Archive for the ‘Inner Leader’ Category

Leadership Leather!

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

I was going to post about my unsuccessful attempts to break in some new and ‘to die for’ shoes which are just a bit too small and cramp my toes.  I was going to use that as a metaphor for leaders who are themselves just a bit too small and, however much you try to stretch them, their ‘leather’ just won’t give.

Then it struck me like lightning that maybe the topic was about something I should be asking  myself…

“Where am I cramped?  Where is my leadership leather resisting a stretch?”

Looks like I stumbled on rich questions.  They’re marinading as I type and I’ll get back to you when they’re well and truly cooked.  In the meantime…

How about you???

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Three Essential Steps To Fierce Leadership

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Fierce is a word which gets bad press.  Look it up in any dictionary and you’ll get meanings like violently aggressive or frightening, unpleasantly strong or intense.

Yet ‘fierce’ is the heart of passion and, without fierce leadership, inner or outer, you cannot do the not do-able, you cannot speak the unspeakable… and that’s no leadership at all.

Correction!  Without fierceness, I cannot do the not do-able.  I cannot speak the unspeakable.

And my heart screeches to break free.  I’m a maverick for god’s sake!  I always have been… yet there are times when I truss myself up for fear of not being acceptable, of being ‘too much’.  And so might you.

In leadership, being ‘too much’ is exactly what’s required sometimes.  What would the human race have missed through the absence of Galileo, Einstein, Edith Sitwell and Rosa Parks.  And if you don’t know who those women were, go look them up.  They also carried fierceness in their breasts… as do you and I.

At other times in leadership, being ‘too much’ could be inappropriate and destuctive… but you and I betray ourselves if we use that  fear to gag and disempower our self.  There is a truth in it so far as anything can be used for good or evil… but it’s not the truth.

Sometimes, I get told it is the truth, that I am ‘too much’, by people who don’t want to hear my challenges.  No surprise… because I’m not here to be quiet.  I’m not here to let you get away with the small version of you with which you can fool yourself.  Just as I’m not willing to accept my own self-deception.

To pay you the respect you deserve, I first have to do that for myself!

So,  if you don’t want to work deeply and at a pace, don’t work with me.  Find a different kind of facilitator because…

I’m fierce!

Both in the gentleness of support and love in which I’ll hold you and in my unwillingness to collude with your small self… my unwillingness to collude with the internal gremlins which trick you, the trances into which you fall asleep and the stories you weave to keep yourself there.  All of which is but a loving echo of my unwillingness to collude with my own.

Tears are flowing through my eyes now as I type BE FIERCE!… I’m passionate for you to be a fierce leader for yourself and others!  To be that kind of a leader in a world needing you and I to step up, speak out and take action.

Three essential steps…

1.   Absolutely take on board that you have the potential to do harm as well as good with fierce leadership.

2.   Sharpen the senses and skills of your discernment so as to be able to distinguish the quality of your action for good rather than harm.

3.   Regularly sit in that ‘dynamo of silence‘ I wrote of in my last ezine.  That dynamo of silence which fuels and inspires your discernment and your leadership.

Then, go be a fierce leader.  Go do fierce leadership.  And embody it boisterously or gently… however  you choose!


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’?

What’s Leadership Got To Do With It?

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

My daughter has Crohn’s, an inflammatory bowel disease for which there’s no cure.  She’s had 2 major operations, the second in 2008 hospitalised her for 8 weeks.  Crohn’s is no joke.

Within the last 2.5 weeks she’s had 2 minor operations, ‘day’ surgery, 10 days’ apart.  The second didn’t turn out as well as hoped leaving her with a technological intervention, unable to sit for more than a few minutes without pain.  And there’s another mini-op in a further 8 weeks to complete the process.  I won’t go into the gory details.

At first she ranted and railed against her situation, wanting a reversal of what had been done now.  I don’t want this!

Fortunately, she’s sufficiently worked on her own Inner Leadership to consciously know she was in denial.  That didn’t assuage the emotional upset, her plumetting mood or the the desire not to have ‘this’ but she was totally aware of what was going on inside herself.

The worst thing to do at such times is tell someone to look on the bright side.  The best thing to do is to acknowledge…  This is crap!  Validating the reality of a situation is the most authentic and wisest thing to do to enable recovery. It enables resolution and solution thinking.

And it also creates the space for ‘tough love’ discussions!

To act at effect or cause? She could limp along in ‘victim’ mode enduring the situation, depressed and constantly needing ‘help’.  Or she could take charge, adapt however temporarily, find ways to incorporate her difficulties creatively in her life… and move forward into a more productive and enjoyable stage.

This includes allowing time for tears if need be.  Allowing vulnerability to be present as a support for strength.  The strength of the bullrush which recovers from a hurricane rather than the oak which is felled.

Reconnecting with her Purpose, currently manifesting as great motherhood with 4 months’ old Naomi, her Passion for the health of her own little family, including husband, and her Power to be a creative force in the world… Guess which option she chose!

