This month, Peta Credlin, lost her job as Chief of Staff to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, when he was ousted by his Liberal party colleagues, and Malcolm Turnbull assumed the role as Australia’s newest Prime Minister. Credlin was still named by The Australian Women’s Weekly as Australia’s most powerful woman. In her speech at the award ceremony, Credlin stated ‘If I was a guy, I wouldn’t be bossy, I’d be strong. If I was a guy I wouldn’t be a micromanager, I’d be across my brief.’
By drawing attention to her assumed perception about gender differences, Credlin is further turning the knife on herself. As Janet Albrechtsen writes, ‘Credlin was a toxic blockage to the PM’s office’ (the Australian, 26-27 September 2015, p.17). This was partially the cause that ignited the dramatic mood swings of Liberal party members from disappointment and frustration to anger that resulted in the shift of loyalty to a new leader.
Leadership is about action. About getting things done through people. It isn’t about ‘power over’ others. It isn’t about aggressive manipulation and bullying – by men or women. It isn’t about grandstanding and who can make the funniest or most outrageous quip in Twitterland.
It is about relationships. Building relationships through influence
and collaborative projects, just as Senator Marise Payne has been quietly and calmly doing in relation to Defence over many years, and is deserving of her new responsibility as Defence Minister.
First and foremost, leadership starts with self. Through understanding self and enhanced awareness of Emotional Intelligence, you can improve interaction with others. There are a plethora of courses now available about leadership from short courses to postgraduate tertiary courses. However, having intellectual knowledge of a set of tools with the idea that ‘leadership can be learned’ is only part of the story.
Are you willing and able to make the transformational personal shift in attitude and behaviour to emerge as the best of leaders?
In the Tao te Ching (Lao Tzu), XV11:
‘The best of all rulers is but a shadowy presence to his subjects.
Next comes the ruler they love and praise;
Next comes one they fear;
Last comes one they treat with impertinence.
Only when there is not enough faith is there a lack of faith.
Hesitant, he does not utter words lightly.
When his task is accomplished and his work done
The people will say, ‘It happened to us naturally.’
Today we could say ‘her’, as well as ‘his’.
To find out more about Personal Leadership skills development specialised workshops and programs, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘Highest good is like water. Because water excels in benefitting the myriad creatures without contending with them and settles where none would like to be, it comes close to the way…’ (Lau 2001, Lao Tzu , Book 1, VIII, p.11)
This picture is of lotus plants in a central lake on the Sun Yat-sen University Zhuhai campus China that was poisoned and barren 6 months previously…it’s now a beautiful water garden. The flower appears to be holding up a leaf, which acts as an umbrella, protected and protective. Both are mutually supportive; just as teachers and students are interdependent, supporting each other, learning and teaching.
I am a gardener. I like to get my hands dirty and create gardens, with earth and water, sunlight, nature, love and constant vigilance. I am glad to know that in China teachers are regarded as ‘diligent gardeners …caring, self-sacrificing, moral-modelling, and deserving of high-respect ‘and students are the fruits of their labour’ (Hui 2005, p.27).
As a teacher, I aim to ‘lead (students) to the threshold of (their) own mind’, (Gibran 1923, p.99) to encourage them to be curious, adventurous, to explore and to experiment, to question and to apply their skills in a meaningful and relevant way (see Booth and Kennedy nd) and within ethical frameworks.
LEARNING & TEACHING CONTEXT
I have experience as a teacher in private and state institutions of higher education and Sino-British joint ventures in China since 2000, in Australian and German tertiary education and business experience in human resource management. I teach in the ‘fuzzy’ social science arenas of management, organizational behaviour, tourism and events management as well as writing skills for tourism, hospitality and events. I am a practical academic, with experience in leading teaching teams, influencing processes and assuring quality; developing study materials and learning activities, guiding work-based reflective practice for Masters level students, supporting student-led community consultancy projects on tourism development; and co-ordinating individual work-integrated learning projects. With a Graduate Certificate in University Learning and Teaching that deepened my own reflective practice, I am confident to develop and shape effective teaching strategies that include supporting students and colleagues to engage more actively with technology, learning in and from the field, and deepening their own reflective practice (Schön 1983).
