Leading Comments

Leading Comments / June 2001


Due to the rapid increase in subscriptions to Leadership Opportunity I would like to make sure we are in the same field as you read this e-journal. First, I wish to express my gratitude to the many kindnesses, suggestions and offers of support LeadershipOpportunity has received.

The mission of this e-journal is to be a practical guide to the application of an integral perspective to the challenges of leadership in business and life.

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R & D Invitation

Thanks to those who have responded to the invitation to join an R&D project for about three months. I hope to get this started by mid-July. More information will follow.

We need to understand more about the relationship between the needs of executives and how coaching can support those needs. The Manchester Group has provided a report about this that is very useful. And I think we can do even better.

More specifically, I want to learn more about how the approach offered in A Leadership Opportunity: An Integral Approach can strengthen how development takes place with the support of coaches. This will include consideration of coaching in relation to:

  • business objectives
  • purpose and commitment
  • resources and competence
  • teamwork and innovation
  • engagement with stakeholders

You are invited to join with me in a 3-month (approximately) R&D process to explore these questions. Once or twice a week I will send you an email requesting input and/or feedback. In return, I will share all of the results with you.

I will want to explore some of the ideas in my ebook as a part of this process. Each member of my R&D team will receive a free copy of A Leadership Opportunity: An Integral Approach at some point in the process. The initial questions will be more generic, but you will receive the ebook in plenty of time to review it before we focus more specifically on what it offers.

Who am I looking for? I want individuals who have been or are executives or who have experience coaching executives in business. I would like to get 30 to participate, but I like the open space concept: whoever comes are the right people. I hope you will be one of those people. Just send an email toruss@integraleadershipreview.com and you will be contacted in the next new weeks.

> Russ Volckmann


David Cooperrider, one of the founders of Appreciative Inquiry theory and methodology at Case Western Reserve University recently wrote:

One of the things we have discovered is the most important route to leadership development is simply doing inquiries–every day. We have recently begun work on “an encyclopedia of positive questions” which has hundreds of AI questions in it. What I’m doing is encouraging leaders to take at least one question a day and to find a meeting, a coaching session, or an ad hoc interview to ask the question. Each day a different question. The response has been exciting; leaders are connecting with people in ways which open them to stories they might never hear, and spontaneously is has shifted, for some, how they open every meeting. Relationships are transformed. One President has gotten into the learning so much that he in fact starts every meeting with a new question, for example, on a topic of “optimizing margins”, or great groups, or of positive energy…like this:

Creating and Sustaining Positive Energy Organizations work best when they are vibrant, alive and fun. You know, when the “joint is jumping!” You can sense that the spirit of the organization is vital and healthy and that people feel pride in their work. Everyone builds on each other’s successes, a positive can do attitude is infectious and the glow of success is shared. What’s more, this positive energy is appreciated and celebrated so it deepens and lasts.

  1. Tell me about a time when you experienced positive energy that was infectious. What was the situation? What created the positive energy? How did it feel to be a part of it? What did you learn?
  2. If positive energy were the flame of the organization, how would you spark it? How would you fuel it to keep it burning bright?

I would be happy to share some of our successful interview guides, for example, one on optimizing margins. So much of the fun of this work is the creating of questions. And it is still the best leadership-strengthening tool I know. I was just at an Images and Voices of Hope conference where AI was used throughout. I too did the interview at the very beginning, a lengthy interview guide. I got paired up with someone that I had a strong negative reaction to…I thought. “Shoot, how did I get hooked up with him?” I went into the interview with low energy. But the questions, prepared by Danille Zandee, Marge Schiller, and Judy Rodgers were powerful. Within a half hour I was learning new things that inspired me for weeks. I felt so privileged to have had the chance to enter worlds of experience and wisdom that I never would have touched without those questions. The questions were a tool that drew me into new realities. This man’s stories will stay with me forever. As will the relationship. I was humbled. Imagine leadership development where we do this every day. To me this is the essence of leadership and it might well be a way to make Peter Drucker’s comment come alive in practical ways when he says: leadership is about creating an alignment of strengths making people’s weaknesses irrelevant. This, it seems, would require and appreciative eye– and there may be no better way of developing it than by trying a powerful unconditional positive question each day.

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Train for SuccessLeadership, Team-building and Business Coaching
Liz Peterson, President
970 tanglewood drive, suite 100, wheeling, illinois 60090
847.274.7471, fax 847.229.1959

Thanks for taking the time to consider this e-publication in a world of data overload. For leaders, collaborators, consultants, academics and coaches alike; I welcome you to some ideas and a dialogue that may benefit us all. I hope you will contact me soon with your idea, reference or article. Suggestions on improvement are welcome.
Russ Volckmann, PhD, Coaching Leaders in Business and Life
Email: russ@integraleadershipreview.com
Tel: 831.333-9200, FAX: 831.656-0110
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