Drawing Out Leadership

We need a new image of leadership!

Here’s what we found when we searched the Internet for leadership images to illustrate a workshop flyer on coaching, mentoring, and team leadership:

• A flag bearer leading troops.
• A parental presence leaning over others’ shoulders to examine their work.
• Crowds lifting a single figure aloft.
• Hands of various colors clasped in a mandala shape.

None of these images match, convey or inspire what we see emerging in the meetings we facilitate. And what we see emerging is a leadership model that is vitally alive and suited to today’s challenges.

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Challenges of Virtual and Blended Meetings

A few weeks ago, we put the following question to several facilitators’ groups on LinkedIn: What are the biggest roadblocks you’ve encountered during virtual or blended meetings? (We defined blended meetings as those where some participants are face-to-face and some are attending virtually.) In the lively discussions that followed the question, expert facilitators shared the issues they have encountered—as well as some tips for dealing with them. This summary was prepared from their remarks, and our grateful thanks go to those who responded.

The groups represented here include the Organizational Development & Training Forum of Linked:HR, Training & Development, Leadership Strategies Facilitation & Leadership Community, and The Grove Consultants International.

Benefits of Virtual or Blended Meetings

It’s a testament to the positive outlook of the members of these communities that even when asked specifically to identify roadblocks, they still point out the upsides of virtual meetings. They noted that a well-run blended or virtual meeting can involve people who would otherwise be unable to attend, especially in today’s environment of geographically distributed teams. When virtual meetings go smoothly, they take less time than similar face-to-face meetings. In large or newly formed teams, tools like whiteboards and chat windows give people who might otherwise keep quiet a chance to contribute. Instead of having to speak up vocally, they can record their preferences and ideas in a way that is a little less intimidating. In some cases, the meeting can be recorded and used for archival or other purposes, although the recording should not be considered a substitute for attending; it’s even more difficult to stay engaged from a distance while watching a meeting that has already happened.

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Building a Better Team Metaphor



We’ve all heard of the term “team building”—based on the industrial-age metaphor that people are like construction blocks. You might not even think of this as being a metaphor, but it implies you start with nothing and somehow, after a group process, teams are “built” and everything works.

When Allan Drexler and I set out to create a comprehensive model for team development in the 1980s, we agreed that the building metaphor doesn’t capture how groups really work. Teams are more like athletes and artists than buildings, and are in a journey that fluctuates between freedom of aspirations and real-world constraints—seeking a resolution of the two in action. They pass through different stages of engagement and often go back and forth between these stages as the team coalesces. We decided to visualize the Drexler/Sibbet Team Performance Model® as a bouncing ball, with four stages to create the team and three to describe increasing levels of sustained performance. It starts with people “up in the air” imagining the purpose and bounces off the “ground” of current realities, regaining freedom of movement through mastery of the constraints.

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Showcase: Visual Practice Part 1

A few weeks ago, I invited visual practitioners to send me samples of their work. I requested images representing each practitioner’s individual creative style, and as you’ll see, the range is very extensive even in this comparatively small sampling of work. I also asked folks to tell me why they picked the particular image they did. Let’s take a little tour of some of the beautiful pieces that were so generously shared. The list is alphabetical by the last name of the practitioner. I’ll share more of the entries in another post.

If you’re interested in contacting any of these folks about potential work, please follow up with them on the website listed with their name.

Claire Bronson, c2bdesign.com




Claire chose this image because, in her words, “the content is near and dear to my heart.” Her chart records a talk by Kevin Hagen about sustainable business practices at REI, given for the Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future. I love the springtime colors she chose and the fun, funky lettering of the subtitles in this piece.

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The Principles of Graphic Facilitation: Facing the Blank Paper

I’ve been working at The Grove for almost a year and finally had the opportunity to take The Principles of Graphic Facilitation workshop from Senior Consultant Laurie Durnell in April, 2011. I signed up for three days: a two-day workshop that focuses on using graphics to lead group processes, and a one-day workshop that teaches agenda design, custom template design, facilitation and graphic-format selection. In this article I’ll be reflecting on my experience as a participant with virtually no background in graphic facilitation, as well as sharing some of the ideas presented in the workshop.

Day 1

I arrive at The Grove offices at exactly 8:25 a.m. and find I am the last one here. I take the one empty seat, settle into my chair and contemplate the bulging bag placed in front of me. Two blank sketchbooks, three textbooks on graphic facilitation and a small bound book called Pocket Pics. I get the idea we’re going to be covering a lot of ground in three days.

Most of The Grove’s workshops admit a maximum of ten people to make sure breakout groups are small and everyone gets one-on-one attention. This time there are exactly ten participants including me. They come from a variety of locations: Nova Scotia, Alaska, British Columbia, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Seattle; and backgrounds: education, ontological coaching, art therapy, academia and marketing.

Laurie introduces us to the OARRs (Outcomes, Agenda, Roles and Rules) Graphic Guide® template on the wall. This chart addresses participants’ expectations at the beginning of a meeting and makes sure everyone is in alignment. We all set to copying the format into our sketchbooks. I’m already loving this new way of taking notes. It feels quite natural and slightly subversive; like I’m not supposed to be drawing while someone is talking.

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