I am very excited that the website for the 2020 Host Leadership Gathering is already online, and it looks great! Many thanks to Ralph Miarka and Veronika Kotrba for this wonderful front-door to the event, 13-15 May 2020 in Vienna, Austria. Book your place now. https://hostleadershipgathering2020.sinnvoll-fuehren.com/.
We at Host Leadership are very excited that the fourth international Host Leadership Gathering will be held in Vienna, Austria next year from 13-15 May 2020. I am sometimes asked why we style these events ‘gatherings’ and not ‘conferences’. This might be a good moment to share some thoughts about why this is an important distinction for a host leader.
What’s a conference for? Well, to confer, I guess. The etymology of conference shows it coming from the Latin word conferre, which means “to bring together; deliberate, talk over”. It seems to me that In the modern world conferences have become more and more talky, programmed and pre-organised. A series of speakers (often with too much Powerpoint and too little audience engagement) parade their thoughts with little time for questions, discussion or emerging topics and issues. In face, the term ‘unconference’ has been coined to promote events which value the latter engagement over the formal inputs.
The word gathering, however, comes from the Old English word gaderung, meaning “an assembly of people, act of coming together”. This is already much less talky than a conference. Firstly, to the English speaking ear at least, there is a distinction between old English-derived words and Latin-derived words. The former are earthier and more homely, the latter are higher-register and ‘fancier’. Secondly, the purpose of a gathering IS the coming-together – for all sorts of reasons, not just talking.
A ‘clan gathering’ is a term in Scotland (where I now live) for events which the ancient Scottish clans organise from time to time. These take place perhaps every few years and attract people from around the world to a varied programme of events – including dancing, music, food, social events, walks, parades, religious services, reconciliation meetings with other clans (really!), discussions, connections and re-connections and, yes, perhaps a formal Clan Society meeting. The purpose of these events is much more than simply talk – it is about meeting others with shared connection in community, about re-establishing relationships, about taking stock, about re-connecting with traditions (and perhaps forging new traditions as well).
I hope that Host Leadership Gathering will continue to be more like gatherings than conferences. Yes, of course we will have speakers and talking – but every event so far has had a social element as well, included in the programme rather than as an add-on. We started with at the first SOLWorld conferences in Bristol in 2002 and 2003 – a conference dinner for all, included in the ticket price, where we could all sit down together and eat. From 2003 we also had a cabaret, with entertainment by the people and for the people. I am still surprised by the number of events to which I go these days which seem to think that a series of speeches is a satisfactory way to bring people together.
So, a gathering is about being together, sharing, doing things that build connections, with as much joining in (co-participating) as possible. Sounds familiar? Host a gathering for your community, and see what difference it makes.
I was in Copenhagen, Denmark last week for a very enjoyable conference with the Public Funk consultancy. I have a keynote and some workshops about Host Leadership, and was talking about how hosting is universal for humanity but it sometimes looks different depending on the culture. Public Funk’s Jens Kristian Pedersen mentioned that there is a very specific way of acknowledging people in the Danish culture – ‘tak for sidst’. This happens after a party or some other gathering; when people see each other the following day or whatever, they say ‘tak for sidst’ to each other as a kind of acknowledgement that they were both present.
It’s like ‘I saw you and acknowledge you’ – said by both parties. What a lovely way to give and receive recognition and respect! Now watch Kristian describing it on the video below. What other ways do we have of mutually acknowledging people briefly and effectively?
We are very excited to announce that the 2020 Host Leadership Gathering will be in Vienna, Austria on 13-15 May 2020. The event will be hosted by our very good friends at SinvollFUHREN. There will be more news and a call for contributions soon. In the meantime, please get the date into your diary!
The latest issue of InterAction (August 2019) contains a great article from Mark McKergow and Dr Peter Rohrig about Peter’s developments to the User’s Guide to the Future model (first described in the Host book) to make it even more useful as a coaching tool. Well worth a read! Check it out here. The article also includes a coaching session, with feedback from the client.
