed to leave no space for the known vertical, rigid, hierarchical versions of any controlling or serving leadership. A horizontal, fluid dynamic of leading and following could take its place. Wow! It ‘had’ to be tested, it ‘had’ to be shared!

Even though life seemed to ‘pull’ me into a new and very exciting direction, I was still too much in love with some perceived comfort and security. So instead of surrendering to that pull, I found myself complying with the structures of the known. It felt safer to go with other people’s ideas on leadership and organisational structures – for they seemed to be refreshing and paradigm breaking enough themselves. A time of compromise started. I worked with a new yet conformational form of leadership; it was exciting because of the platform it created and the response it received, but it still felt somewhat half-baked.

It was time to get real. I could feel it and it was as if I could hear it loud and clear: ‘Compliance is false. Settling for the pseudo-comforts of the known just delays what wants to be born anyway. It is time to surrender to the wish of the true and authentic self. Only that can add growth to this planet, its people, organisations… life itself. Only that will be worth following.’ The little voice in the back of my mind was blessed with a clear whisper.

And this is what the voice (and pen) started adding to it: ‘Nothing out there can change politics, people’s way of thinking or behaving. No books, ideologies, leadership seminars, master coaches… The real solutions to radical change are within each and every one of us. They are within you. It’s you that you have been waiting for. It always has been you. This is not a concept. It becomes real when you have the courage to pause, look within and find the passionate fire that wants to burn away the shackles from your imprisoned authentic you. Take down your masks of belonging, pleasing, controlling. Address the fears that keep any masks in place, the fears that keep you encaged in your comfort zone. Then inquire what makes your heart tick, what gives you that childlike excitement. That which feels alive is the door to true passion and purpose. Anything less is a compromise, a settling for ways of the known. This is dead. Live and experience the passion, and leadership comes alive. People ‘have to’ follow. Passionate expression of the true authentic self is contagious.’

There was no way around it. I just ‘had to’ stop, listen, and take action. It was time to explore leadingship.

Chapter 1: 7 Billion leaders, 7 billion followers

7 Billion unique people and you think that only a small percentage has true leadership qualities? Think again!

7 Billion unique people and you think your IQ, EQ, skin colour, physical strength, heritage, gender, money, religion or spiritual experience gives you the unique right to a leadership position? Think again!

Science seems to point out how we are all essentially built of the same energy, matter and space. We should therefore all be individuals led and fed by the same universal principles. So how can there only be a select few with the ‘right’ mix of qualities to lead? And why is it that most of us are looking up to these few people to direct our lives, to shape our destiny?

Interesting questions, aren’t they?

This is what seems to take place over and over again. We feel inspired by some people; we start to aspire the qualities and actions that we admire in them. We call it charismatic, inspirational, servant, integrative, authentic, conscious, intuitive or even spiritual leadership. And we conceptualise it as the one true leadership that can be taught and learned.

But this immediately raises another question: If there was such a thing as the one true leadership, don’t you think we would have stopped looking for newer and better versions of leadership by now? It should have taken care of all the challenges the world is being faced by on a political, economic, social and environmental level.

We also seem to have decided that the one true version of leadership is only available to a minority of people with the ‘right’ background, intelligence, skills and experience. And the majority submits to this. Until this moment, leadership known to mankind has been based on a majority looking at a ‘higher ranked’ minority to lead the way. So even though we all have access to unique and inspiring qualities, we attribute more meaning to a minority who has decided to express them.

We just seem to be staring in the wrong direction!

What makes us decide to follow someone’s lead? We feel inspired by that person’s action or words. Yet, not just any action or words inspire us. There must be some form of conscious or subconscious recognition of it. We need to have a certain reference to it so that it can resonate within. If there are no seeds in the soil, we can add sunlight, water and fertiliser to it, but nothing will grow.

When someone inspires us by the passionate expression of their authentic genius, it feels like he or she is speaking to some latent part in us, something that we recognise to be true. ‘Recognise’ comes from the Latin word ‘recognare’. ‘Re’ means ‘again’, ‘cognare’ means ‘knowing’. You just know it again i.e. you already know it. This true unique genius is part of you, otherwise it couldn’t be recognised.

