Musings

Tags >> Leadership

Spaciousness

Posted by: heather

While we're at it, why don't we also...? Before I leave for the next meeting, let me do just one more thing. I'll skip the gym/art class/music performance/time with family and friends because I need to get these next three things done. Sure, I can do that too, it won't take that long. I can't say no at work, they are counting on me. There's just so much to do, if I stay late I can make some headway.


The inauguration of a minority president coincided with remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., so I seek inspiration from the great spiritual warrior. Our times are at least as perilous as he describes in the preface to his 1963 Strength to Love: “In these turbulent days of uncertainty the evils of war and of economic and racial injustice threaten the very survival of the human race. Indeed, we live in a day of grave crisis.” Given our own grave crisis, I return to a few touchstones—deal with reality, create true community, take wise action. I discuss each in turn


Seriously, Have Fun in 2015

Posted by: heather

The calendar tells us it is 2015. Another year of striving for and realizing freedom, justice, love, sustenance, and general well being. I am fortunate to support individuals and organizations be life affirming in their ends and means.


Seriously, Have Fun in 2015

Posted by: heather

The calendar tells us it is 2015. Another year of striving for and realizing freedom, justice, love, sustenance, and general well being. I am fortunate to support individuals and organizations be life affirming in their ends and means.


Happy Valentine, 2014

Posted by: heather

Do you, like so many people and organizations, wait for things to be good—however you define it—before you’ll share love in the form of appreciation, kudos, encouragement, generosity, a smile, or even your time? Do you believe that people don’t need praise just for “doing their jobs” or that feedback is what you tell people when they are doing things wrong? Well, this Valentine is especially for you.

I know well the temptation to fix what seems broken or to improve performance by focusing on what is missing. Yet experience and research show that focusing on what is working builds effectiveness faster AND generates happier colleagues, workers, family members and friends. That’s why “success breeds success” and “what we appreciate appreciates”. The disciplines of positive psychology, Appreciative Inquiry, appreciative intelligence, and neuroscience demonstrate that focus on positive possibility and accomplishment unleashes far more energy and intrinsic motivation than does the focus on the negative, which yields fear and passivity.


Hard to believe that 2013 is already well underway yet 2012 is fast receding from view. The election seems years away—though the historic Inauguration just happened—Super Storm Sandy waters have receded yet it lives on for too many people in New Jersey and New York, and a December massacre ignites a conversation—and action—on gun violence.

2012 in Review

In 2012, Berthoud Consulting again worked with fabulous clients. For example:


I recently took in a performance of Cirque du Soleil, that superb and beautiful troupe of acrobats, jugglers, and other physical feats. Beyond a fabulous show and evening with friends, I wondered about the lessons for my work and that of my clients. First, the show is impeccable. I’ve seen several of their productions and each one is a gem, a complete experience of being transported to another world where people do amazing things with their bodies, sound, light, and costume. No part of the evening is a throw away. From the moment the show starts (on time!) until it ends, each step taken by each person is part of the story that is the show.


Name Your Success

Posted by: heather

Tagged in: Leadership , Group dynamics

A group I’m in starts its meetings with each person naming an accomplishment—personal or professional—since the last meeting. Sometimes there’s a big and obvious item to share. At other times, group members struggle to identify a victory. There’s no rule about how “big” a success must be. There is a rule about reporting with gusto. No diminishment of self is allowed. No “well, it’s not much but…” or “I wish I had something more substantial to report…” or “my success isn’t as big a yours….”


Starved for Appreciation

Posted by: heather

I showed appreciation for someone and he cried. As I told him about the qualities that make him a valued part of the team, he welled up. As I moved on to discuss acts and products that he contributed to our program, the tears spilled out. He didn’t ask me to stop but sat for more as the tears continued.


Another year has ended and the new one is hurrying along. It’s barely three weeks old and we’ve had a new Congress, the shooting in Arizona, snow across the entire country, and the iphone on Verizon. With that as an opening, there’s no telling where 2011 might go.


Leadership and Accountability

Posted by: heather

Who holds the top accountable? As a leader, whether of a unit or an organization, it’s easy to get trapped by the illusions of the office. Check the news for accounts of people who used their offices unethically. The leader’s role is fraught with many opportunities to misstep. Leader of cause organizations need to be especially vigilant as effectiveness is often measured obliquely and in the long-term, even as there’s pressure to show immediate results. The current elections


I recently read several books that you might find interesting:


What are you for?

Posted by: heather

People respond to a positive proposition with energy that’s optimistic and sustainable. That is, people will strive for something compelling even, or especially, if it’s challenging. On the other hand, identifying something wrong or objectionable and fighting against what is, gets meager results compared to pursuing a desired outcome. Analysis or critique of the current state can be useful, but a problem focus fills up the available mental and emotional space leaving little room for a positive alternative. By contrast, the desired outcome makes the challenge of now minor relative to the promise of the future.


