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Monthly Archives: June 2014

How Can Leaders Move Beyond Leadership 101?

Un-Game Principle: Effective, inspired leaders’ day-to-day actions are guided not only by a vision of the result they are committed to achieving but by the qualities they long to be…courageous, empowering, supportive, truthful….

leadership

The command and control model of leadership is dead for the most part. However, in some enterprises it’s still queued up for burial as leaders are not yet confident in what is now an effective, times-appropriate leadership model. Or how to implement one even if the vision is clear.

Perhaps a good beginning is to ask a good question. “Who do we need our organization and our people to be now in a connected global environment characterized by an escalating demand for speed, deep cross-cultural differences, and a guaranteed unpredictability?”

Let’s focus on the people part of the question.

In the environment described, the limitations of a command and control model of leadership become apparent. It’s heavily dependent on the designated leader. People are not required to think independently or creatively. They are asked to do what they’ve been told as well as how to do it. It demands that leadership’s vision and capability to communicate it be clear, and that buy-in be achieved and maintained. It’s slow and cumbersome. It’s static, not dynamic. It also leaves people’s own leadership potential sadly untapped.

Who DOES leadership (yes, parents, teachers, team members, husbands, partners, wives) need to be now amidst the 21st century challenges we face? If we define leadership not as a position but rather as a mind and skill-set, then we see that we now need leaders to empower themselves and others to tap into a higher level of potential than we’ve tapped into “before everything changed”. We urgently need creative, innovative, courageous, compassionate, resilient, inter-dependent, collaborative people to meet the challenges of this new world. NOW!

How do we get those people?

Let me suggest some good news. They are already there eager to be tapped! But to come out and perform brilliantly they require the skills 21st century leaders didn’t learn in Leadership101. 

What designated leaders must now be able to create intentionally is the environment in which people will uncover in themselves those qualities described above. And that is for many a brand new skill-set. So new good questions might help guide the willing leader: “What characterizes an environment in which people can uncover the qualities they now must be able to demonstrate in daily action to reach the level of potential that’s currently a prerequisite for our organizations? What organizational environment will have us prosper and thrive?”

To become the people we already are, namely creative, innovative, resilient, courageous, compassionate, inter-dependent, collaborative people, we need for designated leaders to create both a safe and a challenging environment. It’s a learning environment in which it is safe to make mistakes. It’s a learning environment where we are challenged. 
It’s a learning environment that stretches our intellectual, emotional, spiritual self like a rubber band, enough to propel us forward but not so much as to break us. In short, it’s a change in the norms that probably govern the organizational culture.

That is leadership beyond Leadership 101. It’s the new leadership. Without it most people on whom the success of the enterprise depends will stay safely hidden. The risk to come forward is too great. We are too vulnerable. Too skilled at defending ourselves. Going beyond the status quo is too uncomfortable.  We take the known over the unknown. 

And our potential shrivels. And nothing changes even as our business (our home, our school, our government, our local food bank, our partnership,our marriage) is screaming for relief.

Leadership–let’s call it leadership 203– is dynamic, not static. It is omnipresent. It constantly reinforces the foundation of safety and challenge in every moment, be it in offering feedback, asking questions, inquiring, acknowledging, expressing disappointment, dealing with broken promises, expressing satisfaction, reservation, and even while being angry.

It’s a tall order for leaders to embrace Leadership 203. After all, it’s a stretch. And it’s risky. It puts the leader in the same position as the people whose potential is to be uncovered and newly tapped. Who will be leadership’s support? Who will create the safety and the challenge that the designated leader needs as s/he meets this new and very big endeavor? And what will this look like? After all, the leader has plenty on their plate already. 

Some leaders will develop the new leadership mind and skill-sets largely on their own. Clarity of vision and a strong will (as in I’m willing/I can) are their allies already. Others may be in a natural support group of other leaders like themselves. And still others will hire a coach to support their quest to move beyond Leadership 101. They wisely and courageously heed Einstein’s caution “You can’t solve problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” They know we are in a brand new world. Business as usual simply won’t do anymore. We all must evolve beyond Leadership 101.

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, Coach and author of The Un-Game , Four-Play to Business as Unusual, a show, not tell tool for coaches, managers, and “will do” teams, works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.

Courageous Compassion: The Gold Standard For Relationship Skills?

Un-Game Principle: To resolve relationship discord requires both courage and compassion.

14-05-27 When Compassion Must Be CourageousJust what is courageous compassion anyway? It’s the ability to stay in caring relationship while simultaneously taking a stand that another’s behavior is unacceptable and you will not tolerate it.

I need to say first of all that here I’m only speaking of the marriage of compassion and courage in equal positional power relationships: a relationship between husband and wife, two lovers, siblings, friends, and two or more colleagues, for example. In all good relationships the yin and yang of compassion and courage are present, but since they express themselves differently in unequal power relationships—for example between boss and employee—the exploration of compassionate courage in unequal positional power relationships will be for another time.

