Saturday, September 20, 2008


Week before last I was a participant in the ICCO (International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations) Symposium on “Coaching Excellence for Sustainable Leadership. We looked at the terms 'leadership', 'sustainable leadership', 'coaching excellence' and what that is exactly, and why do we WANT leadership to be sustainable? To what end?

As you can imagine, the conversation could have continued forever, so half the difficulty was to synthesize it in a way we could all move forward in our work in the time available to us.

For me, my interpretation of stewardship is “Being responsible to future generations for their condition; that we do not own the world but we pledge to do no harm in the world.” To be stewards is very humbling.

The question I always ask of me and others is, “Are you paying attention to your level of impact on people, situations, your world and the world as a whole?”

In the symposium the easy part of our discussion was looking at sustainable leadership for the greater good, not the greater bad. For some a no brainer but for others, well, it’s a thing to consider, is it not? Like many other topics of conversation and focal points in our lives, the meanings continually change. What the symposium did for me in one instance was help me wrap my head around the implications of sustainable leadership for the world and what failure would mean. Being a leader and what it might mean to drop the ball in the role of leader, and I’m not talking level of responsibility in an organization, I mean a leader in any meaning of that term, is a lot of pressure and the implications are huge and yet many people do take on that responsibility. Whether it’s to our kids, our peers, family, friends, colleagues, it doesn’t matter. What matters is we’re paying attention to the impact everything we do has on others and the ripple effect that might create.

Right after the symposium we dove into an ICCO Board meeting where I was voted in as Vice President. I was humbled, honoured and then had this overwhelming feeling come over me that for this organization and its global impact I have to be a steward not only for the people I’m working with on the Board, who I highly respect and mean the world to me, and the organization as a whole, but for all those impacted by our work. It’s extremely humbling and something I take very seriously.

Observing the two campaigns going on in the US and Canada I wonder if the concept of stewardship enters the minds of those who are running for office? I wonder if that ever enters the picture in a campaign where campaign managers tell them where to go, what to say and where to say it to give them the best chance of being elected. But what if they spoke to the people from a perspective of Stewardship?

Just wondering out loud like I often do. I invite you to wonder with me…

Christina Baldwin said “To work in the world lovingly means that we are defining what we will be for, rather than reacting to what we are against.”

What will you be for?

Donna Karlin

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