CONTINUE YOUR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT JOURNEY
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2020 Dates and Locations:
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Usually the local RLF Facilitator(s)
Editor’s Note: Bart Bolton recently retired after more than two decades as an RLF Facilitator. As Bart transitions to his new chapter in life, he agreed to share some parting observations and “lessons learned” during his longtime service to RLF and to countless RLF graduates.
"WHAT HAS BECOME CLEAR TO ME AFTER 26 YEARS IN RLF ...
by Bart Bolton
Like many RLF participants sitting in the classroom on their first day, I, too, wasn’t quite sure just what I had volunteered to do when I first began to facilitate RLF. In many ways, I was one book ahead of the class.
Today, I have the advantage and the benefit of more than 1,000 discussions, hundreds of personal life stories, the counsel of some 360 guest speakers, and countless exercises and topic discussions germane to leadership development.
Here are perhaps the “top ten” of what I have learned over the years, which I now gratefully share with all RLF grads and constituents:
1. The only person you can change in life is YOU. …..You can influence others but you cannot change them. They must change themselves. Yes, you can “command” someone to do something because you have the “power” over them (e.g. military model or parent), but the more effective way is to inspire them to change by introducing new personal values. Covey’s 7 Habits is worth considering.
2. Self-awareness is key to real leadership. Knowing who you really are, what you believe in, how you set your priorities, and what and why your personal values are builds your self-confidence. People follow leaders who display and act in a confident manner.
3. Leading and Learning go hand in hand. Effective leaders are consummate learners. They are always open to new ideas and are willing to take risks. First, they learn … next, they learn to personally accept change … and then they lead change to the organization usually through some type of vision brought on through their learning.
4. Given the time constraints of today, one must learn to read differently. The demands on everyone’s time continue to grow and we need to provide for personal learning, which includes the reading of some great non-fiction books. I believe you must find a way to get the key messages from a book in one hour – without reading all 400 pages. You’ll find that most books are actually structured so this can be accomplished. That means you can cover 12 books a year. You might even revisit How To Read a Book.
5. When you’ve stopped learning in the job you’re in, move on. This idea is the counterpart of point #3 above. Once you’ve stopped learning in the job you’re in, the result means you are no longer leading and, thus, not contributing to the organization…no value added. In some ways, you are just marking time and at some point, your position will be judged as unnecessary. It’s better that you move on to another position first where you can begin to learn again.
6. Leading is more complex than managing and is more difficult to measure. There are systems to measure management performance found in John Kotter’s “Planning & Budgeting,” “Organizing & Staffing,” and “Controlling and Problem Solving” … the red, yellow and green flags. However, when you try to measure Kotter’s view of “Leadership…Establishing Direction, Aligning People, and Motivating & Inspiring” … it is very difficult to do. One can be trained in or taught management and must discover or develop one’s own leadership style. These are actually very different learning experiences.
7. Real listening is a critical skill for an effective leader. It seems to require all five senses to listen well, be it in both our professional and personal lives. Listening clearly is the basis for all our communications and especially the verbal ones. “Seek first to understand to then be understood” is good advice from Covey. Being in the other guy’s movie is the advice from The Zen of Listening … easy to say and yet tough to do! Step back sometime in a meeting and watch how many people talk over others in the meeting. Do they really hear the other people or are they more interested in speaking instead of listening?
8. Synchronicity has played a significant role in my life. This concept of Synchronicity underscores the need to constantly develop one’s personal network. If I had not known people in SIM, I would never have become involved in RLF. I would not have known the people in SIM if I had not gone to work at Digital where I was connected with someone back in Detroit, etc. etc. None of all that was part of my career plan. Little did I know when we moved to the Boston area in 1976 that I would end up in RLF. One of the advantages of age is the ability to more clearly observe past history, be it professional or personal.