My current role is to prepare undergraduate (Bachelor) Chinese students for future study in Australia. The challenge is to shift students from rote learning to reflective learning, active engagement and participation and to challenge assumptions, to ask questions, to know how to read difficult texts and the environment, and how to find appropriate references. Integrating influences of Socratic dialogue with ancient Chinese philosophy of Confucius, Lao Tze and Buddhism, as well as modern greats like Schön (1983) and Harvey (1978), I encourage students and colleagues towards independent and creative learning and to discover new questions. Classes are modified according to qualitative feedback from the students. The learning outcomes of my students are framed explicitly and aligned with assessment and learning activities as recommended by Biggs and Tang (2011). With freedom to ‘play’ and ‘push’ boundaries, results of students are outstanding.
LEARNING AND TEACHING IN PRACTICE
MYTH-BUSTING: ENCOURAGING ACTIVE, ENGAGED STUDENTS
There are many examples of excellence to dispel the myth of the ‘passive, dull, unimaginative’ Chinese student, including the winner of a provincial English speaking contest. Li Fang went on to win a national competition and a scholarship to complete her M. Phil. Linguistics in Cambridge. She is about to complete her PhD at Peking University and translated a bilingual children’s book Shanghai Mouse that I authored in 2010. In 2008, I edited and published an anthology of student writing: ‘Willow and Bamboo: Inside China by Henan students’ (Barnaby James, Sydney). This book showcases the students’ clear and evocative writing that documents social changes in their lifetimes.
In 2009, I led 60 events management students from Shanghai to study at the University of Huddersfield in Yorkshire for nine weeks, and in 2014 I led 19 tourism management students on a two week field trip to Singapore, Bali and Lombok. In both cases, students were transformed and brimming with new found confidence from finding their way around places in a foreign language, undertaking focused research and reflecting on their achievements both as travelers, students and potential managers of tourism, hospitality and events.
My five primary values of freedom; autonomy; independence; integrity; and wisdom, developed as a young HRM practitioner and deepened by reading and support from guides and mentors along the way, are integrated in the goal of supporting individuals and groups towards personal and professional growth, meaningful and sustainable livelihoods (see also Booth and Kennedy, nd.). When I see outcomes that result from an integrated approach based on my quintessential values, I am in my ‘element’ (Robinson 2009). Enabling students to blossom and supporting teaching colleagues to develop effective strategies for student engagement and high achievement so that we all flourish is the meaningful livelihood I have been nurturing, and plan to continue to do so, wherever it will lead me.
LIST OF REFERENCES
Biggs, J and Tang, C 2011, Teaching for quality learning at university, McGraw Hill and Open University Press, Maidenhead.
Booth, C and Kennedy, B, nd. ‘Are academics teachers or learners? The new academic as a learner not teacher’, RMIT, www.doc88.com/p-1703926753274 (viewed 17 September 2014)
Chism, N 1998, ‘Developing a philosophy of teaching statement’, in KH Gillespie (ed.) Essays on teaching excellence: toward the best in the Academy (1997-98) POD Network: A publication of the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education.
Fallon, F 2010, Shanghai Mouse, trans. Li Fang; illus. Mat Terrett, Barnaby James, Wynyard, Tas.
Fallon, F (ed.) 2008, Willow and bamboo: inside China by Henan students, Barnaby James, Sydney.
Gibran, K 1923 The Prophet and the art of peace, New illustrated edition, Duncan Baird Publishers, London.
Harvey, JB 1978, ‘Learning to not teach’, The Organizational Behaviour Learning Journal, vol. 111, no. 3, pp.11-17, George Washington University.
Hui Leng 2005, ‘Chinese cultural schema of education: implications for communication between Chinese students and Australian educators’, Issues in Educational Research, vol.15, no. 1, pp. 17-36.
Lau, D. (2001 translator). Tao te ching: A bilingual edition. (The way of Tao; sometimes known as ‘The book of five thousand characters’), Chinese University Press, Hong Kong.
Robinson, K 2009, The element: how finding your passion changes everything (with Lou Arona), Viking, New York.
