Spirit Leadership Story
Here’s a story from my spirit of leadership in organisations archive, known as the ‘Nantucket Briar Crabtree and Evelyn Spray Story’.
It was my job to lead the acquisition of new large corporate customer IT outsourcing business.
A possible client who, for various reasons, hated our company was given to me to work with on a ‘turnaround’ program as a new opportunity. Picture the Chief Information Officer and his eight direct reports arriving in our boardroom on a Friday morning for a ‘turnaround’ workshop because they had been ordered to show up by their CEO. They were not pleased, not wanting to be there and openly hostile. You could feel the negative energy pouring out of them.
What to Do?
I started the morning by explaining how grateful I was for my eyesight, the eye being the window into our soul so to speak. This was made so clear to me as that morning a good friend of mine was having major surgery to have his right eye removed. He had a melanoma in his tear duct and the only way to obtain clear surgical margins whilst removing the cancer was to remove his eye. Gratefulness is a very important practice, so I asked them to work in pairs and spend five minutes telling each other what they were grateful for at that moment. Fifteen minutes later it was hard to stop them from talking.
Next, I asked them to stand and close their eyes. I took them through a brief meditation, getting them to notice their breathing, take some deep breaths in and out and release any areas of tension in their body. Then I asked them to check their senses. What could they hear, see, feel, and smell? As I said smell, I sprayed Crabtree and Evelyn Nantucket Briar room spray in the air above each of them…
The room filled with laughter as they tried to identify the smell. The negative energy had left the room and we proceeded with our workshop, identifying business improvement opportunities, and it went well for the rest of the day.
This approach set the scene for building a completely new type of relationship, where we trusted each other, shared all our information and, after a year working together, signed a multi-million dollar IT outsource contract.
So what happened that day?
I used three practices from the Spirit of Leadership in Organisation Library and applied them to a leadership situation with a very positive impact.
- Telling a very personal story of another person's suffering engaged their compassion
- Gratefulness practice is an extremely powerful and fast way of generating positive feelings
- Meditation (with Smell) generated calmness, connectedness and humour
Together these practices enabled them to let go of negativity and focus on co-creating a positive future.
When we are reminded that we are all human, and get in touch with our shared human experience and our natural compassion, much of the behavioural façade that we carry around falls away.
This is especially true in conflict situations and the reason why problems are best solved by talking or coming to see other perspectives...walk a mile in other's shoes so to speak.