A week ago today, I officially completed the coursework and requirements for my M.A. in Leadership degree when I shared my capstone portfolio presentation to a diverse audience of faculty, family and friends. As a part of this final component to my program, I shared about my growth and development in leadership competencies but also presented my philosophy of leadership. After classes and lectures, papers and projects, reading and research, I’ve developed my own philosophy, as found below, for your consideration and review…
To lead is to have a deep awareness of self before sharing with others, encouraging trust in the lives of those who follow through vulnerability, enabling them to do the same in a transformational process creating positive change.
I invite your feedback and thoughts in the hopes of engaging different perspectives in a continued dialogue of what makes for good leadership. I look forward to this weekend’s graduation as I continue to see my perspective and philosophy grow with time.
Last week marked a milestone on “The Millennial Journey” as I looked back at two years of sharing my ideas and thoughts on leadership, culture and five generations at work together. I began this online endeavor in between professional seasons and I find myself back here again as I continue the road towards completing my M.A. in Leadership Development (just two months away!) and looking for what meaningful opportunity is next for me. Perhaps, the most significant thought that has remained constant over my two years here has been the process of “journey.” Whether it is change taking place at your organization or listening to your calling & vocation (as one of my favorites, Parker Palmer writes) or living your life in a mindset of never arriving; recognizing that you have much more to learn and understand–we each have a journey or two in the multifaceted lives that we live each day.
Back in October 2010 when this “online journey” began, I wrote…
“I begin this blog with a full mind, complete of passions, thoughts, ideas and much, much more.”
A full two years later, I continue with the same mind (now just overflowing) with new lessons and knowledge to unpack as I look ahead to the journey in the future.
I’m in the midst of a writing project (that I’ll be sharing more about in a few weeks) and have recently been working through the title of this blog post as a central thought. In these days of continued and unprecedented global change, especially with revolutions and movements for change in several countries, our understanding of the role of the “follower” has developed considerably. Several believe that these events have taken place because leaders have failed to recognize and understand those who follow them.
In my experience, I’ve realized that in order to learn how to lead well, you need to learn how to follow.
What say you?
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the area, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”
This quote from Theodore Roosevelt, is the basis of a new book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. The book’s author, Dr. Brene Brown (who I’ve blogged and tweeted about before) is a vulnerability researcher and popular TED talk speaker. I’ve had the great opportunity to hear Dr. Brown speak via webinar twice over the last few months and am convinced that her work has great value in the field of leadership (as well as so many others!). I’m excited to start Daring Greatly and look forward to hearing Brene speak in person next week and in October as a keynote speaker at the 2012 ILA Global Conference in Denver!
Any other Brene Brown fans/readers out there?
“We are energized when we are learning and progressing, and we begin psychologically to die when we allow ourselves to stagnate.”
This passage is from Deep Change, a great book from Robert Quinn, on the value of internal reflection as each of us impacts and leads change in organizations. Are you energized right now or feeling stagnant? Understandably, we all have personal and professional seasons of both incremental and deep change.
Spend some time today on a coffee break with a coworker that you don’t see everyday. If you find an article or blog that’s worthwhile for you to read, share it with someone else. Take the opportunity to reach out to those in your circles of contact & influence and I bet you will find some energy as you learn and progress together.
As a part of my graduate school journey, I’m continuing living and learning leadership through courses and projects in and around the classroom setting that I’m in twice a week. One of my current courses is called Creative and Collaborative Leadership and has focused on identifying individual differences through a myriad of assessments and appreciating them in a collaborative setting. Most specifically, I’ve recently been collecting these assessments that I completed and as a part of an assignment have developed my own approach to learning or what is called a PLS.
PLS = Personal Learning Strategy
This strategy is rooted in life experiences in my personal and professional journey thus far that have shaped me into the learning leader that I am today. Thomas writes about these as “crucibles” or in other words, significant life changing events that impact your direction and future. I have had plenty of those that have in large part redirected my pathways along the journey of my life. My assessment results tell me that I learn best in an environment where I can engage in Active Experimentation. Kolb says that this involves taking risks and doing things. This is definitely a clear theme in regards to how I approach life as well as my strategy towards learning. I strive to be active in my work, thinking and living and gain energy from experimenting along the way, whether it be through different team dynamics, changing responsibilities, developing new projects or ideas, etc.
As I think about my PLS through the lens of my strengths, I most definitely resort to my primary theme of Strategic. This strength keeps me engaged from a macro-view of my life and the learning that is taking place. I aim to be strategic in the process of learning but also see a plan of action from a larger scale and vantage point. This continues to drive much of my approach to learning as a leader in my present day contexts.
Altogether, my personal learning strategy is rooted in change. Whether it’s taking a risk or being actively experimenting with a concept or topic in the course of my work or studies, I am motivated and engaged when I am able to see people and systems beyond the course of their present state. It is my hope that as I continue to learn and grow as a leader, I will be able to meet these motivations and form them into a reality of developing people and organizations well into the future of my professional journey.
I’ve been involved with the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) for a few years now and was given an opportunity to help with the launch of a new book by Paul Schmitz, CEO of Public Allies. I’ve recently been introduced to this organization and feel the book’s topic has much relevance as a nonprofit professional and graduate student in leadership development.
I’m looking forward to reading Everyone Leads and writing a book review once I’m finished. For now, check out the book’s website and learn more about this organization’s great work.
Seasons marks the passage of time in a variety of ways for each us in different areas of life. For me, the changing of seasons from summer to fall seemed to pass quickly–and yet when I realize this, I just want to slow time down a bit. When I’m having conversations with colleagues or classmates or even overhearing people talk in the checkout line about “I can’t wait for (insert time of year/holiday) just to get here,” I wonder if we ever appreciate the present season/time of life, not just the physical season that is reflective of the weather outside (maybe not in Southern California!) Whether it be Starbucks rolling out their “holiday red” on my coffee cup the day after Halloween (in my opinion, disregarding Thanksgiving) or each one of us wanting to push onward to “what’s next” at some point in life, we can miss what is in store for us personally and collectively if we are not sitting in the present season and appreciating what is taking place.
I’ve been examining seasons in many different facets of my life; in my professional life working in organizational development, working with the seniors in my high school small group at church, and more recently as a graduate student finishing a course called, Understanding Vocation in a Changing World. This was definitely one of the most impactful courses that I’ve taken thus far in my graduate school journey, discussing issues and topics like calling, vocation, work, transitions and these seasons of our personal and professional lives that undergo change. One of my favorite authors, Parker Palmer has much to say about the life seasons that we experience, especially thus dealing with our vocation and work. In Let Your Life Speak, he writes about letting things come to a close in autumn, testing the depth of our limits in winter, developing ground for growth and rebirth to occur in spring and coming together and sharing our common story in summer.
There is value in each of these with lessons to learn as well. The challenge is for each of us to be content with where we are, saving the present experiences and keeping them in our mind while understanding that we will continue to change in the seasons that lie ahead.
Are you presently in a certain season of work, school or family life? Do you see things differently know then you did in the past? What has taken place in the present that will prepare you for the future?