Byron's Babbles

Leadership To Tear Down Walls

IMG_2465Today, I had the opportunity to stand in Berlin, Germany where President Ronald Reagan stood in 1987 behind two panes of bulletproof glass 100 yards from the Berlin Wall at the Brandenberg Gate and called on the Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to dismantle it. I can remember that speech like it was yesterday and to then be standing there, was awe inspiring.

Think about it, at that time it was a very powerful stage: a United States president in front of the Brandenburg Gate at the height of the Cold War, with an East Berlin security post visible behind him. President Reagan firmly said, “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” That is audacious leadership, and why President Reagan is at the top of my most admired Presidents list.IMG_2452

The effects of the speech have been debated by historians, but I will always believe it was an important part to the wall coming down and the freedom and unification of Germany. President Reagan’s speech emphasized freedom and reunification, and then ingeniously and deliberately asked for more than Gorbachev would stretch to. President Reagan saw an opportunity to undercut Europe’s perception of the Russian leader as a leader of peace. A little more than two years later, on Nov. 9, 1989, East and West Germans converged on the wall and began dismantling it after East Germany lifted travel restrictions. The country was reunified less than a year later in 1990. The wall had been in place from 1961-1989.

As a leader, President Reagan was showing us his resilience to continue working with the Soviet Union to end the Cold War. Most who listened at the time viewed Reagan’s speech as a dramatic appeal to Gorbachev to renew negotiations on nuclear arms reductions. eight months before, a summit between Reagan and Gorbachev had ended unsatisfactorily, with both sides charging the other with bad faith in talks aimed at reducing nuclear arsenals. Reagan, who had formed a personal closeness to Gorbachev during their previous meetings, obviously wanted to move those negotiations forward. In December 1987, the two met once again and signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which eliminated an entire class of nuclear missiles from Europe.

IMG_2463President Reagan was a great leader because of his vision. He said, “America is too great for small dreams.” I believe this is true of every organization we lead. We need to dream big. My favorite President certainly did. Great leaders are not satisfied with small dreams. Rather than trying to just gain an edge over the Soviet Union, Reagan totally dismantled the “Evil Empire”, where he succeeded. The dismantling of the Berlin Wall was just one part of that vision.

Here is what former President George Bush had to say about President Reagan, “Our friend was strong and gentle. Once he called America hopeful, big hearted, idealistic, daring, decent and fair. That was America and, yes, our friend. And next, Ronald Reagan was beloved because of what he believed. He believed in America so he made it his shining city on a hill. He believed in freedom so he acted on behalf of its values and ideals. He believed in tomorrow so the great communicator became the great liberator.” President Reagan had a huge vision and had the audacity to go after it. Because of that the world is a better place and more nations are free because of him. Do you have an an uplifting and positive vision for your organization and our country and their future. Let’s get out there and tear down the walls.

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Setting Your Leadership Style

IMG_2258Last evening we did a really cool project during our 3D Leadership Development Program. First of all, the participants were tasked with bringing 10 pictures of leaders that had influenced the participants in a positive way. I must say that all participants put a great deal of thought and reflection into this and all brought their 10 pictures to our gathering. To begin with I had the participants quickly pick four of the leaders and make/draw/create their own person Mount Rushmore with the four most influential leader examples in their lives. These turned out really cool and I have included some pictures of the personal Mount Rushmores that were created, here:

IMG_2254IMG_2255In the discussion afterward, the participants explained how tough it was for them to just pick the four influencers for the original Mount Rushmore. Creating that frustration of only picking four was by design. It is very tough to only pick four for a Mount Rushmore. At the same time we need to realize that our influencers come and go. Also, our influencers have different levels of influence at different times. In other words, as we take our journey of leadership, our role model can, or maybe need to, change. This is why I love reading about a diverse group of leaders. For example, right now I am reading about President James K. Polk. I don’t think he would make my current Mount Rushmore, but I am certainly learning things from his leadership style I can use. Some of them are things I have learned to not do, or stop doing. This is certainly important to our development. The bottom-line is that our personal Mount Rushmore should be continually changing. More importantly, we should constantly be studying and looking for new candidates for our own version of Mount Rushmore.