So why would you decide that the expression of your authentic genius is less than anyone else’s? Who are you to say no to your innate qualities that want to be used by life? What gives you the right to squander any possible inspiration that can be born through you?

We live in a fantastic world that offers everything for everyone. Whatever you want to do or create, there are the means to do it. Why wait? Tomorrow might not happen – your heart can stop beating, a tsunami or earthquake might strike… Instead of settling for some compromised version of you, there is a great opportunity to let you, your family, friends, colleagues, organisation and even the world benefit from your unique qualities right now.

You are one of 7 billion leaders.

You are one of 7 billion followers.

2003, Rotterdam. Musical artist Prince performs in a sold-out Ahoy. After about 45 minutes of stunning entertainment and high quality music, Prince asks the crowd: ‘Whom of you is a leader?’ Everyone raises their hand screaming ‘me!’ Prince chuckles, slightly confused. This apparently wasn’t the response he anticipated. Tentatively he approaches the microphone again and says: ‘So who will follow me?’ He touched on the essential element of following.

Some of us might recognise the innate authentic potential within. Some of us might even decide to express it in a passionate way because we experience how it inspires others. And then it begins…

This newly born dynamic of leading and following temporarily manoeuvres us in a position of power and admiration often accompanied by a bigger paycheque and a higher status – and we like it. What we like, we want to hold on to. To be more specific: when something makes us feel good, our ego can get attached to it; it wants to maintain the situation that sparked off this good feeling.

Translated to leadership: ego wants to keep the personified leadership alive, by re-establishing the position (with all its material and immaterial benefits) that was spontaneously created in the past. And because it was in the past, it’s dead, it’s no longer here. The only way to hold on to something from the past is by some version of control – which, as history keeps showing us, is a recipe for confusion, friction and misunderstanding.

Unfortunately, more often than not, leadership dynamics seem to get tainted by ego’s appetite for personal gain. Before we know it, our ego has told us that who we are and what we do deserves a leadership position. Only ego can take credit for the unique qualities that come with our birth.

Ask yourself this: if these qualities were ‘given’ to you and their expression make others follow, who or what is really the leader? Only ego can create segmentation and hierarchy between the authentic expressions of individuals. Because: is a German baker’s bread less inspiring than Gandhi’s prayer for truth and non-violence? Is a tear-jerking blockbuster performance by an Oscar winning actor worth more than your baby’s heart-warming smile?

Your unique qualities can only inspire others when these people take time to experience them. This temporary interaction of leading and following is based on the expression AND recognition of unique qualities that are inspiring and appropriate in that moment. No leading without following. As a matter of fact: how can you know leading, if you never follow?

Since my first interest in leadership dynamics I have been experiencing how ego has been the ink in clear water. A leadership dynamic that was born out of a pure, passionate expression of authentic qualities, soon got translated to some repeatable version which had a group of people looking at one person for ongoing inspiration.

On a macro-level it has meant that minorities tried to find ways to stay in the saddle – and reap the benefits that come with it. Meanwhile the majority tried to justify why they are turning to those leaders for answers rather than inquiring what innate authentic qualities could be expressed.

It has never felt sustainable and it seems like the world’s stage for economy, politics and fashionable spirituality is reflecting that more and more.

It’s been the reason for me to stop consuming any version of leadership and let myself jump ‘down the rabbit hole’ of leadingship. So far I have experienced that in leadingship the ego has nothing to cling to. Leading and following play an equally important part. That in itself requires trust in ourselves, in others and in the intelligent force that has created all of us and everything.

Leadingship challenges us to let go of control and to let go of the assumed benefits that might come with traditional leadership. It invites us to leave the idealised concept of the established order and structures behind us. Leadingship cannot be kept to a few particular forms; it’s governed by life itself. Life is change: time moves on, form gets created and dies continuously. So why would leading and following be rigid?

Leadingship knows 7 billion leaders and 7 billion followers who can engage in limitless dynamics of inspiring and being inspired.

