Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Recently I have focused my attention on two areas: “Effective Communication” and “Learning and Human Development”. In looking for articles I found this one “Power up your Professional Learning” (LaGarde & Whitehead, 2012).

A major focus for me is the idea of the “geo-disbursed knowledge contributor.” Essentially my turn of phrase is another way to describe global social networks. The authors surface the phrase “personal learning network (PLN).” This type of social network infers intentionality of purpose (shared interests / hobbies / passions with others entering freely into these relationships).

Let me take a step back from being strict about “Professional”. Two examples come to mind: Fan Fiction communities and Artist communities. While globally disbursed persons utilize technology to connect these types of PLNs have existed face to face long before technology (just think of local writing and art clubs).

Regardless of location, face to face or globally connected, PLNs offer access to people of differing professions, education, and perspective. While many groups already exist, if I have not joined any then I have not begun my own PLN(s). My own example is DevianArt. My wife has joined a fan fiction group. We post our work, receive feedback, and develop new, trusting relationships within that context.

The authors layout a four step process each of us will go through in establishing a PLN:

1) Consumption. On DeviantArt I can receive broad inputs or specific (from the entire community or based on individual or type, etc). In fact when I began with DeviantArt I listed myself as a “lurker”. The consumption step could be described in this manner. At some point “lurking” is not completely satisfying and I took the next step.

2) Connection. I began to follow certain artists to comment on their work and ask questions (methods, locations, thoughts and reflections). Doing so begins to build connections as others respond. This in turn gave me courage to take the next step.

3) Creation. From the answers I received from the other artists I am able apply and experiment with their ideas as I create my own works.

4) Contribution. Once a work has been created, I would post it so I would receive feedback. The reason to post it is because I was excited about the work and desired to share it with those who stimulated my thinking and skills practice.

I have enjoyed seeing my wife on a fan fiction site. She read (consumed), gained courage to connect, leading her to create her own stories, and contributing her works to the community.

I have been sharing and discussing bounded systems. The authors however are clear that each bounded system is a part of a larger, personal system, bounded only by our personal, individual limitations. Thus every club to which we belong, every faith tradition, 12-step program, classroom, and any place people meet regularly has the potential to be part of our PLN. Our personal learning network is custom plotted and built from the relationships we have in all our communities of practice – face to face or through technology.

LaGarde, J., & Whitehead, T. (2012). POWER UP YOUR PROFESSIONAL LEARNING. [Article]. Knowledge Quest, 41(2), 8-13.


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This posting should not be taken as an end all of marriage and communication.  Rather my exploration of my own marriage and communication.

What is the purpose of marriage?  What is the purpose of communication within marriage?  Why did I get married?  What do I hope to get out of my marriage?  These questions and more surface to me as I contemplate.

I married Trixy because I truly believe I was called to marry her.  Strange as that may sound.  It is my divine concept worldview that leads me to this conclusion.  We met, I was attracted, we continued getting to know each other.

However it is in this process that we see communication at work.  The day we met I was communicating with her and her classmates, just as I communicated every day with students and faculty.  The purpose of which was to ascertain levels of computer literacy and database search skills; to build up skills; and to build rapport – at the very least.

Aside from the literacy and skills based stuff, she gained my attention, quite by accident, in that she wore a bicycle century T-shirt.  We saw each other on campus.  She had my attention but along the way I had her’s as well.  If we had not we would not have exchanged verbal pleasantries when we bumped into each other.  However attention getting can be done in a build up or tear down way.  For me, a temper tantrum is negative, but a calm “I’ve been thinking /feeling about…” is positive.  Yet even as I write that I realize these attitudes are built on experiences and conceptions from my family and upbringing.  Rarely did we have to yell to gain attention and most often a temper tantrum for attention met with negative consequences – and thus the purpose of it was unfulfilled.

Now to hear a friend describe her interactions with her significant other, I would think they would be trying to bully the other into submission.  At least on first hearing the stories.  But as I probed deeper into her experiences I found that she was open to him and she believed he was open to her.  Yet their methods would not work for me.

I am suggesting the point of communication in marriage is to know and understand the other.  Not to exert pressure to get what I want.  The tools of dialogue and appreciative inquiry can be used, but one party cannot make another party participate.  If it were even possible to force dialogue the mere active of using pressure tactics would limit the value of dialogue.  Appreciative inquiry is possible to be more one-sided as it requires only one to ask questions.  But to be effective the other must answer in the spirit of a larger purpose.

In this sense is a marriage a marriage because of policy and law? or is marriage a marriage because the partners have committed to building up and not tearing down?  This building up and tearing down then become negotiated through communication.  Each person brings their worldview, experiences, beliefs, ethics, learning capacity, and so on as expectations of what marriage should (or is supposed to) be.  What it becomes will be a different reality from what the individual expects.

If the purpose of communication is to “win” the result may be one-sided.  If the purpose is “to one” then we may find some sort of success.

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My quick take on this article: Mentor matching: A “Goodness of Fit” Model is a creation of the authors based on social exchange theory. The authors are exploring the organic nature of informal mentoring relationships. They are careful to limit their model and not exclude or “diss” other forms of mentoring (e.g. formal mentoring programs). Rather they seek to explain why, in formal mentoring programs, some relationship “take off”, while others don’t; and in the absence of formal program why two people enter into a mentoring relationship at all.

They explore the process and problem of defining “Mentoring”.  They take Kathy Kram’s work and refine it to this:

Mentoring:A process for the reciprocal,informal transmission of knowledge,social capital,and psycho-social support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face to face and over a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor), to a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé).

