Author Archives: Mark

Host Leadership Hint #2: Be an Initiator and make the first move

This second Host Leadership Hint in our new series comes from Dr Mark McKergow, co-author of the Host book. 

As I write this, people around the world are starting to emerge from a strange time of physical separation combined with high levels of mutual interdependence.  We have to stay separate, and yet we may be even more reliant on others – to bring supplies, to connect for conversation, to stay clean and safe, to contain the virus. In such a world, acting as a Initiator – making the first move – is even more important than usual. 

I live in a rather splendid street in central Edinburgh.  I and my wife Jenny had met a few neighbours once a couple of years ago, but nothing since – people largely seemed to keep themselves to themselves.  When the lock-down came, Jenny thought to dig out the email addresses she had, write to everyone and suggest that we might keep a note of each other’s contact details in case of emergencies, anyone needed shopping or whatever. There was an immediate and enthusiastic response; good idea, great to hear from you, adding new people, and so on. 

A Whatsapp group then started. Information was shared about local greengrocers and fishmongers who were delivering. One brave neighbour even requested that Mark might play his saxophone in the street, which has developed into a weekly performance for eleven weeks. And all this started because  SOMEONE stepped forward to get it moving.  

This is the Host Leadership role of the Initiator – the role of seeing that something needs to happen, could be a priority, might be important.  SOMEONE has to make the first move. And that move, in Host Leadership, might lead to an invitation to others to get involved. 

There are opportunities out there right now with things needing to happen, and people wondering who might do something.  What can you start? How can you make the first move? How can you give other people something to notice and respond to? 

PS Mark has been initiating himself in the last couple of week with his new Village-In-The-City Manifesto – take a look on the Host Leadership website

Host Leadership online meet-up Tuesday 30 June 6pm UK

We are holding our first public open meet-up on Tuesday 30 June 2020 at 6pm UK (19h CET) for 90 minutes. These are open to anyone, aimed at those with at least a little existing understanding or interest about Host Leadership. (There will be other online introductions to Host Leadership – the first was in May 2020 and can be seen here.)

The topic of this meet-up is ‘Could it be that simple? When implementing Host Leadership feels natural’ and will be led by Gery Derbier.  Gery is experienced at using Host Leadership in Agile and other fields, and has found that simply introducing the idea into a conversation can have significant and long-lasting results.  Gery says:

“Considering the vast amount of literature available, it seems leadership and management in organisations is a complicated matter. But is it? Since Mark McKergow told me about Host Leadership for the first time some six years ago, I have run several workshops in conferences and incorporated the material in the Agile Management trainings I give with Laurent Sarrazin. Each time, the response of the participants in these events has been very positive. But the most satisfying results I have seen came from rather simple conversations.”

“I will share some stories and then we can discuss together about all our ideas about how to best convey and spread the Host Leadership metaphor.”

Please see more details and sign up for this online meet-up at https://connexxo.com/events/host-leadership-workshop-with-gery-derbier/. We look forward to seeing you on the call!

Village-In-The-City Zoom call 29 June 2020

Our Village-In-The-City manifesto has been attracting attention. Now it’s time to open an invitation to anyone wanting to find out more, share ideas and build on what works in building and sustaining micro-local communities in our cities and towns.  (And even our villages too…). As the post-COVID recovery gathers pace, we can build on the local initiatives which started with the pandemic and look to connect, share and invigorate local activities.  The Manifesto gives a powerful and coherent framework for creating and building Villages-In-The-City.

This Zoom call will be led by Dr Mark McKergow (Host Leadership), Dr Wendy Ellyat (Flourish Project) and Adrian Hodgson (urban development consultant, Berlin) to discuss why the Village-In-The-City is an idea whose time has definitely come, to engage with a range of voices, to share resources and to discover what might be some next steps to build back better.

The call is on Monday 29 June at 4pm UK time (17h CET) for one hour.  Please register using this link – you will receive the call link by email. If you have any questions in advance please contact Mark McKergow.

The Village-In-The-City Manifesto version 4

Join Mark and Lara Celini for call #2, Village-Building on Wednesday 29 July 2020 at 4pm UK time – free, find out more about the project and how you can become a village-builder with us.

As the post-pandemic ‘new normal’ emerges and develops, the usefulness and resilience of very local connections has become increasingly clear.  The levels of local can be seen as house; street; village; town; district; city.  The potential for connection at the village level – even in much bigger settlements like towns and cities – is clear. Architect Richard Rogers (2017) identified over 620 ‘High Streets’ in London alone, each of which is central to its own village. 

