"If you're in a bad situation, don't worry, it'll change. If you're in a good situation, don't worry, it'll change."
-- John A. Simone Jr.
We are pleased to announce the launch of our global sustainability leadership organization: Abound.
Commitment Connection Opportunity
Who We Are
We are leaders in businesses, non-profit organizations and institutions with a mission for sustainability who want to accelerate the pace of change. We believe it is time to re-imagine, re-design, re-organize and re-align to create a present that carries us through sustainability to a future of abundance.
We are all over the world. Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, we have chapters developing across the US and Canada, Japan and the Asia Pacific region. Our global mission is to:
- Strengthen and enhance sustainable leadership
- Develop powerful and deep connections between leaders
- Create sustainable abundance
What We Do
Abound is a membership supported, driven and defined non-profit organization. We provide:
- Leadership Circles: Peer to peer learning groups committed to helping members deepen their individual, organizational, community and national leadership capacity.
- Learning Events: Integrated into the Leadership Circle experience, these learning sessions provide participants with the hands on expertise and learning they need to take their organizations beyond sustainability to abundance.
- Individual and Organizational Assessment: Every member will receive free initial assessments of their leadership capacities, strengths and styles. After a year, follow up assessments will be made so each member can account for their growth and development. Abound will also provide assessments of the member organizations to determine the level of sustainability the organization has achieved upon joining and over time.
- Knowledge Net: A repository of individual member, sponsor and supporter capabilities and knowledge which any member can access and harness for support.
- Research & Publishing: Thorough, relevant and leading edge research into sustainable practices and their connection to helping member organizations grow and thrive.
- Projects: Supporting members and gathering member support for community, educational and sustainable development projects.
Stay tuned for more…or check out our the Abound website at: www.aboundglobal.org
Using high-tech badges that transmit data on an individual’s gestures, eye movements, voice levels, and even proximity to other people, MIT is parsing the physical traits of leadership. Along with highlighting effective managers, researchers hope the data will help train workers to be more effective at everything from networking to dealing with customers.
Intriguing idea but it seems to me it could easily become one more way to distance our selves from the hard work of becoming our selves. Becoming an effective leader or a manager is about learning how to engage with the people around you. Accreting a few non-verbal tricks is no substitute for developing your own capacity for leadership.
I remember a discussion with one potential coaching client where he told me he wanted me to teach him techniques to “make people like him.” Our relationship ended shortly after I told him there were no techniques for this.
If you want to be a leader you need to spend the time and energy and develop the discipline to become a leader. If you want to engage more fully with people or the world in general you have to deepen your capacity to engage.
There are no shortcuts, secret techniques or weekend courses that are going to do this for you.
Innovation & Implementation is where the rubber hits the road. This is where your desire, commitment, accountability and discipline are put to the test. Innovation & Implementation is all about getting others to become interested in and, in some way, buy what it is you’re selling.
Whether you want people’s money, time, effort, simple acceptance or fervent support they must find a way-in their own way-to connect with the quality of your work. The quality of what you and your people come up with here is closely interwoven with:
- The quality of your individual collective Presence
- Your ability to integrate Pattern & Practice
- How you choose to Generate Value
- The degree to which you can generate No Waste
There have been a number of interesting articles about body use and language that have come out of the American presidential debates. Karen Bradley, head professor of the graduate program in dance at the University of Maryland, and a Laban movement analysis practitioner, has analyzed the movement of George Bush:
During a State of the Union address, Bush spent the entire speech swaying metronomically, straight down through his lower torso, a movement underscored, unfortunately, by the presence of a large vertical banner behind him. “Each shift ended with this focus that channels toward a particular place in the audience…It’s a little primitive, a little regressed.” The combination of the look, the sway, and the gaze was, to her mind, distinctly adolescent. When people say of Bush that he seems eternally boyish, this is in part what they’re referring to. He moves like a boy, which is fine, except that, unlike such movement masters as Reagan and Clinton, he can’t stop moving like a boy when the occasion demands a more grown-up response.
And recently on the Planet Waves blog the movement of McCain and Obama, Palin and Biden:
PALIN: Whenever she says “I am ready,” she’s really not answering the question. This means she isn’t adaptable to questions, nor is she listening. She’s all about persistence and no content. She’s really not saying anything, but she does it with great conviction.
