Learning Edges…..

 

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What do you mean when you say “learning edge”? He is frowning at me slightly, possibly mildly irritated, possibly very curious but definitely wanting to know.
I have a moment where I feel the tug of “Coaches Should Not” – the received wisdom that suggests I ought not to direct, disclose or offer in my theories. The training that suggested I ask the questions – You grapple with the answers….
An I/You binary model which I think I once bought into.
In this model, I am glacial and impervious – I ask good insightful questions and stay out of the way when the answers come. None of my business. The learning is all yours. I am here to open up and allow and enable….
I evade a little. “Why are you asking?” – well.. it’s ALMOST a coaching question..

Continue reading

Leadership is Dead – Long Live Leadership: An Experiment

 

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I’m talking at City of Glasgow College One City event on 19th June
As I had been in a number of conversations about leadership (What it is. What it isn’t. The odd paradox that there are SO MANY books and articles on Leadership and yet no matter what is written and taught, there seems to be a Holy Grail element to “Leadership”) I opted to talk to staff and students about leadership.
I started thinking: so is there such a thing as Leadership? Are we kidding ourselves? Do I want to stand up and talk about leadership as if it is a given?

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The Nurse will lead you now….

20131217-064726.jpgSo the last few days have been a lot about hospitals and medical/surgical type information. (See here for previous post) And one of the things I have been reflecting on is this:

My first HR director was an ex nurse. She says her time Nursing was the best possible preparation for life – both Corporate and Personal – I’d forgotten she said that, yet, having chatted to the nursing staff and watched things over the past days, I’d say she was really on to something.
Nurses have excellent leadership credentials: Continue reading

Notes from a Conference…

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What is there left to write about the CIPD’s 13th Annual Conference in Manchester last week?  The CIPD Social Team did a first-rate job of ensuring a plethora of bloggers & Twitter aficionados were present at sessions. This means that instant reactions to Speakers and content were picked up through real-time tweets & blogging; followed by slower, more reflective pieces released as the days passed.

Much of the work has been brilliantly gathered and curated by Doug Shaw (@dougshaw1)here: http://cipd.tumblr.com

It has been covered, and excellently, by the Bloggers, Tweeters and Press who attended. This means that, more than any conference I have been to in recent times, there is a archive of material to be looked over by attendees and non-attendees alike. I rather enjoy the openness of this.

And yet the experience was such that I find I want to write about it.

As ever with me, I spent the day in a slight bubble – watching and thinking carefully about what was around me; being as aware as I can be of what I saw and sensed. So here are some of my thoughts and experiences:

Opening & Closing:

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The Keynote opening speech left me with mixed feelings. I was lifted by the ambition of Creating the Best Workplace on Earth. Yes. That is something I want to hear about. It’s something I want to be involved in. I’m warm to this already.

With Rob Goffee & Gareth Jones speaking, I felt in safe hands. They know their stuff. They’ve done the work, both intellectually and actually. I connected to what I heard. At the point at which we were invited to Be Yourself. More. With Skill. I was Tweeting “yes. Bloody Hell Yes.”

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But I also had a sense of disquiet. One of – well you are kind of telling me Things I Know. Things that Make Sense. Is this not what we already know good leadership to be?

I was tweeting questions – Yes, but HOW do we do this? It sounds easy. Yet is difficult.  I was grappling with what I suspect many of us grapple with when faced with a glorious vision – the sinking knowledge that beyond that which looks glorious are a bunch of other sensory encounters to get through– how it feels, smells, tastes and sounds to be in the mix of making it so.  And these can be equally sweet or sour, I would offer. Therein lies resilience.

And then I remembered being in the audience at the CIPD Conference in Harrogate 15 years ago and being swept away by big ideas (some just like this) and how grateful I was that someone had articulated these for me. And how it inspired me as a new Practitioner. So I found myself grateful for the invitation to Create the Best Workplace on Earth.and I want to keep up that invitation. To myself. To others around me. Even if I have to repeat it a thousand times and to folk like me who are more immune to being invited to Create Better Workplaces because we hear it and work with it on a day to day… We don’t get all breathless and excited about our potential to affect change any more….. That invitation, that noise and that repetition is important.

