Teachable Moments of Leadership

28 Videos to Make Leadership Real in your Team

TOUGH SPOTS (9 video clips)

Handling Silence

This is tough! Handling the silence of a Case-in-Point
session is often—especially for those not used to this
work—one of the hardest things to do and yet one of
the most helpful. The experiential work of Case-in-
Point is not possible without an artful management of
Silence creates the space for the adaptive work of the
group, because it reinforces the norm that speaking or
holding attention will NOT be exclusively from the
"front of the room." Silence allows participants to
reflect. By slowing down the rhythm of the exchanges
and modeling the reflective stance, Case-in-Point
facilitators create space for groups to do the work and
go deeper than usual. Notice how naturally Jill holds
the space of silence to allow others to fill in.
  • Why is it so hard to handle silence when you are teaching a class?
  • Which personal beliefs or assumptions about silence do you bring with you as a teacher?
  • Which default reactions do you have about the silence of your students when you are teaching a class?



Handling the Heat – Questions of Safety 

Here the group begins to close in on the risks inherent
in this way of thinking and engaging. Adriano is
regulating the heat. He moves from joining their
laughter to holding people to the fire, to questioning
assumptions: "because I’m here you feel safe?"
When one participant turns to another, fanning herself
and whispering, “It’s so hot in here,” Adriano could have
used that snapshot to talk about the very heat he is
helping to generate.


  • What might you need to be more provocative in your classes?
  • Which purpose might be helpful for you in this work?
  • What kind of heat do you have hard time dealing with in your classes?




Holding the Group Accountable - Work Avoidance

We might subtitle this section “the relief of direction.”
While the group displays overt work avoidance—for
example, laughter, and jokes—Adriano holds them in a
space of curiosity, asking that they look at themselves
more closely and diagnostically.
The final few seconds when Adriano questions their
collective relief are succinct, spot-on, and hold the
group to account.


  • Which possible reactions might you observe when you push your students to do the work?
  • Today, how do you hold your students accountable for their own learning?
  • How effective you are in doing this?




Confronting the Group - Doing Nothing

Adriano keeps the temperature up here. He notes the
gap between what the group says they find meaningful
(free conversation) and their behavior (relief at
someone offering protection/order/direction). He then
connects this up with the ways the group “uses” an
individual member.
There is plenty here as well about the technical vs.
adaptive work in the room, and the “systemic default”
to technical interactions. As Adriano physically stands
beside the participant, he both supports and confronts
her—and the group.


  • What would it look like for you to “hold up the mirror” when teaching a class?
  • Which are possible ways to reflect back and name what you see happening in a class?
  • What works against you holding your students accountable when teaching a class?




 Naming the Gap between Aspirations and Behaviors  

When Adriano asks, "What assumptions are working in
this room right now?” he effectively shifts the room
from talking about what he is doing to what the group
as a whole is doing. When the participants talk about
their ability to work as a group yet direct comments
only to the authority figure, Adriano notes this gap.
Tentatively, he both surfaces a possibility and allows
the participant to disagree. The notion that leadership
is distributed gets traction, and in turn participants
begin to go below the neck: heart pounding and fear
replace earlier talk of “order” and “agenda” and
progress is made.


  • Why might you avoid naming the gap between the aspirations and the reality that you see in the room?
  • What does it look like to name possibilities when you are teaching a class?
  • How do we create distributed leadership in the class?




 Giving the Work Back? – Modeling the Way

Adriano asks the group to pause and look at the gap
between what they say they want and their behavior.
He then gives the work back for the group to make
sense of. From there, he takes on one of the more
vocal members of the group, modeling the ways the
group may have to re-imagine some of their defaults
and the ways in which superficial harmony is at odds
with their stated desire for stronger communication.
Perhaps there was an opportunity here to talk about
how groups can develop a wider tolerance for conflict,
ambiguity and disequilibrium.


  • How do you deal with open, reassuring, plausible rationalizations from a group during a debrief?
  • Which risks do you run when you deploy your authority this way?
  • Whose work is it to draw the line and reject attributing motives or speculation about each other's intentions?




Retreating to the Familiar

Adriano helps the group see themselves and their relief
when someone takes charge in familiar ways. At one
hour in, the group again circles back to their known
ways of interacting with one another. This moment
helps participants notice what feels like getting
somewhere, doing something—and what it would take
for the system to renegotiate their ideas of progress.


  • Why is inaction so hard for some groups?
  • What does it mean for a group to confront its own inability to stay in a place of not knowing?
  • What does it mean for a facilitator to confront the groups inability to stay in a place of not knowing?




Handling Casualties                        

Not everyone in a session is able to deal with the
demands of this approach. As such, Case-in-Point
educators must learn to deal with "casualties."
As Case-in-Point aims at teaching leadership in action,
it is essential to understand that no leadership work is
accepted by one hundred percent of people. Therefore
we honor its experimental nature by accepting that no
matter how good our intention or masterful our
facilitation, some people will not like what we do.
See how Jill handles and talks about the person who
wants to leave the room: implicitly giving permission
and accepting his choice while using the moment to
ask more relevant questions.


  • What is your default reaction when you hear the word “casualty” applied to your class?
  • Why is it difficult to confront the fact that you WILL have casualties in your classes?
  • What casualties are you accepting–without a problem–right now in the name of your defaults?



Shifting from YOU TO WE –Deploying Oneself


When Adriano confronts the group with an elevated
voice, moving into the group space, look what happens
next. One member makes way for another, lesser vocal
member to speak. And that member holds the group to
a new measure: one of deeper relational capacity.
Notice how the deliberate way in which Adriano
deploys his own authority impacts the interactions
across the system. If you compare the depth, intensity, truth-telling quality, and the inevitability for progress of this conversation with what the group originally started with, you might have a measure of the power of this methodology.


  • What is the cost of an instructor’s lower expectations for the depth of learning that is possible?
  • When the investment pays off in a class, how do you see it?
  • How might you avoid lowering your expectations when you are teaching a class?