By C. Villefrance Moeller, TalesOfLeading
“You don’t show who you are on your web site” my friend said. He was generously giving me feedback. He’s right I haven’t made any introduction. Well, that’s an easy thing to do I thought – at first – then I realized it might not be so easy after all. It’s not that I’m very complicated, but what information about me would be relevant for you? Is it Business first, a record of achievements, or the private me? I made a few experiments:
My life in groups
We are constantly part of groups. At work the department, office and team form formal groups. There’s the present and former colleagues you meet for lunch or a pint after work. There’s your friends, the soccer team and those you are part of in a brief moment. The groups you creeps under you skin and become a part of your identity. The roles you take in these different groups reveals how you respond to it and behave in the group. As my former professor Steen Visholm at Roskilde University told me: The first group you are a part of is the family.
I am the oldest in my group of siblings. I have two younger sisters and a brother. My parents now and then authorized me to take care of them, when they were out. This gave me a feeling of responsibility that I carry with me in other groups. I have often taken the side of one who were standing alone or attacked in a group or step out of groups if they were fighting each other. I remember a time in 5th grade where the girls in the class had split into two groups in a “if your not part of us, you are a part of them” way. I refused to take part of that rhetoric and consequently took my one path. In an other situation at the university I was making a big effort in defending one in the study group when I realized he was perfectly capable of defending himself.
In and out of organizations
By being responsible and praised by my parents to be so, I have neglected and to some extend suppressed my creativity. I wasn’t aware of my creative side until a few years ago when one of my friend made a personality test on me. At first I was surprised, but then a pattern emerged in my memory. I remembered a secretary saying to me that my offers to the clients was always very different from the other consultants even though I used the same building blocks for our services.
My friends comments to me also made me reflect on when I way thriving at work and when I didn’t. There’s no longer any doubt in me that I thrive, when I can create concept, new ways of working and exploring new knowledge. I am curious to discuss and learn about other people, cultures and how things can be manufactured. Therefore, I enjoy traveling, has a exchange student living in my house and is fascinated by 3D printing. My work does not follow a strait line. It is more iterative and experimenting. It’s like being strangled when I’m told what to do without explorative discussions and experimentation. I have to stop and leave the organization. I leave the group to be able to breathe.
Leading and learning
Through my working life, I have meet a lot of highly skilled people. A lot of failed implementations (strategy, new technology, methods) comes from not respecting those highly skilled people and their knowledge. Edgar Schein once compared the way companies try to impose cultural changes with how prisoners at war in Korea was treated. He called it “coercive persuasion”. If learning is imposed by the employer rather than chosen by the employee then there is force involved. In an interview in Harvard Business Review in 2002 he said: “… we don’t know how to systematically intervene in the culture to create transformational learning across the organization”.
This statement is a constant reminder for me in present work as a PhD student but also as a leader. Authority and autonomy is floating organically and I’m not sure there is a stable balance to be found. It is my motivation for writing this blog. How can I lead and learn as a manager. I cannot know everything. I do not want to be a hero or a saviour.
Now what else can I tell about myself? I like riding my bike. I have had several bikes in my life since I was a little girl. On bike I could get around in the world and visit my friends. My cousin and I could drive down to the beach when we were staying by our grandparents. It gave me the feeling of being free and independent. I have also used it test my self by climbing Mount Ventoux twice. However, in everyday life the bike trip home from university is my time to reflect.
This was a very short introduction and as an experiment I made it differently. I you want the formal presentation, you can find me on LinkedIN. Was this relevant for you? Please leave a comment.