Author Archives: Mark

The ‘User’s Guide To The Future’ as a coaching tool – new video

Peter Roehrig and Mark McKergow led an online webinar for SFiO about applying the ‘User’s Guide to the Future’ (from Mark’s book Host) as a coaching tool. The webinar is now available online, and is packed with useful ideas.

Mark explains the concept and framework of the Users’ Guide, which helps people to take huge ideas and quickly bring them into focus as coherent small actions.  Peter has added a couple of very useful elements to the framework to make it even more useful as a coaching too.  Peter demonstrates this by coaching one of the webinar participants. We then hear feedback from the coachee, and there is a discussion.  This is a valuable resource for any coach working with people who want to translate ideas into focused action.

Flatten your power gradient with Host Leadership

I was delighted to meet Turn The Ship Around author L. David Marquet last week in Edinburgh.  David was in town to speak about his new book Leadership Is Language: The hidden power of what you say and what you don’t (an excellent read, by the way), in which he goes into detail about the concept of ‘power gradient’

Power gradient, as David writes, is how much more authority or power does a person higher in the hierarchy feel like they have compared to someone lower in the hierarchy. A steep power gradient is where the senior person ‘bosses’ folk around, speaks a lot, marks themselves as different, doesn’t listen much, and encourages people to do what they are told and shut up.  A flatter power gradient, by contrast, has the senior encouraging others to speak up, listening more, reducing the differences and engaging with their people.  Steep power gradients are vestiges of the Industrial Age where thinking was separated from doing, and cultures of control and comply ruled the day.

There are many examples in Marquet’s book of how steep power gradients are suboptimal, ineffective and even downright dangerous in today’s world.  Some of these are in operational settings such as airplane cockpits or ships bridges.  Others (close to home here!) are about corporate settings – Marquet writes entertainingly about Fred ‘The Shred’ Goodwin, under whose rule the Royal Bank of Scotland collapsed – huge offices, thicker carpets, security guards preventing access to the Executive Suite (also known as the ‘Torture Chamber’… The UK Government bailed the bank out to the tune of £45bn, and Goodwin (as I have discussed here) infuriated all concerned by ignoring the norms of host/guest relations and keeping his huge payoff and pension.

Marquet is quite clear that he is not advocating zero power gradient – that would lead to confusion, ambiguity and uncertainty about responsibilities.  However, flattening the power gradient is a key piece of engaging your people and building shared commitment. It’s up to the senior person /leader to do this, as it’s very difficult for your team to initiate such moves (particularly if you’re not looking!).

One effect of embracing a Host Leadership style is that power gradients are flatter. Whereas the hero boss is looking for one-way communication (“Do this! Yes, sir.”), a host leader is seeking to look after their team as well as taking responsibility for them.  Three very practical ways you can make flatter power gradients are:

  • Step back and invite contributions from your team members. In meetings, in briefings, in one-on-one chats, take time to be quiet and let them say what’s important.
  • Ask what they need – to do their jobs, to improve their work, to connect with customers and colleagues better.  (You might not like the answers – but at least everyone will be better informed.)
  • Co-participate! Take time at the sharp end occasionally – you’ll see how things are, how it’s working and what are the challenges faced by your people from day to day. 

What other ways are there you can flatten the power gradient?

Dr Mark McKergow is the co-author of Host: Six New Roles Of Engagement for teams, organisations, communities and movements (Solutions Books, 2014).  He speaks, writes and teaches about post-heroic leadership development and solution-focused organisational change. http://hostleadership.com  

NEW Intro to Host Leadership in Developing Leaders Quarterly – free download

A new introduction to Host Leadership by Mark McKergow has just been featured in the prestigious Developing Leaders Quarterly magazine. The piece appears alongside articles showing the work of top leadership academics and business schools.

The article is a very good way to introduce colleagues and clients to the ideas of Host Leadership, in a short and attractively designed document. You can see the article in the online version of the magazine here, or click here to download the PDF. And please add comments and reactions below!

You can now Follow The Blog by clicking on the ‘Follow’ button at the upper right hand side of every page on this site. This will give you an email update whenever there is new context in the Blog or News sections. It’s a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of the latest news of Host Leadership, other post-heroic leadership movements and interesting events around the world.

