Simply email or call and ask for a time. After getting a time assigned please email an overview of the questions you have or challenges you face.
That helps make the 30 minutes as productive as possible. The overview does not need to be long and involved. Make sure your contact information is included. You can set the consultation up as a conference call if you like, in which case I will call you on the number you designate.
Just contact us and ask for a self-assessment link and provide the basic information we will need. We will create a link for your use and send it to you along with a set of guidelines. After the survey closes we will send you the results in a simple format. If you would like a more extensive analysis and report, we would need to negotiate a reasonable fee.
Information We Need:
1. The name of a contact person to whom we will send the link and results and who can also handle questions or glitches.
2. The name of the organization or community (or the specific part being assessed), so that we can title the survey.
3. How long you would like the assessment open for participants. For example, if you want the results in 10 days, then we would close the assessment in 7-8 days. The timing is up to you.
Why Conduct a Self-Assessment?
1. You can check the readiness of your leadership strategies prior to the launch of a journey of change. You will see gaps and opportunities very quickly as well as where your strength lies.
2. If you're in the middle of a journey, you can assess how well your leadership strategies are working, identify vulnerabilities and see where the greatest leverage lies for increasing leadership effectiveness.
3. You can quickly get a good idea of how much value the heroic journey model of leading change can bring to your organization or community.
You can start anywhere you like. Poke around, try applying the tools and templates and worksheets or dive in and immerse yourself.
It won't take long to see how the heroic journey really does tell the story of change - how it tells us what to expect and what to do, how to lead together and how we can bring forth our best.
Every journey and every leadership team is different, so there is no "one size fits all" approach. The following general guidelines will fit most scenarios, but don't be constricted by them.
Remember that, in either scenario, you have chapter summaries, video overviews, QuickStart packets and the "I'm Just Curious" book overview to complement the full chapters. Use these resources creatively to fit your need.
No, it actually isn't over the top. The heroic journey is really the story of change, whether individual, group, organizational or community. It's just told in a larger-than-life fashion in the myths. It's really our story and it's a story that tells us what to expect in change and what to do about it. The importance of the heroic is in the conduct of the journey, not some grand act.
The only differences between the heroic myths and stories and our own personal heroic stories are the following:
Larger than life figures. Most of the heroic figures in the myths are larger than life whereas we, with some exceptions, are ordinary people doing what we need to do to make a difference.
Grand acts. The heroic myths are grand and our own heroism is mostly, though not always, lived out in our daily lives and seems unremarkable in comparison.
Occasional Journeys. The heroic myths tell about occasional journeys and our own journeys are surprisingly frequent and even overlapping at times.
The heroic can be thought of as "little h heroism," although it does inherently call for our best. It may not be over the top, but it will call us to be at the top of our game - and to elevate our game in the process. And, given the leadership challenges we face in our organizations and communities, that is exactly what we are being called to do.
You have been heroic. The life of each individual is made up of many small (and sometimes some very large) heroic journeys, each testing and developing us in different ways. Sometimes we heed a call to go forth and do something we know needs to be done. Sometimes we are thrown into a journey (most corporate change, the death of a family member, a promotion, a move). Sometimes we blunder into a journey (we fail at something, take a wrong turn, violate a policy or a law). The heroic is about these journeys, not a particular larger-than-life act.
Almost all of us, at various times in our lives, have taken the risk to be heroic. They were the times when we were confronted by a significant challenge and responded by going forth from our known worlds or comfort zones into unknown territory, we were tested, saw certain aspects of our lives end and new ones begin, and thus came away significantly changed. We also came away more mature, more whole and with more to contribute to the world, whether in large or small measure.
On the other hand, at other times in our lives we were not heroic when confronted by opportunities or major change. We may have refused the opportunity or the call, choosing to not take the risk or leave our comfort zone. We may have started out strongly and been turned back by fears, despair, or mistakes, or we were simply worn down before completing the journey.
