Helena Clayton | An invitation to be radical?



An invitation to be radical?

18 Jun 2019, Posted by Helena Clayton in Monthly Blog

Funny what the world offers you. Currently, it’s the chance to look at what ‘radical’ means to me.

First, exploring love and what relationship it has to leadership and the role it could/should play in our organisations, I wrote this piece a week or so ago putting forward the idea that love is a form of ‘radical acceptance‘. It shouldn’t feel radical to be writing about love, and yet it does. And love requires a lot of radical, not least because it seems to make some people squirm, and I’ll write more on that soon.

Then, and completely separately, someone invited me to join a small group, a think tank, if you like, where we’d inquire into what a radically different form of leadership development might look like. If we always do what we always do …etc. On the one hand, if we truly are on the edge of the Sixth Extinction, then maybe there’s not much we can do. But, as many would argue, there’s plenty we should try. Initiated and held by Fritz Lensch of NeonSeeds, we have our first Zoom call next week.

I also work on a programme for emerging leaders,  with Ivy House, and we had a closing module of an 8 month programme just last week. There we promise – and deliver – ‘radical support, radical challenge’. This comes in the form of having a very high ratio of facilitators to give participants a lot of focused attention, encouraging them to ‘move fearwards’ and offers feedback from all directions – always inviting them to recognise that it’s how we respond to events that really matters and that shapes who we are and who we’ll become. Radical support, radical challenge. It’s powerful stuff.

And then I go listen to Anand Ghiradharadas (at a Meaning Conference event) talk about how hypocritical it is to join a movement to ‘make a difference’, say, when the work that your organisation is doing is buttressing or even shaping a toxic and damaging social system. Or to put your philanthropy over there when the damage you’re doing is right here. How can we wake people up to the damage that our big organisations are doing, he asks. And while it no longer feels right to be developing a leadership programme that doesn’t include a focus on social purpose in some way, I also left feeling the need to radicalise myself as well as my leadership programmes. You can hear him on YouTube or on Twitter using @AnandWrites.

And then it comes up again today, with my colleagues at Mayvin, in a deeply creative monthly practice development group that we call ‘Artful Knowing’. How, as OD practitioners and facilitators, academics or coaches (we were all of those …) can we be both radical and subversive enough to create change and yet not so much that we are too much and risk being asked to leave the system…

That was all in two weeks, maybe less. Let’s see what else is coming my way in the next two weeks. It’s got me thinking, that’s for sure.

Helena x

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