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"Do not try to do the great things; do the little things with love."
Mother Teresa

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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: 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? 

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: 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: 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: 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.