Author Archives: Mark

NEW online meet-up: Host Leadership past, present and future – Mon 14 December 2020

Join us for this 90 minute online event with Dr Mark McKergow, co-author of Host and the Host Leadership Field Book. Mark will be sharing how his work about leading as a host (rather than a hero or a servant) has evolved over the past 18 years, and lead a discussion about future developments and applications. He spent well over a decade researching what great hosts and leaders really do, and produced user-friendly frameworks such as the six roles and four positions of a host leader to help apply the power of engagement in organisations.

Mark will be joined by members of the international host leadership community who are applying these ideas all over the world to help leaders to build engagement, performance and results and to make organisations more humane AND more effective.

If you have yet to explore host leadership, this will be a great introduction. If you have heard about the models and approaches, this will be a fantastic re-awakening of the work. If you are using host leadership in practice, we would love to hear from you at the session.

This session will be held on Zoom. Places are limited. There will be a chance to engage with others as well as hearing from Mark and asking questions. The Zoom link will be sent to those who register for the event.

Join us on Monday 14th December 2020 for this meet-up to explore the next stages of host leadership. All welcome. Really.

Book free online at Host Leadership: past, present and future Tickets, Mon 14 Dec 2020 at 18:00 | Eventbrite.

Host Leadership Hint #3: Connect with people at the threshold – even in online meetings

As a host leader, we seek to meet people at the threshold. There is a key moment as people arrive when we want to be in a position to welcome them into the space, say hello, make a direct connection and perhap explain any house rules or routines.  This is in contrast, of course, to the hero leader who keeps themselves hidden away to maintain the mystique, or the old-fashioned teacher who shows up last into the room and expects everyone else to leap to their feet.  

This is true in online meetings as well. In fact, there are all kinds of good reasons to be first online in meetings you are hosting. You get to say hello as people arrive, have a quick catch up, sort out any technical problems and e available for quick exchanges on emerging issues. 

There are two other options, neither of which are as good. You could make everyone wait until you arrive at the appropriate time, which sounds efficient but actually encourages the others to come along late (not wanting to hang around for you).  Or you can allow people to join the meeting without you, and give them a space to talk about you behind your back. (Zoom, for example, has a setting for this in the unlikely event that you want to do it.) 

So be the first person in, and perhaps also the last person out.  People will feel welcomed into your space, and be encouraged to give of their best. 

What are your top tips for getting productive by welcoming people at the threshold online? Please add comments below and we’ll share them (with acknowledgement, of course).

New poster resources for Host Leadership

This is a guest blog from Leah Davcheva of Aha Moments in Sofia, Bulgaria. Leah is an experienced user and teacher of host leadership in many settings, and has designed a new collection of posters to support her work. These posters are now available for free download through the Host Leadership website.

The Host Leader metaphor underpins the host leading practices which can be thought of as involving two steps, four positions and six roles. For those willing to explore the metaphor and generate engagement in their own settings, a conversation about the metaphor can be usefully complemented by the images that capture their meaning. At the same time, they open space for learners and users of the model to create their own meanings and ideas.

For several years now, as coach and facilitator, I was using the images that Mark and Helen, authors of Host, have created (McKergow & Bailey, 2014). Their figurines did an excellent job supporting learners of Host Leadership in their understanding of the elegance and simplicity of the metaphor and at the same time bringing forth smiles of appreciation on their faces.

By and by, I realised I wanted to have images emerging from my own developing ideas and practices, as well as from the insights of the people I have worked with. The moment came to respond to this “call to action” (Initiator). What I did was invite an artist (Inviter), who I knew to be very good at collaborating with people. Her name is Radostina Nejkova.

Our joint journey towards the creation of the new images took the shape of a dance. As our respective areas of expertise were called upon, we alternated between performing as host and guest. The transitions seemed to flow spontaneously. I welcomed Radostina as a guest to the field of Host Leadership while she guided me elegantly round and about her artistic home.

With the wisdom of hindsight, I can see us both performing as Gatekeepers welcoming each other to our respective understandings. It did not take long for us to discover each other’s resources and connect on the images piece of common ground (Connector) which we expanded as our work gained speed. Step by step we were getting closer to both our shared and separate horizons.

The outcomes of this co-participative journey are several:

  • New images for the two steps, four positions and six roles
  • Radostina’s satisfaction with her artistic work and my joy of the new images
  • A new friendship emerging between two professional women who have performed as both Host Leaders and Guests in their shared two-week project.

You can download our posters at: http://hostleadership.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Leah_Posters_colour.pdf

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

This is the original version of the Village In The City concept. Due of the very large interest in this topic, we are continuing the project at a dedicated website, http://villageinthecity.net. Please go there for the latest news, manifesto, village-building resources, calls and how to Put Your Village On The Map.

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.