Bill O’Brien, former CEO of Hanover Insurance, observed of his efforts to lead transformational change in his organisation, that “the success of an intervention depends on the inner condition of the intervener.” To make clear what this means, O’Brien is making the case that it matters less WHAT I do as a leader or HOW I lead, than WHERE it is I operate from.
Regina Vogel and I formed Choose Leadership to support leaders to lead change in complex times. We come from a place of Co-active Leadership, which holds that leadership is about taking responsibility for your world, and that leadership is, at its heart, relational in nature.
We were excited to see a recent post by CTI (Co-active Training Institute) expanding on these ideas in a way that enriches what it means to be a leader in the world.
CTI recognised that it had a blind spot in relation to equity and inclusion which impacted its leadership and coaching training programmes. More than that, it recognised that it carried that blind spot within itself as a system, as an organisation. It also appreciated that it carried the path to awareness and a fuller and freer expression of its leadership within its own community. In a blog of 6 September 2023, Elenna Mosoff of CTI writes:
“CTI went through a grappling process — remembering ourselves and finding our way into responsibility wasn’t always pretty or easy (it still isn’t).”
It resulted in the creation of three beliefs which CTI seeks to integrate into all its work:
- Identity shapes leadership behaviour
- Leaders account for power dynamics
- Leaders know how to navigate and include difference
Mosoff goes one to write that what had become clear was:
“…that we needed to include and work with how systems and structures impact individuals, and how, if we don’t include a systemic/structural lens, we risk marginalising everyone in the room by not accounting for the aspects of the world that really shape who we are as leaders.
Our work, and frankly much of the leadership development field, has mostly been focused on the inter and intra-personal realms. When we include the impact and awareness of how the structural and systemic realities show up in a leader’s development, we deepen our ability” to lead.”
Mosoff quotes Gail Barker, a CTI Faculty member:
“When we talk about similarities, we create connection; when we recognize and talk about difference, then we create the space for belonging.”
At Choose Leadership, we seek to create more than connection. We say YES to bringing more of the system into the conversation and doing so in a meaningful way. We want to support change leaders to ensure that the changes they lead as they navigate complexity also create belonging. We also know we need to continue to do our work, because we know it starts with WHERE you operate from, not WHAT you do or HOW you do it.