Leadership Lab Introduction

We expect too much from leaders. We overestimate their importance.

Don’t get me wrong I’m a fan of leaders. I’m close friends’ with leaders who’ve made a material difference in the lives of thousands of people.

Twenty years ago, a large organization hired me as their Director of Leadership Development. I quickly discovered I wasn’t qualified to give them what they really wanted — which was a gifted orator.

While I was there, I interviewed staff about what they thought leadership looked like. I often used the video question; “Tell me about someone who exhibits great leadership. Now imagine you’re watching a video of this person except the sound is turned off.

…Continued from Jim Henderson Leadership Labs

Describe what you are seeing. What is this leader doing that makes such an indelible mark on you?

Asking the video question forces people to identify the specific behaviors their favorite leader exhibited. That’s the gold standard.

Here’s what I heard over and over again. The most memorable leaders are those who show up, don’t whine, and work to bring out the best in those who follow them. Most of all they’re great listeners.

Essentially, leaders are people who do stuff. They aren’t always talkers, they’re often introverts and most of the time they prefer not to be called leaders.

Our Leadership Labs help organizational leaders solve their most persistent and pernicious problems

For the past 4 years I’ve worked closely with Major Kelly Collins, Commander of The Heartland Division of The Salvation Army. The Heartland Divisional leaders have been using my 3Q Check In System to provide one-on-one support to their staff. 3Q lays the leadership development foundation, providing people a pathway to become skilled organizational listeners.

Major Collins expressed an interest in a leadership development process to address the most persistent and pernicious problems in her organization. Because we had worked closely on fine-tuning 3Q for her organization, we both knew what those problems were: Communication, Organizational Listening, Engagement, Power Relationships, Focus, Cross-functional Influence, Breakthrough Thinking, Leadership Development, Siloing.

With that as my impetus, I partnered with my long time friend and fellow student-of-leadership Jeff Smith in designing a series of trainings that are short on reading and long on practice … short on the theoretical and long on what’s doable.

Each Leadership Lab pairs a problem with a solution leaders can practice immediately. 

When it comes to human beings all real change occurs when we… 

1. Act differently

2. Feel differently 

3. Think differently 

All change begins with small doable actions. 

Then the feelings follow. This is critical because we are, at heart, emotional beings 

Then what we think about ourselves, others, and our organization changes

This is our training theory. 

I hope you’ll join us for the 2019 Leadership Labs. If you can’t, or don’t wish to take in the whole series, you’re more than welcome to a single Lab if there’s space available.

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Here are the leadership problems we’re addressing in the 2019 Leadership Labs 

January: Communication: Manage your reactivity and minimize misunderstandings | Key Text: Radical Candor by Kim Scott

Leaders will identify their personal avoidance /dominance strategies and practice bringing specificity to conversations with those they lead

February: Listening:  Listening is the mark of a leader | Key Text: Radical Candor by Kim Scott 

Leaders will practice out-listening others and inviting critique from the people they supervise.

March: Emotional Labor: Experience the work of defining yourself and staying connected | Key Text:  A Failure of Nerve by Edwin Friedman

Leaders will practice identifying and disrupting toxic triangles and cultivating healthy triangles.

April: Power: Power is at the center of every human interaction | Key Text: The Power Paradox Dacher Keltner

Depending on where they fall on the power continuum, Leaders will practice acquiring power, managing power or giving power away to those they supervise.

May: Focus: Expand your effectiveness by narrowing your focus | Key Text: The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout

Leaders will practice saying no to opportunities that aren’t part of their mission. 

June: Influence: If you want to get heard you have to get a hearing  | Key Text: Expand Your Influence by Jim Henderson and Jeff Smith

Leaders will discover the limits of their personal influence and practice expanding it without becoming someone they don’t like.

July: Crossing Domains: travel to new places in your leadership thought life | Key Text: Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

Leaders will practice the critical art of thinking a thought they’ve never thought before by borrowing (stealing) from the creativity of innovators in business, sports, music, spirituality, cartography and biology.

August: Leaders v. leadership: What does leadership looks like? What do leaders do? | Key Text: Acts of Leading by Jim Henderson

What if we don’t need more Leaders, what if what need is more leadership? What if a lot of people are already acting like leaders but going unnoticed? Leaders will practice the art of noticing leadership that’s already taking place around them. They will also learn how inspire and encourage more of it.

September: Curiosity: It might kill cats but it could also save humanity | Key Text: The Three Practices by Jim Henderson 

Leaders will practice being unusually interested in others and generously dispensing the most important asset any leader has – attention!

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