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June 2009 | Volume 2, Issue #12

In This Issue
Core Chart for Great Leadership - Bill George
Jazz, Leadership, and Teamwork Quote of the Month
What People Are Saying about Brian and Jazzthink
What's Brian Reading?
Experience Jazzthink Live!
Preview a sampling of slides that Jazzthink uses
The Cellar Jazz Club
Quick Links
I've been playing around with the idea of considerate conversations for a couple of years now, ever since I first used the phrase in a leadership breakfast at the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.  Several years ago, friend and colleague Marty Shoemaker helped me see the dual meaning of considerate - caring and thoughtful.  Leadership, to be deeply influential, must be both.
Here's the ideal flow of a considerate conversation as I currently understand it:
Care >> Think >> Convene >> Question >> Listen >> Contribute >> Conclude
Care about yourself, the other person, the issue, and the positive consequences.  If you can't connect with a loving attitude towards all of these dimensions of your relationships at work, don't proceed with the conversation yet.
Think about the positive outcome you want to achieve through the conversation.  If you don't have a clear vision of the benefits you want to achieve for yourself, the other person, and the organization, don't proceed with the conversation yet.
Convene the right people with the right ideas to explore the options to do the right things.  If you don't have a positive reason for extending the invitation to the conversation, don't proceed with it yet.
Question those convened to ascertain their desires and views, inviting them through your curiosity into a conversation about what matters most to them and their contribution to the organization. 
Listen to what they have to say, whether you like it immediately or not.  Give them time to express and explain their views, asking further questions for clarification as the conversation flows forward. 
Contribute your own views, not in a contentious manner, but in a spirit of enriching the options that are being considered and the decisions that will be made eventually.
Conclude the conversation with a decision.  It may be that you will continue the conversation to consider things more deeply.  It may be that you can arrive at a decision that is mutually agreeable and ready to be acted upon.  But be clear with all involved what the next steps are and how mutual accountability will be monitored.
If leadership was more consistently exercised through such considerate conversations, there would be a lot more genuine collaboration and beneficial results in organizations.
Please, test this flow out in your leadership conversations and let me know how it goes.

leadership2Core Chart for Great Leadership - Bill Joiner and Stephen Josephs
Good jazz involves mastering the agility to be both focused and flexible in situations that call for optimal performance - focused on both task and talent, yet flexible in the ways talent is applied to task.  Leadership requires the same mastery of agility.
Joiner and Josephs began studying leadership in the early 1970s with the intention of identifying the thought patterns that underlie the behaviour of high-performing leaders.  They have concluded that those leaders who are most successful in turbulent organizational environments exercise four interrelated competencies, all of which involve agility, or the ability to improvise around core capabilities as the situation changes:
 Context-setting agility involves the capacity to understand the environment, frame the initiatives that promise the best results, and clarify the steps that will move the organization forward;
Stakeholder agility involves the capacity to engage and align key partners in support of the initiatives and momentum-building steps;
 Creative agility involves the capacity to transform problems into opportunities and focus the strengths and passions of the organization on maximizing the potential to create beneficial results; and
 Self-leadership agility involves the capacity use any situation as an opportunity to become more self-aware and self-disciplined.
The same competencies are required of jazz musicians as they improvise together to find new ways of making sense of and performing a melody for their audiences.
Joiner and Josephs also outline five levels of leadership mastery for anticipating and initiating change - Expert, Achiever, Catalyst, Co-creator, and Synergist.  Each level includes and goes beyond the mastery required for the previous level.  As in jazz, mastery of these ascending levels of leadership requires deliberate practice in the art of performance.  We learn in the process of performing.
MazJazz, Leadership, and Teamwork Quote of the Month
"A jazz band is an expression of servant leadership. The leader of a jazz band has the beautiful opportunity to draw the best out of the other musicians. We have much to learn from jazz-band leaders, for jazz, like leadership, combines the unpredictability of the future with the gifts of individuals."

"Leaders certainly need to know where they stand. But how do leaders stand? A sound philosophy isn't enough; we all need to connect voice and touch. So much discussion these days talks of ethics as a legal line in the sand, a prohibition against certain actions. But leadership is constructive, the right actions taken in the context of clear and well-considered thinking. The active pursuit of a common good gives us the right to ask leaders and managers of all kinds to be not only successful, but faithful."
- Max DePree, Leadership Jazz

What People Are Saying about Brian and Jazzthink
"Brian delivered a fast-paced session that engaged our group from start to finish. Our members found the session both inspiring and applicable to leadership, teambuilding and facilitation. I personally found that the session shifted my perspective of my role as a trainer and supported me to adopt a more free-flowing approach almost immediately. I highly recommend Brian and his Jazzthink presentation for those who wish to explore a powerful metaphor to work with their teams or with groups they facilitate."
Gary Harper
VP of Programming
ISPI Vancouver Chapter.

What's Brian Reading?
ReadingPeter Block's Community: The Structure of Belonging now has company on my list of must reads in 2009.  Barbara Fredrickson's Positivity: Groudbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strengths of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive joins my list.  This is a compelling and convincing book, based on over 20 years of research, much of it spearheaded by Fredrickson.  This is the best introduction I've read so far to the science of flourishing, which involves both feeling good and doing good.  It goes far beyond happiness.  Fredrickson is convinced that the latest scientific evidence tells us that positivity not only reflects success and health, but it also can produce success and health.  She documents that conviction in this book. 
Fredrickson has identified 10 forms of positive emotion: joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love.  These positive emotions, like any emotions, arise from how you think, how you interpret events and ideas as they unfold.  It is this dependence on thinking that makes these emotions so fragile.  Our minds, she reminds us, can be overstuffed with worries, doubts, and demands, fed by the constant drip of negative media messages.  But we are in control of how we think and, therefore, how we feel.  We can train ourselves to see and feel the world in terms powerfully shaped by the positive emotions she has identified.  How to do that and the benefits that flow from such deliberate practices are what she documents in this book.
If you want to infect your life and workplace with the benefits of positive leadership and teamwork, grounded in solid scientific research, this book is a must read.  Enjoy!
Experience Jazzthink Live!

June 25, 2009
Vancouver Chapter of the International Coach Federation - Finding Your Coaching/Consulting Groove:  Lessons from Jazz.  This event will be at The Cellar at 3611 West Broadway in Vancouver and feature the Jazzthink Trio live.  Space is limited, so reserve early.  Click here for more information and registration details.

Enjoy Great Jazz in Vancouver 

The Cellar Logo

 "Vancouver's answer to the Village Vanguard, this small (70-seat) club/restaurant presents the best local jazz, as well as some touring acts.  Great sound, which has been used to enhance the club's record label, Cellar Live."
- Down Beat magazine's list of 100 best jazz clubs in the February 2009 issue