What do you want from your leadership work?

As my colleagues and I prepare to launch the fourth generation of the TrustTemenos Leadership Academy, I’ve been asking myself, “What do I want from my own leadership work?”

In TrustTemenos, one way we think of leadership is as making a difference with intention.  From this vantage point, how do I want my own leadership to develop, and what support and help do I need?

Leadership development means to me growing as a person, and growing in my ability to help others grow: to increase my ability to make a difference and to sharpen my intention, and to support others to develop those capacities too.

To do that, I want the leadership work I do to help and support me in understanding myself better, so that my work is attuned to the truest sense of myself – my identity – that I can touch in to, and to my clearest and deepest intentions.  

In this context, my leadership work is closely attuned to my own personal development work: I expect any formal leadership work I do to capture and support those priorities.

I believe that a unique leadership offering is available to every person – there is naturally and can always be a leader in every chair.  I fully expect the leadership work that I do, for myself and others, to recognise this approach and to avoid any assumption that leadership is a hierarchical thing, about dominance or positional power.

Leaders work within relationships – whether to learn, to co-create, or to call forward the work of partnerships or teams.  Therefore, I expect my leadership work to focus on understanding and development of relationship wisdom, skills and insights.

Leaders need to work in a variety of contexts – to understand when they are entering and leaving particular spaces, and how to operate uniquely in the unique contexts they choose to enter. Therefore I expect my leadership work to help me and others understand and identify contexts and to navigate them to increasingly powerful effect.

Leaders need to nurture growth:  personal (for themselves and others), relational, team, organisational.  Growth can be tangible or intangible, hard or soft. It can be measured and observed as concrete goals or outputs or qualitative outcomes.  I expect my leadership work to help me become ever better at nurturing growth – on my own terms, measured and assessed in my own way, in forms suitable to my own contexts.

There is a wealth of good thinking about leadership out there in the world – I count on any leadership work I do to capture the best of leadership insights, ancient and modern, across disciplines, across the world, to be radically inclusive and not to be focused on advancing any one brand or approach to “leadership training.”  I want the facilitators of my leadership work to be happy curators of the best ideas and the best practices they have found in wide travels and long explorations – and to be open sharers of credit for those ideas, themes and practices. I expect them to share a generous and growing list of readings and other resources, exploring and going deeper into the range of insights that have been important to them.

I expect my leadership work to be highly interactive and “hands-on.”  I expect to be able and encouraged to use what I am learning in action on my own leadership challenges, and to be able and encouraged to feed that work back into a circle of learning.

I expect the facilitators of my leadership work to call forward great “containers” as contexts for learning – welcoming, curious, encouraging, appreciative, inspiring.  Places where people feel entirely welcome in their uniqueness and their diversity, where deep trust grows naturally, and where a collective team of people share their leadership journeys together and their co-creative learning together.

I expect the facilitators of my leadership work to be inspiring, inspired and deeply experienced people – people who have done their own exploration and continue to do it.  They should impress and inspire me both for the extent of their learning, by the breadth of their ongoing inquiry, by their skill at sharing with and inviting others, and at the same time by their humility and curiosity as learners.  I expect my facilitators to be inquirers, not dogmatists or evangelists. I expect them to hold an elegant balance between confidence and humility.

I expect the facilitators of the work to be exactly that – primarily facilitators, inviters and catalysts rather than lecturers or teachers as such.  They should teach mostly by light invitation and by example, though paradoxically offering access to a vast wealth of material.

This is the kind of leadership work I want.

Not coincidentally, this is the kind of leadership work we seek to offer at TrustTemenos:  in our year-long Academy, in Certified Agile Leadership 1 and 2, in Coaching Wizardry and Witchcraft and in bespoke individual and organisational coaching and consulting.

What do you want from your leadership work?  What do you want from your personal or organisational leadership journey?  

Regardless of your level of experience, the direction of your journey or the level of engagement you’d like to have with us, we’d like to share stories and experience with you.  Please get in touch if that sort of dialogue sounds good to you. scott@trusttemenos.com

And please be invited to join us on the road.  Our new generation of the Academy starts in Berlin 28 March.  Details are in the link below. My partners in this venture include the amazing @Olaf Lewitz and @Silvana Wasitova

In coming weeks, we’ll be sharing here some of the leadership themes that are important to us, together with elements of that “reading and resource list” I foreshadowed above. We’ll organise some of that sharing around what we understand to be crucial questions for leaders.

We warmly welcome dialogue with others who treasure a vision of great leadership – in every chair – for our emerging world.

Startup Trust Infusion

From Startup to ...?

From Startup to …?

Are you a founder? Leading your team into the disruptive unknown?
Do you build relationships in your team that sustain the tensions of uncertainty and growth?
Do you have a situation in your team where improving trust might help?
How to build and keep trust in your fast moving environment?
How to establish trustful and open communication which will build the innovative culture you are aiming at?

One hour.
April 12.
Starting 15:00 CET, 09:00 EDT
and: 16:00 CET, 10:00 EDT

Join us next Tuesday for an online, recorded conversation on Zoom.

You will get

  • 20 min of our full attention (so we will have time for three “cases”)
  • Consulting with compassion and advice
  • Tips for exercises you can run the next day
  • (depending on attendance) feedback and tips from other founders

Why are we doing it?

  • We want to collect examples of the challenges startups face around trust
  • We want to get recordings of how we work
  • We want to offer help with a low threshold of entry
  • We want to foster a community of creative leaders of trusting organisations

What is your investment?

  • 1hr of your time
  • Be intentional about publishing the video afterwards

Your hosts

Olaf Lewitz. Scott Downs. Christine Neidhardt.

Christine, Temenos host and company culture coach, helps leaders to create a trustful, creative working environment and to tap into the energies of conflicts.

