Ron Short, Ph.D. — a founder of LIOS, Leadership Institute of Seattle (now operating in partnership with Saybrook University in San Francisco), organizational psychologist, co-developer (along with his wife, Jan Johnson) of the well-known EQinAction Assessment and author of “Learning in Relationship” – has made significant contributions to the field of OD and Leadership Coaching.
His book has been a requirement for leaders in our 8-month coach certification program as well as participants inside organizations enrolled in our internal coach training programs for several years. His work is power packed with simple truths that are remarkably challenging for most of us human beings to fully grasp and integrate into our way of being as leaders.
“Relationships are the very heart and soul
of an organization’s ability to get any job done.”
Short emphasizes that learning about our self in relationship to others is tricky territory because when things go awry in our relationships at work (and at home!) our knee-jerk inclination is to quickly look outside ourselves and judge that if the ‘other’ changed, all would be just fine (In other words, when things are going badly the problem lies outside of me!).
“We create an image of the way something is supposed to look;
When reality doesn’t match our image, we simply don’t see it.”
He reminds us that patterns are co-created and we are actively engaged in helping to maintain them. He explores the work we need to engage in as leaders and coaches to shift from a space of ‘blame + innocence’ to a place of learning about our ‘self’, our role, our agency is in the dynamics of any given relationship.
“What goes on between individuals defines what
an organization is and what it can become.”
His central tenet is wonderfully simple and predictably complex. To learn about our ‘self’ in relation to another we need to reverse the automatic habit of looking outside our ‘self’ and focus on the ‘inside-out path’. Instead of trying to change others you’ll start to examine what you can shift that will impact the relationship. Short writes “the fundamental implication is that learning from others has little do to with them, and a whole bunch to do with you.”
“To operate from the inside – out means to observe the
internal states that drive your response to the outside.”
“When you accept responsibility for the creation of your experience,
You also take responsibility for your response.”