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:
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 email@example.com. 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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re thrilled that Coaching At Work saw fit to give Host a five star review! Check it out below.
Jenny and I are just back from a week in Finland, where we gave a well-received two day Host Leadership workshop in Helsinki. I had an email afterwards from Marike Tammeaid, who gave me the traditional Finnish greeting song for when a guest arrives. It’s from the Finnish national epic poem Kalevala. Finland is known as one of the very few ‘silent’ cultures in Europe, where people are happy to keep their own company most of the time. In this context, having a guest around is even more important than it is in other cultures.
Let the door’s lintels rise
with the guest not taking hat off
let the door’s thresholds lower
without the boot heels them touching
Let the door frame give him way
Open the door without touching
when the guest shall step inside,
when the big man pays us visit.
We don’t meet each other often
rarely we see each other
In the wide fields of Väinölä
forestlands of Kalevala.
So be welcome to my house
you, the great guest of mine
to brighten our celebration
to honor the day’s passing.
(You can read the original Finnish words here.)
Our book has reached the finals of two book award competitions, including the prestigious Indie Book Awards in Los Angeles! Wow.
Find out more at http://www.personneltoday.com/pr/pr/host-leadership-book-gains-recognition-at-two-international-book-awards-2/.
Our chums at the Huffington Post are running a series of articles on the challenges facing us over the next 10 years. One of the things they identify is the need for more and better post-heroic leaders. Host leadership is a new kid on the post-heroic block alongside the more established servant-leadership, and we are all seeking to gain traction and influence.
This piece looks specifically at mindfulness as a key to post-heroic leadership. We’re very keen on mindfulness too – see the section on creating space for yourself as well as your guests in the Space-creator role chaper of our book Host.
The Huffington Post article is at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-next-ten-challenge/mindfulness-the-making-of_b_7442248.html
We have just released our first Host Leadership tool – Opt In Meetings. This is a simple format/set of rules to make your meetings more engaging, energizing and effective – throw a meeting as a host, and invite folks along!
Check out the details at http://hostleadership.com/about/opt-in-meetings/ and give it a try! We’d love to hear from you. Please leave comments on this format below – it will be evolving with your help.
Pierluigu Pugliese has written a very interesting article on why he is finding the host paradigm useful in working with agile teams – more useful than the servant metaphor, indeed. Check it out at http://www.infoq.com/articles/host-leadership-agile.
Host author Mark McKergow is featured on the latest BNI podcast. In conversation with BNI founder Dr Ivan Misner, Mark talks about leading as a host and how it can help build flexibility and awareness at work by tapping into resources we already have, but hadn’t noticed.
Since the publication of Host in October we’ve been getting some very nice media interest. There’s a new page on the site where all these valuable resources are being collected – interviews, articles, tips and other coverage. Check it out now at http://hostleadership.com/about/in-the-media/.