The Leadership Series Part 1: What is Leadership, and Why is it so Important?

Leadership As A Part of Everyday Life

Photo by img.ly on Unsplash

I am always thinking about, learning about, and practicing leadership. Really. Always. It is such an important concept and practice. Yes, professionally, and even more importantly, for me, in every aspect of my life.

Why?

Well, that’s what we’ll look at in this new series. There are so many questions to look at and discuss when it comes to leadership. Seriously. So many. Here are just a couple.

  • Why is leadership such an important concept?
  • Why is it so important to practice?
  • Why is it important to understand?
  • What are the types of leadership?
  • Why are there so many types?
  • What’s the right type for me?
  • How do I become a leader?

And? Oh, there are so many more.

Alright, in this first article, we are going to unpack leadership as a concept and practice. Ready? Great. Let’s get started by defining leadership. Yep. here we go.

leadership

Pronunciation /ˈlēdərˌSHip/ /ˈlidərˌʃɪp/ 

See synonyms for leadership

Translate leadership into Spanish

NOUN

The action of leading a group of people or an organization.

The state or position of being a leader.

The leaders of an organization, country, etc.

Lexico

Okay. Here we see that leadership is identified with leading a group of people or organization or being in a leadership position.

Yet, what does that really mean?

Before we get to that question, let’s try one more definition. The definitions are all a little different. Here we go.

leadership

noun US  /ˈliː.dɚ.ʃɪp/ UK  /ˈliː.də.ʃɪp/

the set of characteristics that make a good leader

the position or fact of being the leader

Cambridge Dictionary

Alright, we now have an additional concept in this new definition. Leadership in this definition is also associated with a particular set of characteristics. Yet, which ones? Hm. Confusing.

And, now?

Well, let’s assuage some of our confusion by unpacking these definitions, shall we? Good. Here we go.

Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

Leadership as Leading People

Right, so leading people. Yes, yes, that is a part of leadership. Or, as I usually like to write, one piece of a whole. The whole you ask? Good question.

The whole of leadership as a principle and practice is a system. And, like all systems, it starts with each of us. The way we think and feel about leadership; our hopes, dreams, goals, and objectives. Yep, all of them.

In fact, all leadership starts with leading oneself. What does that mean?

It means that the way we treat ourselves, the principles and values we believe in, and the way we practice those principles and values are exactly how we lead.

Some people think that you can lead your life at home one way, and then lead your life at work in another way. Not so. Believe me, I’ve tried it. It just doesn’t work.

How you lead at home is the same as the way you lead at work. They are one.

Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash

Some of you right now might be thinking, as I once did, that’s not true; I have a set of values at home and a different set of values at work.

However, I am inviting you to consider that, in fact, believing that we hold different values at home than we hold at work is mere confusion. And?

That confusion will seep out into all that we do.

We can call that discord. And, that discord will confuse you, yes, and everyone else around you. Really. And, with confusion comes tension, disagreement, and disengagement.

The soultion?

Well, getting clear on your principles and values is a start. As is understanding why you treat yourself as you do; meaning, creating an awareness of yourself for yourself. Important. Then?

Let go of the principles and values that no longer serve you, and create new ones. We are creative beings first, and leaders second. All of us. Create symmetry between the self you are at home and the self you are at work.

You are one person after all. Create the leader you know yourself to be. One step at a time. Then?

Creating leadership symmetry

  1. What are your hopes, dreams, and aspirations?
  2. What do you value and why?
  3. Why are you the person you are today?
  4. Why do you do what you do?

And, then?

Create symmetry between your personal life and your professional life. As was aforementioned, they are one and the same anyway. Time to connect the two. There is tremendous power in this conceptual and practical example. And, then?

Well, with symmetry and practice, you will lead people. And, you will lead them from a space that is centered and clear on what you intend to create.

Photo by Unseen Histories on Unsplash

Leadership as a Position

Leadership is not a position. Director, supervisor, and manager are a position, or even better yet, are a title.

Leadership is a philosophy and a practical way you live your life. Every aspect of your life in fact. If you think about leadership as a position, then?

You will create separateness between leadership and other aspects of your life. And, as we’ve just discussed, that leads to confusion and disengagement. You from yourself, and your team from you.

It is inevitable. People know when we are genuine and authentic. They can feel it, they can see it, and they can hear it. Simple.

One of the reasons people struggle in leadership is they are not clear on who they are as a human being. Listen, it’s not a demerit. I once had this same issue, and?

It’s hard. Very hard.

When you are not clear on who you are, how can you be clear on who your team is? You cannot. It’s just not possible. What is possible?

Get clear on you

  • Why are you a leader?
  • What do you value in leadership?
  • What types of leadership do you associate yourself with?
  • What kinds of impact do you want to make in this world?
  • What change do you want to create?

I could go on. Well, and we will, in future posts. For now, know that there are two things at this stage that are critical.

  1. Understanding yourself.
  2. Understanding your leadership style.

And, we will cover both of these topics in the next two articles. Now, let’s take a look at leadership as characteristics.

Photo by Daoudi Aissa on Unsplash

Leadership as Characteristics

There are many places to look for and find lists, articles, even whole books on leadership characteristics. And?

Well, it is important to understand these characteristics, yet it is just as important to understand that these characteristics are a product of what leaders believe and think, and how they act.

Meaning, that understanding characteristics are only as good as actually developing a relationship with yourself, and understanding how that relationship will translate into your personal leadership style.

Here are a few leadership characteristics I think are pretty important.

  • Authenticity
  • Inspiration
  • Vulnerability
  • Influence
  • Clarity
  • Vision
  • Grit
  • Determination
  • Perseverance
  • Compassion
  • Empathy
  • Integrity
  • Self-awareness
  • Accountability
  • Collaboration
  • Passion

Know there are many more. These are the ones I’m most present to now, and the ones that I’m always present to actually.