Village-level activity can:

  • improve all our lives in the short term and long term. Both building an active community and being part of one are positive experiences
  • build inclusive cross-generation and cross-demographic community, to expand our awareness of how the world is for those around us
  • build resilience and mutual support with people right there on the doorstep, continuing and expanding the positive developments seen during the COVID pandemic
  • connect businesses, support groups, families, churches, secular groups and everyone else with an identity and local participation
  • act as a necessary counterbalance to the recent amazing developments in online communication; access to global communication produces a space for micro-local in-person interaction
  • help citizens become more empowered and purposefully connected than they have been in recent years.

 This manifesto sets out the village-in-the-city concept as a way of consciously building on this in ways which expand on the best of micro-local. Villages (in this sense) have:

  • A name –  usually this already there
    • Recognisable, distinctive, widely known and used
  • Inclusivity
    • Everyone who lives there is a ‘member’
    • Addressing multiple hopes, needs and interests
    • Drawing on the ‘treasure within’ – skills, resources, desire to participate 
  • Meeting places (accessible to all and within walking distance)
    • Indoor – halls, pub rooms,
    • Outdoor – public spaces, green places
    • Places for chance encounters as well as planned events
  • Connection within the village
    • Papers, newsletters, emails, Facebook groups, Whatsapp available to all
    • News and updates which go to everyone
    • Fostering two-way communication (not just ‘us’ to ‘them’ or ‘hub’ to ‘rim’)
    • Has a way to reach out to newcomers and engage them
  • Hosts
    • This role should be shared around – multiple hosts make for wider participation and less burn-out
    • Can be an informal role (people just doing it) as well as more structured
    • Not just ‘organisers’ but also co-participants, joining in along with everyone else
  • Inclusive gatherings
    • Milestones in the year to bring people together – summer garden party, Hogmanay, Christmas Fayre, music weekend,
    • Regular inclusive opportunities to meet, build community and reflect – perhaps including churches, teas/coffees, drop-ins, perhaps a Sunday Assembly
    • Open community events like homeworker meetups, film club, play streets, quizzes etc etc
    • The more specific and locale-relevant the better
  • And… an ‘identity’
    • What makes this a special place?  

Note that this is not:  

  • A formal administrative unit
  • Somewhere with a formal leader/governance
  • A rules-enforcement body
  • Something with a budget or funding (when the funding stops, the activities stop)

Build your village – balance your life  

This is almost certainly going on already in some ways where you are; find it, build on it, engage others, reinvent old traditions and start new ones. Interested? Join the Facebook group. Post on social media #VillageInTheCity. Then download the Village Builder Worksheet and start your local conversations.

Mark McKergow is an author, consultant and coach based in the West End, Edinburgh, Scotland. He has written extensively on the role of hosts in building communities and organisations, and is the author of Host: Six New Roles of Engagement (with Helen Bailey, 2014) and the Host Leadership Field Book (with Pierluigi Pugliese, 2019). Find out more about Mark at hostleadership.com and sfwork.com.

Relevant articles and links:

2 June 2020: Draft 1, 4 June 2020 Draft 2 including more detail, Facebook group and worksheet, 12 June 2020: Draft 3 with expanded preamble 18 June Draft 3.1, expanded preamble. 14 July, Draft 4, expanded preamble and opening statements.

(This is a draft which I want to develop with your help – please leave comments below or contact me at mark@sfwork.com.  Many thanks to Dr Wendy Ellyat (Flourish Project), Jim Mather (Heriott Watt University), Adrian Hodgson (Berlin) and Lara Celini (Willowbrae) for their initial support and ideas.)   

References

Rogers, R., Brown, R. (2017). A Place For All People: Life, architecture and the fairer society. Edinburgh: Canongate Books

Host Leadership Hint #1: Creating the space in online meetings

This first Host Leadership Hint in our new series comes from Pierluigi Pugliese, co-editor of the Host Leadership Field Book.

Even without giving any credibility to all the people insinuating we’re the whole day in video conferences with no pants on, our communication has undoubtedly become more casual: from the style of clothing we’re wearing while communicating, to the details of our kitchen as our background.

