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February 2015


“Inside Transformational Leadership” Radio Show on VoiceAmerica,


hosted by Kate Ebner and produced by Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership


What are the big take-aways?


“Inside Transformational Leadership” is a new weekly radio show on VoiceAmerica hosted by a friend of mine from way back in my Middlebury College days, Kate Ebner, who is now the director of the Institute for Transformational Leadership (ITL) at Georgetown University.  Each week for an hour, Kate interviews fascinating leaders, researchers, coaches and thinkers on topics of interest to any listener wishing to explore cutting-edge ideas about leadership.


Why do I like it?


Kate’s an engaging conversationalist who brings her own leadership expertise and wise questions to these riveting interviews.  One of the aspects of “Inside Transformational Leadership” that I appreciate most – just like Kate’s former VoiceAmerica show, “Visionary Leader, Extraordinary Life” – is how the conversations reflect a philosophy that I embrace in my own work as a leadership coach, which is that everyone’s a leader, at least in the context of his or her own life (hence the expression, “to lead your life”).


In the inaugural episode, which aired on January 26th, Kate interviewed ITL faculty member Neil Stroul on the topic of “story” in leadership.  A former psychologist, Dr. Stroul also taught this topic in the very first course of Georgetown’s Leadership Coaching certificate program, when I was enrolled in it in 2009.  Indeed, Kate and Neil underscore the significance of how fundamental the idea of “story” is in understanding leadership (Neil refers to it as the coaching equivalent of “the theory of everything”): they say that “story” is how we explain to ourselves what we notice every day, in a continual process of making meaning in our lives.  In fact, Neil defines a self-aware person as “someone who realizes this is what’s going on.”


The connection he and Kate draw between “story” and leadership is that, because each of us is both the author and the narrator of our own lives, it matters what stories we tell ourselves.  “When you’re a leader,” Neil says, “there are stories you can’t afford to be in” such as being trapped, or being a hostage or a victim.  These stories externalize power and neutralize the internal power of choice that the leader always has.  It is dangerous when leaders place power outside of themselves, because it can paralyze them and prevent them from taking the actions that they are accountable to their stakeholders for taking.  (You’ll have to tune in to the entire episode if you’d like to find out what strategies a leader can use to overcome paralyzing stories!)


In what situations would this be useful?


The interviews in this radio show would be useful to anyone who sees him- or herself as a leader in any aspect of life, and enjoys being exposed to ideas about leadership development.  The show is ideal for listeners who may prefer a deeper and less unilateral discussion than – say – what a TED Talk offers.  (That said, I am a huge fan of TED Talks, reviewed previously here in the Leadership Library.)  Also, all episodes of “Inside Transformational Leadership” will be archived online and can be played any time on any electronic device.


What other resources might “pair” well with it?


Listening to this radio show over time would no doubt pair well with almost any other leadership resource, practice, curriculum or formal/informal leadership development work you may already be using.


If you’re especially interested in the power of stories and the concepts Neil discusses in this particular interview, I would recommend that you check out the work of Joseph Campbell, whose theory of the “monomyth” Neil mentions.  Also, there is some captivating research being done right now in the area of reflective writing and story-telling, which was covered by the New York Times in its “Well” section on January 19, 2015 in an article entitled, “Writing Your Way to Happiness.”


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