Talk about a convenient coincidence! As I was starting to write this final episode of First Principles February, I got a notification from Facebook. The group chat function for the Kind Leadership Challenge community was finally activated! As soon as I got it turned on and invited all 1200 members of our community to start discussing their leadership challenges in real time, it hit me. The third skill of kind leadership is creating collaboratively, where leaders learn to let go of some control, start to trust, and in so doing move toward their organization’s shared vision of a better world. And when it comes to my vision for the Kind Leadership Guild I already have an inkling that our new community features will allow us to do just that.
Download the Kind Leadership Framework
Other Episodes Mentioned:
First Principles February: What Is Kind Leadership? (Challenge #53)
First Principles February: How Can Kindness Make You a Confident Leader? (Challenge #54)
First Principle February: How can Kindness create an excellent organization? (Challenge #55)
To listen to more episodes or subscribe in your favorite app, head to kindleadershipchallenge.com!
Connect with the Guild:
Join the Facebook Community
Follow me on LinkedIn
Next Steps in Kind Leadership:
Go to kindleadershipchallenge.com/conversations and enter your email to start having the conversations that will impact your community for the better.
Curious about coaching? Schedule a free 30 minute chat about a current leadership challenge at https://kindleadershipchallenge.com/coaching.
This episode was produced by Podcast Boutique .
Talk about a convenient coincidence! As I was starting to outline this final episode of First Principles February, I got a notification from Facebook. The group chat function for the Kind Leadership Challenge community was finally activated! As soon as I got it turned on and invited all 1200 members of our community to start discussing their leadership challenges in real time, it hit me. The third skill of kind leadership is creating collaboratively, where leaders learn to let go of some control, start to trust, and in so doing move toward their organization’s shared vision of a better world. And when it comes to my vision for the Kind Leadership Guild I already have an inkling that our new community features will allow us to do just that.
Welcome to the Kind Leadership Challenge, the podcast that empowers principled educational and library leaders to heal their organizations! I’m Dr. Sarah Clark, founder of the Kind Leadership Guild, where I use my PhD in Higher ed leadership and nearly 2 decades of experience in academic libraries to coach leaders like you who want to build a better world without burning out.
Kind Leaders aren’t perfect, and we don’t need to be. We strive to make tough decisions without becoming jerks. We design systems that enable our teams to make a big impact without overworking. And we know that once we stop controlling and start collaborating, even the most ambitious vision can become effortless. Kind Leadership is pretty simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. So if you’re up for a challenge, stick around for the next 10 minutes as I teach you how your school or library can create a resilient, thriving legacy that will strengthen your community long after you’re gone.
Welcome to part four of the First Principles February series, where I guide you through the core skills of Kind Leadership. The Kind Leadership Framework is a tool you can use to grow humanely, manage effectively, and create collaboratively so your organization can build a better world without burning out. As a reminder, you can download a graphic of the framework at kindleadershipchallenge.com/skills. Today we’re focusing on the third and final core skill of the kind leadership framework—creating collaboratively.
If you’ve followed through this series, you’ve already defined the problem that needs healing in your organization, determined what a positive outcome looks like, and created a system to make those things happen. Now, it’s time to get other people involved in solving the problem, including your team, other stakeholders, and the community at large. By bringing them into the conversation, you can collectively create a vision for the better world you wish to see, and begin bringing it into reality. But to make that happen, you must find ways to decrease the toxicity in these interpersonal relationships, and replace it with trust.
As always this month, let’s go back to my problem that I am working on solving right now—figuring out how to sell enough coaching to make the kind leadership guild financially sustainable, while staying true to my personality and my values. Through practicing the skill of growing humanely, I made some decisions about what my outcome might look like. Then, I used the skill of managing effectively to create a sales system that makes sense with my limited time and energy. However, I can’t get where I want to go, and where I want educational and library leadership to go, without bringing more people into the movement, and figure out how we can collaborate in a creative, trusting way.
