Sunday, February 24, 2008

The View from the Balcony

Understanding the concepts of the Leadership Diamond and putting them into use are two very different things. When you are in the heat of the moment, locked in a debate with someone with strong opinions, struggling to make yourself heard, it is difficult to keep your vision (what you are trying to create as a result of your effort), ethics (how your actions will affect others), and reality (the real, and undeniable facts) in the forefront of your mind. While locked in a struggle with others the desire to win, to make your point, and to show your courage, will often hide more rational thoughts.

However, my good friend, Ray Patchett, has taught me that this is the exact moment when you can be most effective by taking a moment to mentally step from the stage, where you are one of the players, into the balcony, where you can see the entire play unfold. This mental leap up into the cheap seats gives you a new perspective of the entire drama. You can see each of the players and the roles they have assumed, the audience (those affected by the outcome of the drama), the theater (the environment in which the play is taking place), the props (the theatrical devices that are part of the play to enhance the effect), and yourself.

When you make a mental move away from the argument to a vantage point that lets you perceive all of the parts, you can more effectively apply the concepts of the Diamond to your role. Although you cannot be responsible for how others will behave, you can be responsible for your performance.

You can practice this in situations at times when you are not an actor, but find yourself to be an engaged observer. Step back to see all of the parts that are being played. Hear the words that are being used that attempt to make each player's points. And, think more clearly about how vision, ethics, reality and courage help to create a space for greatness.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Free Will

Leadership begins with recognizing that we are free to choose; free to choose our beliefs and attitudes, free to acknowledge our anxiety, and to turn the energy that anxiety creates into a positive force for change. This freedom is, in and of itself, a force to be reckoned with. Once free will is accepted and embraced, you become fully aware that you are accountable for the choices you make. You are accountable for how you exercise your free will.

Now this all sounds very dark and negative - all this talk about anxiety can be a bit oppressive. However, the interesting thing is that once you become comfortable with the idea that you have free will, and that you have the ability and the right to choose your path, a huge burden is lifted from your shoulders. You no longer are the "victim of circumstances"; you are no longer "just an employee" with no say in how the organization is run; you are no longer forced to follow others to ends that you do not support. This is an extraordinarily empowering experience. And, it is an experience that has its roots within you, within your decision to embrace your free will and accountability.

That is the philosophical part of this post...

I would be interested in hearing your comments on:
  • How free will and accountability work for you
  • How you have dealt with those who would take away your right to free will
  • What difficulties this concept of free will poses for you
  • Or, other comments that come to mind.

Thanks for participating in the Leadership Diamond Blog.

Jim E

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Basic Leadership Diamond

We will be having many discussions about the Leadership Diamond, and how it applies to life, the universe, and everything (to quote Douglas Adams). So, just to make the corners of the diamond visible to all, I am posting this diagram summarizing, in the most basic terms, the concepts of the diamond. 

In general the basic concepts are: 

Vision:Having a clear vision of what it is you are trying to create as a result of your effort is essential to being able to know how to apply the other points of the diamond. 

Ethics, as it is used in the Diamond model is more than behaving within the law. The Diamond uses this term to describe an attitude of care and empathy for humanity, and how our actions affect others. It includes our ability to dedicate ourselves to the well being of another human being.

For me, courage is the action point of the Diamond. It takes courage to face the challenges that stand between today's reality and the vision of the future. It takes courage to change the status quo. It takes courage to move when others are against you. It takes courage to begin change.

Being connected to the real world is essential for success. You cannot live in a fantasy world. You must face the realities of today - the moral, financial, legal, and physical realities. You cannot pretend that realities do not exist. However, once you are grounded in reality, you can begin to see the steps necessary to deliver on the vision you have in mind.

Conflict and contradiction are part of life. The world is filled with cases where you will be faced with polarities - conflicts between two ideals or choices. What you will discover is that the world is not black or white, good or evil, right or wrong. You soon find that the world is comprised of polarities where both cases are valid - it is black AND white, it is good AND evil, at the same time. Balancing polarities is part of mastering the Leadership Diamond.

This is perhaps the most difficult of the basic concepts of the Diamond. To me, greatness comes about when a person has pushed the points of the Diamond to their maximum extent. When your vision is as grand as you can make it, when your ethical base is as strong as possible, when you are aware of all of the realities surrounding you, and when your courage is at its peak, you can achieve greatness.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Start at the Beginning - Resources


Every journey begins with the first step. And, every blog begins with the first entry.

For those of you who are not acquainted with Dr. Koestenbaum, or the concepts of the Leadership Diamond, it might be a good idea start with some information that will help you put your mind into the proper frame of reference. Therefore, this first blog entry will give you a few references and resources that may prove useful.

Dr. Koestenbaum has written a number of books that will be mentioned from time to time in these posts. Of his many works, the two that will probably be of most use to the participants in this blog will be the following:

Leadership - The Inner Side of Greatness

The Philosophic Consultant - Revolutionizing Organizations with Ideas

In addition, more information is available about Dr. Koestenbaum and his work at his web site, (Philosophy in Business).

The next blog entry will begin to deal with the concepts of the leadership diamond. You are invited to post, comment, participate, challenge, and think deeply about leadership, greatness, and your role in making your organization the best that it can be.

Welcome, and thank you for your participation.

PS - If you would like to be able to make new posts, in addition to your ability to comment on existing posts, let me know by including your name, email address, and a statement about your interest in a comment to any post on this blog. I will be happy to change the blog settings to allow others to be authors of content.

As you might expect, I reserve the right to keep the discussion on topic, respectful of others, and focused on learning and developing our understanding of leadership.