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

Leadership as Life

I prefer to think about and practice leadership as another part of my life. A very important part of my life. Really.

If we think about leadership in regard to taking care of and leading ourselves through life, and then expand that to include the other people in our lives, it’s very important.

Let’s close this first installment with a few quotes, shall we? Good. Here we go.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Benchmark

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Benchmark

“As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence.” – Lao Tzu

Benchmark

There we go.

Inspiration is an important part of leadership. And? Well, the leader must first find their inspiration, as we’ve discussed, and, then? It will go out to everyone else. Fun.

Ah, yes, collaboration is such an important leadership characteristic. Difficult, and yet so much fun and so worth the process.

I am fond of saying to the team I work on something like, you know we chose to institute the collaborative model we use today. It’s not the easiest way to do things, yet we believe it is the best way.

Lao Tzu makes a lovely point here about influence. When a team is rallied around a common purpose or goal, it is infectious, and it is as if the leader simply disappears. In fact, each person on the team, in their own way, becomes a leader. Beautiful.

Alright, we’ve made it to the conclusion of the first entry into this new series on leadership. And, I am excited about continuing it with you.

In the next installment, we will take a look at leadership from the perspective of the self. It is, as we’ve discussed, where everything starts.

And, it is exactly where we will start again next time.

#clarity, #collaboration, #helenkeller, #influence, #inspiration, #johnadams, #laotzu, #leadership, #leadershipasasystem, #leadershipaslife, #leadershipconcepts, #leadershipdefined, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipmindset, #leadershipprinciples, #leadershipquestions, #leadershipsymmetry, #leadershipvalues, #leading-people, #leadingorganizations, #selfdevelopment, #strategy, #vision

A Blogger’s Diary 11/22/20: On Writing, A New Series, and Being Thankful

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Well, as it has been the past couple of weeks, poetry remained a large part of my creative writing experience this week. And? Well, as I’ve written about before, I do love it so much. Fun.

Let’s take a look at what happened this week, and what I’m working on for next week.

Writing

There we go. See. Lot’s of poetry. Fun. And, this week.

New Leadership Series

Well, I am currently working on the first installment in a new series on leadership, and I am pretty excited about it.

I think the information contained in the communication article I wrote this week, and the forthcoming leadership series will keep me busy for some time. Yep. Why leadership? A good question.

I do believe that leadership is a fundamental concept that is applicable to all of life. Yet, leadership is mostly talked about in regard to the workplace.

In this new series, then, we will take a different vantage point, and look at leadership as something that happens every day, in every context. And guess what?

Yep. It all starts with us. That is where leadership begins, and will be one of the main focuses of the first post. Lovely.

Poetry? Oh, yes, that will come too, and will be much fun as always.

Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash

Being Thankful

As the pandemic cases continue to rise locally and in many other places across the globe, I am reminded of taking the time necessary to appreciate all aspects of life. And, to be grateful and thankful for everyone and everything. Important.

The Monday message I wrote for the team I work on this week, was about being thankful.

An important takeaway in times of great distress? Yes, I believe so.

I believe we can hold and practice gratitude and thankfulness even, and I would say it is even more important, when things are hard. Very hard of late. How?

By being present to all that is around us. A flower, a tree, the wind, the rain, each other, life in general. A precious gift.

I’ve actually reinstituted my daily walks, which, for a time, I had let go of. Why? Because it is a good way to practice being present. Present to all that is around us.

Here are a couple of beautiful pictures from my walks this past week. One from the campus where I work, and one from close to where I live.

Albany, Oregon
Corvallis, Oregon

I absolutely love the colors in both of these pictures. Just gorgeous.

Alright, before I end this entry, I would like to do two more things.

First, I would like to let you know how grateful and thankful I am for each of you. I’ve met some of the most amazing people, all of you, this past year. And, I want you to know that I appreciate each of you.

Second, a quote I adore.

“Use every distraction
as an object of meditation
and they cease to be distractions.” -Mingyur Rinpoche

Quote Mirror

Have a lovely week, everyone.

#bloggers-diary, #diary, #fallpictures, #leadership, #leadershipseries, #mingyurrinpochequote, #onbeingthankful, #onwriting

The Reflection Series Part 4: What Do Coaching, Communication, and Insight Have in Common?

A 3-minute Reflection on Leadership and Systems Thinking

Photo by Cam Bradford on Unsplash

What do you think that coaching, communication, and insight have in common? Hm. Not sure?

Or, maybe, you’re thinking it’s that they’re interactive, and that’s what they have in common, and, yep, that is true. Yet there is one more. Yep.

They are all part of a single system. Each one, coaching, communication, and insight, all of them, is a piece of a larger whole. Let’s take a look at these pieces so we can see the whole. Ready? Here we go.

Creating Coaching

Alright, I’ve written about coaching before, and, even wrote about a developed model that works pretty well. Yet, guess what? Yep. That model has iterated. Today? Here’s what it looks like now.

  1. Creating Safety
  2. Current Reality
  3. Future Reality
  4. Define the Gap
  5. Create Next Actions
  6. Create Safety

Yep, it is a complete system. And, yes, it is a system within a system. Meaning, that coaching is, yes, one piece in an overall system, and, yep, you begin with safety and end with it. Every time. Why?

Because creating safety for people is one of the most important aspects of developing high-functioning teams. Seriously. Watch.

What does it take to have a high-functioning team? Any ideas? Yep. Here we go.

  1. Trust
  2. Reciprocity
  3. Vulnerability
  4. Innovation
  5. Execution

There’s five. And, to have those five? Yep. Safety. Always.

Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

Creating Communication

In order to have high-quality coaching conversations, good communication must also be present. And, what, pray, are the components of good communication. Here are a few.

  1. Listen
  2. Be present
  3. Tell your truth
  4. Reciprocity

Sounds simple, yes? Well, it is, and yet, is a paradox, like most things in life. Why? Because it takes practice, and a commitment to persevere. You will make mistakes. And?

That’s okay. It’s part of it.

If we think that good communication feels good all the time, or looks one way or another, we set ourselves up for disappointment. Most of my favorite conversations today are loaded with work, for both people.

Here are a few more important concepts to develop good communication.

  1. Patience
  2. Grace
  3. Compassion
  4. Understanding

It takes work and time. Yet, when you practice listening and being present, all kinds of wondrous things happen. Really.

Photo by Rohan Makhecha on Unsplash

Creating Insight

Ah, yes, one of my favorite topics. Insight. Beautiful.

Well, what’s the deal with insight anyway? When we typically think about insight, we think about that moment of clarity where we learn something we’d not considered before. Right? Yep.

However, insight can come in many forms. Seriously. Here are a few.

  1. Self
  2. One-on-One
  3. Team
  4. Organization
  5. Community

Yep. Insights are created through collaboration, whether that is through collaboration with yourself, yes, that’s true, or with another individual or team member, or with the entire team, organization, or community.

Insights are a product of high-quality communicative contexts that are safe. Period.

Photo by Sai De Silva on Unsplash

A Single System

Alright, so what does creating coaching, good communication, and insight have to do with each other? Yep, you got it.

They are all a part of the relationship system. First, the relationships we have with ourselves, then, the team, organization, and community. True.

And, the relationship system is applicable in all social contexts. Meaning, you can substitute family with the team in the aforementioned example, and you have a whole and complete system for the family. Same.

There we go. That’s my 3-minute reflection on the relationships system, and why considering these pieces as connected and a part of a larger whole is very important for leaders, and, well, for everyone. Really.

In fact, one could argue, as I would, that your very relationships depend on it. Truth. Phew. That was fun.

#coaching, #communication, #insight, #interactions, #leadership, #relationshsipsystem, #selfdevelopment

A Blogger’s Diary 11/8/20: On Writing, The Election, Music, and A Poem

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

It’s hard to believe, I know, I know, cliche, yet, it is hard to believe that the holidays are upon us. Phew. A busy week, as always, and a stressful one for people that live in this country. Yep. True.

Writing

Right, so, first, in the event you’ve not yet seen what I’ve been up to, here it is.

  1. A Perspective Poem
  2. Why It’s Important to Understand Your Own Sensitivity As A Gift
  3. A Poem of Peace
  4. A Poem at The Precipice
  5. 3 Paradoxes of Leadership All Leaders Should Know
  6. The Reflection Series Part 3: What Does it Mean to Live A Life of Wonder?
  7. A Resilience Poem

Well, well, well, look at that. More poems than any other type of writing this week. Hm. Well, I did write last week that I was going to continue writing poems. How fun.

And, this week?

Well, as always, there is a plan, yet I’m never really sure what will happen. More fun that way. Really. Let’s see. Yes, I am thinking about a few different pieces. Here they are.

  1. Poems on
    1. Courage
    2. Movement
    3. Vulnerability
    4. Majesty
  2. A new social construction series entry on interaction ritual – it’s a sociological thing, of course, and will be fun.
  3. Some new thinking I’ve done on interactions. More specifically on coaching type conversation.
  4. And, I’m still pondering that piece on moving towards a more resilient and positivistic approach to sociology. Not sure.

It’s super fun to look back on what I’ve written during the week, reflect upon it, and then consider the following week’s writing. I am very curious to see how much poetry comes this next week. Hm.

Right. Well, that’s all about writing. Now? Yep, here we go.

The Election

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Though, I’m not going to go on and on here, I do want to acknowledge how much stress, worry, and anxiety people in this country have been feeling about the election over the past week

And, no matter where you align yourself along the political spectrum, the aforementioned statement is true.

I am grateful that the election is complete, and that Biden and Harris will be in office for the next 4 years.

Whereas, I am hopeful they will do some good for a very fractured country, I do believe they are a bridge to a better day. Meaning?

That both political parties have work to do; and, they need to begin today.

That’s about all I have to write about that for now. Music? Yep. Good. Here we go.

Music

Photo by Felicia Buitenwerf on Unsplash

Alright, so, like many of you, I’m sure, I listen to music when I write. Well, actually, I listen to music when I do lots of things, writing is simply one of them. And?

Well, a good friend of mine turned me on to a new pianist this past week. And?

WOW!

I mean, phew, moving, inspiring, exceptional. Ready? Here you go.

Now, whether you enjoy piano, or not, I invite you to please take a listen. Yiruma plays some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. Really. Phew. Lovely.

Alright, that’s about all for this week.

Before I go, I want to add one more thing. Ready? Good. Here we go.

A New Day

Though divided,
They simply had forgotten,
That division is the seed of begotten
Times past, and

That there was need
Of a new day, where the kids could play
Free from fear of reprisal,

Along a path toward survival
With a much needed revival

Let us then not be stifled, but rather
Set a course
Quite more delightful

And work side by side
One and all
Toward a future
That holds the promise
Of what is rightful and insightful

Have a lovely week, everyone.

#bloggers-diary, #blogging, #leadership, #music, #perspective, #poem, #resilience, #sensitivity, #theelection, #wonder, #writing, #yiruma

3 Paradoxes of Leadership All Leaders Should Know

A Journey From the Unknown to the Known

Photo by Lucas Ludwig on Unsplash

I often write about paradoxes, well, because life is full of them. Really. And, as we recognize a paradox, we are poised to reconcile what is seemingly unknown into something that is known. Yep.