Following a very successful Host Leadership Gathering in Munich at the end of June 2019, we already have a healthy start to the Host Leadership Field Book. Using group writing processes in a Open Space (see the photo on the right), we are now working on an initial set of chapters/pieces including these topics:
- Host Leadership to support a company in ‘Agile Transition’
- Coaching and mentoring tech teams/software development teams
- Engaging families in poverty in a social project
- “Hearing What Is Being Called For”: What’s next in your team, organisation and life?
- Host leadership models in child care consultation
- The trainer as a host leader
- How to train Host Leadership: Attracting people to the Host metaphor
- How to train Host Leadership: Introducing the Inviter
- Host Leader vs Manager role – what’s the difference?
- Host Leadership as an Integrating Metaphor
- Hosting Company-wide Process Improvements
Now, YOU have the opportunity to add your ideas and experiences to the new book, which will be published by Solutions Books later in the year in both paperback and e-book format. We are looking for short ‘chapters’, between 1200 – 3000 words, which both share your experience of using host leadership (or some aspect of it) in a way which offers something that others can use. That might be a tool, a tip, a framework, a lesson you’d like to share, a mini-case study – anything that comes from your experience and could help others. Detailed guidelines are below.
What to do next
Contact Mark McKergow (email@example.com) as soon as possible with your idea. This is to let us know what might be coming and also to make sure that we are not duplicating ideas. Mark will help you refine your proposal to make it a great contribution. The deadline for initial writing is Sunday 11 August 2019. I know that’s not very long, but we are looking for short and punchy contributions which I hope you will already have in mind. We are looking forward to hearing from you! Go on, get involved – it’s a great way to get your name in print in a book which will receive global attention.
Content: A practical way you have found to use host leadership ideas at work. Each piece should focus on ONE way (although it may be applicable in lots of situations). If you have more than one idea, that’s more than one piece (which is fine).
Length: 3-10 (max!) pages (about 1200 – 4000 words)
Writing: Please write in English. Don’t worry if English is not your first language, we will be editing and tidying the pieces before formal publication and you will have a chance to review the edited version. Short sentences are better than long ones.
Structure: A good contribution will contain:
- Title and subtitle: Preferably something catchy and interesting which conveys the purpose of the piece
- Author details: Your name, affiliation/company and country. Please share credit where there have been several people involved – it costs nothing and makes you feel good!
- Introduction: What is this about, what does it do, who will be interested
- Field Work: What you did, what happened, why it’s useful to others and in what ways, what you learned
- The ‘Knack’: Tips and guidance for doing this really well, learned from your experience and reflections. What should we take care with?
- Key words: 5-8 key words connecting to this piece
- References: (if any) should be given in APA 6 format. We like authors who acknowledge their sources! See https://www.ukessays.com/referencing/apa/generator/
- About the author: One paragraph (no more) about the author, their experience and qualifications, which builds their credibility as someone to be listened to.
Terminology: You may use ideas from the Host book without needing to explain them in detail, such as the six roles and four positions for a host leader. We may well add an introduction setting these out at the start. Or you may use your own words of course!
Permissions: If you name any other individual or organisation in your piece, please ensure that they are OK with this. There are ways to refer to people and organisations without naming them if you prefer. If you use content from existing sources (apart from Host) you have to ensure permission.
Rights: Solutions Books will share the rights with you. This means that they can publish your piece, and you can also use it yourself in whatever way (on your website, for example).
What’s in it for me? You will get a copy of the published paperback book, as well as the opportunity to buy further copies at a good discount if you wish. You will also get a wider international profile and a very warm feeling for having made a valuable contribution to leadership development.
Get in touch now!
Host Leadership Gathering 2019
Front-line report from Dr Mark McKergow
The third international Host Leadership Gathering was held in Oberschleissheim near Munich on 27-29 June 2019. This town is well known in Germany for its castle (more like a huge palace) and the sun shone throughout with June temperature records falling during the event. Participants came from around the world – Asia, America and right across Europe. Connexxo were our hosts for the whole programme, and their team led by Pierluigi Pugliese, Katrin Seger and Cecilia Maria Zannini did a great job in making sure everything went smoothly.