I used to study martial arts. I loved it. It was the ballast to my activist life. It was where I discovered my athletic self. Then, after about 18 years, I fell while hiking and hurt my back. There went my martial arts career. No more jumping, kicking, punching hard. After about a year of a modified schedule, I gave it up.

 

I decided to take yoga classes. For a few years, I moped. I went to yoga because I couldn’t go to karate. Yoga was just OK. I know many people love it with the enthusiasm I had for karate but for me it was a poor consolation prize. Now several years on,


When Private Apologies Don't Work

Posted by: heather

Tagged in: Leadership , Group dynamics

The meeting was interrupted by an outburst from the leader to a subordinate. Whatever the person said or did to deserve that tongue lashing was a mystery. Had she broken the leader’s train of thought? Contradicted him? Offered an idea he didn’t like? Spoken one too many times? No one knew, but the effect of the dressing down was immediate. The group was silent, exchanging furtive glances instead of potential solutions for the project. The meeting ended quickly. Later the leader realized that he’d been brusque and called the employee to apologize. By his reckoning, he’d patched things up and reset relations, right? Wrong.


Bion Meets Obama

Posted by: heather

Tagged in: Leadership , Group dynamics

Why the great disappointment with President Obama and his administration’s accomplishments? There are many explanations—he’s been too timid, too bold, unfocused, focused on the wrong things, too conciliatory, too left, too right, on and on. What’s missing from the critique is the rest of us—the citizenry—and our relationship to our elected leaders.


Nature Lover

Posted by: heather

Ah! There is nothing like the feeling after exertion in nature. The day was cool, crisp even, but warm when the sun was out and I was getting myself uphill.

 

I am thankful for all the people over the years who had the foresight to preserve such great spaces. I benefit greatly whether from a local walk and ride path (Sligo Creek Park is my nearest greenway) or larger tracts like Catoctin Mountains or Shenandoah National Park or Red Rock Country. It’s one thing to see these spaces on National Geographic or Nature. It’s another to experience them firsthand. I am grateful that I have the wherewithal—physical, financial, time—to enjoy these places and I marvel at my luck. I feel fortunate to take advantage of them.


Welcome to 2010, already in progress and already challenging in so many ways. Now, more than ever, I feel called to engage with community for peace and justice.


Not long ago, a colleague described her four-year-old Blackberry as "ancient". In organizations, campaigns and projects come one after another and often overlap. There are changes in structure, technology, policies, and personnel, plus new demands from the environment. Leaders and managers are expected to produce results and people. It seems there's hardly time to run from one meeting to the next, let alone reflect. 


Segregation on a Bus

Posted by: heather

At an airport, on the way to a conference, I ran into a friend and her companion. My friend offered me a ride in her rental car. We three black women boarded the shuttle bus, put away our luggage and sat at the front of the bus. The remaining passengers filed in, stowed their luggage, and went to the back of the bus. Though there were open seats up front with us, the white passengers moved to the rear, including some who chose to stand. We black women exchanged knowing and perplexed looks, joked, and enjoyed getting to know each other on the short ride.

What happened? How did an airport shuttle bus become segregated?


 

Leadership teams often face issues that are unique to their role at the top of an organization.

Managing multiple purposes: Leadership team members have responsibility for the organization as a whole while also being accountable for specific program and operational portfolios. This can create tension as team members work to secure resources necessary to deliver their individual priorities even as they seek to steer the entire organization. At its most challenging,


The Power of Curiosity

Posted by: heather

When you find yourself disagreeing with or offended by someone, you know, you want to thoroughly convince them of the wrongness of their position-and the rightness of yours-try something else-curiosity. Allow yourself to wonder, really wonder, how in the world they came to that perspective. Or wonder, with all the indignation you are likely to have anyway, what they could have possibly meant by that stupid, offensive, off point remark or action. Allow yourself to say something like:


It's time to approve the plan and budget of a community based organization and the staff is frustrated that the board is micromanaging and not focused on strategy. The board is frustrated that the staff is trying to get approval for programs that cost too much and haven't been fully explained. They each walk away disappointed that they have not been more fully engaged and appreciated.

The board/staff relationship is fraught with boundary and role challenges.


My Intentions

    • I intend to share ideas about organizational processes that support the effective functioning of justice seeking organizations.
    • I will share lessons about the life of organizations and provide tools that can support organizational performance.
    • Because I'm also committed to the issues that my clients work on, I'll discuss current events, justice, and the larger implications of news stories or community events.
    • Part of that discussion will include publicizing the issues, campaigns, and thoughtful work of clients.
    • As a colleague to other OD consultants, I hope to spark conversations among those of us who do this work.