And, how does that aid leaders? Well, first, I consider leadership something that lives inside of everyone. Yep.

Leadership is something we can all do; and, in fact, leadership is something that most of us already do. Really. In some way in our life, we lead. Even if the leading you do is just for you; you are still leading.

And, we also know that in leadership the self is where it all starts. Yep. Also tue. Leadership goes out from you to everyone and everything else. It’s just how it works.

Leaders also need to know that most things are unknown, and that we know far less than is knowable. Important.

Therefore, inside of a paradox, there is an opportunity to turn something unknown into known, which is helpful for yourself, yep, and for everyone you are leading.

Now, before we go further, let’s define leadership, so we are all on the same page. Okay? Good. Here we go.

leadership

Pronunciation /ˈlēdərˌSHip/ /ˈlidərˌʃɪp/ 

NOUN

The action of leading a group of people or an organization.

The state or position of being a leader.

Lexico

Right. Pretty ambiguous. Hm.

Let’s try lead instead. Here we go.

lead

Pronunciation /lēd/ /lid/ 

TRANSITIVE VERB led

[WITH OBJECT]

Cause (a person or animal) to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, a rope, etc. while moving forward.

Show (someone or something) the way to a destination by going in front of or beside them.

Lexico

Ah, much better. Here is what we have so far. A leader is someone that goes with someone, or shows someone something by going in front of or beside them. Very good.

Alright, so what are these three paradoxes? Right. Let’s get right into our discussion, shall we? Good. Here we go.

Photo by Kevar Whilby on Unsplash

1. The Real and The Ideal

As a leader it is important to know the current reality. Meaning to know your strengths and weaknesses, and that of the teams. Super important. Yet, that’s not all. Nope.

You must also communicate that reality, and do so often. One of the most important functions in leadership is setting the pace and the reality. A reality that will include both strengths and weaknesses. It has to.

We all have areas to develop, as do teams, and when we own them, guess what?

We have now created a context that welcomes development, one that is open and growth-oriented. Fun.

Now, once you know and have communicated the current reality, it is time to begin to balance the real (current state or reality) with the ideal (future state or reality). Very important.

And, how this is done is predicated on knowing that everything we do today informs tomorrow, and that tomorrow is simply a mirror of today. Yep. Say more? Of course. Here we go.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

2. Today and Tomorrow

Alright, so when we cast a vision for our life or our team, we are setting down in language that which we want to accomplish in a certain amount of time. Might be a week, a month, a year, or several years. Depends.

What matters is that we tie that vision, those specific goals, to objectives and priorities that we can set our sights on and work towards each day. Yep.

When we connect our daily actions to our long-term goals, we are actively creating tomorrow today. Wait, what? Yes. It’s true.

When we take actions today that are connected to goals we have in the future, we are creating our future from this very moment. Therefore, when we take action today, tomorrow ends up being a mirror of today. Meaning?

We are actively actualizing tomorrow’s goals today. One action at a time. Fun. And, truth.

The concept of creating your future from today is a very powerful concept for leaders, teams, and, well, everyone. And, what happens when we create a context full of this type of possibility?

Well, we lead, yes, and so do those around us. It works that way.

Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash

3. Lead and Follow

Right, so leadership as we’ve defined it has to do with going out in front, paving the way, if you will, with a vision that ties back to objectives and priorities that you, and your team, if you have one, work on each day. Yep.

And, when you are out in front like that, sometimes, you will have to pull back a bit, as the team moves closer to you. Yep. Or, if they are moving quickly, you may have to go out in front even further. Depends. And, guess what?

Sometimes, your team will move right on past you. Yep. Can and does happen. It is a beautiful thing to see really. And, when that happens?

No problem here, you, like they would, catch back up. Simple. The point?

That leadership is a complex, and yet very simple, set of relationships you have. First with yourself. Always with yourself first. And, then with everyone else around you.

Relationships are leadership. And, leadership is about having high-quality relationships. Yep. Bottom line? Sure.

Leaders lead and follow, both. They are, in fact, one and the same. Not separate at all. One.

Alright, so there are three leadership paradoxes that, when we have an awareness of how they function, create a context where we are connecting the unknown of tomorrow, or 5 years from now, to today. Meaning?

That we are creating the known from the unknown. In this very moment, in fact. And, well, that’s fun, and powerful.

#creatingthefuture, #fromtheunknowntothenkown, #humandevelopment, #leadandfollow, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipmindset, #leadershipparadox, #therealandtheideal, #todayandtomorrow

Why It’s Important to Understand Your Own Sensitivity As A Gift

A Spectrum of Sensitivities

Photo by Anton Darius on Unsplash

In the post, The Paradox and Gift of Being A Highly Sensitive Person: Clear and Strong, Not Hurt and Damaged, we unpacked and discussed sensitivity in terms of being a highly sensitive person.

For me, it then follows to ask the question, is high sensitivity binary, as in you have it or you don’t? Or, rather, is high sensitivity a spectrum of experiences? Hm. Good questions. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Alright, so let’s first define binary and spectrum. Ready? Good. Here we go.

binary

noun /ˈbaɪnəri/ /ˈbaɪnəri/,  /ˈbaɪneri/ (computing, mathematics)

a system of numbers that uses only 0 and 1

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

Well, that’s fun. Now, for the purpose of this conversation, think about being highly sensitive as a 1 and not being highly sensitive as a 0. Make sense? Okay, good. Now spectrum.

spectrum

noun  /ˈspektrəm/ /ˈspektrəm/(plural spectra  /ˈspektrə/  /ˈspektrə/)

[usually singular] a complete or wide range of related qualities, ideas, etc.

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

There we go. Again, for the purpose of this conversation, you can think about a complete or wide range of related sensitivities, as a spectrum of sensitivity. Make sense? Good.