Schön, D 1983, The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in practice. Basic Books, New York.
How to design learning tasks that foster deep learning and student engagement?
This has been my challenge in teaching, especially Organisational Behaviour (OB), which I have taught in private and public universities, and joint-ventures in China since 2000, and in Australia and Germany. Like Kennedy (2002), I have been determined to disprove the stereotype of the ‘passive’ Chinese student. In much team work, students just do ‘piece-work’, and focus on doing a task minimally. But, if we aim for graduates who are passionate, creative thinkers, truly collaborative and responsible, underpinned with professional and technical know-how, how can we encourage deeper interaction and reflection in the class-room setting?
I use one exemplar task that just seems to work every time, for every class. It’s called the circle cutting task.
All the class is involved; how many scissors are required? One per team.
Complexity- With one pair of scissors and one A4 sheet of paper, cut to make the largest possible circle without any breaks or joins (see Alan Chapman’s businessballs.com). Time: 15 minutes.
Coherence- The observers make sense of the action and different approaches: activists jump right in and everyone wants to hold the scissors; reflectors are slower and quieter in their approach; theorists practise first; pragmatists wait for the opportunity to find the most efficient solution.
Charlesworth (2008) shows that after a period of time in higher education, Chinese and Indonesian become more active learners. Biggs (2012) guides us into thinking more precisely about what we want our students to do and how to align assessment with learning outcomes and graduate attributes. Thomas Edison (Caldicott, 2013), Harvey (1979); Schön (1983) and Mary Follett (1924) are still relevant for today, cheering us on to be more confident, creative and continually adapting to student needs and our mutual desire for engagement… and leading them towards the graduate attributes required for the 21st century.
This exercise is part of a six week collaborative learning project which concludes with
a team presentation and report on the application of an OB theory in the workplace
and includes reflections of the team process, with a focus on communication, team
roles, strengths, shared values.
Supports Kennedy (2002) that Chinese students are active, demonstrate a diversity of learning styles, attitudes and strengths. Given encouragement and clear learning objectives, Chinese students are engaged and engaging; respectful and playful; keen to try; and able to reflect deeply on the meaning of the exercise. They demand more action and engagement (Fallon, 2014).
1. Model the behaviour you want your students to have
2.Introduce experiential learning exercises that get students up out of their seat and interacting with each other
3.Step back and watch the learning in process.
I have used this ‘ice-breaker’ circle puzzle several times, adapted from Alan Chapman’s businessballs.com. I first ask students to analyse their learning styles and create teams based on this; sometimes mixed, sometimes the same style for clear ‘ah ha!’ moments. Thank you to SYSU School of Tourism Management students!
Biggs, J. (2012). What the student does: teaching for enhanced learning. Higher Education Research & Development, 31 (1), 39-55.
Caldicott, S.M. (2013). Midnight lunch: the 4 phases of team collaboration processes from Thomas Edison's lab. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
Charlesworth, Z.M. (2008). Learning styles across cultures: suggestions for educators. Education & Training, 50 (2), 115-127.
Fallon, F. (2014)., Mapping graduate attributes and outcomes for events management students in Shanghai and Guangzhou: what can we learn? Paper presented at SYSU Events management conference, Guangzhou 12-13 July.
Follett, M.P. (1924). Creative experience. New York: Longmans, Green and Co.
Harvey, J. (1979). Learning not to teach. Journal of Management Education; 4:19-21.
Honey, P. (n.d). The Learning Styles Questionnaire www. peterhoney.com
Kennedy, P. (2002). Learning cultures and learning styles: Myth-understandings about adult Chinese learners, in Cribbin, J & Kennedy, P (eds.) Lifelong learning in action. HK University Press, pp.71-92.
Schön, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in practice. New York: Basic Books.
POSTER PRESENTED HERDSA CONFERENCE HONG KONG JULY 2014
Students from China’s top School of Tourism Management, Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai campus, Guangdong have just returned from a field study trip to Singapore, Bali and Lombok island. The 19 students were led by Dr Fleur Fallon, and Dr Zhao Ying. Dr Fallon has been to Lombok many times and in 2002, completed her doctoral thesis on “Tourism interrupted: the challenge of sustainability for Lombok island 1987-2001” with the University of New England, Australia.
