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Who’s Your Tribe?

April 23, 2017


Human beings have an innate sense of wanting to belong to a community. It’s genetically ingrained in us. This leads many people to actively seek out a like-minded group, or tribe, to join.

It might be Gen Y Hipsters, whose appropriation of elements of Baby Boomer culture creates a self-perceived uniqueness. It could be older women who are cancer survivors and who have formed a support network. It may be a LGBTQ group. Then there are those who are musicians of a certain genre, or perhaps artists or photographers. Or it could be people who seek to initiate political change through organized protest (eg, Occupy Wall Street—composed of sub-tribes). And one can’t forget church tribes, each with its own uniqueness and interpretation of the Bible.

Whatever the tribe, the underlying premise is to provide a means for people to share their experiences, seek support from one another, and initiate change. But what do we mean by “tribe?”

In its more traditional sense, the word “tribe” has a much different definition than how it’s used today by some people. At its most elemental form, a tribe is a clan-based social structure. Encyclopedia of Britannica explains it this way:

Tribe, in anthropology, a notional form of human social organization based on a set of smaller groups, having temporary or permanent political integration, and defined by traditions of common descent, language, culture, and ideology.

Oxford Dictionary defines a tribe as :

A social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.

In contemporary urban usage, “tribe” has been morphed into a wholly different distinct meaning. Marketing genius Seth Godin has perhaps been the most outspoken in creating a new meaning for the word tribe and stressing the importance of how people as members of tribes can initiate change though self-empowerment. Through his books, blogging and public speaking, Godin’s messaging is based on the generation and distribution of ideas in a digital world. Take a moment to watch his excellent Ted Talk, The Tribes We Lead.

At the core of Godin’s talk is leadership and how tribes are enablers to initiating change through the generation and distribution of ideas. As he puts it: “Tribes are everywhere…. Tribes are what matter now…leading and connecting people and ideas.”

He stresses the importance of pushing back to challenge the status quo. And to do so means that we need to find something worth changing and then identify or create a tribe with people who really care about an issue.

Gen Y TribeGen Y (Millennials) has a greater propensity towards tribalism, in contrast to their older cohorts (Gen Z and Baby Boomers). This isn’t surprising, given that Gen Y is more relationship-based and collaborative, both at work and in the community. It’s an intelligent response to the changes taking place in the workplace and in society at large.

In an age of turbulent change, full of uncertainties for young people, becoming a member of a tribe has growing appeal. Being part of an identity in which values are shared and where inter-personal support is a key feature can be instrumental in helping people navigate the challenges that relentlessly emerge. And to Seth Godin’s point, it’s about people self-empowering themselves to become leaders and working constructively to make positive changes to society.

Here are three questions that Godin presents at the end of his TED Talk. Take time to reflect on them as you proceed with your leadership journey.

1) Who are you upsetting? (If no one, you’re not challenging the status quo)

2) Who are you connecting? (It’s about building inter-personal relationships)

3) Who are you leading? (If there are no followers, there’s no leadership)

Who’s YOUR tribe?

It turns out that tribes, not money, not factories, that can change our world, that can change politics, that can align large numbers of people. Not because you force them to do something against their will. But because they wanted to connect.
— Seth Godin

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“Call Me Nick!” Leadership in Running Shoes

April 16, 2017

Running Shoes

We were dressed in our splendid attire: wool suits, buffed shoes and combed hair. My peers and I –some 60 middle managers from around the region– were attending a manager’s conference in 1991. We anxiously awaited the arrival of our demi-god.
And who might that have been?
None other than the Deputy Minister (DM) of our federal department, who had flown down from head office in Ottawa, Canada’s capital. We were cloistered in a community college in the small, beautiful city of Edmundston, NewBrunswick, just a stone’s throw from northern Maine.

We waited with trepidation for Nick Mulder’s arrival. A deputy minister, for civil servants, is to be worshipped, a form of immortal beast, who knows all and who sees all—a purveyor of the future. (Or so goes the lingering mythology). A DM to the uninitiated is equivalent to a CEO or president in the private sector. His or her boss is the Minister, an elected politician (a Secretary in the U.S.).

