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Leadership

Keep a light touch

“Each time a facilitator does something for a group, he or she deprives others of a chance to be responsible.” – Janoff and Weisbord A number of times in this text, I have offered gentle advice about keeping a ‘light touch’. There are so many layers beneath the apparent simplicity of this advice. When teaching facilitation I often advise students to keep a ‘light touch’. There are so many layers beneath the app
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What makes great dialogue: conversations with depth and delight

Thinking about facilitation. I ran a session at Sydney Facilitators Network last month. The question was “What nurtures great dialogue?” We ran a ‘fish bowl’ role play with seven people conducting a dialogue, the rest of us paying close attention to the dynamics. The instruction to observers was to stay more alive to process than to the content. When the role play finished I asked for two observers to debrief each di
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Performance Conversations

In the past year I have done quite a few training sessions on performance management. The sessions confirmed my suspicion that the Australian working culture is abysmal at performance feedback. Contrary to the popular stereotype of blunt, frank and open communication, in our workplaces we are, in the main, unassertive, indirect, ironic, passive and excessively accommodating. With some rare exceptions – the people who
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Performance Conversations

In the past year I have done quite a few training sessions on performance management. The sessions confirmed my suspicion that the Australian working culture is abysmal at performance feedback. Contrary to the popular stereotype of blunt, frank and open communication, in our workplaces we are, in the main, unassertive, indirect, ironic, passive and excessively accommodating. With some rare exceptions – the people who
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Catalysts for Capital

They came from Bega, Bombala, Pambula, Tathra, Cooma, Queanbeyan and Canberra. Eight workshops over eight months in six regional locations. Fourteen business and community leaders throughout the Capital Region of NSW and the ACT, celebrated the end of the Leaders 4 Capital regional development program in Canberra on Saturday 27 June. Sponsored by the Capital Regional Development Board and a range of local shires, the
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New horizon for library leaders

The inaugural CAVAL Horizon Executive Library Leadership 2008/09 program attracted senior library professionals from six Australian states and the north island of New Zealand. Participants came from national, state, university and government libraries. The program consisted of two face-to face residential workshops, four tele-workshops, and the use of online discussion and social networking media. Exposure to and dia
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Running talus: the dynamic overcomes the static

Talus is the frost shattered rock that always lies at the base of every mountain, between the trail and the peak. Getting around on it is hell. Until you develop the experience to know that moving slowly and carefully is a lot harder than moving fast. To move faster requires full attention, 100 per cent focus and confidence.
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Toughing out the touchie-feelies

From time to time I encounter people who characterise what I do as ‘touchy-feely’ – often without having any direct experience of what I actually do. This has caused me to reflect on the issues raised by the use of this and similar phrases. The key issue is power. Touchy-feely is a derisive term which I suspect is linked to gender, and is code for “don’t be such a girl.” (I wonder if male facilitators encounter this
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Teaching Theory U

I was trying to explain Otto Scharmer’s Theory U to a workshop group. It is heady stuff, and I was making it hard going. One table of participants, though polite, were bored and frustrated. I gave them an exercise on ‘listening’ to explore Scharmer’s ideas (open mind, open heart, open will). My colleague Chia sat with the group. Suddenly one of the participants exclaimed in astonishment at her
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Distributed leadership

In many workshops I manage, someone will come up and say: “the problem with this organisation is that the executives never listen. They don’t have a clue (or don’t care) what happens on the front line.” This complaint is neither new nor surprising. Front line staff have little experience of the the difficult decisions confronting senior staff.
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