Archive for the ‘courageousness’ Category

‘Authentic’ leadership is a load of rubbish!

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

Pleeeeeez!… If it’s genuine why headline it?  It will speak for itself.  You don’t have to do or be certain things to be ‘authentic’.  You just are!  So, with sceptical mind, I went to a conference workshop this week  entitled ‘Developing Authentic Leadership’.

To be honest, I think I went for a fight. I think I went anticipating the same old same old ideas and formulae that I could challenge and kick at.

Ian Roberts from The Thinking Partnership started with a declaration his piece wasn’t in traditional workshop style.  People were free to make comments and ask questions (so could learn from each other anyway) but he wasn’t into a traditional workshop… Or, it transpired, a traditional anything else!

Instead, he launched into several stories which showed how fake most of which goes by the name of authenticity is in our culture.  And how it’s often seen in self leadership as finding your ‘essence’ in a narcissistic way, abandoning relationships, home, work, whatever and looking for some magical fit some mystery somewhere else.

I loved it!  He was talking stuff  in my upcoming book, albeit with a different approach and a different language.  There were a few minor points where I disagreed but, hey, at core, he and I are absolutely on the same wave length,

Some other ‘coaches’ in the large audience most certainly didn’t love it!

They expressed disappointment his ‘workshop’ wasn’t in the traditional formula.  They said they were confused… always a good sign indicating old ideas are breaking down and new ones in the process of forming.

They commented on how his manner had created a negative emotional reaction in them (so much for response-ability!).  They expressed feelings mostly of anger or frustration, some of feeling insulted by his approach.  And some verged on being personally attacking.

Never mind their palpable high levels of anxiety on having their expectations of the workshop and their beliefs about authentic leadership challenged big time!

And, if they didn’t comment, a large number of them just got up and left.

These were coaches!  These were people to whom other people entrust their precious selves for growth.  Yet they couldn’t sit with their own discomfort, dislike, diagreement, inner conflict or whatever else was going on for them.  So, how on earth are they going to be able to sit with that of their clients when at a growing edge???

Found a great quotation from Einstein.  ‘If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.’

Now, I don’t believe there’s one essential truth… Ian was outlining ‘the’ truth from his perspective.  And he wasn’t elegant.  He gave it straight from the shoulder.  He responded to comments and questions, however uncomfortable, very much in the moment, present, standing in his own ground, saying it how it was for him…

He was modelling authentic leadership, what I call Inner Leadership!… Being aware of the other person’s position and feelings, being aware of his own reactions, which he later used as teaching points, and choosing neither to be defiant or compliant about the criticism but to respond honestly in the moment as best he could.

What a fabulous, fabulous opportunity for learning!

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What about the music?

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

The UK’s just crawled out of recession with a whimper.  Davos has just failed to reach consensus.

I keep getting told, due to the crash, there’s been a shift in the ‘doing business paradigm’ towards flattened hierarchies, a collaborative approach, shared responsibility and… I almost want to burst into song!  ‘The hills are alive with the sound of music…’

They might have been alive with the ‘we’re all going to work together more humanely and creatively…’  but I don’t see much evidence of it.  Humans make all kinds of promises when in trouble,  like praying to a god.  Only to renege on those promises when things get better.  A selective ‘forgetting’.

For an old paradigm to be overthrown you have to reach critical mass.  But I’m impatient for the new and hacked off by the seductive pull of the old.

IT ISN’T WORKING ANY MORE!

And what holds us back clutching at the familiar?  A ‘familiar’ outdated and dysfunctional for a world of business moving and vibrating  far faster than we’ve ever known it  before.  What holds us back is our enduring existential fear of change and the unknown!

Fears are there to be worked with creatively.  Name them, face them and then ‘take tea with them'; welcome them into your parlour.  Then and only then can you achieve mistressy of your fears through developing that Inner Leadership.

Then and only then can you creatively inspire, influence, motivate and mobilise yourself, as well as others, to create and BE THE CHANGE … a massive, quadruple win  for business and humanity as a whole.

I’m so riled about the slipping back and reneging on potential.  And that ‘hot’ response tells me there’s work for me to do.  To what music of change and to what fears am I not paying attention?  And to what music of change and what fears aren’t you?

Speak the Unspeakable in 2010!

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Leaders are loved, hated, praised, villified, applauded or condemned by some people some of the time.  Most likely all of the time in different measure.

As a leader, you won’t get to hear the negative stuff spoken behind closed doors or lurking silently on other people’s agendas.  Apart  from the critical missives from brave souls who’ve got the balls or don’t care what you think of them.

Yet it’s absolutely critical you do get to hear the ‘unspeakable’ about yourself.  It guards against grandiosity.  It guards against  complacency.  It guards against it all being about yourself.  So welcome the next constructive criticism or dung throwing as a pre-emptive strike for your professional and personal growth.  It’s world class fodder for developing your Inner Leadership.

And, as a leader, it’s critical YOU speak the unspeakable!  It’s critical for evolution and creative change.  It’s critical for your own credibility.

I’m sick of  UK governmental leaders for their grisly, sickly smiles and political shitck.   Say we screwed up and we’re sorry.  Say our party’s got nothing new to offer and we’re just making it look as if it has.  Where’s their courage to challenge worn out ideas?

I’m sick of the captains of industry, business and banking who pay lip service to social and ecological responsibility.  Say we’re only doing this to look good in the share-holders’ and customers’ eyes… but we don’t give a toss really.  Where’s their heart, soul and common humanity for others, our world and themselves?

Where are the Galileos, the Ghandis, the Darwins?  Where are the Emily Pankhursts, the Edith Sitwells, the Simone de Beauvoirs?  Leaders who in their time and their field spoke the unspeakable whatever the cost.

Where am I in all of this?  And where are you?

Be sharp or die!

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Just read a blog by Mindy Gibbins-Klein ‘Be bold, be opinionated or don’t bother’ And I realised how lazy I’ve got by being ‘busy’ with 28 hour days.  What a great way to keep myself from being sharp and at the edge of my thinking.  What a great way to keep myself safe from being shot down or receiving validation!

There’s no room to grow when a leader plays safe… for others, for the organisation or for their self.  And lack of growth guarantees paralysis, depression and death by atrophy because the market is always moving on.

Definitely time to get off my butt!