“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” -- Margaret Mead

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday, June 26th-Day 2 (2 of 3): Learning to Step Back

Then, it got real. Our program manager and miracle worker, Dario Collado, welcomed us to “the big leagues.” We’re no longer in the minors. Boy, we didn’t know just how right he was. He was trying to tell us that we would never be the same – that we are, as of that moment, responsible for the future – destined for great change. (Geez, Dario, no pressure.)
If you thought the lessons stopped there, you’re kidding yourself. Loren Gary, associate director for leadership development and public affairs at the Center for Public Leadership, began reconceptualizing what we thought we knew about leadership. Gary spoke of the inner and outer journey of leadership:
  • Inner journey: self-awareness, learning how you work
  • Outer journey: listening (perhaps the GOP could take a lesson here), learning how to read a group, form a vision, communicate compellingly, mobilizing work and strategy

In short, focus on enjoying the process of becoming. Using life as a living, breathing experiment to personal development through goal setting. Or, in Warren Bennis’ words in On Becoming a Leader:
No leader sets out to be a leader. People set out to live their lives, expressing themselves fully. So the point is to become yourself, to use yourself completely – all your skills, gifts and energies – in order to make your vision manifest. You must withhold nothing. You must, in sum, become the person you started out to be, and enjoy the process of becoming.
Deep. I know. We also were taught a method for setting goals in order to “become” our best self. The point of the goal is to see where you were and where you are going, using goals that mattered to you. In other words:
What you can measure you can manage, what you can manage, you can change.
Well, in comes Marshall Ganz.
This man changed our lives. Read more about him here and here and here and here and here and here and especially this story.
If you (yes, you) take anything, anything at all, away from this blog post, it’s the lesson by Ganz on the true definition of leadership:
Leadership is accepting responsibility for enabling others to achieve shared purpose under conditions of uncertainty.
Let’s read that again. 
Leadership is accepting responsibility for enabling others to achieve shared purpose under conditions of uncertainty.
Much to my amusement (not “haha” amusement, of course, but “oohh” ), the first story Ganz shared on leadership organizing was that of Moses! Particularly relevant here is the exchange between Moses and his father-in-law Jethro in Exodus 18 where Jethro tells Moses, “the work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.” Sound familiar? Moses agrees and implements strategy by mobilizing other capable men to lead groups of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.
In other words, instead of having one person bearing the responsibility of carrying the organization, that leader enables others to distribute the work. The “one person does all” is a dependent model. There’s also the scenario where “everybody’s a leader” or independent. What Ganz was showing us, however, was that we’re interdependent, and must allow others to grow their capacity for leadership and avoid stepping in to “do it better.”
Yikes! One person does it all!
Let’s all be leaders!!!
Now that’s more like it. The “snowflake” represents interdependent leadership organizing.
For detailed explanations on Ganz’s organizing, see his module here and here.
My biggest lesson (or “takeaway”), is that I’m learning how to let go of enough control to allow others to lead, or stepping back. News flash: other people are just as capable and they bring to the table perspectives and ideas that you cannot. And, yes, they can even do it better than you. (I know, that’s a hard lesson for us Type-A’s).
The second takeaway was the teaching style: (1) explanation, (2) modeling, (3) practicing and (4) debriefing. Explain the subject, model the behavior, break out in groups to practice it and then come back and talk about what worked and what didn’t. Simple? Yes. Effective? Absolutely. What’s most important? Debriefing. Reflecting on what worked and what didn’t allows you to really put into action the most effective practices.
Right about now you’re thinking “enough already, more pictures.” See the next post.

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