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"Life is like playing a violin solo in public and learning the instrument as one goes on."
Samuel Butler

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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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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?