In 2013, more than 387,000 mainland Chinese arrived in Bali, making the Chinese market the second largest in Bali, after Australia. More Chinese are starting to make the journey to Lombok, and the students will act as honorary ambassadors for Nusa Tenggara Barat tourism.
Crossing the Lombok Straits by fast boat from Bali, some students then adventured by local pirahu to Gili Meno and Gili Air to snorkel for the first time and see the colourful fish, while others explored the local beaches, restaurants and Art Market at Senggigi.
Meeting the vice-governor of Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB) Pak H. Muh. Amin, tourism officials and local students from the University of Mataram , eating and singing at a local taliwang restaurant for the mid-Autumn Festival were highlights. There was one last adventure, visiting pottery and weaving villages and the pure beach at Mawun in the south, before flying out from the new airport.
The student leader Zou Zhijian (Justin) said, “We love the unique architecture, the harmony between Hindu religion and daily life in Bali. We love the natural beaches and relaxed pace of as well as the attractive city sights, museums and events of Singapore.”
“ We can recommend Singapore and Bali as a holiday destination for families and couples. Lombok is for the more adventurous seeking close contact with nature in the sea and in the mountains. For the vision of MICE island development, we would like to see more attention paid to infrastructure –roads, footpaths, plastic waste management, traffic management and more signage, brochures and menus in Chinese in Indonesia.”
“We are the internet generation, so WIFI connectivity is important for us, and therefore up-to-date and easy to find information on the internet is critical for Chinese destination decision-making – for business, education or for leisure. We also welcome Indonesian students to China to learn more about our language and culture.”
“For some of us, this was the first time to go overseas. Each destination we visited has its special attractions. Next year we will study in Angers, France. We will remember to be ambassadors for tourism to Singapore, and to Indonesia, especially Bali and Lombok islands. We also hope the promotion of the 200th anniversary of the eruption of Mount Tambora in Sumbawa will attract not only Jackie Chan, the official ambassador for Chinese tourism to Indonesia, but also many more Chinese with a deep passion and respect for exploring nature- both the mountains and the sea of Nusa Tenggara Barat –‘indah sekali’”
The story was published in The Lombok Guide (Issue 178, 13 October 2014).
You can view the story online here:
The story is also available in the online digital newspaper, here (click on the page to expand):
See also stm.sysu.edu.cn/en/news/8952.htm
Matty Campbell-Ellis is passionate...about everything that matters...with his family Niko, Jasmine and Huon and equally passionate volunteers and supporters, they are creating a special space for learning at Devil’s Reach, a 75 acre rainforest property alongside the Arthur River within the Tarkine wilderness.
The mission of the Tarkine Learning Centre is:
to provide nature-based learning experiences that are wild, inspiring and caring.
The Tarkine Learning Centre is available for use by pre-schools, school groups, polytechnic students and universities as well as others interested about in-the-wild learning retreats.
Matty and his family represent the new generation of conservationists and educators, carrying on the legacy of legendary local conservationist Geoff King, who sadly passed away last year, and reaching back to those like Rachel Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) and her ground-breaking book Silent Spring (1962) .
Carson, an American marine biologist and conservationist previously wrote The sea around us (1951) and The edge of the sea (1955) before turning her attention to express concern about the impact of 'human progress', especially the use of pesticides, or what she termed 'biocides' that have a powerful and often long-term negative impact on the natural world.
As 'human progress' continues to threaten wild places, such as the Tarkine, the ongoing work in the interest of the 'greater good' of the TLC and others becomes ever more precious and urgent.
Below is a picture of a healthy young Tasmanian Devil, unique to Tasmania. This is a highly threatened species due to a devil facial tumour disease, that has affected more than 90% of the devil population in some areas. See http://www.tassiedevil.com.au/ to read about, and support the work of those committed to saving the Tasmanian Devil. This young devil is in one of several wildlife sanctuaries committed to breeding programs to save the devil. The Tarkine is a refuge and home for healthy devils. Learn more from http://tarkinelearningcentre.com/
Peter Drucker called her the 'prophet of management' and 'my guru'. Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933), also had some refreshing points to make about teaching as leading in 'The teacher-student relation', in an address at Boston university, 1928, and published in Administrative Science Quarterly 15 (1) 1970, pp.137-148.