Scott: former investment banker, coach-entrepreneur, fostering leadership for creativity, consciousness, love, abundance and sustainability.

Olaf: Trust artist and coach. Temenos host. Liberating people and companies from oppression. You deserve to love what you do.

Scott. Christine. Olaf.

Scott. Christine. Olaf.

The Story of Chris

… or

how fridges help to become leaders…

(a TrustTemenos Leadership Academy Story.)

“Aaarrh, another jar I have to throw away. Never seen this before.” I feel irritated. “Beetroot chutney – what is this for? Never seen this jar before!” A pity. I don’t like waste anyway, yet before even noticing this glass… I am not even able to manage my fridge. No wonder, that I don’t succeed in being able to manage my life. My work life as is so overloaded: why can’t my life at home be simple and easy?

My name is Chris. I’m the head of two departments in my company and have every option to get promoted by my boss. This year markets are difficult and I have all my hands full of work to keep my people going. How to organize myself is my most urgent problem. I have put up a board in my office to get an overview of all things which I have to take care of. Often I feel alone with the weight of all my responsibilites. I don’t like working long hours, but often I do. I dream of offering my teams the best surroundings they need to gain extraordinary results. I know very clearly what I want — making it a reality is where I fail.


Clarity – Reality, Intent, Choice

Sylvia, a friend has sent me an email. She is into organisational development. She attracts interesting ideas. Occasionally she sends me this stuff… A video about a fridge – what strange metaphors this Changemakers use, but interesting as I thought about it! It opens this parallel universe of the fridge and the leadership qualities. Interesting thought! If I would have noticed the beetroot chutney earlier in my life, I would have asked my wife to cook together a nice dinner with it. We would have had fun, laughter and intimacy. What a loss! This makes me sigh.

The next day Mary comes into my office. She seems apprehensive, which is not her style… “Hey. What’s up?” “Well… You know that my mum usually takes care of the twins when I’m at work, right?” “Sure. Your mum is a treasure. Everybody should have a mum like yours.” “Well, she’s off for the rest of the week. Met an interesting guy online and says she wants to take care of herself, for a while.” “Ouch! What will you do with the twins?”

Hell, yeah. What’s she going to do with the twins? She actually asked if she could bring them to work! Wow. How is that supposed to work? What if everyone… What if people stop working? What if… wait. Let’s use my new “fridge thinking”! There is a chance in this situation and I won’t stuff it away in the fridge without acting and let it pass away. This time I take action and maybe something new emerges, more fun, laughter… Let them come Mary!

I feel good. In a weird way. My wife asks over dinner why I’m smiling. I realise I am smiling, and try to stop. Can’t. Embarrassing! Then… I share my story. And wonder why smiling at home, having dinner with my wife, could ever be embarrassing. She loves it. She looks at me in this special way she has, where I feel seen in a way I don’t usually feel seen. I remember what these guys in the video said about inner qualities… Maybe, if I feel this sense of gratitude, of feeling seen, I can create that quality in my departments as well?

Later in bed, I reflect a little more. Mary looked at me in a very unusual way when I allowed her to bring in the twins. She never looked at me like that before… As if she saw me in a different way. Looking back, I notice it was quite similar to the way my wife looked at me. I didn’t pay enough attention. Wow. This feels interesting.

A week later

Who made this “fridge video”? Since I saw it, I never had another innocent look into my fridge. Nervously, I search my crowded mail box. Where have I stored it! Damn! Can’t find it. Why can’t I better manage my mail box as well? Ahh, another “fridge” problem.

Found it! Here it is. Mmh, this is what I remembered. They do an Academy in October about being the Leader I intend to be. Oh, that feels right! I have so many wishes to have more impact on my own life and the life of others and the gap feels really uncomfortable. It is not a lack of knowledge! Really, I have been on a lot of trainings. But I didn’t find enough time to make it my own, to focus and let my impact grow. There is so much resistance within me and outside of me. I don’t bring my ideas into the world with full power, because I have too many things I am acting on, feel responsible for others, try to do things others might find important. I don’t act fully on my agenda. Sometimes I even forget my own agenda and just react.

Suddenly Bronnie Ware comes into my mind and the five regrets of dying people. The top regret was  “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” That’s it. I want to get out of that and I neither want to be in category 2 “I wish I didn’t work too hard”. Yeah, but I don’t dare to work less! I thought about my fridge and having the right things at the right time in there and not obviously something that I bought without thinking about if it would be good for me or suitable for my nutrition.

Ok, wow, it is a 10- month program. I don’t know if I can fit that in. I have so many commitments and here is one more! Mmmh, but isn’t this a commitment which will help me manage all my other things? Get rid of unnecessary work and transform my way of doing things? I also like to make a real change and enjoy life more, but not work harder for that. Instead working less and more of the things I really like! Here it comes, I really like cottage cheese! Why don’t I buy one for taking into the office tomorrow? A big grin on my face, yeah, fridge thinking! There it comes!

Don’t know if I can make it for all four onsite workshops, but will definitely try to arrange it and I really look forward to these webinars. Will need some time to get a routine to save time for that, but I know, that I have to let go things and this will be a good reason for that.


Leadership Dialogue #1: New Kinds of Leaders

We’re busy preparing our leadership academy (hier auf Deutsch). The program and topics are taking shape. One of the first topics we talked about was: what kind of leaders do we want to see in this world? And what’s special about our approach, our academy?

Inner and Outer Qualities

The qualities you have and appreciate and nurture in your self, yourself as a human being, characterise the space you can create for others. Your environment will be as simple, open, inviting, welcoming as you are. The level of acceptance and forgiveness you have for yourself determines the level of acceptance and forgiveness you have for others.