We have the model of the heroic journey built into our DNA. This is not a new model that has to be learned. It needs to be awakened. Most of the stories we have read, the movies we have watched and the make-believe we have created have been based on the heroic journey. Star Wars, the Odyssey, Harry Potter and most books for children have all taught us about the heroic journey. It really is our story.
The heroic journey is the story of change and growth in its healthiest form. It is about becoming increasingly competent, mature, wise, resilient, and able to meet the shifting challenges of the world. As individuals and organizations we go through multiple journeys over the course of a lifetime. Each journey, therefore, builds on past journeys and sets the stage for future journeys.
Almost all cultures have their own versions of the heroic journey to educate their members about what's required for the health of the community as well as creating meaningful lives. The journey plays out in three acts. It is equally relevant for individuals, groups, organizations and communities, although it is told here mostly from an individual perspective.
Act I: Beginnings. The classic heroic journey begins with the crossing of a threshold, leaving a known world or comfort zone. We may (a) "heed a call" to go forth, (b) be thrown into the journey, (c) be lured in, or (d) blunder in. The first challenge is getting past what are called the guardians of the threshold. These guardians take the form of such things as inner doubts or external forces that try to turn us back right at the beginning. They are the first test and test our readiness and worthiness to go forth.
Act II: On the Path. When we do cross the threshold and move through the land that lies on the other side we are faced with tests and trials. These usually require new and altered ways of organizing ourselves in groups, or changes in how we think or perceive things, how we do work, how we relate to others or new competencies required of us.
The heroic journey is a time of endings and beginnings and of the difficult terrain in between. We may find that our tests are physical, intellectual, emotional, or even spiritual and that our changes are, consequently, in one or more of those areas. Different journeys pose different challenges and opportunities and result in different areas of growth.
The journey will often require letting go of many old ways, though certainly not all, in order to give birth to the new. A second set of challenges and tests, often the most deceptively difficult, takes the form of discovering new ways and persevering in mastering the skills they require. The challenge of mastery may be the single biggest, and least appreciated, of the tests on a journey. A third set of tests will involve dealing with the uncertainty, occasional disorientation, and ambiguity of the land between endings and beginnings (sometimes called "inbetweenity").
Heroes Don't Go Alone. Few (if any) of us who cross the threshold have to face the trials and tests alone. On almost all journeys there are helpers of various sorts who can provide direction, tools, challenge, encouragement, and coaching to better cope with the new environment. These supporters come in many forms from family members and colleagues to various advisors and veterans of the heroic journey who share their wisdom and encouragement. Actively developing a support network of these helpers is a critical task in "managing ourselves to lead others" - or sometimes simply surviving a journey. In the corporate and community worlds what is required is a "web" of leaders and effective followers that are aligned on the journey.
Act III: Completions. When we successfully meet the challenges of the journey the final phase is some form of return or completion. We "return" with the gifts that we have discovered, whether new knowledge, new abilities, new ways of working and relating or new technologies. That triggers the final set of challenges.
The hero's return may be the most difficult part of all. Whether individually or as a group, we will be changed at the end of a journey. That will require changes in others, for it will change the nature of relationships and alignments of various kinds. The gifts of the hero can easily threaten the status quo. Once again, this is as relevant for communities and organizations as it is for individuals. We must approach the completion of a journey with our eyes open. In fact, we should have been preparing to deal with this ripple effect from the middle of the journey - as soon as we could project the likely ripples of our emerging changes.
Your roles are critical, but limited. In general, your most intense focus will be in the beginning, Act I of the heroic journey. This is because beginnings matter - a lot. The model will give you a map of what to expect as well as what to do. It is a model that can provide common ground for you, for senior management, for middle management and for the natural leaders that you involve. It is an elegant model for delegation and coordination of specific leadership roles and strategies.
Two Critical Leadership Roles. The most critical leadership role is the Visionary, with its strategies of (1) establishing the reason for the journey of change - the business case; (2) the vision of the desired state to be attained and its likely impact on stakeholders; and (3) leadership's com mitment to the way the journey will be led . Played well, the Visionary role sets up all the other roles for success. Played poorly, all the other roles have to compensate and that's a tough slope.
