Wednesday, August 7, 2013

We're Following the Leader

We're following the leader, the leader, the leader
We're following the leader wherever he may go
We won't be home till morning, till morning
We won't be home till morning
Because he told us so

– Lyrics from the Song "Following the Leader" from Disney's movie Peter Pan
This morning I am giggling at the song this image from the movie Peter Pan brings up. I have trained for many years in various styles of leadership. It is interesting where all of the styles have similar points and how some of the are so opposite it hurts the brain!

In my younger years it was the power over people. Many of us it seems in my youth, learn this in our family units. "Do as I say and not as I do" was an old adage I heard in my family many times. It never really felt very good and what I know I garnered from it was a sense of being pushed around and a classist way of getting things done.

In college, I began to learn about other styles. Consensus building was always a challenging one in that if you have a time frame to get something done in and and you spend a ton of time talking about it, the job never seemed to get done and was always late. It is a great system for conversations not bound by deadlines and as a designer whose world was driven by deadlines....drop dead style deadlines, it often fell short of being useable.

These last few years I have been engaged in learning to lead by creating inquiry. Empowering people to see for themselves what needs to happen inside of a specific system and set of parameters. It has been an interesting journey. I like it in that it offers the opportunity for teams to be creative, work together and definitely requires a more rigorous communication pattern than others. It assumes good will from all and challenges the patterns each of us can get locked into and offers opportunities for us to take a look at ourselves and our own behaviours. 

Like any other leadership style there are challenges for all involved. Those wonderful ways we operate in the world become the first tools we reach for. Shared alignment is totally necessary and accountability for how one impacts the entire system is very present. If one person digs their heels in the whole apple cart can be tipped upside down or stopped dead in its track. Opinions are welcome and if the person leading sees the jobs not getting down, they have to confront how to manage the situation. This is the side that can stop me. I hate confrontation and if I entertain the notion of anyone in the mix standing in a position and not aligned with the way things are requested I can get stuck.

What I am seeing is you just have to love the heck out of your team and stand for the vision of where things need to go in a way that allows for vulnerability enough to tell the truth, compassion enough to know there is something going on for team members that may not have anything to do with you and keep a healthy perspective. It is here my training has really started to take hold.

I can't say as I will ever be able to not feel hurt when colleagues sling arrows, make me wrong or gossip behind my back. What is there is a chance to continue training my mind molecule by molecule. Holding on the to notion that others can only respond and work with you based on their systems of thinking. Their patterns are theirs and it means nothing about you.

I am a global and big thinker. I see situations large and small. I stand for the whole and inside of getting a result produced. I love the people I work with even when there is "stuff" in the way. I am not interested in telling people all the time what to do, and love it when everyone starts moving together as a well oiled machine. I like leading by inquiry and will continue to just train to empower those willing to get in the game. And the one thing I know....I am not sure I can ever be 100% a follower. There is something else that drives my thinking and maybe that....just that is what is waiting to be unlocked and discovered.

I look forward to the unfolding of it all.
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