A New Way of Thinking About Leadership

j0403668.jpg    Affirmation of life is the spiritual act by which man ceases to live unreflectively and begins to devote himself to life with reverence in order to raise it to its true value.  Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)

Appreciative Inquiry was born in 1980 when two researchers realized that an organization they were studying was at its best when there was a spirit of cooperation and egalitarian governance. From there the theory of Appreciative Inquiry developed, that organizations are most effective when management teams analyze the strengths of their organizations or businesses. This turns our usual way of dealing with issues upside down. If you’ve ever been on a committee or part of a work group you know the routine- a group of people sit around laying out the problems, roadblocks and what went wrong as the start to fixing things. We don’t just do this at work, but in most organizations. Appreciative Inquiry proposes that leaders take a very different approach. Instead of having meetings to talk about what isn’t working and past failures the more effective method is to list the past successes, assets and potential for positive change. What a concept! In fact, research has documented that this method of management and leadership yields more and better results.

As the years passed this way of looking at creating positive change has spread from just a business perspective to all kinds of groups, including religious organizations. In the early years the founders were laughed at and mocked, but gradually major corporations learned that accentuating the positive helped the bottom line.

Just think of how this can apply to you as a person. Many times we examine our lives, relationships, careers by looking at what has gone wrong so we can “fix it”. What about looking at what you’ve done right? Talking to your mate, sister, friend about the good in your relationship? Listing out all your successes in your career? You get the idea. Accentuate the positive and you just might find that this way of creating change is more gratifying, even more effective. Now this isn’t some airy-fairy Pollyanna way of looking at the world. Using this approach means looking back at the real things that have worked, not coming up a list of some idealized “wish list”. So look at what you’ve done in the past that has worked, list your strengths and build on those.

Appreciative Inquiry 

AI is backed up by an extensive body of Research


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