The other role that is almost always of critical importance for a CEO is that of the Architect. This role provides the structural elements of (1) the organizational design required by the vision; the plan(s) for conducting the journey to the envisioned desired state; and (3) the web of leaders required to actually implement the plan and achieve the vision.
These two roles are almost always done in partnership with senior leadership. Combining the direction of the Visionary and the structure of the Architect provides the foundation on which others throughout the organization can come together to take on their leadership roles. That foundation is your highest leverage opportunity as CEO.
Other Points of Leadership Leverage. Beyond a focus on those two roles, your involvement is really a question of where you think you can make the greatest difference over the course of the journey. Your senior executives and then your middle managers can take the lead on the other roles as more and more people are engaged and effective leadership extends out into the organization (the leadership web).
However, "delegating doesn't mean done," so attention to the building and maintaining of the leadership web along with ongoing accountability are two areas of continuing high leverage. These fall to the Catalyst and then the Builder and the Guide.
The most deceptive areas that you might want to watch closely are (1) the process of building the capabilities required for success in the envisioned desired state and (2) the final process of aligning and attuning the organization and its people. These are strategies of the Builder (the mastery process) and the Integrator and they require a lot of discipline because these are areas that are usually overlooked by organizations.
How to Use the Site. The site is easy to navigate with one page introductions, brief summaries and short overview videos for each chapter. There are also QuickStart implementation packets for each chapter. (For example see the guiding questions in the QuickStart packets for Roles and Strategies and Leadership Webs). The site makes it easy to engage others as it provides a coherent and comprehensive model that can provide common ground for aligning leaders across the organization.
For senior managers the central challenges are to (1) partner with the CEO in setting the dir ecti on for the jo urne y and designing the leadership structure to support it; (2) build the leadership web - engaging, challenging and supporting middle management in the execution of the journey - maintaining leadership discipline all the way through completion; and (3) maintain leadership discipline and finish strong
Note: "Senior Management" may refer to formal positions or to the core leadership team for the journey of change.
The model will provide a framework for partnering with the CEO as well as for engaging middle management and your natural leaders. It can put everyone on common ground about what to expect and what to do as well as provide a foundation for healthy accountability as the journey unfolds.
(1) Partner with the CEO to Launch the Journey.
This partnership focuses on the two leadership roles in the beginning of a journey - and beginnings matter a lot.
The Visionary Role. The partnership establishes the need for the journey (the business case), develops the "big picture" vision of the desired state to purs ue and makes a commitment to people about how the journey will be led.
The Architect Role. Others may be brought into the Architect role, but the CEO and senior management still hold the primary responsibility for the three core strategies. One is the organization design required to be successful in the desired state, which can reflect a few key changes or many changes across the organization. The second strategy is creating the plan for leading the journey. The third is designing the leadership web that will bring the power, reach, credibility, and resilience required for success in implementing the plan.
(2) Build the Leadership Web to Sustain the Journey
Engage, challenge and support middle management (formal roles as well as natural leaders). This involves bringing people into the leadership web in productive roles and supporting them in executing those roles. In most cases the CEO will be pulling back to an oversight role with targeted interventions and senior management will be the senior leaders. The stronger the leadership web, the easier that will be.
The Catalyst Role. This is the "force multiplier" for senior management - the role that helps them extend their leadership. Playing the Catalyst role senior management brings people into the leadership web in productive roles and prepares them to be successful on the journey. This is also where more people are involved to add realistic detail to the vision and organization design - "operationalizing" the vision, which builds understanding and commitment.
The Guide Role. If the leadership has been constructed and prepared well, senior management can look to the web to carry most of the responsibility for the Guide's strategies. Those include strong communication systems, coaching people in letting go of the old ways and dealing with "inbetweenity" and frequent informal accountability checks that complement the formal accountability system. Senior management provides oversight and support as well as removing barriers that can't be removed at lower levels.
