I have worked with leaders who want to dive below the surface of quick answers in order to look at patterns, relationships and cultural habits that dampen organization effectiveness. Although I have taught many workshops over the years, my interest now is sustained coaching relationships in which my clients and I know and trust each other enough to do real work. Leaders regard me as skillful, insightful and authentic. My experience in working with leaders has gained me the following insights.
Part of leadership is about observation.
I’m amazed at how little leaders know about their own organizations. We must get better at seeing – just as the old naturalists learned to see the world with fresh eyes every time they went walking. A big part of my work focuses on helping people see and hear what is happening. I can tell you many stories about how listening to the subtle nuance of communication has helped increase effectiveness. Similarly, I have learned to look at situations with my camera in hand and ask, “What wants to be seen here?” In our organizations, I believe people are crying to be seen, to be heard, to be involved in effective ways. That’s what I want to help clients do.
Part of leadership is about doing something.
According to Ronald Heifetz, at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the purpose of leadership is to mobilize people to collectively affect positive change on crucial and often complex issues.
Yet, getting from ideas to action is often a breakdown point for leaders. I’m interested in the chain of relationships among people that allows work to get done. Getting things done requires having the right conversation at the right time, knowing how to make effective requests, knowing how to keep work going once it starts and knowing how to gather in the results of effort – not just the bottom line, but for each person who contributes in their particular way. It also involves letting go of methods and ideas that no longer serve.
All of it is about being human.
There are a lot of efforts these days to find some common ground on which communities and organizations can be built and sustained. We spend countless dollars and euros and pesos dealing with the effects of not having common ground, but finding it is really quite simple. The fact is we are all human. What a concept! That is our common ground and once we figure that out, we can get on with addressing the enormous challenges we have in communities and organizations across this tiny globe. This business of being human crosses all the boundaries of communities, countries, and organizations. Doctors, farmers, field workers, teachers, politicians, CEO’s – underneath all our situations and titles, we’re pretty much the same. Let’s get on with important work that honors all human beings.