Zen Leader Blog

Leadership Advice: Why "Experiencing" is better than "Showing"

Posted by Diane Chencharick

Apr 13, 2013 7:18:00 AM

laughingAs leaders, we are often in teaching mode - communicating our vision, letting others learn from our experience, and correcting and adjusting our course to accommodate the winds of change. But there are times when it's best to sit back and let others experience the situation rather than be led through it, in other words, to lead from behind.

This was one of the hardest lesson for me to learn. Maybe it's the mom in me. I was forever in "teaching" mode and it became very easy to carry this through to my managerial style. But there are many things better learned firsthand, by really feeling it. Here's a few I'd like to share.

Not everybody wins
Learning to lose graciously - now there's a good life lesson! You gave it your all, it was darn good stuff, you pitched it flawlessly and they went with somebody else. Having spent many years as a creative director in advertising, I can tell you, this scenario plays out all the time. But for every winning team, there is at least one losing team. You can't lose sleep over it. After a defeat, the faster you can get your team to "acceptance" the better off you'll all be. At your "post-mortem meeting," do a thorough review of what worked and didn't. Get everything out in the open, including time to vent. I encouraged everyone to keep a file drawer with "great work that didn't sell." You never know if it may find life in some other variation somewhere down the road. It also helps us remember that doing great work still matters, whether it wins the day or not. Just keep doing great work, and the rest will take care of itself.

In the book, The Zen Leader, by Ginny Whitelaw, she talks a lot about this letting go and not taking things personally in the "flip" From It's All About Me to I'm All About It.  If we peel back the layers of frustration when our work doesn't have the desired outcome, we'll usually find a fear underneath about not being good enough, secure enough, appreciated enough or something enough.  When we quit "requiring" that our work somehow lead to personal sucess or admiration, we can put it out there more clearly, more cleanly in service of others.  "When we are that leader who is "all about it," "it" manifests more completely through us in the Now, without the footprints of self-doubt or self-glorification," states Ginny.

Take me there with you
I've seen hundreds of pitches with all the best visual aids you can imagine, but those pitches generally didn't work when people just told or showed me their solution without letting me experience it or arrive there with them.  Sometimes I'd find myself thinking, "I know this is your baby and you've been living with it for weeks now, but I'm seeing it for the first time, so don't just spring it on me and expect me to be as enthusiastic as you are." If you want others to be enthusiastic about your idea, put yourself in their "beginner minds," and take them on a journey to experience that enthusiasm for themselves. This is a "flip" from "show" (or tell) to "experience," from thinking from your own perspective using empathy to craft a story. Set the stage with a protagonist - maybe you or a client or customer - and the key issue or challenge that must be overcome.  You might share your thought process, or the other things you thought of and rejected, and the "aha" moment when suddenly something clicked.  As you tell your story, it gives a chance for others to experience what you experienced, to feel the passion you feel, and for your passion to show as well. Become a storyteller when making your presentation and you'll have more winners than losers.

Actively engage me
I was fortunate to attend a leadership program at The Institute For Zen Leadership that took this lesson to heart. During the course of this 3-day workshop, our group was physically involved at every step - from the quietness of sitting to active movement in the 4 energy patterns, where we immersed ourselves the experience of each pattern from inside out. Now, maybe it's not practical to get people on their feet during a meeting, but there are plenty of ways to actively engage an audience. I always encouraged groups to interject any thoughts/comments when I was presenting. Some might view this as an interruption, but I never did. Getting conversations going during your presentation does two things: 1) it allows you to become the listener, giving you good feedback that you may be able to use/refer back to later in the presentation. 2) it begins to create ownership with the people you are presenting to.  Some of my best presentations were when this happened and it forced me to "go off script." I remember one in particular, where by the end of the meeting, the whole room was engaged in conversations on how they were going to roll this out internally. It doesn't get any better than that.

What this all boils down to is that people want to feel an emotional attachment to you, your ideas, and your company. This can't be done if you're in coping mode, which defends or distances itself. This is probably why From Coping To Transforming is the very first chapter and flip in The Zen Leader, as it's the starting point of real leadership. "This is one empowering flip," states Ginny. "It reframes everything from a focus on the self-having-a-problem to the creative agent who learns from what's going on and often changes the game...it get's your engergy going in the right direction, which is from the inside out – adding the best value you have to offer." I've included a link to that chapter above. Give it a read. It may change the way you think about transformative power that unfolds rather than pushes.

more

Topics: leadership, the zen leader, Ginny Whitelaw, energy patterns, leadership advice, leaders, Dr. Whitelaw, making presentations, Institute for zen leadership

Leadership Advice for When You're Running on Empty

Posted by Diane Chencharick

Feb 6, 2013 10:12:00 AM

low energy

more

Topics: leadership, energy, the zen leader, Ginny Whitelaw, energy patterns, leadership advice, leaders, Driver, rhythm of the day

Leadership advice - When things don't go as you want them to

Posted by Diane Chencharick

Dec 11, 2012 9:47:00 AM

leadership disappointment Change is hard. It never happens as easily or as quickly as you want it to, especially when you are the one leading the charge. You put all the systems in place… you keep everybody in the loop on your progress… you might even hear little signs of encouragement along the way that lead you to the false conclusion that this important initiative will be a piece of cake. Then it all goes to pot and you ask yourself, "What the heck happened?"