Finally murmurs broke out: “The DM is here!”

Suddenly the deputy minister walked into the room. He took one look at us and broke out laughing. “Why the heck are you people dressed up?” Standing before us was our demi-god, except that he had on casual pants, running shoes and a rumpled shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He then worked the room, shaking our hands and exclaiming repeatedly, “Nick Mulder; good to meet you. Call me Nick!”

Well, that proved to be a drycleaning waste of time.

Fast forward to a few months later.

Nick Mulder was on his way to the regional office in Fredericton where I worked as chief economist. I was a newbie manager in my mid-thirties, and was dutifully impressed with such immortal beings. A suit was in order that day!

“Call me Nick” arrived and met first with my direct boss, the executive head of the New Brunswick Region. The DM then wanted to tour the regional office, all 135 employees who worked there. He stopped at my office, only to say to me, “I don’t want to talk to you; I want to meet your staff.”

Another wasted drycleaning effort.

So off went the deputy minister to meet my small team of economists and support staff. “Hi, Nick Mulder. Call me Nick!” And Nick sat down in the cubicles of my team members, chatting them up, asking them what they did.

MBWAHow often do you see your organization’s top dog actually making a concrete effort to reach out and touch the regular folk who get the work down?

I worked in the public service of Canada for three decades before retiring at the end of 2010. I worked in five departments, covering both a regional office and headquarters. Nick Mulder was the ONLY top organizational leader in my experience who made a consistent effort to really meet staff–to reach out and touch them in a genuine way. This is the proverbial “walking the talk.”
Nick is a very bright guy who got things done. He worked in a variety of large departments. At the time, I worked for the big Department of Employment and Immigration, some 23,000 employees.

Top leaders need to periodically get off their high horse and connect with the people who get the work done in organizations, and it certainly helps to put on some running shoes to keep you more nimble. Connecting regularly with employees is especially important when one is leading a private or public organization that has a strong orientation to customers or clients.

There’s no better way for a top leader to get face-to-face with an employee who works in a remote local office serving unemployment insurance clients.

There’s no better way for a corporate CEO to talk to employees in a hardware store to find out what their challenges are in serving demanding customers in a competitive marketplace.

And there’s no better way for the president of a non-profit organization to speak to those staff who diligently canvas donors each and every day.

leadership conceptual compassIf you’re a senior manager and you’re not making a regular effort to connect to your hardworking employees, then you’re not just missing an opportunity to improve organizational performance but you’re also negligent as a leader. For leadership, at its core, is about creating a loyal followership through a shared vision. You can’t do that if you never face your people from time to time.

Take a moment to read Leadership and the Bottom Line to see a contrast between leadership that gets it and that which does not.

Leadership is NOT about mission statements that get mounted on boardroom walls or that are in corporate newsletters. It’s NOT about proclaiming “Employees are our most important asset.” And it’s NOT about stating that the organization has a new set of values and ethics.

This news isn’t just for the person at the organization’s apex, but also for those in the entire hierarchical pyramid.

Reflect on “Call me Nick” Mulder. Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and put on the running shoes?

The only test of leadership is that somebody follows. 
– Robert K. Greenleaf

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The Leader Sets the Tone

April 9, 2017

Black WomanYou’re at a work meeting. One of your co-workers is giving a Powerpoint presentation to 30 people from both your work unit and two other units in your organization. It took your co-worker two weeks to develop a technical presentation that is part of a major corporate initiative.Your boss is there. He’s tense, because in the audience is his boss, plus two other senior managers.

Your co-worker, in your view, is doing a decent job presenting. But he’s nervous and has made a few minor stumbles. At each one your boss intervenes to correct your co-worker, and at one point mutters something about “…lack of preparation.”

The two other managers have been glancing at their smart phones, which has added to your boss’ tension.

