Expanding Your Leadership – a Journey Towards Building Character

ISBN: 978-82-7935-362-1

Great leadership is possible whether you are an introvert or extrovert, a sensitive person with feelings, or an extremely analytic person. Very different people can still be successful as leaders. The challenge is to refine your own talents. This book is about how to build the competence of great leadership.
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Forfatter: Dagrun Dvergsdal

To move towards great leadership, learning processes that stimulate character building are needed. You need to stimulate willingness to wrestle with unsettled issues, to ask questions, and to seek knowledge. Character building is a lifelong journey of visiting and revisiting one’s personal values, and being willing to act, reflect, and train to grow the skills that are needed to influence others in accordance with the vision.
Great leadership is possible whether you are introvert or extrovert, sensitive, or analytic. The challenge is to refine your own talents.

Dagrun Dvergsdal has been involved in leader and team development for more than 20 years. She is the owner of Dvergsdal Consulting AS (see dvergsdalconsulting.no), a company dedicated to tailor-made programs that fit the particular needs of the client. She has developed new concepts in the field of leader development, and has extensive experience in running programs at national and international level.
Ms. Dvergsdal holds a Master of Management degree. She was originally trained as a social worker and therapist, and has also studied confluent pedagogics and gestalt counseling extensively. After working as a therapist and college teacher for some years she made a career in the oil business, advancing to lead the organisation department of the oil and gas section of Aker ASA.
Ms. Dvergsdal lives in Oslo, and is the mother of two adult daughters

If you want to stimulate individuals to become the best leaders they can be, you can not choose a standard generic, instrumental approach. This book is about one leader-development program; about how it was built and about how it was executed. The story is told from many angles. Each perspective describes the necessary ingredients that together created a great “meal.” At certain points, theory is presented to show the background for choices that were made. The main content, however, is the story of a leader-development program that made a difference, or, as one of the participants said: “I didn’t know that my job as a leader could be of such value for people and have so much meaning for me. Now I am looking for those places to work where I am asked to use my character to make a difference.”
In 2010, Jim Collins, a prominent researcher and author on the subject of leadership, was speaking to a group of 24 leaders in one of our programs. At the end of his talk he was asked if he agreed that leadership would change completely due to the new ways of communicating in postmodern society. He answered: “Great leaders have been leading in the same way for a thousand years, and they will continue to do so.” This book will not provide another definition of what great leadership is. It is about how to get there.


“Good leaders identify and trust their own values and develop from the inside. A leadership style based on something that is not you will fail when things get rough. This book is about the complex, demanding and enriching journey towards good leadership.”

Simen Lieungh, Odfjell Drilling


Dagrun has enabled me to see how I influence others—for good and for bad. Together we have seen the kind of power that emerges in teams and in people who get the opportunity to discover and play on their strength.”

Svenn Ivar Fure, Aker Solutions


“Having watched our managers grow through the EYL program it was fascinating to get detailed insight into the history and theory to understand better why it works. An important book for leaders who believe in leading with both heart and brain and want to make a difference to their people.”

Grethe Bergly, Multiconsult


“Being reborn as a leader as I passed through the EYL program, I discovered the components connecting affinity to team performance. Spending more time on dialogue and reflecting with close colleagues, applying an open mind while facing the brutal facts of our current situation, sprinkling our hard discussions with personal warmth, we opened up to each other, spoke our truth, co-creating new insight giving clarity of our deeper values and anchoring common solutions that we all rallied around and stood by, even several years afterwards.”

Eva Kristensen, General Electric


“I love the book—it really speaks the truth about leadership rather than management gobbledygook!
A great strength of Expanding Your Leadership is that it provides a deep insight into the impact that the character of a leader can have on a team. It recognizes that every leader is different, each with their own set of values and leadership qualities. Leaders therefore need to develop their own personal approach based upon building a deep understanding of the impact of their actions and behaviors on a team.”

