Friday, March 26, 2010

Accountability and Healing

I felt it was appropriate to precede this post with my feelings about conscious leadership in order to give fuller context. As an aspiring conscious leader I believe in transparency. I believe in telling the truth, especially when it's hard and scary. Raising consciousness is about telling the truth, bringing awareness to previously hidden and taboo information -- the kind of information we would prefer to ignore because it makes us uncomfortable and it makes us accountable. When we raise our consciousness, we become more accountable to living with integrity.

Contrary to what I have seen in the community leaders I have worked for in the past, I believe in taking steps towards healing and restoration of my relationships when I fail and leave emotional wreckage in my wake. Accountability is vital to the healing process. When we make an unhealthy choice that hurts or harms another person, even in the professional world, healing comes from acknowledging our failure and seeking restoration through acts of reconciliation. I think that an important aspect of conscious leadership is public accountability for one's mistakes and shadow behaviors. All long-term relationships are built on forgiveness.

I recently had a failure as a Society Hostess. I participated in a hasty decision that affected the hearts of those in Imps leadership, who are also many of my closest friends. I failed to communicate in open and thoughtful ways about that decision. I lacked consciousness around how the decision, and the process by which it was made, would affect those that I love and respect. In hindsight I am actually a bit stunned that I was so easily carried away by my own process and neglected to keep my eye on the bigger picture, as I usually strive to do.

When we learned that people were hurt by our actions, we had a meeting during which we apologized and held space for open communication around the issue. We felt it was healthier to get everything out in the open, rather than try to communicate as individuals behind the scenes where further misunderstandings and gossip could take root. While it was incredibly painful for many of us, it was also a remarkable act of trust in our love to be so raw and open about our feelings. As I listened to people express their concerns and frustration about our actions, I heard a common theme around lack of trust and a sense of not being seen or considered. The lack of trust tells me that even greater transparency is warranted. Since I have my own issues around being invisible, I have a lot of compassion for people feeling that they weren't seen or considered. I have a deep desire that everyone be truly witnessed for who they are and what they give. It hurt my heart that my actions contributed to someone feeling unseen.

Our first step toward healing was beginning our next leadership meeting with an act of intentional reconciliation. Each person pulled a name from a hat and expressed what they most appreciate about what that person brings to the Society. Then the receiver of appreciation shared what they feel they do that is unseen -- something about their work for the Society that is done behind the scenes and most people are not aware of. I believe it was an effective activity. I know that I see everyone and what they give better than I did before and I felt love flowing between us again.

I also felt witnessed. I was deeply touched by what is appreciated about me. I was told that it is the sharing of my journey of evolution, my desire to be more and do better that is most appreciated. I have told people before that my greatest kink is my personal evolution. Nothing turns me on more or keeps my fire of passion more alive than the process of evolving toward deeper consciousness and greater love. I am grateful that I am seen for this.

One thing I know about traditional management is that leaders rarely hold themselves accountable for their failures. They rarely acknowledge the heartache that they cause their employees or community when they fail, let alone sit in a room and hold space for those who have been hurt to air their grievances. As much failure as I have been witness to in community organizations, I have never seen leaders take intentional action towards reconciliation with those they have hurt. I am sure that we are not the first, that there are other organizations who practice conscious leadership in these ways. I just haven't met them yet. I look forward to when I do. Until then, I share our stories in hopes of inspiring others to consider a different way of doing business and/or leading a community.

1 comment:

Dave Berman said...

I was not present for this reconciliation experience, and I'm not privy to the details of the hurt that preceded it. However, I am in awe of the transparency here, the wisdom of the process described, and the community from which it all stems. Thank you for your conscious leadership and for sharing so much about your personal evolution. It is so inspiring.