December 2008 | Volume 2, Issue #6

In This Issue
Margaret Wheatley's Core Chart for Great Leadership
What People are Saying about Brian's Coaching
The Cellar Jazz Club
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I've just finished re-reading Toni Morrison's provocative novel, Jazz.  About half way through, two of the female protagonists are in conversation.  Alice says to Violet, "Nobody's asking you to take it.  I'm saying make it, make it."
The difference between taking it and making it is a keystone to the kind of self-management that provides a solid foundation for great leadership.  If your attention is focused on taking whatever comes at you in passive ways that lead to resentment and anger within and withdrawal or resistance in your relationships with others, then you have chosen to allow the situations in which you find yourselves to go from bad to worse.  There is an alternative.
You can choose to make things better. There are all sorts of ways to change how you show up in these situations.  You can choose to take some reflective moments and decide what you really want to make of the situation.  What values and achievements do you want to live out and contribute to make the situation better?  What conversations - calm, curious, and appreciative - can you initiate to change the tone and dynamic?  How can you use your voice to make the relationships more respectful, productive, and enjoyable?
Your positive influence as a leader comes first and foremost through the ways you use your voice in conversation.  Your voice models what you want to achieve, inspires the recognition of a shared vision, challenges the toxic attitudes and behaviours poisoning the situation, enables others to choose to think and act differently, and encourages the hearts of your colleagues.  That's real leadership.
So, are you simply going to take it, or will you choose to make it?

brian at desk 2008 
Margaret Wheatley
Margaret Wheatley's Core Chart for Great Leadership
In 1992, Margaret Wheatley rose to the attention of leadership practioners around the world with the publication of her widely-acclaimed book, Leadership and the New Science: Learning about Organization from an Orderly Universe.  It's a book based on two profound premises:  first, organization do not change by imposing a model that has been developed elsewhere; and second, there are no recipes or formulae that guarantee success - only what we create through our engagement with others and with events.  Everything is new and different and unique to us.  What struck Wheatley most powerfully in her reading of quantum physics, chaos theories, and the new biology was the movement towards holism, toward understanding systems as systems, deeply interconnected and founded upon the relationships that exist between seemingly discreet parts.
So, not surprisingly, my interpretation of her core for leadership focuses on the relationships built through conversations.  Great leadership happens through the following practices:
Engaging the whole system - inviting participation
 Keeping expanding the system - enabling involvement
 Creating more openness and mutual access
 Creating and circulating abundant information
 Developing simple reporting systems
 Making relationship development a top priority
Resisting competitive behaviours - encouraging collaboration
 Demolishing boundaries and territories
 Focusing on creating new, streamlined systems of connecting
In 2002, Wheatley wrote what for me is an even more seminal book, Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future.  She invited readers into the book with these words:
I believe we can change the world is we start listening to one another again.  Simple, honest, human conversation.  Not meditation, negotiation, problem-solving, debate, or public meetings.  Simple, truthful conversation where we each have a chance to speak, we each feel heard, and we each listen well.
This is an invitation I see myself having accepted in the work we do through Jazzthink, whether it's my speaking and seminars, my planning sessions and facilitation, or my coaching.  All are designed to provoke conversations that will change your world by creating more positive and productive relationships.  That's what will get us all into the groove of making this world a better home for all of us.
What People are Saying about Brian's Coaching

"Brian served as my Executive Coach in 2008. My work with him was some of the most productive personal growth of my professional life. In addition to providing an objective perspective on my career goals, personal strengths and working limitations, Brian focused in quickly on several key traits I exhibit that were creating limiting situations for me in my career. His ability to easily walk the line between challenging and supporting was incredibly helpful. I highly recommend Brian as a coach - and would gratefully work with him again in the future."
Virginia (Brown) Edelstein
Program Director
Volunteer Vancouver


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