The presentation finally ends; your co-worker looks drained; your boss is twitching.

Back at the ranch, no sooner is your co-worker seated at his desk than the boss arrives. “What the heck was that about? Do you realize that you just embarrassed me? What are you going to do about it?” And with that he storms off, leaving your co-worker, who’s respected for his intelligence, restraining his emotions.

A month later you learn that your co-worker is leaving for a competitor and for a higher salary. A few weeks later two more co-workers quit for other companies. Your boss is getting increasingly cranky and belligerent as he loses staff and fails to meet objectives.

You decide that it’s time to exit.

While this is a fictitious story, unfortunately similar situations occur every day in public and private organizations. But it doesn’t have to be like this. There is hope. And it starts with leadership, founded on three key elements:

1) Integrity

2) Modeling

3) Consistency

CompassWhat is Integrity?

Definitions vary. However, the Concise Oxford English Dictionary sums it up nicely:

1) The quality of having strong moral principles. 2) The state of being whole.

The “state of being whole” has particular resonance since that is what we’re talking about with leadership. We want our leaders to be real people who understand their strengths, gifts, weaknesses and warts. And that strong self-awareness propels them to: a) work continuously at improving their areas of weakness, and b) surrounding themselves with competent people to whom they readily delegate.

This is integrity with a human face. It’s about being a whole leader.

Modeling means demonstrating your integrity through your daily actions. It’s about aligning what you say with what you do. It’s easy enough for someone in a leadership position to make promises; it’s quite another to actually accomplish it. Organizations are dynamic, full of bureaucratic politics and one-upmanship, where people strive to build their careers so that they can advance. We’ve all heard of the boss who serves upwards to senior management, stepping on employees while climbing the corporate ladder.

To model leadership behaviors effectively is easier said than done. It can be difficult for some people at first. However, it becomes a natural, daily habit when people commit to making it an integral part of their leadership journey.

This is where integrity starts to meet the road, where traction is being applied. This is where consistency enters the picture.

Climbing young adult at the top of summitOne of the most important things ever said to me in my leadership journey occurred some 30 years ago when I was a new manager. I was talking one day to my assistant, Julie, when she calmly said: “Jim, I always know where your head is at.”

It may sound like an odd comment, but it had and still holds important meaning for me. But it took years for me to fully understand it. It’s about integrity and modeling the desired behaviors, two elements I worked hard at when working in organizations, whether I was leading intact teams or project teams.

It’s about Consistency – relentlessly practicing those desired leadership behaviors each and every day.

We all make mistakes, and when this happens it’s crucial to acknowledge them and to correct the situation. It’s integrity with a human face. People–your followers–will respect you all the more when you admit when you’re wrong or when you apologize to a colleague for something you said.

In your own leadership journey, be sure to take time to reflect upon your personal integrity. Are you modeling the desired behaviors you want your followers and colleagues to see and emulate?

Are you practicing consistency on a daily basis?

What you bring forth out of yourself from the inside will save you. What you do not bring forth out of yourself from the inside will destroy you.
– Gospel of Thomas

Holisti LeadershipClick here to download a complimentary copy of Jim’s e-book Becoming a Holistic Leader, 3rd Edition.

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Leadership and the Inter-Generational Divide: 12 Tips for Gen Y

April 2, 2017



This post is based on the last section section of my e-book Leadership and the Inter-Generational Divide: Issues, Trends and Solutions, 2nd edition”. The purpose in this post is to address the challenges that Generation Y (Millennials) is facing in a turbulent economy and job market.

Gen Y (20-36), while living in a time of exciting technological change, is also getting hammered on several fronts: heavy student loan debt; run-away housing prices; the erosion of full time, secure employment; the disappearance of defined benefit pension plans; unaffordable health care (if you’re an American); and the effects of automation and job-offshoriing.

To help Gen Y adapt to a tough job market, here are 12 tips to serve as a guide. Many of these tips are also relevant to Gen X (37-50), in regard to how they develop their careers and assume greater leadership responsibilities as Baby Boomers continue to retire.

