Seasons of Leadership: A Self-Coaching Guide
by Susan M. Palmer (Red Barn Books, 2014).
What are the big take-aways?
At last, I have entered the fray by writing a leadership book, myself! I independently published Seasons of Leadership: A Self-Coaching Guide through Red Barn Books in October.
Seasons of Leadership is both a collection of essays and a handbook. It is for anyone who has made a conscious choice to influence the purposeful behavior of others toward realizing a vision of the future. (Because the process of leading any change really begins on the internal path of change within one’s self, you could even say that – at the very least – you are the leader of your own life.) The book is organized as a collection of personal reflection essays describing my mindfulness of how leadership is a process of continuous learning, and how the cycles of learning and leading are mirrored in the change of seasons. Each essay is followed by one or two sets of coaching questions on specific leadership topics raised in the essay.
Why did I write it?
As I am frequently reminded in my work with leadership coaching clients, leadership is often a lonely proposition. My impulse to write the book was to offer companionship to self-reflective leaders who are dedicated to personal and professional transformation. I believe that the most effective leaders, over the long haul, are also curious people who love learning so I set out to create a handbook for this type of leader.
Over the course of my career, I’ve noticed that I embody my leadership and my coaching a bit differently at different times of year, and that the four seasons represent different aspects of any significant cycle (e.g., a project, a job, a relationship, a vocation, a lifetime). The four parts of Seasons of Leadership may also be thought of in terms of what I believe to be the unending cycle of renewal in both learning and leading: action, reflection, assessment and celebration. Fall (Action) – as the season of harvest – is associated with the experiential work of planning, stimulation, activity, exploration, discovery, application and accountability. Winter (Reflection) – as the season of rest and renewal – is associated with the contemplative work of observation, deliberation, percolation and wonderment. Spring (Assessment) – as the season of awakening – is associated with the creative work of opening, birthing, re-evaluation, interpretation, synthesis and transformation. Summer (Celebration) – as the season of cultivation – is associated with the regenerative work of acknowledgement, gathering, sharing, gaining perspective, and imagining fresh ways of “putting the pieces together” in order to invite the cycle to begin anew. In this regard, any part of Seasons of Leadership can be productively dipped into at any time of year.
In what situations would this be useful?
While I wrote the book in hopes that it would be useful to a broad audience of leaders, it is primarily designed to be a “mindfulness” resource for leaders who view their work as transformative, personally and professionally. Seasons of Leadership might be particularly helpful to change agents who either don’t have access to a leadership/executive coach or who are looking for thought-provoking prompts to complement or enhance their work with a qualified coach.
What other resources might “pair” well with it?
The book’s descriptions of my experiences as a leader and as a leadership coach in connection with the change of seasons, as well as the coaching questions at the end of each essay, are influenced by my belief in strengths-based approaches to leadership development. Therefore, I can recommend pretty much any resource I’ve written about in the Leadership Library since I started it in April 2010, especially anything having to do with appreciative inquiry, positive psychology, mindfulness, adult development, adaptive leadership, authentic leadership or transformative learning.