Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Engaging in Co-creating the Future

Change begins by creating a state of mind inside yourself, like a touchstone you can refer to every day to remind yourself how to live inside of a state of wonder and engagement, and how to use conversations to bring you back to your center when you slide off, to remind you how to turn breakdowns into breakthroughs, and to remind yourself how to be the change you want to create in the world.

These are such simple principles that you can practice every day. And the more you practice them, the easier they are to activate even in the face of difficult challenges. When the market dynamics change and you are faced with challenges bigger than you feel you can face alone, rather than retreat, turn to others to help you work it out. You alone don’t need to come prepared with all the answers. Instead, create them with others.

Here are three practices to experiment with.

#1: Find Excitement Inside of Ambiguity and Change
Change and ambiguity are what we as leaders face every day. We have many choices to make and the bottom line is that we must learn how to adapt to change in the competitive marketplace and successfully manage the impact of change on our business. For many of us, this requires moving out of our Comfort Zone, where we are certain about what to do, and entering our Discomfort Zone, where we face situations and challenges for which we don’t have all the answers.

Success patterns are difficult to change. When something has made us successful in the past, we like to re-create it over and over. Human beings will, in fact, stick with a pattern even after it has lost its ability to produce results. We become pattern fixated and come to love the pattern more than the end results—it becomes a part of our very identity – and the fear of giving it up is as big as the fear of losing a limb!

In the 1980s, IBM sold big mainframe equipment. They missed the small-computer market when other companies were responding to the customers’ cries for small, personal productivity tools. Levi Strauss, one of the largest jeans manufacturers in the world, missed out on getting into the designer jeans marketplace. They were fixated on work jeans and missed the move to designer jeans, leaving room for Calvin Klein and others to take the lead.

By contrast, Coach Inc. was known for making very traditional handbags and accessories. In 1995, their consumer research began to show that the buying trends of consumers were changing. The trend toward “business casual” along with women and even younger women’s desire for accessories for fun, fashion, and femininity created a wakeup call at Coach. The rate of growth slowed in a way that caused the executive team at Coach to do what they do best: turn toward the customer, embracing the feedback even if it meant a complete extreme makeover.

Through one of the most successful companywide efforts, the makeover has been breathtaking. Since 2000, the company’s compound annual sales growth has been 25 percent. Coach has become one of the most desired lifestyle brands, continuing to wow the marketplace going forward. Lew Frankfurt, the CEO of Coach, first decided to bring in Reed Krakoff from Tommy Hilfiger as his new creative director, with a mandate to rethink the product line. He then hired Keith Manda as COO, bring extensive industry expertise.

Soon the Coach organization was bringing to market a whole new line of lighter-weight bags, with the Coach logo to fill out the traditional leather bags. The line expanded into other accessories—and from a twice-a-year design schedule, they began offering bags every four weeks. Coach broke through their proverbial Comfort Zone by using extensive outreach to customers and inclusion with employees.

From the late ’80s, Coach had been interviewing customers and running focus groups. In fact, today they interview 10,000 customers individually every year to better understand how the brand is being perceived in the customer’s mind. Though this they are able to gauge how to readjust their production.

Coach does an extraordinary job in both its commitment to its customers and the inclusion of its employees. From the CEO out to the customer-centric teams, everyone takes part in creating the brand. Employees throughout the company participate in training and education regularly.

While my company has worked with the retail, wholesale, and operations teams for years, we are still impressed with the incredibly high level of commitment to learning, growing, and educating employees that takes place in this very people-centric organization. Coach executives not only listen to the customer—they fully engage the employees in creating the transformation.

Today, the company is headed into another year of explosive success; their stock has split twice since their IPO and their revenues now exceed $1 billion, and growing, annually.

#2: Expand Your Comfort Zone
In the face of continuous market changes, the people in companies that are most successful turn to each other and study change; they study the unknown, and make the unfamiliar familiar. They turn to each other to create a new capability for transforming fear into flexibility and resilience. Since companies are people, it is within people that the real shifts need to take place. There is no organizational change without personal change.

The most common reaction to change is fear; yet, when people turn to each other for support, they reduce the level of fear and increase the level of safety and comfort — and trigger the capacity to learn and grow.

From a brain standpoint, turning to others to strengthen relationship in the face of change, actually sends meta-messages to the brain or the parts of the brain that often engage in the face of fear – the Amygdala – the older reptilian brain. By comforting the brain through relationship, the brain becomes open to influence rather than closed and protective. The consequence is growth and openness to learn. Change becomes a friend, a catalyst for good things to come.

To expand your Comfort Zone, you need to reframe how you think about “comfort” and what it means to you. You may like your life the way it is and not want to change, particularly if your identity is intricately woven into the way you are now. You may like your habits and routines because they bring you the peace and comfort that comes with knowing what will happen next. Change of routine is often disconcerting to us, even on a small scale. For some people, navigating the unknown creates anxiety and fear, and even the brightest leaders may be resistant to change.

Instead, think about change in terms of the wonderful discoveries that you will make along your journey. Think about how wonderful it will be to live in a world full of learning, growth, and nourishment of your mind, body, and soul.

You are navigating and pioneering new facets of your life. If you don’t start, you may never discover all the incredible things about yourself!

When we live in our Comfort Zone and fail to challenge ourselves to grow, we create a status quo that reinforces our old patterns and routines. Right now, think of your Comfort Zone as discomforting, and think of living without risk as a signal that you have stepped back from something you really need to learn to do.

Ask yourself where you feel stuck or are living in a holding pattern:

  • What can I learn that will help me expand my leadership portfolio and my ability to influence others in positive ways?
  • How can I expand my people resources?
  • How can I expand my strategies and new ways of thinking?
  • How can I expand my moves and my opportunities?
  • How can I acquire and leverage new skills?