And of course we have Generation Z moving steadily towards the labor market, with some already in college. So this post (and e-book) is also for you.

1) Realize that this economic situation is not your fault—but don’t get a chip on your shoulder over it either.

2) Own your morale and attitude on how you perceive the world.

3) Never stop learning. When you think you’ve had enough, find another area in which to learn something new. Read a book – don’t just surf the web.

4) Follow Slava’s rule: have two trades or professions. (Slava, as I talk about in my book, was a Ukraine-Canadian who replaced the hardwood floors in my house. He believed people need to have two trades.)

5) Working after high school or taking time off to work or travel during college may be a good idea, but it’s a personal decision. Only you can make the final decision once you’ve checked things out, including receiving constructive advice from family and friends. And tell your parents to chill out if they start to panic (Gen Z, are you listening?).

6) Make this time off a growth experience. Don’t rot at home or hang out with friends who are going nowhere.

7) Lower your material expectations. Less is more for quality of life.

8) Post-secondary education is usually a good thing, but take the time to assess your interests and passions against what college programs offer.

9) Remember, there will always be ‘unknowns’ of which you’re unaware. Never be a know-it-all. Be humble and curious.

10) Be open to outcome, not attached to it.

11) Create your future by seizing opportunities and then allowing Mr. Luck in.

12) Sacrifice. It’s the ONLY way to initiate personal change and to systematically make a long-term improvement in your economic wellbeing.

What tip do you have to share?

Take a moment to leave a comment.

To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step to knowledge.
– Benjamin Disraeli

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Using the “Five Whys” to Identify Root Causes

March 26, 2017
Question Marks.jpg

Tajichi Ohno was born in 1912 in Dalian, China. As a young man, he was hired by Toyota Automatic Loom Works. Toyota was later sold to Platt Brothers, a British Company, prompting the Toyoda family to use the sale’s proceeds to begin an automotive manufacturing factory. Ohno stayed with the family and began working as a production engineer towards the end of World War Two.

Japan’s weak productivity and poor automotive quality, compared to the United States, was well known, leading Toyota to begin concentrating on improvement. Ohno, an industrious engineer, put his attention to eliminating inefficiencies in the production line. His personal goal was to match, if not exceed, the productivity of U.S. automotive production. From post-war to the 1970s, Ohno and his co-workers worked systematically at driving out waste and inefficiencies. Their process became known as the Toyota Production System (TPS). And as consumers can attest, the quality of Japanese vehicles soared in the late 20th Century. The irony is that years later American and European automotive manufacturers would copy the TPS.

Ohno’s journey wasn’t easy; he met a lot of resistance from management on the need to radically change production methods. But he persisted. Eventually Toyota, as a huge corporation, embedded quality and the elimination of waste (see lean manufacturing).

One of the thinking processes that Ohno developed has become known as “The Five Whys.” He didn’t see problems in a negative light but rather as an “opportunity in disguise.” The word “Kaizen,” meaning continuous improvement, has become embedded in manufacturing around the world. As Toyota’s website explains on “The Five Whys:”

Observe the production floor without preconceptions. Ask ‘why’ five times about every matter.

[Ohno] used the example of a welding robot stopping in the middle of its operation to demonstrate the usefulness of his method, finally arriving at the root cause of the problem through persistent enquiry:
“Why did the robot stop?”
The circuit has overloaded, causing a fuse to blow.

“Why is the circuit overloaded?”
There was insufficient lubrication on the bearings, so they locked up.

“Why was there insufficient lubrication on the bearings?”
The oil pump on the robot is not circulating sufficient oil.

“Why is the pump not circulating sufficient oil?”
The pump intake is clogged with metal shavings.

“Why is the intake clogged with metal shavings?”
Because there is no filter on the pump.

Through this line of inquiry, it’s possible to identify the root cause of a problem. And it doesn’t have to be a manufacturing process to employ it.

