Leadership at the Top, the Bottom, and Everywhere In Between

How do you define leadership?  What differentiates leadership from management? Is there a difference in your experience? Do big paychecks identify who is a leader?  How high up in the organization does a leader need to be?

There’s something extra that a leader has over a manager and it’s not necessarily the number of followers, the power, or the paycheck.  In Partnership: Redefined; Leading through the Power of &, leadership is described as the ability to “Partner when WE Should & Manage When I Must.”  By that definition, leadership can happen at every level and it results in increased creativity, increased ownership, and increased performance.  Partnership + timely, consistent, and fair management = Leadership. Continue reading

Rethinking Our Time

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is not impossible, but it does take a shift in thinking.  Partnership creates a different sense of time.  So often, we want to “accept the mission” for immediate results and efficiencies.  This desire can be shortsighted and often fracture the original vision or intention of the work.  In partnership, the overall timing doesn’t change, but the allocation of it does.  It enables us to replace problem solving with shared input, shared understanding, and potential building.

This practice of partnership pushes back against the usual way things are done in many organizations.

  • A whole-system look at current reality VS. gap/problem analysis
  • Time spent upfront to establish a common understanding of multiple experiences and vision VS. time upfront spent on whose fault it was or tying up loose ends during implementation
  • Shared accountability VS. pockets of success dependent on individuals or situations Continue reading

If We Build It, They Will Come…Please

There is a different set of values for organizations that build the partnership capacity into their work.  It’s a philosophy and practice that maximizes human potential.  Most organizations deeply hope, and bet on, that each person hired may become an innovator, creator, and shared owner in passionately delivering the mission, vision and performance targets.  For such organizations, it would be counter intuitive to hire someone and simply plug them into a job, disregarding the human need for meaningful vocation and the individual’s potential for shaping the organization.

I have had the privilege to work over the years with a high school where this philosophy of partnership has become deeply embedded and valued.  The district and principal’s utilization of “Partner when We should & Manage when I Must” had amassed a staff highly skilled in providing professional collegiality, consultation and insight. Continue reading

Flat Can Fall Flat

We’re human.  We appreciate not having to make every decision or feeling the weight of accountability for all the things that don’t involve us.  As kids, we were unaware and unburdened by the monthly paying of bills and expenses. At school we designated captains to pick teams for sand lot ball. Early in our careers we appreciated the feedback and evaluation that came from our bosses who were interested in developing our talents.  We elect representatives who bring our hopes for the future before legislative bodies.  Hierarchy is natural and many people and cultures recognize that it’s a perfectly normal part of a functional organization and society.

Our clients are very familiar with our phrase, Partner when WE should & Manage when I must.  For those organizations that have incorporated the practice of partnership, it is seen as a 70/30 ratio.  70% of the time, it’s critical to partner by engaging the competency and expertise of those throughout the organization in order to build robust practices and systems of accountability.  30% of the time is grounded in timely, fair, and consistent management.  This management creates the confidence and trust for others to invest their efforts in partnership to create a healthy, hopeful and successful organization. Continue reading

Painting Partnership Within the Frame of Competence

When was the last time someone came up to you said “you are so good at what you do?”

When was the last time you did that for another person?

Competency is a key authority everyone holds in our organizations; we may not voice it out loud but we build it with our daily words, actions and decisions and hopefully weave it into our continuous learning and development.  Perhaps not so frequently discussed is trusting in the competence of those who work for and with you.

Partnership requires everyone to put their interests into the hands of others and it’s only done authentically when one trusts the competence of his or her colleagues.  Partnership is when others accept the interests of a colleague or boss, get behind them in their world and help them move ahead with creativity, collegiality and confidence. Partnership is a philosophy that shapes our work relationships, assumptions and processes differently.

Partnership is an action that builds the capacity and sustainability of any organization. Continue reading