The Leadership Lens

I recently read a white paper entitled, Future Trends in Leadership Development, by Nick Petrie of the Center for Creative Leadership.  The article makes the case on the current state of leadership development including what isn’t working, why it isn’t working, and wraps up with ideas to get the people interested moving in more effective direction within our current environment.  As I was reading, it became clear, that in all of his interviews, Mr. Petrie, hadn’t talked to any leader from the non-profit community based sector; which means he is missing very useful and beneficial information. Information that could lead to innovation, relationship building,  greater cooperation and networking between the for-profit and not-for-profit world.

I have worked with non-profits of all sizes with as diverse mission; from an emerging Latino community based organization, AIDS service organizations, health care clinics, outpatient and residential substance use rehabilitation programs and labor organizations. Over the span of twenty plus years, I have experienced organizational cultures that have been all over the place. However, in that same amount of time, I have consistently witnessed, with a few exceptions, the exact model of leadership development the article describes.

By their very nature and existence non-profit/community based organizations employ both vertical and horizontal development. These organizations always emerge from the very four points Mr. Petrie addresses as the “cause of vertical development”; 1)  People feel consistently frustrated by situations, dilemmas, or challenges in their lives, 2) It causes them to feel the limits of their current
way of thinking, 3) It is in an area of their life that they care
about deeply, and 4) There is sufficient support that enables them to
persist in the face of the anxiety and conflict.

What apparently is the new world order within the experience of for-profit organizations; described with the army acronym VUCA, standing for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous, is simply standard operating procedure for many if not most, non-profit groups.  What type of thinking does this require?  Again, according to Mr. Petrie, a thinking style that is more complex which incorporates adaptability, self-awareness,boundary spanning, collaboration, network thinking. All of which are already practiced within the non-profit sector.  Additionally professional development within the non-profit sector is the responsibility of the individual rather than HR; an outcome limited resources.

While circumstances seem to be deciding factor in much of our leadership development paradigm, as a product of the non-profit, community based sector, I can attest without hesitation that, I and many of the leaders I have known and continue to know fit into Kegan’s Adult Level of Development at the 5th level of Self-Transforming( which is referred to at Interdependent Collaborator within the Center for Creative Leadership). Again, not all that surprising considering the economic realty and driving forces of community based organizations.

I am hopeful, that all of us in the leadership development sector can begin to model the very methods we are espousing to industry leaders by coming together, emerge from our contained environments and begin a dialogue.  I envision a time when non-profit leaders and the for-profit leaders come to view each other as peers and resources.

I of course would love speaking with Mr. Petrie, so after this is posted, I will send him an email and see how we can be transformational leaders!




Going from Goal Setting to Acheivement

As we come to the end of another year, many of us will begin the parallel process of reviewing the past year and preparing for the year to come. Personally, I have discovered through these experiences that many years have come and gone with my haven’t been very mindful. Where I lived going through the motions as if on autopilot. Then I would look towards the new year with dreamy anticipation; only to find myself at the end of another year, wondering where this one had gone. In the end, life was running me; I wasn’t running my life.

I was recently going through one of my music playlist and a familiar number from the musical Rent, written and composed by Jonathan Larson, harmoniously streamed through the speakers. 525 thousand six hundred minutes…As I continued listening, I couldn’t help but reflect on how much of my life, our lives, we leave to be decided for us.  I am then reminded of lesson learned and passed on to us by Viktor Frankle, about choice being the greatest of all human freedoms. So why, with so many opportunities for exercising that amazing gift, do we so freely give it up? Could this be the the key to unlocking your full potential?  Could the full exercise of choice, be what Henry David Thoreau was referring to when he wrote, “If a man advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and lives the life he has imagined for himself, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours”?

I am challenging you to join me this coming year in Going from Goal Setting to Achievement. We will be using active goal setting techniques, that I have learned from one of my mentors, Dr. Shad Helmstetter. I will be working with 10 people beginning in January when I kick off the Going from Goal Setting to Achievement challenge for 52 consecutive weeks. If you are ready to fully exercise the greatest of all human freedoms and “meet with a success unexpected in common hours”, then this challenge is for you! if you are ready to commit to the Going from Setting to Achievement,  send me an email to; be sure to include your full name, telephone number and the best times to call in addition to sharing the reason for accepting this challenge.

If you want something you’ve never had, then you have to do something you have never done.

Let this be YOUR year.


Much Love

Dean the Life Coach




Thoughts on the journey of Becoming

As I have continued to sustain my efforts in the area of personal development, new insights and discoveries are sometimes subtly clouded, even hidden from sight.  My natural inclination is to drive on; recently however, I have had several instances where I was stopped in my tracks.

In these moments, I came to the understanding that much of my “doing”-the business of personal development-I am totally missing out on the “being”. It is in my “being” that I live out the promise of connection. In “being”, I am able to truly be present for others as well as myself. In “doing”, I miss out on the here and now, by failing to practice mindfulness of my person. It also drives me to ego, where I focus on having the right answers, being the expert or the “guy with the answers” How intoxicating!

The price; however, is that realization, that in my business, I forget to return to a mindful state that connects me to you. That disconnection and its manifestation in my life is a deteriorating toxin. It keeps me from hearing while giving the appearance of listening, it insist that you understand me before I ever really make an effort to understand you. I suck up all the psychological air leaving you gasping for the last sustaining breath of visibility. This is not the person I desire to become.

As we come to the end of this year, let us renew our commitment to ourselves, each other and communities at large, by practicing more mindfulness. Let us avoid the trap of getting caught up in the “doing” and remember that it is in the “being” that we truly become!


Be good to you and those around you.

I remain,