Posts Tagged ‘department’


Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 by Bob and Bev Benwick

“If you want others to follow, learn to be alone with your thoughts” Is the advice that William Derisiewicz delivered in his lecture to a plebe class of the United States Military Academy at West Point a few years ago. A colleague had passed a copy of a lecture Derisiewicz gave to these young leaders that I found most profound and absolutely thought provoking.

Although the two concepts – solitude and leadership – on the surface do not appear to be strongly connected, Derisiewicz does a masterful job of illustrating what they truly are and how they are intimately connected. He states that leadership are the “qualities and mind that will make you fit to command a platoon, and beyond that, perhaps, a company, a battalion, or, if you leave the military, a corporation, a foundation, a department of government”. Solitude “is what you have the least of . . . . the ability to be alone with your thoughts. . . . solitude is one of the most important necessities of true leadership.” Derisiewicz makes powerful references to the Francis Ford Coppola’s movie Apocalypse Now and the book Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad to ingeniously drive home his point.

Derisiewicz feels he needs to forwarn leaders that they will find themselves wrestling with bureaucracies “where what is rewarded above all else is conformity”. He encourages a different kind of leader and feels there is a crisis of leadership in America. What is missing are thinkers . . . “people who can think for themselves . . . who can formulate new direction for the country, corporations, colleges, for the Army . . . a new way of looking at things . . . people in other words, with vision.”

He goes on to invite leaders to learn to concentrate, to focus, which is all about solitude. He encourages leaders to think for themselves
by finding themselves, “finding their your own reality . . . . don’t marinate yourself as leader in conventional wisdom, others’ realities, but rather listen to your own voice and find a new direction, not simply putting yourself at the front of the herd that’s heading toward a cliff.” To achieve, this the leader is encouraged to take the personal time to read books that are based on the writer’s own solitude in thinking for his/herself. Further, he claims “books stand against conventional wisdom of today simply because they’re not from today”.

The intent of solitude is to get to know yourself better. A powerful form of solitude is that of friendship, deep friendship, that may appear on the surface to be counterproductive to the point being made. This involves intimate discussion―uninterrupted talk. This promotes ntrospection―talking to yourself―that can done by talking with someone that you have vulnerably trust with. . . . a very close friend or a highly qualified executive coach and confidante. Here you can truly think out loud with full confidentiality being kept within a
crucible of non-judgment. We all intuitively know that being in solitude is difficult and challenging, some more than others. However, leadership demands this.

Derisiewicz claims that “taking counsel with yourself in solitude’ is the essence of leadership . . . the position of leader is ultimately an intensely solitary, even intensely lonely one . . . . however many people you may consult, you are the one who has to make the hard decisions . . . . and at such moments, all you really have is yourself.”

What is in the challenge of solitude and leadership for you? What are related hidden opportunities and threats? We would love to hear your thoughts and feelings on this important subject.

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Posted in Business Coaching, Career Transitions, Emotional Intelligence, Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, Leadership Transition, Personal Coaching | Add a Comment »

Change Killers: Organizational Antibodies

Friday, January 16th, 2009 by Bob Benwick

“You’ve got to watch out for those organizational antibodies!” said the former Head of Pathology for the Vancouver General Hospital and the British Columbia’s Children’s Hospital, Dr. David Hardwick, who I was sitting down with at the time. Dave had been instrumental in leading the establishment of the BC Children’s Hospital and we had built a strong relationship in furthering the organization’s mandate as the leading pediatric tertiary care facility on Canada’s west coast. I was then the Vice President – Human Resources and Strategic Management and Dave was a key internal organization client. Whenever possible we tried to get together and have one of those rare but powerful conversations over a cup of coffee about ‘life and times’. This was one of those get togethers that I’ll never forget.

