Five hours of authentic leadership

I’m back at Waitakere Estate running the Authentic Leadership Course. It’s great to be back here as always and although it’s hard work it’s a kind of a refresher for a short time for me too. Away from the busyness and pressures, there’s another kind of pressure here – making sure our leaders on the programme get what they want from their time here – but it’s great work and fulfilling.

Nothing shows this more than how after five hours on the programme we have built the kind of trust that most would say just isn’t possible in the workplace. That’s the workplace with politics, pre-conceptions and internal competition for resources.

We have a shared vision and values here on the Authentic Leadership Course in 2012. Not something decided by us, but rather from the group. I’m certain that the participants will live by those things during their time here and odds on they’ll take it back to work with them, and challenge those around them to embrace authentic leadership that’s about real leaders setting a tone and working with others to achieve success for them and their organisations.

So what if you have five hours only to focus on leadership? What could you do between 8.30am and 1.30pm? Could you develop a draft vision, values and way of interacting that would sustain your team going forward? Could you learn about each other’s preferences for working together? I helped two groups in Mt Maunganui on Friday with that in three and a half hour workshops – they wanted more – but it’s a great start and left us all wanting that five hours.

Imagine. By 1.30 having so much underway about how we will work together that we’ve made a difference as a leader. Might make the doing stuff for the other hours in the week go better. You never know. I’d be bold enough to say we do know.

And for us here on the Authentic Leadership Course, we’ve done five hours, and three full days to go!


The story network

I watched The Social Network the other day again while in Whakatane. It’s a story of the founding and growth of Facebook. It’s got a lot of stuff in it – seizing the moment, innovation, right time right place and, not to forget, an idea that connects people. I connect with family and friends on Facebook and see photographs and snippets from those not close by and those close by that I wouldn’t necessarily see easily.

Being too busy right now, a quick look at Facebook can keep me in the loop and provide light relief at times. In facilitation of any sort I’ve noticed it’s sometimes expected that there is level of content delivered, I mean stuff that you can physically hold and take back to the office. In my ideal world we wouldn’t need any of that stuff, we would talk, gather insights, grown and practice with each other to take back to work and home. We’re getting there, Powerpoint is pretty insignificant in my faciliation now, so that’s a start.

While in Whakatane last week we worked with the local iwi. Stories are an intregal component of building relationships in Maori culture and as part of our welcome we shared stories about who we were and why we were present. It was identical in form and content to the ’rounds’ we use in our leadership work.

This week at Waitakere Estate with a leadership team we’ve built the basis of a shared vision, learned about our working preferences, played outside all of which has inevitably led to story-telling.

What I’ve started noticing since facilitating Story telling workshops is that as leaders, we can turn so much of our work into story-telling coaching opportunities. We’ve all got a story and if we can all build those in our team to develop their stories, we can create The Story Network.  And when we do that we’ll grow our organisational culture, engage those in our teams and have some fun!

Go for it!


Coming home

Someone said at the end of the Authentic Leadership Course that they were looking forward to going back to work to try out the new insights from the programme. Others said that they were sad that a good thing had come to an end, well sort of, as the commitment was to stay connected. The journey of leadership development can include a programme when new insights are discovered, experienced in action and plans made for the future. For many, deep changes are promised and implemented. I know this from the many communications that I receive from participants after the programme.

Coming home for me after 4 days away, emersed in the work on the course, I was tired. I made a commitment to myself to get more sleep, possibly to enable the boundary between work and home to be clearer. Hence, doing a blog at home early evening! Is this work, or is this home? I mean pleasure. It must be pleasure, in fact it is because I often blog in the evening. The feeling I get from it is one of peace, fulfillment and plain good old-fashioned satisfaction.

So what promises are you making on your leadership journey? Whether you were on the Authentic Leadership Course or not, how will you implement those changes? Who will notice? Just the team at work, or will you bring it home for the better?

Never has there been an opportunity to bring work home that isn’t bringing the work home, and gives to home and those we care about.

If you implement what you planned at this juncture of your leadership journey, you’ll be happier for it. More authentic I reckon and that will not just make your team at work more productive and satisfied. You will be too. And you’ll bring that home. For much good for those that mean everything to you.

It’s nice to come home.


ps here’s Richard Kerr-Bell, one of the Centre’s Leadership Coaches out on our Leadership Walk on Wednesday

Take your time

It’s a crazy time of the year – hot, wet today, busy, traffic is mad. And all the time our planet is hurtling through space at 1m km/h (that’s the relative speed of earth around the sun and our galaxy through our universe I think but I digress!). It’s been a busy couple of weeks. After 12 years of waiting, my son Tim had a replacement cornea graft which is promising for his vision. I was surprised how emotional I felt when he went into surgery. It’s been a long time, or felt it, waiting for his eyes to be in good health for the procedure. Before and after the surgery I’ve been helping lead teams develop their charters and learn about themselves. Which takes time.

