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Followership: Learning Mode and Knowing Mode

Just returned from two grueling days of Facilitated Leadership training, held at Paetec, here in Rochester, NY. The facilitators were Bruce Peters and Lee Thayer, two outstanding gentlemen you've heard mention of in this blog and others, now and then. The group consisted of a diverse list of companies and people - both men and women - intent upon learning the ways of leadership. They were marvelous participants and every one of them added to the value I got out of this training.

Here is some of my take from the four days (we did two days two weeks ago, also):

If you can learn to be a good - no, a GREAT follower - you will have the tools you need to become a great leader. Followership is something we bandied back and forth - what is it? Why is it important? How do you create it? Or, do you create it? Lee would tell you it's something taught at West Point that makes the graduates worth their weight in gold. Certainly, if your company is composed of true followers - people who recognize their "role" in making you, the leader, the best leader you can be - and by default, making the company the best company it can be - truly world class - then you can be assured that those followers will be great leaders, when the time comes.

Lee and Bruce were focused on helping each one of us be in learning mode, as opposed to knowing mode. Hence, the better followers we were to their leadership, the better leaders we would become because we were always learning, not trying to foist our "knowing" on the group. Think about it - how much of the day do you spend in "knowing" mode, asserting your thoughts and expertise on others, rather than stopping to learn from them?

I was especially grateful for what IChubbuck  experienced in the "hot seat" towards the end of the day.

Here's how it went, I can share just a little bit because it is about me. Our challenge was to take something from our reading (outstanding books I will share at another time - except for this one, The Power of the Actor by Ivana Chubbuck: WOW!) and facilitate a discussion about a particular point, with the group. To be in Learning Mode not Knowing Mode.

This is much harder than it sounds. As did a few others, I got caught up in the "me" of the discussion, instead of the point of the discussion. In other words, slipping into knowing mode - even though I felt confused about what it was I knew. The team often took me to the "me" instead of the point, and it was my role to bring them back to the point - insist on opening the door to learning mode, which I did not do very well. The point I was trying to make isn't important here - let it be said, I did not succeed in making it. I was pitifully confused about it - and actually ended up confusing the group, also. At least, it felt that way.

Bruce was the most help. He did his best to bring the discussion back round to the real issue - the point he thought I was trying to make, from the introduction or "scene objective" I had presented. I wish I'd been more aware and more in-tuned to my role so I could have joined Bruce in keeping the group on topic - rather than eagerly exploring my insecurities at being a CEO. I wish I could have outlined my "scene objective" more visually and succinctly. But, to be honest, I didn't know what it was, myself! To Bruce's credit, he was the only one who had a clue and who insisted on going back to the topic, with specific questions which eventually created an aha! moment for me. Oh, not that the others weren't equally helpful - it's hard to describe how helpful they were - but what they did was uncover my confusion and show me I need to step out of knowing mode more often.

As I review it all in memory (today is the best I can do - before it morphs into something of pure fantasy, memory being what it is), I am better able to articulate my scene objective, at least for today. And, I think I see the answer to Lee's all consuming question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" with more clarity.

I will save all that for another day - it seems a bit complicated right now. But, I leave you with this thought - What do you want to be when you grow up?

And then, oh, really?


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