I’ve just completed a 10-month experiential program which goes by the simple name: Leadership,
In my 20 year career in business, HR, and human development, I have been through a wide array of very good “leadership development” programs, trainings, initiatives, retreats, and workshops. None of those grew me as a leader in the way this experience did. Maybe that’s because of where I was personally in my own development; maybe it’s because the program is that good; all I know is that it’s true for me.
It’s difficult to express why a personal experience has such a profound impact, but I’m going to try. Let’s start with what we mean by Leadership. Leadership is an Act of Creation. Leaders create something in the world that did not exist before they created it. Most people think of companies, or buildings, or tangible outcomes that one can see and touch. Those are definitely things that leaders create, but it starts much more basic than that. Leaders create connection. They create relationship. They create emotion. They create a human response, in the form of followers. Leaders create movement, whether it’s moving an individual, or literally creating “A Movement.” Leadership is happening as soon as people choose to follow (if you need a visual, you must see Shirtless Dancing Guy).
Here’s how Leaders create:
First, they create from self. Leaders know who they are and what impact they have on everyone and everything around them. By tapping into their completely authentic self, without the masks and defenses that we all employ, leaders engage a deep reservoir of personal power and presence. Imagine who you are when you’ve dropped all self-doubt, or the need to look good, or the need to control. That’s a place of liberation, from which a leader’s power soars.
Second, leaders create from others. There is no leadership without others, and what gets created when two or more humans connect in positive emotional resonance is the raw material of greatness. Leaders are not just emotionally intelligent, they are emotionally creative. They create emotion in others (BTW, “emotion” shares the same latin root as “motion” and “movement!”)
Third, leaders create from space. In the spaces between matter is energy, and leaders are all about reading, creating, and shifting energy in the space between and among people. Of course, this takes presence. Leaders are present to what’s happening in the space and they create from it.
Finally, leaders create from chaos. The world is a chaotic place. Too much to do, conflicting priorities, changing circumstances, and unpredictable people… it can become overwhelming for most of us. Leaders cultivate the ability to switch among multiple screens, shifting attention and focus in a way that serves their leadership, rather than overwhelms it. What this means, among other things, is that leaders are making choices and ignoring a lot of things in any given moment.
You’re probably still thinking, yeah, how do I develop those creative abilities. Well, they come from experience, and what I was doing in the 10 months of this program was experiencing those concepts in deep, powerful, emotional, and fun ways. Developing as a leader is less about adding new skills and knowledge than it is about changing who you are. In the past year, I’ve changed. My 20 tribemates all changed. It’s a beautiful thing to witness people growing and becoming a deeper, more powerful version of themselves.
I can’t tell you here exactly what my experience was over those 10 months, but fortunately, I can recommend a new book about the program, written by one of the creators of the program. The Stake was written by Henry Kimsey-House, with David Skibbins. Henry was one of my leaders for the 10 month journey and I highly recommend his book. Even more, I recommend taking the Leadership journey yourself.
I am incredibly lucky to get to do this work for a living. What I do is help people just like you and me change and grow. What change are you seeking in life? What needs changing in your job, in your company, or in your world? What are you waiting for? I’m looking for new clients…