This is a solo episode where I'm reflecting on this current podcast season. We're ten shows into Season 3 on the topic of Appreciative Leading. This is my penultimate show for the season. It'll be a short one with some thoughts around what's been great this season.
I'd be really so delighted if any of you who are listening would like to chime in and share what's resonated for you this topic over the last 10 shows. The following questions may prompt you in reflecting on the inspiring stories shared by my guests.
- What's true for you?
- What new insights have come up for you?
- What have learned about Appreciative Learning?
- What's stayed the same?
- How are you different?
- What are some of the most memorable stories my guests have shared?
- What themes have come up for you?
- What has inspired you?
When we, those of who are practicing as Appreciative Inquiry practitioners, offer workshops that are framed in this Appreciative Inquiry methodology, we invite the participants to share their high-point stories. These could be stories of success, or excellence related to the topic of the inquiry. We call this experience the Discovery Interview.
On the topic of Appreciative Leading, the Discovery Interview would start with a question something like this:
Tell me about a time when you experienced Appreciative Leading. It might have been of your own doing. You might have been doing the Appreciative Leading. Maybe you had the opportunity to be a follower of someone who was showing up in this Appreciative Leading way.
The participants tell their stories of such high-point experiences. They say what's happening in that situation. They tell their story. In our Appreciative Inquiry process, we invite them to talk about what they appreciated about themselves; how they contributed; what they appreciated about others. We also ask what they appreciated about the situation, the organization, the structure, culture, communications, and anything else that comes to mind.
We go into a data-gathering mode of all that contributed to the success stories, and we call that collection of the success stories the Positive Core. The Positive Core then is the sum of all the root causes of success. What we end up with is a great body of success stories, of strengths and capabilities. We build on those, and we take them into the future.
Positive Core of Appreciative Leading
As I look back over this season, I'll say more about the success stories and identify that positive core, but that's not the topic of this show today. Each of my eight guests has contributed to that Positive Core of Appreciative Leading from a range of different perspectives. They've come from different geographies, from Australia, from Canada, from the Netherlands, from five different states in the United States; and from different industries and sectors such as education, and healthcare, and government, and journalism, and law, and business. on the topic of Appreciative Leading.
Let me name some, and let's see what you remember. What stood out for you? I'm hoping a number of you will play with me and let me know what themes resonated for you. I'll share those in the next show. How can you participate? You leave a comment in the comment section right at the end of the post. I will include your comments in my next show. It would be so exciting if you contribute and it would also give me a sense of how much interest there is on this topic.
Themes and Common Threads Across the Episodes
In the meantime, here are some of the themes that I've picked up as I've been researching, preparing for interviewing, reflecting on, and writing up the show notes over the past five months. That's the time it takes to produce such a season.
Every show has been a gem. If you haven't listened to the previous episode, Going Meta to Appreciative Leading with Sheila McNamee – PS115 I strongly invite you to do that. Sheila offers social constructionist perspectives on Appreciative Leading which taps into the heart of Appreciative Leading. You can offer what you think by adding your perspectives to the comment section below.
Examples of Themes
- The act of Appreciative Leading shows up in relationships where we are open to new possibilities so that people can step into these new possibilities. They adjust in adapting ways that they would never have imagined or done just on their own.
- It also shows up when the person who is demonstrating this perspective, this act of Appreciative Leading, is prepared to be changed by each conversation. If you're truly open to that, then you can very quickly become a force of generativity, or you offer an energy of the generativity that isn't there if you remain closed.
- Another perspective is that leading is a relational process. It's not about the individual characteristics or traits or knowledge sets or skillsets.
- Appreciative leading includes the whole, whether it's the whole of you showing up with your vulnerabilities and your aspirations, and/or it's also the whole system or the whole organization showing up with all stakeholders. All perspectives and all stories are valued.
- Appreciative leading is also about having conversations about the whole in the way that we can tap into the energy and the passion and the excitement and the good ideas across the entire system – the community, the family, the organization, whichever group you're working with. By showing up in this way and including people into these conversations, we begin to understand how we can navigate these complex times from very diverse perspectives.
- Appreciative leading also shows up when we challenge our own assumptions because it's in challenging those assumptions that there's a greatest opportunity for change and to be understood or to seek to understand. We can say things, “Look, I don't understand this,” and you invite people to say more about what their understanding is.
- If you really want to lead well, it helps to understand what leading is. Part of that is about connecting. Leading is connecting.
- A couple of our guests have talked about finding your gift for yourself and then finding the gift in others.
- Be open and vulnerable and, repeatedly, I can't stress enough, it's all about focusing on relationships.
- Guests have been talking about coming from a place of curiosity and wonder and asking lots of questions. When you ask lots of questions and you inquire into people's stories, we find that stories are the great connector. Our emotions get stirred, and we begin to see people as they are. We begin to see ourselves as we are, and in that relationship, we see who we are together.
- In this relationship, in this connection, we're continuously co-constructing our realities, our world views, and our actions. What that means then is that meaning-making and sense-making happens in relationship through the words that we're using.
- Be open to change. It's not about changing others, but it's actually in the relationship, being open to change ourselves.
These are some of the themes that I've been reflecting on regarding the topic of Appreciative Leading. What has come up for you?
Growing Capacity and Strengthening Courage
Before I go, I just want to remind you that I've been working on a strength of my own, and that's the strength of courage. If you've been listening the season, you'll be aware that I've been inviting you to consider becoming a patron or a sponsor of the show. I'm inviting you to offer some support to take the show to the next level. I'm still working on what that support might look like. If you have ideas and are excited about the possibility and want to show your capacity for Appreciative Leading, let me know.
Click on the image below and that will take you to my Patreon page. I'm delighted to say, that at this time of recording, I have three pioneering patrons: Johannes from Germany, Joep from the Netherlands, and Janice from New Jersey. I just realized, 3 “Js”. Johannes, Joep, and Janice.
I'm curious to see how this is going to play out. I hope it may stimulate increased interest and help expand the good work so many of us are putting into the world. We creators and designers usually do it because we feel called to do this work. We do it for love, AND there is value in what we do.
Until next time, please be open and vulnerable and share your reflections below. What have you appreciated about this Season on Appreciative Leading?
Thank YOU being on this journey of discovery with me.