Another new study about CEOs and the leadership issues they face Duke Corporate Education 2013 CEO study: Leading in Context makes a number of excellent points:
  • "Increasing influence as a leader and working in an interdependent world requires the ability to truly connect with and inspire people, internally and externally.”
  • Leadership is now about “…the recognition of interdependence and the need for thoughtful collaboration…”

I have just re-read one of my favourite children’s stories – The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams. Through chronicling the adventures of a young boy’s toy rabbit, the story describes how love makes us real.

It’s an inspiring and heart-opening story that has got me thinking about love both at work and in life… For example, what is required of us to love an organisation to life, so that the brand becomes truly real for staff and customers? I suspect The Velveteen Rabbit can shed some light on this question. And also, what is a “real” relationship anyway?

One of my coaching clients has been at a difficult threshold for a long time. He turns up at our sessions dismayed at his ability to forge a way forwards in critical areas of his life and work. What needs to change is not in question, but how to embark upon change is fraught with difficulties. He berates himself for indecision and “stuckness.”

Last week I participated in a beauty parade for an organisation looking to bring on-stream a number of new change facilitators to work with its senior leaders. At one point in the client’s selection process, together with the other participants on the day I was asked to describe why I became a coach. I began by saying that I didn’t see myself as a coach, or a facilitator, or a consultant, or a trainer, for that matter… Before I got any further, one of the other participants laughed and chipped in “Ty, you need a coach!”

I am not I.

I am this one walking beside me whom I do not see,

whom at times I manage to visit, and whom at other times I forget;

who remains calm and silent while I talk, and forgives, gently, when I hate,

who walks where I am not,

who will remain standing when I die.

Juan Ramón Jiménez

Last week I exploded in an ugly outburst of anger. The effect on one of the most significant friendships I’ve ever had was catastrophic.
The previous week, a colleague sent an angry and accusatory email to the leader of a group I am a part of. The impact on reputation , resources and relationships – as well as productivity - was unimaginable.

In revisiting what I had taken to be my life purpose recently, I rediscovered Joseph Campbell. I first came across Campbell as a young man in my 20s, when I was enraptured by The Power of Myth TV series he filmed with Bill Moyers. It was as much the presence of the man – his intelligent, compassionate twinkling – as the resonant content of his interviews that engaged and inspired me.

Does leadership depend on a special kind of person or a special kind of action?

This is the question that hooked a colleague and me last week while we were running a corporate leadership development seminar. I found myself disagreeing with the formulation of the question, which forced our conversation in to an unhelpful polarity. Instead of staying with either/or thinking, I wondered if leadership is more about a special kind of Presence…

One of the things I admire about photographer Chris Jordan's work is his attention to the shocking, collective lack of awareness we have about the effects of our consumerism. In his exhibition 'Running the Numbers', he adds creative impact to otherwise meaningless statistics by rendering elements of consumerism into art.