Authentic Leadership Insights
Wisdom Based Coaching
“Good Judgement – Wisdom – comes from experience, Experience comes from Bad Judgment”
Leaders must skillfully navigate the Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA)* of today’s business environment. In our rapidly changing world, few leaders have the knowledge, experience and wisdom to meet these challenges without a support system.
We partner with leaders to create a strategic pause for reflection in their chaotic, turbulent life. This essential reflective process enables both wiser leadership and a low-stress, fulfilling life adventure.
We are seasoned elder coaches with long careers of business experience, supplemented with many years of professional coach training. We believe leadership is grounded in trusting relationships that call forth the very best in people. We are quick to include the latest ideas that support this belief into our Authentic Leadership Insights model.
The quality of our relationships defines the quality of our life and our effectiveness as leaders. Our Authentic Leadership Insights model guides leaders in creating high quality, transformational relationships among individuals and teams, customers and suppliers.
As Executive Coaches, our role is to walk beside you, to be a guide at your side on your Hero’s Journey. We don’t lead, push or pull, but guide in the manner you request. Coaching is not about changing you in any way. It is about uncovering more of the powerful individual you already are. We create a Learning-Leader Partnership.
In the turbulent Sea of Life, navigating the rocks and shoals of being human is often frightening, lonely and unfulfilling. Additionally, the Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA)* that permeate every aspect of our lives — personal and professional — creates chaos that only makes our voyage more difficult.
In today’s VUCA environment, few leaders have the role models, tools or skilled listeners to turn to when the seas becomes rough and treacherous. All leaders need a safe harbor where they can be vulnerable; where they can openly talk through issues; where they can confront their fears, discover their blind spots and call forth the courage required to make the necessary course corrections.
We are Elders Coaches.
As vital, active elders, we each lived a unique Hero’s Journey. We have seasoned our learning from our journeys with years of training and professional experience as Executive Coaches. We engage the whole person; not just the business persona.
“After the third session, all coaching is life coaching.” – Thomas Leonard
Over the course of our careers, we navigated the turbulent seas of business. We each ran businesses, for-profit and non-profit. We’ve hired, fired and promoted. We’ve started successful businesses and closed failed ones. We’ve experienced “redundancy” more than once.
We navigated the increasingly turbulent seas of parenthood. We’ve experienced offspring with difficult emotional problems, dysfunctional relationships, divorce, cancer and heart disease. We each experienced the death of a child, just to name a few of life’s rough storms.
In our Hero’s Journey, we have acquired the resilience that comes from experience. We’ve learned deep compassion, wisdom listening, and modest living. We sustain an undefeatable zest for life. We are grateful to be living fulfilling life adventures of our own design.
“The meaning of life is to find our gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” – Pablo Picasso
As elder coaches, our purpose is simple. We want every person we engage to be “more alive” for having been with us. We accept everyone just as they are, in the moment. We encourage them to be more the person they wish to become.
Whether you think about it or not, everyone is constantly changing. Anyone who is even slightly self-aware realizes they are not the same individual they were a year ago, or even a month ago. People don’t resist change. People resist being changed!
Coaching is not about changing you in any way. You are naturally creative, resourceful and whole! We guide you in polishing the neglected facets of your brilliant, diamond-like nature.
What may appear to others to be change is not change. It is just that you see yourself more clearly and completely. As you evolve in your self-awareness, you will become aware of dimensions of yourself that were not previously available to you. You will comfortably uncover and reveal more of the person you have always been.
The turbulence of our VUCA environment continues to accelerate. The Darwinian Imperative requires you to evolve so that you remain in harmony with your environmental “ecosystem” or you will become “extinct.” **
Nature offers no other options. When you continually evolve in harmony with your ecosystem, you are enthusiastically engaged with life.
The root of enthusiasm is the Greek “Entheos” which translates “God Within.” When you are enthusiastically engaged with life, you acquire Eagle Awareness:***
“With not one bit of hubris, you realize that what other people may think of you really doesn’t matter; in fact, it is none of your business.
