Monday, August 3, 2009

Leadership & Storytelling Part 5 of Many...

How does clay and pottery have anything to do with leadership?

I am intrigued by the process of how raw clay is transformed into pottery. There is an inherent potential in the clay, then through motion of a spinning wheel, a little water, and skillful hands an object is born. Work is completed with the collaborative energies of active agents each working to do their part. Some of the forces emanate from the hands of the potter while others appear to have their own objective reality. The spinning of wheel strikes me as an apt metaphor of an organization and all of the outside forces swirl around it shaping its trajectory and unfolding stories.

The potter as leader, recognizes the inherent value of every piece of clay. Each clump of clay has a unique potential to become something special and is perfect in its own right until the energies of of its properties are unleashed by the intentions of the potter.

The act of molding clay is initiated by a drive to create. There may be a vision such as making a pot. The potter has the experience of having made many pots. There maybe goals of needing a pot to match others that have been made; but all of these visions, experience, and goals serve as context. The ultimate force of the potter is the drive to create. Her willingness to see how clumps of wet earth have so much more to offer. It is not an act of subjecting the clay to bend to her will. Rather it is a call forth into fruition. The potters technical skills are complimented and buoyed by her instincts and heart.

So...leaders need to:

5. Recognize Talent

Talent is everywhere, and everyone has unique gifts and talents. Recognizing talent can be a challenge, however; requiring leaders to suspend their biases, values,judgments, worldviews, expectations, and perspectives. In order to recognize talent,a leader may have to work with what on the surface appear to be shortcomings or liabilities to the organization and transform them into positive skills.


• Make a list of people you find it challenging to work with. Next to each name write a short description of why you find it difficult to work with that person.

• Now imagine how some of these traits you see as negatives might be seen as assets. Can you develop a game plan for doing a better job of leveraging these traits?

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