The Ability to Predict
By Marc van der Erve

insights-smallA new insight into leadership and organization is revealed in Marc van der Erve’s recent book, A New Leadership Ethos. We would like to share his theory with you, one that is based right on the edge of the natural and social sciences.

Dr. van der Erve writes that the role of leaders is not to “define” or “direct” an organization, but to breed and sustain an organizational awareness that allows the organization to improve on its own functioning and emergence. He believes that in the pursuit of a new leadership ethos, it is crucial to explore the bare phenomena of organization first — as the emergence of organization is determined by the underlying phenomena.

Phenomena of “organization,” Dr. van der Erve states, appear both in the social sciences and in the natural sciences. And by investigating cases in the natural sciences (for instance, how flames, snowflakes or convection cells emerge), one arrives at a more profound insight into the emergence of organization in its broadest sense — simply because a leader is absent in these examples in nature.

Thus, by comparing the emergence of organization in the world of the social sciences to the emergence of organization in the leaderless world of the natural sciences, the net-effect of leaders comes into focus.

Dr. van der Erve observes how harmonious action determines organization — as an example in nature, the successful migration of a flock of birds in a V-formation.

He describes how forms of organization emerge spontaneously to minimize inequalities in the environment — such as temperature, market or human inequalities.

In examining how these organizations arise spontaneously to minimize such inequalities, Dr. van der Erve examines anew the real role of leaders in business or in politics, in corporations or in nation states.

Dr. van der Erve concludes that the role of the leader is to create awareness so that the organization can continue to emerge, improve and re-emerge — and, that, in focusing on the cycles of an organization, one can predict what type of leader will emerge for the organization’s next stage of growth.



Marc van der Erve specializes in leadership conflict management for corporations and governments and is frequently invited to address diverse audiences on his expertise in organizational and leadership behavior. He was born and educated in The Netherlands and holds a BS in Applied Physics cum laude and a PhD in Sociology from Tilburg University. He currently resides in Belgium and in South Africa. An author of eight books, Dr. van der Erve has recently completed the first two books of a trilogy on the transformation of leadership.