Friday, November 26, 2010

Discovering my Leadership Blind Spots in Guatemala

Submitted by Penny Lane

Tomorrow morning I will be landing very early at the airport in Guatemala City.  This is my first time to Guatemala and I am eagerly anticipating the opportunity to explore this beautiful country.  My time there will also be an opportunity to explore my own internal leadership territory.  Despite having spent many years being a leader and learning about leadership, at this point in my life I am even more aware that the quality of my leadership is directly related to my awareness of what behaviors and biases I personally bring to my leadership.

  At times I bring many strengths.  I have been intentional in learning to listen, to ask questions, to be curious, to look for the common ground, to reflect on my on intent in regards to the work at hand and to clarify what the intent of the group or organization is.  And yet I know that I have my blind spots - the assumptions about the world and how things work, my cultural mindset and values and my unintentional influences on those around me.  Lately I have been reflecting on my tendency to want to give advice and my ability to articulate what I am seeing in the systems and networks around me that  might lead to creative solutions.  While I am in Guatemala these are the aspects of my internal landscape that I want to explore and learn the skills that I want to incorporate into my way of being as a leader.

I am travelling to Guatemala with my colleague and friend Christine Bonney.  Over this next week we will be applying the road map for The Acacia Group's Socially Responsible Leadership experiences.  We will be coaching each other as we apply leadership theory and intentionally begin to practice new and emergent skills and ways of being.  We will be travelling to Nebaj with our community partners Social Entrepreneur Corp (SEC) and participating in community work - helping at the Centro Explorativo as well as helping local entrepreneurs bring their goods to markets in the surrounding communities.  Walking into a new environment is a powerful opportunity to think and reflect upon what I see, how I interpret it, and how I choose to respond and interact in a positive and generative way.  This is what I want to be able to bring back to my way of leading in my life - the practice of reflection, the choices I make in interpreting what I experience, and the behaviors that I want to express.

On a contextual note, I have noticed recently that the Extractive Sector (i.e., mining sector) in Canada is coming under increasing scrutiny for their lack of CSR practices.  Amnesty International and other organizations are drawing attention to the negative impact Canadian Companies are having in their off shore development - particularly in developing countries.  Guatemala is one of the countries where Canadian companies are being called to account for their lack of attention to social justice and human rights, and environmental damage.  Perhaps one day executives from the Extractive Sector will experience this type of leadership development experience and bring back to their organizations the awareness and skills to lead in a way that addresses all three priorities - people - planet - profit.

The Acacia Group’s purpose and passion is transformative and unique leadership development for organizations and individuals seeking to live out their global citizenship. To do this we blend knowledge from Corporate Social Responsibility, Community Development and Leadership Development and Learning to emerge new opportunities for leadership excellence for our clients

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