Archive - Jan 14, 2013

Living Leadership Out Loud

Every month, I head up to Hartford for a CT Health Foundation Health Leadership Fellows Program meeting and I come away with lots of new questions to think about. A couple key ideas that I've personally been focusing on is being more intentional in my actions and more focused on the impact they are having. At the same time, I'm focusing on being more public about what I am thinking and feeling and the questions this brings up. It is interesting to see how these ideas interact.

This month, we spent some time talking about leadership goals we have and skills we want to work on. There seems to be something very powerful about this, and perhaps it is a good question to start every day with. What leadership skills are you going to practice today? What new discovery will you make?

It reminds me of a section from Winnie the Pooh which is quote in the Tao of Pooh:

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
"It's the same thing," he said.

As part of our gathering, we did the The Diversity Shuffle.

[The] exercise helps to encourage discussion about differences and similarities within our communities. This can then be used as a springboard for a dialogue about power differences in our communities and how they can be addressed.

It seemed as if everyone in the group had experienced forms privation and prejudice as well privilege and plenty in different ways. Remembering the some of the experiences was painful for some of us at different times. I found the exercise very empowering. I believe that recognizing the full spectrum of our experiences is something that can help us as leaders, as we try to recruit others to work with us and as we tell stories of what we are trying to address. It was important for me that this took place in a safe environment where I could explore my background, my feelings about that background, and think about how it fits with my leadership style.

Two quotes that I often refer back to are, "There but for the grace of God go I", and a great quote from Virginia Woolf, "The only thing wrong with privilege is that not everyone has it." When I think about friends who have led much more difficult lives, I can say, there but for the grace of God go I. I can say the same thing when I think of those with great privilege. Underlying all of this is a fight to get things, too often thought of as privileges; housing, a good education, health care, healthy food, etc., to be recognized as a right, or at least a privilege that everyone should have.

The exercise was done after we had seen the movie, Race: The Power of an Illusion: The House We Live In.

The movie is close to an hour long, but it is well worth spending time watching and thinking about. It is so tempting to think about the United States with a mixed race President as being post-racial, but I suspect many of us don't know or fully comprehend the impact of U.S. racial policies in the twentieth century.

One of the big questions that whole day left me with is, what are the policies of our country today that people will look back with horror at a century from now? Is there something we should be learning from Sandy Hook or the death of Aaron Swartz?

Perhaps the biggest lesson is one that we all need to be reminded of on a regular basis, especially as we think about political leaders. Perhaps the real leaders aren't those who think they have all the answers, the real leaders are those who aren't afraid to search for new questions. The Health Leadership Fellows Program is helping me in this search for new questions and I hope these blog posts will help you search for new questions as well.

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