IMG_1857I have to admit, the idea for for this activity came from my own desire to have a drawing made of what would be my personal Mount Rushmore. Originally, I thought I would have the Wright Brothers, Gene Simmons (KISS), Patrick Henry, and Thomas Edison. But, then I started wanting President Ronald Reagan, Walt Disney, President Harry Truman, et cetera. Honestly, I couldn’t decide so it never got done. In fact the person I wanted to do the drawing told me that it can’t be fixed, it needs to be fluid. In fact he suggested it should be a Mount Rushmore frame with no pictures and then I should have a bunch of magnet pictures to move in and out. Additionally, as new influencers come on, they can be added.

I’ve got to tell you, it really impacted me to see my picture on one of our participant’s Mount Rushmore. Others in the cohort were also on others’ Mount Rushmore’s or leadership mosaics (described next). This really caused me to think about and ask the question of “Am I worthy of this?” Particularly, when I was right next to Jesus on Mount Rushmore. See picture here:

IMG_2253After that activity and share out, I had participants go back and create a leadership mosaic using all 10 pictures/leaders. Here is what I asked them to do:

•Place a tear sheet on the wall
•Now create a collage with all 10 pictures
•Be creative so that the 10 individuals you selected are incorporated in a way that tells a story.
•Now gallery walk
•Place at least one comment on each
•Popcorn out things that jumped out at you

I have to tell you, this was impactful. There were individuals who teared up while looking at the 37+ mosaics that were created. It was amazing. Here are a few examples:

IMG_2256IMG_2257We then had a very impactful discussion about leadership style and influence. Then one of our always thoughtful and very engaged participants, Christopher Scholl, from Langtree Charter Academy Upper school spoke up and said, “What really struck me was how different everyone’s mosaics are, but everyone completed the assignment correctly, did everything we were supposed to, and all were very impactful.” We then had a discussion about this. Chris went on to say, “As leaders we need to lead more like the way you set up this activity. We need to lay out the vision, but how our teams and those we lead get there or what the final product looks like really does not matter and needs to be theirs to own.” Wow, this was an awesome discussion that came out of this. It really is intent-based leadership being described at its best. David Marquet would sure be proud. Get all the team developed in the technical skills necessary (otherwise it is chaos) and then let them do their jobs and tell you, the leader, what they intend to do. This will truly drive innovation and creativity. And…HELLO…it means the decisions will be made right where the data is being created.

It was also discussed how we must also create space like this for our students to be able to have the autonomy to create and not have to always turn in assignments where every child’s work looks exactly the same. This is why I am such a big believer that we should be looking at student outcomes and transferable skills. In fact, we should be changing our whole school accountability models to look at outcomes instead of outputs or the inputs.

The whole point of the personal Mount Rushmore and leadership mosaic activities was for participants to take a deep personal and reflective look at their personal leadership style. Keep in mind that leadership style is different than leadership skills, theory, and tactics. To me, leadership style focuses specifically on the traits, behaviors, and personalities of leaders. In my opinion, no one should ever let anyone determine their leadership style for them. Leadership styles can be broken down in several different ways depending on what information is being looked at. There are many ways to define styles, such as: being charismatic, participative, situational, transactional, transformational, adaptive, disruptive, loud/boisterous (like me), quiet or servant-like. One more way to differentiate leadership styles is according to whether leaders are task-oriented or people-oriented. Task-oriented leaders are said to have a considerate style and people-oriented leaders an initiating-structure style.

So why was it important for us to take a deep look at our own personal leadership style and recognize those we learned those skills from. Since organizations are always striving to find great leaders that can lead them to success, much effort has been put forth into finding out how they operate. More specifically, organizations are trying to identify the characteristics and behaviors associated with the best leaders. As a result, many leadership theories have been developed over the years that attempt to explain what makes a leader great. Organizations figure if they can identify the traits that make a successful leader, they cannot only identify potential leaders more readily, but also can hone in on those specific skills for improvement. While I agree with all of what I am saying here, I also want to make sure we do not lose sight of the fact that leadership style should be an individual thing. I certainly would not want a world where all the leaders looked and acted exactly the same. I do have some leaders, however, I would love to know who the world is on their Mount Rushmore and who they are using as a role model. Ill bet you have some you are wondering about too.

I challenge those reading this post to reflect on who is on your Mount Rushmore or your leadership mosaic. Most importantly, I encourage you to reflect on whether you are worthy of being on someone else’s Mount Rushmore or leadership mosaic. Thinking about being on someone else’s Mount Rushmore is not egotistical or vain; It is, again, about reflecting on our worthiness of being a role-model of leadership influence. I would love to have some replies of who you would put on your personal Mount Rushmore and why.

