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Developing Mastery in Leadership: Creating the Future You Want

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will find them gradually, without noticing it, and live along some distant day into the answer.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Reflecting on what some of my clients are facing, I am both moved by the nature of the circumstances and struck by the universality of concerns.

The founder of a small business learned that her business partner was maneuvering to take over the company and turn the staff against her. Through the help of excellent coaching and a lot of courage, she decided to stay and take decisive action, but without denigrating the other person. To her credit, she is looking at what she did and didn't do that contributed to the dynamics at play.

A husband of 30 years expressed concern, anger and hurt toward his wife for putting her work first, leaving little time for him, and increasingly becoming impatient and critical of others around her. He wants his wife back. He can see that they are in a pattern that is growing worse, but he is at a loss for how to talk with his wife.

A project manager realized that his mood at work goes up or down based on what's happening around him -- the way someone speaks to him, the way his results are going, the way he feels heard or not heard, etc. He can see that he's feeding his mood of resignation and disappointment when he doesn't speak up. But he is still drawn to blame circumstances or others for his down moods. It's affecting not only his mood at work, but also at home.

In all of these circumstances, there is a breakdown of communication that resulted in people acting in disconnected, damaging ways toward another.

When I hear these stories, my heart goes out to all the individuals living them. And, I become even more committed to doing what I can to help people learn how to communicate effectively with one another - in business, in families, on projects, or in hallway conversations.

I am convinced that the most important skill a leader can master is the ability to listen in a way that surfaces the underlying concerns of another and finds the intersections between seemingly opposing points of view. The future of the planet depends on it. But on a more practical, personal level, our relationships depend on it.

For over 20 years, I have been studying what it takes to become a highly effective leader - the kind who can be proud of their legacy of relationships, as well as their accomplishments. I've studied my own patterns and worked to have new choices. I've trained thousands of people how to expand beyond the limits of their childhood training in communication.

I'm grateful to have been able to introduce people to tools and practices that have altered the course of their lives and relationships, at work and at home.

People ask what we do in the 3-day Leadership Intensive, and I tell them this:

Fundamentally, I help people see that they can alter the direction of a conversation through the way they listen. This sounds way simpler than it is. If it were simple, none of the scenarios described above need happen. People would be able to work through disruptions in a partnership way of communicating.

In this course, people learn how to recognize and interrupt patterns that no longer serve them, and replace the patterns with something that works. I help people learn how to distinguish a childhood learned way of reacting from an adult need, so that they can resolve true adult needs in coordination.

All our behaviors that don't work (for example, getting angry on others, pushing our agenda on others without concern for their needs, or evading and avoiding issues) are all artificial solutions to true needs we have. I help people see how to get underneath their reaction or another's to reveal and address the authentic need that is there.

Over the years, I have come to realize that, at the core of who people are, there is nothing wrong that needs to be changed or fixed. But there may be things one could add that would expand one's effectiveness and satisfaction tenfold. I help people gain access to their fundamental gift and purpose and design the next half of their life from that awareness.

The good news is that people can and do evolve. People can continue to grow and develop inside their same company, or even in the same job, by standing in a higher intention for their life. Passion in work and marriages can last. Estranged relationships can be healed. And ultimately, if we do the work of personal mastery in our own lives, we will have a profound impact "out there" in the world at large, in all that we touch.

Leadership development isn't simply a course you go take from time to time to get inspired.

Leadership development is a commitment to living more consciously. Being in development is choosing to stop and look at the source of your reactions and perceptions. The Leadership Intensive gives you the glasses to see what's been invisible.

All my best,

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Posted on Wednesday, March 1, 2006 at 10:00AM by Registered CommenterJan Smith | Comments Off

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