She reminds us that the teacher 'releases energy, frees potentialities,'but within method, within the laws of group activity and group control.'
The teacher's role in the social sciences is to teach students to become 'experience-conscious'; to see the meaning of the experience, and to organise that experience. To integrate knowledge with experience is to create power of control, so that students may 'perhaps create new meanings.' The aim is to increase the students' 'ability to live not only harmoniously but effectively' with others.
'All that lives grows. What we give our students, if it is alive, may easily grow out of our recognition.' She acknowledges that we are preparing our students to deal with a future that will be so different from the past, yet we use old language and categories taht can barely explain the present. 'In so many places our language has not caught up with what we are actually doing, and the pity of this is that over and over again we are kept back within the boundaries of our language.'
Every day, we must win our leadership, whatever it is we are doing, or we lose it.
In her book Creative Experience (1924) she asserts that 'a dynamic psychology gives us instead of equivalents, plusvalents. It is those we must look for in every situation...progressive experience on every level means the creating of plusvalents.' (p.50).
You may find it difficult to find 'plusvalents' in a dictionary. But if equivalent refers to equal, similar or identical values; then plusvalent suggests a gaining more, an additive or integrative value. I like this idea, the idea of increasing power with others, rather than power-over, or transferring power or a 'balance of power'. Follett calls 'transferring power' as a 'puss-in-the-corner game' (p.vi). 'Genuine power can only be grown...genuine power is not coercive control, but coactive control. Coercive power is the curse of the universe; coactive power, the enrichment and advancement of every human soul.' (pvii).
Because facts do not remain stationary, and experts can differ about the same set of facts, we should not blindly accept the findings of the expert. We need to learn how to unite experience with experience in a social process in order to make progress. 'Unity, not uniformity.'
I wish I had met the work of Mary Parker Follett much earlier in my life. But now that I have, I will not let her go easily. I am hungry to read more and to share her throughts with students and colleagues in our quest for transforming teaching and learning. For more, see the Mary Parker Follett Network site at www.mpfollett.ning.com
It pays to look back and revisit ideas from history, and refresh them for the 21st century. To add an extra 'wow' factor into teamwork, take a look at
Caldicott, Sarah Miller 2013, Midnight lunch: the 4 phases of team collaboration process from Thomas Edison’s lab, John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey. Available via SYSU E-resources, e-books-EBRARY.
After one first year management class, I felt puzzled. A student came up to me to say that his team had almost completed their teamwork in week 2 of a 6 week project developing a 'virtual organisation' in order to understand management roles and challenges. They were obviously very goal and task oriented, but seemed to have missed the point from the previous learning about individual strengths, shared power and processes.
When teams come together, there is usually an already defined project and a leader who defines the goals and allocates tasks. The team is focused on completing the tasks to a set of defined standards within a fixed time-frame. Each person does their bit, but stops short of taking responsibility together for the whole process and outcomes. Something was missing from the equation.
As I walked across the campus, the name 'Thomas Edison' came into my head, in relation to creativity and innovation. I went to my EBRARY bookshelf, where I had already placed Caldicott's book.
When I shared some of the key learnings from this book with the students and they put them into practice, there was a notable shift in their thinking and practice. They started to push boundaries, past conventional ideas and the idea of copying others.
The key to switch on deeper 'discovery learning' is linked to Edison's principles, aimed to ‘maximise the brilliance and innate creativity in each of us to tackle major worldwide problems’.
Five key elements for innovation are: 1. Mindset 2. Creative processes 3. Work culture 4. Value creation 5. Team engagement.
It is extraordinary that Thomas Edison was only twenty-nine years old when he set up his first 'invention factory' in 1876. This consisted of an electrical lab, a chemistry lab and and a machine shop. Teams of diverse skilled scientists, engineers, machinists could move between areas and in a collegial environment with few hierarchies, this was a catalyst for creativity and innovation.
