Nearly three years ago was the first time I heard of The Leadership Circle. When my friend and colleague Pamela Saari introduced their work to me, I had a gut sense that their leadership assessment products and body of work was something I wanted to know more about. My visceral, gut sense surprised me because for the ten years prior, I had researched various leadership 360 feedback products and had very consciously decided not to become certified in any one product or tool. Since most of my clients had already gone through some sort of 360 or style assessment tool such as Hogan, Insights, or Meyers-Briggs, I didn’t feel it necessary to add another tool into the mix. That was until I learned more about depth of The Leadership Circle offerings.
When I went through my certification process with the Leadership Circle, I was blown away by how robust their model was. This was the first time I had seen an assessment tool bring together all parts of what I considered to be important aspects of the leader/human development conversation. The Leadership Circle expands the leadership development conversation beyond the standard competencies or skills, or what they would call the “outer game”, and instead, emphasizes the awareness and depth of the “inner game” or becoming aware of our unconscious thought patterns, conditioning and assumptions that drive our behavior. This was the first tool I had seen that honestly and profoundly helped my clients (and myself) become aware of unconscious behavior and gain insight to the origins of our reactive behavior. And the beautiful thing is that the information is all presented objectively with a ton of data to back it up.
Naturally I have become a fan of The Leadership Circle and reached out to them to discuss citing some of their material in my upcoming book, Drop In: Lead with Deeper Presence and Courage. I ended up having a great conversation with the President, Betsy Leatherman. The more we talked, the more I realized that not only is The Leadership Circle on the forefront of transforming the leadership conversation, but as an organization, they are modeling a whole new approach to leadership. It hit me that The Leadership Circle IS living a new model of leadership.
Betsy is a mom of two school-aged boys and is the President of a very progressive company. She travels the globe, leads two brands and in the midst of it all, has found a way of leading that is creative and sustainable. The entire Leadership Circle team celebrates and values all aspects of each person and calls forth the best in each other. And just like other companies, they still have to move fast, make bold decisions and work hard, but they are doing all of it with little to no churn on the employee experience. For example, when Betsy was in a child-care pickle right before she had to travel to an important board meeting, she called up a board member and he said that the board (of mostly older men) completely supported her bringing her kids to the board meeting! They took turns teaching the kids to fly-fish and explore the outdoors and embraced having the energy of children present.
Could you imagine what kind of energy and creativity you could access if you knew all of who you are, warts and all, was supported and celebrated by your teammates and leaders? In my podcast with Betsy, A New Model of Leadership, we explore what’s possible when we lead from a creative and aware place and are not at the mercy of fragmenting ourselves in order to be “accepted” at work. I left this conversation with more hope and inspiration about what’s possible when we choose to lead from presence and awareness and I suspect you may be inspired too.