Call Dr. Stebbins today 503.957.6528

Call Dr. Stebbins today 503.957.6528

What is ‘trending’ in Leadership?

My next several blog postings will be addressing some the innovative thinking in leadership development. To start, let me set the stage for why there is a shift in thinking around leadership skills.

The landscape within which organizations operate is ever changing, volatile and unpredictable.  This evolving environment requires new and diverse leadership skills that are currently being addressed by methodologies that have not kept up with this complex, morphing landscape.  The discussion about leadership has shifted from who leaders are to, as Petrie [2014] describes it, a “development challenge-the process of how to grow ‘bigger’ minds.”

Part of this ‘bigger mind’ is moving from ‘individual’ to ‘collective’ leadership. It is the recognition that anyone in the organization can [and should!] act in a leadership capacity.  By learning the essential ‘collaborating’ and ‘influencing’ skills, leaders will gain the needed diverse perspectives to more effectively identify/solve problems and make decisions.

In my work with organizations, I have seen the shift from ‘individual’ to ‘collective’ leadership slowly evolve. I have worked with senior leaders who have struggled with it because it addresses the ever present issues of empowerment and accountability. Those leaders who have worked with me have successfully made this shift resulting in their abilities to more effectively identify/solve problems and in their organizations becoming more change resilient.

Want to learn more? Contact me and let’s explore what this new leadership paradigm can mean for you and your organization!

“Mindful” Leadership

The act of defining leadership has produced an ever evolving body of research and generates spirited conversations within the business community. I have participated in many of these conversations and read much of the research. I conclude that leadership does not involve titles nor is it a “thing”. Rather, I firmly believe sound leadership is a journey of the heart-this journey is “mindful leadership”. This idea is confirmed by an inspirational passage I read early this morning. From the March Science of Mind magazine, this passage is so profound, I quote it directly here:

“True leadership does not mean exerting power over others,but rather learning how to manage our own weaknesses and modeling the behavior we expect from our team….True leaders seek conscious solutions to everyday problems. They build trust and allow people to feel safe and heard”

At the center of this passage is the realization that we, as leaders, must recognize/acknowledge our own emotional wounds as they will influence how we interact with others and how we create our own vision of personal/organizational success.  In my opinion, the more vulnerable we are as leaders, the safer our followers will feel. And the more connected we all will be to our work/each other.

I leave you to ponder this quote from Science of Mind magazine:

“Mindful leadership means accepting that strong leaders are vulnerable and vulnerable leaders are strong”.

Linking “I Don’t Know” with “Seeking Answers”

My previous two blog postings  are part of a much larger challenge for leaders in particular and organizations as a whole….it is “transparency”.  This word is used so much inside organizations that I believe its meaning has truly been lost. In my client work, I have discovered that it means having the important conversations that have been avoided, gaining all perspectives necessary for improved decision making, being as open as possible about the issues/matters important to organizational business  and engaging all stakeholders in meaningful conversation. I have found that the organizations I work with believe they demonstrate this definition of transparency and yet, in speaking with employees I find that is not the case.  And this disconnect between how leadership views transparency and what employees experience is not unique to my clients.In a 800 participant study, Fierce, Inc [2012] found that nearly 50% identify lack of company-wide transparency and too little involvement in company decisions as key areas of concern.

Much has been written about the reasons for this discrepancy and rather than delve into those reasons, I prefer to focus on how to achieve/model transparency. In my opinion, the first step is addressed in my previous two posts: “I Don’t Know” and “Seeking Answers”. The second step is learning the strategic communication skills that can literally create a transparent organizational culture!

Curious? Contact me for more information!

5 More Tips for Successful Leadership

6. Invest in employees as you invest in yourself

*Their development is every bit as important as yours! Doing so will yield tremendous results for you, the employees and your organization both now and in the future

7.Increase employee engagement

*This single most important cost free action will increase retention, drive innovation, solve problems and improve the bottom line!

8. Maintain balance

* Your health, which is your greatest wealth, depends on it!

9. Model transparency and learn the skills to make it happen

* The costs related to lack of transparency in organizations are staggering both in terms of human capital and product/service…..transparency=organizational well being!

10.  HAVE FUN!

* If your work is not fun, find something that is…..your followers are watching!

So….how do these 10 Tips resonate with you? Contact me and let’s talk!

Difficult Conversations: Sometimes I Gotta Have ‘Em!

I was interested in a recent Harvard Business Review article [1/9/15] entitled “How to Handle Difficult Conversations at Work.”   Rebecca Knight, the author, presents 8 suggestions for conducting a difficult conversation:

  • Change your mindset
  • Breathe
  • Plan but don’t script
  • Acknowledge your counterpart’s perspective
  • Be compassionate
  • Slow down and listen
  • Give something back
  • Reflect and Learn

I totally support these ideas and believe that a specific framework for putting them into action is important. I suggest using the Confrontation Conversation Model developed by Fierce, Inc. that is based on the work of Susan Scott’s Fierce Conversations. While the title “Confrontation Conversation” may sound intimidating, I find it less so within the Fierce Conversation context. Consider the Three Transformational Ideas upon which the Confrontation Model is based:

Idea #1: “Our careers, companies,  personal relationships and our very lives succeed or fail, gradually then suddenly, one conversation at a time.”  The question is: What is the cost to us when we are unwilling or unable to have the conversations we need to have?  I know from my own experience that relationships gradually deteriorate over time.

Idea #2: “The conversation is the relationship” . This equation is simple: limiting conversations, limits relationships….whether business or personal!

Idea #3: “All conversations are with myself and sometimes they involve other people.”  It is amazing how our context or mindset frames how we interact with others….our context can work both for and against us!

So how do these ideas support you as you have those challenging conversations? Contact me for a free session on how these principles and the Fierce Confrontation Conversation Model can give you the skills for conducting those “sometimes-I-gotta-have ’em” conversations.

September Fierce Event in Portland

It's Time to Get Fierce Red Arrow


Join me September 4-5 for a Fierce Conversations Workshop at the Unviersity Club in Portland. Click the link above to register!