Leadership Challenges

Knowing That Leadership Has a Rhythm of Growth and Loss Holds One to Hope By Dr. Jeanie Cockell and Dr. Joan McArthur-Blair


How is your leadership journey going? In our ever changing world being an effective leader is a daily challenge. Building Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry by Dr. Jeanie Cockwell and Dr. Joan McArthur-Blair is a new book that speaks to leadership journeys with hope, during despair, and with forgiveness. Here is an some insightful information from the authors to help you become the leader that you were meant to be.

BuildingResilience_3d.png

By Dr. Jeanie Cockell and Dr. Joan McArthur-Blair

The hope of the gardener described in the next story is a wonderful metaphor for the place that hope dwells—a place that enables and encourages leaders to sow the earth knowing that some things will grow and some will flounder. Leaders repeatedly begin again and resow, knowing that the wind, rain, and sun can be nurturing friends or destructive foes. Sometimes leaders retrace their steps to find things they should have understood, and other times they strike out in new directions. In the garden, there is both hope and its shadow. Hope holds in its hands the soft earth as it readies it for planting; hope is open to the possible and deeply feels the moment of beginning, not the prediction of the end state. A leader described her leadership life as a gardener this way:

I am a gardener—one who nurtures, tends, plants, cultivates, and harvests. I am a leader who inspires, creates, celebrates, encourages, and invests. Gardeners and leaders have many skills and talents and values in common. Great gardeners are full of hope. It is genuine and considered hope that is the essence of how I see myself as a gardener and a leader. This is a hope that is based in reverence for life in its deepest and most profound meaning.

Some of my earliest memories of hope involve planting radish seeds as a small girl and waiting impatiently for them to sprout. I can still feel and smell the soil and relive the joy of the first shoots. In a similar manner, I can still visualize my first formal leadership role in my Brownie pack. The possibilities of making a difference, of helping others with their badges, of teaching them the rituals, of being there for them when they forgot their tams or scarves. Hope for the future was the essence of these early experiences.

The lessons of the gardener inform me in the lessons of leadership. Sometimes, despite all the necessary prep of soil, nutrients, seed selection, etc., the seeds blow away, the plant withers, and the bugs attack or the bloom fades before it flowers. The ground is fallow for periods of time and only a few stalks blow in the wind. I prepare again, gather more information, and make selections, try different nutrients, check the weather, except that for me roses do not do well—concentrate on daisies. This is hope. Next time, the garden will be great, it will be different, and it will grow.

My leadership is embedded in the hope of the gardener—learning to accept, to rethink, to reimagine, to redo, to undo, knowing that tomorrow is another opportunity full of possibilities and potential to discover and celebrate.

I have loved every job I have ever had—some lasted longer than others. In some positions there was more to plant, more to nurture, and more learning to be had. I have chosen to change jobs based on my assessment of the possibilities for growth for myself and others.

Much as a gardener decides their type of garden. All my life, I have been associated with some aspect of education, whether it be teaching pottery, swimming, or anthropology, or facilitating teams, or teaching others to teach and be leaders. For me, education is all about hope—for oneself, for others, and for a different world. It is the hope that sees me through to more possibilities and to uncovering the potential in others and providing me the opportunity to be a small part in realizing the possibility. Finding the seeds, nurturing their beginnings, tending the fragile shoots, staking their stems, and admiring their unique blooming beauty is the gift of hope and the reason to be. I will always be a gardener and revel in the possible, despite stormy weather, dry seasons, scattered seeds, and invasive pests. In leadership, I cherish the hope of the gardener, and this hope inspires my leadership and sees me through the tough times.

The practice of hope in all the multiple tasks of leadership is the recognition that hope can be nurtured in the early stages when the outcome is not known; in the journey along the way, where already some things have floundered and some have grown; and in the final outcome, which might be different than planned. It is undertaking leadership in all of these places with the heart of the gardener that can help sustain hope as the rhythms of growth and loss and the seasons change.

About the authors

Dr. Jeanie Cockell and Dr. Joan McArthur-Blair, co-presidents of leadership consulting firmCockell McArthur-Blair Consulting, are the co-authors ofBuilding Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry. The veteran consultants’ latest book explores how leaders can use the practice of Appreciative Inquiry to weather the storms they'll inevitably encounter and be resilient.

Eight Reasons Why You Are Still In High School

school-2051712_640.jpg

I remember years ago when I was in high school my mom telling me numerous times “these are the best years of your life!” Sure, spending day after day dealing with gossip, cliques, homework, disenchanted teachers, including kids who didn’t care much about actually learning was the best right? The sad thing is that many of us are still in high school only we call it work. Sound familiar?

Years ago employees hung out around the water cooler or coffee counter. Open office plans have flipped that practice upside down. Most employees have minimal privacy and are sitting on top of each other. It’s like sitting in a classroom all day working on homework assignments. Ultimately not much has changed since graduation, and you are still in high school.

Eight reasons why you are still in high school

1. Gossip. I think that corporate gossip is worse than in high school, we are just sneakier about it. Back in the old days, we didn’t have social media and smart phones to share what we heard. Technology has exasperated the spread of gossip and adults are savvier about making chatter sound like corporate strategy. These days gossip destroys people and careers. Don’t get wrapped up in its dangers.

2. Bullying. Adults can be cruel. Bullying takes place every day in the form of intimidation, sabotage, belittling, and even subtle threats. Not long ago, I had a manager that was smooth one day and the next day would micromanage and throw out threats with a smile on his face. We would all do a double take to try and understand his game.

