I recently ran the Leadership vs Management public workshop series again in Wellington and then Auckland. Don’t tell anyone, but the title is a bit of a misnomer. The workshop is more about what key leadership attributes are, with story-telling at its heart.
We don’t have a slide deck, and very minimal written resources. The few slides that there are, are laminated and affixed to the wall, mainly as prompts for a story I might tell.
It occurs to me that someone will (and should!) challenge me on the model or models of leadership that are to be learned on the workshop and then followed by the participants. At the conclusion at one of the workshops in this series we did a final round of learning nuggets. One participant, who had been reasonably quiet, said that it was a highlight that we had not come with leadership models for us to learn and apply. She expressed relief. I was somewhat relieved too – as facilitator you try your best to match everyone’s needs in the room – but you don’t always know whether you’re hitting the mark.
The thinking behind my approach is actually built on what I think it a fundamental truth of leadership moments. What you have in the room at any given moment is it. When you embrace that premise, you will gain the best of those present for any decision or leadership challenge that needs to be met. Don’t imagine that there’s a mysterious person who has the special insight, the ultimate responsibility, or the magical solution.
What you have at that moment is it.
So in our workshops we bring very little. You have to believe that the people that attend have all the leadership insights, stories and motivations to make a great success of this particular moment in their leadership journey. And they always do.
I thought it was the overworked muscles from the gym workout. On Tuesday I hobbled a bit, Wednesday was much better and by the time we started Module two of the Authentic Leadership Programme on Thursday the pain had gone from the legs. But it had moved. Something didn’t feel right though. But I had to keep going – stepping in, in fact – as my co-facilitator was rapidly going downhill with a virus!
By the time I got to the Doctor after the first day it was obvious that neither of us were going to make day 2.
So what to do? What will the participants think about this? And the client? What about all the plans and bookings for the next day?
Doing experiential leadership development requires context. We use locations, draw on our and the participants’ experiences, and let it flow.
As in all leadership, sometimes it doesn’t go to plan and you need to be ready to move on. Fast. And make the most of what follows.
We’ll find out in a week whether a new location and different exercises will work.
I’m pretty sure it will, especially if we don’t try too hard and be open to what flows.
I met a friend in the airport lounge this morning. We were both headed to Wellington. We talked about life as a CEO for him, bringing all the learning, coaching and development over the years into practice at the “buck stops here” job.
There isn’t time to do lots of research when faced with leadership issues on a daily basis, and my friend said he often drew on insights from development, coaching and learnings from the past. And sometimes from my bite-sized blogs.
That’s nice I said, but getting time, oh, it’s tough. Tough to find time to write 250 words, more of less, on leadership, and just as tough, if not tougher to find time each day to focus on ourselves.
I don’t think for one minute that business or your life should be run on 140 (or similar number) characters or less. Of course, if you find your way to my blog on Twitter that’s all good!
But a little development taken often can keep us up-to-date, and even if not on point that day, might stimulate us to recall past learning and insights.
Making time for a little leadership development often can keep us recharged, up-to-date, help our resilience (more of very soon after a workshop on Friday), and bring back older insights.
That’s leadership of ourselves. And almost 250 words. 225 in fact.
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.
We’re readying ourselves for the start of another Authentic Leadership Programme. A new venue, new faces and some new ideas. An invigorated Programme.
We’ve been looking forward to this for some time and a lot of hard works has gone it to get prepared and today it arrives.
Planning is incredibly important to get us to where we want to be, and if we don’t plan and execute we can be reasonably confident we won’t get where we want to.
However, in leadership development, it’s important to recognise that new insights can often be immediately put into practice and that’s what we’ll be encouraging our seventeen participants to do from today.
As a friend of mine said recently, “you don’t die in the future, it’s now”. Sobering, but a powerful reminder of taking action now, when we can.
When a team is struggling to connect, a bit of courage from everyone involved can make all the difference.
On some recent leadership development work, instead of the participants recording their reflections in private notebooks, everyone put their reflections on flipcharts in the open area.
It took courage and having courage can mean taking a risk. This new process was not without risk and even one team member not being ready could have derailed it.
But this team plainly was ready, and so we took it a step further and had the team members record feedback on each others’ flipcharts.
In doing so, a permanent and meaningful record of a crucible event was created.
I heard after the session that the team has already made great strides.
I’m calling this new process ReflectBackᵗᵐ. I would welcome the opportunity to use it with your team to cut through challenges you’re having. Yes, you do need to be brave and I suggest not using it without supervision.
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We started another Authentic Leadership Programme this week. Eighteen senior managers with eighteen sets of unique strengths.
It was foggy during the day and quite difficult to see much into the forest. That brought our focus inside.
As we move forward throughout the rest of the Programme our managers will learn a lot more about their strengths and their unique authenticity.
Real leadership development comes from a deep understanding of self, including strengths (especially) and blindspots. It can be challenging work examining ourselves but it’s not only worth it, it’s essential for leadership development. As tempting as it can be, you can’t fake leadership development with make believe exercises to put you under momentary stress. Examining and exploring inside yourself is real leadership development work. It can be hard work too, and things won’t necessarily be clear to begin with.
With the right tools and time for deep reflection our managers have all they need to clear the fog for themselves in the coming months, and they’ve made a great start.
Later in the Programme we’ll spend some time out and about exploring the forest as our managers take their insights and learnings back to their organisation.