Dave had made the ‘organizational antibody’ comment in a discussion around a number of joint-venture innovative initiatives in support of the physician community within the facility, and in particular the pathologists. In our discussion, we had come to a  blinding glimpse of the obvious that innovation in fact was a particularly powerful form of change. Dave, who was the Head of Pathology and the President of a world-wide organization of pathologists at the time, felt that not only were we being highly innovative with a number of initiatives we were leading, but it also had a unique dark side. Innovation also creates a considerable threat to some groups within the organization. Many of these groups simply felt they never received enough care, attention and resources to support their medical practice areas. Not an unusual disposition. For innovation to effectively take hold and to be sustained requires additional resources. Where do these resources (funding, people, space, capital equipment, etc) come from? Yes, from others within the organization. Thus the threat innovation unexpectedly creates even though it is so often promoted. Dave felt strongly (directly reflecting his professional background) that ‘organizational antibodies’ can always be expected to surface when something new is interjected into the system and ‘organizational antibodies’ will, not if, attempt to ‘remove or extricate’ anyone leading or anything related to the innovation itself – the foreign intervention – that are perceived as direct threats to their own existence and sustainability. This is what’s often referred to as a ‘blinding glimpse of the obvious’.

It was clear from our discussion that if you are attempting to create and lead innovation (pro-active change), not only do you need to address managing normal resistance to change, one needs to thoughtfully and planfully address ‘organizational antibodies’ that will (again, not if) surface. Thank you Dave for co-creating this very powerful leadership and organizational change concept.

Of course the foregoing is not unique to Health Care organizations. I’ve seen it in every private and public sector organization operating domestically and globally that we have had the pleasure to coach within. So, where do ‘organizational antibodies’ show up in your organization? What change are you currently leading within your organization (small or big) and where are ‘organizational antibodies’ surfacing? What are  the possibilities for turning this into an opportunity in disguise and creating a successful win-win approach? We would enjoy hearing your insights and observations.

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Posted in 360 Coaching, Business Coaching, Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, Organization Development | Add a Comment »


Friday, December 5th, 2008 by Bev Benwick


I’m quite excited to share a recent newletter created by Jake Jacobs, a global leader in the field of organization development, specifically in the area of large-scale, real-time system change. It’s a pleasure to share with you his comments on ‘Collaborating to Create More Value: Leadership Coaching and Large Scale Change’. Enjoy!

Given my focus on collaboration, I wanted to share with you one way in which my clients and I have benefited from partnering with others. I have known Bob Benwick for 15 years. We first worked together on a Real Time Strategic Change effort at a bank where he was the senior HR executive. Now he and his wife Bev have a global corporate coaching practice based out of Vancouver.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Bob and Bev to talk about synergies between their coaching practice and my large-scale change work.  Bob, Bev and I share the same goal: people and organizations achieving their full potential. The difference is in how we do it.  Bob and Bev (and other coaches) focus on individual leaders’ development. I (and other large-scale change consultants) focus on the overall organization’s development. When we partner, our clients get the best of both worlds.

Bob explains, “I had exposure to the RTSC approach many years ago. It helps businesses that need to turn on a dime (competitively) like the bank I worked at. It is absolutely crystal clear to me how much coaching and large-scale change complement each other.”

Bev continues, “A goal of our coaching is for leaders to bring greater depth to their relationships. Organizations that use us a lot want to make big changes and make them fast. We often get asked to help leaders work together across departments.”

It’s tough to tell whether Bev is talking about her coaching practice or my large-scale change work.

Bob adds, “We contract with leaders for a minimum of six months. There has to be serious commitment or it won’t work. Leaders (and all of us) have taken years to develop our current habits. It will take time to change them. The more people change, the easier and faster it is for the system they work in to change.”

My take on Bob’s comment: the more the system changes, the easier and faster it is for the people in it to change.

Putting leadership coaching and large-scale change together is a “win-win-win.” Leaders can make big changes happen faster – and sustain them over time. And we do a better job for them than either of us could do  alone.

Jake Jacobs is co-founder and partner of Winds of Change Group — a consulting firm specializing in fast and lasting change.

What are your feelings about change and coaching? What intrigues you the most about Jake’s comments?  What are the possibilities?

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Posted in 360 Coaching, Business Coaching, Emotional Intelligence, Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, Leadership Transition, Organization Development, Team & Group Coaching | 1 Comment »


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