The Builder Role. For senior management the Builder role is very similar to the Guide role - oversight, support and barrier removal. Please note however, that senior management does need to pay particularly close attention to the processes that support the individual, group and systemic capacity building required for success in the desired state being pursued. This includes ensuring that the necessary resources are actually committed and that people are consistently encouraged to stretch to achieve the capabilities. This is the most deceptively difficult challenge in most journeys and will sabotage the journey if it is overlooked.
(3) Maintain Leadership Discipline and Finish Strong
Much can be gained and much can be lost depending on how journeys are completed. The leadership role in completions is the Integrator.
The Integrator Role. Senior management may need to increase its involvement in this leadership role, particularly in regard to ensuring that all elements of the organization are realigned to "fit" and achieve synergy. Senior management must also ensure that the impact of the organization's changes on others (the "ripple effect") are tracked and managed. Finally, senior management needs to provide the leadership discipline to learn from the experience and translate that learning into increased change capability and resilience.
Oh, yes. Did you really expect a different answer? Most of us play both leadership and followership roles in our lives. For middle managers involved in a journey of change this is particularly true. As a middle manager you will probably follow senior execs in some cases and lead the effort in other settings that are within your sphere of control or influence. And you will need to do so collaboratively with peers in many of these situations.
You will need to take a "360" perspective for most of the journey. The CEO and senior executives may be heavily involved in the beginning of a journey as well as at key points throughout, but guess who picks up leadership roles early and carries them without wavering all the way to the end of the journey?
The dual challenge is to (1) play the appropriate leadership roles to be worthy of followers; and (2) exhibit the appropriate followership behaviors to support senior leadership AND take care of your health and well-being in the process.
That's really just the nature of most organizations and it highlights the significance of the managers in the middle as well as the need for a strong web of leaders that can share the load and support each other.
The Six Leadership Roles - A Middle Manager's Perspective
Let's Look at Each of the Six Leadership Roles. These are the roles that you will be playing in partnership with senior leadership as part of the leadership web. When orchestrated well, these are the leadership roles that will always provide a solid foundation - they just need to be adapted for each journey.
Act I - Leadership in the Beginning - Start Strong
1. The Visionary Role. For changes that span the organization you will probably be following the lead of senior leadership in making the business case for the journey, communicating the "big Picture" vision and letting people know how the journey will be led. Reinforcing senior leadership and extending leadership into the organization is critical for these strategies. If you are leading a change that is more focused on your area of responsibility you will probably take the lead in developing these strategies - and will be relying on others to reinforce and support you.
2. The Architect Role. This is the role that determines the organization design necessary to achieve the vision. It can include anything from structure to roles and from processes to competencies and management style. The Architect also develops the plan for the journey and the design of the web of leaders required to execute the plan. As with the Visionary role you may be following senior management and extending the leadership into the organization or you may be initiating the role in the area of your responsibility.
Act II - Leadership on the Path - Hold the Course
3. The Catalyst Role. The strategies of the Catalyst are to engage many more people in productive roles in the web of leaders and followers, add operational detail to the vision and the organization design and prepare people for the journey. If you have not been engaged before, you will certainly be engaged here and will play a larger and larger role.
4. The Guide Role. Sometimes middle managers help create the communications systems required and sometimes they simply make them work. Middle managers are major players in helping people let go of old ways and deal with the experience of "inbetweenity", the stresses of having let go of those old ways but not yet having discovered and mastered the new ways. Middle managers are also key to healthy accountability, particularly the informal and frequent checkpoints that keep the change process on track and energy renewed.
5. The Builder Role. This is the partner of the Guide. Middle managers are also critical in this role as the Builder is responsible for maintaining the leadership web and building the individual, group and systemic capabilities required for success on the journey and in the desired state at the end of the journey. The Builder also is responsible for coaching people through the deceptively difficult process of mastery and challenging senior leaders to support that mastery with resources.