Call for Contributions – by 17 Feb please

Plans for the Host Leaderhip Gathering 2020 (13-15 May, Vienna) are coming together and we are seeking contributions. Would you like to lead a workshop, share your experiences of using Host Leadership in your daily work, build some great leadership development processes or talk about the impact of Host Leadership on your team, organisation and your own life? We would love to hear from you soon!

The call for contributions is now out! Please take a look, complete the simple form and send it in by Monday 17 February 2020! We know that’s not long, we want to get some excitement and energy going by quickly moving towards to full and interesting programme for the event.

We are looking forward to hearing from you and seeing you in Vienna in May.

NEW: Follow our blog!

We have at long last found a way to help you to get email alerts to new blogs and news here on the Host Leadership community website. Just look to the right hand side, and you’ll see a button ‘Follow the Host Leadership Community’. Click it, and you’ll be able to get notifications of events, publications, blogs and innovations right to your inbox. Go on, do it now!

Where to find the ‘Follow’ button

The Producer Competences: The art of the impossible

How do you like diverse groups of creatives and managers, build connections, help everyone to do their best work and produce something amazing that nobody’s ever seen before? Be a Producer! That was the message from producer Suzy Glass and Graham Leicester of the International Futures Forum at a fascinating workshop in Edinburgh.

We are at the start of the wonderful Firestarter festival, which has grown from 2016 to be an annual treat of workshops, presentations and learning opportunities to celebrate and build creativity and innovation in public services with a focus on Scotland. There is a packed programme of events over the coming weeks – all free to attend (if you can get a ticket – many are now sold out).

The event on the ‘Producer Competences’ was a new and interesting take on how create and build new things – ‘climbing the mountain that isn’t there’, as Suzy Glass put it. Around 50 people gathered at Whitespace in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle for an instructive and inclusive morning of talks, discussions and sharing. Graham Leicester led off by recalling Jacques Delors’ report from the last century on learning in the 21st century (now!) being about learning to Know, to Be, to Do and to Be Together. He positioned producing as the last two of these, connecting the role to his Three Horizons model.

The Producer has a role in linking up with could be (in the future) with what is now in the present. This role is widely understood (I think) in the arts and creative industries, but it’s relatively new (to me and others in the room today) in terms of organisational initiatives and community development. The Producer is often an outsider who makes connections to allow something – an event, a display, a performance, an exhibition – to be created. Suzy Glass is just such a person, and was lively and generous in sharing her experiences, freewheeling as she sometimes grappled for the words to talk about something she does but less frequently discusses.

Suzy was very clear that producing is NOT ‘project management’ (although project management skills are very useful). It is about finding a vital idea (with life and agency) which often means working with mavericks (not the easiest people sometimes, by definition). Then the idea takes shape, and the producer builds a team, helping everyone to feel comfortable as this shared space appeared and then to (we hope) learn to speak something like the same language. This is a gradual process! Often there are contradictory priorities like artistic coherence and financial accounting in the team, and the producer helps to bridge gaps, bring people together (and occasionally, I sensed, keep them apart). Helping everyone to take the next step confidently is vital – there is no existing map, and possibly not even an existing step to stand on, as the whole endeavour is ‘making it up’.

If the Producer does all this right, then the implementation of the project becomes obvious. We discussed how this means that good Producers are rather invisible, as they are deliberately shining the light onto those out front. Discussions emerged from the group about the challenges of all this in the organisational world, with some finding ‘high people’ who were blocks to change while others had supportive ‘high people’ but immobile middle managers. Suzy picked up an important point when she said that “getting the right people in the room isn’t a diary scheduling problem, it’s a leadership issue”. Graham came back to innovation, saying that there was ‘innovation driven by desperation’ which was about propping up the (failing) current system, and ‘innovation driven by inspiration’ which was about moving to something new.

From a Host Leadership perspective, it seemed to me as if there is a lot of good hosting involved in producing, perhaps rather more extreme than usual, with a very diverse group and apparently divergent priorities being brought together, perhaps initially against their better judgement, to do something not only new but never seen before. This surely requires both a tongue of silver and balls of steel! And a lot of patience, boundary-spanning, connecting, container building and inviting (at the right moments). This was a really fascinating start to Firestarter 2020 – many thanks to the organisers and to Suzy and Graham for putting themselves out front to give voice to some new ideas and possibilities.

