In August of 2011, I started one of my favorite PhD classes, Organizational Theory. I learned something in my first evening of class that deeply informed the way I see leadership, and the daily ins and outs of conflict and debate we all have to navigate. And it all started with sitting on top of my desk.
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How can you see Leadership Problems in a new way?
In August of 2011, I started one of my favorite PhD classes, Organizational Theory. I learned something in my first evening of class that deeply informed the way I see leadership, and they daily ins and outs of conflict and debate we all have to navigate. And it all started with sitting on top of my desk.
Welcome to the Kind Leadership Challenge, where I empower educational and library leaders like you to heal your organizations! I’m Sarah Clark, founder of the Kind Leadership Guild. My PhD in higher ed Leadership, my experience coaching, consulting, and presenting to library leaders all over the world, and a career working in academic libraries from the front desk to the Dean’s office taught me that leaders don't have to be perfect to build a better world. And now I want to share those same lessons with you.
Here's the deal. You give me the next 5-10 minutes of your day. In return, I'll share short stories and simple challenges you can implement this week to heal yourself and your school or library. Each challenge is designed to coach you in the confidence, skill, and trust you need to let go of a little control. By embarking on each week’s challenge on your own or with the community of over 1000 kind leaders in our private facebook group, you and your team will begin growing humanely, managing effectively, and partnering collaboratively, and your school or library will build a more informed and educated world along the way.
On May 30th I’ll be releasing a free Kind Leadership Guild Guide—Mastering Challenging Conversations. It’s a quick reference guide that will guide you step by step through planning, conducting, and moving forward from a challenging leadership conversation. This is a free gift to all email subscribers, so head on over to this episode’s link in the show notes, enter your email, and you’ll get it the guide as soon as it goes live.
After discussing the concept of theoretical lenses and how different ones might be more or less useful for making sense of particular situations we might encounter as higher ed leaders, our professor led us in an exercise that helped bring this concept home. She divided the class into thirds, instructed some of us to sit or stand on top of the desks, some to lie on the ground, and the rest to stay seated. After 60 seconds of looking around the room, we took our seats and wrote brief descriptions of what we had seen. (the clock, a mark on one of the ceiling tiles, a chair leg, whatever) As you can imagine, each of the groups described a very different view.
Now, being an overeducated librarian nerd, I’ve read plenty of social theory in my day. On a simpler level, I’ve long been a fan of the “two sides to every story” argument, and even instinctively knew that “the truth” can often appear very different depending on how you look at it. That’s why I spend so much time on this podcast talking about separating facts versus story, and emphasizing how important it is to listen to others’ perspectives.
However, for some reason that concrete exercise helped me understand that one doesn’t need to latch on to one way of viewing the world for all time, but rather swap around an ever-evolving set of “lenses” through which to view the world, knowing that different things will “light up” depending on the lens you’re using—sort of like popping on a set of readers for close-up work, or those blue light glasses that help you stare at screens all day without getting a headache. Using a framework to view the world is not an either/or proposition, but rather a both/and, utilizing the framework(s) that make sense for making sense out of a given situation.
Because here’s the blunt, and sometimes painful truth. There's no one "right" answer to probably 90-95% of all leadership problems. That’s why leaders are called leaders—we have to guide our organizations through all those messy shades of grey. The good news is there's often several "good enough" answers, one of which may well be the "best" for your situation. The one you decide to implement should be the one that is kindest for your team and those you serve.
This Weeks Challenge: I want you to think about a problem you’ve been a bit stuck on. And I want you to make a list of some different perspectives or values you could use to consider the situation through. If you’re stumped, I’m going to link to an article in the show notes that describes the model I teach for making kind decisions through six different lenses. And then make your decision. Don’t strive for perfect, just good enough.
Come on over to the facebook group and share how your challenge went in the episode thread, or email me if you’d prefer to be anonymous. Thanks for listening and for taking action to become a kinder leader. If you found this week’s episode insightful, give it a like or review—or even better, share this challenge with a colleague! 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.