Changing Leadership Culture

It was a gift to meet earlier this week with my friend and colleague, Sandra Erickson. Sandra is Principal of Braemar, a school in support of young, unwed mothers in Edmonton, Alberta (and forty years ago, it was another format, my elementary school). We met in her office. Over a cup of tea. To check-in. To reconnect in friendship. To be curious together. To share stories of our work and lives.

Sandra asked me a question that I’ve been sitting with since. “What do you notice is different when you come back and work with people?” Sandra was a participant in an Art of Hosting training that I co-lead in early 2010. At one level she was asking about follow-up with participants and their organizations.

I spoke some of the hope and the experience that I know. “My hope is that there is a change in leadership culture. That there is a shift toward more authenticity. A welcome of the things that we don’t know. An instinct that when we don’t know, or when we have problems, or when we have dreams, or when we want to imagine together, that we know in our guts to turn to one another. That we lean into all of the bits of “I don’t know but we do.” It is an instinct and memory to touch more of the essence of what is invoked into reality from the perspective of “we.”

There are so many levels from which to speak this. Holism is one. My hope is that people, all of us, come to taste more of that holism and work from that world view. Thankfully, in post-industrialism, many are coming to remember this and other world views that revision separate and together.

It was good to share this with Sandra. It surprised me a bit. And I welcomed it. It was an expression beyond the traditional outcomes of training. In this case, learning participative methodologies or social methodologies. The part that I really want is for all of us to reclaim the instinct to turn to one another. Not because it is nice. Or even kind. Yes, I appreciate these. But mostly, because it is brilliant. Helps us to be in our brilliance. I’m aware of how that may not sound like much — remember to turn to one another — yet, to have that imprinted in any culture, from teachers with unwed mothers at Braemar to other forms of community work, to leadership teams in all sectors — that’s significant.

Thanks Sandra. A gift of time and tea together.

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