Now, why is this important? Good question.

Photo by Laura Ockel on Unsplash

Sensitivity as a Spectrum

Because if we think about sensitivity as binary, we limit the experience of being a sensitive human being; and, we also limit our own experience of what it means to be sensitive.

As we discussed in the previous post on sensitivity, being sensitive is not a problem or an issue, it is, rather a gift. And, being able to own that gift, and really internalize it as such is an important and empowering experience.

Really, important.

And, at the same time, it is equally important for everyone to have access to the possibility that they are also sensitive. Why?

Because understanding our sensitivities, whatever they might be, is such an important aspect of being a human being. Truly, truly, this is so.

People that are highly sensitive often turn to substance abuse and other forms of self-abuse in order to dull their sensitivity. And? It is extremely damaging.

Yes, of course, for the person with sensitivity, and also, for those around them. Both. Yet, it need not be that way. Truly.

Photo by Ilkka Kärkkäinen on Unsplash

Are You a Highly Sensitive Person?

Here are a couple of questions you can ask yourself to see if you too might be a highly sensitive person. Ready? Good. Here we go.

  1. Are you sensitive to light?
  2. How about being sensitive to cold or heat?
  3. Maybe you are sensitive to noise?
  4. Are you easily overwhelmed?
  5. Do you feel your own emotions more?
  6. How about feeling other people’s emotions more?

Now, you can use these questions, if you choose, to start an investigation into your own sensitivity. Yep. Oh, me?

Yes, to every question listed above, and more. I typically score between 17 and 19 on the highly sensitive person questionnaire, which I recommend everyone take. Everyone. Seriously. Why?

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

Sensitivity As a Gift

Because finding out that I was a highly sensitive person was pivotal in my life. A gift, as was previously stated.

Therefore, I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to explore their sensitivity, free from bias and judgment. Yep, that’s about it.

Further, I believe that everyone is highly sensitive in some way. Really. I do.

Remember, sensitivity is a spectrum, not binary. Meaning, that it is quite possible that everyone in some way is highly sensitive to something. Yep. Possible. And?

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Removing the Stigma of Being Sensitive

Well, removing stigma about sensitivity, especially in the United States, is super important. Especially for young boys. Really.

Young boys are often raised to dissociate themselves from their sensitivity, yet, that is so very unhealthy. It is unhealthy for them as a developing child and youth, and is also unhealthy, as we’ve discussed, for them later in life.

What is healthy?

Proper education about sensitivity. For instance, positive reinforcement and education about what sensitivity means; and, knowledge about how to cope with emotions. All. Important.

Bottom line? Sure. Here we go.

We all have sensitivities. We have to. Why? Because we are all human, and all humans have senses. And, these senses are, at times, maybe all the time, sensitive. And?

That is perfectly okay. More, as we’ve discussed, it is a gift.

Embracing our sensitivity creates more possibility. More possibilities about ourselves and our lives, and more possibilities for those around us.

When we model acceptance of our sensitivity, we remove the stigma about sensitivity and create spaces that are more inclusive and loving.

And, I for one, think that acceptance, inclusivity, and love are needed in this world. Nay, they are very much needed in this world. Today, yep, and, well, tomorrow too. And, for all time.

#acceptance, #emotionalintelligence, #empowermentandsensitivity, #healthysensitivity, #highlysensitivepeople, #hsp, #humandevelopment, #leadership, #love, #selfimprovement, #sensitivityasagift, #spectrumofsensitivities

The Paradox of Servant Leadership

Why Care, Compassion, and Accountability Are Engaging

Photo by Cam Bradford on Unsplash

I’m always reflecting upon service. It’s always been a big part of my life. I started out in the “service industry” at 16, and never, really, ever looked back.

What I’ve been reflecting upon even more recently, is just how important service is in, well, everything we do. It’s not just about the work we do, in the professional sense.

It’s more about all of the work we do. All of it. And, it starts with each of us, and how we take care of and, in effect, serve ourselves. Really.

I was telling a colleague of mine today, as they prepared to train a group of local leadership, that in order to hold other people accountable, we must first hold ourselves accountable. It’s how it works.

Something this colleague knows very well indeed.

And, as was aforementioned, service is no exception to this rule. In order to serve others, we must first learn to serve ourselves.

Photo by Jernej Graj on Unsplash

We are all looking for places to serve. Places where we can make a difference, where we can be a part of something larger than ourselves. A paradox? Yep.

Because in order to be a part of something larger than yourself, you must first be in touch with yourself, know yourself, treat yourself with love and kindness, and hold yourself accountable to a standard.

A standard that is engaged with and committed to creating and effecting change. Changing that which we know, the status quo, with something, well, quite different.

Within this possibility, there are innumerable opportunities to serve. Fun.

Alright, ready? Good. Here we go.

Servant Leadership

I’ve written a couple of articles about servant leadership, which includes, The Blog + Video Series #14: Servant Leadership: A Practical Leadership Style for Life and Work.

The basic tenant of servant leadership is that service is paramount to leadership as a philosophy and a practice. Both.

That to lead, we must lead from a perspective that fully understands that nothing happens without the entire team; and, that, it is because of each team members contribution to the team that movement and traction are even possible.

Servant leadership upends the traditional leadership hierarchy, putting the needs of front-line workers first. Important.

Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

And, as we’ve already discussed, servant leadership is, both conceptually and practically, a leadership style that works for all aspects of life.

When we take care of ourselves and lead from within, we can then take care of others and lead from without. If not, well, true leadership of any kind is impossible.

Sometimes there is confusion about servant leadership.

Meaning that people sometimes connect servant leadership to a laissez faire type context. And, servant leadership both conceptually and practically is far from that type of context.

