Full Title: Clear Leadership: Sustaining Real Collaboration and Partnership at Work
Year: 2010
Author: Gervase Bushe
Category: Leadership & Organizational Effectiveness

Quick summary: This book is about clarity, and how to get closer to it. How do we share our experience in ways that strengthen our daily work with others? Gervase Bush provides a model for getting past the organizational mush that’s created when we make up stories about other people’s behavior instead of simply asking them. This is about the work place, but it changed my family. This is not an easy read, but it is interesting and engaging.

1. We tend to just make up reality. As I read the stories of ‘organizational mush’ I realized that similar stories were happening all around me every day. We have reactions to others and we assume we’re right. Then we charge ahead, using our inaccurate story as the filter through which we perceive future interactions. Not good.

2. Feelings matter in the work place. Do you understand how staff is feeling about a workplace issue? If not, heads up: Feelings are often a reaction to unmet expectations. We need to understand their impact on the workplace. This book provides a model of intentional leadership and communication practices that can help us overcome the barriers to clarity that emotion and confusion create.

3. The model is not complicated. But it takes time to learn and practice the skills of clear leadership. (Still working on it.) More than anything, it taught me the value of making my own thinking so clear that no one needs to make up a story about my behavior. That requires not only sharing what I want, but why. It means talking about your intent as well as you plan.

The gem: Dr. Bushe told me personally – after I went through the training – that if remembered nothing else, I would become more aware of how fast I start making up stories about other people’s behavior. He was right. And this single idea has helped me improve my communication with colleagues, friends and family. It’s one of the most helpful books I have read in the last ten years.

Why it matters to Head Start
You do really hard work, and its stressful. So, reducing organization confusion or frustration could be a a huge benefit to your entire team. Learning how to have the learning conversation can lead to improving effectiveness, reducing stress, and strengthening staff cohesion. Clarity is powerful.

Submitted by:
Christopher Maricle
Executive Director
Head Start California

What have you read that broadened your thinking, shifted your perspective, or changed your practice? Let your Head Start colleagues know: what’s worth reading? Submit your own review here.