Light Bulb.jpg

Ohno’s work has been applied not only to manufacturing settings but more broadly to the functioning organizations. Peter Senge, MIT lecturer and author of the acclaimed bestseller The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, integrated The Five Whys into System Thinking. Briefly, System Thinking involves stepping back to see the big picture when approaching a problem, and how it is part of a bigger system. So rather than react to a specific event, for example, effort’s needed to identify its relationship to other events. As Senge explains:
“It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing patterns of change rather than static ‘snapshots’.”

This is where The Five Whys can be very useful, whether on a production line, an organization’s recruitment process, or an airline’s customer service practices. It enables one to drill down to root causes when problems emerge that initially get blamed on the “system.” What gets overlooked is that human beings created the “system.”

Here’s a simple example of The Five Whys, using the airline industry as an example:

Q. Why did the passenger’s checked bags not arrive at her destination?
Because they were sent to Dallas airport instead of Miami.

Q. Why were her bags sent to Dallas?
Because the baggage handlers weren’t paying attention.

Q. Why were the baggage handlers not paying attention?
Because they’re angry at management with the delay in settling their collective agreement.

Q. Why is there a delay in the agreement?
Because of management’s insistence on a pay freeze because the airline is losing money.

Q. Why is the company losing money?
A. Because it hasn’t invested in a new computerized tracking system as its competitors have done.

This is along the line of enquiry one could take with a problem that plagues airline passengers.

The Five Whys can be a powerful tool in distilling what may first appear as an overly complicated problem with tentacles extending everywhere. However, bringing people together to collaboratively explore a problem can produce, in a relatively short time, surprising solutions.

Effective questioning brings insight, which fuels curiosity, which cultivates wisdom.
Chip Bell

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From Transactional Leadership to Reflective Leadership

March 19, 2017

BEST Post“Hi Dan,” Sheila called as she poked her head into the office of one of her managers. “Are you interested in taking a two day coaching course next week? It’s aimed at helping managers become better coaches.”“Sure, why not. Sounds good,” Dan replied. “I could learn a few tips to make myself a better coach. But to be honest, Sheila, everyone’s talking about coaching and mentoring. Just look at the shelves in the bookstores and the business sections of newspapers. Coaching’s hot stuff. Some of us were talking about this in the coffee room last week, and we basically agreed that this is probably another fad. Next year they’ll be on to something else.”

“Maybe so,” Sheila responded. “But try to go into the workshop with an open mind.”

“Okay,” Dan sighed. “What about you? Do you plan to take it sometime?”

“Nah. I’ve been around in management long enough,” Sheila said. “I’ve read some books on coaching and mentoring and have plenty of experience managing people. Besides, I’m too busy to give up even two days. Gotta run to a meeting. See you later, Dan.”

“Right………..oh, and thanks,” Dan muttered, scratching his head in puzzlement at his boss’s reply.

Learning 2

This fictional conversation serves as a segue to delve into the inner side of leadership. Leadership development has traditionally been based on an externalized approach. In other words, people take training courses that instruct them on the desirable characteristics, or qualities, of leaders and how they should act. Moreover, training has relied to some extent on old assumptions about leadership. In particular, the “heroic” approach to leadership (i.e., the strong individual leader) still prevails in some areas of leadership development.

It’s only in the past 15-20 years that a growing portion of the literature has looked at leadership development from the inside out. That is to say, getting people in formal or informal leadership positions to take a hard look at themselves. “Who am I as a leader? Why do I behave as I do?” are questions that we need to periodically ask ourselves. When we pose these questions, it takes us to a deeper level of inquiry and reflection.

Few people question their basic assumptions
about the world or are even aware of them.
– Patricia Cranton

In the conversation between Dan and Sheila, each holds a different mental model about leadership. During their interaction, Dan and Sheila are each having an unspoken conversation. In other words, what is going on in their heads, which reflects their unconscious assumptions and beliefs.

