My first opportunity to consciously stand up for my professional and philosophical beliefs about Professional Intimacy occurred in 1994. In the last year of my Master’s program, my thesis involved research on the process of creating a successful business partnership.
Using Appreciative Inquiry, our process resulted in a model of a synergistic triangle consisting of three equally key ingredients, where 1 + 1 = 3 (I was never good at math, but this makes sense … read on):
In the early 1990′s the unspoken, unwritten rule in the business world was “Don’t Talk About Relationships, feelings or any of the soft, fluffy stuff humans were made of when delivering leadership or management training or when speaking to businesses, managers or executive leaders about improving productivity or performance. I was directed to leave that stuff at the door and talk about “real” skills. Don’t feel … just get to work!
I followed this advice for a while and felt my hands (and credibility) were tied behind my back.
Then I ignoring that advice. After 12 years in business, our design resulted in not only building our own successful business and partnership, but also served as a model for our clients to build sustainable partnerships.
Through the process of developing Professional Intimacy as defined in my thesis in 1994 and even to this day, I continued to learn and grow both intra-personally and inter-personally as a result.
The truth is this: We learn and grow in relationship, not in isolation. Following the old rule and disregarding the complex and dynamic relationship systems we create through all of our relationships, however brief, is ridiculous.
Here’s the point: My thesis was nominated for publication in the college journal … an honor, for sure. However, the committee stated it would only be considered for publication only if I changed the title.
They objected to the phrase I used to symbolize our design for a successful business partnership: Professional Intimacy.
Because sexual harassment in the workplace was such a touchy (pun intended) topic in the early 90′s, the committee frowned upon my use of the phrase in the title. I stood my ground on principle because even though the rule was “Don’t talk about RELATIONSHIPS and WORK in the same sentence.” I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) in good conscience back down. Besides, I have a strong oppositional reflex.
I ran across the dusty, bound thesis years later and wondered …
“Did I do the right thing in standing up for my values?”
“Would my career path have changed had I decided to belly up?”
“Would I have been able to help more people sooner?”
I suppose I’ll never know… What would you have done?
PS. Check out Chapter 19: “Professional Intimacy: The key to being a Sustainable Leader” in the book “The Character Based Leader: Instigating a leadership revolution one person at a time” on Amazon or your favorite bookseller.
Do you let the facts get in the way of a good story?
What do you do with people who disagree with you… do you call them names in order to shut them down?
Are you open to multiple points of view or you demand compliance and uniformity? [Bonus: Are you willing to walk away from a project or customer or employee who has values that don’t match yours?]
Is it okay if someone else gets the credit?
How often are you able to change your position?
Do you have a goal that can be reached in multiple ways?
If someone else can get us there faster, are you willing to let them?
No textbook answers… It’s easy to get tripped up by these. In fact, most leaders I know do.
Do you wonder why leadership training programs fail to prepare leaders of today for tomorrow’s challenges? The survey says …. “Avoid 5 Fail Points in Leadership Training” Download or listen now to the webinar on how to avoid wasting time and money on your personal or company’s leadership training and three key strategies to make your coaching or leadership development program truly pay off for the leader, for constituents and for the entire organization.
The bottom line is developing Sustainable Leaders: Developing authentic leaders happens from the inside out and from the outside in … for more information go to Sustainable Leadership, Inc.
1. To identify the strengths and fail points in Leadership Development initiatives, with a special interest in identifying the challenges faced by newly promoted Senior Leaders (recent research states over 40% of newly promoted executives quit or get fired within the first 18 months in their new position).
2. To begin to identify practical solutions for the fail points in Leadership Development programs or initiatives for today’s leaders, especially newly promoted executives and senior leaders.
3. To use the responses to develop a value-filled, evidence-based Sustainable Leaders Development & Mastermind group for Senior Leaders who are highly motivated to drive positive change in themselves, others and in the organization by learning practical, effective and sustainable interpersonal and communication skills, and develop themselves as a leader from the inside out.
