Archive for March, 2010

Vandals and Leadership?

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

I recently stayed at the largest Quaker study centre in Europe based in the UK,Woodbrooke. I go there periodically to nourish body feelings mind and soul.  And, this time, to also complete the first edit of my book about purpose, passion and power at work.

Unfortunately, they have an occasional problem with vandals.  The Grade 2 listed Georgian mansion and adjacent buildings are kept secure with a tight system of key cards, identity badges and reminders to close outside doors tightly behind you.  But the grounds are a magnet for marauding youngsters.

10 acres of organic gardens, wild woodland and a lake are a call to adventure.  Sadly, though, produce has been vandalised in the walled kitchen garden, equipment broken and trees and plants  attacked by youngsters with less than adventure on their minds.

Yet… no CCTV and no security guards. And when I enquired how they deal with the vandals, I was told firmly, “When we catch up with them, we talk with them.”  Apparently, they approach the youngsters unthreateningly and explain to them the purpose of the place and, with respect, ask for respect in return.

What effect might that approach have had on pre-empting the banking crisis.  Having vigilant human beings to provide good governance rather than programmed technology supposed to pick up anamolies and ‘vandals’ but which didn’t.

Does the Quaker system work?  I don’t know… but the vandalism is cyclic and so likely to be carried out by different youngsters over time.

What I do know is Woodbrooke people show leadership totally congruent with their model of the world, their values and beliefs.  They live leadership in the power of right relationship with themselves and others, straight communication, negotiation… and modelling how human beings with Inner Leadership can behave.

I call that leadership at the cutting edge of humanity.

And who knows what ‘cutting edge of humanity’ leadership might do for dealing with the ‘vandals’ in your business, in your organisation… and your life?


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Leadership in Retreat?

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

I read a lot about leaders needing to be proactive, set the vision, support and develop their ‘followers’.  Sometimes the literature makes the leader sound like a benevolent version of the old patriarchal order, though ‘serving’ rather than sounding off.

However, the wise leader knows when to retreat.  She knows when to let those she holds get on with things without her intervention.  She knows when she’s screwed up and that ‘fessing up is the ethical and ecological thing to do… a very wise retreat!

She also knows when to withdraw to nourish her body, feelings, mind and creative energy.

This leader’s taking her own advice, leaving for 7 days withdrawal from my normal world.  Ostensibly it’s to complete the first edit of my upcoming book.  But it’s also for woodland, lake, quietness and warm company, palpable history which touches my soul… and great food!

When’s the last time you served yourself with a leadership ‘retreat’?