If this sounds all too familiar, I empathize. Welcome to my present world. But this time, I am not taking it personally. I've developed a certain level of awareness over the past few years that is not letting this situation get its hooks in me. Because its NOT about me. So often we forget this and let emotions rule our follow up actions.

The Zen Leader talks a lot about this "flip" in consciousness in Chapter 9, From Local Self to Whole Self. It's a concept that can be difficult to understand, but when you make that flip, it's easy to see that there are a lot more factors in play than you may have initially realized. Here's the basic process:

WHO - Become aware of all the players
Become aware of the many people that are playing into the current situation. Make a mental note of each one, or even write them down. Who are all the immediate players in the situation? Who might be considered secondary players? I encourage you to expand your thinking to future people who may be impacted by this change.

WHAT - Consider the needs and fears
There is a reason, usually more than one, why people are resisting this change - and the reasons can vary widely by individual. Go back to your list of the players and do some role playing. What factor might be swaying them in another direction? What are they fearful of? What need is not being met by this change? This exercise allows you to "become the other person," as Ginny Whitelaw states in The Zen Leader. It might benefit you to write these down as well.

Now, look over your list. Get a sense of the WHOLE picture, not just your own perspective on this change. "The whole-self answers son't necessarily contradict those of the local self so much as add new dimensions, or broaden the approach. They may even reveal a better way to state the goal, or an overarching issue that has to be dealt with first," continues Ginny.

This has been a valuable exercise for me, and I hope can add benefit to you, too. If you would like a more detailed look at this flip, along with some good real-life examples, I encourage you to download the guide: Implementing Change - Understanding All The Players.

more

Topics: leadership, managing change, change management, the zen leader, leaders, instituting change, leadership advice, awareness, whole leadership. whole leadership development

Do you "walk the talk"… or just take a few steps?

Posted by Diane Chencharick

Oct 29, 2012 7:24:00 PM

walking As leaders, we all make a conscious effort to walk the talk, especially when it comes to implementing change. Showing others that we follow through on our thinking with our own action sets the pace for others to follow.  But sometimes this turns into a very short walk. We can lose momentum, get sidetracked, run into obstacles, or even get frustrated and turn back. Walking the talk is not an easy stroll in the park.

I am in the middle of such a walk right now. Last month I attended a program at the Institute for Zen Leadership (IZL). This was a 4-day immersion in how to make difficult "flips" that can greatly enhance my leadership skills, along with an introduction to zen meditation. I've read enough about the benefits of meditation to know that this could help me immensely, so I went. For the 4 mornings that I was there, sitting on my cushion with the other small group of leaders who had come for the same purpose, I wasn't just doing it, I was enjoying it. I liked how clear my mind became, how refreshed and energized I felt, and I was determined to make this a real practice in my life.

Then I returned home.

I don't need to tell you how quickly this "practice" fell off. Time became my biggest excuse, aided by a dose of procrastination. What struck me is how difficult it is to walk the talk. As agents of change, we are expected to lead the march without faltering. How can I expect others to keep taking those steps if I don't keep moving forward at a sustained pace myself? So, I've put together a few suggestions that have helped me walk the talk, or continue the journey down a difficult path.

Push through the pain and just DO IT!
I know this seems like I'm stating the obvious, but take a lesson from our greatest athletes and push through whatever resistance gets in your way - including yourself. As Ginny Whitelaw (author of The Zen Leader and director of the IZL program I attended) would say, "Get out of your own way!" This might be a "flip" in consciousness, like getting out of coping mode… or a fierce desire to see it through. Find your resolve and determination that came with the original idea and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Don't think about it and just DO IT!
This may seem equally obvious, but recognize that your thoughts can be the greatest procrastinators. Move beyond the question of whether you're going to do it or not do it - similar to brushing your teeth in the morning. Once you shut down the internal debate and simply do what you said you were going to do, you'll find it's much easier than thinking about it. 

Make small rewards along the way
If it's hard for you to keep the momentum going, imagine how hard it is for others who are now in pace behind you? Define some milestones that are quickly attainable and reward them (and yourself) once they get there. This is no different than breaking down an insurmountable task into bite-size pieces. Keep your eye on the end goal, but make it a series of walks, not just one long marathon… and celebrate the little victories along the way.

Keep smiling
A positive attitude works. Don't have it today? Fake it… and keep faking until it comes naturally again. People are looking to you for inspiration. When they see you smiling in the face of adversity, they find hope for themselves and will push through the hard times. Don't ever underestimate the power of a smile in changing the energy around a situation.

Today I am hitting the cushion again and will be doing it tomorrow, too. In writing this, I find a new confidence… one that will carry me through those rough patches of indifference. To walk the talk. To do what I said I was going to because I know this change WILL make a difference.

And I'm going to do it with a little buddha smile:-)

more

Topics: energy, zen leadership, the zen leader, Ginny Whitelaw, leadership advice, walk the talk, walking the talk, leaders, Institute for zen leadership, instituting change

Welcome to the Zen Leader Blog

A blog that transforms:

This blog is dedicated to the concepts described in the book The Zen Leader by Ginny Whitelaw.  In this blog we discuss how these concepts are applied to a variety of current situations and applications, helping us all unleash the Zen Leader within us!

Also visit the FEBI Learning Lounge: The official FEBI blog

4patterngraphic-new3

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all