Teachable Moments of Leadership

28 Videos to Make Leadership Real in your Team

FOREWORD by Marty Linsky, our mentor

Treating every moment as a personal learning opportunity, seeing what is going on while you are in the midst of it, and being fully present are at the core of Case-in-Point teaching that Adriano Pianesi and JIll Hufnagel have so beautifully, helpfully, and clearly laid out in this website. They have come very close to meeting Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.’s seminal challenge to thinkers and writers to “get to simplicity on the other side of complexity.”

Three cautionary thoughts

First, browsing this website is like taking a tennis lesson. There are plenty of useful tips and insights that will help you perfect your practice, too much to absorb quickly. Like after that tennis lesson, the first time you try to put it all together you are likely to fumble around. Don’t expect to crack it open on the first try…. or the second. That feeling of being on the edge of your competence has never disappeared for me. I screw it up regularly. Have a partner so you can be saved in real-time when you are digging yourself into a hole and so you have someone to help you debrief. Videotape yourself so you can see the moments you may have missed, the choices you made, the options you did not see, and those you passed by. This is a long-term play.

Second, the hardest part of using Case-in-Point is emotional: the commitment to make interpretations and take risks in the interest of shared learning; the tolerance for silence and ambiguity; and, most critical, the willingness to not be liked at the moment. I find a direct correlation between how empty my head is and how effective I am in the front of the room.

Third, this website is appropriately framed for teaching and facilitating leadership development. However, Case-in-Point is a life skill, useful for managing yourself and interacting with people every day. For me, bringing your whole self to the party is an ongoing challenge. Jill and Adriano have made themselves vulnerable here, modeling the behavior, using their own real-time experience—including their mistakes—to enhance our learning.

Buckle up. Enjoy the ride.

Marty Linsky
Faculty Harvard Kennedy School;
Co-founder of Cambridge Leadership Associates;
Co-author Leadership on the Line and The Practice of Adaptive Leadership.
New York, NY June 2016