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peter vajda

Hi Steve,

You ask,, "What do you think is legitimately getting in the way of leadership?" True, real, authentic, transparent, human(e) leadership? For me, in a word, fear.

(I might begin with the book, "Leadership and Self-Deception." Looking inside, first. Many can't or won't. Why? Too scary.)

Marshall Goldsmith (a premiere executive coach as noted by Forbes Magazine) says, in referring to his process when coaching leaders, "The person who is receiving the coaching has to get confidential feedback on how everyone sees him. He is going to find out what he's doing well, what he needs to improve, to venture suggestions. Then we sit down, with his boss, possibly, and talk. We have to reach an agreement. He's going to have to get the feedback, talk to people, follow up on a regular, disciplined basis, apologize for previous sins."

Apologize?!!!! Me?!! Hmmm

Goldsmith goes on, the process is called "...feedforward, not feedback. You have a conversation with your co-workers. Whatever they say, you sit there, shut up, listen, take notes and say thank you."

Shut up, take notes and say thank you!!!! Me?!! Hmmm

Not too many leaders who are wrapped in bravado, hubris, and obsessed with their self-image would be able or willing to do this. Why? Fear (anger,resentment,denial, resistance, perhaps, first, but beneath that is fear).

So, we have/read another new book, a new technology of leadership, lots of information, facts, knowledge....much old wine in new wine skins...but has much changed?

In my work and experience, those who have done the "inner work" allow and admit of their fear (as it's not a "weakness") while, at the same time, are also able to access their inner sources of strength and courage to move through it.

Those who resist, deny and move around their fears respond, for example, with, "Sure, I'm willing to do what it takes to change. But, do I have to be different?" Ah, for these many, the conundrum that inhibits change. The devil I know vs. the devil I don't. Leaving one's familiar, safe (unconscious) emotional and psychological comfort zone can be very, very threatening. So, for them, it's "let's change 'it, you, him, her, or them'." "Change" is safer that way. Safer for whom? and, Why? Hmmm.

Jim Stroup


The thrust of this post has been a major theme for me for many years. A direct or indirect current in your recent posts has been stress, and the damage and disarray it can cause. Well, just mention leadership to an executive and watch the bloodpressure go up and the theatrical atmospherics begin.

There are few subjects that have attracted so much attention and generated so little insight as this one since the rise of professional management in the past century or so. Nevertheless, almost any discussion of it will attract desperate attention, leading to faddish approaches and market-oriented prescriptions that come and go - and come back again - like the tide - relentlessly changing without changing.

I prefer to take the view that leadership in an organization is not properly - or at least not best - understood as an individual characteristic at all, but as a characteristic of the group dynamics that take shape with the creation of the organization. I think the notion of celebrating leaders as a calling separate and superior to management is not helpful; rather, managers lead, and, more importantly, they manage the leadership that is intherent in their organizations.

Granted, much of this gets lost in the semantics, but there are distinctions here that make a real difference - I've seen it in the Marines, I can assure you, and I've seen it in my work since.

Thanks for a strong, challenging post!

Steve Roesler

Peter and Jim,

I confess that my frustration with the current focus on individual super-leadership as the answer to organization effectiveness led me to go down a somewhat tongue-in-cheek path.

Between the topics of authenticity and the leader/manager faux dichotomy, we probably have enough material for another year of conversation!

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