Act III - Leadership in Completion - Finish Strong
6. The Integrator Role. Here is a major challenge for middle managers. That challenge is to maintain leadership discipline, not get distracted by the next project or journey and "finish strong." In particular it means ensuring that the various elements and people of the organization have been realigned after all the changes and "fit" or work together. That can mean presenting some difficult truths about lack of alignment and pushing for key decisions to complete the journey well.
Middle Management Leadership is Essential. An organization will simply not have the power, reach, credibility, flexibility and resilience required over the course of a journey of change without the leadership of middle management. That means that (1) senior management has to engage middle managers in effective leadership roles and (2) that middle managers have to step up and take on those roles.
Although the heroic journey applies as well to community change as it does to organizational change, there are some very significant natural differences in how the leadership roles are likely to play out. Because every change, whether community or organizational, is going to vary in its nature, there is no simple "one size fits all" answer.
The basic foundation of the heroic journey will hold, but it is important to reflect on the differences and determine in general the implications for the crafting of the leadership roles and strategies. This is particularly important for leaders of organizations who are also in leadership roles in communities. The roles and strategies may be the same, but they may look very different.
Trying to lead a journey of change in a community with the same assumptions that hold in organizations is usually an unhappy experience. Many factors are the same, but the ones that are not make all the difference if ignored.
There are many reasons why community change is often much more difficult than organizational change and some are listed below:
1. More people. In most cases many more people are involved. As the number of people increases, the demands on most of the leadership strategies increase as does the need for a more extensive web of leaders and followers.
2. More diversity. There is usually much more diversity among the people that are involved, ranging from socio-economic situation and religion to degree of interest and involvement in the community as well as experience with change.
3. Ripple effects. Because communities are so complex and their systems, institutions, and neighborhoods are so interdependent, the ripple effects of change and the need for coordinated/integrated efforts is extraordinary.
4. Beliefs and interests. Various groups' interests and beliefs will naturally be in conflict in many areas, thus increasing tension, challenging trust levels, inhibiting cooperation, lengthening the change process, and making it more difficult to achieve a critical mass of support.
5. Multiple commitments and priorities. Most people are involved in one or more organizations or corporations, which demand time and attention and usually offer change opportunities that are more contained and of shorter duration (they are not as overwhelming). Community change is also easier to avoid and often "takes a back seat" to corporate changes, which can easily draw people's attention and effort.
6. Courage and complexity. Effectively committing to significant community change requires acknowledging the need for change and confronting the anxiety, fear, or despair that will inevitably accompany the awareness of the magnitude and complexity of community needs.
7. Perceived capabilities vs. the challenge. Directly confronting the need for community change also brings up questions about individual, group, and community capabilities to achieve needed change. The perceived characteristics and capabilities of the community often do not appear to match the power of the challenges. This can inhibit people's willingness to engage and can undermine the efforts when the inevitable surprises and setbacks are encountered
8. Leadership turnover. There is often so much movement in and out of communities or in and out of key positions and roles, that continuity of development and the ability to "hold the course" is crippled, often through the loss of painstakingly developed relationships.
(See the end of the chapter on Leadership Roles and Strategies for more.)
Along with the factors that complicate community ch ange there are some elements on the other side of the balance that can add to the power in service of community change. These elements are not missing in organizational change, but they are usually not present in the same degree.
1. Perceived value. For many people the value of community transcends the value of specific organizations or companies. When engaged their commitment is often deeper, more resilient, and more enduring.
2. Endurance and resilience. Communities can usually endure a lack of effective change longer than organizations, although a high price may be paid. That provides more time for people to step forward and more opportunities for new efforts following unsuccessful or partially successful efforts. Most successful community change is, in fact, built on a history that included unsuccessful or partially successful efforts.
3. Aligned diversity. The variety of community changes provides more opportunities for people of diverse capabilities, styles, and interests to become involved. The effective involvement of people with such diversity can provide an extraordinary sense of possibility, capability, confidence, and excitement.
(See the end of the chapter on Leadership Roles and Strategies for more.)