Additionally, the authors include that my necessity, mentoring relationships are dyad based. While any mentor or protege may enter into more than one mentoring relationship (as mentor or protege), each relationship is limited to two members.

In using social exchange as a foundation, the authors point out that informal/organic mentoring relationships have minimal conditions which must be met to even form, and optimal conditions under which the members of the relationship are completely satisfied. “Goodness of fit” then happens somewhere in between.

The authors put forward that the “goodness of fit” rests in three general areas: endowments (the “fund” each possesses and brings to the relationship; preferences (for the mentor – the value of transmitting their endowments and for the protege – the value for receiving and learning); and content (specific to the purpose of the mentoring relationship).

As this is an – as yet – untested model, the authors provide research questions as suggestions for further study. To me the basis and logic of their model makes sense. Currently my “issue” with the entire model is that “reciprocity” is required. While I willing acknowledge that our world tends to operate on a basis of reciprocity, I am not convinced that it is required in general, and believe that a goodness of fit can be achieved without the necessity for reciprocity.

Mentor Matching: A “Goodness of Fit” Model
Barry Bozeman and Mary K. Feeney
The online version of this article can be found at: http://aas.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/40/5/465

DOI: 10.1177/0095399708320184 2008; 2008; 40; 465 originally published online Jun 9, Administration & Society

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I have spent the past day thinking about those who have been my mentors and coaches.  One thing strikes me:  not all these relationships were declared or might even be recognized by the other party.  My list reads as a “who’s who” of positive influence in my life.

My mentors range from the personal, professional, spiritual, and educational.

One of my early mentors was Zach Staenberg.  In college I hated editing.  But Zach’s passion and insights challenged me and helped to shift my thinking.  He was not my coach.  In that situation my coach would have been the first or second assistant editor (I was the apprentice).

Another early professional mentor was David Frankel.  Over the three months I worked with him I remember discussing his insights and philosophies on the process of film/TV production – again, shaping my perspectives and future practices.

To a lesser extent, yet still true, Michael Rachmil, Norman Steinberg, Matthew Ody and Stan Golden also acted as mentors and the latter two, as coaches.   During my initial work for Roger Corman, the first projectionist I met (sorry, I don’t have a name) was a coach – seriously.  Having told Roger Corman I knew how to run a 35mm double system projector (I didn’t), the projectionist on another one of Corman’s films coached me through the process and I was able to run the dailies for him for a few weeks.

Mentors were far and few between my exit from Hollywood and my entrance to education.  Mailen Kootsey whose passion for technology and education challenged my thinking and perspectives, energizing me into educational technology and a Masters in Education.

Personal Mentors:
My father

Spiritual Mentors:
A Graham Maxwell
Robert Wieland
Jonathan Gallagher

Educational Mentors:
Mailen Kootsey
Dave Gilsdorf
My 5th and 6th grade teachers were great coaches, as was my 9th and 10th grade English teacher.  Certainly other teachers have played a positive coaching role.

Can people you have never met mentor or coach you?  At first I admit that I hesitate to say “yes”.  However, I can’t shake the influence of authors, and artists of all sorts whose handiwork has either mentored me or coached me in one or more of my life’s domains.  Clearly as I engage with their works I engage in a relationship with them.

Among these who I consider mentors:  David Dunn (“Try Giving Yourself Away”); John Eldredge (“Wild at Heart”); Ellen White (“Desire of Ages” and “God Made Manifest in Christ” among others);  Ensemble for “Babette’s Feast” and “My Life as a Dog”.

And for coaching, pretty much anything by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

I too am the work of my mentors and coaches.  This brings me to consider that as people engage with me or my works, you have also in some way engaged with my mentors and coaches.  Naturally the reverse is true too.

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A quick perusal of Google’s “define” function brings up the following sampling:

Mentorship refers to a developmental relationship between a more experienced mentor and a less experienced partner referred to as a protégé …

• mentor – serve as a teacher or trusted counselor; “The famous professor mentored him during his years in graduate school”; “She is a fine lecturer but she doesn’t like mentoring”
• mentor – a wise and trusted guide and advisor

There are categories of mentoring:  peer; youth; professional; clinical; technical; and so forth.

The term “coaching” returns the following from Google:

Coaching is a method of directing, instructing and training a person or group of people, with the aim to achieve some goal or develop specific …

coach – a person who gives private instruction (as in singing, acting, etc.)

Here, again, a variety of categories:  life; executive; personal; conflict; business; career online; performance; and so on.

By these definitions then, coaching is specific and mentoring is broad.  Coaching would be based on some form of reciprocity, mentoring need not be.  Perhaps, there is much overlap of practice between the two as well.

In a conversation today with a faculty, he described my work clearly as a mentor, in that I have more experience, and enter easily into mentoring type relationships with less experienced proteges.  At the same time, I clearly see myself as a coach, training, directing, and instructing for very specific objectives.  In thinking about my job: I am a coach by these definitions.  The mentoring part comes to play with those who wish to move beyond “mere” coaching.

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So went the question posed to the LinkedIn community.

My response? Everyone serves as a “leader” in some capacity because leaders are relational through relationships, influence. Thus a father, mother, brother, or sister are leaders. The CEO, middle manager, and line worker are leaders. We can exert our leadership for good or for ill.

I think the greatest people/leaders:
1) serve life by taking care of themselves; others; and the environment
2) know themselves and help others know themselves
3) know that they are part of something bigger than “self” and help others gain a sense of purpose and destiny

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