So here’s my reflections about my own part in Creating the Best Workplaces on Earth:

    • I must not shrug off the Things I Know as being Done Before, insignificant or “just things”.  I serve no one well from that space.
    • I must not dismiss the invitation to Create the Best Workplace on Earth as being a pipe dream, altruistic, foolish or unachieveable.
    • I equally must not assume that the Creation of such a place will not take hard work – Quite simply, it will.
    • I must show up and help make it happen. Every day. With humour and grace.
    • I must bring what I know and what I think. I must be prepared to fight, to influence, to argue my point.
    • Anything less does not affect change. It allows apathy, cynicism and status quo.

So OK, Goffee & Jones. You got me. Now what?

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It wasn’t until the closing speech that the “How do we do this?” itch was scratched for me. Andy Lancaster (@andyLancasterUK) from Hanover Housing had a title less lofty than the Best Workplace on Earth. But by talking about Increasing the Impact of Internal Management Development Programmes, he demonstrated how Hanover Housing might come close to being just that.

Their internal development programmes are built with clear purpose and aims, but co-authored with managers and staff. Collaboration is rife. Accreditation of courses gives vital qualifications to staff both in their current roles and in their future worklife. Partnerships with Consultants, who have been carefully chosen for a value and value-for-money fit, offer external support and fresh eyes to the programmes. It is an approach built with care and consideration all round and Andy talked about with the sort of dedication, good sense and clarity that I’m alluding to above.

It was a quietly inspiring way to close the day, for me. It opened with big ideas and DREAMS. It closed with real delivery and making a tangible difference.

You can find a Storify version of the Goffee & Jones’ speech here:

You can find a Storify version of Andy Lancaster’s session here:

Blogs on the Keynote can be found here:

The Exhibition.

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I went to the Manchester Exhibition 4 years ago. As an External Consultant there on my own, it was a lonely and slightly miserable experience. The people on stands were scanning badges to see what my status was (Not Buying seemed to be the response) and I vaguely remember going to a CIPD upgrade clinic where I started my application for Fellowship before losing the will to live ( I still haven’t upgraded, if anyone from the CIPD wants to help me, or listen to my views of the process, please let me know.) I went to a side discussion about Performance Management in the exhibition hall which left me ready chew my hands off because it was SO dull and pedestrian; yet I was surrounded by people I assumed were fairly fresh to HR taking reams of notes…the passivity of it all left me cold and worried about my Profession.

So I roamed the Exhibition hall this time round with a critical eye. What I saw this  year was some really innovative and inviting stands (Yes. People Management putting folk on the cover was a touch of genius. My Ego thanks you).IMG_5314

I saw massages and reki, cupcakes and lovehearts, bookshops and digital solutions. I saw side sessions that looked less like a repeat of my experience (the talk on Pensions wasn’t my cup of tea, but it was overflowing and the audience looked gripped).

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I saw Perry Timms (@perryTimms) in full flow and met a new-to-HR person later in the day, who confided in me that she had never really understood motivation, but after the guy with the Spiky Hair talked, she did.

I saw a profession alive and buzzing. . I saw people greet each other from way back and folk meet for the first time. I heard organisations looking to embrace technology to assist change. I saw old ways of doing, parked right beside new thinking. I heard people talk about that with curiousity. I felt part of something really rather dynamic with potential.  Later, I read blogs that were critically evaluative

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of what had happened. I read things that were fair, considered, that asked questions about diversity, about status quo, about pushing forward.

My experience was one of  people talking. Of change-in-motion.

I still saw some people who were wandering alone and looking vaguely like they weren’t included. I bumped into an ex colleague of mine who felt a little un-networked into the process. I wonder if, in the future, there can be more chat spaces specifically for those lone travellers ( as I once was) to say hello to each other without feeling awful about it?