David Ley, Jacobs




Chapter 1 Disappointments in leader development
Leader development is becoming big business
Four different leader programs and what they did not teach me
Questions that these experiences raised
What may be factors that work together to keep this lack of quality
The book and its structure
The chapters and key concepts

Chapter 2 Program expectations
Why did the owner take the risk of building a new and unusual
Summing up Lieungh’s expectations
How easily a great project can be destroyed: the need for steering
in the development phase
Examples of (understandable) “needs” and motives
The consequences of not taking charge of the preparation phase
The different stakeholders and system forces
If you do not mean it—don’t do it!
Why is clarification of expectations so important?
Main choices to make
Clarify the main purpose

Chapter 3 The exceptional role of being the program owner
The task this owner took on
What does Lieungh’s own leader-development process look like?
Passage 2: Managing managers
Passage 3: Managing business
Passage four: CEO in a big company
What is ownership of OD work and what does it take?

Chapter 4 Building a learning team
Who were the people chosen as members of the learning team?
Apparent competence or desired competence?
The desired competence
Why the double formal competence?
Informal competence—enabling formal competence to come alive
The importance of “where we speak from”
Being an exemplary teacher
Purpose and personal visions as a professional
Personal flourishing and unfolding through skill training and supervision
From being competent individuals to becoming and staying as
a high-quality learning team
Using internal competence
The last dinner in the EYL learning team
Who are they?

Chapter 5 The architecture of the program
Join the journey
The arrangement of initial meetings
The one day kick-off
Executive phase
Teaching from three environments
The participant as the continuity factor
The learning edge
Follow up, or post-program phase
What if participants choose not to join the journey?

Chapter 6 Program content
The energy wave
Program content
Content of Module 1—a role model for all content
Simulation-based training
Change management in a systematic way
Skill training in quick problem solving
Career anchor—what is driving you and your professional choices?
Dealing with ethical dilemmas
Sense of urgency
Closure—summing up and creating personal development plans

Chapter 7 Effective learning groups
The purpose of the learning groups
The value of choosing reality-oriented content
A collaborative approach from the facilitator
Avoid modeling group work as something horrible that you would
try to avoid in the future
A learning group’s story
Chapter 8 Fundamental learning—expanding your character
The expansion perspective
What does expansion of competence actually mean?
Why help people to expand? Doesn’t everybody expand naturally
throughout their life?
The repair perspective
Possible roots of the repair model
Typical mindsets and expectations about leader development
These mindsets are still selling!

Chapter 9 Guiding discovery versus teaching
To learn is to discover
Discover what?
Separate observation, interpretation and reactions
Walk on your own, but not alone!
Commitment and responsibility
To look for the learning edge
Practice presence (mindfulness)
Use both head and heart
“Both and” rather than “either/or”
Action—reflection—the rocking chair
The typical nature of the discoveries

Chapter 10 Leader development as an assertive rather than a defensive project
Characteristics of fundamental learning
Fundamental changes in the EYL program
The advantages of fundamental learning
Fundamental changes—no way around them!
Fundamental changes and expansion of capacity


Chapter 11 Being on a journey towards building character
Why “yes sir” corresponds badly with real learning
Learning from within and meeting people where they are
A question of dealing with brakes!
From resistance to making use of one’s brakes
“We do not have negative people!”
“The participants are selected—we will make sure they are motivated”
When is one motivated?
Our friend ambivalence
Ambivalence and integration
Ownership of discoveries
The professional helper’s challenge
Back to ownership of discoveries
About brakes, and when groups also start braking, not only individuals
Too little and too much focus on ambivalence
Defensive versus assertive leader-development programs—key
to fundamental learning
The drive for success, a double-edged sword
To select between what can be decided and what cannot
Conclusions on journeys and brakes

Chapter 12 Nice experiences—but any real results?
Output at different levels
Output number 1: become more of who you are
The egg diagram and repair or expansion
Both discovery and implementation
Output level 2: Orientation towards learning and competence to learn
Putting effort into observing others and yourself
Reflecting on your own experience and observations
Seriously believing that the world holds not one but multiple
realities, and wondering about it
Output number 3: internal connections of real trust
Output number 4: alignment with the company’s values
Output number 5: renewal of leader culture
From individual awakening to collective change of language


Utgitt 9. oktober 2014