All that matters is what you think about yourself and how true you are to your values, purpose, vision and the best that is within you as you pursue your unique Hero’s Journey, making your Life Story a story worth telling.”
To evolve in harmony with our turbulent VUCA ecosystem requires us to become Learning-Leaders. Today’s leaders face intractable Adaptive Challenges, not Technical Challenges. Adaptive challenges require creativity and innovation. Leaders must discover and adapt to entirely new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving!
“We must be the first by which the new is tried; or
We will be extinct if we are the last to cast the old aside.”
In this VUCA environment, leaders must encounter the uncertainty and ambiguity with curiosity and vulnerability. The volatility and complexity will challenge their sense of humor and teach humility.
This describes The Beginner’s Mind**** an effective approach to solving today’s adaptive challenges. It is characterized by engaged listening, driven by curiosity, humor, humility, and vulnerability.
The Nature of All Relationships:
All relationships fall somewhere between these two poles of Transactional and Transformational.
For all of us, the quality of our life is defined by the quality of our relationships. Every coachable issue is, at core, a quality of life, relationship issue. All coachable leaders are aware of how their behavior influences their relationships, for better or worse. They are “other aware.”
At one pole are transactional relationships. For example, I give a gas pump my credit card and it fills my gas tank. As long as the gas pump performs as expected, the transaction has very little positive emotional content.
At the opposite pole are transformational relationships. These relationships are so imbued with honesty, openness and trust that we are actually transformed – changed! The positive emotional content is high; the relationship is validating and we feel more successful and fulfilled.
Leaders are successful to the extent they are able to create a working environment — an environmental ecosystem — that encourages transformational relationships and discourages transactional relationships.
Once leaders experience the transformational nature of an intelligent and adaptive team of All-In engaged employees, they will no longer tolerate a non-engaged (or disengaged) team and its purely transactional relationships.
Fulfilling, transformational relationships are conscious, intentional and embrace differences. They are “juicy” and stimulating. They often are challenging, requiring us to transcend our old ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. We disagree without being disagreeable.
Our Philosophy — Our Role:
“We cannot teach others anything. We can only help them discover it.” – Galileo Galilei
As Executive Coaches, we walk beside you.***** We are a “Guide at Your Side” on your Hero’s Journey. We don’t lead, push or pull, but guide in the manner you request. This is an ongoing, transformational, peer partnership. Our Senior Leadership Development program is a “Learning-Leader Partnership.”
The operative verb is “guide”, not “help.” Help implies helplessness. You are never helpless! You are naturally creative, resourceful and whole. Also, “help” is something for which you must ask; otherwise it is not help, it is control!
We guide both seasoned and emerging, high potential (“HiPo”) leaders in being more effective in creating and inspiring intelligent, adaptive teams of All-In engaged employees! More specifically:
- Together, as we examine an item on your agenda, our role is to ask questions, powerful questions that assist you in seeing the issue from new perspectives, to assist you in acquiring new insights into troubling situations (an adaptive challenge) that will not yield to existing methods or practices.
- We all have blind spots in our view of reality. Our role is to assist you in uncovering blind spots that may keep you from recognizing your own brilliance or opportunities.
- We all have emotional triggers. Our role is to assist you in recognizing your emotional triggers and how you can be at choice in how you respond.
- We all have self-limiting beliefs and biases. Our role is to assist you in recognizing how your self-limiting beliefs and biases are holding you back from the happiness and fulfillment you deserve. We guide you in “getting out of your own way.”
Few leaders are fully prepared to handle the uncertainty and ambiguity of the turbulent VUCA environment without support. The volatility and complexity facing today’s leaders did not exist even a decade ago.
The intensity is only increasing as adaptive challenges multiply. Our role is to assist you in mastering an Adaptive Action Approach for handling the adaptive challenges that all leaders face today.
In summary: We meet you where you are, without judgment, and walk beside you. We guide you, when asked, to where you want to go. We listen to your original story and champion your purpose and your unique gifts.