 

 

Go Social

A Bevvy of BloggersI was genuinely honoured to be asked to take part as a blogger. I have been a member of the CIPD since 1998 ( dear God, how did I get so old?).  When I was an “in-house” Change Manager a Professional Body proved useful and supportive. These days, my  own local Branch in Edinburgh is strong, with a specialist People and Organisational Development Group running which is tailored to L&D and OD matters. But I have firmly been in the “what does the CIPD do for me?” camp for the last few years, especially since my Consultant status means I have little representation in the magazines or research. I have been adrift and was considering rescinding my Membership.

And so it is that through Social Media connections, through a growing network of people who share their days through Twitter and their thoughts through Linkedin, Google+, Storify, Facebook etc, I feel I am finding a community of Practice. A place I can discuss what is real for me and my clients. I have met people I hope will be in my life for a very very long time. I have been provoked. I have laughed. I have been moved beyond measure, but mostly, I have been lit up by a sense of being part of something happening – a national conversation in a Profession I believe could be better, stronger, more.

I am an advocate for Social Media. I am now an Advocate for the CIPD and how it is harnessing the people in the membership.

IMG_0027I kind of feel proud now that I was part of the incredible CIPD Hackathon that ran this year – ambitious, audacious and potentially ahead of its time. I don’t know any other professional body, or  public or corporate body that has sought to get the voices and opinions of the people affiliated to it in such a comprehensive way – but I’m sure I’ll hear more stories now I’ve asked….

I say ahead of its time, because something so big ( we’re hacking a Profession) and so new ( Hacking? What is this Hacking thing? Is that not a cough?) is easy to dismiss or doubt ( see comments and experiences on Goffee & Jones). I think it is only later that you can see the effects and start to get to the learning – at the time, you push and advertise and ask and experiment and just keep going.

As a Case study, it is fascinating. Many organisations could learn from it – good and bad – and at its heart, it was driven by social media and committed individuals. I’m cheering here. I’ve glimpsed the future. Actually, I took part in it too.

So I feel this could be three blogs. I’m roaming wide and long and I’m going to end here.

I must apologise to the excellent Rob Jones (@robjones_tring) of Crossrail , whose session on Leading Organisations through Change with his CEO Andrew Wolstenholme lifted my spirits and got me thinking.  I have not done you justice here. Please see the summary of the session here:

And to Peter Cheese (@cheese_peter) for not mentioning properly how he is in moving the Profession forward. I have SO enjoyed our conversations. Even when I’m thumping tables about “What does the CIPD do for me?”

And to whomever took the very first photo at the beginning of this blog – I “borrowed” it from Doug’s curated tumblr site and will give thanks properly, if you let me know who you are.

My end points are these:

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Please look at the work curated by Doug Shaw. There was a richness of content and involvement that, even if you are not a card-carrying fan of the CIPD, every organisation should be seeking

Think of your own part in Creating the Best Workplaces on Earth. If, like me, you are outside a bigger organisation, focus on making your own consultancy pretty bloody fabulous and work to really really push your clients to do the same.

Pay attention to Exhibitions and places people hang out together- what we do together often speaks way louder than what we say.

Go social – all the way. Find a way to harness your own capacity to use the rich voices and materials that are out there on line. In your business and for your people. If you are afraid – buddy up with someone. I have never met such a open, decent, maraudingly friendly bunch of folk as I have through the HR/L&D/OD people on Twitter.  They are dying to get you involved and genuinely excited about the potential of this Social Stuff. Try it. Honest.

In addition to those mentioned above here are more Bloggers and Social Media Press members involved:  @HRTinker (Tinker) @HRGem (Gemma Reucroft) @OdOptimist (Megan Peppin) @dds180 (David D’Souza) @Damiana_Hr (Damiana Casile) @KingfisherCoach (Ian Pettigrew) @SukhPabial (Sukh Pabial) @MervynDinnen (Mervyn Dinnen) @GrahamSalisbury (Graham Salisbury) @Workessence (Neil Usher) @NeilMorrison ( Neil Morrision) @Flora Marriott (Flora Marriott)  @RapidBI (Mike Morrison) @martinCouzins (Martin Couzins) Apologies if I’ve forgotten anyone….

