So let me tell you why I think telling the WE story is important for Wales’ wellbeing…
Last year, I had the privilege to work alongside some great people in helping to shape the Wales Audit Office’s shared learning seminar on The Future of Governance: effective decision making for current and future generations. Many of us in the Group had not worked together before. We came together for a shared purpose, looked at things through different lenses, and developed a seminar which was creative and stretching. Central to the seminar, as Alan Morris articulated in his blog, was understanding and developing behaviours that unlock our resources in far more creative and sustainable ways.
Through OUR work, WE listened and looked for the emerging entity. WE asked ourselves, what do WE want to happen here? What’s best for US, all of US? What’s OUR next step? WE consciously tried to help seminar participants look for the unseen threads that connect US all. To tell the WE story; the story of possibility.
If any of you have read The Art of Possibility: transforming professional and personal life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander then it’s likely that you know what I mean by telling the WE story. If you haven’t, I highly recommend reading it. This book sparked my thinking about leadership in Wales – our behaviours, our connections, our development, our possibilities – and the unfolding of these in the context of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.
Typically, when we work in an organisation, we naturally view the world from the inside looking out. The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act encourages us to also have an outside-in perspective. To see things through the eyes of others – of (potential) collaborators, of service-users, of citizens, and most importantly of future citizens – and to look at what is possible. In order to do this, we need to shift our operating system; the matrix that guides our behaviour.
We know that our (leadership) behaviours determine results and we often look to develop our leadership behaviours at an individual level. I argue that what we also need to do is develop our leadership behaviours at a collective level, as teams, collaborators… and this is where I have found the WE story most helpful.
The WE story “points to a relationship rather than to individuals, to communication patterns, gestures and movements rather than to discrete objects and identities. It attests to the in-between. Like the particle-and-wave nature of light, the WE, is both a living entity and a long line of development unfolding.”
WE need to practice being US. US as leaders in Wales, but also US, all of US in Wales, for the wellbeing of future generations.
By telling the WE story, each of us becomes a conduit for this inclusive entity. It points the way to a kind of leadership that is based on the courage to speak on behalf of people and for the long line of human possibility.
I hope that by sharing my thinking, it will provide opportunities for debate, openness, further learning and sharing, and a narrative around US.
Here are some steps to help US practice:
- Tell the WE story – the story of the unseen threads that connect us all, the story of possibility
- Listen and look for the emerging entity
- Ask: what do WE want to happen here? What’s best for US, all of US? What’s OUR next step?
A version of this post was published on the Wales Audit Office’s Good Practice Exchange blog in July 2016. It can be found here: https://goodpracticeexchange.wales/2016/07/05/telling-the-we-story/