In fact, a servant leadership context will often be full of standards and expectations that are higher than other leadership contexts. Yep. Common. Why?

Well, inside of serving, as was aforementioned, is the need to create change. Creating new possibilities, new ways of communicating, new ways of, well, doing most things.

When you create a context that is committed to changing the status quo, no matter how small or large that change is, there have to be higher standards and expectations.

And, in some cases, the highest standard must be demanded. Why?

Photo by john vicente on Unsplash

Because there is so much more to accomplish. That’s it really. More work, more movement, more traction, more change. Amazing.

And, where there is change and innovation of this magnitude, there must be great care, compassion, and accountability, both for the self, the team, and the organization. And, yep, for the nation, and the world too.

Care

What is engagement, really? When you think about that word, what do you see, or think about? Hm.

For me, I think about contexts that are brimming with challenges and difficulties, yep, and celebrations. Why?

Because when you are truly engaged with yourself, and the people around you, you will experience both. You have to.

Being engaged, is living a full life, and the giving out of that life to everyone around you. It is extremely fun and rewarding and, yep, also difficult.

All service, regardless of the context, professional or personal, requires determination, persistence, and resilience. Oh, and great care. Yep.

When you are engaged, you care. Simple. Oftentimes, people get confused and think that when things are difficult that there is a problem. A paradox? Yep.

Photo by Zach Vessels on Unsplash

When things are difficult, you are engaged, you are doing, and you are creating. No problem here.

When are there problems?

Well, if you subscribe to notions of problems, then the only time there are real problems is when there is disengagement. Where things are easy, moving simply, no speed bumps. Why?

Because, if there are no issues, nothing to overcome, then, nothing is really happening. Yep.

Now, that’s not really a problem either. Not really.

It’s only a problem if you are looking to be engaged. I always know when I am most engaged at work or in my life. How?

Because there is always, and I mean always, something to celebrate, and something to overcome. A challenge, always.

These engaging contexts also require, as was aforementioned, great care. Really. Why?

Because when you are fully engaged, and are working through issues that arise, care about all things and everyone, yourself, and all those around you, is always there.

And, that is because you are going through something.

You are developing, iterating, and, yep, in some cases, even transforming. Beautiful.

Photo by Gita Krishnamurti on Unsplash

Compassion

Because a servant leadership context is a highly engaging one, where people will bring their all every day, compassion is also required.

Compassion for yourself, for how very, very hard it is sometimes, and for those around you. Sometimes, people will decide it’s just too much, and that is okay.

There was a time when I desperately wanted everyone to stay. And, I would coach people endlessly to this end. No pun intended.

Yet, a servant leadership context is not what everyone is looking for, and that is also okay. Knowing this releases you and everyone else from an obligation that truly doesn’t exist.

And, practicing compassion is what that looks like. Understanding that people will leave. And, guess what?

It’s better for them to do so.

Better to find a context that suits them more, feels better to them, and will in the long run be much more beneficial for them. Important.

Accountability

One of the most paradoxical aspects of servant leadership is in the area of accountability. And, there was a time where accountability within a servant leadership paradigm also confused me.

The bottom line?

Accountability matters. People actually want to be held accountable to a higher standard. Knowing that their work and service, whatever it is, is making a change in the world.

Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

Again, no matter how small or large that change is, matters much less, than that people get to participate in something that, yes, inspires them, and, even more importantly, actively creates change in the world. Fun.

It is a ton of work. Yep. Yet, who ever said that life was supposed to be easy?

I know. That is such a cliche, and yet it does work here.

Think about any change, nay, think about some of the largest institutional and cultural changes of all time. Now, answer this question.

Were they easy?

Nope, not a single one. They are not supposed to be. Therefore, having a high standard and instituting accountability is not only needed, it is also positively reinforcing the servant leadership context that has been created. How?

Because serving yourself, setting the highest standard for yourself that you can, means that you will also set that same standard for the people around you. And?

They will rise to meet it, just as you are.

For more on Servant Leadership check out these resources.

#accountabilityandleadership, #careandleadership, #compassionandleadership, #creatingchange, #humandevelopment, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #selfdevelopment, #selfimprovement, #servantleadership, #teamdevelopment

3 Reasons Why Thinking About and Practicing Integrity Differently is Important to Your Life

On Being Whole, Complete, and Our Word

Photo by Kevin Crosby on Unsplash

Have you ever thought about the word integrity? I mean really thought about it?

People use the word often, yet, I think, there is some confusion, or, rather, maybe there is a better way to understand integrity as a concept and as a practice. Ready? Let’s go.

integrity

noun  /ɪnˈteɡrəti/ /ɪnˈteɡrəti/[uncountable]

the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

There we go.

Okay, honesty and morality, such as right and wrong and good and bad. Hm. I’m not the biggest fan of right and wrong and good and bad. Why?

Because, good and bad and right and wrong, like happiness and sadness go together. Meaning?

That you cannot have goodness without badness, nor can you have rightness without having wrongness. Striving, then, for such concepts, such as being right and good, is folly, and can cause pain and suffering.

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

We are all going to be both bad and good, and wrong and right sometimes. Inevitable. Hm.

Let’s try something different.

How about we think about integrity as whole and complete. Here is the next part of the definition from Oxford.

the state of being whole and not divided

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

There. The difference, you ask?

Well, a state of being whole and complete, or undivided, increases the workability inside of the concept of integrity.

It takes away the judgment that can be found, and cast in the previous portion of the definition focused on good and bad, and right and wrong. Yep.

Therefore, if we think about integrity as being whole and complete, and a matter of that which is said, or our word, integrity stays within us; an, internal concept, if you will.

Here you go.

“We distinguish integrity as a phenomenon of the objective state or condition of an object, system, person, group, or organizational entity, and define integrity as: a state or condition of being whole, complete, unbroken, unimpaired, sound, perfect condition.” Werner Erhard

Quote Tab

There we go.

