Mentoring Leaders for Bold Tomorrows
Individual Mentoring or Custom In-house Group Programs
Publishing and Speaking
In this Issue:
Creatively Leading the Human Endeavor
In Leader Mentoring: Find, Inspire and Cultivate Great Leaders, Michael Shenkman makes the case that mentoring differs from instruction, teaching, and coaching in that it emphasizes not talents and skills used in executing a project but the qualities and values of life that are needed to sustain oneself in the creative endeavor. "No mentors, no leaders," he says, adding, "I want my new book to strongly advocate for leader mentoring as an essential, premium developmental service that aspiring leaders and their sponsors, bosses and partners need to invest in."
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Spring is fully underway, its promise nearly fulfilled. Even the gloom of our economic winter seems to be giving way, ever so grudgingly, to brighter days.
Still, looming specters haunt our dreams. We create exciting miracles of technical mastery, and yet the very systems and exquisite machines we have created seem able to turn on us. These marvels spawn a dark side as grand, complex and ubiquitous as the accomplishments of antibiotics, the Internet, cell phones and global transportation.
Lest we be discouraged, remember that leaders respond to disturbing concerns with striking practical insights and forceful energy. In our definition, creative leaders transform more expansive and more encompassing possibilities into realities. In the Arch, we speak about “bold tomorrows” and “aspirations” to something “more” that pulls us onward. And so, isn’t the Spring of ’09 the best time for leaders to step forward?
Our Janus-Headed Achievements
Here’s the yin and yang of our time, compressed into a couple of dichotomies: A recent article in the New York Times “Week in Review” section (May 24, 2009) spoke about the prospect that robots and computers powered by artificial intelligence (AI) will be able, within the next decade, to overtake human capabilities to produce ideas and solve complex problems. To drive that point home, a recent bit on “The Daily Show” even featured a robotic teacher created in a Japanese laboratory. This is one side, the awesome power of our machines.
Then, in the same day’s New York Times, there was an article about Jim Collins (of Good to Great fame), who tracks his time with stopwatches to be sure that he spends at least 50% of his time in learning and creativity. That is the other side, the limitless horizons of human creativity.
And finally, this: I recently attended a talk given by a client who is an expert in the field of Systems of Systems (SoS). This discipline combines systems into larger complexes that have the ability to be flexible, reactive and even anticipatory by using self-organization models (the same models that drive the work of the Arch of Leadership). He described how Sandia National Laboratories is using SoS to deal with threats such as cyber and nuclear terrorism, pandemics, financial meltdowns, global warming and asymmetric warfare. The results are exciting, encouraging and can ease the restless dreams that haunt our sleep.
At the end of the talk, he noted that no known algorithm currently in existence fully predicts or adequately engages the range of the real consequences of our world’s increasing complexity. He asked the audience to consider that we humans must bring our organized, learned and collaboratively created best, in order to lead the way and harness these vast and complex accomplishments to our best intentions and capabilities.
“So, what about me—what can I do?” you ask. Although we cannot lead creatively in everything we do, nor can we be creative in all the moments in which we are leading, we can be sure that in some way, in some time, in some part or aspect of what we do (in our jobs or as volunteers), we lead creatively. How do you know if you are leading creatively? Ask yourself these questions:
When you act in ways that allow you to answer these questions in the affirmative, you are doing precisely what technological algorithms cannot do. Only leaders can do these things. All of us, offering our leading, form the ultimate System of Systems. Together, we create the only algorithm that is up to the challenge of enriching the human endeavor and our earth, allowing us to assure the bursting of joyful and hope-filled Springs now and into the future.
- Does my leading bring more people together, to foster health, enthusiasm, justice and well-being for all?
- Am I willing to give my best effort, even at the expense of my rate of profit, or personal success, to assure that this happens?
- Does my leading offer more people a chance to emerge from their fears, realize their own aspirations and take on their own leading with courage?
- Does my leading inspire people to learn, study, and deepen their awareness about the larger world around them?
- Does my leading put real products, services, or organizations in place that provide for the expanded and more encompassing well-being of all people and nature?