Come and join Mark McKergow for an action-packed conference in Sofia, Bulgaria. Mark will be leading a half-day session about using host leadership ideas to engage people for performance and results, and then participating with seven other speakers in a packed conference day about all kinds of new organisational thinking. More details at http://2017.reinventingorganizations.eu/.
I was very privileged to be invited to give a keynote at the prestigious StretchCon conference in Budapest last week. The event was excellent and I had lots of interesting conversations. The event was live streamed and recorded, and so you can watch my talk online for free at
During the 40 minute talk I discuss leadership challenges today, leading as a relationship not a role, the different relationships implied by various leadership metaphors, and expanding the metaphor of leading as a host.
There were other speakers too – see the conference page on ustream at http://www.ustream.tv/stretch.
September 2016 saw leaders and leadership developers from around the world congregating in London for the very first Host Leadership Gathering. What emerged from the three days was an exciting air of new growth and development.
Mark McKergow and Helen Bailey opened the proceedings on Wednesday 14 September with a one-day Meet Host Leadership workshop to introduce the concepts developed from their book Host: Six new rules roles of engagement for teams, organisations, communities and movements. Mark and Helen quickly had the participants connecting the ideas to their own situations and contexts. They also took the opportunity to trial a new version of their Host Leader self-assessment questionnaire. Developed by Jonathan Bowyer, this simple tool is a great way to provoke insight and reflection, initially into how people perform in the six roles of a Host Leader. Mark and Helen are working with Jonathan to further expand their suite of tools, to look at the four positions of a host leader and also to build a 360 online version of the tool for use with client organisations.
Thursday 15 September saw the main conference day of the Gathering opened by Harry Murray MBE. Harry has a lifetime’s experience at the top of the hospitality industry and really knows what great hosting looks like. In conversation with Mark, Harry recalled his experiences – about the key role of empowering staff to look after guests. of the importance of attention to detail, about ‘always start with a question’ when talking to staff. His memories of meeting Nelson Mandela in South Africa in 1994/5 were clearly very moving, as he recalled how Mandela would always pay great attention to the backroom staff and even the bell-boy: returning to the hotel, the South African president nodded to the young man by the lift and said “You must be doing something right – you were here last week, and you are still here!” What excellent attention to detail and connection with people.
The programme moved on to look at ‘Why Host Leadership now?’. Annessa Rebair (Northumbria University) looked at the challenges facing nurses in the NHS and how the host metaphor fitted well with the rising profile of nurse leadership. Pierluigi Pugliese, an Agile consultant from Munich, shared his positive experiences of helping Scrum coaches connect with hosting as a leadership practice, with the help of some very effective and simple drawings (see his slides on Slideshare). Helen Bailey looked at how hosting combines feminine and masculine aspects, and offers a route towards valuing more feminine traits than the simplistic ‘more women on Boards’ route. Ashridge Business School’s Mike Brent shared the latest research about what ‘Generation Y’ and millennials want from their jobs, workplaces and leaders – friendship, as well as support, featured prominently.
The keynote was given by Professor Elena Antonacopoulou from Liverpool University School of Management. Taking the room by storm, Elena produced a series of dazzling connections and ideas in support of the idea that the biggest challenge facing leaders today was indeed to cultivate friendships with Generation Z. Using imaginative word-plays, she deconstructed everyday phrases to give them new meanings –for example ‘Impossible’ becomes ‘I’m possible’ with the simple addition of an apostrophe and a space. Elena said that one challenge was to ‘put the man back into management and the ship back into leadership’, referring to the leader’s role in developing the vessel in which the whole community sank or swam. She offered many sources and ideas, including using a rubber band to illustrate how tension and ex-tension worked and also pointed us to Jorge Munoz’s video An Angel In Queens to illustrate extraordinary leadership by ordinary people.
After a lateish lunch, we continued with two parallel workshops. Mike Brent drew on his book The Leader’s Guide to Influence to share different ways that host leaders could bring their influence to bear, while in the other room Leah Davcheva from Bulgaria provoked a fascinating discussion about hosting in online contexts with her personal experience as ‘steward’ of an online community in the educational world. She helped us to tease apart some differences between steward and host, and had us looking at how we used language in online contexts and how to invite people into participation in particularly effective ways.