I’m so proud of her.  No Polyanna cover up job, she acknowledged and stayed conscious of what was going on.  She explored options with some ‘tough love’ input to move the situation forward.  She made choices and took appropriate action for her good and the greater good, mindful of the wellbeing of herself and others.

What’s Leadership got to do with it?… Everything!

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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?

Do Less And Be More

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Less is more!

A great maxim I learned over and over in my trainings as a psychotherapist, coach and trainer. Get out of your own way and you get out of your client’s or group’s way.  It’s all about them, not you.

Unless, of course, you want to be the sort of leader who acts like the worst kind of guru or super star.  Showmanship, power trip and little substance.

Having set the vision and outlined the outcome, trust your ‘group’ to achieve it.  Be available for consultation where needed and, when it is, be a coach. It’s not an opportunity to show how clever you are.  It’s an opportunity to be of service.  To help your people  expand  their abilities and their own Inner Leadership.

Unless, of course, you want to be the sort of leader who gets their rocks off with control and power over others.  The sort of leader who constantly interferes, disables their people and creates dependance on themself as leader.  ‘They need me!’  Who says???

Create clear and wholesome relationship which offers potential for others to respond similarly.  Act unselfishly and they’ll respond by simply doing what it is that needs to be done.

Unless, of course, you want to be the sort of leader who manipulates rather than influences.  The kind of leader who’s always got a hidden agenda.  The kind of leader who’s always out for ‘what’s in it for me?’

Personal development is essential for good leadership.

The ability to lead yourself, to make choices about who you are and how you behave is essential for good leadership.  The ability to disable your historic behavioural reactions, narcissistic needs and the dramas they create is essential for good leadership.

Good leadership is always, always about doing less and being more!


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?

Revelational Leadership?

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

The rush of the festive season can have us gasp with all we ‘have to’ do and then collapse on the 25th when really it’s a day to celebrate new life.  While I respect those for whom the traditional meaning of Christmas is sacred, I’m talking about another aspect of sacredness which applies specifically to you.

Your self!

It’s that ‘self’ within which calls you through fair means or foul, any whichway it can, to pay attention to yourself and how you’re being in the world.  The purpose of that?  To learn how to improve yourself; a metaphorical new birth of how you are and how you operate as a human being… which of itself defines the quality of your leadership!

It’s that ‘self’ within which urges, prods and even demands through kicking the door down that you ‘grow’ yourself through developing and refining your Inner Leadership.

As a leader THAT is your sacred work!  A sacred response-ability to the people you serve, the communities you serve, the organisations you serve… and oh so importantly to yourself.

So take some quietness in the hub-bub of the season to ask…

In what ways can I improve my leadership for 2010?

The logical ya-di-ya-di-ya answers usually come first.  While, of couse, they have value… you knew them anyway.  So keep making notes until you get what might seem biazarre or nonsensical ones.  They hold all the juice!

Then put your answers out of sight and let your Inner Leader get on with the job of clarification.  Go back to your notes at least 7 days later and be surprised and delighted by what you discover.

Wishing you the most inspirational and revelational festive season…

Much richness to you!


Let’s hear it for untrustworthy leaders!

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

The deepest essence of  leadership is Inner Leadership.  Logic tells me that no Inner Leadership means no followers.  But I’ve known some seriously untrustworthy leaders with generous followings.  So, how on earth do they do that?

Suddenly, thinking of Inner Leadership, I realised naive superb me had been seeing through her idealistic glasses again!  It was obvious why untrustworthy leaders can have generous followings.

Firstly, ‘presence’ is the stuff of leaders while charisma is the stuff of ‘gurus’ and ‘superstars’… who also have followers.

No surprises then that the untrustworthy leaders of whom I’m aware absolutely excel at doing charisma.  They’re very, very, very affable.  They’re so good at consciously creating high levels of rapport that they’re almost ‘snake oil salesmen’… convincing to the point of ludicrousness.

Secondly, I’ve followed untrustworthy leaders myself  in the past, one over many years.  And, guess what?  I did so for my learning!

I found out exactly how it felt to be on the receiving end of untrustworthy leadership.  When reality dawned, it wasn’t a pleasant experience or one I wanted to ever inflict on anyone else.

Plus those untrustworthy leaders mirrored back to me my own untrustworthiness, my own ability for ‘snake oil’ salesmanship.  I discovered my own superifical ‘guru/superstar’ and the part of me who could shaft other people  in the name of self-preservation and success.

Happily, being aware of your personality ‘parts’ can bring you freedom from them.  Only when you can identify with a part can you then learn to dis-identify from it; to have mastery/mistressy over it rather than it being in charge of and running you.

So I feel much gratitude for the untrustworthy leaders I followed.  I am thankful for their pivotal role in my growth as a human being as well as a leader; for their contribution to my own Inner Leadership.

And, as well as learning from trustworthy leaders, here’s a big ‘Yayyyy’ for their opposites, the untrustworthy ones and all they can teach us… however challenging that might be.