Thursday, October 31, 2013

ILA Montreal - Thursday

More attendees. More choices. Yet, as one attendee remarked, a lot of similar content and repetition of presenters. There is a small hint of an "inner circle" and comfortable schools of thought.

None of that detracts from some stellar panels and papers. It does make my circle read the program more carefully and rethink some of our earlier choices.

Tonight's debrief at the bar (which was more about convenience at the hotel and less about the liquids) focused on the type of papers we would like to present. Theory needs to be balanced with practice - and not just the academic working world or the consultant world view, although those are fertile grounds for new thought and experimentation.

Today though saw some repackaging of decades old discoveries: that trust is a key leadership need for change adoption; online forums can't replace face to face relationships; women are not succeeding in the leadership space as well as men....

The forums are more competitive than collaborative; there is more emphasis on being "right" or 1st than there seems to be in driving to share knowledge across forums and institutions. Which is why my afternoon discussion, facilitated by Martha Miser of Aduro Consulting and Richard Warm from the Center for Wisdom in Leadership, was fascinating.  They truly opened the floor and a few minds.

Tomorrow, I think I will move away from the leadership theorists and listen to some issue-based material (gender, arts, interdisciplinary approaches). Plus there is a book room where I am sure more treasures and finds await!

ILA Montreal - precon

What a kick off for a great conference! The preconference sessions were all excellent....and that doesn't happen often.  Being here with several co-workers and a few friends, we had almost enough coverage to attend everything.

I was able to be part of an all-day session on Aprreciative Inquiry hosted by the pioneer herself, Amanda Trosten-Bloom. I plan to buy the books now and see if I can attend a full workshop.  I was able to immediately apply the principles and am already able to bring a new idea to work this coming Monday.

Others attended sessions on creativity, resilience, and challenges women can face as leaders. At dinner, not one voice in the crowd was silent.  We all had stories of great "aha!" moments and shared late into the evening. (yet I was the only one who was not on time today. sigh)

I will update this post with links next week. Meanwhile check out the ILA conference agenda and speakers and enjoy!

Monday, October 28, 2013

ILA Montreal

This week, I'm attending the International Leadership Association's conference, held for 2013 in Montreal (my home town!).

I've arrived a few days early to run some planning sessions for work and get to Simon's for their wonderful flannel sheets... maybe hit Scarpa or Chou Chou for footwear if my Vogs don't cause enough of a stir.

I'll be tweeting as "aha!"s strike and attempting to summarize the day here - after the socializing and before I fall asleep. If you're at the conference, please find me ...if the blue boots & red hair are not a great in-person indicator, please send me a direct tweet ; it is always a joy to expand the community!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The “aha!” moment

Is it a moment when you feel that you realize something (an accomplishment, a new idea) or is it more like a moment when you learn something about yourself or realized you grew as a result of an experience?


(It’s fascinating - this need to pin everything /word /meaning to one exact intent. I think this is why the legal profession runs the world now, interpreting common sense and grey areas into financial gain for those who believe their interpretation was better.)

An “aha!” moment is when something prompts you to say “aha!” Why you say “aha!” might be different every time. It doesn’t matter why; it matters that we have the moment and note it.

Why note it? So you can decide if you wish to celebrate, change or repeat whatever made you say “aha!”

What is terrific about the “aha!” moment is that it is private and personal unless you choose to share. It’s the fire that lights us up. It’s the door opening to possibilities. It’s an end, beginning and middle.


Monday, October 21, 2013


Keep in mind that there are two kinds of creativity:
1 – Bringing to light something net new /something from nothing – fewer of us do this
2 – Evolving something new from something existing – all of us do this

Problem solving is creativity. Advice is sharing past creativity. Mentoring reflects creativity.

Robin Altman of Radiate Coaching has a great video outlining the difference between creativity (problem solving) and being artistic (a talent like the ability to dance well).

Everyone can get better at creativity and everyone has the capability to develop their talents. Not all of us will evolve talent from chopsticks to Carnegie Hall… but there are many milestones between the two spaces.

When a mentoree (or mentor) says: “I can’t”… maybe they really mean: “I’m scared.” If you have passion for the subject, chances are you can advance your ability. Ask “why” or “why not?”  That simple conversation alone will lead to more creativity in your approach.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The “S” list

Exploring the different kinds of mentors there are... We either do these things for others or we seek them for ourselves.

Continuing with "S":

sediment-or:                Asks you to dig right to the bottom
segment-or:                 Helps you break down a problem into its components
sentiment-or:               Puts into words all that you’re feeling
settlement-or:              Peacemaker
solacement-or:             Empathizer
-or:             Wakes you up
statement-or:               Takes your brand to new heights
supplement-or:            Provides further information

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

5 steps to saying "no"

The recipe I find works the best is:

1 – Don’t start with the word “no”.
Because then folks immediately stop listening to anything else you have to say.

2 – Ask questions before you answer the request.

Even if you know you’ll say “no,” maybe there is more information you need.

Asking questions also helps you determine if they are asking because you are the secret sauce to success or because they need a warm body.
·         Why do you need my help vs. ___’s?
·         How does this help advance the agenda my team has?

3 – Make the questions open (How? Why? Explain?)
Once someone says “yes” or “no,” then the ball is back in your court. Keep them talking. Have them work out why they need you… or that it’s more hassle to explain it to you than ask someone else.

4 – Close by offering to help in some way.
·         I can ask a few folks for you but you’ll also have to keep asking. I’ll let you know immediately if someone volunteers.
·         I could read the document as an extra set of eyes when it’s done if that would help?

5 – Follow up with a short note that restates your close (#4).

Sharing a few articles I like on this topic.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Thinking before speaking

There are two questions I ask myself before I start to speak at meetings:
1 - Does anyone really need to know that I know that?
2 - Have I established how we are "alike / like-minded" before I launch into how we are not alike?

The first question serves to still the inner voice that says things like: omg I just said that 20 minutes ago!... or …I know a better idea... or …I agree! Look at me! …or (my favourite) …How dumb are you??  We all know that voice even if yours isn’t as much like a teenager as mine. (thoughts on a 3 year-old’s voice having a tantrum in my head is for another post)

The second question is around establishing the relationship before I offer an idea/opinion. It allows for comfort for the other parties that I am trying to listen first vs. bulldoze and creates some trust by offering a context for me and my place in the dynamics of what we are trying to accomplish.

As I tell my mentorees, it doesn’t always work. Sometimes my inside voice gets out before I can slap a hand over its mouth. Sometimes folks will be determined to see everyone as on the opposite side of whatever is the issue. It’s always worth trying.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Passion vs. Fear

It all boils down to two drivers: Passion; and Fear.

We make all our decisions by being passionate about the outcome or because we are compelled by thoughts of worse outcomes.

Passion can take the form of excitement, strong belief, joy or other compelling emotion that lets you charge past doubt. Fear can seem like shame, avoidance, worry or other overriding emotion from your gut.

I’m going to learn a new skill because I’m genuinely interested or because my job or rating is at stake if I don’t. I may buy a house because it’s my dream to have a space I own or because, while I have no desire to fix my own toilet, I am worried that housing will slowly grow out of my price range as a renter.

Like money, neither motivator one is good/bad; it’s all in how and why they are applied. Driving defensively to avoid an accident is fear-based and a great decision.

Most of our decisions/actions appear to be a result of fear-based reasoning. This is often why change feels much harder and larger than the potential step required of us. Asking for mentorship can feel huge. Building a network can feel very outside our comfort zone.

We will feel what we feel but we can choose how we act – always.