September 4, 2013 | Volume 7, Issue #3    
In This Issue
Conversations about Jazz, Leadership, and Appreciative Inquiry
Enjoy Live Jazz at Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club
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Some companies get it and some don't. Habanero gets it. It understands how focused conversations about strengths and potential - individual and corporate - motivate and engage employees. As a result, they are one of the top 50 small to medium companies to work for in Canada.


Their president, Steve Fitzgerald, recently reflected on their approach to leadership for the Refinery Leadership Partners. It's worth a watch.




Notice that he has a very simple and clear purpose or core chart - to help people and organizations thrive. That's crucial. Without that kind of clarity, the conversations about the best ways to thrive get messy and confused. People talk past and around each other. Frustrations build and become conflicts. People disconnect, disengage, and dissemble. The team becomes troubled and toxic.


Jazz musicians work best when there is a clear purpose - a core chart - a melody around which they can gather and contribute their unique talents on their diverse instruments.


That's true in any kind of organization, especially these days when the people in the organization come from such a diverse range of backgrounds with such a diverse set of unique talents. Without a clear purpose for the use of those talents, energy is drained by dysfunction. Without a compelling purpose for the use of those talents, energy is withheld and withers.


Your potential lies in your strengths and your strengths lie in your people. It's all a flow, just like in a jazz performance.


Think about it for a moment. You are all jazz musicians when you engage in conversations designed to engage and motivate each other. Your instruments are your voices. Every time you open your mouth to converse with someone, you generate a vibe that has the potential to motivate and engage them, or it can do the opposite. A troubled vibe shuts down the space, shuts out the people, and stifles the organization.


A thriving vibe opens up space in which everyone can flourish. A thriving vibe is welcoming, curious, appreciative, stimulating, innovative, and enjoyable. People are motivated by these conversations to engage in a deeper understanding of themselves, their strengths, and their abilities to contribute to the common purpose. That's the kind of organizational environment that will get my discretionary energy and I suspect that the same is true for you.


I particularly like Fitzgerald's insight that leadership comes from everywhere in the organization. As I often put it, leadership is influential, not positional. Everyone has a voice. Everyone can generate a vibe that is valuable with that voice. Everyone can contribute to the creation of vibrant space that engages and motivates their colleagues and their customers.


So, the challenge for September, in whatever organizations you work in and through, is to practice using your voice to create those vibrant spaces in which all your colleagues and customers can thrive. Keep track of what works. Practice is some more. Invite others into the experiment. I think you'll be pleased with the results.


May the flow be with you,





Conversations about Jazz, Leadership, and Appreciative Inquiry

A team of Vancouver-based communities of practice (the International Society of Performance Improvement, the International Coach Federation, and the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers) are bringing Frank J Barrett, author of Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz (Harvard Business School Press, 2012) to Vancouver on Oct 8-9, 2013, for a series of events and workshops.



Frank was an early student of David Cooperrider in Appreciative Inquiry and played piano in the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. He has been imagining the links between healthy organizations and great jazz for decades, especially how leaders can use jazz dynamics to engage their teams. That's what he will focus on during his Vancouver visit.


There are three events in which you can enjoy the provocations of Frank's wisdom: 

  • Tuesday, Oct 8 - 7:00-9:00PM - an evening presentation with Q&A;
  • Wed, Oct 9 - 8:30AM-4:30PM - a day-long workshop, available both in person and online; and
  • Wed, Oct 9 - 6:30-9:00PM - an evening at Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club with the dinner, a drink, the Jazzthink Trio, and Frank's reflections on the music.

Click here for more information and registration details. Come and bring your friends and colleagues along to all or any of these stimulating opportunities to hone your skills in leading like a jazz musician.



Enjoy Live Jazz at Cory Weeds'
Cellar Jazz Club

Cory Weeds is one of Canada's leading jazz impresarios. He's been working with Jazzthink since we began in 2002. His jazz club in Vancouver features some of the best jazz musicians on the planet. Take a look at the calendar for the next month by clicking here.  
The Cellar