Read their blogs & follow them. Please.

As a PS: Buy this book (I put this in as not only can I now claim to have had a hand in a #1bestselling Kindle book, I am genuinely proud to be part of The Book of Blogs project and  to know the inimitable David D’Souza AND the money goes to Charity)

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For those who choose to run Up life’s Down Escalator

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I’ve slightly got back in the blog-reading swing this week. This morning, I read Being You is Hard by Neil Morrison. At the risk of detracting utterly from his point, the blog gave me pause particularly at the point of “some people have to walk up the down escalator” and then again with “never be afraid of being yourself”.

I’m someone who is drawn to walk up life’s down escalators.. actually, I prefer to run, to be honest – it means I get somewhere. This leaves me exhilarated, but in need of a breather usually. Yet as an escalator-runner, I recognise a paradox in myself. I know I’m pretty much going to stand out and despite my propensity to take the more awkward path, I’m also someone who is oft afraid of being herself and being truly seen. So I sometimes find myself a little torn.

Because folk are going to look at the person going against the flow, against the sensible path… and probably point a bit and say stuff (I know this, because I would too). So going on the basis that I can’t wear an invisibility cloak AND run up life’s down escalators (health and safety); I figure I end up faced with a choice: Be exhilarated, exhausted and seen, or be less awkward, less visible, less knackered and maybe just a little less alive.

You don’t get to stand out without consequence. That’s not how it works. You want to run up a down escalator? You have to commit to that action or you won’t get anywhere – and even if you commit, there is a high chance of falling over, of getting too tired & having to ride the flow back down to the bottom.

But if you make it all the way– Oh. My. Imagine that.

So you have to choose to go against the flow AND keep making that choice – and if you are a leader, in an organisation and you are pushing for change, for transformation, for a restructure or a re-navigation of “The Way Things Are Round Here”? You are going to be seen. You are going to be tested.

People will whisper. They will point. They will say you won’t make it, can’t make it. You might face sneering. Or outrage. It might tap into old wounds, insecurities and doubts. You may question yourself deeply.

But not everyone will question you– and that’s the point. Some people will look at your antics and want to join in. Some will ask you how you got up the down escalator and work out new and easier ways to do it. Some will gamify the process & have fun with the journey. Some will cheer.

The very best will walk down the up escalator beside you and yell you on and put their hands on your back to push you forward every step of the way

But at the core? At the heart of whatever reaction you have evoked and provoked? I reckon you end up with a few things:

You made your choice to be yourself.

You broke ground for others to follow.

You know exactly who has your back.

So for those who choose to run Up life’s Down escalator, I say this:

Pick your battles, then run at them hard; understand that invisibility isn’t an option, given the choice you made; love and thank the folk who put their hands on your back.

And smile to yourself – because you did it.

 

Image of the Copenhagen Metro – by Bill Lancaster

Day Three – Dialogue? It’s a brain thing….

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Welcome to Day Three of the Exploring Dialogue series. The blogs are designed to consider the impact and influence of use-of-dialogue in everyday and organisational conversations.

Writing about dialogue is a head-scratcher.

I’m trying to write about something essentially verbal and experience-based. It’s hard to find good language for this, I’m finding…..

And yet it feels important to share some of the definitions and deeper meanings I attach to Dialogue – what it might mean to converse and interact well. I’m drawn to David Bohm when he points out that:

Dialogue comes from the Greek word dialogos. Logos means “the word”.. and dia means through – it doesn’t mean “two”. A dialogue can be among any number of people, not just two. Even one person can have a sense of dialogue within himself, if the spirit of that dialogue is present…a stream of meaning flowing among and through us and between us.” ( Bohm 1996 ,P 7)

Making Meaning
That “stream of meaning” is processed by our brains (and our bodies – I’m coming to that bit in a later post). We hear words, attach meaning to them, respond according to the meaning we make….someone hears, makes meaning, responds…ebb, flow, ebb flow…… And it’s in how we interpret and understand what has been said, that we start to agree or disagree with each other.

