Time for the Hedgewitch

Back in the dark ages, the Hedgewitch (normally but not necessarily a woman) lived on the edge of the village. She occupied the space between the known and the unknown, and was revered and feared because of her understanding of both sides of the hedge -and in particular the natural world beyond it. The space she occupied was deemed “magic” because those in the village, inside the hedge, did not understand how she did what she did. Witchcraft, of course, did not go down well with the establishment.

I think that today, we are perhaps seeing the emergence of the contemporary hedgewitch. Multi skilled people of independent mind and who understand how systems work and are not in thrall to positions in hierarchies. Often as skilled in coding as they are steeped in philosophy, they have the mindset of a hacker. Craftspeople whose commitment is to their craft and clients more than their employer, and whose motivation is to make what they produce more effective in the long term rather than to maximise its short term profitability.

Sunset businesses fear the witchcraft of hedgewitches because they call out those carefully crafted but insufficient stories designed to pacify shareholders and other stakeholders, including employees. They have the capability to disrupt the status quo by linking to other hedgewitches and generating start ups. Social media gives them platforms.

They may exasparate the Sunrise organisations they migrate to as much as they empower them. They are difficult to manage. They have opinions. But they have unique skills and connections. They change games.

Sunset leaders rely on levers of power, influence, reward and punishment to generate convenient compliance. Sunrise leaders command respect through their own skills, an ability to empathise and provide the settings and cause for the hedgewitch to exercise their curiosity.

Given what we are going to continue to go through in the next years, every leadership team needs a hedgewitch. The hassle of managing them is as nothing to the blindness of being without them.

There is a hedgewitch in all of us.

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