Dan’s unspoken conversation:
“I’m still pretty new to my job as manager and feel kind of inadequate. This coaching stuff sounds good but people issues make me feel uncomfortable. I’d rather just focus on the technical parts of my job. But Sheila sure could use some training. She micro-manages all of her managers. No wonder she puts in 12 hour days.”

Sheila’s unspoken conversation:
“This coaching stuff’s B.S. I know how to get people to do things, and I know the work inside-out. My managers do what I tell them to do. None of this warm and fuzzy stuff for me. I’ve worked my way up the hard way, and I didn’t need a fancy degree to get where I am.”


Sheila perceives herself as a competent director, who doesn’t need to learn a new skill. Her self-image is one of “I’m already there. Been there, done that.” But yet she’s insecure with the changes underway in the organization, especially the growing emphasis on the “soft,” people skills. Her unconscious fear is leaving what is secure and comfortable for something that requires personal insight and discovery.

Dan, on the other hand, is ambivalent. He knows down deep that to be an effective managerial leader that he has a lot of work to do. Yet he’s apprehensive of the commitment he must make to go into this unknown territory. He’s not yet comfortable with having to develop a deeper understanding of himself.

One of the most difficult realizations we have as human beings is that we are never there. Even the manager who’s been in her job for 15 years and knows the issues, processes, and technical aspects inside out still has more to learn. What does she really know about herself?

The assumptions we carry with us- all it our personal baggage – affect how we interact with others, whether it’s at work, home or in the community. These assumptions, developed and cemented from our life experiences (good and bad), form our mental models. These in turn distort our leadership lenses through which we see the world. How we lead people is affected profoundly by our lenses. If a manager’s lens is distorted by the debris of hardened assumptions, this makes it that much harder for her to be open to other views and possibilities.

Participating 2

In her excellent book Transformative Learning Patricia Cranton refers to Stephen Brookfield’s The Skillful Teacher who states: “…routine, habit, and familiarity are strongly appealing, and for some, the conduct of life is a quest for certainty, for a system of beliefs and a set of values*even for a well-defined social structure*that they can adopt and commit to, for life.”

Cranton follows with her own comment: “Adults will resist contradictions to their beliefs and will deny discrepancies between new learning and previous knowledge. In response to a challenge to their assumptions, many learners will entrench themselves even more firmly in their belief system and become hostile or withdrawn in the learning environment.”

Take a moment to reflect on the above paragraph. How often have you seen this behavior in your organization? How do we get beyond this type of response by people?

Focus for a moment on what this means for managerial leadership. If managers, as leaders and coaches, engage in this type of behavior, how will organizations ever take the necessary leap of faith to become learning organizations?

What do managers fear?

And what do employees fear in expressing their leadership abilities in their daily work?

Reflect further on Brookfield’s words: “The human capacity for denial knows no limits.”

Sit Lead 2

How, then, do managers transcend from a traditional, transactional approach to leadership, in which the manager negotiates with the subordinate: “Do this, and this is what I’ll give you.”

Often, these are not explicit conversations, but rather implicit understandings. The employee knows that if he does ‘this and this,’ and not ‘that and that,’ he’ll receive something in return. Does this method of ‘leadership’ build commitment from staff? Does it enroll the individual in a common vision? Or is it oriented more towards compliance and implicit consent of not rocking the boat?

The leader who understands herself and who does not fear sharing her strengths, gifts, weaknesses, and warts with her staff is on the path to becoming a reflective leader. This person understands and values the human dimension of leadership. It’s an inner journey, one that each of us struggles with for life. We’re never there, but continuously striving towards a personal vision of enhanced self-awareness and service to others.

This makes leadership a not-so-easy discipline to follow. The books, seminars, etc. promise great things to make us effective leaders. But leadership, the kind needed for learning organizations, cannot be sold over-the-counter. It’s not about techniques and gimmicks. When we understand that it’s about lifelong personal growth, filled with struggles and stumbles, we’ll have made one significant step forward.

