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Archive for January, 2016

Before we look at ‘I-C.A.R.E.’ we will conclude our brief exploration of ‘leadership’ (as a reminder, ‘leadership’ is a by-product of the relationship between the leader and the led).

‘Leadership’ understands that ‘Culture Matters’ and thus ‘leadership’ seeks to understand the ‘Culture’ and the ‘Sub-Cultures’ that are alive, if not well, within the organization. For many, if not all organizations there are three circles that intersect and that form, inform and powerfully impact the organization. Too many organizations pay attention to the first two and ignore, or minimize the importance and impact of the third. The first two I call: ‘Counting’ and ‘Customer’ and the third I call ‘Culture’. Organizations have to measure stuff – this is the ‘Counting.’ They also have to be conscious of who and how they serve – this is the ‘Customer.’ They also have to be aware of their core values, core guiding principles, deep tacit assumptions (among other tap roots that nurture and sustain), climate and environment – these help make up the ‘Culture.’

‘Leadership’ also understands that ‘Metaphors Matter.’ Thus ‘leadership’ seeks to discern, name and understand the primary metaphors that have been integrated by individuals, relationships and the organization (in our culture many organizations today have integrated a ‘banking metaphor’ as a primary metaphor – for example: people are assets, resources, commodities and investments). ‘Leadership’ understands that the metaphors they use will determine the paths they choose; an inorganic metaphor will take them down one path while an organic metaphor (say ‘community’) will take them down another.

‘Leadership’ is clear about and is able to articulate both its ‘Purpose’ (‘Purpose’ = Why we exist). ‘Leadership’ is also clear about ‘Vision’ (the Big Dream) and ‘Mission’ (what we do each day to live into and out of the Purpose and Vision).

‘Leadership’ is committed to helping everyone develop his or her skills, talents, abilities and capacities so that the individual and the organization will benefit. ‘Leadership’ is also committed to the ‘health’ of people, relationships and the organization (remember, an organization is individuals and relationships writ large). Are people healthier because they work here? Is the work done meaningful in and of itself?

‘Leadership’ helps all develop the skills and capacities to ‘solve problems,’ ‘embrace paradoxes’ and ‘resolve/dissolve dilemmas.’

Finally, for our purposes at this time, ‘leadership’ is committed to developing both ‘designated’ and ‘situational’ leaders.

‘Leadership’ might benefit from what I call: ‘I-C.A.R.E.’ Here is the ‘formula’:
Inquiry =
Choose =
Action =
Reflection =
Experience =
What we intend/espouse =
What occurs =
Intended & Unintended Consequences =
Gaps (between what we espoused and what we enacted or between what we intended and the results) =
Why (for example: ‘Why’ did we get these results or consequences?) =

For Example: Why did we intend/espouse this? Why did ‘this’ occur? What were the consequences – intended and unintended? Why did these consequences emerge? What are the gaps between what we espoused/sought and what we obtained? What contributed to these gaps? How might we close the gaps? — There will always be gaps because we humans are imperfect beings.

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Effective, efficient and faithful ‘leadership’ (the relationship between the leader and the led) is committed to high achievement more than to competition. Walt Disney wanted his ‘competition’ to succeed (he even helped them do so) for he believe that he could achieve more if they did succeed (the success of Six Flags actually helped Disney move to the next level with Disney World).

Distinctive, high achieving leadership is also rooted in an ‘abundance model’ not in a ‘scarcity model.’ Again, Disney believed in abundance. He wanted Six Flags to have a number of parks for he believed that if they did and if they were successful then his two theme parks would prosper (which they did and which they do). A ‘scarcity model’ promotes internal competition and over the long haul this harms the organization (the number of top companies that have imploded these past fifty years because of internal competition is staggering).

Distinctive, high achieving leadership seeks ‘commitment’ more than ‘loyalty.’ ‘Commitment’ means that each person cares enough to question, to challenge, to bring his/her gifts, talents, abilities and capacities in ways that enhance the organization’s purpose, vision and mission. ‘Loyalty’ – especially ‘blind loyalty’ or ‘loyalty to a person’ – too often leads to harm, if not outright destruction (again, a brief survey of the past fifty years will confirm this).

