Archive for January, 2012

Leadership in a New Key

Creating Possibilities in a Complex World

A Leadership Retreat near Toronto February  15th to 17th 2012 (Download the brochure)

Michael Jones


The ‘key’ unlocks the doorway to new possibilities. The‘note’ creates the tonal atmosphere for these new possibilities to be received and understood. When the key and the note sound together they result in an inner music, a song that can be heard not just by the intellect, but also by the body, the mind and the heart.


We are entering a time when the primary leadership challenges are not technical but transformational  – a time when leaders to succeed will need to reach beyond their technical and strategic skills to connect with the inner music of their own imagination. As such we are on the threshold of a new leadership story. As our organizations and communities struggle with complex discontinuities and disruptive change it is becoming increasingly clear that leaders cannot apply the same strategies they used to create their current environment to   change them.

To create this new story will involve a shift from the formalities that characterize traditional hierarchical structures to creating communities of engagement and aliveness in which each can peruse their own leadership-learning journey in ways that are aligned with the organizations core mission and purposes.

This will include an understanding of  the regenerative practices of dialogue, reflection, listening and respect as core principles for taping into the organizations collective intelligence. Not only will tapping into this intelligence contribute to creating an environment that recognizes each persons individual strengths and gifts, it also creates a supportive environment in which the seeds of these gifts and aspirations may find fertile ground to take root and grow.

A basic premise for Leadership in a New Key is that leaders can reach beyond doing things differently or doing different things based on conserving the past or sustaining what they already know to creating the future based upon what they collectively imagine and want to create together.  To achieve this higher aspiration leaders need to be present enough with themselves for the future to come in. That is, to not only do things differently but to see differently. To be the kind of leader who can proceed boldly into the future sensing what is needed in the moment without relying upon a clearly defined long term strategy, plan or goal.

In this context to learn from the future involves a fundamental realignment in how we think of our mental models and institutions. We need to adjust our attention from learning from the ‘outside in’ to learning from the ‘inside out’ through asking not only what do we think and how do we act as leaders but to consider more fundamentally; where do we lead from.

To meet this challenge we need to step back to  ask; as a leader what am I uniquely called to do?   To listen and truly hear the answer to this question is a call not to action but to stillness- to quiet the mind in order to sense into the places where our deepest calling may be fulfilled. This involves connecting with and trusting the authority of one’s own inner wisdom. It also involves writing a new story of possibility   – one that helps the leader discover their own unique voice and a path to fulfilling their deepest destiny in bringing their gift to the world.

When we engage in this learning journey we not only plan our future, we enter into a conversation with and become a living embodiment of it. The power of leading through conversations is that speaking and listening about the questions that truly matter amplifies our ability to see possibilities that we could not see or realize on our own. From this new perspective we will always have enough ideas and innovative resources to create our possible future in the midst of the confusing and complex world that lies ahead.

In this context artistic experiences   including music art, poetry, conversation and reflection deepen a leader’s capacity for creating possible futures through learning to sense and make meaning of the subtle forces around them.  Listening into the spaces between the notes becomes an essential orientation for leading effectively and wisely in uncertain times.

The Leadership – Learning Journey


Leadership is a journey, not a goal.

In the absence of detailed charts to map our way we will need to learn to be ‘way finders’ again – capable of accessing the ancient wisdom of our past. This wisdom once taught us how, without the aid of chronometers and other navigational and technical aids   – to find our way across hundreds of miles of open uncharted sea guided only by the subtle but accurate reading of the winds, clouds, light, stars, sun and waves including the complex movement of currents beneath the boat’s hull.

We cannot go back entirely to this early time – but we can retrieve the quality of attention developed then to find our way now – and in so doing discover how together we can create the possible future that we could not envision or achieve on our own.

In contrast to more formal teacher led learning environments Leadership in a New Key is structured as an inquiry into possibilities that reach beyond our current organizational and leadership practices. The spirit of the gathering is captured in the question – What more can my leadership is? Our unfolding exploration will focus on expanding and enhancing our individual and organizational awareness, sharpening the sense of our personal and organizational identity, and developing the critical communication skills necessary to enable organizational learning and the creativity necessary to meet new challenges and create the possible future we would all like to be part of.

To cross the threshold from the old to the new story is a learning journey, not a goal.  The journey begins with The Call in which we ask; what are we uniquely called to do?  This is followed by The Adventure in which we ask; Where is home and fertile ground for my gifts to grow? The third stage in The Return in which we awaken to new possibilities through creating new stories of commitment, renewal and change.

Paradoxically our current mindsets which often value absolute truth and certainty can inhibit the deep listening and ability to see the world in different ways which this journey entails. Someone once said;, “if your cup were already filled, you would have to pour something out before you can add anything new.”

To embark on this learning journey something of the old must give way to take on something new. Leadership in a New Key will be exploring ideas that will challenge existing and traditional mindsets that have dominated business and community thinking for over a century. The growth challenge for leaders now will be how to maintain an appreciative and positive attitude of inquiry, respecting what they already know and have been doing, while opening to new possibilities.

Therefore, in contrast to traditional leadership development programs, this experience is structured not as formal ‘book learning’ sessions but as an inquiry into possibilities for leaders that goes beyond current theories about leadership. Because this dialogue is designed as an inquiry and a learning journey, we cannot know beforehand exactly how it will unfold.  A tightly scripted and controlled agenda would not fairly model the highly changeable adaptive and chaotic environment that now represents the leader’s real world.

What we can be assured of is that this leadership dialogue will create fertile ground for leaders now and into the future to enable them to create the kind of culture of possibility that they most deeply aspire to lead.

To learn more please write to Michael at michaeljones@rogers.com or check the  brochure left side bar on his home page at www.pianoscapes.com


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