Seek It with Your Hands: Integrate Head, Heart, and Hand

The following is an excerpt from The Essentials of Theory U

Seek It with Your Hands: Integrate Head,
Heart, and Hand

By Otto Scharmer

As the master coach puts it in the novel and 2000 movie Bagger Vance when helping a golfer who has lost his swing: “Seek it with your hands—don’t think about it, feel it. The wisdom in your hands is greater than the wisdom of your head will ever be.”

This is of course what artists have always known. Erik Lemcke, a sculptor and management consultant from Denmark, once shared with me his experience:

After having worked with a particular sculpture for some time, there comes a certain moment when things are changing. When this moment of change comes, it is no longer me, alone, who is creating. I feel connected to something far deeper, and my hands are co-creating with this power. At the same time, I feel that I am being led with love and care as my perception is widening. I sense things in another way. It is a love for the world and for what is coming. I then intuitively know what I must do. My hands know if I must add or remove something. My hands know how the form should manifest. In one way, it is easy to create with this guidance. In those moments I have a strong feeling of gratitude and humility.

My hands know. That is the key to operating on the right-hand side of the U. Moving down the left-hand side of the U is about opening up and dealing with the resistance of thought, emotion, and will. Moving up the right-hand side is about intentionally reintegrating the intelligences of the head, the heart, and the hand in the context of practical applications.

Just as the inner enemies on the way down the U deal with the Voice of Judgment, the Voice of Cynicism, and the Voice of Fear, the barriers on the way up the U are the three disconnected ways of operating:

Mindless action: executing without learning

Action-less mind: analysis paralysis

Blah-blah-blah: oversharing, talking without embodied change

The three barriers share the same structural feature: Instead of balancing the intelligence of the head, heart, and hand, one dominates (the head in analysis paralysis; the will in mindless action; and the heart in oversharing).

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More about Otto Scharmer

Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer at MIT and co-founder of the Presencing Institute. He chairs the MIT IDEAS program for cross-sector innovation that helps leaders from business, government, and civil society to innovate at the level of the whole system. He is the author of Theory U (translated into 20 languages) and co-author of Leading from the Emerging Future, which outlines eight acupuncture points of transforming capitalism. His latest book, The Essentials of Theory U: Core Principles and Applicationsilluminates the blind spot in leadership today and offers hands-on methods to help change makers overcome it through the process, principles, and practices of Theory U.

In 2015, he co-founded the MITx u.lab, a massive open online course for leading profound change that has since activated a global eco-system of societal and personal renewal involving more than 100,000 users from 185 countries. With his colleagues, he has delivered award-winning leadership development programs for corporate clients and co-facilitated innovation labs on reinventing education, health, business, government, and well-being.

How Do We Change This World?

IMG_2188This morning as I was driving to visit with my mom I was listening to my favorite band, Alter Bridge. I would argue that no group has a line up of more inspiring songs. If you disagree, let’s have that discussion because I would love it, but that is not the point of this post. One of my top five songs from Alter Bridge is “Rise Today.” The main lyric of the song says, “I Wanna Rise Today And Change This World!” How can you not be inspired by that? But then as I sat with my mom, I got to thinking about what it, or what does it, mean to “rise today and change this world?” Particularly, when we all have different ideas of what it means to change the world.

img_0666Then I remembered what Leo Tolstoy, the Russian novelist, so famously wrote: “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” This got me thinking that if we really want to change the world we need to think and act on changes that we need to make to ourselves. Tolstoy’s dictum is a useful starting point for any leader engaged in organizational change that will change the world. I’m convinced that organizational change and changing the world is inseparable from individual change. Most change falters because individuals overlook the need to make fundamental changes in themselves.

There are a few pieces of the lyrics of “Rise Today” that really hit home as I was reflecting on the question of what it means to change the world. Here they are:

  • Have we lost our way tonight?
  • Have we lost our hope to sorrow?
  • Feels like we’re all alone, running further from what’s right
    And there are no more heroes to follow
  • Hope we find a better way before we find we’re left with nothing
  • Seems to me that we’ve got each other wrong. Was the enemy just your brother all along?

