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Leadership and Change: Ready on a Moment’s Notice

I must really be getting old! I remember when tornadoes were only meant to happen in Kansas. In past years most of us watched “The Wizard of Oz” and went along with Dorothy on her journey, yet it was just a story, right? While tornadoes indicate sudden change and danger they were “out there” in pockets of the country. They were meant to be in Kansas, not Connecticut. Well, not until this week anyway. The weather patterns of the world have changed, the world has changed, and we all need to be more adept at adaptation. Change in the blink of an eye is required by all of us, and leaders need to have the tools of change in their back pockets. Here is an example: Yesterday we finished the second session of Total Leadership Connections and sent the group on its way. Lots of stops and blocks happened once this group left the “Magic Kingdom” of The Country Place. Someone called to tell me about a tire that blew while he was driving, fortunately on a back road just off the highway. There were plane delays, sitting on a runway for hours without even water, even a tree from a quick yet busy thunder storm blocking a road to his house. What impressed me was the balanced manner in which these momentary unplanned changes were handled. NO victims in this group. No crabbing and blaming, no anger and upset. Well, maybe some upset; after all it is okay to be human. However, whether it was nature showing its strength, or a people problem, there was calm behind the...

Tillit and Other Palindromes

  Got your attention?  I hope so. The palindrome for you to watch is an important reminder that when we look with new eyes, the context of the world changes in the blink of our eyes. Read it forwards and then read the same words backwards and see what changes occur inside you.   First, an example: “Tillit” is a Swedish word that means the same thing reading it forwards and backwards. It means “trust”, and the power of this word is that trust can only happen if both sides are aligned. You are on one side of “tillit” and I am on the other.   Now on to the palindrome that was sent to me by Barry Ginnetti, President of GMR Group, and a graduate of our Total Leadership Connections Program. It is a wonderful example of the essence of what we teach: we are all connected and no one wins unless we all do.    Take 2 minutes and watch this…THE ENTIRE THING   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42E2fAWM6rA     (This is a video that was submitted in a contest by a 20-year old.   The contest was titled “u @ 50”  by  AARP. This video won second place. When they showed it, everyone in the room was awe-struck and broke into spontaneous applause.  So simple and yet so...

Cultural Sensitivity

  As I was writing my Elegant Leadership blog about the poor choice of language from Michael Steele, of the Republican Party, I was reminded of a powerful scenario from a Leadership in Action program I led years ago.   There was a group of 24 business people from various organizations who gathered together for a week to understand leadership capabilities from an experiential perspective.   My husband Herb and I took the group through a variety of exercises in the Santa Fe area where we live. They were introduced to a variety of Native American teachers, and had the opportunity to do the ancient coil method of making pottery, drumming for long periods of time in a constant tapping manner, (what the Native Americans call connecting to the heart beat of mother earth), participating in a sweat lodge led by Felipe Ortega, an Apache who is both a superb potter, as well as a great teacher.   We then went up to the Taos Pueblo and met with Bernadette Roberts and spent time in her grandmother’s home where she told beautiful stories about her family, past and present.   It was an enriching experience that was capped when the entire group decided to spend a day helping Bernadette’s brother build his new home rather than go shopping in town. The next day we had a final “goodbye” circle. Here is where the power of people reaching out to people in a new and more meaningful way left its mark.   Each person had an opportunity to say what they had learned and what they would take back to...

Elegant Leadership

  I am so delighted to introduce you to my new blog “Elegant Leadership” that will be posted at http://blog.ceoptions.com/ after the New Year. Since I love to write I will have a more personal blog at www.sylvialafair.com to include thoughts and ideas about relationships, health, and education, as well as business.   Elegant Leadership will include all my newest research concerning leadership. I will suggest the best books, articles, and unique individuals I can find to help you on the difficult daily journey of being the best leader you can be.   Why did I choose the title “elegant leadership”? I honestly think it chose me. I woke up with the term, like a drum beat, repeating over and over in my head. Maybe I had a dream about it, not sure. All I know is,  I love the word “elegant” as it is used in scientific realms. In nature elegant signifies finding the simplest and most precise way of responding.   I looked up the other definitions of the word and they fit my intended blog perfectly. Elegant signifies dignified richness and grace; being luxurious in a restrained, tasteful manner; incisiveness and ingenuity, cleverly apt and simple, as in “an elegant solution to a complex problem”.   What the world needs now are truly elegant leaders who want their work to speak for them, rather than be the media show of the week. They are the ones who quietly find the best solutions without the need for trumpets blaring. They do not have to play “king” they merely want to make their businesses the best they can...

The Tiger and the Truth

  Lots of buzz about Tiger Woods and a party girl is coming to the surface after the car crash on Thanksgiving. What does it mean to you and to me? Does it really matter if he is having an affair? Does it matter that he won’t talk to the police? Does it matter that Nike is standing by their guy?    All of this will swirl for a week or two and then fall into that mysterious void where old stories go as new ones emerge. One thing we know is that Tiger is a great golf player. Beyond that what are his virtues? Have we ever voted for him to be an exemplary leader? Do we really all want our kids to be like him? Is it all about money and recognition?   Maybe this is the time for us to all exhale and really think about the role models we want to offer the younger generations. Maybe it is time for leadership development programs to do a deep dive into what makes someone a leader rather than just a “talking head” for sports stuff, clothing stuff or cars.   We have become so boringly superficial about what we want our kids to emulate that other than “things”, we have little to value. If Tiger had been the same great golf player and had not made a boatload of money would we still be mesmerized by his style?   As an executive coach and family therapist, it was not difficult to put together the implications of slamming into a tree at 2:30 am. It sounded like a...

When We Help

I asked folks to send in stories about those who have helped them personally or who they have encountered who make a difference. Here is a powerful one from Katherine Matson who is a participant in our “Total Leadership Connections Program“. Katherine is a skilled technology expert who spent years at IBM. She is also an individual who cares about making the world a better place and developing models for user friendly work settings, both technically and relationally.      Sylvia asked us to share stories about one person making a difference.  Last week my oldest daughter called me to tell me about a guest speaker in her Public Policy class, a young man named John Dau.  Dau was one of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan, one of 27,000 who walked over one thousand miles to reach freedom.  I know some came here to Michigan, and perhaps there are some in your area as well.      Dau arrived in Syracuse in 2001 just before 9/11.  From never having seen electricity (they had to show him how to turn the lights on and off) he has graduated from Syracuse University, started a foundation, and has finished building a clinic in Sudan.  A few weeks ago he was honored with a Caring People award (along with Colin Powell and Dalai Lama).  Helping Sudan has become his life’s work.      Through hardship…beauty.      Here is a link to his website:  http://www.johndaufoundation.org     ...