Posts Tagged ‘Leader’

‘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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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!


Language of Leadership

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Words are symbols for the energy they carry.

Experiment with this…

Think of the word ‘anxious’ and say it over to yourself a few times in your mind.  Notice how you feel.  Wriggle your body a bit to get rid of that experience.  When you have, think of the word ‘peace’ or ‘love’ or ‘joy’ and say that one over and over a few times in your mind.  Notice how you feel now… and keep that experience.

Note to self: Remember at all times that the words I use are symbols for the energy they carry.

Remain mindful… From the boardroom to the bedroom, from the meeting to the marquee, from the networking event to the netball game, from the business dinner to the baby shower.

Anywhere everywhere at all times, the words I use are powerful symbols for the energy they carry… and the energy I convey!


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!


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!