KARIN ZASTROW

blogging about DIRECT LEADERSHIP

Do you know what JOIK is?

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There are leadership lessons to learn everywhere.

The joik is a unique form of cultural expression for the Sami people in Sápmi (the Sami people’s nation). Each joik is meant to reflect a person or place. This does not mean that it is a song about the person or place, but that the joiker is attempting to transfer “the essence” of that person or place into song – one joiks their friend, not about their friend. If you want to listen to a joik, click here.

Last night I went to a joik-workshop with my friend, the Norwegian/Sami singer and teacher Biret Alette Mienna. It was not my first, but I realized that it was a while ago and that this was a powerful reminder of what human relationships is about: being present enough to sense the essence of what is going on and expressing precisely that.

When we interact as leaders with our staff, we do not express ourselves by singing.

However, the first thing to do when we have noticed a leadership opportunity must be to listen well and seek to understand what is essential in it. We must listen to the people involved and understand theier thoughts and intentions. And we must listen to ourselves well enough to know what we think and feel, so that we can choose the action which is authentic. Sometimes this authenticity may be overshadowed by thoughts about what we believe, we should do.  Don’t let it.

Biret Alette told us a story about her grand-daughter. When she was reading children’s books to her, the child would ask her to joik the birds or animals that were pictured in the book.  When the joik was done with the nerve that belonged to the particular bird or animal, the child would listen intently. However, when the joiking was done distractedly, the child quickly turned to the next page of the book.  

Your employees are not likely to be as explicit, but without listening you will lose their attention.

What do you do to practise your ability to be truly present and authentic in your everyday leadership?

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