The Authentic Leadership Insights Model:
Today’s leaders must learn to create transformational relationships at three levels.
Level I is the relationship with ourselves – The Me-Me relationship. Of the three, this is the most important.
Level II are our relationships with other individuals – The Me-You relationships. It is the quality of these that have greatest impact on our happiness and health.
Level III are the connections we make with relationship systems – The Me-Others relationships. The Me-Others relationships are those we have with every imaginable configuration of two or more people. These include workgroups, teams, companies, clubs, government entities and any other institution.
The quality of the relationship we have with ourselves –The Me-Me Relationship – determines the quality of all other relationships. Unless we are in a transformational relationship with our self; unless we treat ourselves with loving kindness and gentle good humor, we are handicapped as leaders in our ability to support the creation of transformational relationships among those we lead.
This reality – the dominance of the Me-Me Relationship – is the heart of the Authentic Leadership Insights model. As part of their own Hero’s Journey, authentic leaders fearlessly go “into deep (inner) space, they boldly go where no man has gone before.” They do the hard work of discovering their true nature, all that they are and are not. They learn to embrace their humanness (and their “humanmess”) with radical self-acceptance. They learn to treat themselves with gentle good humor and loving kindness.
Their presence radiates this positive view of reality into all their relationships. Their energy creates transformational relationships with everyone whose life they engage: individuals, families, teams and organizations. They master the power of influence.
We are all leaders – all the time. We cannot not lead.
The Eight Insights of Authentic Leadership:
These insights evolved over thirty years of conscious effort to create a viable alternative to the Authoritarian – Command & Control – leadership style. Authentic Leadership is a Cooperative – Collaborate & Transform – leadership style.
The Eight Insights are:
- All leadership is example. Anything else is coercion.
- In every encounter, we are either creating Resonance or Dissonance, it is our choice!
- The essence of leadership is the ability to gain Buy-In through influence.
- If you want people to buy into your vision of the future, they must know you care about them as individuals:
“I must know how much you care before I will care about how much you know.”
- However, we also must show respect for them as fully capable individuals. We can only be responsible to We cannot take responsibility for someone’s happiness and wellbeing. That is their responsibility. It is insulting to their soul, their Core Essence, to interfere with what must be their choices.
- It follows that we must not “rescue,” that is, offer uninvited help. “Help” is something for which one must ask. Otherwise, it is not help. It is Control!!
- Transformational relationships embrace the qualities of a Beginner’s Mind: curiosity, humor, humility and vulnerability.
- Transformational relationships are grounded in Honesty, Openness and Trust: “HOT” Relationships. They are characterized by Authentic Communications:
“An Authentic Communication is a clear, concise, direct, heart-to-heart exchange.”
The Authentic Leadership Insights model is a collection of field-tested leadership concepts, which evolved over thirty years, focused on creating transformational relationships designed to produce intelligent, adaptive teams, populated with All-In engaged employees, in a developmental culture.
The Wrap Up:
Years ago, we discovered the meaning of Mark Twain’s observation:
“Age is mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
As elder coaches, who have found our calling – our vocation, the following lines from Robert Frost’s “Two Tramps in Mud Time” eloquently capture our feelings and beliefs:
My object in the living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one insight.
Only where love and need are one,
And work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed never really done,
For Heaven and the future’s sakes.
*VUCA is an acronym for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. The Army War College uses this term to describe the combat environment! The Stanford Business School uses it to describe the business environment with the observation that the intensity will accelerate
**“Extinct” in this context means obsolete, redundant, unemployable. Keeping our technical skills current and in tune with the rapidly evolving technology is a threshold requirement. Necessary but not sufficient.
To avoid extinction in the turbulent VUCA economy, we must expand our Social Emotional Intelligence (SEI) and our Relationship System Intelligence (RSI). We must learn new transformational relationship skills.
***See ALI 419 Eagle Awareness
****See ALI 412 The Confident Leader & The Beginner’s Mind.
*****See ALI 422 My Coach is a Guide at My Side.
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