1815 Slices
Medium 9781626560659

One: Criteria for Choosing a Discomfort Zone Conversation

Marcia Reynolds Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”

Ralph Nader, from Crashing the Party

I was sharing my latest complaints about my peers with my boss when he suddenly sighed so loudly I stopped mid-sentence. When he had my attention, he said, “I know you work hard. I know you want the best for the company, but everybody seems to let you down. Is anyone ever good enough for you?”

I sat paralyzed for a dreadfully long time. When I finally exhaled, the tension rolled down my shoulders resting heavily in my legs. I felt both embarrassed and amazed. My coach had once made a similar observation after my rant about my dating fiascos. Here was my wall of protection showing up again at work. All I could say was, “Of course. You’re right.” I knew I would never see my work relationships the same again.

The question my boss asked me led me to recognize a pattern of behavior that kept me from fully engaging with my team members to resolve problems. I am a high achiever. I did good work on my own and felt snubbed the moment I wasn’t recognized for my accomplishments or grand ideas. To ease the pain, I found reasons to complain about how others were not living up to their promises or expectations. Instead of learning how I could influence more effectively or realize even grander results with others, I focused on highlighting their flaws.

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Medium 9781576754054

The Promise and Paradox of Community

Margaret J. Wheatley Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

We human beings have a great need for one another. As described by the West African writer and teacher Malidoma Somé, we have “an instinct of community. “ However, this instinct to be together is devolving into growing fragmentation and separation. We experience increasing ethnic wars, community battle grounds, and self-serving special interest groups.

We are using the instinct of community to separate and protect us from one another, rather than creating a global culture of diverse yet interwoven communities. We search for those most like us in order to protect ourselves from the rest of society. Clearly, we cannot get to a future worth inhabiting through these separating paths. Our great task is to rethink our understandings of community so that we can move from the closed protectionism of current forms to an openness and embrace of the planetary community.

It is ironic that in the midst of this proliferation of specialty islands, we live surrounded by communities that know how to connect to others through their diversity, communities that succeed in creating sustainable relationships over long periods of time. These communities are the webs of relationships called ecosystems. Everywhere in nature, communities of diverse species live together in ways that support both the individual and the entire system. As they spin these systems into existence, new capabilities and talents emerge from the process of being together. These systems teach that the instinct of community is not peculiar to humans but is found everywhere in life, from microbes to the most complex species. They also teach that the way in which individuals weave themselves into ecosystems is quite paradoxical. This paradox can be a great teacher to us humans.

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Medium 9780874259773

Case Study 27. Another Staff Meeting

Alan Clardy HRD Press PDF

Case 27

Another Staff Meeting

Background Information

June Hanks had worked for Jim McLin for almost one year now, but she still was not used to these last-minute staff meetings. It was difficult to predict when they would occur. Some meetings might come within days of each other, whereas other meetings might be months apart. No matter when they were scheduled, though, she could count on one thing: they would be set up at the last minute. June knew that most of the other six managers in the department who also attended these meetings felt the same way she did: Jim’s supervisory style could be somewhat frustrating.

Although not yet accustomed to Jim’s last-minute meetings, June was not particularly surprised to learn that a meeting had suddenly been scheduled for that afternoon at 3:30. She asked Rudy Bronstein, the coworker who told her about the meeting, what it was about. Rudy just shrugged his shoulders as if to say “Who knows?”

Jim’s staff were assembled in their meeting room at 3:30. As was common, Jim arrived about 10 minutes late, apologizing profusely. As he settled into his chair, he said, “It’s been a while since our last meeting, and I felt like we all needed a chance to catch up on what was going on in the department and throughout the rest of the company.”

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Medium 9781626564435

CHAPTER 4 Deciding: Think Scarcer

Bill Pasmore Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

AS NOTED PREVIOUSLY, you can be good at anything you choose; you just can’t be good at everything. There’s a reason why the vast majority of Olympic athletes compete in only one sport; at world-class levels, it takes a dedicated focus to compete against the best of the best. Contrast this kind of single-minded focus with what you observe in your own life. How many things do you try to do at the same time? A short list for many of us would include excelling in our career; being a good parent/partner/friend/son or daughter; giving something back to others; keeping up with current events; finding time to refresh and renew ourselves—you get the idea. As noted by time and health coaches Jack Groppel and Bob Andelman in their book The Corporate Athlete, we don’t live our lives the way Olympic athletes do.1 We spread ourselves too thin and yet berate ourselves for not being successful in everything. We lack focus and discipline. We carry this tendency with us as we step into roles as organizational members or leaders. As you might imagine, it does not help us lead complex, continuous change. Yet we cannot seem to help ourselves. Groppel and Andelman advise that it is not the sheer amount of time you put into something you want to improve in your life that guarantees progress. It is the quality of that time. Pick a few things and do them with commitment and intensity rather than spread yourself thin. Seems like good advice for change leaders too.

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Medium 9780982702970

4    Focusing on the Right Work

Richard DuFour Solution Tree Press ePub

Focusing on the Right Work

If you have worked with staff to establish a common mission, shared vision, collective commitments, and mutual goals, you have laid the foundation of a PLC. If you and the staff have established the structures that support a collaborative culture, you have addressed an essential prerequisite for an effective PLC. If at that point, however, the educators in your building do not focus their collaborative efforts on the right work, there will be no gains in student achievement. One of the most important responsibilities of a principal in leading the PLC process is to ensure all staff members understand the nature of the work to be done and demonstrate the discipline to focus their collective efforts on that work. As DuFour and Marzano (2011) explain:

Collaboration is morally neutral. It will benefit neither students nor practitioners unless educators demonstrate the discipline to co-labor on the right work. The important question every district, school, and team must address is not, “Do we collaborate,” but rather, “What do we collaborate about?” To paraphrase W. Edwards Deming, it is not enough to work hard; you must clarify the right work, and then work hard. Effective leaders at all levels will ensure there is agreement on the right work. (p. 83)

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