The leadership challenges presented by our world keep changing and the challenges are becoming more complex and more interdependent. They come one on top of another and they require more people to take on leadership roles.
For instance, on a global scale we face environmental, socio-political and health challenges - as well as challenges of dangerous economic imbalances. Nationally and in local communities we deal with issues of safety, economic health, faith in government, education, race relations and general quality of life. Our organizations face constant challenges to change, from changes in structure, roles and relationships to changes in processes, technologies and management style. Many of us face changes in more than one of these domains and feel a need to be involved in still more.
In the myths, heroes have never gone alone on journeys and few of the challenges we face now can be successfully met with one or even a few leaders - regardless of their competence. An essential part of leading these journeys of change is the creation of a strong, resilient, and flexible web of leaders and followers that can provide the reach and sustainable power that will be needed.
In a successful web, leaders and followers have a common understanding of the reason for the journey, where they are going, the relationships required, the roles that need to be played and the strategies employed and they are prepared for those roles and the journey. Such a web is made up of both individuals and groups and, like a spider's web, is designed to cover a wide area while conserving resources, but providing tremendous strength and flexibility.
The development of such a web usually starts with a strong core group and then extends outward so that it touches all key areas of the organization or community. One of the key leadership challenges is "weaving the web", which includes not only extending it from its core, but also maintaining it as it goes through the "wear and tear" along the journey.
"Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others." Winston Churchill
Courage is the quality or characteristic that is most often called upon in major journeys of change. Courage comes from Latin and French roots, meaning "heart". In its simplest form it has to do with an attitude or response of facing or engaging with something that is perceived as dangerous, painful, or difficult. Courage is not the absence of fear or anxiety, but the willingness to move ahead in spite of it.
Courage can come in many forms, but there are four forms that are at the heart of the ability to meet the heroic challenges posed for leaders and followers. Each may be obvious, but the depth of courage required is surprising. They are also linked and support each other. They also rely on each other, for none will have much of an effect without the others.
Our ability to call on our courage provides the foundation for everything else. Those forms of courage are the courage to:
(See the section on Courage in the chapter on saying "Yes" to the journey)
Not by themselves. Leading change is a team sport. A number of people might play all six of the leadership roles, but they will play them in varying degrees of intensity and they will play them with others. For example, a CEO might play the Visionary and Architect roles intensively, but engage others to take the lead with the other roles. The CEO would stay engaged to ensure those roles are played well and barriers are removed, but they would be less "hands on."
Other executives or managers might play the Visionary and Architect roles to a lighter degree, but have a major focus on the roles of Catalyst, Guide, Builder or Integrator. How these roles are played and who plays them is one of the key issues for any leadership team.
However a leader at any level plays the leadership roles, they will need to play them in concert with others - as part of the leadership web.
The best models of corporate and community change are based on the heroic journey, even if their authors weren't conscious of that fact, so they will be very compatible. That makes this site a no-lose proposition for you.
The information in Answering the Call, Knowledge of the Journey, Leadership Webs and the Four Forms of Courage provides the foundation for the Heroic Leadership Roles and Strategies. It provides the same foundation and depth for other models. That means that you can rely on that foundation and then choose whichever model of leadership actions you like the best.
There isn't a catch. There are really three reasons that I decided to simply put most of what I had written about the Heroic Journey as a model for leading performance change on a website - and make it free.
There are things worth doing in life. It's important to me to make a difference. And to help others to do the same.
There are relationships worth having. I will naturally end up in conversations and relationships worth having because people will be attracted to the heroic and won't have to worry about buying anything when contacting me. We will be free to talk about how to make things happen that need to be done.
There are clients worth having. The right people will hire me to work with them on the right projects. People will self-select as clients because of the difficulty of the challenges they face and/or because they see the value of the heroic model and know how to work effectively with consultants.
I get that question a lot. I hired Ample, which is a small (5-6 person) firm that is large enough to provide each of the skill sets required (design, tech, editing, etc.), yet small enough to be very easy to work with and very creative. www.helloample.com