Like the other two skills of kind leadership, creating collaboratively is a three-step process. Step one is to empower your team, so that you have a trusting, psychologically safe organization to collaborate with. Like it or not, the moment you become “the boss”, you become an intimidating figure. It doesn’t matter if you were promoted from within or hired from outside. You will be faced with some inescapable level of anxiety from your team. It might range anywhere from minor weirdness to a full-on revolt depending on the personalities involved, the situation you are coming into, your perceived competence, and just good old fashioned dumb luck. And that worry will flow both ways. The relationship is new, and the people and even the organization may be new as well. You don’t yet trust them or perhaps even yourself, and take it from the recovering control freak--that’s a recipe for micromanagement.
There are two truths you need to face about this phenomenon. The fact your team doesn’t trust you and that you don’t trust them is not your fault—at least not completely. However, toxicity takes two sides. As the leader it is your responsibility to build a psychologically safe team culture that invites people to trust each other, assume responsibility of what they should control, and let go of the rest in a spirit of trust. There are different ways to tackle this issue depending on exactly what is happening, but they pretty much all start with having a challenging conversation where everyone involved lays their cards on the table, gets honest about their concerns and needs, and comes to a solution that is best for the whole team.
I’ve created a checklist for any leader who needs to have a challenging conversation. You can access it at Kind Leadership challenge.com/conversations. I’ve also done several other episodes on handling interpersonal conflict, and I’ll put links to those episodes in the show notes as well. Right now, I’m really just a team of 1, but I do work with other people to varying degrees, such as my podcast editors. I’ve produced podcasts for the better part of a decade, so it was a bit of a journey of trust to let go of that work, even though I knew that time would be better spent creating resources for all of you. It’s been worth it, and I know if the kind leadership guild grows to the point where I need to add others to the team to optimize my sales and delivery process, I can handle it.
Once you’ve got the solid foundation of a trusting team who is handling things on a daily basis, it’s time to ally with your advocates, specifically your organization’s stakeholders and those you serve. It’s a similar process to empowering your team, albeit a little less stressful. When it comes to your boss, your donors or board, or the community you serve, the secret here is to get to know their concerns and problems, and share how you can help address them, perhaps with some extra resources or political support. THIS is why I was so thrilled at the start of this episode, when I discovered the kind leadership challenge community’s group chat had finally been turned on! Even the quick invitation to introduce each other that I sent out the other day got a lot of activity and responses, and I’m planning to start putting out daily conversation starter questions about the week’s episode, other related topics, and maybe even current events in the education, library, and leadership world. By starting some cool conversations we can get to know each other better, truly connect as a community, and I can better understand your challenges and needs in order to serve you in ways that will create a better world.
Which leads me to the third step of creating collaboratively—achieving a shared vision. Like the processes we discussed last week, a vision is nothing more or less than a decision, though one that is scaled through scope and collaboration across a whole community of allies, not just you or your team. It requires holding your ideas loosely, and letting them be influenced by the perspectives of others who share your desire to create a more educated and informed world. By listening to your team, your stakeholders, and your community, and sharing with them in a spirit of candor and trust, you will each learn what your ideas of a better world look like, and you can come together to create a vision that is much bigger than the sum of your individual perspectives. Every time I lead a workshop, give a presentation, or have a 1 on 1 coaching conversation, my understanding of kind leadership and how it can serve the world grows both more expansive and more nuanced. And when all of us begin working together to heal all our organizations through the power of growing humanely, managing effectively, and creating collaboratively…wow. Maybe we really could make the world a kinder place.
So here’s your challenge this week. I want you to head to kindleadershipchallenge.com/community, sign up if you haven’t already. Among other things, you’ll see the kind leadership challenge group chat pop up in your facebook messenger app and on your facebook sidebar. And I want you to go into the chat and share the answer to one question. How can we help you to make the world a better place?
Thanks as always for listening to the kind leadership challenge, and a special thank you to those of you who listened to the whole of first principles February, episodes 53, 54, 55, and 56. This mini-course was a bit of an experiment, and I may try another similar series later this year. In any case, I’d like you to take a moment to think of someone who might benefit from this week's episode. Then, open your app or head over to kindleadershipchallenge.com/56 and share this episode with them right now. Never doubt that day by day, you’re building a better world, even if you can't see it yet. So until next time, stay kind now.