#3: Embrace What You Love
In the late 1970s my parents returned from Indonesia with a gift for me: a set of jaunting tools that batik artists and craftsmen use to design and create batiks on fabrics. I had a friend who was making silk batik dresses, and they were extraordinarily beautiful. She invited me to visit and watch her working at her craft. I fell in love with what I saw her doing. She looked enchanting working in silk, wax, and dyes, and I wanted to become what she was. From this experience I uncovered a desire to experiment and learn this new art form.

I explored fabric stores for waxes and dyes. I played and experimented with the materials and soon discovered I was teaching myself to batik. In the beginning, for every three I made, I tossed out two. As I practiced, I discovered I was learning to draw with my new tools, and soon found I could do simple things like flowers and birds. Later I found I could do landscapes and people. Over the weeks and months my confidence grew. A friend saw my work and found it quite unique. She told someone running an art show, and I was asked to submit my work. In two months I had to have forty paintings. I did them and half of them sold at the show.

Someone else saw them and suggested I enter a larger show. I did and then had to create twenty more batiks. They were bigger and more complex. I was asked to be a featured artist, and I sold half of my larger batiks. Someone else suggested another show, and I took first place!

Lee Keet, the person who bought my winning batik which I named “Jeremy’s Dream,” became my first corporate client. He loved my work so much he hired me to design his corporate marketing materials. He was the first CEO I worked with, and from that one opportunity my lifelong career in transformational consulting unfolded.

One small step—inspired by the vision of a friend and the encouragement of a business colleague—helped me step out of my Comfort Zone and shifted a fear into a desire. I released old assumptions about who I am and what I am capable of doing. I embraced what I loved to do. And this love embraced me and took me on a whole new journey.

Design Environments That Support Growth & Generativity
What kind of environment are you creating at work? Are you designing environments that trigger fear – or trigger our territorial instincts? Are your environments triggering self-interest or collaboration?

When we live in a state of fear, we are carrying that fear into every conversation, every meeting and every relationship. Our energy state is contagious – it’s the air we breathe and it impacts everything we say, think and believe. Your mindset towards change and transformation determines the environment you create.

Reflect on These Powerful Questions

  • Are you retreating into your reptilian brain, where fear dominates your mental state—and thus triggering that response in others?
  • Are you driving yourself and others into self-protective behaviors and, in doing so, cutting off your nourishment from the outside world?
  • How comfortable are you with change? How do you approach change? Do you withdraw? Do you get upset and angry with others and yourself? Do you blame those who are apparently creating the change? Change is filled with ambiguity; sometimes, when we are in the middle of it, we just don’t know how to interpret where we are. Are you willing to step up and challenge the direction a team is headed if you are the only voice—the only boat heading upstream?
  • How comfortable are you with learning new skills?
  • How comfortable are you with taking feedback from a superior who feels you are not turning your boat around fast enough?
  • How willing are you to change your behavior if you have been getting results by “ordering people around” and now you need to learn the softer side of influence? Do you feel that any form of influence other than giving direct orders is weak willed and makes you a pushover? On the other hand, when you are told to toughen up and be more assertive, are you willing to try it out even if you have never influenced people that way before?

Try This!

Over the next few weeks, live inside of these big questions – assess yourself and see where you stand in relationship to change. Make change your friend not foe. Remember to: find excitement inside of ambiguity and change, expand your comfort zone, and embrace what you love! Enjoy the journey.

Judith E. Glaser is the Author of two best selling business books: Creating WE: Change I-Thinking to We-Thinking & Build a Healthy Thriving Organization - winner of the Bronze Award in the Leadership Category of the 2008 Axiom Business Book Awards, and The DNA of Leadership; and the DVD and Workshop titled The Leadership Secret of Gregory Goose

Contact: 212-307-4386 - www.creatingwe.com


Change Your Mindset - Change Your Life

In 1986 I was asked to write a Business Dictionary for Random House. Truth be told, my colleague got the contract and almost gave up the opportunity because he thought it was impossible to do. The objective was to come up with 3,500 new business terms that were not in the mainstream dictionary. He thought it was impossible and too hard, I saw it as an opportunity to learn. He got ‘down about it’ and I ‘got energized.’

We took the project on based on my enthusiasm for the challenge. Then we started our project by an examination of our own mindsets. It was a curious way to start, however one that turned out to be very important to sustaining our work over the next six months.

Here is what we found out about our mindsets. When we lived inside a status-quo mindset, we saw the world as limited. When we lived inside a growth mindset, our world expanded. It was that simple, and so we both agreed to take on the project with a mind of an explorer, an experimenter, a “Sherlock Holmes” never knowing where the words would emerge – yet believing they would miraculously appear – and they did!


  • Probability . . . Comfort
  • Past Focus
  • Cause and effect
  • Fear
  • Scarcity
  • Knowing
  • Controlling
  • Uses energy


  • Possibility . . . Stretch
  • Future
  • Pattern interrupt
  • Courage
  • Abundance
  • Wondering
  • Expanding
  • Creates energy
Habits of the Mind - Shaping Your New Reality
The reality is that change doesn’t have to be hard, or negative. Too often we think of change as something to fear. Instead, let’s define change as a positive challenge that helps us grow. Let’s go a step further and define change as an opportunity to discover new possibilities for the future—opportunities that open up and expand our lives and minds in new and exciting ways.

Try This!!! Do Alone or with Others Exercise
You can do this exercise on your own or with partners. The goal is to break out of an old mindset, habit pattern and comfort zone, and to work with others as your Coach-Catalyst. In this exercise you will share your wildest imagination with others – and in doing so you will be focusing on developing the ‘aspirational’ part of your mind. Also, sharing aspirations with others helps you affirm your commitment to action.

Diagram Your Future
The following diagram will give you an opportunity to draw out how you think about your Comfort Zone. Draw a circle on the center of the page. Then around it a bigger circle. The goal is for you to see where your edges are in life, what you are holding on to, and what lies on the other side. These are the places where breakthroughs will occur for you.

