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No Parroting Allowed!

Learning Emergence by Asking Questions

Emergence Group Babies

"Consciously Managing An Office"

Questions for the Week of December 11, 2006

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When asked, "how do you best learn?" most people usually respond with either a technique, like, "in a classroom," or by naming their favorite sense, like, "I learn best visually." Unfortunately, this implies most people define "learning" as the ability to parrot the correct answer.

What is wrong with this? We believe that "parroting the correct answer" creates parrots, not students; dullards, not Einsteins. So how can we create more Einsteins? We believe, by asking questions which are intended to provoke the student's own questions. More important, we see this as the best way with which to reawaken in students the love of learning.

This week's topic is, "Consciously Managing An Office." Would you like to awaken your love of learning about this topic? You can, simply by reading the teacher's questions and then, by asking yourself, "what questions did these words just provoke in me?"

"Consciously Managing An Office"

Recent events have led me to re-evaluate my understanding of what it means to be a manager and a leader. I began by looking for a picture of someone managing and came up decidedly blank. Apparently I never consciously learned what it means to consciously manage or lead.

In fact, it seems my personal definition of managing and leading is very Layer 2, with a bit of Layer 7, followed by a rousing dose of murderous Layer 4. In other words, I get people to do what I want or need them to do, then rage at them for not doing the part they have not done. Thus, while I believe I have become a more civilized manager over time, this is the essence of my dance.

Yesterday, a client and I talked about some of the patterns that had developed over the course of our working together. In short, we realized we where keying each other; that I was blaming him for being uncompromising and defiant, and he was blaming me for being rigid and authoritative. In effect, we saying in a very back and forth, Layer 2 way, "I won’t," and "No, you will."

During this discussion, as he described his experience, I felt my anger and blame build. I felt the need to defend and explain myself. As I then worked to I quiet myself, at some point, my anger melted, and I suddenly felt embarrassed and ashamed. Not so much for my reaction or even for the initial events. Rather, I felt weak and I hate feeling weak.

I then thought to myself, if you want me to lead and I lead but you don’t listen, how then can I lead? The words, "you don’t listen," echoed in my head. I then experienced the scene from the Wizard of Oz, wherein we are told, "pay no attention to the little man behind the curtain."

In other words, my reaction was not based on people not following, nor on whether people were listening or not. Rather, it was about how I hate to feel weak and alone, as well how I hate when others see me as weak. Steve told me this conversation had provoked a crisis in me and now, I'm beginning see why. This cuts to the core of my sense of authority, strength, and power. It also brings me to places I have never wanted to go back to.

In these scenes, I see times wherein I felt humiliated and weak in front of people. It was also present in my recent reaction to being challenged by one of the Emergence Master Teachers. With all this churning inside me this month, I have many questions regarding what it is to consciously manage people.

The Teacher's Questions (asked by Ed)

  • What is conscious managing?
  • What would it entail?
  • Is a manager a leader?
  • Is a leader a manager?
  • Is managing damage control?
  • Where does power come from?
  • Where does authority come from?
  • What is power?
  • What is authority?
  • What is the nature of the relationship between leader and follower?
  • If you have to use force to lead, are you a leader, or a forcer?
  • Does the enforcer stand behind people and force them forward? Is that leading?
  • Does a leader stand in front and the followers follow? If so, how?
  • Does the nature of leadership entail aloneness?
  • Is a conscious leader one who knows and accepts the aloneness leading entails?
  • Can authority be equal in a group? If not, is that connected? Is a good leader a good follower?
  • If a direction is chosen by a group, is it both the leader’s responsibility as well as the followers to get to the intended goal?
  • Is it the leader’s responsibility to mange the level of consent in his group of followers?
  • What are the responsibilities of the followers in the relationship between leader and follower?
  • What drives group cohesion?
  • What determines who follows who?
  • Are there leader and follower types or are they reflections of character types?
  • Can you lead without a shared vision?
  • What is the nature of focus and direction?
  • How does anything get accomplished in a group?

Sample Student Response Questions (asked by Jen)

Wow Ed! Really great questions. Especially since I am sure that your self centered compulsion to override and connect to someone who clearly is unable or not wanting to connect is very much an indication of a wound.

When I read your first question, I could also see how I too feel this very same feeling. Neediness is such a funky position for a two (me) to be in. And while it doesn't feel right, it is necessary I suppose, even if it is very painful.

You've asked so many questions, I'm not sure you've left many. My only question is . . .

  • Is there a difference between having needs versus neediness?

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