What my two week residency taught me about Leaning and Leadership!
It has been 24 hours since I left the special learning bubble that the MA Leadership 2018-3 cohort created as we navigated our last two week residency at Royal Roads University. This is the second year our cohort has chosen to spend two weeks in July living in dorms, learning in classrooms and delivering papers and projects into the evenings. Amazing things happen when you co-exist in this environment together. Leadership lessons show up in unexpected ways.
The past two weeks have expanded my context for the popular notion of “leaning in”. What I experienced and witnessed in the leadership of our cohort was a beautiful expression of leaning in, leaning out and leaning on during our learning seminars, team projects and presentations.
There were so many examples of leaning in to our strengths while also accessing our courage as we leaned into the discomfort of trying something new. Our willingness to take risks and step outside our comfort zones was made possible because of the relationships and trust that was built over a year of learning together. Leaning in to our vulnerability to let our true selves show up created magical moments and brilliant leadership growth. This is what courage looks like in leadership; leaning in and being seen, even when you are uncomfortable.
This was an unexpected lesson for many. When you put thirty adult learning leaders in a room together there is no shortage of people willing to take charge, give input or make decisions. Let’s be honest; we are conditioned to think that is how we prove our leadership worthiness. And yet……what if leadership is also about making space for others to step in. What if we created safe spaces for people to take risks, try something new or show us their brilliance. I witnessed this on many occasions during this residency; letting go of the idea that leadership means being the person in charge. When leaders create the space for multiple perspectives to be heard, something new and amazing emerges from the group and the outcome is better than anyone could achieve on their own. It is challenging to lean out as leaders, but if we are committed to developing others, then this is a lesson worth practicing.
This is the lesson that can often take a long time to learn. We are conditioned to think leaders must have ALL the answers and the ability to direct and decide anything at any given moment. It’s no wonder the topic of leader resilience is so prominent! It is exhausting and hard on those who carry the weight of it all. I see myself in this picture and I know that I have carried many weights in my leadership journey and the act of asking for help and support can often be uncomfortable. This academic journey has provided me with the opportunity to practice leaning on people for resources, ideas and emotional support as I navigate the terrain of research methods and academic writing. The acts of support and encouragement and the generosity of sharing throughout our cohort is absolutely inspiring and has changed my view of the strength in asking for help. As I witnessed our cohort practice leaning on one another, the outcome is a group of leaders who all find their brilliance in their own unique way proving that a rising tide truly does lift all boats.
I will be practicing all three versions of leaning. Where will you focus your practice? Which version of leaning resonates as your area of growth and opportunity?
To my MAL 2018-3 cohort; I am grateful to each of you for modeling the way, expanding my learning and becoming an integral part of my community. I look forward to the next phase of our journey as we implement our change research projects and practice leadership in our own unique way, in the places that are meaningful to each of us. My heart is full. Thank you for being you.
Lean in, Lean out and Lean on my friends!