Step 1: Explore the following areas. Identify situations in each, and place specific issues in either your Comfort Zone (the center) or your Desire (the outer ring). Remember: Desires are aspirations waiting to be born. Consider categories such as these:

  • Big Audacious Goals
  • Business Challenges
  • Aspirations
  • Leadership
  • Business Growth
  • Opportunities

Step 2: Identify the challenge you (or your team) are facing in each area.

Step 3: Identify three key steps you can take to move forward in each area.

Step 4: Identify three key resources you can rely on to move forward in each area.

Step 5: Identify three metrics for success: What result will give you the greatest satisfaction? How will you know when you are successful? How you will celebrate the milestones?

Step 6: Remember to repeat the steps again and stretch your aspirations.

Judith E. Glaser is the Author of two best selling business books: Creating WE: Change I-Thinking to We-Thinking & Build a Healthy Thriving Organization - winner of the Bronze Award in the Leadership Category of the 2008 Axiom Business Book Awards, and The DNA of Leadership; and the DVD and Workshop titled The Leadership Secret of Gregory Goose

Contact: 212-307-4386 - www.creatingwe.com


Shifting Mindsets – Creates Energy

I realized I wanted to be a developmental psychologist before I was 21. It was a life defining moment – we all have them. It’s when I head my mother, and my teacher, and my father all said in the same week, “You can’t teach old dogs new tricks.” Now having everyone say the same thing in the same week is weird in and of itself. Then having them say it in the same week that I in fact did teach my old dog new tricks, was profound and taught me a lesson that has energized my life and given me a primary mission that comes back to a singular focus: helping people embrace change.

Since my earlier years, I’ve learned to change my occupation every other year; one year I wanted to be a doctor, the next a dancer, and the next an artist. I’ve even imagined being a neuro-surgeon, a billionaire, and a president. Today I call myself an Organizational Anthropologist – in part because it’s such a big concept that offers me such room to grow.

You see changing your mindset doesn’t have to cause you psychotic reactions. Just the opposite, it provides your brain, mind, and your energetic system, the nutrients to stimulate new synaptic connections – changing mindsets is a growth-trophic activity. In neuro-sciences the word is called “plasticity” and it’s used to explain how the brain really works.

The adult brain is not "hard-wired" with fixed and immutable neuronal circuits. There are many instances of cortical and subcortical rewiring of neuronal circuits in response to training as well as in response to injury. Decades of research have now shown that substantial changes occur in the lowest neocortical processing areas, and that these changes can profoundly alter the pattern of neuronal activation in response to experience. According to the theory of neuroplasticity, thinking, learning, and acting actually change the brain's functional anatomy from top to bottom, if not also its physical anatomy.

Out With the Old – In With the New

As recent as a few years ago, even neuroscientists thought that genes fixed behavior for life. Toady, with the advent of incredible technologies for seeing inside the brain, seeing inside the cell and being able to map changes, we now know that we need to change our thinking about thinking. “People don’t change” or “You can’t teach old dogs new tricks” or “its nature or nurture” are very, very, very outdated beliefs.

The new truth about human behavior has exhilarating outcomes. We are all born with the ability to change throughout our life, and change takes place at all levels, from the micro-biological to the macro-biological. In fact, and here’s the big thought - our genes are ‘encoded’ to be impacted by the environment – that means that our development is coddled through engagement with the world around us. That is how we grow and change. We interact – we engage – and through that engagement our bodies produce growth serums, hormones and other luscious chemicals that we use to grow.

Life is about change. What gets in the way of this wonderful life long evolution, is the stuff we make up about it; the stuff that gets I the way of us noticing, and feeding, and supporting what we need to change every day. When we stop feeding a plant the nourishment it needs to grow – it dies. In the same way human beings stop growing, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Judith E. Glaser is the Author of two best selling business books: Creating WE: Change I-Thinking to We-Thinking & Build a Healthy Thriving Organization - winner of the Bronze Award in the Leadership Category of the 2008 Axiom Business Book Awards, and The DNA of Leadership; and the DVD and Workshop titled The Leadership Secret of Gregory Goose

Contact: 212-307-4386 - www.creatingwe.com


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Creating We - The DNA of Leadership


DNA of Leadership - Move Beyond Fear to be Connected

Even though technologies enable us to dissolve boundaries of space and time and connect us in exciting ways, we still face the same old challenge: to dissolve boundaries among colleagues, to build trust, and to engage our people.

We-centric leaders lift people out of fear, frustration, and anger, which cause people to disengage from each other. They create a culture than enables colleagues to be connected, involved in living the values and vision.

When people fell disconnected, they become reactive, project their anxiety onto others, create more fear, blame others for what is missing in their lives, reject first to avoid being rejected and disengage. When colleagues work in concert, they learn from each other, develop higher-level skills and wisdom, meet performance goals, and turn breakdowns into breakthroughs. When leaders turn to others for suggestions and value them, they create a community that looks forward to coming to work.

Learn to manage three dynamics:

  1. First, put your ego behind you - what matters is what "we can do together" not what "I" can do.
  2. Second, learn to manage your own reactions - bullying, intimidating and micro managing don't get results; inspire others to higher performance.
  3. Third, let go of the past; focus on the challenges facing you and build healthy, mutually beneficial relationships.

Mastering these three dynamics changes everything. Your ability to lead will increase exponentially, and you will enhance your ability to create inspiring environments where people work together for mutual gain, growth and understanding. Rather than get tangled up in conversations about blame, fear and frustrations about what is not happening at work, you establish a positive context for transformation by engaging people in ongoing conversations about what has, can and will work to create a transformation. In doing so, you focus on what needs to happen to address the challenges and with that focus and commitment, you develop into the best company possible. Rather than trying to fix the past, you create the future with others.

Hardwiring New DNA

As a leader, you can shape the experiences people have at work by reducing fear and inner focus and creating cultures that facilitate enhanced sensitivity, mutual support, vital communication and engagement in the strategy. When we live in toxic fear-based cultures, we become unhealthy in mind and spirit. We can react like cancer cells - like cells that stop communicating with the immune system designed to protect the whole body, cells that start to grow all over because they have lost their sensitivity to other cells and cells that create roots and lock themselves in isolation, drawing nourishment from the body and weakening it.