The charter is usually just the beginning, but it’s a really important beginning, setting the rules of engagement and developing a vision of what the team would like the future to look like. One exercise that was supposed to take 15 minutes yesterday with one group took an hour and a half. You might ask if that mattered? Well yes it did. It mattered a lot that the team went where it needed to, taking the time. At the end of the session, they said that this first part was the most valuable.

Management requires action. Leadership needs patience. We need both but the best actions are those that follow a patient time of leadership. Professor Charles McGhee, Tim’s masterful surgeon who espouses opportunity and optimism on each encounter knows about patience. He knew not to rush in. But when it was time, he showed the best action you could hope for.  Two hours of careful surgery and Tim’s new cornea was in situ. And all around was a medical team who worked as one, including a theatre nurse who was there for Tim in 1995.

Vision for vision.


Out and forward

Time has nearly run out on the 4th Authentic Leadership Course with only this afternoon left. It’s one year since us at the Centre for Innovative Leadership ran the first Course and we’ve done lots in-between.  The participants will head out today after a week of experiences that will touch them personally and professionally. And others will notice.

But what of Monday morning at work? Will it be reading emails  and catching up on work from this week? Probably yes.

In stepping out from a deep experience there are often unanswered questions – for some there are more questions than they started with. Stepping out of the old ways and moving forward with new insights and questions will embed changes.

Just like the Authentic Leadership Course. Each time we’ve run it, it’s been new, fresh and different from the last one. Learn from the past, grow, adapt to the new environment and forward we go.

There’s a paradox. If you’re always looking forward, you’ll miss the present. This week we had seven guests join us at different times to share their experiences and insights. We all listened and learned while they were here, in the present. Taking that, adapting to our authentic leadership is leveraging the take-out.

Big hit for me this week: Where you go is in your hands.  I thank our guest Lorraine for that one. Thanks. I’ll take that out and forward. Where to you might ask? Not sure yet, but I’ll decide, that’s for sure.

What are you taking out? And where? You better know.


Inside Out

When I hang the clothes on my clothes horse, much to the disdain of any casual observers, they go on the line, like, well they just go there. Often inside out. When it’s all done and dried, then they are sorted and folded. They’re pretty and neat then, you’ll be pleased to know. Ordered.

Being someone how leaves the possibilities open it can mean last minute activities to get ready. Like having slightly wet socks drying on my car’s parcel shelf on the way out to Waitakere Estate yesterday. So at least now I look okay on the outside – well no-one has told me otherwise yet!

Eckhart Tolle tells us about life having an inner purpose and an outer purpose. Outer purpose concerns doing, and is secondary. Inner purpose, on the other hand concerns our Being and is primary. He says  “No matter how active we are, how much effort we make, out state of consciousness creates our world, and if there is no change on that inner lever, no amount of action will make any difference.”

It’s a year today that we started the first Authentic Leadership Course in the same room I am writing this blog. Even more than then, I believe that our authenticity is the key to leadership, organisational and business strength. And happiness. We have well-developed processes, great exercises and exceptional people that work with me. Our participants, like those before them want to make changes. Sometimes quickly. Identification of opportunities and issues early is fantastic and 24 hours into the programme, we’re seeing this already.

But changes happen from the Inside. Start there and change your being. Otherwise, it’s inside out. And you’ll have action, but it’ll be temporary.

We’ll spend the week feeling a bit mixed up at times, a bit disordered and the participants will feel at times that there’s lots to do in such a short time.  But a week of it and we’ll be clean and dry and suddenly, sometime unexpectedly, we’ll crinkle it all out and be ready for action.  


Own yourself

I’ve had a busy time the last few weeks and over the next few weeks I have friends staying, the Authentic Leadership Course, my folks up, then Uncle Stan, more programmes and workshop and whew, the year will be almost done.

It could be the reflective mood that Dire Straights Telegraph Road is giving me, but I felt a sense of ownership tonight. Ownership of my own spacetime. It might also be something to do with having a productive afternoon at work, some more opportunities and seeing Tim enjoying his 18th birthday.

It’s not selfish to own yourself. In fact I say it’s selfish not to. If you don’t take care and grow yourself through reflection, enjoying your own thoughts and contemplating what has gone and what is to come (is that reflection!?) then you’re not caring for yourself. That’s selfish as you’re not going to be much good for anyone in your world.

According to psychometric testing and my own work I’m an extrovert. I get my energy from the external world. But I get lots from my internal world – the place where it is just me in my own spacetime.

We notice authentic leadership coming from within. It has that quality of depth and meaning that brings out the best in each of us. The authentic leader has ownership of self. When did you last renew it?