You can listen the the audio podcast by clicking play in the player above, or a transcript follows:
So, it was only a week or so ago that I was at the CIPD conference, #CIPD13, had an absolutely great time there but left with quite a few reflections about it. One of my concerns, something that I’ve blogged about already, is that I really want to hear more about some of the horror stories, some of the case studies, I want to hear about the things that people have struggled with. My reason is this; when we started off with the keynote, we heard a cry to unite around creating the best workplace on earth. Something that I wholeheartedly believe in. But then the things we talked about after that were about the need for authentic leadership, the need to have more characters in the workplace (not to just having people fit in), and the need for radical honesty.
I absolutely support all of those but then, throughout the conference, we switched in a little bit to hearing case studies where people shared the positives. That’s not a criticism of anybody as I’ve done exactly the same when I’ve spoken at events myself. What I really want to do is hear case studies where we hear the radical truth because we learn as much from the war stories as we do from the successes.
And for me, there’s something at the heart of this which is; The work I’ve done over the last few years has really changed the way that I see the world. It is because I see the world in terms of people’s strengths. Bit by bit, I’ve changed and I really focus on what’s right with people. That’s at the heart of what I do but I can’t help but see people any other way! That’s not to assume that people are perfect. That’s not to assume that everything is positive.
I believe that there’s a problem with authenticity sometimes because we’re all battling to knock the rough edges off other people, to knock the rough edges off ourselves, we can be battling to develop our weaknesses and there’s a danger that we can sometimes see ourselves for what we’re not. And I don’t think that is the way forwards. I think we’ve really got to see people for what they are. We’ve got to appreciate people for what they are, and we’ve also got to appreciate ourselves for what we are. So many people I encounter are a bit hacked off with themselves. In a coaching conversation, people will talk about being disappointed with themselves and will talk about what they’re not. When I encourage them to focus on their strengths and what they are, they will maybe dismiss their strengths. And I think sometimes it is because we’re good at what we do, our strengths are easy to dismiss. We kind of say I’m ‘just’ this or I’m ‘just’ great with people or that comes naturally to me, so we almost underestimate it.
So, I see the world differently. I really do genuinely see it through looking at what is best in people and for seeing people for what they are. And I believe that that’s at the heart of authentic and resilient leadership, finding a way to be what we need to be and to do what we need to do. But to do it in a way that is really authentic and true to ou
rselves. And there’s a danger there’s so many things that can become shallow buzzwords about this.
We can talk about authenticity, vulnerability, radical honesty, integrity but I think at the heart of this is just being who we are.
There’s a danger, sometimes, from the self-help industry that there is this rallying cry that you can be whatever you want to be and you can be whoever you want to be. And it encourages people to be bold and brave and to try to be totally radically new and to reinvent themselves. And I don’t think that is authentic and I don’t think that is resilient. I don’t believe that people can be anything they want to be. But I believe that we can massively be more of who we are, and that enables us to do many, many more things.
So what I want to do in this podcast (it is just me on my own today because I want to give this thing a go and figure our how to to everything that I need to do and how to publish a podcast) is to be interviewing a series of people. I’ll be interviewing a series of successful people and I’ll be asking them about their strengths, about their weaknesses, about how they do what they do, about how they show up in the world as them. Really, it is just a way to showcase successful people and help us all to realise that, when we’re being really honest, we’re not perfect at everything, we’re not absolutely amazing at everything, we’re good at some things and we’re not so good at others but there is a way that we can show up in the world being the absolute best us! And that’s what, over the next few weeks, I’d like to highlight and showcase as a bit of an experiment.
So I’ll look forward to seeing you (if that’t the right expression) next time!
Music from ‘Everything’s Fine’ by the fabulous Isaac Indiana