Research shows that half of all change efforts for transformational change fail either because leaders don’t act as role models for change or because people defend the status quo. Let me tell you, I have experienced this a lot lately. So as I think deeply about the five phrases I pulled from the song, it really comes down to something I learned from my studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education: Technical vs. Adaptive Leadership. The problem is we view most things as technical challenges and they really aren’t. Technical leadership is just about applying the solution we already know to apply. An example I can think of right now to illustrate the difference is with budgets. Most think doing a budget is just a math problem – tweak here, tweak there, presto… done. That would be a technical challenge. But, with all budgeting, difficult discussions, trade-offs, staffing changes and re-deployments, and disappointments happen—this is the adaptive leadership work.

“Adaptive leaders learn to live with unpredictability. They spend less time fretting about the inability to establish a routine or control the future and focus more on exploiting opportunities.” ~ Dr. Leonard Wong
Therefore, if I want to be an adaptive leaders and truly change the world I must go through the continual process of challenge, adaptation, and learning, which readies me for the next challenge. It also challenges me to examine whether, as Alter Bridge’s song says, whether “the enemy was just [my] brother all along.”  If we want to be adaptive leaders we need to hone the following skills:
  • Be able to consider diverse and conflicting views in all situations.
  • Be able to operate with autonomy under a general framework (and not just look for the easy way to be compliant).
  • Model great behaviors as being both technically and and tactically proficient.
  • Be mentally flexible and agile.
  • Recognize and be able to navigate the gap between the way things are and the desired state.
  • Understand there are multiple perspectives on the issue.
  • Remembering that new learning will absolutely need to happen.
  • Knowing that resistance will be triggered in stakeholders.

So, if we are going to change the world we know that behaviors and attitudes will need to change. The tough part is people with the problems are key to solving the problems. And, those groups will have varying opinions on solutions. Thus, why I believe the lyric, “Seems to me that we’ve got each other wrong. Was the enemy just your brother all along?” is so appropriate. We must also remember that with adaptive leadership, old ways need to change, and that will create a sense of loss for some (or a lot).

As I reflect on rising today to change this world, I believe we must, as leaders, not miss thinking, “What’s good, right, and just for everyone?”

Leading Like Billy Graham

With the passing of the great leader, Billy Graham, this week I feel compelled to reflect on what made him a great leader. It just so happened I was in Charlotte, North Carolina working with school leaders and teachers this week and had the opportunity to go to the Billy Graham Library, pay my respects, and reminisce about growing up with Billy Graham on our television set.

I grew up watching Billy Graham while sitting beside my dad on the couch in our living room. Growing up in a rural Christian home, we could relate to the teachings of this North Carolina man who, as his daughter has described him, was always a farmer at heart. Little did I know at the time I was witnessing one of the greatest leaders that would ever walk the earth (besides Jesus, of course) for 99 years. Also, little did I know he was teaching me to lead like Jesus.

It has been said that there are three very important questions that leaders must answer:

  1. Who am I?
  2. Who do I want to be?
  3. How do I make a difference in the greater world and bring influence to others?

Certainly, Billy Graham modeled answering these three leadership questions for us. There was never any doubt who Billy Graham was. He believed in Jesus, told the stories of Jesus, and that was who he was. He led with integrity because who he was on the outside was who he was on the inside, period. That was who he was and who he wanted to be. Bottom line: he wanted everyone to know Jesus, and that was that. As we would say today, “drop the mic!”

Furthermore, as a believer in the idea that leadership is influence, I am not sure you could name me anyone else who has influenced more people in a life span, other than Jesus of course. This morning as I was studying the day’s tweets, I came across one from Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz. She had written a tribute to her dad, “Daddy Is Home.” Needless to say, I was inspired. Click here to read it, because you’ll be inspired too.

A sentence Anne wrote in the statement really stood out to me. She said, “While he may be physically absent and his voice silent, I am confident that his message will continue to reverberate throughout the generations to come.” Wow! If leadership is influence, then this says it all. Even after passing, Billy Graham’s influence of changing the world and influencing others lives on. Powerful!