There’s nothing more powerful you can do to
encourage others in their quest for personal mastery
than to be serious in your own quest.
– Peter Senge (MIT lecturer and author of The Fifth Discipline)

holisti-leadership.jpgClick here to download a complimentary copy of Jim’s e-book Becoming a Holistic Leader, 3rd Edition.

JIm PhotoVisit Jim’s e-Books, Resources and Services pages.

Contact Jim for information on his Holistic Leadership Workshop

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The Six Inner Leadership Selves

March 12, 2017


Young PeopleBeing a leader, in whatever capacity, is not a one dimensional affair. There are many ways that each of us can practice leadership: at work, in our community, at home, or in an unexpected crisis situation. One thing’s clear: you definitely don’t have to be in a management position to show leadership. Take a moment to read Are You a Post-Heroic Leader?

Here’s one simple description to note the difference between management and leadership:

Managers are appointed to position; leaders must earn a following. Managers get people to perform work tasks through their authority, while leaders inspire their followers to accomplish things.

Let’s now look at six ways on how each of us can become better leaders. It’s called it the Six Inner Leadership Selves, which if practiced as a whole will produce a highly effective leader. Answer each of the following questions from a personal perspective.

1) Rock-the-Boat

a) Do I willingly comply with whatever discussions, directives and decisions that occur in my workplace?


b) Do I ask WHY, presenting constructive questions and viable alternatives for consideration?

2) Remain Centered

a) Do I get angry with my boss or co-workers, or the organization as a whole, when I get stressed?


b) Do I stay calm in the midst of organizational turmoil and what I perceive as poor management decisions?

3) Be Curious

a) Do I accept as fact what’s discussed at work or the world around me?


b) Do I take the initiative to explore what I don’t know or understand?

4) Take Calculated Risks

a) Do I refrain from taking a chance to do something innovative at work when the opportunity arises?


b) Do I constantly keep an eye peeled for how I can add value to the organization, even when there’s risk involved?

5) Be a Sponge for Learning

a) Do I not bother to try learning new skills or enhancing my knowledge in new areas, believing that my knowledge base is adequate?


b) Do I absorb what goes on around me, savouring the new knowledge gained through life experiences and reading?

6) Practice Humbleness

a) Do I believe that those in positions of management hold power and authority over others?


b) Do I approach management and leadership as inter-related disciplines whose overarching aim is to serve their followers through a collective vision?


Take time to reflect on these questions. The goal is to ultimately become a leader who achieves balance among the Six Inner Leadership Selves. That’s easy enough said.

The challenge, therefore, is for each of us to do an honest assessment to determine where we’re strong and where we’re weak on the Six Inner Leadership Selves. For example, in my case two areas where I need to strengthen my leadership are in risk-taking and rocking-the-boat. I still tend to be overly cautious at times. Perhaps because of being stung in the past in organizations where I’ve worked, rocking-the-boat was something I learned had some risk.

As I stated, each of us needs to do a candid assessment of our strengths and weaknesses. Once we do this and establish a plan for action, we’ve empowered ourselves to move forwards to become better leaders.

Are you ready to take the journey?

The possible’s slow fuse is lit by imagination.
– Emily Dickinson

Imagine a world where everyone was constantly learning, a world where what you wondered was more interesting than what you knew, and curiosity counted for more than certain knowledge. Imagine a world where what you gave away was more valuable than what you held back, where joy was not a dirty word, where play was not forbidden after your eleventh birthday. Imagine a world in which the business of business was to imagine worlds people might actually want to live in someday. Imagine a world created by people, for the people not perishing from the earth forever.

Yeah. Imagine that.

– Christopher Locke (The Cluetrain Manifesto, from the final chapter Post Apocalypso)

holisti-leadershipClick here to download a complimentary copy of Jim’s e-book Becoming a Holistic Leader, 3rd Edition.

Jim Breakwater 3Visit Jim’s e-Books, Resources and Services pages.

Contact Jim for information on his Holistic Leadership Workshop

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