Tips for Keeping Contextual Leadership™ AliveMany thanks to Darla Atwood-Donovan (WLC 5/99) for organizing and clearly articulating our coaching tip from Rayona.
Contextual leadership includes the on going process of distinguishing context from process and content. In addition, contextual leadership initially addresses issues from a framework of context.
It requires a practice of recognizing that process and content (action and structure) are a direct result of the context in which they occur.
A couple of practices that will enable you to more clearly see context are listed below:
1) Have one ‘conversation’ at a time.
You cannot be speaking to someone while also having a conversation with the ‘committee’ that convenes between your ears.
When the ‘committee’ sends you into that black hole of fear and resignation, pick up the phone and call someone from your class, including Jennifer, Stacy or me.
Remember that your mind is like a ‘bad neighborhood,’ you never want to go there alone!
2) Separate facts from the interpretation daily.
Ask the questions, ‘What actually happened?’ ‘What was observable?’ Then listen for the exact words that were said, such as ‘I don’t agree with ‘xyz’ strategy.’ Isolate the actual facts about what happened from the fiction or ‘story.’
Listen to your own and others’ interpretations because that is what is ‘real’ for you or them. It occurs as ‘reality’ in the moment. Separating fact from interpretation is imperative.
Locate the commitment that is shaping your, his or her actions and have a conversation to shift what occurred so that it can be seen as advancing the original commitment.
For instance, ‘Changing the ‘xyz” strategy was senior management’s best attempt to move the company forward given what they could see from their perspective.’
Ask yourself, ‘What does this allow for?’ ‘What does it make possible?’
If you get stuck, call someone from your program (including Jennifer, Stacy or me) and sort it out.
The main thing is to consider the possibility that you are making it all up all of the time. And, since you’re making it all up anyway, why not create an interpretation that would empower what you are committed to?
We are ingenious storytellers. Let’s remember to consciously author our own stories