Developing Leadership: overcoming isolation, amplifying strengths
I think a major act of leadership right now, call it a radical act, is to create the places and processes so people can actually learn together, using our experiences. ~ Margaret J. Wheatley
I’m working with my dear colleague Lauren Burton to launch Gauge Leadership Lab in Seattle and London this fall, and we’ve been spending a lot of time talking about the WHY. Why we’re doing this work, why it matters, and what happens when people embark on a collaborative learning process.
Creating a space for leaders to reflect, connect, and learn
Here’s what I know: Leadership can be fulfilling AND frustrating, even for resourceful, skilled, and creative people. A few years ago, I noticed several recurring themes among our clients, who were dedicated to supporting the success of their organizations, working hard, and making some great contributions. They were also flirting with burnout and feeling isolated. Sometimes, they were doubting themselves, their contributions, and their ability to navigate the challenges ahead. I kept thinking, “You people should know each other. Each of you needs to know that you’re not the only leader who is having these thoughts and asking these questions.”
To respond to the sense of isolation and looming burnout I was seeing with my clients, I created Gauge Leadership Lab, where people can gather with peers, catch their breath, co-create a vibrant learning community, deepen their self-awareness, and amplify their strengths as leaders.
Embracing the paradoxes of leadership and life
What the world DOESN’T need is one more networking group where everybody puts on their professional mask and pretends they have the world by the tail. That just amplifies the isolation, because it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everybody else has it all figured out, and we’re the only ones with doubts or questions.
I’m intrigued by the paradoxes of leadership: the ability of two seemingly contradictory things to coexist, without necessarily cancelling each other out. Again and again, I see paradoxical patterns:
- You might be deeply confident in how you approach certain responsibilities, and still have doubts about other areas of responsibility.
- You might have extensive knowledge on one topic, and be naïve or ignorant about others.
- You might have masterful skills in some arenas, and be incompetent in others.
- You are keenly self-aware in some areas; at the same time, you might have some notable blind spots about how you are perceived or the impact you’re having.
In the “either/or” thinking that dominates some organizations (either you’re brilliant or you’re an idiot, etc.) it may feel like doubt in one area cancels out confidence in another, or ignorance cancels out knowledge, etc. I don’t see it that way. In my view, those paradoxes are part of human nature. When we acknowledge them, there’s much more room to breathe, be curious, examine what’s possible, and genuinely connect with ourselves and with each other. And that’s the sweet spot for learning and growing as leaders and as people.
Authentic leadership in action: bringing our values to life
Finally, these programs are an opportunity to bring my own leadership values to life—especially the ones around integrity, collaboration, curiosity, courage, and fun. Collaborating with Lauren to launch this program in two locations is a great opportunity to put those values into practice. I’m excited about what Lauren and I will learn together. I know it will be meaningful and fun, for us and for folks we’ll be working with. More importantly, I’m confident that we’ll build on each other’s insights in a way that will deepen the experience for each of the groups we’ll be working with.
Ready to gather with peers to amplify your leadership?
If you’re like many of our clients, you’re working hard, and you’re committed to supporting the success of your team. You have ambitious dreams, big plans, and some accomplishments under your belt. And, still, sometimes it feels like you’re on a hamster wheel. It’s hard to catch your breath and focus on what’s next.
So who’s supporting YOU, and how will you prepare yourself for what’s ahead?
If you’re asking yourself some big questions, and are intrigued by the idea of learning alongside other curious, resourceful people, then check out our fall leadership programs, where you’ll gather with peers, catch your breath, deepen your self-awareness, and amplify your strengths as a leader.
Interested? Reach us here.
- Gauge Leadership Lab. The Seattle series starts on Oct. 23rd, Early-Bird Discount Pricing (Save $300) ends: [fergcorp_cdt_single date=”10/12/2015 08:00:00 UTC”]
YOUR TURN: What are your strategies for developing your leadership? How do you deal with the risk of burnout?
NEXT: Leadership and self-awareness: what makes you tick?