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Tool Box: Resources for Developing the Three Fundamental Leadership Skills

Tool Box: Resources for Developing the Three Fundamental Leadership Skills

In my last newsletter I wrote about the three fundamental leadership skills that I talk about with every client:

  • taking clear stands
  • staying connected
  • managing your own reactivity

Here’s the trick: It’s much, MUCH easier to talk about these things than it is to actually do them. Do you know what I mean? How often have you known exactly what you need to say in a heated team meeting, and not said it? Or said it in such a way that people felt steamrolled? How often have you reacted defensively to feedback from a team member, even when you “knew” it was important to stay open?

This is where the power of practice comes in. While your brain may quickly understand the relevance of these three skills to your leadership, being able to use them – to embody them, even under pressure – takes practice. This month, I want to share two resources that are designed specifically to help you practice.

The first thing you’ll notice about these two resources are that they are not books. That’s because reading about something doesn’t necessarily help you do it. (It’s what my teacher Wendy Palmer calls “shelf help.”) They’re both workshops (one from the LIOS Program of Saybrook University, one my own) that provide repeated opportunities to practice each of the three fundamental leadership skills.

InterAct: Skills for Adaptive Leadership

InterAct is a three day workshop, offered by the LIOS Program of Saybrook University (formerly the Leadership Institute of Seattle), that builds the communication and self-management skills necessary to take clear stands without steamrolling and stay connected without getting defensive or taking things personally. It’s designed for leaders and others in strategic organizational roles, and combines theory and models with experiential skill practice.

Here’s how LIOS describes InterAct: “InterAct is an intensive skill-building workshop designed to build participants’ capacity to collaborate in time of intensity.” Now, who couldn’t use more of that? It includes theory, relevant tools and models, and lots and lots of practice.

Full disclosure: I did my graduate training at LIOS (and no, there’s nothing in it for me if you sign up for InterAct), and the skill training I received in the program was very similar to what’s presented in this workshop. I can say without hesitation that I use these skills every day and they are a significant factor in my professional effectiveness.

If you’re intrigued, you can learn more about InterAct here. I’m also happy to field any questions, as is Jeff McAuliffe, the LIOS faculty who teaches InterAct. You can reach Jeff through the LIOS website. The next workshop is scheduled for May 8-10, 2013.

Leadership Embodiment: A Practice for Clarity, Connection, and Presence

Leadership Embodiment is my own offering, and is a two day workshop designed to address the embodied aspect of each of the three fundamental leadership skills. What does that mean? Simply this: that taking clear stands, staying connected, and managing your own reactivity are all skills that require a relaxed, centered body. You can’t think your way into them; you need to retrain your nervous system.

In the Leadership Embodiment workshop, course activities serve as a simulator in which you can discover your habitual patterns of reaction to challenging leadership situations. You’ll also learn the practice of centering, and explore how it allows you to engage with those challenges in a more effective and creative way. The exercises are designed to create deep and lasting effects by repeatedly engaging you in the practice and experience of being centered under pressure.

If you want to know more, you can read about the Leadership Embodiment workshop here. The next course is scheduled for April 25-26, 2013, in Seattle. (Early registration discount ends March 15!)

The bottom line is that developing the capacity to take clear and powerful stands, stay genuinely connected to others, and manage your own reactivity to the pressures and challenges of leadership takes ongoing practice. These two workshops are both good places to start.

What about you? What other resources or practices do you have that build your capacity to take stands, stay connected, and manage your reactivity? How have you come to embody these skills, not just understand them? Please share your comments!

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