When we start the conversation about integrity as an understanding that we are all just as we are supposed to be, today, right now, just so. We start from a place of understanding, not judgment. Important.

Further, adding our word as the highest state of integrity, there is always workability. How? Simple. Communication.

Meaning, that if we are going to be out of integrity, we simply communicate this fact. Sounds simple, yes?

Photo by Wonderlane on Unsplash

Well, many people struggle with this concept. Really. Think about how many times someone said they were going to do something, and they didn’t.

And, then think about how often they communicated to you they weren’t going to do it. Yep. Happens all the time. To me, to you, to everyone.

And, this is not a judgment. It just is. We are still whole and complete, regardless. We all are. Having integrity within this conversation means creating an intention to do as you say, and when you can’t or choose not to, to communicate about it. That’s all.

Why does this conception of integrity work?

Here are three reasons why.

1. Release Right and Wrong

When we know that we are whole and complete, just as we are, right now, in this moment, we can release notions of right and wrong. Integrity in this conception is not about being right or being wrong.

It’s about being our word, and when we are unable to do something we said we would, we simply communicate about it. That’s it.

Releasing right and wrong from our notions of integrity decreases stress and anxiety about trying to live up to an ideal that no human can really live up to, and need not try.

Photo by Amy Treasure on Unsplash

2. Let Go of Good and Bad and Right and Wrong

Being whole and complete also means that we can let go of ideas we have about being good and right, or being bad and wrong.

Integrity in this conversation has nothing to do with ideas of good and bad, or right and wrong, which is helpful. As was aforementioned, we are all “good and right” and “bad and wrong” sometimes.

Letting go of being good and bad, and right and wrong also reduces stress we might feel about trying to be something other than we are right now; and, may also reduce stress-associated anxiety that we may feel striving for conceptions of integrity that are impossible to fulfill.

3. Accept the Reality of Integrity

We are all out of integrity sometimes. Everyone says they’ll do something, and then is unable to follow through for some reason. Remember, integrity is not about being perfect, nor is it about being right and being good.

It’s about doing what we say, and then if we are unable, communicating about it.

Understanding and practicing integrity this way also reduces stress and anxiety people have about trying to live up to a perfect ideal of integrity that does not actually exist.

Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

You are already a perfect human being, just as you are. Really. The iteration of you that you are today is exactly who you are supposed to be. How do I know that? Well, because that is the iteration you are today.

It is not the iteration that will exist tomorrow, nor in the next moment. It works that way.

You are whole and complete just as you are. And, your word is all the integrity you need. Chasing after other conceptions of integrity, such as being right and good is a never ending merry-go-round that will only ever leave you dizzy, stressed, and anxious.

Time to jump off that merry-go-round.

#goodandbad, #humandevelopment, #integrity, #leadership, #lettinggoofrightandwrong, #life-lessons, #psychology, #realityofintegrity, #releasingrightandwrong, #rightandwrong, #selfdevelopment, #selfimprovement

The Big 5: Developing An Innovative Culture

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is javier-trueba-vfjnewjaa2g-unsplash.jpg
Photo by javier trueba on Unsplash

When I worked as a District Sales Leader at Frito-Lay, the company had an operating system for their sales teams, known as the Big 3, which consisted of the following.

  1. 1W1’s
  2. Monthly Team Meetings
  3. Ride-Alongs

I have no idea if the Big 3 is still in place, however, I do know that the system worked well. Why? There are 5 reasons. Ready? Let’s go.

  1. Establish Trust
  2. Create Alignment
  3. Develop Balance
  4. Build Collaboration
  5. Institute Accountability

Little did I know then, that these five outputs would actually show up in a different way 20 years later. Yep. How?

They showed up as important to developing and building an innovative culture. A culture grounded in trust, alignment, balance, collaboration, and, yep, accountability. The outcome? Innovation.

Alright, let’s now call these, just for fun, the Big 5. What, then, do we get when we instill the Big 5 into our teams, businesses, and organizations? A culture where innovation can thrive.

Implementing the Big 5 into your team is about developing culture. As your culture develops, you can then wrap processes and systems around that culture.

You may be wondering about developing systems first, then culture. I would advise against it. Why? Culture matters more. Simple.

Alright, let’s take a look at the Big 5.

Photo by NONRESIDENT on Unsplash

1. Establish Trust

I’ve written about establishing trust a couple of times. In 3 Steps and 9 Keys to Creating Safety on a Team in 5 Minutes, I write about 9 keys to creating safety on teams. And, inside of creating safety is establishing trust. Very important.

Establishing trust must come before people will feel safe. If people do not feel safe, they will hold back. Makes perfect sense. However, when there is trust, people will give all that they have, and they will also be vulnerable, try new things, go out on limbs; and, that is where innovation lives.

When there is trust between you and the team, and between each team member, you have an opportunity to create outputs and outcomes that have never been seen before. Why?

Because trust + safety + vulnerability = innovation.

Once trust and safety are in place, creating alignment is next. Creating alignment can take time. It took the team I currently work on over 2 years to create alignment. Year 1 was creating trust and safety. Year 2, creating alignment.

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

2. Create Alignment

Alignment takes time. Really. It is normal for teams to move in different directions at the beginning. If you are unsure about this truth, that’s okay.

You can implement systems and processes upfront to ensure creating alignment quickly. However, as was aforementioned, creating those systems and processes early will also create a barrier to innovation. Why?

Because innovation thrives in an open environment where all the answers are not figured out. Though this can be stressful, know inside of an innovative environment, where safety, trust and vulnerability thrive, systems and processes will come.

Alignment comes when a vision is cast and strategy is created to tie the day-day operations to that vision. Each person on a team has a role to play in the execution of a vision.

