Thank you for inspiring me to document musings and learnings from the field of leadership, team performance and conscious change. I trust you'll find the exercises, resources and insights useful whether you are a leader, team player, coach/consultant or change agent.

Friday, December 5, 2014

What are you listening for?

Have you ever considered the purpose of your communication?

When you ask questions, is it to tell people what they want to hear, to debate or show how smart you are, to reflect back what you are hearing or to illuminate our knowingness?

And what are you listening for? Is it to be liked, to identify facts and differences, to understand the experience of another or to allow a deeper wisdom to reveal itself?

Notice the difference in your relationships and results when you download, debate, dialogue or delve deep. For more check out Otto Schwarmer's work at MIT.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Polarity Management

Competitive advantage requires polarity management. As leaders, we are constantly faced with figuring out ways to reconcile seemingly opposing forces. How do we get the #'s and care about people, think globally and act locally, lead and manage, achieve quality and reduce cost, be environmentally responsible and make money? As we are able to see polarities as "both/and" instead of "either/or" new strategies will arise.

According to Barry Johnson, "Polarities have 2 or more right answers that are interdependent." He also states, "because virtually all of our 'problems' in formal education have one right answer, we automatically shift into that way of thinking when a 'problem' occurs at work." When addressing a polarity this actually makes the issue worse because it can't be solved so it becomes a no-win proposition.

Polarity Management invites us to "capitalize on the inherent tension between seemingly opposing forces." We need both activity and rest, individuals and teams, introversion and extroversion, productivity and engagement, centralization and decentralization, masculine and feminine, safety and speed, inhalation and exhalation, stability and change, right brain and left brain to thrive. To focus on one polarity at the expense of another actually swings an invisible pendulum back and forth, back and forth, back and forth and so depletes energy, time and money.

To experiment with this concept go for a "figure eight" that is considers both sides:
  1. Name an issue you are wrestling with. 
  2. Why is it important to balance this polarity and what is the worry if you don't?
  3. Identify the up and down side of each polarity.
  4. List 2-3 actions to leverage the plus side of both and red flags to raise awareness when you are dipping into the negative of each.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Past, Present and Probable Future?

Found these 3 inquiries in Rob Brezsny's astrology quips and thought you'd have fun with them. Consider your life, your leadership or a relationship and ask:

  1. What fossilized fixations, ancient insults, impossible dreams and parasitic ghosts am I ready to let go of?
  2. What can I do to ensure that relaxed, amused acceptance will rule my encounters with the old ways forever after?
  3. What will I do with all the energy I free up by releasing the dead weight I had been clinging to?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mindset Intervention

Great article in the Times Who Gets to Graduate? citing that 40% of the students that get to college don't graduate and often those that do graduate come from affluent families. Why?

It's not about money but mindset. One finding from Laude and Yeager is that many students from less wealthy families interpret and internalize setbacks (poor grade on a test, argument with roommate, someone being mean, etc.) very differently than their counterparts. Plus when doubts about capability and belonging are reinforced at home, these students struggle even more.

Mindset interventions influence graduation rates and student well being. A mindset intervention doesn't necessarily change a core belief but it can change the meaning of a discouraging event from a permanent setback to a temporary one! It also builds resilience which is needed in any endeavor of merit.

Experiment with this idea. Think of a goal you are struggling with and ask:

  • What do I believe about my ability to fulfill my dream?
  • What skills do I need to succeed?
  • Who supports me as I pursue my new endeavor?
  • What self-talk is helping or hindering my progress?
  • How can I get my sense of humor back?
  • Do I need to eat some humble pie and move on?
  • What messages am I attending to?
  • What would I do if failure wasn't an option?
  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014

    Staying Clean Amidst Change

      Change can bring out our best or our worst. When we are leaving a position, struggling with a new leader, managing a conflict or wrestling with a decision beyond our influence, how do we do the right thing when we don't feel like it? When our emotions are triggered and all over the board, how can we stay integral, get our needs met and not "burn any bridges?" 

      Staying clean means managing our own emotional reactions without burdening or slandering others. It is the height of emotional intelligence. 

      To stay clean amidst change, experiment with these ideas:
      • Whether you are right or not, interact with compassion
      • Bring love versus malice 
      • Name/claim what is going on for you without projecting it on others
      • Seek to resolve creatively rather than reactively
      • Define reality (including constraints) and make choices that benefit all 
      • Manage your own emotional reactions productively and don’t collude with others about the situation 
      • Focus on what you can influence
      • Share what is going on with you so others don't take it personally
      • Do your job well
      • Avoid the tendency to gossip, complain, or defend
      • Meet challenge from a neutral or centered place
      • Name what you are feeling and seek to resolve without blame
      • Focus on lessons learned instead of mistakes
      • Don’t take sides or expect others to do so either
      • Breathe deeply, pause
      If you can look your adversary (or those involved) in the eye AND face yourself in the mirror, you are clear, clean and will sleep better too!

      Monday, February 10, 2014

      Mastering Constructive Interaction

      If you want to advance your career or grow in your leadership, master constructive interaction. Our differences can become sources of conflict without understanding and appreciation. Work styles, values, culture, talents, goals, experiences, awareness levels, interests, purpose and viewpoints make us unique (and crazy at times).

      How can we value diversity and collaborate (instead of protecting, fighting or accommodating) in the presence of discord? Experiment with the ideas below to transform the energy of conflict into stronger relationships and win-win outcomes: 

      • Acknowledge conflict: Name it without making anyone wrong
      • Reframe conflict: It is not "bad" but the old making way for the new
      • Recognize conflict styles: Value cooperation and assertiveness with the Thomas-Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument 
      • Articulate benefits: What is gained by working with others?
      • Figure out what can you say yes to: Check out William Ury's The Power of a Positive No
      • Be transparent with decisions: State if you are making a decision, making it with input from others, voting or going for consensus
      • Be agile: Proactively assess what's working, what's not and what needs to change
      • Practice direct communication: Say it straight without sugar coating or sandwiching (good, bad, good)
      • Speak thought bubbles out loud: Articulate what you are making up before it turns into an elephant
      • Stay centered: Check out Thomas Crum's The Magic of Conflict 
      • Be curious: Choose fascination over judgment
      • Build your EQ, SQ and TQ: Learn emotional, social and team system awareness and management skills: Check out Travis Bradley's Emotional Intelligence 2.0 
      • Elevate the conversation: Discuss common vision and goals
      • Check yourself: Is some part of you looking for a fight? Is your identity attached to something?
      • Don't hide: Break out with the Question Behind the Question 
      • Learn needs-based communication: Enable everyone to win with Marshall Rosenberg's Non-Violent Communication