What’s emerging from the field of leadership and change? We collect the contributions from our authors, our community, every month - because Leadership & Change magazine is a co-creation about positive leadership, culture & change. What’s up? What is our collective status update? Let’s uncover the spontaneous theme that emerged from the contributions to issue 12.
I recently spoke with a professional who struggles with pitching and how to sell herself. “I don’t feel at ease doing so” she said. “While I know my work is of value for my clients - even after a year they tell me how much they benefited from my facilitation.” An interesting conversation evolved to identify why so many self-employed professionals have trouble presenting themselves to sell their services. National culture, gender roles and personal issues play their parts. But the biggest constraint to success (to your own standards) is very often the inner critic.
New organizations, leadership and collaboration are the three main topics of the upcoming Berlin Change Days conference. Leadership and collaboration have brought us to where we are today – and they continue to evolve as mankind develops itself further. The old-style leader knew better than the others, felt that he or she deserved more, and decided more – only sometimes consulting with their subordinates. Old-style leaders could be isolated at the top of that pyramid, enjoying the room with the view and the vision but setting themselves apart. Most leaders have left their strictly private rooms by now.
How well do you collaborate? Are you a team player? People have a natural tendency to work together and collaborate. Cooperation is the basic driver of human civilization, explains Dirk Messner in Leadership & Change Magazine. We all have a drive to belong to a group or team or tribe and feel acknowledged and respected and safe – even in individualistic cultures. In general, we tend to go to great lengths to adjust to our group culture. We copy the others, as I know very well from my organizational culture work. We also coach others to behave according to group norms and if they don’t adapt, we’ll correct them in a number of different ways.
We are living and working at high speed and amidst overwhelming volumes of information, stuff, deadlines, targets and possibilities as well as threats. It struck me again as I was working with a client organization the other day. This executive team somehow managed to take a few days off for reflection and the adjustment of their strategy. One of their main goals was to reinforce their innovativeness as an organization. They still are and always have been a cutting edge market leader in a rather technical market – but the entrepreneurial spirit, their innovative mindset seems to dilute slightly lately...
With Otto Scharmer, I like to distinguish these three levels of reality: the what, the how and the who. Our education and career are based on the what: our knowledge and expertise. But much more important to success and satisfaction than this “what” is how you apply your expertise. And that depends on who you are – and whether you did your homework or not. Homework is: working toward “know thyself” and overcome fear, anger, grief so you don’t desperately need your armor (your ego) and you are able to tap into your true potential.
I spent two weeks in South Africa where I was invited to provide my Culture Change Leadership Workshop to South African consultants and HR managers.
South Africa is a beautiful “rainbow” nation (24 years since they freed themselves from apartheid): a fascinating mixture of people with 11 different languages, many beliefs, cultures and different recipes. It’s like a patchwork blanket: they are English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, Venda, Tswana, Tsonga, Swazi, South- and North Sotho and South Ndebele. How’s that for diversity?
Why are you a leader, a change-maker or a professional in your field? It’s a question that becomes en vogue. Or, should I say, a certain type of answer becomes the standard. The answer that refers to your higher purpose, or Work (as opposed to your job: your work).
Fear and courage are incredibly important in our lives: Joseph Campbell captured the archetypical “journey of the hero” as the central theme in human storytelling around the world. This tale of personal development and discovering WHO you are, starts with the calling or the challenge (the hero’s purpose) and evolves around fear and courage... passing through all the stages of learning, leading and change - until the hero returns home with renewed wisdom. It fascinates because it resonates with us: to want something - and yet - not to want it, because it might take us out of our comfort zones. Fear and courage are central in leadership, culture and change.
“A case for optimism” is an inspiring video by Tiffany Shlain. Opticism is optimism with a healthy dose of skepticism: a “questioning attitude towards knowledge, facts, or opinions/beliefs stated as facts, or doubt regarding claims that are taken for granted elsewhere.” Let’s become an “opticist”: Let’s not be naive, but let’s focus consciously on the half full glass and see how we can fill it even further...