The first day comprised an introductory workshop led by Pierluigi Pugliese. This was a fascinating experience for me, as it was the first time I have attended a workshop/training in this topic; I am much more accustomed to being the presenter! Pierluigi kept everything moving well and did a great job of balancing his inputs with group discussions and activities. I particularly enjoyed the section he introduced about ‘Charlie and Jane’. Charlie is Charlie Chaplin in the film Modern Times, which shows a particularly grim view of assembly line work in the 1930s. Jane, by contrast, is a modern knowledge worker.
We had a very interesting time thinking about the managers of ‘Charlies’ and ‘Janes’, the many ways in which these were very different contexts and the different needs and desires of both parties in each situation. Of course, while both could benefit from host leadership, the benefits and fit of the approach stand out immediately for Jane and those like her. A lot of interesting cultural differences also appeared – even within Europe there are substantial differences between the Nordic countries where group participation is broadly a given, the northern European countries including Germany, Belgium and the UK where these things are becoming more familiar, and the south of Europe including Italy, Spain and France which still have a long way to come. The day concluded with a beer in the castle’s own beer garden, warm and shady after a busy time together.
The second day was the Conference itself. I gave a keynote about the development of host leadership so far, my journey with it, and some of the next steps that might come out of this gathering including more connection between practitioners, more development of practical tools and helping people discover the richness and multi-dimensional nature of the host metaphor for leaders at all levels of an organisation. The idea of a Field Book had already been proposed by Pierluigi, and those present were excited to get involved and contribute. Bjørn Z. Ekelund from Norway followed with a talk about using hosting methods including all the six roles in a project about connecting families living in poverty with housing agencies and social services. It was fascinating and inspiring to see how connections were built and engagement was promoted in this very tough context.
Bjørn is perhaps best know for his work in developing the Diversity icebreaker, which was presented by Leah Davcheva from Bulgaria in one of the morning workshops. Leah took us through the Diversity activity, which is about preferences in interaction, communication and problem-solving styles. The idea, of course, is that people work better together when they value the preferences of others as well as their own. We looked at some common ground with host leadership in this respect. In the other morning workshop, Rolf Katzenberger expanded ideas about hosting by looking at what happens if we treat ‘change’ as a guest, along with people. This was a popular choice and really expanded thinking about how host leadership can play a key role in leading change.
The parallel workshops continued after our vegan (Thai vegetable curry) lunch. Pierluigi led a group in applying host leadership ideas in some very different contexts, which is always a great way to stretch and build understandings about the approach. In the other room Athena Dadiz from San Diego wowed her audience with her experiences of being a host leader on a construction site – not on the face of it one of the most promising places for this idea, but Athena impressively talked about her ways of including the idea along with kaizen and other continuous improvement methods. She has been very bold and brave in taking host leadership into this very male and traditional environment, and deserves much applause and support. I loved her talking about her task at work as ‘extreme Sisyphus’ (see the picture!).
After tea another series of workshops saw Olga Kiss and Gabriella Peuker from Hungary bringing host leadership to bear on agile retrospectives. We have been finding quite some interest in the agile world which has been accustomed to working with servant-leader ideas, and many agile folk are finding the host metaphor a better and more productive fit for what they do. Jessika Jake energetically shared her VICTOR model as being six things which the ‘host with the most’ should be focusing on today, including Value Co-creation, Intersections and Continual improvement. The day concluded with a talk from Stephen Josephs, all the way from Santa Fe NM via Zoom, about the importance of developing attentional practices for leaders to, in his words, ‘get over themselves’. Moving beyond the post-heroic boundary in leadership agility, past relying on the individual power of expertise and effort, requires the leader to put themselves after the others, not before them.
The third and final day of this Gathering was an open space hosted by Cecilia Maria Zannini around the topic of creating the first host leadership Field Book. Pierluigi showed us examples of ‘mob-programming’ in the agile world and encouraged us to do mob-writing together around a computer and projector (see the picture on the right). This was a very rich day indeed! I convened a discussion on ‘hearing what is being called for’, the necessary precursor to initiating action and connection. How do we choose or at least beging to notice the next potential focuses, for our teams, our organisations and indeed our own lives? A rich discussion produced some great ideas, which I then turned into a 1600 word draft chapter! Other groups produced work in various states of completion from simple bullet point notes to quite complete texts, which those involved will continue to develop over the coming weeks. There will be more news about this coming soon, as we are seeking wider contributions as well – might YOU be interested to contribute something based on your experience?