When we live in fear, we withdraw, build our own "story" of reality, imagine others are out to get us and react accordingly. We stop turning to others for help and stop taking feedback and advice from others.

Universal fears include:

  • The fear of being excluded - so we create networks and exclude others first
  • Being rejected - so we reject first
  • Being judged unfairly - so we criticize and blame others
  • Failing - so we avoid taking risks and making mistakes
  • Losing power - so we intimidate others to get power
  • Feeling stupid - so we either don't speak up or speak too much
  • Looking bad in front of others - so we save face.

Universal desires include:

  • The desire to be included on a winning team
  • To be appreciated
  • To be successful and considered smart
  • To be powerful, influential
  • To be creative and to learn, grow and explore
  • To have a leadership voice
  • To have meaning and purpose

When we perceive the world through a lens of fear, our egos drive us into habit patterns of retribution. Over time, we incorporate defensive behavior patterns into our daily routines. We turn away from others when we are coming from protective behaviors, rather than turning to others for help in making vital changes in our lives.

Unleashing Humanity

Leaders create cultures where all team members can contribute their talents and potential. Potential is often invisible - yet to be discovered. It's born out of the healthy interactions of one person with another. As we interact, we trigger responses. Once you learn new strategies and techniques for rewiring your life, relationships, and workplace from those that are focused on fear to those that are focused on achieving outrageous possibilities, your life (and the lives of others who work with you) will radically shift.

When we live in a positive, inspiring, inter-dependent, catalytic, expressive workplace, we all share the power for turning a toxic culture into a healthy, we-centric, inclusive workplace. From this new vantage point, you gain a new perspective about what you can create with others.

Try This

When colleagues work together to discover Best Practices, they shift from focusing on the negative, refocusing on looking for the positive practices that help the organization grow to its potential. Best Practices represent what is good and what works, and it defines what it means to be a world-class company that attracts customers. Sharing Best Practices is a way of elevating the skills and talent of everyone. Create a Best Practices forum to change the focus from loss to gain.

Exercise Creating We

Bring a team together to discover and share Best Practices.

  • Choose people who work in different ways can raise the IQ for everyone.
  • Use the Best Practices framework to catalyze cooperation and teamwork among colleagues who come from different areas and work in different ways.
  • Ask team members to think of things they do that have a positive impact.
  • Ask the team members to describe what they are working on, what approaches they are taking, what impact they are having and how to transfer this knowledge to others.
  • Each member of the team presents these Best Practices to colleagues
  • The facilitator captures what each person is doing to create success.
  • Participants ask questions to clarify the Best Practices and to learn how to transfer them to other situations.
  • Outcome: The end result is that people feel heard and valued.

The hardest part of leadership is that everyone wants to play an important role and be recognized for their contributions. Sometimes leaders find it difficult to manage the relationships, the competing demands and needs and the lack of resources - and so territoriality arises. Sometimes we lose our sensitivity to others. We become so enchanted with our own notoriety and entrenched in our own successes that we forget to honor others for their contributions.

Leaders need to create a feed-back-rich culture so that everyone is open to feedback on their ideas and behavior. This way everyone grows. As a leader, you can promote mutuality by tapping into the vital instinct of growth. You can encourage everyone to be sensitive to personal and group boundaries, while helping them to see how personal growth can best be achieved by expanding opportunities for growth of the enterprise.

Leader Behavior

We often turn to turf wars, silos and territoriality when we fear we are losing what we hold dear. Fear drives us into our I-centric behavior, and we protect rather than partner. Health comes from creating environments that honor the seven universal desires we all have for making contributions, for expressing ourselves:

  • Audit yourself and see if you are creating environments that acknowledge the seven key universal desires. If you are not creating environments that encourage mutuality and support, are you open to feedback?
  • Identify your areas of strength. Continue to do this, because it creates healthy environments.
  • Identify your developmental opportunities - leader behaviors that you have not been practicing that create a supportive, healthy culture.

Create opportunities daily to experiment with the leader behaviors that you have not been practicing. Monitor your impact. Notice how you can reduce territoriality and increase positive energy and support. Being connected is a vital instinct and one of the healtiest and energy producing state of being there is. When you move beyond your fear and into a state of engagement and connectivity, the energy that results produces expoential results far beyond our wildest imagination!

Judith E. Glaser is the Author of two best selling business books: Creating WE: Change I-Thinking to We-Thinking & Build a Healthy Thriving Organization - winner of the Bronze Award in the Leadership Category of the 2008 Axiom Business Book Awards, and The DNA of Leadership; and the DVD and Workshop titled The Leadership Secret of Gregory Goose

Contact: 212-307-4386 - www.creatingwe.com


Friday, November 23, 2007

Elemental Wisdom for the New Year - Feng Shui at Work

In Feng Shui, the five elements — metal, water, soil, fire, wood — teach us how to enhance and balance the quality of our reactions and interactions. Metal refers to our mental capacities; water to our spiritual; soil to our sensory; wood to our intuitive; and fire to our emotional capacities.

Vital Instincts are “the elemental wisdom” we are born with; universal wisdom that applies to all human beings and exists across all cultures. Earth wisdom describes the timeless, insightful knowing of how we can evolve ourselves to the next level of greatness.

When we understand how our elemental wisdom impacts relationships, our environment and our organizations, we are able enhance all of our interactions and deepen our relationships, and open ourselves to greater possibilities for creating outrageous futures.

Applying elemental wisdom to our relationship with ourselves and with others, helps us achieve closure with our broken connections, and encourages our own healing process.

Healing Emotional Wounds
When we feel hurt, belittled, wrongly judged, cast out, neglected or isolated, we often react by projecting the negative feelings we have onto others. We blame them for what we are experiencing. We project our inner fears, hurt and weakness on others, and become critical of them. Sometimes we read into others words and feel judged and alienated – especially when our relationships are broken or not going well. Feeling hurt and rejected, we project “insensitivity” “blame” or “disappointments” onto others.

