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On Intergenerational Leadership

Intergenerational leadership is a sacred, cyclical, and relational exchange of wisdom and emergent dreaming between elder generations and those arriving into the world.

This isn't just a transfer of authority or role; it’s the natural and organic unfolding of the human story, ensured by the passing down of wisdom and the intimate meeting of the emergent dreaming.

Seeded in the DNA and energy body of each new generation, this dreaming is received and met with reverence by the family, tribe, community, or village as individuals arrive into the world and grow into adulthood.

This is a two-way exchange of wisdom and emergent creation, and it is a functional and dynamic form of community and family relation in all deep listening societies filled with fully grown adults.

It also hints at perhaps the greatest act of leadership of all—the act of dying, or more specifically, surrendering leadership and the direction of the tribe to the emerging generation, and transitioning into a role of Custodianship and Elderhood to support the emerging generation and the dream form that lives within them.

Offering up your shoulders so that the next generation may see further than you could is a manifestation of beautiful leadership and profound humanity.

It is not really woven into the culture of the Western world in these as people age, they aren't in tune with the importance of this ritual of 'passing on leadership'.

It does happen in the world, perhaps the most obvious example, is when the older generation stops hosting events like Christmas and birthdays…and the younger generation begins to host and organise these celebrations.

But for the most part, and in my experience, that's where the handover of family leadership stops, and it only gets picked up again, when the older generation begins to deteriorate into old age and needs to be looked after by the younger generation. AND even then, there's no real embodied understanding of how to acknowledge this transitionary time that is a significant human experience and worth its own right of passage.

Last year, I had a conversation with my mother in which I shared that I had a vision for our families future and I expressed my desire to breathe life into a new dream within our little family tribe.

My mother is a very special matriarchal-esque being, she's very powerful, and in her own way, a devoted woman who was an amazing teacher, principal, and regional leader for many years.

Me bringing this conversation to her didn't go down very well. But it was important that I did bring it forward and have the conversation, and to be honest, it took a bit of courage and a willingness to reveal my heart and put my dream for our family on the table.

I may not have my hands on the reins in my little family, that may never happen, but I am dedicated to bringing the conversations that we need to have to the family/tribe table, to do so as best I can in a grounded and loving way, and I'm really willing to stand in the firing line as I advocated for the dream seed that lives in me as if its a newborn that needs my guardianship.

I know that one day, it will be my turn to offer up my shoulders to the next generation and to custodian them as they bring through a dream that I probably wont be able to fully comprehend. I'm already beginning to do this in subtle ways; by creating time and space and opportunities for eye to eye moments with young and emerging members of my wider communities, who are in their late teens and early 20s.

It's not perfect, and no one ever modelled it to me in a beautiful way, so I’m really just making it up as I go, but in some small way, it feels like an act of real humanity, true love and what leadership actually is.

In some African tribes when a baby is born the tribe gathers around in deep celebration and curiosity - a new dreaming has arrived… this tiny being still red and raw and tender will lead the tribe to all the places they never knew they had to go. This little being will unmake their world… and they are grateful.

~ Matthew


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