OK, I’ll say it. Women come by compassion and relationship skills more readily than men. After all, as many of us carry another human being around with us for nine months, intimacy becomes natural. Where we run into relationship trouble is when we don’t add needed courage to our naturally developed compassion.

In equal relationships like a marriage, compassion without courage, is a two-legged stool. It just won’t support the weight of the relationship. In fact, without courage the relationship quickly becomes unequal as one partner, in the absence of feedback, lets assumptions run rampant as to what behaviors are acceptable to the other. Over time, the unaddressed, unacceptable behaviors (never made visible) become entrenched. Such is the story of entitlement. It’s also the story of suffering, inequality, and loss of the potential for intimacy. Add to that the loss of productive action both at home and in the workplace.

It doesn’t have to be that way. To resolve relationship discord, the parties’ closely-held assumptions must be made visible, and both compassion and courage must be mobilized.

Let’s see through an example what taking a compassionate, courageous stand could look like.

A newly married-for-the-second time couple is watching TV together. She’s nodding off on the couch. The husband is offended and says so. The wife can’t believe how something so insignificant could even be a problem. However, she knows that all grown people come into relationships with bumps and bruises. Her compassion is present. She might say to her husband: “I surely don’t want to offend you because I love you. And (notice she didn’t say ‘but’, because ‘but’ negates what you said right before it), I will not walk around my own house on egg shells. I probably will fall asleep on the couch again from time to time. If you have feelings about that, they’re yours to deal with.”

This is of course not the end of the conversation. It might include that while we can be attentive to the other’s feelings, we are not responsible for them. Happiness is an inside job. Spoken firmly and kindly with the meta-message being “This is where I stand and I love you,” the partner has several choices: to be aggressive in an effort to prevail, to retreat while pouting in an effort to inspire guilt, to be curious in an effort to explore his wife’s thinking, or just to remain quiet to reflect on what just happened.

The marriage of compassion (I don’t want to offend you because I love you) and courage (Here’s what you need to know about me) are apparent. However, it’s how the wife handles the rest of the conversation that will test both her compassion and courage. Will she get aggressive when her husband does? If so, she gets a zero for courage. Matching aggression with aggression is a zero sum game. Someone will eventually lose. When they do, positions get entrenched, and both partners lose.

Can you see how this could apply to team members who care about each other and who get their wires crossed? But back to our husband/wife example.

Will the wife let her husband retreat when he pulls back? This is a little trickier. People often need space to think things over. Retreat can be legitimate. But when retreat is designed to inspire guilt, courage will not accept that. The compassionate, courageous wife might say “I understand that my response may come as a surprise to you. If you need to retreat to think this over by yourself, that’s ok with me. However, we’ll need to take this up again. If we don’t, this walking around on egg shells will still be an issue, and that’s unacceptable to me.”

If the husband is curious to explore his wife’s thinking, great! It’s an indication that he’s able to think clearly once again. He resembles the man you were excited to marry. Courageous compassion here may be to share from the heart what’s important about not walking around on egg shells in the sanctuary of your home. But it is also to venture into his thinking, the thinking that you were so incredulous about.

How often are you baffled by another’s thinking?

This is the domain of unearthing closely-held assumptions. Who knows what they are?! Among the many in our example probably are “If I tell you what I want, and you love me, then you would want to do what I want.” “I have the right to feel safe in my home.” This is the domain of rich exploration, learning, and potential intimacy. Compassionate courage knows it’s not the domain of being right and making the other wrong.

A compassionate courageous colleague knows this too and can choose to act on it.

If it’s clear the husband just needs to process what he’s heard from his wife (“I’m going into my cave, and I’ll be back,” as opposed to the manipulative “Fine, I won’t bother you with my feelings again!), great! If he’s not able to express that, courageous compassion can help: “I see that this is a bit unsettling to you. I’ll be ready to talk again when you’ve sorted it out enough for yourself.”

Courageous compassion, whether at home or in the workplace, lives in people who first and foremost know deeply that their primary mission is NOT to be responsible for another’s happiness or well-being no matter their level of caring. They respect the other’s capacity enough to leave the ‘making yourself happy’ in their court. They firmly and fiercely care about themselves even as others pressure them to put themselves in second place. They are unwaveringly committed to their own welfare. They have no conversation that this is selfish—a word that primarily intimidates women. It’s not a ‘You or Me’ world. It’s a ‘You and Me’ world. ‘You or Me’ is a false choice courageous compassion won’t abide. Courageous compassion is always guided by the question “How can we be and what can we do so that we both win?” Courageous compassion wishes for but doesn’t need for the other to be courageous and compassionate. Courageously compassionate people are courageous and compassionate even when the other cannot or will not be. They say to themselves: “Someone has to lead and show the way.” To them the results that become possible with courageous compassion are worth the effort to cultivate it. Courageous compassion may well be the gold standard of relationship skills.

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, Coach and author of The Un-Game , Four-Play to Business as Unusual, a show, not tell tool for coaches, managers, and “will do” teams, works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.