Six Leaders I Trust

Hear me read this post.

As an exercise, I wrote down today the names of the leaders I have worked with who I trusted the most. Six names immediately came to mind; three women, three men, all working in separate industries. I wanted to explore what it is that causes me to trust these people as both clients and as colleagues, some of whom I’ve known for years. I began by trying to find what was similar about these people, a common thread. Many things occurred to me: their openness to experience, people and learning; their fairness, intelligence and emotional stability; their capacity to simultaneously live life with both innocence and great political and business savvy.

Still, these characteristics did not really separate them from others I have known and trusted less. And what did I mean by trust, anyway? Trust them to do what? My meditation grew deeper and felt, as all good ones do, like a passage under a very large mountain.

Well, I thought, trust them to know me, see me, appreciate the value I bring. Wasn’t that it? Maybe. Suddenly, it seemed trust could be an almost mystical thing, a strange, intuitive “click” between people, even when the formal roles of organizational life had to intervene. That click was some kind of understanding, a shared truth that might never be completely expressed in words. But then, what was that?

I continued to sit still under the mountain, soaking in its wealth of minerals and crystals, invisible weights and structures, its kinship with night. At some point, a few lines came forward from Rumi, the 13th century poet:

I honor those who try
to rid themselves of any lying,
who empty the self
and have only clear being there.


My six leaders were all people who do not lie to themselves. That central thread, that consciousness suddenly tied them together in my mind. In the vocabulary of that great model for human relations, the Johari Window, these are all people whose “blind spots” are minimized. Something, I would say, that can only come about when a person knows he or she has them and is devoted to finding them out, again and again, with a sense of humility and humanity. And so, not lying to themselves, they can share in a private understanding and an outer honesty, and invite others like me into that holy world where, as Rumi says, we have “only clear being there.”

Not one of them wears self-honesty on his or her sleeve. They seem to know that no one, save, perhaps, some truly enlightened being, fully achieves the goal. Working with these people, the rewards were always the greatest. And the clear being was always at the core of our mutual performance, in what we could envision and achieve together.

Here is a homely image for what I want to express.

Shall I ask you to share this wine with me? For it comes contained in a matrix of minerals and crystals claimed from beneath the mountain and that somehow we together must heat and shape into the beauty of a glass. Fragile, durable, fitted to the hand. Perhaps, we will never stop drinking.

Technorati tags: , Johari Window and .


  • So good to read and hear you on your blog again!

    I have experienced that mystical, intuitive “click” of trusted connection in both the offline and online worlds. I see blogging as an accelerator for this kind of connection, and your blog is the most compelling example of this I’ve encountered.

    Synchronistically, I received two gifts today. One was the FeedBlitz notification that you had posted a new entry; the other was the latest issue of Worthwhile Magazine (“Work with Purpose, Passion and Profit”), a bi-monthly magazine which I routinely read cover-to-cover. I’ve only read the first page of the current issue (the “from the editor” section), and the very first paragraph contains an observation by Anita Sharpe that I believe relates to this trusted connection with leaders:

    Personal power is all about being so authentic and centered that people are compelled to enter your orbit.

    Finally (for now), I find synchronicity in your choice of an oenological visual metaphor for this trusted connection, and the poetry of Rumi, who often alludes to wine. I’ll finish with a snippet from another one of his inspiring poems:

    Any wine will get you high.
    Judge like a king, and choose the purest,

    the ones unadulterated with fear,
    or some urgency about “what’s needed.”

    Drink the wine that moves you
    as a camel moves when it’s been untied,

    and is just ambling about.

  • Joe

    Thank you for your fine comments, compliments, and good spirits. Blogging certainly does feel like “ambling about” — and I treasure that. Sorry for the long absence. My work elsewhere has been very intense. I think the image of the wine glass, in part, was me hoping for the end of the day!

  • Cathy Raymond wrote:

    It is amazing to me how what you have written links with a current experience. At our e-team retreat at work, our friend Jay did his “Genius” thing. He include Johari’s Window in his presentation. That very next week I got some feedback from one of my fellow e-teamers that brought forth a blind spot! What I learned is that when I’m frustrated or not satisfied with how something is going (in this case, it was hiring for diversity), then I push – and push hard. It comes across as changing the rules and not telling anyone. The fix to this, of course, is to communicate my frustration or dissatisfaction more directly. Such valuable information.

    Thanks for this!


  • Cathy

    You exemplify the principles I am talking about. Your work and your presence are great gifts to your organization.


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