My point is we don’t “just say” into a vacuum. To be understood well is to acknowledge others are there, interpreting our words and to consider the impact of what-we-say-to-people and what-they-say-back more thoughtfully. It’s the difference between talking at (monologue) and talking with (dialogue).

Change Happens in Conversation – Literally
We are changed through our interactions with people and the wider world. I understand it might seem like an obvious thing to write (the temptation to say “Duh…of course we are” might be high at this point) but I’d offer this notion of change in conversation is something important, maybe even profound. Your differences, stories, reactions, interpretations affect me. I affect you. My brain creates new connections as we talk. I have new experiences and insights. I become different. You literally alter my mind:

“ As the study of plasticity of the brain evolved, scientists noticed that the brain was capable of creating new connections on a massive scale at any stage of life and did this in response to anything that was learned….It is now widely believed that our brain doesn’t just get rewired when life-changing events occur; it happens second by second in response to what is going on around us.” (David Rock,Quiet Leadership 2006)

So the brain responds and changes in conversation. We change in conversation. We shift each other, albeit slightly, when we interact… for me, this is where understanding and working with dialogue becomes important, compelling, maybe even beautiful. Because here, in small moments of talking, there is newness. Here there is the possibility of discovery, tolerance and connection. Here stigmas can be challenged. Here “the way we’ve always done things” starts to look less solid.

Connecting and Creating
When working with groups, teams and one-to-one with coaching clients, I have been fortunate enough to experience the profound, thought shifting, insight- giving moments that can and do happen when people share meaning and talk with each other. Not AT each other – but with each other. Generating a new sense of something together through words and questions. Building on an idea. Beginning to understand something previously unseen. Making new connections. Creating.

The energy that comes from these moments sticks with you. It creates a buzz in the room. A goosebumping on the skin. A quickening of the breath. A slowing of time. Did I say it was a brain thing? Ah…sorry… Lost track for a second.

Parting Thoughts
If you like, I could map out the difference between dialogue and discussion (Bohm’s view – like percussion or concussion, discussion is about breaking things up and into parts; like a ping-pong game where we bat words about and try to win points). I could get drawn into the semantics of whether or not something is a conversation or dialogue or talking well or collective intelligence. I’m up for that conversation if you want to buy me a coffee and we have some time together, of course I am….

…and that coffee discussion we have about semantics will, if I can stay open and curious enough, allow me to understand my view better or differently and allow you the opportunity to do the same…. or you may even, in conversation, help me to utterly change my mind, creating new synapses and thoughts. You could change the chemistry and mapping in my brain and I could change yours….

How cool is that?

And in this is an invitation – fuchsiablue is running two 2-day workshops on 5th & 6th Feb and 20th & 21st March this year designed to encourage attendees to think well and talk well together.

You’ll find more details about Exploring Dialogue here:

If you are interested in the work, please sign up – if you’re not, please pass this on to someone who might be – and no matter what, I hope you enjoy the blogs over the next few days.

The Change Effect

Recently I have had the joy of working with a not-for-profit team who are working to inspire and catalyze leadership for a low carbon future that is smarter, better and more prosperous.

Part of the day was re-connecting the team to their purpose through a series of talks by people working in areas such as Climate Science; promoting and researching “green” business practices in large commercial entities and Social Entrepreneurship.

Suffice to say, I’ve had my eyes opened.

Much of the discussion was about the realities being imagined if the Earth warms by 1°, 2° or the disastrous scenarios (unimaginable, from my perspective) of a 4° future.

And I found myself profoundly humbled, disturbed and also… kind of energised. I realised I was in the room with people who are dedicated and committed to generate the conversations and actions needed to… well… DO SOMETHING about the current situation…. And I began to start asking more about what part I can play in that.

