A New Leadership Development SeriesDoug & Liss in faculty regalia

Doug Paxton and I are offering an action-learning-based leadership coaching program focused on getting to the work that matters to each of us and supporting one another through peer coaching to keep our attention there. This Leadership Coaching Program combines coaching from accredited Saint Mary’s faculty and with peer coaching and is for anyone who is seeking clarity about what is most important to them and wanting support to stay focused on that work.

Through the Leadership Coaching Program you will:

  •  Identify your highest values and priorities
  •  Design specific goals and actionable plans to move forward
  •  Have access to executive coaching in a cost-effective manner
  •  Benefit from individualized, values-based coaching from Saint Mary’s faculty
  •  Participate in a learning and practice peer coaching group
  •  Develop and hone coaching skills to integrate into your leadership practice

The new group begins March 2012 and runs through June 2012 and costs $1200 (some partial scholarships are available).  See our Coaching Program Calendar, the detailed Program Description, and sign up!

Today I participated in a fantastic webinar led by fellow Earlhamite, Frances Kunreuther, and Caroline McAndrews of Building Movement Project on structures and practices for distributing leadership. Frances and Caroline recently published a report “Structuring Leadership: Alternative Models for Distributing Power and Decision-making” that outlines foundations, implementation strategies and indicators of success for distributing leadership and decision-making in organizations.  A podcast of the webinar will also be made available on the site.  It’s a useful, informative and engaging complement to “Doing More With More,” check it out when you get a chance!


Susan Misra (left), Elissa Perry (that's me in the middle), Mike Allison (right) celebrate in person at the Pacific Coast Brewery in Oakland

Spectrum of Shared LeadershipThe piece I co-wrote with Mike Allison and Susan Misra was just published by the Nonprofit Quarterly! I was fortunate to be a thought partner and facilitator with Mike and Susan in a multi-year initiative with several California-based organizations focused on developing shared leadership. The article reports on and synthesizes some learning about developing and acting on shared leadership. Download and read it (.pdf) and let us know what you think. What are your experiences with Shared Leadership? Looking forward to hearing from you!

People and organizations paying attention to storytelling are all over the place – in Stanford Social Innovation Review and at the Haas, Jr. Fund for example – and yet issues like poverty, health care and education (especially of brown and black kids) continue to challenge us as a society.

I commend these efforts and admire these initiatives to elevate positive voices to as Parker Palmer put it, “point and shine a bright light.”  Stories are everywhere, and we are learning to bring a multitude of them to the fore with the variety of tools and sources available to more of us than ever before. At the same time, I am ashamed to admit but am going to say it anyway, that lately my eyes have begun to glaze over when organizations begin to tell the story of this little girl’s success or that man’s triumph.  I am able to pay attention longer when the subjects are telling the stories themselves but only sometimes.  On the most recent occasion, I wanted to stand up after the lights came one and say sarcastically “yeah, and now what?” I know, awful, but I didn’t actually say it.  That feeling stayed with me though.

It stayed with me through the planning of an organizational retreat for a client who values storytelling and as a result we worked on identifying and developing stories to tell, and identifying stories that we need to let go.  Relatively briefly though.  We then went on to connect these stories to strategies, to workplans, to “to-do” lists, to evaluation conversations.  Next we will talk about engaging people beyond the porous organizational boundaries in action beyond the stories.

What’s our responsibility around telling or shining a bright light on the stories that matter?  Where is the movement to action, the catalyzing of the network? I haven’t figured it out, but I’m learning….  What do you do to connect stories with action that produces results?

We have just completed the video overview of the program I teach in (the MA in Leadership program at Saint Mary’s College). Thanks Mission Pictures!

Check out what faculty and staff have to say and let us know what you think!

Leadership… Personal, Professional AND Political
Posted over at The National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture’s “Leading Creatively” Blog Series

In reading the questions offered to shape this blog series, I was struck by the question “what are the challenges of managing the boundaries between our personal and professional stories?” Something in it – something only clear in my peripheral vision that becomes fuzzy when I look at it directly – harkens back to a particular time in my life in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Newly armed with the words of Audre Lorde, Judy Grahn, Pat Parker, and Gloria Anzaldúa, with the examples of brave honesty from Marlon Riggs and Essex Hemphill, and with a brand of bravada that I thought was my own, I embraced the phrase “the personal is political.”

Now the professional and the political are not exactly the same thing and yet I suspect that we are still trying to manage what is an artificial boundary. Who says that that the personal and the professional have rigid boundaries or need them? Are we drawing lines within ourselves that hamper us rather than furthering us, our organizations and our causes?

Even if we decide these boundaries do and should exist, are they feasible in today’s hyper-connected world? Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody, said in his address at 2008’s Supernova conference in San Francisco in reference to transparency and social media “the loss of control you fear is already in the past.” So I ask the questions: what is it that makes these boundaries desirable? What needs to shift in our culture and in our leadership culture to allow all of us to be more fully human? What can we do in addition to modeling a different way of being in our organizations and in our relationships with one another to make that shift possible?

Thirteenth-century poet Rumi wrote that love is the way that the Great Mystery tells us things. I contend that art is the way we tell each other. Leading for art – for those sacred messages we tell each other – requires an honesty and a fullness of humanity that is not neatly divided and perhaps even actively resists being bound.

GroundSpark is offering FREE streaming this month and next to help provide critical tools to youth and adults to address bullying. Check out this “spark” which lets you see excerpts, stream, and get other resources.  Pass it on!


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