As we gathered at the end of the day there was even more exciting news; Ralph Miarka and Veronika Kotrba from SinvollFUEHREN in Vienna offered to host the 2020 Gathering! We think it will be around June 2020 – more news to come when the dates and venue are confirmed. My huge thanks go to Pierluigi and the Connexxo team for hosting this gathering with such care and imagination, for keeping us all going in the record-breaking heat, and for suggesting the Field Book idea as a focus for the discussions. There was a lot of energy around continuing with the project, so expect more signs of progress in the days and weeks to come
I’m just back from a super holiday in the Faroe Islands. This archipelago in the North Atlantic is a beautiful collection of mountainsides, fjords and the occasional village, with twice as many sheep as people! It’s a picture to look at, especially if it’s not raining (the usual situation). Despite being a part of the Danish Kingdom, the islands have their own language (more like Icelandic than Danish), their own culture and their own traditions, and also their own international football team.
Part of our fly-drive holiday was an excellent evening of Faroese food, music and dancing. Arriving at the venue we were greeted by Niklas Hjallnafoss (pictured with Mark McKergow), smartly dressed in his Faroese national dress and acting as the host for the evening – Faroes style. He offered us each a shot of local akvavitt (liquor) to knock back – from the same glass! This is how it’s done in the Faroes – everyone drinks from the same glass on arrival. Niklas told me that this is partly to symbolise togetherness, and partly because in the old days there were very few shot glasses to go around!
As the evening went on, we were told that the role of the Host in the islands is taken not by the person giving the party, but by a close friend or family member. That person welcomes everyone (with a drink) and then goes around offering people more drinks and getting them involved – and also making sure that they don’t have too much! This leaves the party-giver free to enjoy themselves, knowing everyone is in good and trusted hands.
In leadership terms, there is a clear lesson here about the possibilities of shared hosting. The ‘host’ doesn’t have to be the lead person – it can be someone else charged with the responsibilities for a specific event. When might be a good time for you to offer a hosting role to someone you trust? Who might it be? When can you ask them?
We have had an excellent and very international response to the invitation for the Host Leadership Gathering 2019 in Munich. Alongside the introductory workshop on Thursday 27 June 2019 and the Open Space day on Saturday 29 June 2019, the conference day on Friday 28 June will be packed with interesting topics, presenters, discussions and opportunities. The line-up will include:
- Mark McKergow (UK) – Host leadership – the next step steps
- Bjørn Z. Ekelund (SWE) – Creating space and processes for families of poverty seeking housing opportunities
- Rolf Katzenberger (GER) – Hosting by treating ‘change’ as a guest, alongside the people
- Leah Davcheva (BUL) – Can we use Diversity Icebreaker and Host Leadership with teams to mutually enhance their impact?
- Jessika Jake (USA) – The V-I-C-T-O-R Model… for the Host with the Most
- Pierluigi Pugliese (ITA/GER)- Be a Useful Host
- Olga Kiss and Gabriella Peuker (HUN) – Host your team in a relationship retro
- Athena Valdovinos (USA) – The Game of Continuous Improvement: From Concrete Jungle to… Well, Concrete
- Stephen Josephs (USA): Attentional practices for hosts
Because assessing and assembling the programme has taken a little longer than anticipated, we are extending the Early Bird discount until 31 May 2019. To get a great discount on the event, please book soon at https://connexxo.com/events/host-leadership-gathering-2019/#bottom. There is also information on this site at http://hostleadership.com/host-leadership-gathering-2019/.
We will be getting more information about the workshops and presenters online very soon. Hope to see you in Munich!
We’re delighted to see the interest in host leadership and our book Host is continuing. A new review has been published on the Ideas For Leaders website, which rates it 5* as a ‘game-changer’! Fantastic. You can read the review at https://www.ideasforleaders.com/book-review/host.