  • Emotional Wisdom: When you are feeling “wounded,” work with your emotions. Avoid projecting your negative emotions onto others and try to view the situation as objectively as possible. Also, try to understand what triggers you — what people, what environments — and make choices accordingly. Remember, you can choose to disengage from negativity or respond to it in a healthy way.

Mental Wisdom… Dealing with Unmet Expectations
How good we feel about our relationships with others is integrally tied into our expectations – many may be unspoken yet fill us with desires and aspirations for how our future will play out. When our expectations are not met — when we don’t get invited to the party, or asked to join the project, or aren’t chosen for the promotion — we feel it in every cell- we feel rejected – we feel abandoned – we feel like an ‘emotional orphan.’. We become sour on life, making it harder and harder for us to experience the full robustness of true partnership and true collaboration. We turn inward. We get aggressive. We withdraw or freeze. We can be so caught up in our own internal experience that we miss an opportunity that is right in front of us.

  • Metal… Mental Wisdom: Work with your mind. When you begin to imagine “worst-case scenarios,” catch yourself and realize you are imposing “feared implications” on the situation. Don’t be the trigger of your own fatal instincts. Create a new movie. Rewrite the script. Imagine the “best-case scenario” and allow for room for others to show up differently in your movie. Give people in your movie room to be who they are. Allow yourself and others room to co-create the stories. See how much more energy and possibilities come to life.

Sensory Wisdom…Moving from Inference to share Perceptions of the Facts
In life, everything connects. We connect to our environment through our senses, which connect to our feelings, to our minds, to our hopes, desires and beliefs about the world. Once we have an experience, we immediately try to put meaning on it by making inferences and filling in the gaps. We interpret things from own perspective of how we want them to be; we make assumptions and we draw conclusions. From these conclusions, we create beliefs about our relationships with others.

  • Earth… Sensory Wisdom: Work with your perceptions when you start to turn data into stories that are not really grounded in fact – or stories in which you impose interpretations such as “foe” “us-them” or “if only they would.” . Catch yourself, and climb back down from interpretation to explore others perspectives and to seek to understand the facts as they see them, not just as you see them. Step back and step down to the ground — that is what grounded wisdom is all about.

Spiritual Wisdom: Protecting our Ego
When we feel hurt, belittled, wrongly judged, cast out, neglected or isolated, we often react by protecting ourselves from experiencing the same pain again. We avoid the person, making sure we do not come face-to-face with what is causing our distress. We stay clear. We put obstacles in our path and our adversary’s path so we don’t meet him or her again. When we are severely bothered, we turn to face-saving behaviors to protect our ego, meaning that we will go to all costs to ensure that “we look good” and “they look bad.”

  • Spiritual Wisdom: Work with your self
    Notice when you “stand behind your ego” rather than face-to-face with others. By daring to be vulnerable, and you will discover greater love and support in your life than what you would ever imagine experiencing. Vulnerability actually triggers others to be truthful with you. Being vulnerable and honest, actually changes the playing field and asks others to meet you eye-to-eye, and heart-to-heart. Vulnerability says, “I am open to influence and I am open to you.” Being trusting with others is the single most admired quality of leaders – the best leaders.

Intuitive Wisdom: Managing our own Self-Talk
When we feel hurt, belittled, wrongly judged, cast out, neglected or isolated, we may react by creating a dialogue with ourselves about what we believe is happening. More often than not, this “self-talk” is more disabling than enabling. We grumble about our disappointments. We get angry. We make others the bad guys. By engaging in self-talk, we disconnect from others and we create noise inside so that we can no longer hear our inner guidance. Sometimes intuition and self-talk can become confused — only over time and with great sensitivity to the quality of guidance that comes from the inner voice do we learn to separate out the true intuitive inner guidance from destructive self-talk.

  • Wood… Intuitive Wisdom: Work with your inner voices, tuning in clearly so that you can distinguish between negative self-talk and your true inner voice. Allow yourself to be still, to acknowledge your self-talk as a voice of concern for you. Honor your self-talk and thank it for being with you and for being there to guide you. Then allow space and openness to give your true inner voice a chance to emerge. Be sure not to let negative self-talk dominate your inner domain, preventing your inner voice of intuition from guiding you forward.

The Bagua – Start the New Year by Moving Energy in Positive Ways
While some people think of Feng Shui as esoteric, our work with this discipline suggests it is the fundamental wisdom behind all business and relationship success.

In the practice of Feng Shui, a Feng Shui master uses a Bagua (The Feng Shui Masters Tool for Energy Management), which is a template that guides them to explore the placement and relationship of things in the environment to see where energy is being generated, or depleted in the environment. The Bagua dimensions are: success, relationships, creativity and innovation, knowledge and self-cultivation, health, wealth, fame and reputation, helpful people, integration and balance.

The Feng Shui master helps people take out from the environment those things that deplete energy around those key dimensions, and bring into the environment those things that create positive energy around those dimensions. The same items in the Bagua, interestingly line up with important areas for business success.

As a New Year Ritual, Leaders should set up team meetings around the seven dimensions of focus and discuss how they want the New Year to unfold based on the learnings from the previous year.

The key areas for discussion are:

  • Success - what does it look like - what do we want it to look like?
  • Relationships - what are great relationships and partnership all about?
  • Creativity and Innovation - what will drive us in the future?
  • Knowledge and Cultivation of Wisdom - what are our best practices and how to we work together to surface them?
  • Health - what kind of environments do we want to create to yield the best results?
  • Wealth - how to we design our organization for greatest profitability?
  • Fame & Reputation - how do we create a culture that reflects the best of our brand and how do we cultivate our brand for its greatest potential.
  • Helpful People - who are the people we need to work with and build partnerships with for ultimate success?
  • Integration and Balance - how do we create environments that enable us to work together to maximize our mutual success

We have found this process creates renewed "intention" for new success, clears out old beliefs that may be standing in the way, creates a focus for the futures, and drives a team forward towards a shared vision.