Edison was a brilliant entrepreneur, who founded more than 200 domestic and international companies, including
Edison General Electric Company, that we know today as GE, one of the top Fortune 50 companies (Jack Welch was CEO for 20 years). Edison was able to attract and cross –train a diverse talent pool from many disciplines and specialist skills in science, engineering, and machining. With a flat team structure, and small teams of no more than eight people, aimed at facilitating collegiality, flexibility, and communication, the environment was set for discovery learning, open to possibilities, and connecting common goals and purpose, following four phases of 'true collaboration':
1. CAPACITY: build relationships; trust; and be aware of the diversity of skills
2. CONTEXT: each one reads broadly; shares insights with team; Reframe, transform ideas; experiment…
3. COHERENCE: Can the team stay on track despite disagreements? Emphasise purpose, inspire; communicate…
4. COMPLEXITY: Manage complex data streams; leverage networks effectively, quickly…
And throughout, create the footprint, that is, record the team’s collective intelligence in a notebook (then...today a computer, video, images...) create the prototypes and keep testing, improving on each creation. At the end of phase 4, plan for product launch , keep improving, go back to square 1, or complete project (See Figures 1-1, and 1-3, Caldicott, 2013).
The next time you have a team project, take the time to understand capacity first, build the team relationships, invite each to read and think about the project and listen equally to each person's input. It could just make the difference between ordinary and extraordinary results!
Caldicott, SM 2013, Midnight lunch: the 4 phases of team collaboration process from Thomas Edison’s lab, John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey. Sarah is the great grandniece of Thomas Edison, and it's fabulous to see her as a torchbearer of his enormous legacy. Thank you! See Sarah's website: http://www.powerpatterns.com/
马年大吉 Mǎ nián dàjí Best wishes for the year of the horse
马到成功 Mǎdàochénggōng Success is on its way
The year of the horse and spring have now officially started...it's just a gentle trot now....but in two weeks it will be gallop as the new teaching semester starts.
Travel safe and enjoy those sweet family times and special Chinese traditions; best wishes to all our students and friends in China and around the world!
Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking. Susan CAIN, 2013, Broadway Books New York.
"Those who know do not speak;
Those who speak do not know." Lao Tse
With the start of the Chinese New Year, in the quiet time of the Spring Festival, before classes commence, there is time to contemplate what actions will we take to demonstrate leadership in 2014? How will we show our leadership style?
Many students are surprised to hear that I was painfully shy as a child, just like Susan Cain. I would be tongue-tied and blush in front of a class, or even my own family. As the youngest of five children, there were others who could speak for me.
Like Susan, I developed strategies to overcome that shyness and awkwardness. I loved performance- English, speech and drama. I learned to speak well, with passion and to 'put on an act', so I could live well in a world that seems to favour those who speak most often and the loudest. You will find me on LinkedIn, but I shrink from tweets and facebooking.
I write an occasional blog, but don't ask me to express a daily opinion. I would rather read a book or watch a movie, go to a forest or beach where there are few people, stay on our beautiful green and peaceful campus during the holiday break.
I have loved my roles in Human Resource Management, and teaching management, organisational behaviour, tourism and events. And I feel in my element in the teaching performance space of the classroom with my respectful, hungry-to-learn, and hard-working Chinese students.
But after class, I need down-time and quiet time to re-energise, reflect on the class and prepare for the next one.
Susan's writes that 'at least one-third of the people we know are introverts.
They prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying, who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion, who favour working on their own over brainstorming in teams.'
As teachers we are in a leadership role and should be mindful that we balance team coursework with individual course work, and set up programs that support each and every student to find the best way to express themselves and develop their special strengths.
Creativity and productivity are not always better due to groupwork. Solitude is a catalyst for creativity and innovation. We need both 'alone but not lonely' times, and we need to learn to slow down, to listen and interact with those who may not want to speak first, but are able to reflect on, and draw together the threads of the conversation, and offer deep insights.
"In a gentle way, you can shake the world," Mahatma Gandhi.