SUMMARY SO FAR: While the number of survey responses is not (yet) statistically significant, it appears there are definitely “themes” or gap areas emerging, that when filled, will allow a leader to full fill his or her responsibilities more easily, feel more satisfied in their role and harness the power of their own potential as well as others, to facilitate organizational change, to continue to develop inter-personally as well as intra-personally to achieve ongoing growth and sustainability in self and others.
(At Least) 3 Fail Points in Leadership Training:
1. Please Understand Me – One fail point reflects a need for leaders to master a significantly higher level of interpersonal and communication skills (i.e., Emotional Intelligence) and the skills to better and more deeply understand people’s motivators and drivers to gain cooperation and support to get the job done quickly and easily. Not to mention understanding one’s own beliefs, motivators/drivers and the infinite ways we will attempt to avoid pain (our behavior is a result of our feelings which is a result of B.S. – which is a topic of a whole other thread, I’m sure).
2. Leaders don’t exist in a vacuum – Another fail point is “training” the individual in a one day workshop (yes, I’m being sarcastic, but this is a HUGE waste of time, money and resources) and sending him back to the office to effect change inevitably fails. Minimally, this strategy fails to take into consideration the homeostasis of the system (i.e. culture) as well as the basic dynamics of the “rules of engagement” in human relationships and communication.
3. Lonely at the the top – The survey also indicated a significant desire for leaders do network and exchange solutions and ideas in conversations with other like-minded senior leaders. “It’s a great tool, but how do I use it in real life?” I use a “What? So What? Now What?” approach which has been a very helpful framework for my clients to use to go from knowing something, to doing it to being it AND transferring the learning for lasting change. “A fool with a tool is still a fool.” I love it.
To take the brief 8 question survey and participate in the tele-forum to discuss the results and begin to identify solutions for the fail points in developing leaders today, go to Sustainable Leader’s Survey
Thank you and keep posting your insights, resources and questions!
The results are in: Sustainable Leader’s Survey … but first, where has you leadership training or professional development failed you? What would you change and why?
It’s about time caring and trust, those emotions that make us human, inspire us and motivate us, are recognized and acknowledged by leaders who are capable (and responsible) of leveraging human potential for the greater good (not just for the bottom line).
Leaders face many unique challenges. Being a leader has several inherent benefits as well as challenges. One challenge is “power stress” which results from the demand for influencing others and the increased responsibility of the position (McClelland, 1985).
Power stress is considered to be part of the experience resulting from exercising this influence and the subsequent sense of responsibility felt by those in leadership positions.Richard Boyatzis (2006) proposes that that leaders who are able to develop others through adopting a coaching engagement, are able to significantly lower this stress at a neurological level, which in turn has a positive ripple effect for the coachee, the coach and the organization as well.
Next: Are you on your way to burning out? Do you sometimes feel isolated? Do people really tell you the truth? Would you listen if they did? (That’s another topic …)
Other signs of impending burn out are: dissatisfaction with work or home life, irritability, restlessness, reduced creativity, poor decision-making, relationship problems at home or work, depression, anxiety, increased alcohol use, gastrointestinal problems, high blood pressure to name a few.
Coming up: You can reverse the effects of power stress and avoid burnout (and dramatically improve your productivity, satisfaction and happiness in the process). Stay tuned!
Jay Politi posted this on his blog, thanks Jay!
This is a survey for current leaders, high potentials leaders and entrepreneurs. It is a great place to start your “self assessment” process. I did it and it only took a few minutes to complete yet the questions really made me think. Leadership Coach, Christina Haxton, has done a great job of identifying the direct questions that each leader must ask themselves.
I recommend that everyone take a moment to look at the “Leader Survey”…… A great place to start!
Jay Politi offers a terrific summary of why Coaching with The Brain in Mind by David Rock and Linda Page is a must read for managers and leaders who want to avoid burn out and become Sustainable Leaders who are built to last.