McCAIN: Completely non-adaptable as well. Whatever is going on, he is not going to move. As maverick and leader of the “Straight Talk Express,” his stance didn’t shift or waffle. He owned the space he was in. If he changes the message he believes in, he loses his grounding (meaning he verbally spurts, and his body lists like a ship). He wants you to believe he is holding down the fort, but it looks as though he doesn’t believe it himself. No moral center here.
BIDEN: Very consistent. What McCain should have been. He’s pointed, not broad. He’s got depth. He’s like grandpa: sometimes wise, sometimes goofy, but the goofiness is forgivable because he’s got depth.
OBAMA: He’s got challenges. Sometimes he wanders around the stage, but that’s when he is listening and thinking about how to respond. You don’t see this trait in any of the other candidates. He’s a very considerate and a good listener. He doesn’t appear to be impulsive. He decides deliberately. He has a center but also has tremendous range. Kids understand: This man is a grown up.
We like our leaders to have presence. We want them to be people we can trust. What we say with our bodies speaks volumes. And the body does not lie.
Next time you watch an organizational, community, political or global leader “speak” pay attention to what they are telling you with their body, energy and intonation and register. Pay attention to your responses.
Ask yourself: what am I responding to? Words? Or something else?
In an earlier post I wrote:
Pattern Yields Practice: From the application of Presence comes an understanding of the patterns or dynamics of a particular field or area of endeavor. The more refined, expansive and deep your Presence, the greater the capacity to perceive pattern.
In reality, what does this mean and how does it work?
The process comes from Permaculture. It is one of the Key Success Factors for creating a self-sustaining, ecologically coherent and high yield agricultural system. The concept is simple: the better we understand the ecological system we are disturbing with our practice, the better we can align our practice with that system. The greater the alignment and coherence with the system, the lower our material, labor and energy costs and the more sustainable our yield.
If we move in the opposite direction of misalignment and incoherence we get higher material, labor and energy costs coupled with potentially higher (but unsustainable) yields. If we look at current large-scale agricultural practices they clearly tend toward misalignment and incoherence. The language and practice of large-scale agriculture is that of war and escalation of conflict with the very eco-systems that support us. Diminishing returns are a self-evident result of these practices.
Large-scale energy harvesting and the exergy generation (combustion, electricity generation) have followed a similar path of misalignment and incoherence. In order to live we are destroying, dirtying and damaging the eco-systems that have supported us for tens of thousands of years. Simply, as these eco-systems unravel, we are presented with patterns (global warming) that touch us and (temporarily) move us to change our practice. The key is that we are reacting in fear to patterns after they emerge as opposed to proactively seeking out and observing patterns as they emerge or as they have been emerging and subsiding for thousands of years.
Applying Pattern Yields Practice to business means fundamentally altering the way we perceive our organizations, our selves as constituents of these organizations, and the way we and our organizations choose to behave in the market, in the communities we inhabit and in the web of life that allows us to flourish. Simply it means, expanding our circles of stakeholders to include not just people but the eco-systems in which we do business and in which we, as people, live.
The benefits? Less material, labor and energy costs, less fear and anger, less unhealthy, unhappy employees, and a more stable, strong, flexible and sustainable business model.
Applying Pattern Yields to your Self as community member and leader means creating the space and time to:
- Observe and reflect upon the way you see the world around you.
- What habits of thinking and perception do you have?
- What patterns of behavior do you have?
- Observe and reflect on the world around you, specifically:
- What patterns do you see (for example: rain, diversity of people, plants & animals, water flow)
- What patterns do these patterns link to?
- What larger patterns are these patterns a part of?
- How are you related to and affected by these patterns?
- How do you and other members of your community affect these patterns?
- What meaning is to be made from these interactions?
- To live in a more eco-systemically coherent manner (saving money, energy & time) what needs to change?
- How will these changes affect you and the patterns you’ve observed?
- What are you going to change–starting NOW?
Easy? Absolutely not.
Essential? I suppose that depends on whether you want to be part of the solution or continue being part of the problem.
Presence is a constellation on a number of practices. Building presence means evolving your capacities to perceive. To do this means an evolution of:
- Action Logic: This means increasing our capacity to perceive and deal with the complexities facing us as we try and maintain work / family / personal / practice balances. Managing and transforming dilemmas depends on the capacity to see through and beyond the horns of the bull facing us.
