"The little I know, I owe to my ignorance."
Sacha Guitry

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Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 300

Estimated reading time:  2.30 minutes


On a flight home last week I watched the movie Tomorrowland  (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1964418/ ) with George Clooney, Britt Robertson and Hugh Laurie. My sister-in-law was on the same flight, coming with my brother on vacation to Vancouver. She had watched the same film and over the course of the next day or so, we had some very interesting conversations about it. Without spoiling it, the movie drives forward exploring the question, what is the impact of imagining a future of hope and love or imagining a future of fear and danger. My sister-in-law and I both said right away that we liked it, but were not sure if there was ‘something missing?’


It was only after we realized that the film had inspired the deep conversations for us that we said, “wow, that was great.” What had been missing was the ‘pablum.’ The movie did not answer the question about the future, rather it challenged us to live into a world of ‘both and;’ hope, love fear and danger. It did not nicely tie up the loose ends of the future. I’m frankly not sure the movie will be a hit, simply because it makes us think.


Leadership is about thinking beyond the pablum of tied up loose ends and gratification. Leadership is about moving into a future of hope, love, fear and danger. Leadership is about challenging yourself and your team to imagine and implement a world that is just that much better for everyone, even in the midst of challenge and pain. 



May this week be filled then with more questions than answers, more grown up food than pablum.


Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 277

Estimated reading time:  2.00 minutes



I am working with a client in Toronto this week, teaching leadership and coaching for a large retail operation. One of the common questions that comes up is, “this coaching stuff is fine, but I need to focus on my numbers.”


What is most interesting in this question for me is the assumption that there appears to be a choice between coaching people and managing to numbers. It sounds to me like the old dualisms of support or direction, men’s work or women’s work, finance or HR.


Coaching, that is building trust with team members, building awareness about the issue, and building a future, is actually an amazing way to drive numbers, especially over a sustained period of time. I will be more likely to work over time with you to get the needed numbers if trust exists between us. I will be more likely to work over time towards needed numbers when I see you understand that issues I face, and when you hold me accountable for my part in the issue. I will be more likely to work with you. I will be more likely to work over time to a future that I have contributed to building.


Leading people over a sustained period to achieve goals is not something we do to people, it is something we do with people. We work most effectively with people when we build trust, build awareness about the issue and build a desired future together.



May this week bring you trust, awareness and a great future.


Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 347

Estimated reading time:  2.15 minutes



I’m currently working on one of the final chapters of my forthcoming book, 5 Thrives for the Digital Revolution. The chapter is called, “Disruptive Spirituality,” and one story from it seems apropos given the news from south of the border about a government employee saying that her religious beliefs preclude her from giving marriage licenses to same-sex couples. 


Here’s the story.


In April of 2004, H.H. The Dalai Lama was in the midst of one of his trips to Vancouver. He, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Human Rights Activist Shirin Ebadi were being awarded honorary doctorates by Simon Fraser University. The convocation was held at Christ Church Cathedral, and I was fortunate to be one of the invited guests.


His Holiness spoke to the gathering of 500 or so academics, civic and religious leaders and students. He began his remarks saying, “Buddhism is the greatest religion in the world.” There was a pause, then he said, “for me.”


Disruptive Spirituality is a fundamental thrive for the digital revolution. It gives us a radical and life changing perspective between and around the binary and dualist elements of the digital world. It helps us see the big picture, the grey between the black and white. In that way it is disruptive as it challenges the yes or no, 1 or 0 world that is unfolding around us. 



Spirituality is not disruptive when it falls into that very binary and dualistic perspective itself. Such a ‘spirituality’ is more likely based on fear and ignorance, and that is not healthy. Leadership is about leading people forward into difficult and challenging times. Times that challenge our past ways, times that push against our fear and ignorance, and may well spark deeper fears. Having a discipline around spiritual practice at its best gives us each a new perspective on ourselves, on each other and on the cosmos. And most importantly a disruptive spirituality gives us courage to face those very fears. 


Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 352

Estimated reading time:  2.00 minutes



Re-imagine Vancouver is a project produced by the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association and Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue asking the people who live work and play here to imagine the Vancouver of 2040. There are some interesting stories, including, at the risk of immodesty, one of mine. http://reimaginedowntown.com/your-stories-the-impact-of-digital-technology/content The exercise got me thinking, what do you imagine for yourself as a leader in 25 years? 


I believe we live in a revolutionary time. Digital technology is dramatically changing how we live and work. The first iPhone was announced in January, 2007. What would life be like without your smart phone today?


Digital technologies are changing the way we work as AI and Big Data change marketing and service industries. Bots are changing manufacturing, and IBM is teaching the technology that defeated the best Jeopardy champions in 2011 everything from business decision-making to cancer research. http://www.wired.com/2014/01/watson-cloud/  A revolution as dramatic and life changing as the Industrial Revolution was is happening right here, right now.


I believe the key question for us will be who are we to become as leaders in the next 25 years?


Leonard Nimoy, the actor known mostly for his role in Star Trek as Spock died in February. Through Nimoy’s Spock, we imagined a world of time and space travel, of great leaps that solve the seemingly intractable problems of today. Importantly, we loved Spock because he was an outsider, he was different, and he was included.


A simple contrast is to imagine a city in the Terminator series of films.


I see we have a choice. Are we simply autonomous beings out for our own ends, or are we at our best selves, collaborators, colleagues and friends of each other. As Spock said, “I am and always have been your friend.” That’s the kind of ethic I want to reimagine for us all.



I am curious, what do you think?


Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 143

Estimated reading time:  1.05 minutes



The photograph was simple. A child face down in the surf. 


The wisdom traditions inform us, how you respond to the widows and orphans of the world is the measure of the health of a society. The same is true, I argue, about any collection of humans from families to organizations; how do you respond to the people left outside?


The late American theologian and philosopher William Sloan Coffin said, “The world is now too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love.” 


I am curious, what do you see are your responsibilities as a leader in the face of “the widows and orphans” around your organization, and in the world? And remember, if not you, who?



Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 289

Estimated reading time:  1.45 minutes


At a function last evening, a friend mentioned the Dunning-Kruger effect. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Dunning-Kruger_effect 


I had not heard of it before, but had experienced its implications. Simply put, the Dunning-Kruger effect observes that some of us are not able to see our own incompetence at something, and believe then that we are much more competent at the something than everyone else. 


Take driving, for example. How many of us are convinced that we are the best drivers on the road and that everyone else is the bad driver? 


For leaders, the Dunning Kruger effect is quite dangerous. I remember being told by a boss early on that the trick to managing was to exude confidence, even to the point of making things up. “You cannot ever show them that you don’t know,” he told me. Even then I knew that was questionable advice at best. Yes, being confident is important, but “making stuff up” will eventually cost you your credibility.


To prevent the Dunning-Kruger effect from messing with your leadership, consider the humility effect. You will be a much better leader by listening to people and then making your decisions. Listening requires a certain humility. You will be a much better leader by creating space for others to shine. Creating space for others to shine requires humility. You be a much better leader by being self-aware, knowing what your strengths and challenges are, and working to build your strengths and mitigate your challenges. Real self-awareness requires humility.



May this week be filled with listening, creating space and learning about ourselves.