9. Pursuing a dream/vision usually produces a passionate leader, e.g. disruptive leaders. When you look at the Bill Gates,, Steve Jobs, and Jeff Bezos of the world and understand the visions or dreams they have had, you can understand their passion. They are examples of disruptive leaders whom many people thought were kind of “different.” Working for them meant you had to share in those passions as their leadership styles seem to have been difficult to deal with. So, what kind of leader do you want to follow? What kind of leader do you want to be?
10. Trust is THE significant success factor in relationships, be they professional or personal. Trust is part of authenticity, transparency, honesty, and integrity and probably other values. All of these contribute to the level of the relationships. Credibility (brought on by Trust) is 80% relationships and 20% Expertise per Jim Kinney, former CIO of Kraft Foods. Trust definitely operates or exists at different levels, e.g. individuals vs. organizations.
And, finally, I’ll throw in one more extra thought, for good measure …
11. Technology is easy. It’s people that count. Your success depends on them. You have to truly get to know people, be they professional or personal. In our Forums, I’ve been amazed at the impact that the collection of session-ending poems has had over the years … from “The Paradoxical Commandments” to “The Dash” to “Friend Around the Corner” to “The Man in the Glass.” They deal with the human emotions and to be successful, a Leader must be able to do so as well.
I shared each of these “what has become clearer” points with the Northeast-Boston RLF class in our final 2019 session, and they seemed to appreciate them. I hope they resonate with you as well. Best wishes!
Bart Bolton has been a longtime RLF Facilitator and an instrumental force in making RLF a tremendously successful program of SIM. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Cheryl Morgan -- RLF Facilitator
The term “mindful leadership” has been gaining more visibility in the leadership development world. Which is why I recommend that RLF grads and facilitators take the time to read Finding The Space To Lead; A Practical Guide To Mindful Leadership – a recent book written by Janice Marturano.
The book is a relatively short read and highlights various points about “mindful leadership” … what it is … why we need it … and how to use it to become a more effective leader. The author, who is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Mindful Leadership, does an excellent job of reminding us that frantic, chaotic, urgent leadership does not serve us well.
So, you may be wondering – what will you find in a book on “mindful leadership?” No, it is not a book on how to meditate, although meditation and reflection are considered to be some key elements of mindful leadership and an entire chapter in the book is devoted to meditation practice.
Rather, the components of focus, clarity and compassion are prime ingredients in “mindful leadership.”
“Today’s environment is constantly evolving; time is measured in nanoseconds,” the author states early in the book. “We are attached 24/7 to an array of technological devices that regularly generate anxiety-producing information overload and a sense of disconnection that can overwhelm and isolate us.”1 I know I could certainly relate to this summation of our 21st century world.
So, how does one create a more mindful life and become a more mindful leader? The author reveals, “A mindful leader embodies leadership presence by cultivating focus, clarity, creativity, and compassion in the service of others”2
The book also conveys that there is quite a bit of emotional intelligence in the pursuit of “mindful Leadership” – becoming aware of your emotions and feelings, identifying and noticing them vs. reacting. The author also talks about the role of emotions in leadership and of the importance of compassion and kindness in the workplace. There are even tips in the book on how to create a purposeful pause in order to pay attention to the thoughts and emotions that may arise as you reflect on your calendar and your very long list of things to do.
I believe this book can help you in both your professional and personal life. There are tips and tools you can take away to learn and practice as you embark on your journey to cultivate mindfulness.
So, if you’d like to learn more about the growing topic of “mindful leadership,” I strongly encourage you to start by reading the pages of Finding The Space to Lead; A Practical Guide To Mindful Leadership.
1 Text from Finding The Space To Lead, A Practical Guide To Mindful Leadership by Janice Marturano, pp 8-9
2 Text from Finding The Space To Lead, A Practical Guide To Mindful Leadership by Janice Marturano, p 11
Cheryl Morgan is a longtime Facilitator for RLF (Regional Leadership Forum). She can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Click here to view previously-published "Leadership Tips" from RLF facilitators and RLF graduates.
Click here to view previously-published "Book Suggestions" from RLF facilitators and RLF graduates.