Cascading leadership sharing the right to be authentic

I enrolled in Cascading Leadership in March 2019. Cascading Leadership program in March of 2019 as a “partner” (a charity leader who needs coaching from an individual). If you had asked me, I’d have stated that my reason for applying was the lack of opportunities for development for the leaders of small civil society organizations. In the 14 years I’ve been in management in the sector, I’ve attended one course.

There was a sense of comfort knowing that I was being assigned a “consultant” (an experienced community and voluntary sector leader keen to mentor a peer) who was of the same organizational area and the same size. But my expectations were dispersed before I had even met her.

Chris asks: “Will consultants receive mileage compensation, or should we ask them for advice?

Mark: ‘That’s interesting. What makes you feel you must take the best course for them instead of taking them to the other side? What do you think?

Chris: “I’m guessing it’s a sign of a need to please. I tend to attempt to solve the problems of other people first. [Silence.] It’s affecting the work I do.’

This exchange gave a glimpse of the benefits Cascading Leadership had to offer. Leaders who demonstrate their values and tools even during administrative meetings. Quality listening that goes deep and in between the lines. Powerful questions. Accepting silences that naturally occur is a vital and valuable method of developing understanding. Allowing space to reflect. The realization that there could be no worth without vulnerability. The growth of self-awareness as well as openness. The ability to think di, discover, share, and reflect.

We created an environment for us to take a breather, be vulnerable, share about failures, be curious to try new things and take responsibility for ourselves.

My consultant was armed with questions, beliefs, and space. The process was reflective and contemplative. It assumed my completeness capacity, ability, and energy. It was based on the assumption that the work was already finished inside the block of marble. It provided tools but entrusted me to grab them and begin chiseling away. There was no deficit-based “course”. There would be no production line, creating leaders from a bin of paradigms, strategies, and models.

I arrived with a plan which may have been a travesty of my education in business school. What can I do to lead me beyond the boundaries of my organization? Manage both up and down? Manage strategically and operationally? Do you lead for effectiveness? Lead sustainably? How do you lead sustainably? by examining more profound ones? Are my own values personal to me, and what are the goals? What’s the significance that sacrifice plays in the leadership process? How would our world look when all leaders were like me? We created an environment that allowed us to slow down, trust, be vulnerable adm, fail, be risk-averse, and hold ourselves accountable.

I aspired to This type of leadership when I led or guided. It felt less like a journey to discover new ways to be and more like a feeling of validation. Cognitive concordance. Permission. I didn’t emerge with a new person but came closer to who I am.

I wasn’t an entirely different person, but more close to who I am.

Through the course, I realized that my reasons for joining the company were based on fear about my leadership and safeguarding my self-esteem from rejection. It was the role of consultant that attracted my attention. However, despite being an executive chef for seven years at two charities, the internal voice declared, “Not for you. It’s not good enough. But not yet. You’ll fail.’

The most tangible impact of my experience in the role of a partner included the feeling of being capable of applying for the “consultant” position next year. It wasn’t because I was able to overcome my doubts. Instead, I learned to be aware of them, question them, and observe them for what they are.

I was aware of my anxiety-related phobia when I was stepping into the job. The remote conversation we had with Covid-19 was stressful. I was attracted to put my “powerful questions” beneath my screen. I observed how my mind affected my listening, worrying that my “partner” might quit talking if I didn’t prepare a critical question. I felt a sense of satisfaction when a question provoked deeply in my companion, swiftly followed by a sense of guilt. Although I appreciated the change from a problem-solving expert to a curious friend, I was struck by how quickly the “Trojan” questions were posed – questions that secretly gave my personal views and solutions.

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