So Long My Dear Mentor

JoAnne GreenhamCan you identify a handful of special people who have had an outsized impact on your growth and on the person you have come to be? Pause for a moment, if you will, and conjure up the face of one of these individuals who particularly stands out in your mind.

For me, it was JoAnne Greenham, since the mid-90‘s the Executive Director of the Gestalt Institute of Toronto (GIT). JoAnne passed away this past week and this loss is being absorbed by hundreds and hundreds of people who have been touched directly by her work.

I came to know JoAnne while pursuing the 3-year Diploma in Gestalt Theory and Methodology there. Over the course of this in-depth program she challenged me to look deeply inside me, live life in the present, not be so infernally demanding upon myself, and become ever more aware in my daily life of the feelings both within me and in those around me.

My experience in the Gestalt program has contributed mightily to my ability to be effective both as a facilitator and a coach. The major player for me in the program was JoAnne.

Last summer when she announced to the GIT community that she was severely terminally ill, Institute graduates were invited to contribute to a festschrift for JoAnne. Festschrift is a German word for a book compiled to honor–during his or her lifetime–a respected individual.

I would like to share with you part of what I submitted as my farewell message to JoAnne:

I find myself, at critical junctures in my facilitation and management coaching, asking, “What would JoAnne do?” In my imagination I plop you into the situation and watch what intervention you choose. Then I decide whether to follow your example or do something else. More often than not, I choose your approach.

The point is, JoAnne, that although I finished up with the GIT back in the 90’s, you are still with me in my work today. I draw regularly upon the wisdom you shared and the awareness you helped me develop.

So, a little slice of your tremendous legacy lives on in me and, by extension I hope, in those I am privileged to touch in the course of my work with managers. Thank you, JoAnne, for all you have given me and for your love that came attached to it.

What would you say to that particular person who influenced you so deeply?



Focus by Daniel Goleman What I’m Reading

Focus, The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel GolemanEverything Dan Goleman writes I find interesting. The popularizer of Emotional Intelligence (EQ), he is one of those rare academics who can take research and concepts and explain them for the non-academic population.

He offers some insights about three areas where the most effective leaders focus their attention: (1) on themselves (self-awareness), (2) on others (empathy), and (3) on the environment within and beyond the organization (systems thinking). The first two form the basis of his EQ model while the third represents what he admits is an expansion of EQ.

Not a bad road map, this, for developing your managers.