Nelson Mandela: The Responsible Use of Power Lesson Two: Be a Bifocal Leader

NUGGET:  Great leaders have bi-focal sight:  they simultaneously focus on today and the longer term future. When we said goodbye to Nelson Mandela in 2013, I looked back on some of the lesser known insights from that amazing time of transformation in South Africa – a time that I participated in.  I thought about many things, including an amazing and courageous decision that Mandela and his cohorts on Robben Island made early in their incarceration. To set the stage, recall that Mandela was imprisoned in 1964 and was not released until February 11, 1990.  The new South African Constitution was not ratified until 1996, with the first nationwide democratic elections… Read More

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Nelson Mandela: The Responsible Use of Power Lesson One: Awareness

NUGGET: A leadership role carries special responsibilities and powers.  The first lesson is to be aware that as a formal leader you speak and act for your group, your institution, your cause.  You are no longer just “you,” but are also your role. In 1983 I was invited to give a series of talks in South Africa.  That invitation launched me on a long, intense, and varied relationship with that country, its people, and many public and private institutions, including living there from 1992-1999.   South Africa is still my second home, so the death of Nelson Mandela has special personal significance. In 1983, international sanctions against South Africa were in… Read More

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Introducing the SHADOW Side of Power On Power in the Changing World of Work

NUGGET: Become increasingly aware of the “shadow” that goes with formal leadership roles.  It can derail your best leadership intentions – but also holds immense potential energy for leverage, learning and legacy! It was 1958, my 8TH grade (Standard 6) year.  I was part of the oldest group in the school.   We had all looked forward to this time.  Some of us, including me were asked to be on the school patrol.  Wow!  I was psyched – my first formal power role.  Like others on the patrol, I was given a silver badge mounted on a thick brown belt that I wore diagonally across my chest and around my waist. … Read More

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Think BIGGER About Change The Case FOR Failures

NUGGET: Failure is a critical ingredient for complex change and today’s “failure” may be an important step in a larger journey.  Don’t give up when somebody says, “We tried that and it didn’t work.” Rather check whether the change is worth pursuing now.  Then ask, “What worked and didn’t work last time? How are our needs today different or more intense?    What did we learn that can help us be successful this time? Some people are surprised about the emerging global policy changes related to Syria and Iran.  I am not.  When seen through the lens of larger change dynamics, the new openness and global consensus related to both of… Read More

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Think BIGGER About Change The Case FOR Polarization

NUGGET:  We demonize polarization (it does have its dark side) but it’s an important dynamic that helps fuel complex change processes.  When it is most intense, it is a signal that the likelihood of breakthrough may be near.  So, don’t be afraid of polarization.  Stimulate it, and then find ways to transform it into more robust and next generation solutions and agreements. Okay, we in the US (and you in the rest of the world) are probably fed up with the polarization in the US Congress.  It is befuddling, frustrating and is leaving a long tail of destruction even if and when compromise or new kinds of solutions occur.  It’s… Read More

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The Lonely, Often Murky World of the Change Agent

NUGGET: Change, by definition, is something new and culturally unsupported. In its initial stages it is only fueled by one or a few people’s vision or desire for something different. This is true even when the change has institutional backing. It takes courage and commitment to get any change going. When that’s your job, be prepared to launch into headwinds! It’s difficult and often lonely to be somebody who is spearheading changes in organization processes, systems, and more. If you resonate with this statement, then you are, like me, a change agent – a business or government leader, an academic or professional who develops people, a person who is passionate… Read More

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Welcome to: Stirring the Pot

It’s pretty clear that today’s is a rapidly changing (and quite challenging) world of work.  The question I would like to explore is, what does it mean for you as a  leader and participant, or as someone who influences others in those roles? I believe that the changes going on are occurring at a deeper level that is often not well explored; that it is vitally important to step back, think about, and really take a look at what the changes around us mean and how we can and will respond.  It’s difficult to do this because things are moving so fast and all of us seem to be drowning… Read More

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