Our Fundamental Challenge

Our company, Executive Leadership Skills International, www.els1.com , International is a Leadership and Organization Development, Training, and Consulting firm. We have helped over 250 clients who represent a spectrum of organizations and industries including small businesses, Fortune 100 firms, schools, and professional organizations. Our work has taken us throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

We believe that leadership is one of the most powerful of all forces impacting an organization. We approach leadership as the act and art of creating shared meaning, eliciting purposeful action, and achieving desired results. We promote leadership that shapes a culture of high-involvement — where employees participate as partners and the capacity and desire to make meaningful contributions are acknowledged and supported. With effective leadership, individuals contribute, their best ideas take form, and organizations thrive. We also recognize that leadership is needed and should be encouraged.

One of our fundamental challenges in this domain is understanding how to teach and develop leadership in individuals and organizations. We know that the many theories of leadership (and there are many!) based on preferred results of leadership will help us understand what we want. However, they cannot help us understand how to use leadership to get what we want. For example, we understand that we want to influence people to achieve desired goals, but if we define leadership as influencing others, we are left to ask, “How this is done?”
Such a question may have many answers, some of which have nothing to do with leadership. We are left, then, to derive a definition which reveals an underlying process that is at the root of influence.

We know that leadership is usually defined in terms of the application of influence or the creation of motivation or both. I think it is important to see leadership in a different context: influence and motivation are not essential features of leadership at all; rather, influence and motivation result from the making of meaning. The same may be said for goals, direction, or structure. These are not essential features of leadership; they are some of the means through which meaning can be made. It is neither influence nor goals that are essential to leadership. It is meaning.

What happens, then, when I reframe the question from “How do I influence others?” to “How do I make meaning?” We now begin to address the underlying universal process (meaning making) and not the secondary, resulting process (influencing others).

So the question remains: “How do you make meaning?”


And so we begin…

When we decided to publish a blog our initial thoughts about the effort were normal, i.e. what topic, how frequent to publish, intended audience, etc.  Our experience and background is leadership and organization development so we wanted to maintain those areas as our theme.  Our intention is to talk about our experiences with leaders, leadership development, organization issues, and lessons learned, as well as providing a platform where readers can share their thoughts and ideas about relevant topics.

We’d like to make this a learning platform as well as a place for creative expression of thoughts and feelings of the subject areas, so we invite your participation and ideas.

Currently our intentions are to publish new material twice a week and allow for rumination, discussion, amplification of thoughts, etc.  We look forward to hearing from you all.

We chose the title of our blog “Leaderlines” to reflect our notion that there are many leaders out there, often without a place to discuss issues and topics close to their hearts.  This, then, is a forum for you to participate by sharing your experiences and learnings with the larger audience, hence learning as we go.

In our next entry we will talk about our background and begin to address the topic of leadership and how we see it.


Conversations about leadership and all that matters