"The factory of the future will have only two employees: a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment."
Prof. Warren Bennis

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

Word count this issue: 290

Estimated reading time:  1:45 minutes


Hello from Vancouver, where summer is finally catching up to us. A warm and sunny day today and more to come tomorrow has us all a little brighter I feel.


I’ve been thinking recently about the importance of feedback. I’ll be teaching, once again, about feedback in Toronto next week, and having just received some myself, I’m curious about an idea that might help us all.


Here’s what we know about feedback, and I am indebted to the work of David Rock et al for these two points, https://hbr.org/2014/08/make-getting-feedback-less-stressful:


  1. Feedback given without permission never works, if the goal is to get someone to change their behaviour. At best the recipient will comply with an order, but they will not have any deep change from the feedback if there has not been permission given.
  2. All of us have biases, and so receiving feedback from a single point or source is not as helpful as asking a number of people for their feedback.


I’d like to add to this that receiving feedback is absolutely vital. It’s how we know how close to the target we are. And I use the target metaphor specifically. The English word “sin” (yes the word from the Bible),  is translated from the Greek word hamartia which meant missing the mark in archery. I wonder if we all thought of feedback as helping each other get closer to the bulls eye, we might be able to deliver and receive it much better.



May this week be filled with opportunities to hit the bulls eye more often.

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

Word count this issue: 283

Estimated reading time:  1:45 minutes


Greetings from Regina where I’ve been working with a great group of leaders exploring tools to increase resiliency and accountability. I love my job!


I’ve been thinking about a conversation recently about “badges.” Badges were a big thing when I was a cub and scout. You earned them for gaining a competency in certain activities. There is a long history of badges designating us as part of this group, or having achieved a goal or commendation. There is even a famous American novel called The Red Badge of Courage that was often on high school reading lists. The badge in this case was a battle wound the protagonist is hungry for as he journeys from an act of cowardice in the face of battle. In short, a badge is most often an external symbol of something worthwhile achieved.


I’ve been wondering, what about giving ourselves badges for work well done? Giving yourself a badge for a project completed, a lesson learned, a skill acquired? Yes it is great to get those externally as well, but what about taking the time to give yourself credit, and a badge. 


To earn a badge:


  1. Set the criteria for yourself, and it should be a bit of a stretch goal
  2. Identify what the badge will be; a new piece of clothing, a small item of jewelry, a small gift for someone else. Whatever it is is should have meaning for you.
  3. Meet the criteria.
  4. Give yourself the badge.



I’ll be interested to read your ideas for badges and how you go on earning them.


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

Word count this issue: 226

Estimated reading time:  1:15 minutes


Greetings from a rainy, Sunshine Coast. A pacific storm has hit and the temperature has dropped to almost fireplace levels! I hope the weather is nicer where you are. 


I had the honour yesterday of being a small part of the State Funeral for Grace McCarthy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_McCarthy a long serving politician and one time Deputy Premier here in British Columbia. One of the speakers was Rabbi Yosef Wosk http://thebigidea.ecuad.ca/portfolio-item/yosef-wosk/ himself, quite a celebrity in this part of the world. Rabbi Wosk said a number of things that stuck with me, but one stands out for leaders. 


Eulogies, literally “good thinking” from the Greek, about our dead friends and loved ones are lovely, but should we not be giving them while the person is alive? 


We know that expressed gratitude and telling each other what the others’ presence has meant, even in small ways, solidify our social connections, strengthen our bonds and enhance trust. 


Why wait for a funeral, a retirement, a going away party, or an exit interview? Tell your team members what they are doing well and how much it means to you. You’ll be amazed at the results. 

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

Word count this issue: 403

Estimated reading time:  2:15 minutes


I follow Richard Rohr cac.org and was struck by one of his posts about friendship as an ethic. I  found myself wondering about the place of servant leadership? Might there be a kind of friendship leadership?


