"It is possible that people need to believe that they are unmanaged if they are to be managed effectively."
John Kenneth Galbraith

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

Word count this issue: 281

Estimated reading time:  1.45 minutes


Greetings from the Sunshine Coast of BC. We have been writing and doing a little commuting between homes here on the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver over the past 10 days or so. We’re getting ready for summer! One of our routines here is a 2.5 mile walk into town and along the beach. I’ve been putting pictures up on Facebook, largely to just say how absolutely lucky I am to be here! 


Yesterday was no different, but I had an insight about how we might think about perspective and perception. 


As we walked along the beach my partner said, “look at this, can you take a picture of this?”


I said “sure.” and stood where she had been standing and lined up a good shot of a tree. 


I took the picture and said, “here, what do you think?” She looked at the picture and looked at me with a quizzical look.


“That’s not the picture, here, look through the tree at the boat.” She took my phone and took the picture.


Later as I looked at the two pictures I realized the boat had not even registered for me. Here we were, looking at the same thing, but seeing different perspectives. We perceive the world around us uniquely.


Next time you are in a meeting, inquire, use open questions to uncover what the team is seeing, how are they perceiving the situation. Guaranteed it will be different from you, and in that difference lies the potential for creativity and insight.



May this week be filled with learning from different perspectives.



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

Word count this issue: 277

Estimated reading time:  1.45 minutes


We’ve been working all week here in the house in Gibsons, BC. http://www.gibsons.ca The room I do my coaching and webinars from looks out into the ravine beside which the house sits. I’ve been conscious of wanting to see, smell and feel the natural world since I returned from my travels working with amazing people.


I love travel; there is a little boy inside me that gets excited whenever he gets on the air side of security. I could be flying anywhere, and I am excited. And I’ve been conscious the past few months of the sterility of airports, airplanes and hotels. There is very little “natural” about them. I found myself starving for green and the smell of wet forest. And since  earlier this week  we have seen a bear, a couple of eagles, a racoon (rare in these parts) and countless ducks and cormorants. I’m feeling very grounded. 


I wonder about if our busy lives have become too sterile. I have written in the past about my concern about binary thinking overtaking us.  What I’ve been calling quantum thinking, the space between and around the 1 and the 0, is where our creativity actually exists. I think our sterile spaces are very similar; they work efficiently and are very good at what they do, but they leave little or no room for creativity. (I do thank the airports and hotels that have built art collections that can take us into quantum thinking.) 



I wonder then, how do you move into nature, how do you move into quantum thinking?  What is the impact on your work as a leader when you find time and space in the natural world?


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

Word count this issue: 282

Estimated reading time:  1.45 minutes


I’ve been travelling a lot this week — 6 different airplanes since Monday. I’ve been very aware of how blasé so many of us are about air travel, and then I watch a little kid get on an airplane and walk wide eyed down the aisle, looking back every now and then towards their parent. There is this wonderful mixture of trepidation and excitement in their eyes. 


Now, I have a little kid inside of me that is still after all these years excited about getting on the air side of security, so I suppose I see myself in their eyes, but truth be known, I’m not usually as wide eyed — although the 787 is a magnificent piece of tech!.


It has got me wondering, what is it that gives us adults the same kind of trepidation and excitement? That feeling of “oh my, I can't believe I’m here, and I’m not really sure what to do next.” It is a wonderful feeling, being just outside your comfort zone, and taking the first few steps. It is the place of growth and gained confidence. 


My challenge for you this coming week is to find something to do that takes you there; that place of being a kid on an airplane for the first time. Try something new in a meeting, practice a new idea with a colleague, add one more person to your network, try talking to that person you see most days in the elevator. Try something new.

May this week be filled with wide eyed views of the world. 

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

Word count this issue: 242

Estimated reading time:  2.00 minutes


Good morning from Vancouver where the cherry trees are in bloom, while the temperature feels more Fall like than it should. In the Christian tradition, we are in the midst of the Triduum. These three days, Maundy Thursday (The Last Supper and Foot Washing), Good Friday (The Crucifixion), and The Great Vigil (Late Saturday into dawn on Easter Sunday are the holiest of holy days in the Christian tradition. 


So what have these three days got to do with leadership?  For me, the Triduum highlights three fundamental roles of leadership:


  1. We are here to serve our people; to create space and opportunity for them to learn and thrive individually and as a group. (Foot Washing)
  2. We are here to lead our people into dark and difficult times, where the key learnings and growth opportunities actually reside (The Last Supper and Crucifixion)
  3. We are here to model patience and compassion, as it takes each of us time to learn and grow into the people we are called to be. (The Great Vigil). Or put another way, we need patience and compassion to know that while the cherry trees are in bloom, it may still be chilly out there, and that is ok. It will be warm again.



May this weekend be filled with humility, courage and compassion for each of you.

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

Word count this issue: 430

Estimated reading time:  3.15 minutes


Good afternoon from the Maple Leaf Lounge at Calgary Airport. I am enroute home after a great couple of days with Alberta’s credit union’s young leaders and the Alberta Central conference. I’ve had a great time, and as always, have come away with something to reflect on.


A theme we explored at the conference was the impact of tech on financial institutions. One comment about tech and marketing caught my ear. One of the interesting directions that tech has driven marketing, is to move us from the mass marketing (blanket the TV and radio airwaves with commercials and hope that someone who is interested will be watching/listening), through market segmentation (address those commercials to specific groups of people based on what they are watching or listening to) to the emerging ability to focus marketing on the individual (we know that Alisdair likes looking at Youtube videos of sharks swimming so we’ll put an ad into his Facebook page about Hawai’an vacations followed by an ad about shark repellent.) 


It got me thinking about how are leadership thinking has changed as well. We imagined employees as parts of a machine, then we thought, there’s a little more humanity than just being a cog, so we’ll focus our efforts on leading groups and teams, and what do we know now? The most important factor in employee productivity is their relationship with their immediate supervisor. It’s all about the individual.


Here are three elements to keep in mind then as you lead people as individuals:


  1. Without trust there is nothing; and trust is built and enhanced by trusting and being trustworthy.
  2. Balance advocacy with inquiry. Yes, you have a point, but more to the point, the person across the table from you has a point. Listen to their point. (That is a fun word to type.) In the old adage from Steven Covey, seek first to understand, then to be understood. 
  3. Face to face (whenever possible) is always better. We are wired to read facial cues and so our ability to understand and enter into dialogue with each other is exponentially better when we are face to face.



The best leaders I know and work with are the people who see other people as discrete and fascinating individuals. They connect with compassion and interest in the well being of other individuals and create an environment when and where those individuals can thrive. May we all strive for that this week.

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

Word count this issue: 114

Estimated reading time:  1.00 minute


Good morning from a rainy Vancouver. The family gathers for my mother’s memorial service on Saturday. Her legacy of humour, love and community service continues in all three of her children and her 6 grandchildren. This weekend will be poignant for this family.


Family does matter. As leaders we are at our best when we are loved and love in family and community. So for this week, spend time with your family (biological or chosen) and relish in the gifts they shower on you.



And if possible hug or call your Mum.