Judith E. Glaser is the Author of two best selling business books: Creating WE: Change I-Thinking to We-Thinking & Build a Healthy Thriving Organization - winner of the Bronze Award in the Leadership Category of the 2008 Axiom Business Book Awards, and The DNA of Leadership; and the DVD and Workshop titled The Leadership Secret of Gregory Goose

Contact: 212-307-4386 - www.creatingwe.com


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Art - Conversations - DNA

Art and conversations go hand and hand. Conversations are how we express ourselves in the same way an artist creates paintings to express themselves.

Growing up my grandmother was an artist.. and I wanted to be like her... but I couldn't draw.

Then I went on a hunt for learn what drawing really was. All I knew is that I couldn't do it and she could....

Along my journey, I discovered some gems that really helped me get inside of what drawing was and wasn't... when I studied art history in school, I learned about how each artist became fascinated with "something" - and started to study that "something" at a level deeper than what most of us would do. If it was flowers, they would study flowers from every angel, with every change of light, with every type of bloom, close-up, and far away. By studying this one thing - the subject they were fascinated with - they caused their brains to move from "labeling" this thing as "flower" and started to activate their ability to see the "thing" in all the beautiful dimension of it's being.

My first big lesson came from letting go of labels and "falling in love" with a subject that fascinated my brain - and to see through the label to the shapes that composed the "thing."

I leaned that most things are made up of squares, triangles, circles, rectangles all shapes - all connected... so when you start to break down objects into shapes you can draw... you begin to create your first personal artistic lexicon .... your personal language for the way you want to express yourself... and in the world of art - everyone's art is their own. I visited the Miro gallery in Barcelona last year - and realized his whole life as an artist was the study of triangles, circles and lines... he never graduated from that fascination.... that was his palette.

I also found out that people we call artists - all can't draw what others draw.... they each have their own artistic materials they work best with, their own style, and way of seeing and expressing themselves.... so we don't have to become the artist of everything... just the things we want to express.

I found that I fell in love with Batik after seeing a friend demonstrating how she made dresses from fabrics that she had Batiked... it mesmerized me. Then I spent 5 years immersed in using these tools to express myself... wax, dye, fabric and jaunting tools... who would have thought? At the end of that time I had done 200 batiks and actually sold most... when I started my business in 1980 I stopped doing the artwork, and went into the business of helping leaders "see" how to bring their visions to life - by "seeing" new distinctions - this wisdom is the basis of adult learning.

There are many starts and stops along the journey to discovering where your artistic talent lives... and once we free ourselves of the "mythology" of what real artistic talent is ... and we stop telling ourselves we can't do it... and we find materials, or subjects we fall in love with... and we experiment - (never making ourselves wrong) the talent begins to emerge.

Then I found Betty Edwards book called Writing on the Right side of the Brain. Her book is one of the best to help us break out of old 'seeing patterns'... she confirmed that "labeling" is what stops the brain from seeing distinctions.... so when we label a "tree" a "tree" we stop seeing the tree, and we draw a stick tree of something that represents tree - an icon of a tree.

Her famous exercise was to take one of Picasso's charcoal drawings and turn it upside down. Then each person would draw what they saw... since it was now not a picture of a man sitting on a chair but something else - it tricked the brain to come alive and try to draw the lines and the relationships of one line to another... seeing enhanced, became more acute.... and it is from this 'waking up of the brain-eye connection' that each person's artistic abilities began to emerge.

Hope this gives you more food for thought...

Best wishes,


Judith E. Glaser is the Author of two best selling business books: Creating WE: Change I-Thinking to We-Thinking & Build a Healthy Thriving Organization - winner of the Bronze Award in the Leadership Category of the 2008 Axiom Business Book Awards, and The DNA of Leadership; and the DVD and Workshop titled The Leadership Secret of Gregory Goose

Contact: 212-307-4386 - www.creatingwe.com


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Challenge of Leadeship - Shaping DNA

Sitting inside the challenge of leadership development is one of your most important jobs as a leader: that is to help employees and colleagues learn how to work together to expand their collective ability to handle complexity and change, to think bigger and bolder, and learn how to use feedback to become better navigators of the organizational and marketplace terrain. The practices are mind-opening, mind-expanding ways to stretch one’s normal mindset and mental boundaries and open up previously limited thinking in the workplace.

Imagine that you have in your power the ability to trigger this potential shift in colleagues and in the organization. Imagine that you have the ability to set the stage for growth beyond what is seen at face value. Imagine that you could shape and craft the environment at work in such a way that you would see talent emerge that previously seemed hidden. What would that work place look like?

Creating a We-Centric Workplace

Ask yourself these questions and determine where you are in your evolution as a We-Centric Leader. How are you shaping the environment for success? In what ways are you creating environments that enable colleagues to:

Focus Outward on Creating the Future
Create Feedback-Rich Relationships for Mutual Success
Make Beliefs Transparent, and Create the Context for Collaboration and Co-Creation

Conversations and Language:
Are conversations healthy? This means do people focus on complaining about others behind their backs, or do people have face-to-face healthy discussions about what concerns them. Is there a lot of triangulation (people using others to tell someone what’s on their mind) or can people give direct feedback to others? Is there an ongoing conversation among the members of the community/culture? Are people engaged in working out how to get to the end game, or are people distracted with conversations about whose fault it is that things are not moving forward?

Is there a blaming/victim culture or an accountable culture? Is the enterprise being run by fear or hope? Are people connecting emotional states with the type of conversations taking place? Is there a level of wisdom and insight about how the words we use impact perception and outcome? Are people savvy to the levels of non-verbal impact on the culture and on relationships? Do people share a common language? Do they share a common reality? Can people tell the truth? Or is truth telling painful and hidden to protect people from reality?

