Becoming a Community of Practice

I’ve just come back from helping to facilitate a three day leadership retreat. Rather than feeling drained as a result of the advance work and long days on site, I feel absolutely rejuvenated.

The participants, a very special energetic group of leaders, brought a great deal of wisdom as well as their passion for strengthening communities. One couldn’t help but learn from their experiences and be buoyed by their enthusiasm.

In addition to this keen group of participants we had an amazing team that planned and implemented the retreat. It was fascinating to watch as the team members took turns… More Posted on 06-01-08

Do Communities Have a Personality?

I had a brief conversation this week with Sally a woman who, with good reason, is very unhappy with her job. In addition to clearly being underpaid and too often treated unfairly by her employer, she isn’t in a place that allows her to utilize her creativity or pursue her long-time dream of interior decorating.

Knowing my husband and I had recently moved across the country to pursue our careers, Sally said rather wistfully that we were very brave. She then went on to say that while she knew she had to make a move, she also knew she… More Posted on 05-24-08

Needed: Social Innovators

Truth be told, I have been known to irritate those in charge, albeit not intentionally.

This week, as we worked to expand the team that will put legs under a huge provincial initiative, I did it again. 

I realized afterward that it was largely the result of my assuming that everyone understood the nuances as well as the values brought by individuals who are best described as social innovators.

And yet, when it became clear that others didn’t necessarily understand their value, I floundered somewhat, finding it difficult to describe their characteristics and why they are so… More Posted on 05-17-08

A Secret Sauce for Communities

We’ve been diligently searching and testing recipes for the secret sauce that will strengthen community leadership, collaboration, and innovation.

Trial and error, research, a brilliant CEO, a dynamite team, trailblazing partner communities and the learnings of the past year were combined in a proposal asking for significant project funding. 

You can just imagine the excitement when we learned that corporate and government funding was approved clearing the way for a $6.5 million community development initiative designed to enhance quality of life in rural communities across the province

Bubbling with excitement we fully expected the national organization with… More Posted on 05-11-08

Finding Community

It wasn’t the most exciting of topics for a meeting but when you’re using public tax dollars and corporate donations there is a responsibility to measure progress….even when progress is something as intangible as quality of life and community leadership.

So one day last week as our small group was meeting in a stuffy, windowless room to further explore the scintillating world of evaluation and its application to our provincial initiative, others in the building were startled and somewhat surprised to hear boisterous enthusiastic voices and a lot of raucous laughter.

As another staff member walked by the doorway,… More Posted on 05-04-08

The Hedgehog Concept

It is so sweet that my mom still worries about me. Specifically she worries that I work too hard.

During my last visit, I tried to explain that there was a blurry line between my work and my leisure because I enjoy what I do so much.

Not sure that I had dispelled her concerns, I finally blurted out, “Work just makes me happy”!

I went on to explain that I don’t expect everyone to enjoy working as much as I do, but I am simply a much happier person when I produce. I’m not a workaholic as… More Posted on 04-27-08

Learning for Life

It is a significant achievement and a reason for every Niagara resident to stand tall and proud.

Although I no longer work there, I am delighted that Niagara College has again won the distinction of being number one in overall student satisfaction among all colleges in Ontario. 

According to the results of this year’s survey, administered at 24 Ontario colleges by an independent research firm, 86.1 percent of Niagara College students said they are satisfied with the education they’re receiving. Additionally, it’s clear that employers are satisfied with their graduates.

Shortly after hearing this news, I happened to end… More Posted on 04-20-08

Vacation Vision and Values

Whew! If I were any more relaxed I’d be in a coma.

My husband and I have just returned from a pretty-much-perfect week’s vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

We stayed in a resort built, as one might imagine in Mexico, with the prerequisite stone, ceramic tile and wrought iron railings. Our particular condo was perched four stories above the street on a steep hill at the edge of town.

In addition to the daily exercise provided by climbing the 120 stairs to our balcony, built-in active living was also provided by a lovely and quiet pool located two… More Posted on 04-13-08

Letting Go of Judgements

When two seemingly unrelated incidents collide in my life, I’ve learned to pay attention.

That’s what happened this past week.

Our youngest son called to tell us he was hired as a server from among the over 600 who applied at a new Toronto-based upscale restaurant. While it’s sure to generate the healthy income he will need to return to school to pursue his dream of becoming a teacher, he was much more excited about the one-on-one volunteer work he is doing with a little boy who is autistic.

The mother and father of the little boy, wanting… More Posted on 03-30-08

Men and Women Really Do Communicate Differently

I like to think I’m a good communicator but after last week I might just need to rethink that a bit.

However, the fact that I’m shouldering the responsibility for any tension is probably a typical female reaction. Chances are though that it has less to do with me and is more about the fact that men and women simply communicate differently. They also use differing processes for decision making and leadership. 

Until recently, the team I’ve been working with has been predominantly female, albeit quite diverse in terms of personalities and skills. Their passion for the work we’re… More Posted on 03-23-08

The Importance of Integrity

Billionaire Warren Buffet says he looks for three things in hiring people. The first is personal integrity, the second is intelligence, and the third is a high energy level. “But”, he went on to say, “if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.

Eliot Spitzer, governor of New York, proved him right last week when he was forced to resign as the result of his involvement in a sex ring.

By all accounts, Spitzer had a lot going for him in terms of intelligence and energy. Ultimately though, it was his lack of personal integrity… More Posted on 03-16-08

A Good Enough Vision

It wasn’t a perfect vision but apparently, it was a good-enough vision.

I recently had a rather lengthy conversation with our youngest son trying to provide more explanation for why I had moved across the country. He was genuinely perplexed and likely feeling somewhat abandoned, even though he’s been living on his own for several years. After all, as he reminded me, hadn’t I always said, “Family first”?

I struggled to find the words but started by assuring him that my family is, and always will be, my most important value.

I then went on to explain that… More Posted on 03-09-08

Building Teams that Trust

I would have suggested there were woodchips in the windmills of your mind if you had told me I would enjoy a week that included three solid days of meetings that were all about planning. And yet, that’s exactly what happened this past week. I enjoyed it. I spent three days with an incredible team that is working to build stronger, healthier and more creative communities.

The meetings were anything but boring. We covered a lot of ground, made significant decisions and delegated responsibilities.

Along the way we clearly refined the map that would move us closer to… More Posted on 03-02-08

The Importance of Emerging Leaders

Their successes should have been cause for community celebration.

Yet praise for the successes ignited by the emerging leaders in their towns weren’t always unanimous. Too often those in senior positions seemed more intent on reminding them of their place within their respective hierarchies. 

Unfortunately, this seems to be a recurring theme in much of the community leadership coaching I’m involved with these days.

One such initiative is focused on using parks and recreation to create the places, spaces, and culture that will encourage people to get physically and socially engaged in their communities.

This particular initiative issued… More Posted on 02-24-08

Being Kind Brings Its Own Rewards

I’m the first to admit I’m a big fan of retail therapy. On the other hand, I don’t consider shopping for groceries to be fun at all. For me grocery shopping is definitely a chore.

However, as I was buying groceries today, it seemed the clerk at my checkout was even less of a fan.

She just looked so miserable I felt compelled to find something positive to say.

Glancing at her I smiled and said, “You’re definitely a good packer”.

Honestly, it’s not as inane as it sounds. After all, she really was a good… More Posted on 02-17-08

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