Chapter 2: Authenticity versus copy-paste

This is what it all seems to boil down to: any taught and studied version of authentic leadership cannot be authentic. While we copy-paste the studied actions to the situation at hand, we don’t leave room for the authentic response that might be needed.

When we look at leadership at a more basic level, we can only come to the same conclusion. The only thing in life that is constant is change. Therefore our professional and personal environments are subject to change all the time. So how can applying a preconceived version of authentic leadership to any situation be effective or sustainable?

For an effective and sustainable dynamic of leading and following it seems to be required that we allow true authenticity to come out and play. True authenticity feels good. It is simple. And it doesn’t cost a lot of energy. How can it? It is as close as possible to the truth of who we really are. It has no limitations, it appreciates any other reflection of truth and it knows exactly when to lead and when to follow.

Chapter 3: Passion: the emotional compass

And here is the key question. Something in life is triggering passion, and you can feel it. It somehow wakes up the recognition of new opportunities even if you can’t see the actual form yet. You know how you’ve been inspired by leaders who are authentic and passionate about what they do. You’ve experienced how giving expression to the passion inside of you has inspired you and others. Whenever passion comes through the body it seems to be bigger than you, uncontrollable and it just feels good. So why would there, privately or professionally, be any reason to not follow this passion? Why would you deny this opportunity to be led to new horizons and inspire others by it?

Welcoming emotions into the dynamics of leading and following means that we allow energy to come through the body, from which we can only benefit. By doing so we get a clearer sense of what feels good and what doesn’t. Our internal compass leads the way, it tells us each moment whether to sit tight and let others take charge or to step up to the plate and let the authentic qualities that are available in us to be shared.

By saying ‘yes’ to the emotional aspect of our interactions the body will be more prone to passion coming through. This is the uncontrollable, positively overwhelming energy in motion that wants to be reckoned with – it asks us to stop, listen, take action and enjoy. It will feel inspiring to us and will therefore be inspiring to others, pretty much without us having to do anything. Passion is a real head turner, it’s a luring beauty that cannot be overlooked or denied.

Responding to passion can create the most inspiring professional and personal steps in life. It actually makes life very exciting, surprising, effortless, energetic and fun. So why would you not follow it and lead the way?

Chapter 4: The feared unknown

Because we fear the unknown social response, we shy away from the authentic expression of ourselves. Because we fear the unknown situational consequences, we often choose not to trust the passionate intelligent force that creates everything. We don’t allow ourselves to swim downstream and because of that we experience our private and professional life as challenging.

Do you recognise having gone against the grain of authentic action or passion? Did it feel light or did you experience a certain kind of heaviness? Have you also looked for people, organisations and situations that can be blamed for that heaviness? What were the control-driven beliefs and excuses that made you stick with this heaviness rather than moving along with what makes you feel good? ‘The new opportunity might not be for me right now’? ‘I can’t risk losing my income’? ‘Other people have got better qualifications to take up the new challenge’? ‘Someone needs to take responsibility’?…

After a while we have invested so much energy in our current comfort zone that letting go of the reins doesn’t appear to be an option.


Control is never real. How can it be? Control tries to maintain a status quo in life, while life itself is ever changing.

Letting go of the illusion called control means letting in the unknown. Exploring the unknown asks for humility and innocence. It means allowing some playfulness into your interactions. It means that you don’t know whether you will be in the leading or following position the next moment, and the next, and the next… All of a sudden the heavy weight of responsibility fades away and gets replaced by the joy of inspiration, authentic expression and warm passion. It feels good, so it must be worth following. Don’t you think?

Chapter 5: Being in charge

Some of us might understand the illusion of control. However, when alternative words for control come into play, words that are very common in leadership dynamics, our judgement might get clouded. Just think of ‘being in charge’ and ‘responsibility’. Aren’t they considered perfectly acceptable in terms of leadership?

Time to take a closer look, starting with ‘being in charge’.

