“You Have To Do It By Yourself, and You Can’t Do It Alone.” – Martin Rutte
The personal growth industry is very large and growing at a rapid pace. More people at looking for the quick fix found in a book or online program. Many are attempting to increase their skills and capacities with self study, seminars, or networking groups, without the aid of an experienced mentor or guide.
I am wringing out this post while attending the Extraordinary Leadership Seminar in Richmond, Virginia, for three days. The seminar is based on the work of psychologist Murray Bowen, known for his Bowen Family Systems Theory. There are lectures in the mornings and coaching in the afternoons. The bulk of the learning happens in the coaching time. This is a three-year journey, with three seminars each year of three days each. It’s a major commitment of time. It’s a major leap forward in understanding myself and in strengthening my own leadership skills.
Learning is a process of discovery, digestion, and application, so this pattern really allows for leaders to step into a new way of being. In order to transform an idea into reality, or to transform an organization, leaders first transform themselves.
Reading one book, or attending one or several conferences or seminars, does not have the same quality of lasting impact on one’s results and personal growth as attending a live event and having a capable coach.
I have learned more in the past two years than I learned in my first 64 years of life. I am empowered to provide better support to my clients because I have improved myself.
Here are some summary notes with my take-aways from this three-day experience:
Notes About Leader Dynamics and Their Impact on Organizational Functioning:
(Expressed in Bowen Family Systems Theory principles – Bowen terms are in BOLD) *
- To build a high-functioning team, a leader continually works on self to become high-functioning. To improve how a group, a team, or an organization functions, its leader changes how s/he functions.
- When a leader becomes anxious, that anxiety transfers to the people s/he leads. This causes the people s/he leads to replace thinking with feeling. This results in emotional interactions and decisions that impair productivity.
- A leader avoids the urge to tell others what to do because of this over-functioning that causes them to under-function, and this, in turn, causes the system to be over-reliant on the leader or to not function at all.
- A leader observes when s/he has been drawn into triangles in relationships, and connects the other two sides of the triangle, instead of being a go-between or fixer. A leader observes triangles among others in the organization and advises them in how they can deal with these effectively, instead of doing this for them. Triangles always exist and are neither good nor bad. They can be the source of conflict, however.
- To improve a marriage relationship, the leader develops a better differentiation of self, comes to value and support his/her partner’s authentic differentiation of self, and reduces his/her fusion with the partner.
- A high-functioning leader is aware of his or her family history, and of how those behaviors impact his or her current functioning by being conscious of the multigenerational transmission process.
- A high-functioning leader moves toward conflict calmly, remaining separate, open, and equal.
In challenging times, good leaders shine and poor leaders are exposed as ineffective. In many situations, the fate of organizations rests on the skill of the leader. The way decisions are made, and the effectiveness of the team’s performance, are keys to success in tough, as well as prosperous, times.
I enjoy cutting through all the BS lingo taught by consultants who focus on theory, and moving the conversation to finding out what’s really going on – and what’s not working. Typically, at the bottom of low profit is low performance by the leader and team. I work with leaders to stop accepting mediocrity and installing the DNA of excellence as a high-functioning leader and team, creating a new track to massive, sustainable pathways to increased profitability.
I love this work.
If you have feedback or specific questions on leadership or team performance, please send me a message and I’ll get back to you.
* For more information on Bowen Family Systems Theory, see this book by Roberta Gilbert: Extraordinary Leadership: Thinking Systems, Making a Difference.