I’m an eternal optimist. Was I born this way? I don’t know… all I know is that I’ve always viewed the cup as half-full and have an easy time finding silver linings somehow. This must be what draws me to the Appreciative Inquiry approach that I began to learn about in my time as a Community Leader with Powerful Learning Practice. And I do mean ‘began to learn’ because I feel like I need a lot of years to develop skill in this area.
Imagine my delight to have attended my first Family of Schools meeting at my Board this fall and to be presented with an article to read about all different kinds of leaders. As I often do, I flipped directly to the back of the article to check out the resources, and found a recommended resource called Appreciative Leadership by Appreciative Inquiry gurus Diana Whitney, Amanda Trosten-Bloom and Kae Rader! I promptly bought the book and began to read about their definition of AL:
Appreciative Leadership is the relational capacity to mobilize creative potential and turn it into positive power — to set in motion positive ripples of confidence, energy, enthusiasm, and performance — to make a positive difference in the world (P. 3)
I love this positive worldview and the focus on what IS needed, what IS possible and what CAN be done. Super stuff for an optimist like me!
In devouring the first part of the book, the authors outline the 5 core strategies of AL and I find that they resonate with me. In fact, these are exactly the things upon which I am focusing as a school administrator:
- Inquiry – Ask powerful questions
- Illumination – Bring out the best of people and situations
- Inclusions – Engage with people to coauthor the future
- Inspiration – Awaken the creative spirit
- Integrity – Make choices for the good of the whole
I want to get better at asking those powerful questions and as a beginning the authors suggest observing yourself to determine your ask-to-tell ratio. They recommend that we ask questions about 3 times more than we tell information. I have no clue what my ratio is, but I’m going to spend a week or two watching that more closely.
Do you know your ask-to-tell ratio?