On hiatus from blogging

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Finding myself totally immersed in the joy and passion of coaching, I am putting the lesser joys of blogging aside these days. Gotta go where the flow takes me…

 

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A conversation for our times: Women and Power

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Our times call for conscious and skillful leadership. For many of us this means uncovering new sources of power and practicing different expressions of power – some of them patterned after male leaders, others unique and authentic to our talents and callings.

I invite you to bring together women leaders in your organization for a special journey: a series of facilitated conversations to explore the experience of power from a professional perspective. There are different views on what constitutes power in the hands of conscious, authentic and effective leaders. In the scope of these conversations, power is defined as the capability to influence, to mobilize resources and to take action in order to achieve objectives.

Carefully chosen topics will serve to delve into different dimensions of power and express what is often kept in the dark: explicit or implicit sources of power; the good, the bad and the ugly sides of power; relinquishing power, disowning it and being deprived of it; polarities of power and vulnerability; masculine and feminine energies in the expression of power.

Women leaders don’t often explicitly appropriate power for themselves because it is a move still outside cultural norms. Admitting to an intention of exercising power quickly brings up negative judgement. However, power dynamics exist everywhere and they matter. Leadership is a position of power. Owning this power, exercising it carefully and wisely, being accountable for it – this is all part of a leader’s reality. In participating in this conversation series you can expect to:

• Come to term with what is means to be a powerful leader
• Discover and practice new/authentic/generative expressions of power
• Gain a better understanding of power dynamics

I am deeply indebted to my Integral Facilitation teacher, Diane Musho Hamilton (https://tendirections.com/diane-musho-hamilton) for the concept, structure and topics of this series and they are used with her permission. It is by directly experiencing these conversations under her leadership that I came to see the profound need for such coming together of women leaders. It is good for us, it is good for our organizations and our communities, and it is good for the world.

Intrigued? Want to know how to bring these conversations to your organization? Just drop me a line at maryse@thinkbechange.com and let’s start the conversation.

Women, power and leadership

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“I am not interested in power games; I just want to make a difference.” My coaching client, a smart and passionate woman leader, is bumping against a different glass ceiling: her ability to influence, mobilize resources and move people to action. She doesn’t want to be seen explicitly appropriating power for herself, but she is also facing some serious limitations. She knows she is leaving the field open for others to set the rules and she ends up playing a narrowly defined game.

I have have yet to come to term with how complex it can be to define oneself as a powerful woman. It’s a move still outside cultural norms; admitting to an intention of exercising power quickly brings up negative judgement. Corrupted or overbearing public figures often shape our opinion of power. Inspiring, inclusive, generative and apparently sane female role models who overtly manifest their power are still too few. We also forget that no leader has power without corresponding vulnerabilities, and pretending not to be interested in power can be in itself a form of power play.

My client can move to a different level of competence and confidence by widening her perspectives on power dynamics. They exist and they matter. Understanding and owning power, exercising it carefully and wisely, being accountable for it – this is all part of leadership. The journey is one of exploration and discovery: sourcing different forms of power, and practicing conscious and skillful ways to manifest it. Challenges become opportunities to evolve as a leader and human being.

Power offers a fascinating learning lens; for me it is a view on many old patterns that come to life when a feeling of being too visible and exposed starts mounting. An open playing field offers itself to me when willing to move beyond discomfort and daring to push against boundaries (real or imagined). Time recently spent with an extraordinary teacher in the field of conflict resolution, Diane Musho Hamilton, granted me the chance to delve deeper into power dynamics in the company of other women. I am now on a mission to ignite women’s desire to step into their full power and to bring strength, wisdom and heart to leadership. Are you ready for the journey?

Starting with resistance in mind?

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When facilitating a change leadership workshop last year, the one concern right up there on the list of what people wanted to take away was how to deal with resistance to change. This is an issue that keeps many leaders awake at night and there it was again. Perversely, I decided to defer this discussion to later in the workshop, telling myself that a clear roadmap is where these leaders needed to start. I told my audience about the importance of working from a compelling vision and a “commitment plan” instead of from a “resistance plan” – not noticing that my message deflated the energy that was building up in the audience.

