The Network Society is a Disruptive Society


Today’s networked society is a hyper-connected society and one of its main impacts is constant disruption.   The Network Society doesn’t just disrupt business with new technological innovations,  it disrupts almost every aspect of our lives; our politics, how wars are fought, how we parent our children and how we communicate and relate with each other.  Our subjectivity is being disrupted in ways we are discovering as we go. What will be the impact of constant connectedness, of having our children tethered to parents with their mobile technology.   Non-binary is a term being used for the disruption of ‘normative’ gender expectations, it relates to gender-expansive identities that are neither male nor female, and it is no co-incidence that the latest disruptions in computing (Quantum computing) are also about getting beyond the binary limitations of existing computor technology (see   ‘The baker makes the bread and the bread makes the baker’, technology is not just new tools for us to use, new technologies shape us and our societies  and always have done.  Today’s advances are exceptional because of the speed of change that is occurring, and because of the inter-connectedness of change which is emergent, i.e. we don’t know what the connectivity will produce or change, we can only experience it and be vigilant to see it when it happens.     In essence the Network Society is a disruptive society, it disrupts our normative ‘ways-of-being-in-the-world’.   Learning to balance ourselves in the midst of being thrown off-balance in these turbulent times is becoming a vital life-skill.   We are being forced to learn and adapt quickly to navigate through our hyper-change and hyper-choice society, to resist and manage the seductions and coercive pulls in different directions.  We have to walk the high-wire each day, sustaining a sense of balance in order to live emotional, physical and psychological healthy selves.

Leadership in this context is becoming ever-more challenging, and leaders need coaching to support them, and coaching skills to develop their skills and capacity to balance on the daily high-wire of emotional, cognitive and task demands that constantly disrupt their existing ‘normal’ ways of doing things.

What do leaders require to stay balanced gracefully on the high-wire without falling in this turbulent and disruptive environment?  

1) Depth: a depth understanding of the self that grounds them and gives a clear sense of purpose to guide them in turbulent waters.

2) Relationships:  the capacity to build trusting and strong relationships with others- to get the very best from their teams and colleagues and to get the support they need.

3) Leadership: to discover and develop their unique leadership capacity (not to fit to a list of static competencies) and to inspire others to lead, ensuring leadership is distributed widely.

4) Networks:  an understanding how to influence change in the network society. This means identifying and working to influence nodes and clusters (where informal power resides) rather than aim for top-down change initiatives.

5) Strategy:  in the face of short-term demands, to maintain a strategic mindset and be  capable of seeing the big picture and working with emergent.  Doing this under pressure and managing change  ‘in the face of anxiety’ is about managing ones own and others disrupted subjectivity.

Analytic-Network Coaching works with the five frames above to support and develop new leaders for new times. Our experience of working with senior leaders reveals to us the need for coaches and managers to work with individuals in the context of the network society and how it disrupts them and their teams.   They often develop coping mechanisms to get by, which may be healthy but are often costly to themselves, others and to the work they do.   What is important is to help them connect their deep emotional and unconscious responses, to the contexts they work and live in.   Different possibilities and creative responses emerge when these connections are made.

Our next 3 day training programme is in London in September, it is for coaches and managers with coaching roles, to work on the issues raised above.   See the flyer below and contact Simon for any queries.

The Author

Dr Simon Western is

CEO of Analytic-Network Coaching

Adjunct Professor at University College Dublin

President-Elect at the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations (ISPSO)

He has authored two books with Sage publishers and is writing a new book on Global Leadership to be published later this year.

Leadership a critical text 2nd Ed

Coaching and Mentoring a critical text,

Contact            Twitter @simonwestern


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