Actually it seems to us that this informality is actually helping business communication become more human. Yes, even the sudden appearance of a child asking his daddy to read a story while daddy is in a very serious management meeting…

Nonetheless, as a host for such a meeting you could (and, I dare say, should!) think of creating a proper space, even with the limited possibilities you have by staying in front of your webcam:

  • Ensure you have a good audio and video: it will help you being understood better by the other, verbally and non
  • If you need an agenda for your meeting, make it visible (shared document, shared screen, …)
  • A space is something for everybody, so invite the others to participate to whatever shared document: share them so they are editable, make them living documents for the whole group
  • Welcome people at the threshold – be there when they arrive: we will have more about the benefits of this in a future hint
  • Help the other participants to solve their connection problems: from bad audio to mute when they are not talking to giving them feedback about their image (for example: if they have a window on their back, chances are their face will be too dark!)

To hear more from Pierluigi, join his 90 minute free online workshop on Wednesday 13 May 2020. Register now!

To get a new Host Leadership Hint every few weeks, register on the front page of hostleadership.com.

NEW online workshops and meet-ups – starts Wed 13 May 2020

We are beginning to run online events which will be accessible world wide. Many of these events will be run by members of the Host Leadership Stewards community, who themselves use and teach about Host Leadership.

The first of these is a FREE online 90 minute workshop introducing Host Leadership with Pierluigi Pugliese. Pierluigi is the co-editor with Mark McKergow of the Host Leadership Field Book, and has been using and teaching about Host Leadership for some years in Germany and Italy. (The workshop will be in English!)

For more details and to register, please click here to visit the relevant page of Pierluigi’s website.

We plan to hold similar workshops every couple of months, alternating them with online meet-ups to discuss and learn about particular aspects of leading as a host. More news soon!

New video: Mark McKergow on Hosting Generative Change

Mark McKergow’s new book on Hosting Generative Change: Creating Containers for Creativity and Commitment is out now. In this video, Mark is interviewed by Prof Gervase Bushe, leading dialogic OD expert and co-founder of the Bushe Marshak Institute, about the book. Mark reveals some of his own back story here along with the single most useful thing hosts and facilitators can do to tip the scales in their favour when organising a dialogic event.

You can find more videos featuring Mark speaking about the power of hosting and host leadership in our Video resources page.

NEW book: Hosting Generative Change

Mark McKergow’s new book Hosting Generative Change: Creating Containers for Creativity and Commitment is now out! Part of the BMI Series on Dialogic Organization Development, the book is a short and punchy guide on using hosting skills to bring people together to generate new possibilities, actions and futures.

“When the future is uncertain and the past is contested, good hosting can bring hope and co-operation into the present.

Any Dialogic OD practice will bring people together for creative conversations, expanded horizons, mutual connection and committed action. The way these events are hosted can make all the difference. Mark McKergow offers an image of superb hosting as a mix of detailed planning and openness to whatever emerges, taking the lead when needed, with the intent of stepping back as quickly as possible so participants can lead themselves.”

The book is designed to be read in two hours, and is illustrated with a punchy and lively case study of OD in action in the Robson Royal hospital. It’s available in paperback and Kindle formats worldwide, priced at around $20US. And of course you can ‘look inside’ the book on the various Amazon websites around the world.

Information and links to place to buy the book are on the BMI website.

“Change the way people think and things will never be the same” epitomises the impact that Mark McKergow has had over the years. His work in Solutions Focus is now being used in many of the world’s leading organisations. I have every confidence that in years to come, his most recent profound work about hosting will become common knowledge and practice too.

Trevor Durnford, Chair, International Association of Facilitators

People who do OD work on the ground and aim to foster effective organisational change will find this book extremely useful. Mark McKergow combines two models – Host Leadership and generative change – in an insightful way, illustrated by a detailed application case. This approach fits perfectly the needs of both OD workers and organisational leaders.

Susanne Burgstaller, Usolvit, Vienna, Austria

In times of constant flux, how do we host generative change? First our diagnostic approaches need to give way to the generative discussions that create emergent change. Mark McKergow writes another first, providing the guide on how leaders and facilitators can transform themselves to host these generative change events.

Carey Glass, organizational psychologist, Melbourne, Australia

If ever we needed an apt metaphor for leadership in complex times, it is now. Hosting rather than directing seems to be a much more useful way of thinking about leadership and change. There has never been a better time for leaders to start engaging their communities in facing up to a complex collective problems, and Mark McKergow’s book is a well written and lucid guide into how to do exactly that.

Mike Brent, Faculty and Professor of Practise,  Ashridge Executive Education @Hult International  Business School, co author of best-selling books The Leaders’ Guide to Influence and the Leaders’ Guide to Coaching

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