A spark of excitement always hits when I make connections between a concept manifest in various contexts.
This afternoon I was privileged to participate in an event with President Kim Clark, BYUI president and former dean of the Harvard Business School. He facilitated a wonderful discussion around defining direction as a leader. He modeled the principles proffered by both the audience and his preparation. The thoughts shared centered around cultivating an open environment, framing the context, inviting participation, and empowering others.
The spark moment did not come until I jumped on the bus to return home. A unlikely candidate surprised me by exhibiting all the leadership qualities modeled so well just a half an hour ago by a renowned business leader. The culprit behind the surprise was none other than the bus driver himself. With his heavy Hispanic accent he announced that there was a significant delay on the freeway, presented some options, solicited feedback and participation, and adjusted the route home. I felt committed and responsible because my opinion was included in the making of the final decision.
It turns out that the alternate route wasn’t much faster than the backed up freeway. I admit that I winched a little when other passengers would glance in my direction. I was one of the first to speak up in the open environment. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reflected on what was taught and observing the salient principles play out in a very ordinary occurrence.
Adventures in leadership are often wonderful journeys. Enjoy the ride!
Digital Habitats is an interesting read so far. I find a lot of solace in knowing that there are others in the same situation of focusing on enhancing community potential with online technology. In my own pursuit of this desire I have seen social challenges dominate any technical considerations. I also appreciate the leadership aspect of assuming the responsibilities of a tech steward.
I am happy to report that there is much less installing and more simply configuring that tech stewards have to do theses days. A service I really enjoy is http://grou.ps
. The solution is hosted and open. I am not bothered by the technology and can focus my attention on serving the community. I can customize practically every single
aspect of the services offered without needing to worry about how it all integrates. Full control without the headaches of dealing with the underlying technology. It truly feels liberating to know that I can sculpt and mold the features to fit the needs of the community. I hope that more community focused software takes this approach of configuring vs. installing.
I also came across a related list of tips for “community managers” (not quite tech stewards but close). http://mashable.com/2010/04/13/community-manager-tips/ I especially appreciate number 7 and leveling the playing field.
I find it fascinating that leadership principles found in Multipliers make a significant appearance in my initial experience with World of Warcraft (WoW). The first leadership concept of a multiplier is that of being a magnet for talent. This talent magnet concept is coupled with practices such as looking for talent everywhere, finding natural genius, engage individuals to the fullest, and removing roadblocks. Granted, WoW makes explicit the natural abilities of a character. But leaders can and do recognize those elements which are unique to a specific character (mage, warrior, priest, etc.) that benefit a team or quest and capitalize on that knowledge. I quickly realized in the two hours I spen with the game that I would not make it too far without the help of others. Taking on a few Kobold Tunnellers all at once would kill me. I find it clever on Blizzard’s part to introduce collaboration so early on in the game.
I want to be a multiplier by recruiting my fellow cadre members not only to enhance my overall action research project but to hone how they might best benefit and grow from their own experience in the program.
It is excitig to see games mimic real life leadership and complex social situations. Or is it real life that mimics games? There is truly an art to crafting engaging and educational games.
On a side note, I have asked my brother tough questions to get at the heart of why he dedicates so much time to WoW. His most compelling answer always centers around growth, achievement, and leveling up. He enjoys profession and becoming.
This morning I have been thinking about the original purpose of the LDSLeader environment to be created to directly deal with significant business challenges facing the business side of the LDS Church. I thought of a conversation I had about a father and his efforts to prepare his children to be leaders in their own homes. His comment stuck me. It was simple. He said he tries his best to be an example of leadership in the home. My mind then went to my own experience with the new http://mormon.org site. It presents examples of Mormons under the title Our People. I wondered what our LDSLeader site could gain from a section labeled Our Leaders.
If authority of example is so compelling and powerful why not feature exemplary leaders at all levels? Participation in the mormon.org initiative is impressive. Two thousand profiles compiled before launch and 13,000+ in the queue shortly thereafter. One of the biggest hurdles I see is helping people to use an online format to share observations, examples and feelings. But it obviously can be done. The cognitive surplus certainly continues to manifest itself with in the mormon.org invitation.
Examples of LDSLeader sharing online would be personal reflections of situations where a principle of the pattern for leadership played out. This would take the shape of a leadership journal. To me, it sounds a lot like the action research I am beginning now in conjunction with a masters in learning technologies at Pepperdine. I am uncertain as to how I encourage others within my organization to also engage in their own action research as they strive to become a leader in their current role. I think of my own conversion to sharing more of myself online and it was not easy. I recall wanting to participate in the discussion so badly that I finally overcame my anxiety and accepted that my identity was still emerging and that it was ok NOT to have myself figured out entirely. I told myself that identity-shaping would come more and more as I involve myself in those communities I desire to belong and contribute to.
The term social artist has really struck me. I knew that the LDSLeader initiative would benefit greatly if I could connect others and help them share and collaborate. I see a continual leadership journal as an extraordinary way in which examples of leadership can be shared in caring relationships and extended to countless others through the use of a simple technology: a blog. Now for crafting the environment to foster that type of sharing! 😀
With thoughts of leadership, love, and learning swirling in my mind, I approached a pinch hitting assignment to facilitate a discussion in a much different way than I had in the recent past. Three concepts guided my preparation. I knew that industry research indicates that learning rarely happens outside of loving relationships. I also knew that heigthened emotion accompanies long term learning. Well aware that I was not the repository of all knowledge and insight for the given topic, I turned to Constructivist Leader priniciples which highlight the recipricle interplay of learning and leading that happens by engaging in cultivated conversation and reflective, relevant questions.
If I accomplished little else I knew I would be successful if I could demonstrate my love for them individually. In my attempt to do just that I did not preocupy myself with what to say next. I looked people in the eye and genuinely listened to their comments and questions. I responded with appropriate indicators that I heard and valued their insights.
To heighten emotion I played a touching story told in video on my laptop. Please note that this 13″ laptop was being viewed by 40+ individuals. Yet, I believe the effect was still the same if not better because it required us to share and scoot closer together. A sense of belonging can be encouraged by simple physical proximity. The video also related to Mother’s day and immediately was lent greatly validity and relevance.
We meandered through several questions I had prepared during our time together. I did NOT expect a specific answer to searching questions. Rather, I was interested to see where the conversation would lead, trusting that those participating would remain close to their true identity as they shared their experiences and emotions. I think many hesitate to open up a dialogue becuase it is too free form and introduces an unnerving amout of uncertainty. My experience has shown me that individual and collective identity craft the conversation in unanticipated yet highly constructive ways. Questions led our group to explore our thoughts and feelings and motivated us to truly consider our perspective in a new light.
All the indicators I have lead me to believe that our time together was well spent. Comments of appreciation, expressions on faces, and an increase of love were the results. How I appreciate the molding of character that happens as we are strecthed to reach beyond ourselves and teach others through love and not lessons.
Joy, wonder, and imagination bring perspective: we take ourselves less seriously, and we are more attentive to the greater world and to finding a sense of home in the exquisite patterns of relationships.
Stewardship is about service to others, not centralizing power to accomplish one’s own ends.