From a positive psychology perspective, there are different types of inquiry or ways of partnering with leaders that bring them into their own understanding of who they are in strengths and in this case joy. These approaches and models must continue to evolve with the times. From deficit-oriented methodologies to a positive psychology frame these techniques bring new opportunities for leaders to engage with their own leadership journey. Joyful illuminations is simply the next cycle of development as it calls leaders beyond the performance of leadership and into the heart of what drives and motivates them as a leader.
The old deficit-oriented models required that leaders fix that which they were told was broken. The questions that came out of this ideology were focused on identifying weaknesses and learning about how to be better at something (e.g., What is wrong? How do you fix it?). That clear challenge with this was that anyone could come along and suggest that someone was weak at X or Y and while that person may have been there was little consideration for the fact that that person was never designed to be good at that thing. To notice that someone was weak at one thing versus another could have simply been an observation; something small and possibly minute to even note. Instead, it was too often manipulated into a career-limiting judgment that was used to hold to hold someone back from gaining access to more resources, be it power, positionality, or the freedom to move through the world less constrained by the restrictions of the physical world.
Strengths-based perspectives shifted all of the limitations of the deficient-oriented frame and then created space for people to at least be seen for that which they were naturally good at. Questions shifted the focus to What is working? How do you get more of it? This proved to be more accurate and breath-giving to both managers and the leaders that they worked with. In other words, the Appreciative Inquiry model that strengths-forward coaches use provided both leader and follower with mechanisms of professional growth that felt better, easier, and simply more productive for both parties. This pivot is what truly began to render old traditional models of motivating leaders by fear unnecessary, belaboring, unproductive, and abusive. It is important to note that this shift occurred at a time in which Millennials and gen-zers were coming into the world without the capacity to tolerate the beatdown and then build up a model of development. So this pivot not only created space within the current models of institutionalized leadership but it started to inform new approaches to education, parenting, engaging with one another as friends, etc.
Appreciative Inquiry while substantial in bringing forward new breath will still yet prove insufficient for the journey to transcend our everyday understanding of who we are as leaders, professionally and personally. The two must become one from the progression of humanity. Leaders have run out of time to code-switch between who they are at work and who they are at home with the hastening pace at which the world is getting lost in the advancements of technology. Without a sufficient sense of groundedness in a more authentic framework that allows one t to be whole, the pressure to keep up with the advancing pace of technology is calling people out of breath and therefore creating cesspools of fragmentation. This is why each heart is feeling a call to disengage from traditional models of development and seek more connected and grounded frames that will promote space for them to authentically grow.
The Joy-illuminating Inquiry is a far more contextualized approach that allows for leaders to name, honor, and center how they have already led as a means for each person to come into sacred awareness that they have enough of what they need to trust their own unique pathway of growth. This calling offers a constant invitation for each leader to see, hear, and feel what they have already chosen that allowed them to authentically perform their truth in this world and name how they did it. So the questions are less about this or that in the name of fixing what is wrong or identifying what worked well but rather it focuses on what was/is whole about you (in the context of what is working/wrong)? How do you breathe [more relevance] into that which makes you more you (build a life that keeps you whole all the time)?