3. Cliques: We were all in a group in high school whether we realized it or not. Nothing has changed. You are in a circle at work. Look around you. Higher level managers stay in their corner; the interns hang together all day. The IT folks have their spot. These cliques often meet after work for “team building”.

4. Lackadaisical Coworkers: My twins love school. Fortunately, they are bright and motivated to learn. They also complain weekly about being in classes with kids who could care less about learning or growing. It brings them down and at times, interrupts their learning. We all work with people who don’t care. They don’t want to learn. They don’t care about growing and strengthening the team. They just show up.

5. Competition: The magical word. In high school, we see competition in every sport, and it permeates throughout the system. Most of the time it’s healthy, but not always. Competition encouraged with negative intent can impact lives. You know where the competition is and who owns it in your area. You have probably seen how a competitive team can thrive and accomplish. You have also been on the receiving end of spiteful and negative competition. I have seen people pay with their jobs from malicious competition.

6. Teachers: I remember some of my best teachers. They were passionate about my learning and growth and cared about preparing me for success. I also remember the poor teachers. They had tenure and just showed up every day for a paycheck. Managers are not much different. Some leaders thrive on growing and mentoring teams. Others don’t care and like a tenured teacher, just show up.

7. The Principal: I’m guessing that you either loved or hated your high school Principal. It probably depended on how much trouble that you created! You still have a Principal – your top leadership including the CEO. The Principal is the one that manages the culture of the company, makes or breaks your future in the company and can make your job easy or challenge you. They probably don’t know you well unless you are a troublemaker or….a suck up. Beware of the Principal.

8. School Board: The school board oversees the entire system and has no idea about the inner working of the company nor do they care how you function on a daily basis. They only know what they are told and generally go along with what they hear. They don’t tend to dig deep into the company culture or care about employee well being or team challenges. Making cuts, moving employees, cutting departments is all in a day’s work for them.

Hopefully, you loved high school and have positive memories. You may also be in the minority. I was eager to move on after high school and grow through my college years. As you read this and if you are at work, look around you, and I bet you will whisper to yourself “I AM still in high school!”

The Importance of Conviction By Jim Haudan and Rich Haudan

blind_spots_author_share.png

Leadership is an enigma. There are some that feel that they are strong leaders and have everything that it takes to be successful. Their teams don’t agree. Strong leaders know that they always need to work on their leadership skills and are open to learning about what they are missing or what blind spots that they have. Here is a guest post from the new book What Are Your Blind Spots? Conquering the 5 Misconceptions that Hold Leaders Back.

In order to activate purpose at your organization, your leaders must have conviction in that purpose while also being clear on their personal purpose at work. People generally have a desire to bring their best selves to work, but if you or they are not sure what that best self is, it’s hard to consistently bring it or know when and where to apply it. Great organizations don’t just have an organizational purpose, but they bring out personal purpose in individual people as well.

When we talk about personal purpose, we don’t mean an all-encompassing answer to what makes you happy in life. That’s a bonus. We are referring to understanding what makes you happy and most effective at work. As a leader who wants to be truly purpose driven and have teams that are as well, you must ask yourself the following questions:

• Do I know what drives, motivates, and inspires the people working on my team?

• Do I know the core strengths and passions of my team?

• Do I know what each person’s personal best is and understand how to activate it?

• Do I know the personal purpose of the members of my team?

• Do I help individuals bring their purpose to life?

• Do I know how to connect people’s personal purposes to the larger purpose of my organization?

Once you can answer yes and elaborate on each of your answers, you will be ready for a game-changing performance. Simon Sinek wrote in his book Start with Why:

Studies show that over 80 percent of Americans do not have their dream job. If more knew how to build organizations that inspire, we could live in a world in which that statistic was the reverse—a world in which over 80 percent of people loved their jobs. People who love going to work are more productive and more creative. They go home happier and have happier families. They treat their colleagues and clients and customers better. Inspired employees make for stronger companies and stronger economies.

If you want to create an organization in which 80 percent of your people are excited to come to work and are vested in the success of the business, your people need to know and feel that you are fully vested in their success. They need to see how they connect to the purpose of the organization and how their contributions make a difference.

About Jim Haudan

Jim Haudan is Co-Founder and Chairman of Root Inc. Root Inc., the organizational change expert on helping companies create leadership alignment, execute strategies and change successful, build employee engagement, and transform businesses. He is a sought-after business presenter who has spoken at TEDx BGSU, Tampa TEDx, and The Conference Board. His latest book, What Are Your Blind Spots?: Conquering the 5 Misconceptions that Hold Leaders Back is co-authored with Rich Berens is CEO and Chief Client Fanatic of Root Inc. The book equips readers with the tools needed for a personal leadership reset. You’ll discover how to increase engagement, productivity, and growth in your own organization.

About Rich Berens

Rich Berens is CEO and Chief Client Fanatic of Root Inc, and has helped align leaders at Global 2000 organizations to drive strategic and cultural change at scale. He is a noted speaker on the issues of, transformation, and how to create lasting change and has authored articles for numerous publications and blogs. Under Rich’s leadership, Root has been listed among the Great Place to Work® Institute’s top 25 places to work, been named to the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies list, and experienced 10 years of consecutive growth. His latest book, What Are Your Blind Spots?: Conquering the 5 Misconceptions that Hold Leaders Back is co-authored with Jim Haudan is Co-Founder and Chairman of Root Inc.