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After my study session wound down earlier tonight, I scanned my bookshelf to find an organizational systems topic that I could write this post on. Organizational culture. Sustainability. Leverage points. They all jumped out, but none of them grabbed me. Then my eyes landed on a thin booklet from the Leadership Institute of Seattle (or LIOS)—a booklet I received at Saybrook's January 2011 residential conference. The 43-page manual—a learning guide from a workshop I attended called "InterAct: Skills for Adaptive Leadership...
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Today’s educational system is wrought with complexity—from the work of educating students to the lack of financing in heated political climates. Working in the educational system can be complex, but it can also be rewarding. The challenge is finding the right people with the right passion who are able to view the world from a systemic view—people who are willing to fearlessly delve into the chaos of the current system and make sense of it. I work in an office that focuses on career and technical education programs. Even...
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I’m working on becoming more compassionate. His Holiness the Dalia Lama believes that compassion forms the basis for ethical behavior. My interest in compassion is less noble. I find that when I remember to shift my attention from analysis to compassion, I always learn something. Two articles published last week have tested my capacity for compassion. Before reading them, I would have been hard-pressed to feel even a stitch of empathy for fashion models or a cup of human kindness for college athletes... sorry. You see what I mean? I can...
 The first part of this leadership challenge explored the concept of “unveiling the illusions of the true professional.” The concept behind the exploration came from Margaret Wheatley's poem "The True Professional," where she challenges the reader to seek a “reliable truth” that will “let the human heart rest.” I would now like to focus on the “action” and “surrender” sections of the same poem. In "The True Professional," Wheatley wrote: "Action like...
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What is the emotional side of complexity and how can it help us understand and manage complexity? John Kotter, a Harvard Business School professor and expert on leadership and change, said this year that managing change is about understanding the human condition of fear that is inherent in all change. Change, he added, is managed through deeds that generate credibility. How leaders generate credibility is not a lightweight change plan. It involves depth and honesty; it is transformational rather than transactional. Fear is often made worse...

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