Heart & Soul:
Is there a spirit of appreciation surrounding the organization, or is there a punitive spirit? Do managers and leaders complain about poor performance, or are they savvy in the skills that develop talent. Do leaders and managers understand how to provide developmental feedback? Do they recognize good work and effort, or only look for what’s wrong? Do managers and leaders always look at the past and complain about what’s not happening, or do they understand how to focus people or create what people want to happen. Are manager and leaders always focusing on problems or do they focus on opportunity?

Actualization of Vision:
Are leaders providing direction? Organizations cannot move forward without direction. More often than not, the enterprise has gone through a visioning process and has constructed some conceptual framework for elaborating the vision, mission, goals and strategies. More often than not, these constructs are Two-dimensional not three-dimensional with a vision too far out for people to grasp the implications at their level within the organization.

Too often the guiding principles are on paper, not manifesting in everyday life; then breakdowns occur in the actualization of the vision, and this causes the greatest breakdowns between leader and employees. Leaders think they communicate the vision and therefore employees should be able to implement it. What’s missing is the interpretation of the vision down to the level of “what does it mean to me and what do I have to change to get there.” It also means creating benchmarks for measuring success, and sharing those measures and using them diligently to create a culture of learning.

Are employees collaborating and bonding across boundaries? Clanning naturally takes place when people work together. Its how people cluster together to support each other in the pursuit of their goals. Clanning launches the growth of customs and traditions that make up a culture and either strengthen it or weaken it. Some cultures form silos, which is where groups of people are excluded from others. This can be divisional, departmental, functional or sub-cultural. Healthy organizations create effective networks that allow information, idea and best practice sharing to take place through the enterprise and with outside vendors and customers. Sub-cultures are natural, yet they need to be monitored to ensure they don’t create blockages in the evolution of the enterprise.

The mental health of the organization depends on the “wellness” of the factions and sub-cultures co-existing and co-creating well together even in the face of their differences. When teams are in conflict, there may be excessive gossip from one team about the others, which can build up as if there were organizational factions at war. Remedy: Creating interventions to bring the groups together to harmonize or expand their common perspectives. Like an a-capella singing group – they can have different voices but when they come together they need to sing a common song.

Give and Take:
In what ways are colleagues engaging with each other for mutual success? An enterprise is like a community that depends on the sharing of resources, ideas and practices to survive and more so, to thrive in the face of outside challenges. A cultural fingerprint spans the dimensions from harboring to sharing. As colleagues learn to share, and trust, leaders mature and evolve the capability of sustaining trust in the face of challenges. Less evolved cultures are those that encourage lots of ideation, without the processes in place for ideas to develop and mature.

Cultures that encourage brainstorming with no support process for turning the ideas into reality create, over time, incredible frustration and disappointment. Unmet expectations abound and employees loose faith in their leaders and in themselves. A mature culture puts into place support systems such as Ideation Centers, and Innovation Centers. The management team resources projects designed to test and experiment to find new ways. Making mistakes is okay in the spirit of discovery. People are not punished, but rather rewarded for their efforts to come up with the next generation products and services; in maturing cultures, look for physical evidence of the systems and processes as well as physical environments in place to support experimentation.

Examine the reward and performance management systems to see support of experimentation. Listen to employees and hear how they are feeling and reacting to innovation and growth. What messages is the organization sending? Is there a way for people to contribute their ideas and turn them into reality? Is the culture protecting the old, or embracing the new?

Enterprise Mind:
Is there a feeling that “we’re all in this together?” Are employees and management linked as though they were “one mind?” Or is there tremendous fractionation and fragmentation about who we are and what we stand for? Are people thinking and acting from the “I” or from the “We”? Is learning taking place? Are people learning from past mistakes and using them to find new and better strategies. Are people doing this in collaborative teams or are individuals seeking credit for themselves? Is there an enterprise brand, and how developed is it? Do employees live the brand? Do they understand the brand? How do they engage with customers about the brand to build its power and magnetism? Is the brand only a logo, or products, or does it live a spiritual life engaging the hearts, minds and sprits of employees and customers? What efforts are taking place in the company to engage people in living the brand?

Is there a spirit of discovery and inquiry in the enterprise? Is learning taking place? Are people learning from past mistakes and using them to work better and smarter? Can people let go of the past, and embrace the new. Is there a feeling that everyone is connected and working to realize a purpose larger than any one person can encompass alone? Is there recognition of the importance of self-expression and developing leadership points of view? Are leaders pushing their ideas on others (creating an environment of compliance) or are they helping set the stage for employees to grow their points of view (take ownership and have strong commitment). Do people feel suppressed? What forums exist for employees to push against the current rules, and culture and create the next generation of thinking and being?

Raising Our Cultural and Organizational IQ
What kind of leader are you? Unaware leaders blame others for what is going wrong. Self-aware leaders are willing to look inside and learn what they are made of. They commit to exploring the dynamics of their own human nature, and are willing to address the impact they have on their organization’s culture. In doing so they learn what it takes to create an environment that enables colleagues to be fully engaged and motivated to achieve organizational and market place success.

Are you willing to look in the mirror and explore the dimensions of your leadership and how you influence others? Are you influencing in positive ways. If you are, the result will be nothing less than a profound impact on bottom and top line growth, and more importantly, your impact will create a cultural atmosphere that propels and sustains on going commitment and enthusiasm to achieve your organization’s audacious goals.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Vital Conversations - Narrow-cast or Broad-cast

Years ago, when I started working on strategic conversations, strategic planning and forward thrusts in organizations I realized that any model that takes people into "judging backwards" or "finding weaknesses" or "analyzing why things don't work" or "obstacles to success" all focus our minds on what we can't do, not what we can do.

From this perspective, we feel, on a conscious or unconscious level, that we can't achieve our goals. We often "narrow cast" the opportunities without knowing it, and we call that reality and we limit what we imagine could be possible.

Instead, what we should be focusing on is what we want to do -- and when we do that what happens is we open our minds to new energy and we "broadcast the opportunities" in our minds. In other words we expand what we imagine could be possible.