- State Engagement: Through meditation, aikido, yoga and a host of other practices we can deepen our sense of that which grounds and connects us to our selves, others and the eco-systems into which we are interwoven. Compassion springs from this engagement as does our access to intuition, creativity and transcendence of the daily grind rat race prison of helplessness we often find our selves within.
- Action Learning: This is the process of doing, reflecting, learning, and doing it all over again. In a sense, we often do this without conscious consideration. The Action Learning process helps us bring our developmental practice to a clear and explicit place in our lives and those whom with we engage.
- Character Assessment: Assessments like the DISC, MBTI, LSI, etc… help us see where our preferences, tendencies, habits are in terms of engaging others. They help us see our strengths as well as how we limit our selves by relying on those strengths. At some point, through the insight gained from Action Logic evolution and State Engagement it is possible to create a Presence that extends beyond the limitations of character.
- Group Resonance: Learning how to engage fully with others and create elevated learning and creative ba is the practice of understanding and being able to generate group resonance. The tricky thing is the harder we try to create resonant or peak experiences the less likely it is to achieve them.
Next up: Pattern Yields Practice
Sustainable leadership arises from being able to see the world as it is: in its infinite complexity and subtle simplicity. It requires deep capacity to know and reflect on yourself and the multiple implications of your actions. It also requires that you extend your concept of “self” to include much more than “me” and home to be much more than “my house.” As the poet Gary Snyder has written “home is as big as you make it.”
Leadership is a practice. One CEO I recently spoke with said that leadership is a performance. Indeed it is both. Leadership is the enactment and realization of our capacity as humans to engage others and the world around us and inspire thinking, reflection and action. At its best, leadership is transformative. Great leaders transform themselves and with the depth of their perception, the strength of their conviction and the beauty of their vision they help others transform as well. Often these transformations can be “spiritual” in their quality. Spirit being that which connects you to your self, your self to others, that self to the world, the divine and those mysterious, powerful insights that arise from these relationships.
Sustainable leadership is the practice, performance and enactment of a perception, conviction and vision that respects, nurtures and supports that which sustains us and, importantly, that which sustains that which sustains us.
The evolution of sustainable leadership is commitment to a process of self development that begins with “me” but necessarily expands to include and transcend “me.” The deeper we dive, the broader we roam, the richer our understanding of our place and purpose. From this process our practice: our words and actions arise. The greater the depth of our perception, the greater potential we bring for transformation, the greater our capacity to create sustainable approaches to living, community, innovation and business.
Sustainable leadership may, sometimes, be in response to something, however, at its best it is an inspiration and invitation for something. It comes from the inside. It is radiant and compellingly transparent. It is not easy and it is not what you think it is, right now.
This is just the beginning. More to follow soon…
Found this primer to the challenges facing the Next Generation Leaders on Jessica Margolin’s site. Called, Next Generation Leadership it is a short PDF on leading in the VUCA world.
VUCA stands for: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous-the four horsemen of chaos and complexity.
Margolin goes on to astutely assert that success will favor those who thrive in VUCA environments. Couldn’t agree more.
When we talk about capacity evolution, we have just an environment in mind. Our work in Japan has brought us client after client who are caught flat-footed as they rather suddenly have to try and navigate a world of little certainty, rapid & unpredictable change, and situations with no and many “right” answers that are often questions themselves.
In a VUCA world, leaders need the capacity to perceive, act and make meaning in non-linear, trans-rational ways. Some come to it naturally, some will be called, many will have to be shown the way.
Where do you fit in?
Was reading the newspaper this morning when I came upon this article: On Climate, Symbols Can Overshadow Substance. It begins with a description of the “Earth Hour” campaign:
The idea was to get 2 million residents in Sydney to turn off all the lights in their homes for one hour. The campaign generated wide publicity, but the energy saved was small — the equivalent of taking about five cars off the city’s roads for a year.
Earth Hour, Earth Day and the Miss Earth beauty pageant — “saving the planet, one pageant at a time” — generate lots of publicity, but they also tend to prompt people and companies to choose what looks good over what works
We don’t need another Al Gore Earth Aid concert. We don’t need another self-indulgent celebrity showing us how much they care by flying their “green” car around the world so they can be seen driving “green.” We don’t need another company selling phony carbon offsets. Enough already of the “green washing.”
