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

Monday, September 08, 2008

Election Time Yet Again

I wonder if we set a record...3 elections in 4 years. That's not to mention the expense, and the "here we go again" attitude of Canadians that might translate to many not voting this time. I wonder if the stats are tracked on that when there are so many elections back to back.

Some have a better idea of who they want to vote for and some still don't have a clue. I wonder why?

It's not that they don't know what they want and what issues are important to them . Many Canadians don't know how the system of government works and so they want things from the federal government that isn't in their power to give....because it's in the realm of the Provincial Government to implement. Their voting reflects that.

Still, I love watching the 'players' behaviour during an election and this year I'm blessed with watching 2... The US and Canadian elections.

For the moment I'm going to focus on my own country. I have to be a-politcal in my work as my role is to get my clients where they dream of being because of who they are, not who I am. So to look at the opposition party, I wonder if a poll went out to Canadian citizens with regards to its leader, would they would vote Liberal if the party had a different leader at the helm?

I wonder if the Liberal party is thinking similar thoughts right now? The question is, how likely are they to ever win an election with its present leadership? Just wondering out loud...

To look at the party in power, I wonder if Mr. Harper had a different opponent across the table, if he would have called this election? And if he doesn't get his majority, how many more elections would he call if he feels his hands are tied?

Still wondering out loud...
Donna Karlin

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Diving Back In

Labour Day has passed, for those of you who celebrate that extra day off of summer and now people are diving back into work with both feet. For some of us, the down time was a great time to catch up on research and writing, while of course making sure we didn't miss a second of sunshine. I made a deal with myself. On rainy days I wrote for hours and when the sun came up I'd be out and absorbing it so it would last through the cold days of winter.

Fall also brings a great deal of travel, symposia, speaking engagements and back to teaching. In the middle of all this, the interviews for my book have begun, each one taking my breath away as it couldn't be more perfect and in alignment with what I want to shine a light on: Human Based Leadership.

As people are coming back from holidays, this is the perfect time to sit back and listen to their stories. You can learn a great deal about a person by listening to how they spent their holidays, what lights up their whole being while the stories are being told. We spend so little time getting to know the people we work with and yet demand the most and best from them. However these people, these colleagues, staff, managers and leaders are people first and people in roles second.

We only seem to be paying attention to one side of the coin. However that's a very one dimensional existence, isn't it?

Emotional Intelligence is a term we're hearing more and more about. It's not just a term, it's a way of being. When you lead through your authetic self, including your emotions, while, at the same time not getting bogged down by those emotions, you will connect with people in the most fundamental way...through their humanity.

A colleague of mine, Lee Salmon, was a guest writer for the new book "A Coach's Guide to Emotional Intelligence: Strategies for Developing Successful Leaders". We've had many a discussion on this topic, one that continues over time as we use EI more and more in our work. "A Coach’s Guide to Emotional Intelligence is a groundbreaking book that combines the topics of coaching and emotional intelligence in a down-to-earth resource for coaches, facilitators, and consultants."
I would say it's a book for anyone who wants to grow people, either for a living or a passion. Emotional Intelligence is not a passing fad. It's how humanity will evolve.

"Companies can continue to give top priority to financial performance -- but many now also realize that technical and intellectual skills are only part of the equation for success. A growing number of organizations are now convinced that people's ability to understand and to manage their emotions improves their performance, their collaboration with colleagues, and their interaction with customers. After decades of businesses seeing "hard stuff" and "soft stuff" as separate domains, emotional competence may now be a way to close that breach and to produce a unified view of workplace performance." -- FastCompany

Think about it, but don't think too long. You'd be much better off if you started paying attention to it.


Donna Karlin