Distinctive, high achieving leadership seeks ‘buy-in’ and, more importantly, ‘emotional-ownership’ rather than compliance and adaptation from folks. This means that, among other things, leadership uses influence and persuasion more than coercion and manipulation. This means that leadership seeks to ensure that the work itself is meaningful. This means that leadership seeks to ensure that each person believes and acts as if he/she does, indeed, make a difference. Most of us know when our waiter/waitress ‘emotionally owns’ his or her role and when he or she is simply complying with his or her duties. To put it another way: A person who views his or her role as a ‘calling’ will ‘emotionally own’ his or her role and a person who views his or her role as a ‘job’ will, more often than not, simply ‘comply’ with what it takes in order to do a ‘good job’ (or a mediocre job).

Before we define ‘I-C.A.R.E.’ it will be helpful for us to explore a bit more about ‘leadership.’ We will do both in Part III.

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One way of exploring the development of a leader is the ‘outside-in’ process. The leader is influenced (or coerced or manipulated or persuaded) by one or more external factors or forces. ‘Doing’ precedes ‘Being.’ Another way of exploring the development of a leader is the ‘inside-out’ process. Simply stated: ‘Who the person is and who the person is choosing to become directly and powerfully determines how the person will lead.’ ‘Being’ precedes ‘Doing’ and ‘Being’ informs and is informed by ‘Doing.’

Traditionally, ‘leadership’ and ‘leader’ have been interchangeable words. Yet, the person who has no followers cannot be a leader. Thus, ‘leadership’ is a by-product of the relationship between the leader and those who freely choose to follow. Both are response-able, responsible and accountable for this by-product. The leader and the led are truly ‘in it together’ – they are truly interdependent. Leadership also requires, over time, a balance between support and accountability. The leader and the led support one another and they also hold one another accountable (the nature of the support and the ‘accountable for what’ are to be determined and agreed upon by the leader and the led).

‘Leadership’ requires intentional preparation for the leader and the led so that all can respond and react appropriately. ‘Leadership’ requires a commitment to ‘Being Faithful’ and to ‘Being Effective.’ The leader and the led must decide what they each – and together – must be faithful to even though they might not be effective (‘acting with integrity at all times’ comes to mind). What might ‘leadership’ be faithful to, no matter what? Consider the following: Core Values, Core Guiding Principles, Mission, Vision, and Credo. Here is an example that has come to be ‘the example’ for many.

In the 1980s there was the ‘Tylenol Poisonings.’ Johnson & Johnson’s leadership decided to do a nationwide recall of all Tylenol. The leadership chose this path even though it seemed clear that the poisoning were limited to one geographic area in one large city. The leadership chose ‘being faithful’ to the ‘Credo’ and risked ‘being effective’ in the market place (another drug was just hitting the market and was seen as a challenge to Tylenol). By the by, the ‘gift’ to us was the development by Johnson & Johnson of the ‘safety cap.’

Of course, the ‘Credo’ alone did not make this happen; the choice was made because the ‘Credo’ had been integrated into the very life of the people who made up what was called ‘Johnson & Johnson’ (we often forget that organizations are simply individuals and relationships writ large). Without a shared set of values and guiding principles (think: ‘We will not put our end users in harm’s way!’), it is doubtful that the ‘leaderships’ response would have been as rapid, cohesive and morally-ethically sound.

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Embracing ‘The Ethos of Change’ involves ‘tensions’ connected with the change-process. Leaders and followers (that is, ’leadership’) too often focuses on the ‘symptoms rather than the ‘sources’ of the tensions. On one hand the number of tensions appear to be legion. On the other hand there do seem to be some common sources for tension when it comes to organizational change. Consider the following (which ones are familiar to you, gentle reader):
• Lack of preparation.
• We can only change what we can control AND there are many things that occur within a change process that we cannot control.
• Routine – sometimes called ‘being in a rut.’ Familiarity/Comfort breeds contempt for Change.
• Lack of information.
• Lack of Resources and Support while overemphasizing Accountability.
• Needs & Values.
• Beliefs and Deep Tacit Assumptions.
• Lack of, or insufficient, trust.
• Embracing the paradox of ‘the individual-community’ – BOTH must be embraced with equal vigor.
• Being a Beginner, once again (new learning or embracing the unfamiliar, etc.).
• Committing to ‘action’ while committing to ‘patience’ (and tolerance).
• ‘Stumbling the Mumble’ more often than ‘Walking the Talk.’
• Embracing our Limits while Stretching our Capacities.
• Embracing the ‘short-term-long term’ paradox – again, BOTH must be embrace with equal vigor.

A great deal could be written about these, however, for our purposes, this list will have to suffice for now.

