Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lessons Learned in the World of Leadership and Strategic Change

During the course of our lives, each of us has a meet brilliant leader and an extremely poor leader. We have meet people with egos so big it was hard to stand next to them and people who were so humble they must have been blessed by an angel. We also have meet people who have struggled valiantly and lost to circumstances beyond their control, and we have meet people, who despite the odds, transformed themselves and their organizations into incredible places of service, excellence and caring. And through these individual and collective journeys, each of us have discovered a few insights and truths. Here are some lessons I have learned from my journey through the world of leadership and strategic change.

First: People do care. Unfortunately, all too often people's capacity to care is buried under layers of cynicism resulting from negative experiences with work or life. But this doesn't change the reality that fundamental to human nature is the capacity to care, and to care deeply. The desire for our lives to make a difference is intrinsic.

Second: People want to engage in meaningful work. Yet, some are taught at an early age that it isn't wise to dream big, and many end up selling themselves short. We all need to meet financial commitments and to create a life for ourselves and our families. But ultimately, people prefer work that is meaningful and compatible with their talents, personalities, and values.

Third: People need community and want community. We have a fundamental human need for the support of others. Every person needs to know there is someone who can offer support when they fail, when illness strikes, or a child is struggling -- and, more importantly, who will take the time to listen. We need community within which to share, to tell our stories, and to test our dreams.

Fourth: It is fundamental to human nature to learn throughout the life-cycle. We exercise this capacity every day. No matter what our educational background, or our intellectual or developmental capacity, we learn every day in formal and informal contexts.

In short, it is people who are our primary resource during change, and successful individuals and companies understand this. People run the world: people in positions of greater and lesser power, people from various backgrounds and experiences. People bring the sum total of who they are to their work -- their experience, their creativity and ideas, and their tapped and untapped potential. And if we are to capture this vast potential and utilize it for the greater good, then we as leaders, managers, and supervisors must remember these lessons learned and share them with others. For it is in the sharing that a deeper level of awareness and understanding transforms us and those who listen.

This week we live in a world where monumental struggles are taking place. I think daily about the people of Libya seeking freedom, the people of Christchurch, NZ seeking solace and hope in the aftermath of Tuesday’s earthquake, and the people of Tucson who are still recovering from the events that took place earlier this winter in their community. What matters the most is that people all over the globe seek to live a life that is meaningful. They seek the opportunity to care and be caring, to learn and in turn teach, to live and in turn create community. When we embrace these truths, we transform ourselves and the journey of change.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates # 319 - 643 - 2257

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