"The little I know, I owe to my ignorance."
Sacha Guitry

Get Leadership Notes by Email

Good morning all!

I trust all is well in your part of the world.

I was introduced to what I found to be a remarkable exercise for self-reflection by Barry Switzer of Erickson College. You'll need a very close friend or partner, someone who knows you very well. Step one is to ask this person the question "what are the "buttons" I have that you know you can push?"

Pay close attention to their answer. Once you have heard it, ask yourself, "what value is this button sitting on?, What is actually being pushed here?"

What many people find is two fold, one they enjoy a wonderful and revealing conversation with their friend or partner, and they discover that their response to the button pushing can change, once they are clear about what value is actually at play. More often than not, because the value is deep within you and has not necessarily been shared with the other person, for them, it's just a pet peeve they know to avoid. For you it may be something of great value to be explored. And once the underlying reason for that button has been uncovered, you may find it doesn't get pushed anymore. What might be the impact on your team and family if you had one less button getting pushed?

May this week be filled with uncovered values and deep conversation with a loved one for you.


Good morning, I hope that this morning finds you well and doing and being
the best you can be.

I was reflecting the other day on preparing for work. I was reminded about
it as I put on my vestments for church on Sunday. Clergy in many kinds of
religious traditions will have some kind of dress that they put on in
preparation for leading worship including prayer shawls and stoles.  If you
watch someone put on a prayer shawl or stole, note how they kiss it as they
do. There are a number of reasons for this kiss, for our purposes I think it
marks the sacred moment at the beginning of participating in and leading

The question then became for me, how do I mark the sacred moment of
beginning to lead people in other parts of the week. Sure there might be a
transition as we commute, but is there a moment when you know, this is the
beginning: stepping off the elevator, firing up the computer, reaching for
your Blackberry? If you can find that moment, note it, mark it, recognize it
as sacred; it is the beginning of your responsibilities as a leader for that
day, it is the beginning of you using your gifts for the good of your people
for that day.

I urge you to find those sacred moments this week that mark the beginning of
your day as a leader. And may this week be filled with these and other
sacred moments for you and the people you care about.

Good afternoon, and I trust that you are enjoying the summer season. I was thinking recently about creativity.

There is a powerful choir of voices in theological circles that argue that the universal reason for existence of all life is "creativity." Harvard academic Gordon Kaufman is one such voice whose book, "In the beginning, Creativity" plays on the opening lines of the Christian text attributed to John, "In the beginning was the Word."

What happens to the way we frame our world when we imagine that it exists to conceive, birth, nurture, develop, and honour creativity? I suggest that under such a frame, creativity moves from being a hobby to being a vital part of our very being. And our one of our key responsibilities then is to ensure that not only are we living a creative life, but that the people in our organizations (and our families) are living a creative life as well.

A creative life is one that transforms, challenges, creates, engages, records, re-arranges, and re-generates, to use only a few of the many words possible. You are responsible for living a creative life for yourself, and for as many people as you touch.

May it be so for you and for all of the people in your life.

I trust this week holds promise of both challenge and creativity for you

and your team.


For some of you, this will be the first Leadership Notes you've

received. The idea first started with a purely internal note to my

colleagues at CUSOURCE, Credit Union Knowledge Network, and has been

growing ever since. If this is your first, I thought you might enjoy it

and get some benefit. It is a short weekly notes and reflection on

leadership and like issues. People have found it "profound", "helpful",

"insightful", and I hope you do too. If you don't want to receive it,

just email me back and I'll take you off the list. If you know of

someone else you think might like it, just email me and cc them and I'll

get their email added.


To the subject at hand...


I've been thinking about risk management recently. It struck me that for

all the work that has been done around managing the risks in our

businesses and organizations; for example identifying, and assessing the

key risks the organization faces, and then working through a process to

mitigate those risks, we've likely been missing a key factor. Perhaps,

as leaders we need to ask ourselves, what are the risks inherent in me?

By identifying those, then assessing their likelihood and impact, and

then working to make changes, I become a better leader.


For example: what default behaviours do I exhibit that are not healthy?

what parts of me am I blind to? what parts of me am I embarrassed about?



By exploring these items as risks to be mitigated, they may lose some of

their power in your life. And without their power, they become easier to



I hope this week is filled with adventure for each of you.



Good afternoon.

My friend and colleague, The Ven. Dr. Ellen Clark King preached a fine sermon yesterday, and one of her comments inspires today's reflection. She noted that after a particular experience, there was a silence, "because there are times when words are not adequate."

And then, I was reading the work of coaching mentor and teacher Dr. Marilyn Atkinson, who notes that human language , as we know it, using our 'voice box', may be only about 50,000 years old.

As leaders in our culture, you and I are often expected to "respond appropriately" and that often means to verbally respond. I suggest that sometimes, responding verbally is not appropriate because "words are inadequate" and/or our language system is not evolved enough to articulate the depth of the emotions involved. For example, one of the lessons I learned while in my internship in palliative care, was "don't just do something, sit there."

As a leader you will need to respond verbally during difficult challenges and emotionally charged events. Do not however, be afraid of silence, it may be the most appropriate response.

I hope you find some quiet time for yourself this week.


Leadership Notes Dec 1 08


I've just finished a 10 k run and am feeling very strong. Although it sounds perhaps trite, there is something very powerful about feeling fit. For those of you who have not seen me in the past year or so, or who have not met me, I have lost 60 pounds in the last 18 months, so I intimately feel the difference between being fit and not being fit.


I have been asked by any number of people how I did it, and my usual response has been that I tried something new, exercise and eating right! There is a third factor, that I've come to realize is as important. I've been working on myself internally too. I've been using the metaphor of "fighting dragons", exploring the deep issues of my self that have been at work in my life for these many years. When I told my closest friend that I had officially reached the 60 pound mark, the reply was deeply touching, "that's a lot of dragons!"


The work on self has many facets and one is that we need to free our hearts. For many of us, our hearts are encapsulated, protected, and blocked off from our workplaces and from ourselves and our co-workers. In fact, one way of thinking about excess weight is that it is in some sense both protecting and blocking access to and from your heart. And it is your heart that makes you a leader!


If you're having difficulty losing weight and keeping it off, it might be time to do away with the diets, and start to consider what work you need to do with yourself, what dragons do you need to fight? And once you've dealt with some of them, the pounds you worked so hard at losing may well stay off.


Have a wonderful week!