I had a conversation with one of the team and was saying:

“It’s all so big. There is SO much to think about. I take out my bottles and recycle everything I can. We run a woodburner and I’m an extra-jumper-no-heating girl… is that enough? Does it make a difference? At all?”

And of course, the answers were not fully yes or no.

And what I’m noticing is this:

Firstly my spectacular ability to not pay attention to something that disturbs, perturbs and alarms me (Climate Change and all that means for our sustainable future). I am astonished at just how little attention I can actually pay to something because it seems unbearable to consider– tuning out information until it’s a low-level hum that I barely notice anymore… and I’m noticing I’m not alone in that.

Secondly that I have to believe my contribution matters and behave as if I can make some sort of impact. Just as I would say to anyone within an organisation: the responsibility for what goes on around here is partly with you – you can’t opt out if you are in this system. Pretending you don’t matter or have no effect in itself absolutely has an effect.

Thirdly, The day was, for me, a massive re-affirmation of the complexity of change. Climate Change doesn’t happen in a neat and tidy way. It is unpredictable and messy. Some will argue it isn’t happening. Some will be deeply skeptical about what the authorities are offering to be “true”. Some believe it won’t affect them…. Or won’t happen on their shift, at least. Some won’t care until it directly affects their pockets or lifestyles.

And then there are the some who embrace that something is happening and fight to ensure the future is a better one, despite or maybe even because of, the changes that are afoot. Some people are positive, relentlessly active, striving to be creative and inventive to adapt and respond to their circumstances.

As a Consultant working in organisations, I can’t help seeing the parallels, that this global experience is so clearly also our local one.

I guess I’m left with the same sense about the global situation as I have about working with people and organisations. I believe small actions can make a big difference. I believe conversations and connections allow new possibilities to open up. I believe change doesn’t happen in huge conferences or across Board tables, but the need for change gets highlighted here. I believe that the voices of skeptics are vital to spur on the actions of the advocates. I believe apathy is dangerous and also inevitable.

I believe one afternoon, listening to 3 different perspectives in a room filled with committed and action-oriented people has made me read more carefully and pay more attention to what is actually happening around me.

The Change Effect? It’s that simple…

A different story….

I’m working off a theory that there is a paradoxical need for slow time to talk in fast-paced organisations. Even as a card-carrying, fully committed member of The Impatient, this Slow Time notion is strengthening through reading Nancy Kline’s Time to Think, David Bohm’s classic On Dialogue, and the beautiful, lyrical i-thou concepts of Martin Buber.

What i notice is this: If you crash diet, you might get leaner for a while, but long-term you’re likely to get fatter. You go for fast food? Fine, it might satisfy you for a bit, but you get hungry and it’s unsatisfying (not to mention heart attack inducing) You send your Leadership team for a 1 day “experience” or a 3 day Programme? The effects will be marvellous, but fleeting.

We know this. What’s going on with our thinking?

How are we in a situation where our Boards and Leadership teams often put no value on taking time to build the relationships and the conversations that would enable decisions to be made quicker, allow meetings to flow with greater ease, or performance conversations to be appreciative and constructive? Where does the rush come from?

Oh.. but we’re really busy….

Busy? Who SETS that story? What does it mean? Surely we already know that thumping along at a fiercesome pace means stuff gets missed. Voices get lost. Common sense becomes a rarity. In that “busy” frame, it becomes permissible to see the role of “The Board Conscience” as someone a little boring or risk-averse – too slow, not compelling enough. The guy in charge of “people” is not perceived to be commercial: ergo unimportant…. Let’s move on….

And then LIBOR happens. Or Nick Buckle is stuttering in front of the Commons Select Committee because no-one knew how to point out the massive big elephant lurching about the middle of G4S, indicating that there was a recruitment issue 3 weeks before the Olympics kicked off…..

Too busy, huh?

At what cost?

This busy-ness is surely costing companies both on the bottom line and in terms of their reputation? Help me out here. Am I missing something?

