It has a night before Christmas feeling tonight with the Authentic Leadership Programme commencing proper in the morning. All the pre-work has been done by us and the new participant leaders and the room is all set up.
We’ve done this a few times of course so we know more or less what to expect. But it won’t be the same as ever before. Refinements have been made and we’re trying out some new things and new locations too.
But more significantly, each of the 20 leaders on the Programme will bring with them their own leadership opportunities, challenges, personalities, hopes and aspirations.
Like you experience when leading people.So in the morning there’s some time spent getting to know each other in a meaningful way, developing ways of working together over the next six months, exploring our personality profiles, reviewing 360 feedback, and sharing stories. It will be a very full first day with some time to reflect too.
One thing we’ll say tomorrow but we’ll say again several times is that everything we do on the Programme is transferable back at work. You won’t notice that unless you’re mindful. Which reminds me, being present will be vital!
Wayne reckons there’s a lot of divorce now. I quipped that not getting married is the best defence to that. Chuckling lightly he went on:
People shouldn’t try and control each other. You do what you want and let other people do what they want. “I told my wife when we got married that I’m not responsible for her happiness. That’s her responsibility” he said adding that he was responsible for his own happiness too.
If you’re all wound up, don’t take up your issues with me then, and when you’re all wound up “I know you’re not thinking straight and what is said at that time won’t be right“, so take a stroll and have a coffee, then you’ll be right.
And when you do open your mouth never ever put anyone down. Ever. Think about what you need to say, adjust your tone, make it right for the discussion, and be careful about what you say.
It’s quite simple really, he said, “I’ve helped lots of people with relationship problems and some people have said I should do some courses in relationship counselling“. But I won’t he said, I know what it takes.
Cost me $16.84 for those pearls of wisdom. And he got me home in his Uber too!
My colleague Jasbindar Singh ran a two-hour session on Emotional Intelligence for us recently. Emotional Intelligence underpins most of the work we do on Authentic Leadership and I think it’s important to slow burn the learning to ensure the learning and reflection is well embedded and plans put into action.
Jas showed us that you can do a lot in two hours and get us thinking. There are many models of EQ and we used the Genos model covering Self Awareness, Social Awareness (of others), Authenticity, Emotional Reasoning, Self Management and Motivation (or inspiring performance).
When you talk EQ to senior people almost everyone “gets” it. Doing it takes practice, discipline and reflection on recent conduct.
Leaders who practice emotional intelligence can make significant progress quickly. And a speedy session on EQ can give a real boost.
But what gets in the way when we slip up and blame or defend instead of taking responsibility or coaching? I’ve never really had a serious argument from someone in a quiet moment that when they blamed or acted otherwise with low EQ, that there was a better way.
Trusting ourselves in the moment is what gets in the way. Trust that to coach, for example, will provide a more sustainable long term solution, than playing the blame game. So like our EQ session, it’s the ability to quickly engage in the appropriate facet of EQ.
I facilitated a public session this week – Management vs. Leadership – for a diverse group including senior leaders and young women and men just starting out in their leadership roles.
We discussed what Management involved as compared to Leadership. Then we focussed on developing our authenticity through story-telling. We all have a leadership story and each participant made a start on a leadership story that I hope they can use in the future.
The clear message that came through was that most people understand the differences between management and leadership. Words and phrases used to describe management included “ensuring deadlines are met”, “directing”, “controlling” and for leadership “inspiring”, getting others to achieve” and “future focussed”.
The exciting thing was that both senior and younger leaders understood it in much the same way.
Knowing when you need to manage and when you need to lead is the big challenge. That’s often decided (or not) in the moment. Unless we’ve given it some deliberate thought we can quickly find ourselves inappropriately directing, when a coaching style of enquiry to team member could provide the best impetus to get the job done.
We’ll be repeating the session in Wellington this coming week and I’m looking forward to see what the second group comes up with.
The group I was in the other day was asked by the facilitator “are you for or against Trump?”. Yes, I replied, I don’t think you can be benign about him. Some people feel angry, not just in America, but everywhere.
Anger creates reactions and high interest when we see it. It has a place when our ethics are seriously undermined, or behaviour around us deliberately sets to undermine us or our organisation. It can create fear and further anger if not contained. But anger is not rage which is uncontrolled, scary and shouldn’t be in our toolkit.
What to make of Trump I often think. He seems like he’s in an uncontrolled rage much of the time, although we don’t see it directly expressed, other than in the middle-of-the-night texts. The administration he leads seems fueled by rage – rage at minorities and those that support them, at political opponents, at other countries, the FBI and Special Counsel – and so on.
You could argue that he’s standing up for what he believes in. Despite that proposition being very difficult to determine (I originally wrote laughable here!), it’s not authentic leadership by any stretch. Authentic Leadership requires empathy, a strong ethical compass, firmness when needed, and nurturing those that need support. Not abandonment and undermining.
That’s my rage about leadership!
We’re made of the same stuff as stars. In fact our bodies contain stardust from long expired stars in the Universe and we keep regenerating our bodies throughout our lives, although we will all suffer one failure too many and return to the stars. Quite soon!
And so it was recently for my favourite scientist, Stephen Hawking. Not just a great scientist, but a great person who contributed historic insights about the nature of things despite the devastating odds of his illness.
It’s trite to say he was clever but it’s fascinating that he achieved so much so quickly, with a medical gun held to his head most of his life, so to speak.
The sense of urgency in his life has to have been a key driver I reckon and we can all learn from that. Time passes whether or not we do anything with it. Before we know it the stars will be calling.
Time to act.
We’ve been running the Authentic Leadership Programme for almost a decade. It’s never stood still and if you attended one of the early programmes when I was at AUT you’d notice many changes from those days.
Relevancy is a word we are increasingly using in business and leadership development must remain relevant, to be relevant.
Leadership development is a nice to have at many organisations and even though I’m in the development business, I’m not surprised.
Facilitators without any authentic leadership experience themselves, dried out old case studies straight out of a 1980s MBA, lecturing and bring ’em down to build ’em up nonsense all make potential participants question the true value.
So what changes have we been done lately? Learning conversations with senior leaders led by the participants themselves, micro-coaching sessions on the way through, location, location, location – context driven locations for learning – like on a tram for transport leaders hearing early stories of trams in Auckland.
We’re reshaped the reflection process putting it out in front of everyone with ReflectBack™, enhanced our Blueprints with time on Programme to complete, share and reflect with. We’ve embraced client direct participation on the programme. After all, we’re not running a secret society and we’re confident enough in what we do that we’re very proud for our clients to see close up the development we’re providing for their managers.
And we’re using technology – an App to stay connected and share practical details throughout – and running in-between sessions via electronic methods sometimes.
The next edition of the Authentic Leadership Programme will be different – we try and learn as we go – keeping the Programme relevant for the new context, and at the same time providing us with new energy to try new things out.
You don’t always know where it’s going to go, but hey, that’s leadership isn’t it?