Leading in Transitions – The Institute for Zen Leadership
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leading in transitions

FocusOn Spring, 2016

Leading in Transitions

-Ginny Whitelaw

I was speaking with a colleague last week about his doctoral research into leaders in transition. His findings were so compelling, they changed the course of his career to focus on them further. And what were these findings? That when leaders try to do big things in this complex world, they get shaken to their core. It challenges their assumptions about leadership, about how things work, about who they are, and every doubt and weakness gets exposed. Such leaders need more than they learn in business school, and more than resilience; in his words, “They need a way to transform the pain and doubt into personal growth…they can’t intellectualize their way through it.” Well, I felt like he was reading the first chapter of The Zen Leader back to me, on using pressure to flip from coping to transforming. How wonderful to speak with a kindred spirit and find this insight seeping further into the leadership development field. For truly this is where the tools of Zen training uniquely resource leaders to work with great pain and doubt as fuel for development, starting with themselves, and results will follow.

Transitions require that we don’t show up as we were, but metamorph into the future we would bring into the present. I don’t speak hypothetically, for I am viscerally experiencing this transition myself as I grow the Institute for Zen Leadership (IZL). Every leader who finds our programs finds them life-changing, but they tell us we’re the best-kept secret in leadership development. We aspire to be as known and respected as CCL for awakened, embodied leadership. But we’re not starting with the Vicks’ family fortune (as CCL did); we’re having to bootstrap, just as many of the entrepreneurs who come to our programs have to do. We’re hiring staff, enlisting volunteers, developing more teachers and programs; everyday feels like an intuitive, random walk through the forest of things that could be done to land on a few and hope they’re the right few. Continually, I confront the edges of my comfort zone and not-knowing. Yet, I recognize that every bit of discomfort I’m going through lets me experience the world of the leaders we want to reach. And if this Zen training of ours is any good, I can trust it to hold me together while I allow myself to be as uncomfortable as hell.

Because truly there is a point to getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. And that is: the world opens up in enormous possibility. No longer limited by a self stuck to past assumptions (including an assumption like: “I need to make this happen.”), I can become curious as to what can happen through me and around me that I can enable as I’m able – and get out of the way when I’m not. When we dare to do what we don’t know how to do, it FORCES us to shift. It demands growth, which, if you ask me, is a lot more fun than a life sentence confined to a prison of old habits.

For those of you who are curious what Zen training can do for your leading through transitions, join us in one of our IZL open enrollment programs at the Spring Green Dojo, in the UK, or returning to Vietnam this July. For those of you who are curious about how to create the kind of agility for leading through transitions – either in yourself or in your clients – learn more about the energy patterns underlying 4 modes of leadership and how you can work with the FEBI assessment that measures them.

What You’re Saying Before You Speak

What impact are you having before you know you’re having an FEBI Certified logoimpact? The energy we communicate shows up before we open our mouths. Do you know what you’re saying? We work with the energy underlying (or undermining!) four modes of leadership from inside out because that’s where self-regulation takes root and agility is possible (or not!). Take the FEBI and learn more about the energy you’re projecting, and how to use the right energy at the right time. If you’re a coach, get certified in FEBI to bring this powerful technology to your clients. We’re now powering our technology for FEBI certification with a new e-learning platform. Combined with videos, journal, online resources, and one-on-one expert coaching, it makes for an engaging, self-paced learning experience that can power your coaching practice anywhere in the world.

Register now for a free webinar to learn more about the patterns of FEBI, how they impact what you’re communicating, and how you can bring them into your coaching in our all-new certification process.

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