The last part of the day was given over to some short inputs about the experience of using host leadership ideas in different settings. Executive coach Stephen Josephs joined us from the USA by Skype to talk about his work with Silicon Valley senior executives, who certainly seems to be finding ideas about roles and positions helpful in tackling their often-overloaded lives. Housing association CEO Angela Gascoigne shared her story of leading her organisation through a particularly tough patch, and how rethinking her position as a host had helped her to tackle these difficulties in a way which helped others to engage. Laurent Sarrazin and Géry Derbier talked about using and teaching the concepts and roles with in the world of software development, particularly in France. They asked us to consider dropping the ‘leader’ from host leader and simply refer to the people concerned as ‘hosts’ – an interesting and potentially significant development. Leah Davcheva gave us all some final reflections before we wrapped up the day and went off for a very nice Italian meal.
The final day of the Gathering was in Open Space format, and we had lots of excellent conversations convened by participants and also by some of the speakers. Everyone wanted to explore their questions, and there were some great meetings of minds, from the conceptual (leader/follower relations and connections to happiness, for example) and the practical (sharing activities for teaching host leadership). One key discussion was about how we can all contribute to spreading the word, and the group agreed to support the Host Leadership Linkedin group as the public place to share and converse. We are also exploring a Practitioner’s Community for sharing resources etc – this is in its early stages but we are optimistic about creating something to support people who really want to specialise in sharing and developing host leadership ideas in different contexts. Watch out for more news!
We closed tired but happy, with much renewed enthusiasm and looking forward to future developments. There was considerable interest in a next Host Leadership Gathering – perhaps in France, Germany, Bulgaria or even Singapore? For up to date news of future events please sign up on our website, follow @thehostleader on twitter and join the Linkedin group.
Our book Host has another review – this time from Kevin Barham of Ashridge Executive Education, one of the leading business schools internationally and now a part of the Hult group. The review is on an internal website for Ashridge people so I can’t link to it, but here is what he says:
“Host offers a genuinely original approach to leadership which, while it is new to contemporary management, is based on a philosophy with ancient roots. It is founded on the metaphor of the leader as host – someone who receives guests. Rules will not deal with the complexity and uncertainty that face leaders today. There are no simple answers, and no one individual can possibly know what to do. Engagement is key – getting people together to work on the issues. This demands a shift of mindset from the leader as hero to the leader as “engager” – someone who engages fellow participants in a worthwhile endeavour. Instead of rules we need to think of “roles of engagement”. Six roles for the Host Leader are described: Initiator, Inviter, Space Creator, Gatekeeper, Connector, Co-Participator. Host Leadership may become one of the most pioneering concepts in 21st century management. The book is definitely inspiring reading.”
Reviewed by Kevin Barham
The Australian teaching magazine Principia – published by the Queensland Secondary Principal’s Assocation – has published a feature about host leadership. The article, by Nick Burnett and Jason Pascoe is entitled ‘Getting the balance right – a new metaphor for school leaders’. You can read it as a pdf by clicking on the image or via this link.
The first international Host Leadership conference is coming! We’re very excited to announce that there will events in London from 14-16 September 2016. The broad outline is:
- Wednesday 14 September 2016: Pre-conference workshop: Meet Host Leadership with Host authors Mark McKergow and Helen Bailey
- Thursday 15 September 2016: Host Leadership conference 2016 – featuring international speakers, activities, networking, and an open space session so you can host your own discussions
- Friday 16 September 2016: Post-conference workshop: Developing your awareness as a Host Leader with Stephen Josephs (USA) and Mark McKergow
Booking details will be available soon. In the meantime, get the date into your diary! We’re looking forward to welcoming you to London for a fantastic event.
We are thrilled to announce two opportunities to discover Host Leadership with Mark McKergow in the near future – in different parts of Europe.
Mark is also giving a one-day masterclass about coaching, leading and host leadership for Coaching At Work on Tuesday 11 October 2016 – more details coming soon at http://www.coaching-at-work.com/masterclasses/ .
Do come and join Mark for one of these exciting and interactive sessions!
We’re delighted to announce two special webinars featuring Mark McKergow and Helen Bailey exploring how host leadership works in public service settings. These sessions, at 9am and 5pm UK time on Thursday 3 December 2015, will feature special guests from around the world sharing their experiences and answering questions. We will also be briefly introducing the ideas around host leadership and why they seem to fit particularly well in public service organisations.
Education: Thursday 3 December 2015, 9am UK time, with special guest Nick Burnett, Growth Coaching International (Australia). Click here for more information and registration. This session is conveniently timed for Australasia, Asia and Europe as well as the UK.