For more on Susan, go to these links.
When everything is ‘in sync’, we mean it is aligned.
Sometimes we might say that all the stars are in alignment,
or the ‘ducks are all in a row.’
It is more than serendipity, meaning a ‘happy accident’ –
a chance meeting; it is about the bigger flow
and the magnetic force of particular kinds of relationships
and more enduring power that can create great outcomes together.
I am teaching in the School of Tourism Management,
Zhuhai campus of Sun Yat-sen University.
Always hungry for books, I regularly trawl the stacks
of the 10th floor of the tall book-shaped library building.
The 10th floor houses the foreign languages books.
Here I can find an eclectic mix of writers and literature.
As I teach Management and Organisational Behaviour courses,
I wanted to familiarise myself with what was on the shelves
that I could recommend to my students,
beyond the conventional heavy detail-laden course text books.
I was seeking something by Peter Senge,
and other Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Management professors.
This led me to Joe Jaworski’s Synchronicity: the inner path of leadership (1996),
with an introduction by Peter Senge.
I was hooked, and surprised that I had not come across this book before.
It is very clearly written with editorial expertise from Betty Sue Flowers,
and one of those ‘un-put-downable’ books with a profound message.
It is a fast but deep read.
When Joe mentioned one of the first books he re-read
when he was making his transition from high flying lawyer
to following his dream of setting up a centre for developing leadership
was Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach,
I joined in his delight and wonder about life’s journey.
“Leadership is all about the release of human possibilities.
One of the central requirements for good leadership
is the capacity to inspire the people in the group to move them
and encourage them and pull them into the activity,
and to help them get centred and focused and operating at peak capacity.
A key element of this capacity to inspire is communicating to people
that you believe they matter,
that you know they have something important to give.
The confidence you have in others
will to some degree determine the confidence they have in themselves. …
Just being able to be there for others and to listen to them
is one of the most important capacities a leader can have.
It calls forth the best in people by allowing them to express
what is within them. If someone listens to me say what I am feeling,
then my feelings are given substance and direction, and I can act”
(Jaworski 1996, p.66).
“ Arthur Koestler, paraphrasing Jung, defines ‘synchronicity’
as the ‘seemingly accidental meeting of two unrelated causal chains in a
coincidental event which appears both highly improbable and highly significant.’
The people who come to you are the very people
you need in relation to your commitment.
Doors open, a sense of flow develops,
and you find you are acting in a coherent field of people
who may not even be aware of one another.
You are not acting individually any longer,
but out of the unfolding generative order.
This is the unbroken wholeness of the implicate order
out of which seemingly discrete events take place.
At this point, your life becomes a series of predictable miracles”
(Jaworski 1996, p. 185).
CREATING THE FUTURE, SHIFTING THE THINKING AND DOING
There are two key shifts required:
Shift our mental model that the universe is fixed and determined,
predictable as a machine or a clock.
Sometimes matter is like particles; sometimes like waves;
sometimes it as mass and sometimes it is energy.
All are interconnected and constantly moving.
Therefore, the future is not fixed and pre-determined.
The quintessential organising principle of the universe is relationship.
All particles are ephemeral states in a continuous
but changing network of interactions, or relationships (Jaworski 1996,pp.183-184).
Shift the nature of our commitment
“We grow up with the belief that if we commit to something ‘out there’
work longer and harder than others, we will be successful.
Another pathway of commitment is to trust our inner voice
to shape our role in forming the future.
Can we suspend our expectations,
be still long enough to hear the inner voice,
and trust it to guide us to the right people
and right opportunities to create coherence and meaning? …
From this commitment to our inner voice,
when we stop pretending to be like someone else,
we become more authentic and begin to attract the right people
in order to form a larger conversation and shape action
to create promising futures.
Instead of fighting against worst-case scenarios driven by fear,
anxiety or anger, we are walking towards and creating promising futures,
inspired by trust, calmness and love (Jaworski 1996, pp.184-185).
Jaworski, Joseph (Joe), 1996,
Synchronicity: the inner path of leadership,
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco.
As a gentle provocateur of positive change,