Today’s post focusses on Uplifting Growth, one of the eight drivers of a healthy, thriving culture that makes up The Flourish Model.
Uplifting Growth means improving the performance of individuals, groups and the organization overall to meet the challenges in a changing world. Most significantly, growth comes from job-related experience, along with interaction with others, including managers, mentors, and coaches—as well as from formal educational events.
The first four letters say it all: Whole and Intentional Leader Development.
Dr. Rob McKenna, is Founder and Master Coach of WiLD Leaders, Inc., a Seattle-based consulting group that “invests in leaders with the guts to go first and the willingness to pay attention to the needs of those they serve.”
Recently I sat down with Rob who led me through three doorways that helped me see how WiLD Leadership’s “whole leadership development” can boost the health of virtually any organization and workplace culture—including yours!
First Doorway: The Leader’s Challenge
With decades of on-the-ground business experience that’s taken him through the good, the bad, the ugly of an organization’s leadership, Rob isn’t shy when he says “Every leader has a story. Sometimes, he or she can’t share the complete story. Yet every leader needs some structure and scaffolding that gets at the questions they’re still trying to answer.
“The messy reality, today, is that leaders face competing tensions, they can’t talk about either due to a principled reason, a legal reason, or both.
“As a result, many leaders feel isolated and alone.
“A lonely, isolated leader has no one to offer feedback, empathy, and consolation. A lonely, isolated leader reveals a broken leader faced with making important decisions that stands to significantly impact the culture and direction of an organization. This goes for both the twenty-five-year-old up-and-comer, as well as the sixty-five-year-old seasoned executive.
“If you’re someone who, as we like to say, has stepped out and gone first to lead an organization, and you feel alone, well you’re not. The reality is many people around you are probably already experiencing what you’re going through.”
According to Rob, the simple answer to this predicament is that there isn’t one. Actually, there’s something much better.
Most of whole leadership development is not found in the answers, but rather in the questions we’ve yet to answer.”
Second Doorway: The Leader’s Response
“About Eight years ago,” says Rob, “I was consulting with a struggling organization. The leader and his team had been in place only a few months. I honestly wondered what their future held.
“I had just finished up a conference presentation on ‘The Power of Questions’ when I went down the hall to a break-out session lead by, who else, the senior leader of the organization I had consulted with years ago!
“The headline of his opening PowerPoint slide really grabbed me:
Leadership is about questions.
“The stories this gentleman told about the success of their organization and the growing health of its workplace culture pointed not so much to how he and his team pursued and secured answers, but instead to the wise discipline of asking good and necessary questions. For instance, he said he developed the pattern of asking one question every morning: ‘Is the vision of our organization, right?’”
And then, Rob said these words which are worth their weight in gold:
Most of whole leadership development
is not found in answers themselves, but rather
in approaching the questions you’ve yet to answer.
Amen. It’s really the questions you ask—and the manner in which you ask them (in a spirit of positive, appreciative inquiry)—that can move an organization and its culture forward.
Rob’s WiLD approach helps me see how Uplifting Growth (and all eight of the Flourish drivers) stem from a leader’s courage to ask questions.
Says Rob, “Not long ago I consulted with the CEO of a large company facing a serious challenge with its supply chain. Our conversation morphed from change management to leadership development in which he was honest and vulnerable to see what was really going on with his team. Out of the twelve leaders, three were unwilling to ‘edit’ their own understanding of the problem, much less execute the strategic action steps required to help solve the problem.”
The Third Doorway: The Leader’s Contribution to the Organization and Workplace Culture
Rob nails the reality that any leader can only contribute what he or she knows to be true to the health of a culture.
“In his book, Leadership and Culture, Edgar Schein speaks to how leaders are people of influence who will set the standard for what an organization and its culture will become.
- It’s more than just about taking action; it’s about how the leader, the culture, and the organization develop and grow in the process. In other words, it’s not just What are we going to do? it’s How are we going to work together as a culture?’”
“By its very nature, whole leader development means change. At the individual level, change requires someone willing to hit the backspace key to revisit and re-examine who they are to better care for themselves and better others they’ve been called to serve.
“Learning agility requires what’s called ‘adaptive performance’ which requires a leader to:
- develop self-awareness
- pivot quickly to become more composed under pressure, and
- assume personal responsibility, rather than assess blame.
And that’s how a leader can step out and raise the hard, unanswered questions and then live them out, together.
It’s Your Turn
Rob McKenna, Founder and Master Coach, WiLD Leadership
“I like to think of a coach as someone who offers leaders the kind of a safe place they need beyond the boundaries of their organizations to talk about the hard things so they can make the better decisions. A coach connects the challenges of the heart with the challenges of the job.”
Coming Up Next on our Continuing Series
“The Priceless Payoff of Uplifting Growth”
Jeff Lockyer, Pastor
Southridge Community Church
St. Catherines, Ontario
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One or more of these eight measures of workplace culture
is either strengthening (or weakening) your organization right now.
Al would love to address your questions about creating a flourishing workplace culture. Send an email to AskAl@bcwinstitute.org
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