My position comes from a belief that our choice of language shapes our experience. Talking about resistance without the big picture of commitment is self-defeating. I also recognize that a deeper understanding of the human experience of change is crucial in going from managing change to leading change. Painting a compelling vision and building a transition plan are skills that complement the primary ability to create human connections based on mutual understanding.

Thanks to the feedback I got in preparing a webinar for the Sport Information Resource Centre (SIRC) I now start my workshops with top-of-mind issues and a review of change patterns, human reactions to change and phases of transitions. An important take away: regardless of how positive a change might seem people (leaders included) will sooner or later get to a point where resistance might set in. Now – this is something important to know in creating a great Commitment Plan.

 

Image courtesy of: www.northrup.org

 

Perspective-taking and the conscious leader

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Taking different perspectives and understanding seemingly opposite viewpoints are crucial capabilities in dealing with today’s complexities with confidence and creativity. Leading requires seeing the world and ourselves through other people’s eyes while taking full accountability for our own perspective.  With expanded awareness of self and others, we choose to become more conscious of what is true from each perspective. This creates excellence in setting long-term visions, devising change strategies and making tough decisions.

ThinkBeChange offers the exploration of a simple yet powerful framework for perspective-taking and its applications through a series of workshops on strategic planning, organizational change and decision making. Each time you are invited to move between perspectives, test and expand your tolerance for ambiguity and polarities, identify implications and new courses of action. Experiential activities and coaching sessions integrate new concepts into your day-to-day reality. Topics can be adapted to to a specific leadership development context.

Through this program you can gain wider and deeper perspectives on complex situations, help others in exploring different viewpoints, and develop more confidence and compassion in dealing with polarized opinions. Workshops and coaching build on previous sessions for sustained development and at the same time you can expect to leave each workshop with concrete additions to your leadership toolkit.

Contact Maryse Lepage at ThinkBeChange to know how this program can shift leadership capabilities for yourself and your organization.

 

Photography: Stephanie Brossmann

Are you ready for the kind of change you are envisioning?

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Organizational changes are not all created equal. Understanding implications and being aware of impact on people and culture are as important as setting the structural or technical content of the change. Bringing a qualified change practitioner on board will have a significant impact on your budget. Make it a wise investment: align precious resources with the level of change management your organization needs.

Start by considering three types of organizational changes. In their book Beyond Change Management, change gurus Dean Anderson and Linda Ackerman Anderson focus on “how deep” in the behaviors, mindset and culture the change must go to be successful.

1. Developmental Change: Improvements or enhancements to what is already in place. Usually addresses skills and performance. Some adjustments in processes and work practices.
2. Transitional Change: Implementation of a new state to fix an important problem. Usually focused on technology, structures and work practices. Requires a change/shift in behavior.
3. Transformational Change: Something totally new for the organization to thrive or survive. Different mindset, behavior and culture are needed.

An agile and effective change infrastructure represents an important success factor in all cases. Changes that are “developmental” proceed through training, skill development, and communications given the organization has a healthy work climate. It makes sense that the change practitioner’s capabilities should reflect these interventions. Maybe someone on your team already has the skills, interest and ambition to take up this role? When change must run deeper, change management becomes a different ballgame. Leaders must think of themselves as role models. Cultural alignment could be at stake. This is where a seasoned change leadership expert can add tremendous value.

Here is a common mistake with costly repercussions: focusing on basic elements of change management when in fact people need to think, work or show up differently. For example, are you implementing new technology with the expectations that people will keep doing the same old thing? Such an investment translates into improved performance when there are changes in structures, processes and roles – and in people’s behaviors.

Consulting with the right change leadership consultant at the onset of a project is a smart investment, especially when the budget is tight. Yes, I am extremely biased here, and not only because I consult and coach for a living. I have seen the high value provided by a thorough change assessment and insightful recommendations that serves to align a framework to your desired outcomes. Think about enrolling someone who is willing to be a real partner, who understands the constraints you are facing and can tailor solutions to your realities.

Why not start with a free consultation? Contact Maryse Lepage at ThinkBeChange to talk about orienting your change strategy toward the right focus of intervention.

 

Photography: Stephanie Brossmann