Health and police: Thursday 3 December 2015, 5pm UK time, with special guests Chris Miller (former Assistant Chief Constable, Hertfordshire, UK) and Annessa Rebair (Senior Lecturer, Mental Health Nursing, Northumbria University). Click here for more information and registration. This session is conveniently timed for the USA and North and South America as well as Africa, Europe and the UK.
Places are limited so book now! More information about both webinars at http://hostleadership.com/workshop/.
It was with great shock and sadness that I learned yesterday of the death of my dear friend and colleague Steve Onyett. Steve was on a charity cycling ride in Palestine when he suffered a fatal heart attack. He was just 54 years old.
I first met Steve at the second SOLWorld conference in Bristol in 2003. Steve was interested in SF for both clinical and organisational use, and lived in Bristol, so it was natural that he came. However, the conference dinner on the Friday night was also Valentine’s Day, and he had at that time a routine of going out for dinner with two (female) friends to celebrate their single-ness. So, he brought the friends along too! The following day, the Saturday, Steve left the conference to join with a million others in London for a Stop The War march against the proposed (and feared) invasion of Iraq. This for me sums up Steve – he was committed to a better world, and if that meant political engagement sometime taking precedence over professional practice then so be it. He was pursuing a similarly humanitarian mission when he died.
Steve went on to train with us in Solutions Focus, joined me in the SFWork team, worked closely with us in our work introducing SF coaching into the NHS in various ways. He was a member of SFCT and came to our regular UK chapter meetings from time to time. He also served on the Editorial Advisory Board of the SFCT journal InterAction, allowing us a share of his visiting professorships at the University of the West of England (UWE) and then Exeter.
During the years I was developing ideas around Host Leadership, Steve was a constant source of encouragement and critique. He was instrumental in getting my first paper on the subject (Leader as Host; Host as Leader: Towards a new yet ancient metaphor) published in the International Journal for Leadership in Public Service in 2009 (he was one of the journal’s editors at the time). He maintained his interest in developing the host leadership metaphors and ideas, and joined our small ‘inner circle’ of practitioners and developers last year – an involvement which continued until his death. He wrote guest blogs about host leadership and solution focused coaching – see the links at the bottom of this piece.
We had occasional jousts about his fascination and engagement with things like the Way of Council and ‘shadow side’ facilitation (vital new development or old hippy nonsense? It was he who proposed the latter term – we laughed.) Steve became very involved in the Embercombe community, acting as a Trustee for their charity and being involved with programmes as well as helping to steward the organisation. He loved being outdoors, and spoke to me of the inspiration he found in Embercombe’s Devon countryside setting. It seems fitting somehow that he met his end in the open air, engaged in a cause in which he passionately believed. He is a great loss to people in so many circles and contexts, and we will feel his presence still in our continuing work.
Host Leadership and Solution Focused blogs by Steve:
- Why the pubic sector needs to deepen to the possibility of host leadership now (2014)
- Solution Focused coaching as a way to unlock leadership capacity (2009)
Mark is off to Singapore for some exciting Host Leadership events over the next two weeks! The main event is
Mon-Tues 24-25 August 2015: Leading As A Host: A two-day event with Dr Mark McKergow
This will be a great opportunity to work with Mark on real leadership issues at the York Hotel, as well as really get close to the latest in leadership thinking. You will be able to:
- Develop your ‘leadership agility’ – to do the things YOU can do to engage others to the maximum!
Develop ‘stepping back’ awareness – and thereby drawing others forward
Gain clarity on phases and actions – see clear cycles and projects rather than a single continuing stream
Gain an increased sense of good timing – when to act, as well as what to do
Gain new perspectives on challenging situations – acting differently to get a better result
Increase your options – in terms of ‘up-front’ leadership, taking the overview from the gallery, and developing yourself in the kitchen
More details, click the link above or contact Dave Hogan or Vivian, SF Academy, on +65 9776 1826 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Places are limited! Your only chance to work with Mark on Host Leadership in Asia in 2015.
Mark will be carrying out some other speaking engagements on Host Leadership while he is in Singapore:
- Mon/Tues 17-18 August, 3rd Global Conference on Business Management, Aventis Business School
- Tuesday 18 August, 19.30, International Coach Federation, American Club
- Wednesday 19 August, 18.00, Asia Professional Speakers, Sheraton Towers, Scotts Road
Mark would love to see you in Singapore – so do come along if you can. If you want to arrange meetings to discuss how Host Leadership can help your organisation, please contact Mark directly at email@example.com.