“While he may be physically absent and his voice silent, I am confident that his message will continue to reverberate throughout the generations to come. My prayer on this day of his move to Our Father’s House is that his death will be a rallying cry.  That tens of thousands of pastors, teachers, evangelists, and ordinary men and women will rise up to take his place.  That they will take up his message like a baton being passed in a relay race and faithfully pass it on to those with whom they come in contact. Because Daddy’s message is God’s message.  And it’s a message of genuine hope for the future, of love for the present, of forgiveness for the past.” ~ Anne Graham Lotz

We all look for leaders who can appreciate our vulnerability and inspire us, understand us, support us, and guide us through looming chaos. We are inspired and influenced when this happens. As leaders, we need to understand who we are, why we are doing something, and be clear about about our own core values and goals when applying our skills of influence. That way, influence comes from a place of authenticity and has the greatest impact. Remember, to be truly influential, we need to be the same person on the outside that we are on the inside.

The Servant Leadership: Self-Esteem Connection

IMG_2023The Servant Leadership: Self-Esteem Connection

By Ken Blanchard

Originally Appeared on the Ken Blanchard Companies Blog 

Servant leadership is best described as an others-focused form of leadership. It’s not an easy model to follow for leaders who believe in commanding and controlling their people—but it is easy for leaders with high self-esteem. Such people have no problem giving credit to others. They have no problem listening to other people for ideas. They have no problem building other people up. They don’t see praising others as a threat to themselves in any way. People with high self-esteem buy into the ancient Chinese philosophy of Lao Tzu:

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists; when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, ‘We did it ourselves.’” 

Leaders who place themselves in the center of the universe and think everything must rotate around them are really covering up not-okay feelings about themselves. This is an ego problem that manifests as either fear or false pride. When you don’t feel good about yourself, you have two choices. You can either hide and hope nobody notices you, or you can overcompensate and go out and try to control your environment. I think people who feel the need to control their environment are just scared little kids inside.

I learned from the late Norman Vincent Peale that the best leaders combine a healthy self-acceptance with humility.  Norman liked to say, “Leaders with humility don’t think less of themselves—they just think about themselves less.” To me, this approach sounds like a great way to begin for an aspiring servant leader.

Coaching and Self-Esteem

To me, servant leadership is a good way to describe the role that managers are expected to play today to help their people win. Judging and evaluating people erodes their self-esteem, but servant leadership builds self-esteem and encourages individual growth while attaining the organization’s objectives.

Servant leadership is something people need. Leaders need to support and help individuals in the organization to win. The days of the manager being judge, jury, and critic are over. Today, a manager needs to be a cheerleader, facilitator, and listener. Managers who are servant leaders are the ones most likely to achieve both lasting relationships and great results. 

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servant_leadership_in_action_3dMore about Ken Blanchard

Ken Blanchard is a best-selling business author with over 21 million books sold. His newest book, Servant Leadership in Action, is being released on March 6. Ken is also hosting a free Servant Leadership in Action Livecast on February 28 featuring more than 20 authors, CEOs, and thought leaders speaking on the topic.  Learn more here!

Plus + / Delta Δ

IMG_1993One of the tools I learned from my work in the Advanced Educational Leadership Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education was how to do a Plus + / Delta Δ session at the end of a convening. I appreciated learning this from Dr. Liz City from Harvard University. She does this at the end of any convening or class I have been involved with. I have found this to be one of the greatest way to really find out what has gone well and what has not.

Here is how it works: At the end of the day or session we put up a board and put a + and a Δ on it. Then open it up to the group to give the positives from the day and the areas of improvement needed. I have found it to be a much more valuable experience if I do not start with positives or negatives and then switch to the other. The way I run the session both +s and Δs can be given together and not in any order. This way of doing it allows for pluses to be thought of when thinking about a delta and visa versa. As the discussion ensues all comments recorded in writing up on a foam board (see blog post picture).

I really believe this model does a couple of important things for the convened community. One big thing this process does is help to bring trust. Nothing can be off the table to bring up. More importantly, once a delta is on the table it is up to the leader/facilitator to make adjustments for the next convener. Or, if it is a plus, how do I, as facilitator continue to make sure this is a plus in the future. The second thing I believe happens using this way of collecting feedback is the depth of the information received and the amount of information. Let’s face it, getting surveys back is tough.

IMG_1979IMG_1971Furthermore, let me give you an example of the great information that a +/Δ session can give at the conclusion of a convening this past weekend. I always have butcher paper and crayons on the tables for participants to take notes, draw, doodle or whatever helps them learn. This convening was no different. The group of teacher leaders and school leaders I was working with were very much into graphic recording, both on the tables and when reporting out from small group work (see inset photos).