There are some new developments coming soon in this area. Graham Leicester has produced a downloadable pamphlet on the Producer Competences, and a Producer Competences programme is planned by IFF based on the Watershed (Bristol) creative producers programme to tease out further learning for outside the arts sector. Contact Graham at the IFF if you’re interested! I’m hoping to keep an eye on these new developments myself as Edinburgh once again appears at the heart of innovation, the arts and community.

New video – Host Leadership as part of a safety strategy

There’s a new and very high quality video available featuring Host Leadership pioneer Dr Mark McKergow in conversation with Andy Shone of Southpac International and HOPLAB, about how leading as a host can fit very well with the latest developments in in building safety (sometimes called ‘Safety 2’).  Mark was in Brisbane, Australia to lead a Host Leadership masterclass, and this 28 minute conversation is a great introduction to hosting as leading and also to the parallels and connections with safety leadership specifically.  Take a look!

There are more videos on our Video page – check them out.

 

The Host Leadership Field Book is available now!

We are very excited to announce that the Host Leadership Field Book is published today and available world wide in paperback and Kindle formats.  This collection of 30 chapters shows Host Leadership in action all over the world in many settings including business leadership, agile, education, social care, coaching, virtual teams, volunteer organisations, organisational change, conflict resolution, training, community building and leadership development.  

The Host Leadership Field Book, edited by Mark McKergow and Pierluigi Pugliese, Foreword by Helen Bailey. Published by Solutions Books on 12 November 2019 in paperback and Kindle formats. ISBN 978-0-9933463-3-0. 276 pages. Paperback £12.99/US$17.

“Puts Host Leadership at the forefront of leadership development approaches, where it deservedly belongs” Paul R. Scheele, PhD. in Leadership & Change, CEO, Scheele Learning Systems, co-founder, Learning Strategies Corporation

“Crystal clear distillations of a key leadership practice suited for our times” Chris Corrigan, global steward, Art of Hosting community of practice

“The key principles of hosting that will help you effectively and quickly build cooperation, trust and results” Dr Ivan Misner, Founder of BNI and NY Times Bestselling Author

 

Ronnie Scott: Host Leader! His famous club is 60 today

Ronnie Scott (photo credit Freddie Warren)

As some of our readers will know, Host author Mark McKergow is a keen semi-pro (occasionally!) jazz saxophonist.  When he was writing Host, Mark was looking for great examples of host leaders in different contexts. One of those was Ronnie Scott – saxophonist, club founder and manager, and general leading light of British jazz between the 1950s and the 1990s. Here’s the section from the Host book about him (from the chapter on the Initiator role, page 92):

Hosting around the world: Keeping going for British jazz at
Ronnie Scott’s
Ronnie Scott was a British tenor saxophonist bewitched by modern jazz. In the 1940s, he had worked his passage on the liners to New York to see the giants of bebop perform in the clubs around 52nd Street, and came back filled with a desire to have something similar in London – a place where young adventurous UK musicians could perform their edgy music without being booed off by unhappy diners, and where the best American stars could perform to a sympathetic audience.

He finally raised £1000 with his colleague Peter King and opened in the basement of 39 Gerrard Street, Soho in 1959. The club was a success, and attracted the musicians and audiences that Scott had envisaged (though they had to fight a union ban on visiting Americans to make it happen). A generation of British players grew up around the scene, with Zoot Sims, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans and many more taking up residencies. Rollins liked the atmosphere of the club so much that he asked to be locked in overnight while he worked on the music for the 1966 film Alfie, starring Michael Caine.

During the 1960s, the club moved to bigger premises in Frith Street, where it remains to this day. Despite being in perpetual financial trouble, Scott and King managed, by hook or by crook, to keep going. Scott died in 1999, but his name and spirit live on – the club still runs late-night sessions of the kind that inspired him in New York. Ronnie Scott was a good tenor saxophonist, but is remembered throughout the jazz world as a brave and persistent Initiator who managed to adjust, keep going and maintain a special place for British musicians.

Today is the 60th birthday of Ronnie Scotts! The club has produced this excellent little video narrated by Stephen Fry about Ronnie and what he ‘initiated’.  Check it out!