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Trust the Process

At InitiativeOne, our signarure Leadership Transformation process is a group process led by a highly skilled facilitators. The process allows us to engage with leaders about real world challenges within their own specific leadership contexts. There’s a reason the signature process is a group process. Research reveals the power of group dynamics. Our work with leaders connects us with experienced leaders from many different sectors, including Health Care, Military Service and Faith-based organiations. Dr. Michael Doan has a unique leadership perspective that connects these three sectors. He serves as a distinguished chaplain at the Marion VA Medical Center since 2006. The following guest blog was written by Chaplain Doan. The following insightful post draws from his research and experience on the power of group dynamics.

“You are the problem,” he stated simply to our cohort of future care providers.

Wait a minute - Did I hear him right? We’re all here to learn about helping others with their problems – people in hospitals, prisons, hospice programs… They’ll talk about their problems, we’ll actively listen, we’ll apply some genuine care along with a few of the techniques to be gained here in this class, and ‘Wa-La!’ – they’ll be well on the way to recovery. So what is he talking about?

“You are the problem,” was my introduction to a transformational process called Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), an experience which, like many others, I initially discounted. Years later it would change my life. Much of its power lies in the application of group dynamics to broaden the knowledge of self, as well as the effective use of self toward other-centered purposes.

The first step in becoming useful to others is to “Know Thyself.” If unaware of my own issues and how those issues may enter into an interpersonal exchange with someone, how could I be sure that I’m fully attentive to the present conversation? How could I know that I’m focused on that person’s agenda and not my own?

How accurate and complete is your self-awareness? If you’ve never heard from anyone else about it, as far as you know it’s 100% full and true. But of course that’s not realistic. Just review some footage from American Idol for some entertaining and sometimes painful examples of how distorted people’s awareness of themselves can become. What’s true for vocal gifts and abilities is also applicable to critical relational and leadership skills. An organization’s Balance Sheet or Profit Margin is not necessarily an indication of effective leadership, accurate and complete communication flow, employee engagement, etc. Some organizations appear to succeed despite inept leadership. Successful decision-makers gather as much data as possible in the time available, then make their best possible decision. Get some honest and useful feedback before completing your own self-awareness picture.

Could a similar process work somewhere else, like in a church or a business? Could it work with people who are not necessarily students in training for spiritual care? Yes, definitely! My own doctoral project, which was conducted with parishioners in a military chapel, employed a modified CPE group process and demonstrated statistically significant improvements in communication skills, conflict resolution, and personal satisfaction with interpersonal relationships. Using the power of group dynamics, InitiativeOne consistently sees successful results with people from a myriad of organizations. Please view InitiativeOne’s Our Raving Fans for a few examples. Groups are powerful for personal change and growth.


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