As a Consultant, I notice a temptation to be swept up in the orthodoxy that says Boards are too busy, too important, too powerful to worry about the details, like…..relationships, or really understanding what’s happening on their shift. I get that it’s hard not to be impressed by status; or sucked into that whole “too busy” trope….I really do….

And I beg to differ. I seek to challenge. I want to offer other ways of thinking and working.

I want to work with dialogue as a direct response to the speed and single-story narrative I perceive around organisations. I’m making a bid for slow time, considered conversations and building real relationships which will hold up to dissent, to disagreement, which will be more respectful of difference-of-opinion. Conversations that can hold debate and allow time to be taken to hear all the voices in the room.

And before anyone throws out notions that I’m being idealistic or overly simplistic, (evoking John Lennon..again) I’m seeking to do this in ways that fit with the needs of an organisation. This work can be done without going to a retreat in the country – it can happen in meeting rooms and requires only the commitment to take time to talk and listen more carefully.

I’m happy to be told I’m wrong, of course, but my view is basic:

We need a different story in organisations.

“Too busy” demonstrably doesn’t work.

Huge thanks today to Phil Wilcox for his Blog post: “I am Humble, Fallible… and I LEAD” and to Rob Jones for his post “The one where honesty is the best policy” – Blogs which, I believe start to show there are other, more compelling stories to be told within organisations.

On goodness, potency and being an arse….

As part of the action research inquiry into 21st century leadership, our cohort is blogging. James Traeger from Mayvin is considering the notion of Being a Good Person: http://mayvinltd2.tumblr.com/post/25843438083/being-a-good-person

“It is like when we talk about emotional intelligence, when really the words intimacy, caring and even love, are too hot to handle.”

There is SO much in here I want to write about….I so agree that words like intimacy, love and caring at work (and beyond) can be experienced as too hot to handle… and yet they seem to come up more and more in conversations with clients and colleagues of late – either as wholly missing from work/ workplace experience and being yearned for; or being experienced in a work context (usually in some small way) and that experience feeling terribly profound….

I find myself breathless when I hear tales of a good, capable person being told “yes, X is an arsehole, but you’ve just got to get on with it” Where is the kindness here? The listening? Who cares? What do we do to each other?

Imaging if we could be compassionate to the “arse”. Genuinely “see” the person beyond the arse tag. Genuinely inquire into what is making up the arse-hole-ery for a second and try to unpick kindly what the hell is going on…. What would happen? Might the arse become more a whole human being? Might there be some ration, reason, emotion, some humanity in there?

Imagine if such kindness was bestowed on us when we are being arses? Or does arse-ness only happen elsewhere?

I’m playing here with some of James’ notion about “good person” and thinking of the energy it creates…. that goodness can inhabit a tiny space, be a small gesture, a random act of kindness, a compassionate question, seeing the person, and yet its power is potent, raw, potentially unsettling.

Goodness, intimacy, care, love… it strikes me these require us to truly see and acknowledge others – to put ourselves in equal relation to someone else, rather than above or below them. How unnerving it is to hold someone’s gaze as they are in pain or furious or manic or delighted. Easier, perhaps to look away? Easier to say “arse” and be done?

And I’m not holding myself up as being a paragon of loving kindness. I can be blunt as all blazes when I’m going full tilt and it looks like someone is getting in my way; when I’m in that mode of being all full-on and leading from the front and certain, people get overlooked, I am guilty of saying “arse”…. And it rarely serves me well.

Better, perhaps, to be fabulously mindful of the shape and size of the wake I’m creating and who’s caught in it. Better for me, my colleagues and clients if I can show up curious and considerate… occupying a slightly smaller space perhaps, but producing more potent outputs…. OK ok, so I’m working on it…

See Robyn Bomars’ Blog, where she undertakes 38 Random Acts of Kindness on her 38th Birthday, see the responses generated and tell me this isn’t powerful stuff. http://mixmingleglow.com/blog/?p=1358

(thanks to Alison Smith @alisonrbcm for the Tweet about Robyn)