Servant Leadership is a model initially explored by Robert Greenleaf in the 1970’s and 80’s. https://www.greenleaf.org/about-us/robert-k-greenleaf-biography/ "Greenleaf proposed that the best leaders were servants first, and the key tools for a servant-leader included listening, persuasion, access to intuition and foresight, use of language, and pragmatic measurements of outcomes.” His thinking challenges the Industrial Age leadership model that people are cogs in a mechanistic organization, and need to be told explicitly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. The key tools in that model are telling, ordering, logic, focus on the immediate, and measuring detail and activity.  Greenleaf’s work is seminal in my own thinking about leadership as supporting people in the vital work of becoming the person each of us are called to be. 


And then I read Rohr. What if the next generation leadership model is actually "friendship leadership" where we are less servants of each other and more friends of each other. We have each others’ backs. We speak the truth about and to each other. We are accountable to and with each other. We stand together for the common good. We do need to make decisions in organizations, and move in directions that not everybody desires, but we can still be friends with each other, seeing for example that to everything there is a season, and sometimes the season calls for us to part ways. 


And that is about as far as I have gotten in my thinking today with a deadline looming.


I wonder about what you think about 'friendship leadership'? Here are three questions for your further reflection.


1. What is the place of unconditional positive regard of other people in our businesses and organizations?

2. What is the place of friendship in leading and working with people?

3. What is one change you could make to your practice in the places you have responsibility to practice  an emerging friendship leadership?



I’d love to hear your thoughts on my initial thinking….

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

Word count this issue: 302

Estimated reading time:  1:45 minutes


We were watching Season 2 on Sense8 on Netflix a couple of weeks ago and an episode ended with the amazing Mozart’s Requiem in Dm. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Requiem_(Mozart) It is a stunning piece of work. I’ve been listening to it during walks and am listening to it now.


It has got me thinking about 2 things for us all as leaders.

  1. We all have the potential to be a Mozart; our brains are all unique so there will never be another Mozart in the same way, but believe it or not, the biggest barrier for each of us is fear of our own potential. Just imagine what the world would look like if each of us were working towards our own full potential. I need to be clear here, full potential is about creativity, possibility and growth, not about material success, getting the right grades, buying the right car. Your potential is yours to achieve, it is not to be prescribed by extrinsic forces. 
  2. This piece of music was completed posthumously. Mozart died leaving about 1/3 completed and the rest sketched out on scraps of paper. His widow, Constance, brought a couple of other composers in to help finish the work. In that sense, this amazing piece is a team effort. As much as we like to think that success is the result of individual effort, it is more often the result of collaboration and partnership. Especially in these VUCA (volatile, uncertain complex and ambiguous) times, we are at our best when we work together.


May this week then be one of exploring potential and working together to make the world a better place.


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

Word count this issue: 396

Estimated reading time:  2:15 minutes


Another busy week working with wonderful, creative people. People just like you. The longer I work in leadership development and coaching, the more I see how simply amazing we are as a species. 


I’ve also been reflecting recently about how young we are as a species. We are fundamentally the creative species. Yes other creatures use tools and are wonderfully creative; living in a world where crows regularly drop oyster shells from their perch on a tree onto the road surface below cures you of thinking we are the only creative species. And yet, these brains of ours have created the intricacies of Mozart’s Requiem in Dm, Catherine Johnson’s number crunching at NASA, and the back and heart breaking work of putting food in front of children in the midst of famine. We have built amazing structures like the Blue Mosque, and the Taj Mahal, and our brains have worked out how to move thousands of us quickly through downtown Vancouver in the midst of rush hour on a subway. And what struck me is how young we are as a species. On the outside we homo sapiens (thinking or wise humans) have been around for about 150,000 years, and really coming into our own about 75,000 years ago. Compared to say Crocodiles who have been around for 200 million years, we are still toddlers. Perhaps we might call us ourselves homo toddlerus. 



And herein lies my wondering; imagine what we as a species could do, who we could be if we actually focused more on learning, focused more on gaining wisdom? What could we be doing, who could we be if we saw ourselves as a learning species, who still had so much to learn? We have been here for such a short period of time, and have created so much, frankly both good and bad, we might think of ourselves as 2 year olds. What if we chose to be that much more grown up, focusing our creativity not on our own selfish needs, but on those of the whole of the planet? What if we moved away from I have to protect what I have from you, towards, you and I can thrive together? What if we all started to do a little growing for ourselves and the species?