When you get clear on everyone’s role and responsibilities, you are ready to create alignment between the vision and the day-to-day operations.

Here is how it looks linearly.

  1. Create a 10-year vision
  2. Create a 5-year vision
  3. Create a 3-year plan
  4. Create this year’s objectives
  5. Create 90-day priorities
  6. Create work of the month
  7. Create work of the week
  8. Create work of the day

Though that list looks long, it really isn’t that much, though it does take time. There is a very good resource for creating this kind of vision system, it is called Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, by Gino Wickman. I highly recommend it to all leaders in all organizations.

Alright, now that you’ve established trust and created alignment, the next step is to develop balance. Sounds simple. Yet, developing balance takes practice. Let’s take a look.

Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

3. Develop Balance

As a leader, should you focus more on culture, or more on performance? Hm. Both are important. I like to think about culture and performance, like a see saw. Focus going back and forth. Sometimes, culture takes precedent, and sometimes, performance.

However, you must have both.

If you have a strong culture, and performance issues, you are not moving forward. If you have excellent performance metrics, and no culture, people will burn out and leave.

Developing a balanced approach to culture and performance takes practice, and an open mind. Meaning that when people bring you intelligence that a shift towards culture, or towards performance is needed, be open to shifting focus. Important.

In an open environment where trust and alignment have been created, the team will let you know. Really, they will. However, you still need to pay close attention to the team, and each individual on the team.

Like anything, developing balance takes time, and practice. You will know when you stray too far into one realm or the other. You can feel it when a team is not moving, or is moving too much. Watch, listen, and feel.

Collaboration is another important component to build in the journey towards creating an innovative culture. Some might say it is one of the most important.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

4. Build Collaboration

Why is collaboration so important? Well, to develop an innovative culture, building collaboration is a must. On teams where trust, alignment, and balance have been instituted, vulnerability will also typically be present.

And, being vulnerable with each other in an environment where collaboration is high is a natural breeding ground for innovation. Why?

Because where vulnerability meets collaboration is an open space ready for innovation to occur.

Actually, where vulnerability meets collaboration is where innovation is already happening. Really, it is.

Innovation needs spaces that are open, collaborative, and safe. Further, alignment and balance also help create innovative spaces. Though we’ve already discussed these two, there are two more reasons that showcase just how true the last sentence is.

  1. Because when your team is aligned, you are all on the same page, moving in the same direction. You are one.
  2. Because when there is balance, you also have balance with innovation. For instance, if all you do is innovate, then nothing will move forward. Similarly if all you do is execute, then innovation will founder. You need both. Both innovation and execution. A must.

Alright, now, let’s talk about accountability.

Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

5. Institute Accountability

You may be asking yourself right now, what in the world does accountability have to do with innovation? Well, a lot actually. Let’s go.

Fostering an innovative culture, which also executes is imperative to actually creating newness in the world. You have to develop both sides of the equation. Similar to developing balance. And, how do you instill accountability into your culture? It starts with you.

You must practice accountability. Holding yourself accountable, first. You must also be open to the team holding you accountable. Accountable for what, you ask? For what you say and do. Integrity.

Developing an innovative culture means that each individual, starting with the leader, holds themselves accountable for the actions they take, and sometimes, don’t take.

The same goes with the team. When each individual holds themselves to the culture of innovation that you are developing, the team is also simultaneously held accountable. And, when people don’t perform?

Well, you must understand why. If it is a skill issue, offer them the opportunity to develop, to grow. If they are interested, great. If not, well, that is their choice.

If it is will. Then they also have a choice.

Bottom line. Developing an innovative culture means that accountability is taken seriously. As seriously as having fun, growing together, learning from each other, and innovating new products and services. Same.

Alright, that’s the Big 5 of developing an innovative culture. Fun. And, guess what? You can develop an innovative culture anytime. Really. How? Well, like all things, one step, or action at a time.

What will you develop next?

#buildingbalance, #businessinnovation, #creatingalignment, #creatinginnovation, #creatingsafety, #developingbalance, #establishingtrust, #innovativeleadership, #institutingaccountability, #leadership, #leadershipcahange, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipessentials, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipinpractice, #leadershipmindset, #leadershippractice, #leadershipprinciples, #leadershipvalues, #organizationaldevelopment, #organizationalinnovation, #teamdevelopment

Clouds In The Sky

Corvallis, OR September 14, 2020

Alright, so I got home form work today about 5 pm. I was feeling tired before even getting home, so took a nap. Yep. Today, I sleep when needed. Not something I did for most of my life.

Anyway, after my nap, I wanted to go outside. As I walked out of my apartment and looked up and to the left, I squinted. The sun, wait, what?

For those of you wondering what I’m talking about, I live in Oregon, where for the past 7 days the sky has been filled with smoke and ash. No sun in 7 days.

Now, no sun is a normal part of living in the PacNW, yet, not, as it was these past 7 days, due to the largest wildfires in OR history, burning over 1 million acres.

I looked back down, and up and to the right. And, there it was. The sky! The clouds, wow, what a wondrous sight. Beautiful. And, at the same time I was feeling joy and wonder, I was also feeling sadness and worry. Why?

Because the fires are still raging across the state. Many of died, tens of thousands have had to evacuate their homes, many, many, many have lost their homes, and, in several instances, whole towns have been destroyed.

This post is for all of them, and for the amazing firefighters on the front lines battling the wildfires each and every day.

ABC News
Chicago Triibune
Oregon Live

We are thinking about you, sending love, energy, and support to all of you, and appreciate your leadership, dedication, and persistence.

Lead well, and be safe.

#firefighters, #inspiring, #leadership, #leadershipinaction, #oregonfires, #oregonwildfires, #wildfires