The art of leadership, and a reflection of my own (Part 2 of 3)

This is part 2 of a 3 part reflection/lessons learned from my time at the Art of Hosting conference in Karlskrona Sweden last month.  See Part 1

Who was a great leader in your life? Why did you want to follow that person? What characteristics/qualities did he or she have?



think hard… who? A teacher? A boss? Your mom or dad?



Margaret Wheatley, a leadership guru asked that question to us at the conference. Surprisingly, I (and the people around me) were really hardpressed to think of anyone.  Likely meaning, there aren’t too many great leaders out there.  Everyone has mistakes.  And, having been “the leader” myself, it’s freaking hard, and frankly, as a friend (who I’d also call a leader) told me later, pretty overrated. Think about it, as leaders, you’re quite often placed on a pedestal, ready to be shot down…

This post is a reflection on my own leadership style.


I held a special task during the Art of Hosting conference. I was part of the “Meta-harvesting Team” – our job was to collect the important takeaways throughout each day and stream it back in the following day so that all could see the important thread that we were creating. The final job was to sum up the whole conference in meaningful ways that could be used later on.  This Prezi created by one creative girl on our team is just one example – beautiful:)

The job of harvesting is so important, yet really, quite difficult in practice as everyone is experiencing so much. Also, as a team, our group didn’t quite get off on the right start.  There was some confusion in what were doing (we didn’t collectively decide on our purpose) and consequently, found it really hard to come up with a strategy that worked.

Also, there was a question about leadership. In this group of leaders, who was going to lead?

I tend to lead often. Sometimes I want to, sometimes I don’t. This time I guess I just kind of fell into it.

I won’t explain the whole situation, but there was some tension in the group by the end of it. We were frustrated on the last night as we worked endlessly to come up with our final harvests.

On the last day, sensing the tension between me and one person in the group, I decided to “call-it” (part of the Art of sensing the room).  She, thankfully, was honest enough with herself, and me, to not just let it slip. She took a deep breath and told me flat out that she had a problem with my leadership style. First of all, ouch… Second of all, I said, “let’s talk”. I knew myself well enough that this was a needed conversation and that I should take in as much as possible to learn from my mistakes.

Now, I should say that some people in the group were really happy with my leadership style and complimented and thanked me for jumping in to take the lead. So, don’t read this and think I’m an awful leader… But most definitely, like everyone,  I have room for improvement.

But, going back to my conversation with my teammate who confronted me, the result was an hour and half long conversation that mattered.

I found out a few things about myself that I knew, but that I hadn’t quite brought to the surface.

–         LET GO.

  • I don’t always let go of my ideas. Won’t lie, I have some pretty awesome ideas 🙂  but, I all too often share them with people, without the intention of changing it. Problemo # uno.)
  • This would make sense why I sometimes end up working alone when I start on projects (never a good feeling)
  • I need to let go of my ideas so that others can join in, take ownership in it and give it the space to grow and become an even greater idea.

–         PURPOSE

  • Sometimes I can get excited about a vision and just start acting – without understanding the purpose myself and without portraying it clearly to others.
  • I can speed off into the distance – and leave others just watching me run, for no apparent reason. (Pretty funny visual, but have been told this analogy before by different people…so obviously something there)
  • I need to understand where others are – what’s driving them so that I can understand their purpose.
  • I need to just chill sometimes in the moment – gain a better understanding of the purpose for me and others – and from there, I can start moving towards a goal – with others.

–         TRUST

  • Goes with the first one. I need to trust that the people I work with are intelligent people that know what they’re doing. I don’t need to repeat myself with hopes that they get my idea.

–         BREATHE

  • Just relax… I can get so anxious about what I want to accomplish in life. (Like many twenty-something year olds that I know). I forget to just breathe, and remember, that “it’s just life!”
  • It’s the journey, not the destination…

So, there you have it.  A very open, honest, harvest on my own leadership skills.

I said in Part 1 that I left the conference not feeling the renewed sense of passion like most people. This is one of the reasons why.

I left feeling confused and vulnerable…

All said and done though, I think the confrontation, so to speak, was a great experience for me. I have had lots of great feedback in my life – so many encouragements from people that I greatly admire. I’m blessed to have had lots of wonderful conversations with people telling me “not to worry so much” that “I’ll go far”… it was about time that someone gave me an honest check. It was well called for.

We ended our confrontation with a giant hug and a deeper feeling of connection. You know who you are, but thank you.  😉


Margaret Wheatley’s talk was on the art of collaborative leadership not heroic leadership.

I learned am learning that to become a collaborative leader is a challenge (I still catch myself in my old ways sometimes…), but it is truly the best approach for moving our society onto a sustainable path.

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3 thoughts on “The art of leadership, and a reflection of my own (Part 2 of 3)

  1. Pablo says:

    Hi, Jane!

    Thank you for sharing all your harvesting!

    Sorry for not skyping with you the week after the AoH.

    I have been travelling around Europe for our thesis project on social entrepreneurship education. It has been exhausting & exciting!

    regards from Koln,


  2. […] About ← The art of leadership, and a reflection of my own (Part 2 of 3) […]

  3. eccemarco says:

    Must say: I loved your story! It really felt so personal, so sincere, so honest. I especially enjoyed the honesty in talking about trust and the reflections on your own leadership style.

    I was lucky enough to share the AoH in K-na with you all guys, and I could feel again the same magnificent sense of transparency. Thanks for sharing this story.
    Marco, MSLS.

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