IMG_1994During the Plus / Delta session a participant said, “I have one that is both a plus and delta.” I said, “Great, lets talk about it.” She went on to say, “I really like the butcher paper and I took lots notes and made graphic. I really consider it a big plus.” She went on to say, “However, I wish we could use our doodles, notes, and graphics in a more intentional way.” I asked, “What do you mean by that and how could we do that?” The participant said, “Maybe we could do a gallery walk at different times during the day and reflect on the work of our fellow participants.” How cool was that! Participants taking ownership of making a convening designed for them better. It doesn’t get any better than that! I would argue that we would have never got to that level of discussion in a survey. Needless to say, we will build in intentional activities to learn from the butcher paper captured work of our participants. Exciting stuff!

I would encourage you to find your Pluses + and Deltas Δ.

 

The Gift of Listening Without Fixing

IMG_1941The Gift of Listening Without Fixing

An excerpt from The Courage Way

By Shelly L. Francis

A senior management leader we’ll call Bob had tension with another person on staff, which made him feel as though his value to the organization was being questioned. He went to the CEO, Mike, for advice—and to vent a bit, too. He paced around the corner office, unsettled. Rather than give Bob instructions about what to do next, Mike consciously opted to ask open, honest questions. That meant asking questions Mike couldn’t possibly know the answer to but that would help Bob listen to his own inner wisdom.

In their conversation that day, Mike posed these questions in response to Bob’s unfolding story: What does that mean to you: feeling your value is being questioned? How does that feel to you? Do you recall a time when you had a similar feeling? How did that turn out? What are some things that occur to you as a next step?

The questions helped Bob connect the current situation with some other times in his current life and in his past. He was able to look at the workplace episode differently, and he gained a new perspective on how to approach his colleague for further conversation.

Mike’s internal stance as a leader was the foundation of this curiosity-driven yet nonjudgmental conversation that led to Bob’s insights. What Bob couldn’t see was that Mike was also embodying a few other touchstones to create safe and trust- worthy space: allowing silence, turning to wonder, and no fixing, saving, advising, or correcting. This approach empowers others to make wise decisions based on their own genuine inner knowing, rather than just accepting a superior’s advice (or seeming to but without a sense of ownership). Mike said, “I’m fascinated every time in these interchanges how much more satisfying the result seems to be when I don’t jump in with the first advice that comes to mind. My conversation with Bob had so much more texture to it. My impression was that Bob appreciated the fact that I didn’t dive in and tell him what to do and that I was interested enough in the situation to help him talk through it.”

Mike knew that his approach was atypical. “Allowing silence is challenging, especially in the workplace. People are taught to fill the silence. If you engage in conversation with open, honest questions and you give people time to ponder, that means you have to be patient with the silence.”

Mike sees how this form of conversation supports a workplace culture of compassion and empathy. “It’s harder to stop and think of asking an open, honest question. But it is a form of caring for someone, and it comes across that way—as caring.” It also communicates a charged expectation that Bob will address the situation responsibly and will be accountable for maintaining professional relationships with colleagues. This is paradox in action, to hold the tension between caring and accountability.

Mike told me that learning to ask open, honest questions is both a challenge and benefit of Courage Way practice because it’s made him a much better listener. “I’ve realized there is no greater gift you can give someone than deeply listening to them.” Open, honest questions are a form of humility in leadership, too. It’s easier but can be a form of arrogance to ask questions that try to manipulate people into the answer you want them to find.

An open question leads us to what Einstein referred to as a “holy curiosity.”  ~ Dawna Markova

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courage_way_3dAbout Shelly L. Francis

Shelly L. Francis has been the marketing and communications director at the Center for Courage & Renewal since mid-2012. Before coming to the Center, Shelly directed trade marketing and publicity for multi-media publisher Sounds True, Inc. Her career has spanned international program management, web design, corporate communications, trade journals, and software manuals.

The common thread throughout her career has been bringing to light best-kept secrets — technology, services, resources, ideas — while bringing people together to facilitate collective impact and good work. Her latest book The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity identifies key ingredients needed to cultivate courage in personal and professional aspects of life.