First of all, we like to believe that we are in charge of our own lives. Whenever I hear this confirmed, my question is: ‘Oh really? So birth happens without you influencing it… but you are in charge? Your body might decide to stop breathing right now or you might get killed in a car accident today… but you are in charge? This year the world might be shaken up by the biggest earthquake ever and millions of lives might be taken… but you are in charge?’

Sure, you might have made a choice and as a consequence something might have occurred. This causality might have been expected based on your previous experience. But can you know it to be true that you had full control over what happened; were you really in charge?


At the time of writing, economic ‘super powers’ are on the verge of bankruptcy. There’s a threat of a second global recession in three years time. Dictatorial governments are being overthrown. Social unrest is showing up in seemingly stable countries. Influential political, economic and sports leaders are publicly accused of corruption and greediness. The world produces enough food to feed everyone but nearly 1 billion people are undernourished. Work-related stress levels are rising in major global economies; millions of working days are lost each year.

If there is a perfect time for a radically new approach to personal and professional leadership dynamics, this could be it.

Throughout history different circumstances have brought forth new leadership concepts. Unfortunately they all seem to have fed the same vertical leadership structure in which an established minority directs the majority. They have offered extra skills, techniques and insights to people in established leadership roles. There was the hope that it would infuse lasting inspiration into something that was no longer viable.

It’s almost as if we built a dam with the wrong material and keep polyfilling the leaking cracks. Perhaps it is time to let nature run its course.

What would happen if we were brave enough to admit that any preconceived, hierarchical, controlled and structured leadership is past its sell-by-date? What would happen if we valued the qualities of every human being enough to allow the natural dynamics of leadingship to emerge?

Chaos? Could be. Once the dam breaks, water will run free and will wash away everything that can’t withstand its natural power. If you fear the uncontrollable unknown that comes with stepping outside the old comfort zone, you might be afraid of this temporary state of chaos. But ask yourself this: what is the alternative? Holding onto the so-called ‘order’ we experience today?

What’s the worst that could happen when every single person uncovers the beauty of their own authentic self, when human potential gets utilised to the max, when true communication and understanding ignites countless inspirational dynamics of leading and following, when the real quality of a leadership dynamic is no longer defined by quantity and appearance?

It might mean the end to structures that we have lived and worked by for a long time. And for some this can be a scary prospect too. I’ve experienced how people fear life and work without structures. I’ve heard professionals speak of the need for structure because they then ‘know’ what to expect. But aren’t expectations fear-driven projections into the future that create a non-sustainable controlled environment? Life happens, with or without our expectations. Life includes death. Life can take away anything that we expect to be there the next day: health, relationships, jobs, companies, governments, countries, nature…

Some say that human beings need recognisable structure in this three-dimensional world to experience anything. A friend of mine used the metaphor of how the structure of a glass contains the water that we’d like to consume. It made me pause; I took time to digest this plausible input. And then it occurred to me: it all depends on the circumstances. If you want water from the tap and the sink is too small for a glass, you can choose to drink straight from the tap or use your hands. Or: you can stick to the idea of using the glass… you might get very thirsty.

There is nothing wrong with structures as such. The question is: are you willing to face the reality; are you willing to admit that no structure is everlasting?

Letting go of our attachment to existing structures could open up a reality that we haven’t been awake to yet.

Just imagine giving up control and saying goodbye to the vertically organised political, economic and social structures of today. Imagine a world of fluent dynamics of leading and following in which flexible collectives of professionals get formed and dissolved according to the needs of the moment, the available individual and collective qualities and intentions.

Wild, isn’t it? Perhaps the body is getting signals of excitement and anticipation. Perhaps fear is kicking in. The mind might jump to questions like ‘how?’ and ‘to what result?’ Or you could experience how it’s quieting down. Whatever the experience, it’s worth welcoming it into your awareness. Who knows what will be born from it, how our own perspective on leadership and organisations will change and what innovative input it might provide to even our current social, economic and political structures? At least it will move our awareness away from the stagnant waters of the old and past. It will open the doors to the ever new and fresh life-stream that can inspire to creation beyond our wildest imaginations.


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