Understanding and engaging the many sources that contribute the tension that accompanies change does not mitigate risk. Too often, leadership (leaders-followers) resists taking risks – even ‘necessary risks.’ Yet, change and risk are partners; they always travel together. Sometimes certain questions can help (you might recall, gentle reader, that there are three types of questions to consider: questions to address right now, questions to respond to in the near future, and questions to ‘hold’ and live into and out of). Here are a few questions about change and the risks of change for leaders to consider:
• Will this change and the risks involved move us closer to realizing our mission while moving us toward our vision?
• Which consequences will be appropriate and which will be inappropriate?
• What are some of the potential unintended consequences (there will always be unintended consequences)?
• Is the outcome worth the investment (or cost)?
• Will the change integrate some of the ‘old’ and some of the ‘new’ so that a ‘third way’ emerges?
• Are we building on our strengths (we = individuals, relationships, community) so that our weaknesses become irrelevant?
• What are the agreements we need to embrace so that we can tolerate the stumbling that will occur? What are the non-negotiables (everything else is negotiable)?
• How will the change(s) promote the opportunity for growth (individual, relational, communal)?
• How do we help people become and remain committed to the process (more than simply ‘comply’)?
• Are we flexible enough to adjust as we move through the process?

Again, there are many questions that leadership might emerge. Questions are rooted in curiosity and doubt not in ‘surety.’ As I noted earlier, part of the challenge, in addition to emerging ‘good questions’ is to identify which questions need to be addressed now, which need to be addressed in the near future and which need to be held over time.

I am reminded of Gandhi’s quote: Be the change you want to see!

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These past twelve months I have been a thought-partner to five designated leaders. During our times together one of our major topics has been what I call ‘The Ethos of Change.’ In this context ‘ethos’ means ‘the fundamental character of a person, a relationship or a community’ (think, organization, institution, corporation, school, etc.). Also, a person, a relationship, or a community can ‘shift,’ ‘change,’ ‘transform’ or ‘evolve.’

Consider the following: A ‘shift’ is ‘a movement from here to there; to move from one place or position to another.’ A ‘change’ is ‘a physical or social maneuver; to alter, to pass from one place to another; to substitute – so the identity is preserved.’ A ‘transformation’ is ‘a fundamental change in character or structure requiring, at minimum, a change in one or more deep tacit assumptions and core values.’

Given these definitions, it is easy to see why a person, a relationship and a community often seeks to embrace a ‘shift’ or a ‘change’ rather than a ‘transformation’ (although many espouse a shift or change to be transformational). To complicate things a bit, there is a fourth way: ‘Conscious Evolution.’ Simply stated: A personal, relational, or communal ‘conscious evolution’ involves maintaining the past plus experimenting over time with the ‘new’ so that eventually some of the past and some of the ‘new’ (the experimenting integrated) meld together in order to form a ‘third way.’ The ‘third way’ is more complex and of a higher order (indicators that a ‘third way’ has emerged).

How can a leader help an ‘ethos of change’ emerge? First, think. It is crucial for the leader to stop, step-back, think broadly and deeply and then move forward (this is not a one-time action; it is on-going: it is a process over time). What does the leader think about? The leader thinks about his or her guiding principles, core values, and deep tacit assumptions. All of these powerfully influence, if not direct, the leader. They also directly and indirectly impact and influence the followers.

Embracing an ethos of change means that:
• It is crucial that we (the leader and the followers) focus on what we need ‘to be’ more than on what we need ‘to do.’ Our ‘being’ informs and forms our ‘doing.’
• The quality of the leader-follower relationship (actually, the quality of all the relationships) is one major key to establishing a healthy ethos of change. Relationships are rooted in trust, agreements, and covenants (covenants are ‘binding agreements’ – they are the ‘non-negotiables’).
• An ethos of change is also rooted in a Vision (a big dream). This vision can be provided by the leader or it can emerge from the good thinking of the community.
• The community’s capacity to embrace change depends to a great degree on the followers.
• A diverse group of people and ideas are called forth, welcomed and honored.
• The leader and the followers embrace ‘being vulnerable.’ They are risk-takers (rooted in being response-able and responsible), they are ‘transparent’ (think, ‘open’), and they ‘carry the wounds with grace’ (vulnerable comes from the Latin, ‘vulnus’ which means ‘to carry the wound with grace’). People will be wounded along the way. Thus forgiveness, healing and reconciliation are crucial processes.

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