The Courage Way

The Courage Way: Leading and Living with IntegrityThe Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity by Shelly L Francis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My Review: Being a leader takes tremendous courage and involves taking risks every day. That courage, if we are honest, is very hard to muster up at times. We all have core values we believe in and when the proverbial bullets begin to fly and hit our Kevlar, we find out just what we are made of. More importantly, those around us and that we serve find out what we are made of, too! In The Courage Way, we learn about five very important ingredients to being a courageous leader: understanding our true self, trust, being a part of trusting community, learning to embrace the paradox of leading and learning, and learning to reflect as a part of learning to lead more effectively and courageously. This book is a must read for anyone wanting to lead courageously at any level of community, even on the world stage.
~Dr. Byron Ernest

View all my reviews

Five Key Ingredients of the Courage Way

IMG_1922

Five Key Ingredients of the Courage Way

An excerpt from The Courage Way

By Shelly L. Francis

Leadership is a daily, ongoing practice, a journey toward becoming your best self and inviting others to do the same. And at the heart of this daily practice is courage.

Through more than 120 interviews, I found a pattern of five key ingredients in how leaders have learned to cultivate courage. Three powerful main concepts are true self, trust, and community; the two key practices are paradox and reflection. Here’s a brief overview.

True Self

Our basic premise is that inside of each person is the essential self who continues to grow and yet somehow, deep down, remains constant. Every person has access to this inner source of truth, named in various wisdom traditions as identity and integrity, inner teacher, heart, inner compass, spirit, or soul. Your true self is a source of guidance and strength that helps you find your way through life’s complexities and challenges. When you begin to listen to and trust the truest part of yourself, your choices and relationships flow from that trust, begetting more trust.

Trust

Courage takes trust—in ourselves and in each other. Trustworthy relationships create the conditions for people to flourish and for positive change to arise. Relational trust is based on our perceptions of personal regard, professional respect, competence, and integrity in other people. Coming to understand the attitudes, assumptions, and biases that lead to such perceptions of trust entails honest inner work. Our collection of principles and practices is a time-tested approach for facilitating inner work and cultivating relational trust.

Community

Becoming more self-aware and trustworthy requires both individual introspection and a supportive community. We offer a specialized meaning of community as “solitudes alone together” as well as a “community of inquiry.” Our practices offer models for how to reflect and interact with each other so that new clarity and courage can emerge.

Being receptive to the very idea of needing other people in community takes courage and yet, in turn, creates resilience. Leaders must know how to invite people into and hold them accountable for cocreating trustworthy space so that they can support each other in service of their work together. Achieving effective collaboration requires genuine trustworthy community.

Paradox

We can learn to practice paradox by recognizing that the polarities that come with being human (life and death, love and loss) are “both-ands” rather than “either-ors.” We can learn to let those tensions hold us in ways that stretch our hearts and minds open to new insights and possibilities. With paradox we honor both the voice of the individual and our collective intelligence. We trust both our intellects and the knowledge that comes through our bodies, intuitions, and emotions. Paradox values both speaking and listening. An appreciation of paradox enriches our lives, helping us hold greater complexity. Integrating our inner lives with our work in the world comes from daily practice in holding paradox.

Reflection

Refection cultivates more ways of knowing and learning that complement your mind and emotions, but draw from a deeper place: your intuition, imagination, and innermost being. Reflection is a practice that can be enriched by the mirroring of trust- worthy companions.

When we reflect together, such as by exploring how universal stories of human experience intersect with the personal stories of our lives, it can create relational trust. Guided conversations focused on a poem, a teaching story, a piece of music, or a work of art—drawn from diverse cultures and wisdom traditions—invite us to reflect on the big questions of our lives, allowing each person to explore them in his or her own way. Reflection helps us find the inner ground on which we stand firm, and it helps us find common ground with others.

If we are willing to embrace the challengeof becoming whole, we cannot embrace it all alone—at least, not for long: we need trustworthy relationships to sustain us, tenacious communities of support, if we are to sustain the journey toward an undivided life. Taking an inner journey toward rejoining soul and role requires a rare but real form of community that I call a “circle of trust.” ~ Parker J. Palmer

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courage_way_3dAbout Shelly L. Francis

Shelly L. Francis has been the marketing and communications director at the Center for Courage & Renewal since mid-2012. Before coming to the Center, Shelly directed trade marketing and publicity for multi-media publisher Sounds True, Inc. Her career has spanned international program management, web design, corporate communications, trade journals, and software manuals.

The common thread throughout her career has been bringing to light best-kept secrets — technology, services, resources, ideas — while bringing people together to facilitate collective impact and good work. Her latest book The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity identifies key ingredients needed to cultivate courage in personal and professional aspects of life.