Another very interesting aspect of the article comes later:
While the idea that people who are emotionally committed can change their behavior in ways that help the planet seems appealing, a growing body of research suggests that this is not the way large-scale changes in behavior occur. The behavior of individuals, companies and nations is largely determined by structural factors, not personal choices.
“Some people react to ethical and environmental concerns, but a vast majority of people react to price,” Flomenhoft said. “The biggest effect on people’s behavior is price. When gas reaches $4 a gallon, everyone talks about hybrids.
“We are not going to solve this problem with voluntary measures — it is a problem of externalities,” [Borenstein] said. “It is true of pollution and the way we use oil. We address tailpipe emission problems by asking people to make sure they meet emission requirements — we actually check. We have found voluntary approaches don’t work when it comes to pollution.
Take a good look at the message of hopelessness in the above statements. To restate: people will only change when we force them to change. Behavior must be regulated, motivation must be extrinsic. Is there another way?
Here are several more open (and definitely loaded) questions. What would it take for us to live and work in eco-systemically coherent ways? What changes would we have to make in the ways we perceive our selves and our relationships with the eco-systems into which we interwoven?
Where are our individual and collective leverage points to catalyze a paradigm shift where a carrot and stick approach is no longer necessary and appropriate? How do we develop the intrinsic motivation to be sustainable and the wisdom to act effectively?
I have some ideas. How about you?
This is the redux of a post I wrote awhile back in a previous blogging incarnation:
There are a number of models for integrity: honesty, fairness, being faithful. They honor standing for truth, standing for justice, standing for and keeping a promise.
Fundamentally, integrity is often seen as a matter of unity. Do you do what you say? Do you say what you mean? Are you walking the talk? Do you say “yes” and mean it? Do you stand for what you believe?
Often, people we see as having integrity are those we feel we can trust, those people who (we believe) aren’t going to bad mouth us when we leave the room, the politician who (we believe) will actually do something about health care. They stand for something, we believe in it and they inspire us to also believe in them.
There is something about integrity that grounds a person for us, makes them dependable, makes them someone we want to follow or be with. There is something about a show of integrity that moves us. Remember this:
Another example is this stirring recount from Old School by Ellis Amdur of Kino Shizue, then head of the Higo-ryu naginata, a true warrior on the floor of the Tokyo Budokan stopping the “show” for her match with Abe Toyoko, head of the Tendo-ryu (another naginata school):
It was 1982, at the All Japan Seniors Competition, featuring kendo, jukendo, and naginata. Kino Sensei fought first with an eighth-dan kendo teacher. Using Higo Ko-ryu techniques, her stances were low and solid, and she aggressively attacked throughout. Her most effective attack was to fake a cut to the head, then sweep into a cut under her opponent’s arm when he responded to the feint. Though this is not considered a “point” in either kendo or atarashi naginata, it was one of the few unarmored places open to attack in ancient warfare. At one point, her opponent cut at her head. She sidestepped. In a move typical of modern kendo, he continued his movement past her, exposing his back. She simply turned and struck him three times before he could turn around.
At the end of the shiai, the announcer decided that enough time had been spent on the “old folks” matches, and tried to move the program to it’s next segment, an exibition of atarashi naginata done in unison to music. However, there was another individual waiting to engage Kino Sensei, already dressed in protective armor. The announcer breezily apologized for the lack of time over the loudspeaker.
Kino Sensei shook her head and walked out to the center of the Budokan, a huge performance hall, perhaps a third as big as a baseball park. All alone she stood at the center of the floor, with the butt of her weapon planted firmly on the wooden floor.
The young women who had fluttered onto the floor to do their performance, looked at each other and drifted back to the sidelines in small groups. Nervous laughter went through the audience.
The announcer rather patronizingly said that “…we all appreciate Kino Sensei’s spirit! We have to move on now!”
She ignored him.
Finally, he and two officials of the kendo federation went out on the floor to remonstrate with her. She ignored them for five minutes, standing there, a warrior holding a bridge to a more glorious past, all alone. Finally, the officials went back to their seats, and the announcer grudgingly stated that there would be one more match. The hall erupted in cheers, and Abe Toyoko Sensei walked onto the floor.
To lead you don’t need integrity. People will follow or settle for much less. But as a leader, I encourage you to ask where do I stand? What do I stand for? If you reflect on the above, in these times of great change, I hope you’ll know when it’s your time, your place to make a stand.