Posts Tagged ‘commitment’

‘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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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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