August 31, 2009
My first blog here was about doing your own dirty work. I was talking to a colleague recently and we agreed that everyone seems to have too much stuff. So many things that at the time we need but really, over time, they just seem to fill the house up without purpose. Our stuff.
Then there is the other sort of stuff that we deliberately don’t use. The china cabinet full of the crockery that is just too good to use. Probably it didn’t start out that way – we wanted a good set for those special occasions – but over time it’s got pretty well stuck in the cabinet to look at, but not touch. Imagine if it got damaged!
Is that like us? Do we have a shield around a perfect image that cannot be explored for risk of breakage? What is so important about the image? Is it more important than knowing the real, authentic person? Should we risk exposing ourselves to a little breakage to allow people to get to know us properly?
Do we go through our leadership journey more concerned with image than with reality? Why?
None of us is a perfect image. There are cracks, imperfections, but in amongst the grittiness and rough edges is the real leader – the leader that those around us can relate to – and join in the journey knowing that real hands will draw the team together.
August 26, 2009
Over the last year or so I have been exploring my family tree. It’s been a great journey and I started out thinking I would create a “tree” and be satisfied. What has happened, though, is that I have uncovered a richness in stories that I could never have hoped for. Finding out where I have come from has been for me, very therapeutic.
This afternoon I received a paper written by Colin Knox entitled “Maori Leadership in Te Ao Maori”: “The most important difference [between Maori and Pakeha leadership models] is its source of inspiration and motivation, which is its common ancestry and history…..Another difference is the relative importance of family over individuality”.
The concept of Whakapapa is relating to “people with whom we have a common ancestry, cherishing places such as marae as the symbolic home and sharing on the basis of kinship rather than legal responsibility or ownership, acknowledging the importance of our ancestors”.
I couldn’t help but relate what I read here with my own journey. Appreciating where I have come from, learning the family stories and history has, I am certain, made me feel more authentic. Whether I appear that way is for others of course. Something switched in me when I read Colin’s paper: an instantly deeper appreciation of what Maori mean when they say Whakapapa. Why had I not grasped this previously? Secondly, the relationship between our ancestry – where do I come from? – and our own journey is stark.
In my desire to develop authenticity, there is only one place to start – myself – and my ancestry has been, as I am certain it is for others, a deep and valuable part of that journey. My insights have come from my own work and, as is often the case, from an unexpected source, adding richness and depth all round.
August 21, 2009
Front page of the NZ Herald today features a story about the Peace Foundation. It seems that anything other than peace is reigning at an organisation dedicated to promoting peace – internal fighting, resignations at the top and public excluded from meetings. For some time, I have been helping someone with a significant and painful dispute. Today an important and public step was made to resolve the dispute by my friend. There will be consequences for him (and more work still to be done), but he has been left with a sense of lightness and hope for the future. As I looked to the other party I wondered as did others: Will they have peace? Will what my friend has done pave the way for them to be peaceful. We all hope so, but we’re not sure.
Today was a beautiful day in Auckland. The sun shone and it felt like spring was close. As the sun set out the west side of my home I reflected on the day. Would what my friend has done bring down this painful dispute for everyone. I sincerely hope so as does he. Could he have done more? Not really, but actually I realised a truth that I already knew.
Peace is internal. No person or thing can give it to us. Lotto, a new job, a new house or car are great but will they give us peace? It might feel like it, for a moment. But the place to go is for many a scary and less travelled place than the lotto shop or the lawyer. It’s inside. Have a go. It’s got all the answers for you.
That will be the real Foundation of Peace.
August 20, 2009
The other day I was the Airport. Looking through the various management/leadership/inspiration books there is a book by Bob Jones – Jones on Management – with a section on Leadership. Jones, as many will know is one of New Zealand’s most successful property developers and investors with a lifetime of experience. His proposition is that Leadership is all fluff; that all you need is a general manager who does a good job managing and other people will see this, and if they are properly rewarded, will also perform well. He suggests that many of the so-called great leaders were managers who happened to be in the senior position at the right time – Churchill and Mandela are two examples given. Could Jones be right? Could it all be spin? I do know that there are many who are attracted to such a proposition. So what defines leadership against its practical and straightforward brother management? Jones is at least partly right. A good manager can do a good job if properly resourced and in the right position – this is what his proposition is – that positional power is really what leadership is. Really? Do we all need to have “position” to lead others – is leading necessarily just being “the boss”? Do you lead because of what your title is? Or do you lead because of other things? I know there are what I would call leaders amongst us who can drive their team’s performance though their energy, their deep understanding of colleagues, and appreciating their unique differences. Of course such people can become the boss and probably rightly so.
What meaning will I bring to those that I lead? How will my leadership help? Will performance improve because of me? Why should anyone be led by me?