Creating the Future

My business focus is working with CEO's and their teams, and organizations to create the future. Most of my clients are Fortune 500 companies. When I started to use words like "aspirations" and "wishes" in the mid eighties, some CEOs and their senior teams thought I was quite "woo-woo" and some didn't want to enter discussions with this framing.

Others found it intriguing and did experiment with me on how to shift energy and shift mindsets. This lead to two decades of research, projects, initiatives and incredible growth inside of large companies who many would say "could not change."

Aspirations are the Key:
Those executives who were willing to enter a new space and search inside themselves (that's where aspirations live) for their most treasured hopes and dreams, and then experimented with articulating these deeper aspirations, became tougher mentally for the journey ahead because of the internal touchstone that was created by being courageous and willing to find their own place of greatest desire -- and share it with others.

Unfortunately, life teaches us that hoping for too big a dream creates disappointment -- especially when we don't get it, and so we often give up the dream for the reality. My two decades of work with transformation has taught me that when I am successful in helping create space for aspirations to surface, and when we can create the support team to hold the space open, and for redirecting our the energy and learn along the way, then big dreams do happen and everyone involved lifts to the next level of their growth and evolution.

This may sound a bit spiritual for some, yet those who experience it find the words to explain it and sometimes what is required are more spiritual or energetic words to capture the feeling of growth. Some clients call this a rebirth ... others transformation. Client's who have experienced this want more experiences like this because they energize, catalyze and create a positive ripple effect in their organizations.

Anyone who wants to read more about the approaches I'm experimenting with, please refer to my website for case studies, or to a variety of books and articles: http://www.creatingwe.com/.

Growth and Health – Cells and Organizations have Similar Needs
Also, I have a series in Executive Excellence Magazine on partnering. In the first issues of my series, I have linked three key principles, or conditions for growth. The principles that I've discovered came out of my husband’s research on cancer. He and scientist from NYU have found a disruptive technology for curing cancer by "reinstructing cancer cells how to be normal." They are an early stage research and development company and their work is an incredible contribution to the field of oncology, and with the inspiration of their work, I've connected it to how to create conditions for growth in individuals, teams and organizations.

I hope my work will add to AI's community of thought leadership by defining the conditions for AI practices to thrive.

I welcome further conversation... Judith

PS: My husband's site is: http://www.biomegalaboratories.com/

Difficult Conversations Don't Have to Be So Difficult

No one could believe it – Radio Shack let thousands of people go and they did it through email! Most people dislike delivering bad news in person, and will find any way to avoid it.

Making eye contact with another person who you care about, and with whom you need to deliver a difficult message – probably creates disappoint, upset or hurt – and is one of the most difficult things for human beings to do. So, rather than confronting these challenges, we often take to many alternatives which at the time seem to be less challenging or hurtful but later turn out to cause more pain.

Discussing/Delivering/Moving Through Bad News

Clouding the Issue
Two years ago I was asked to coach a CEO who was one of 6 reporting to a chairman. The difficult message the chairman wanted to give the leaders was that if she didn’t raise the performance of her team she would be asked to leave. Rather than giving that message, the chairman wrote a 6 page report that provided feedback and 98% was about how good the leader was. Embedded in the document were 2-3 lines which briefly stated that the chairman expected a higher level of performance from the leader. When I asked the leader what this document communicated to her and what she would do as a result, she said she was doing everything right and therefore was on the right track for her bonus.

Failing to be candid with others is one of the largest reasons why people ultimately leave companies. When we think we are doing the right things, we keep doing them. When key messages are embedded into larger messages, they get lost, are “sandwiched in” which means we can easily discount them or deal with them as less important.

Candor is Golden
In the July – August 1997 HBR article called Fair Process, the authors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne state that “people do care about outcomes, but they care more about the processes that produce those outcomes.” People want to know where they stand and why. If there is a difficult message they need to hear, employees would prefer to know the truth rather than a watered down or clouded version of it.

Candor supersedes fluff in situations where truth is the medicine needed. Fear of telling a person they have failed, or are about to be fired, or they didn’t make the cut are realities in life. We all know this. Yet we do more harm to an individual by trying to soft pedal our way through a difficult conversation.

Here are some questions to ponder, and address:

How should a leader address customers; shareholders; the press; employees? Are there different components of the message that should be shared with one group and not another? Who needs what type of information?
  • Unmet Expectations: Most difficult messages come from a very common origin - unmet expectations. I failed to deliver the results you expected. You failed to deliver the results I expected. It is difficult because it contains embarrassment and disappointment – two things human beings dislike the most. It is a social embarrassment and when this is the core of the context, then people want to deflect the message, minimize it, blame others, avoid it – or any other tactic they can think of.
    Every difficult message has some dynamics that are unique to the situation. And each group of people may have different messages that are required to share, however there are a few things in common with all. These are all people – and in each case they are important relationships that you want to preserve and sustain even thought the message you need to discuss or deliver is different. If you don’t care about the relationship then you can say anything you want.
    In this case you can “data dump” or get the situation off your chest and act mindlessly about how you say it. Sometimes this can be venting or letting it all out if the issue is about your relationships with them.
  • Caring: However in most other cases, if your goal is to share something that is considered “difficult” and you want to sustain the relationship, you need to set the context for a sustained relationship up front so the person knows that this may be difficult for both of you… and that you care about them regardless of how difficult the message will be.
  • Candor: In addition you want to be explicit and honest about what you are sharing. Candor communicates respect, and that is what people want most. Not candor that looks like blame or anger, but candor that looks like the real truth.
  • Failure to Deliver Results on Your End: For example, your company failed to make its numbers this quarter and it’s because of a delay in the launch of a product. There will be an impact on stock price, or deliveries, on employee bonuses - so the impact is across the board with employees, shareholders, press and even customers. Identify where the impacts lie, take responsibility for the event, ask people to accept your apology, explain your new strategy for making it better, and asking for their on going support or help in any way that is needed.


  • Do be specific and clear about what is happening, rather than clouding the message with hyperbole
  • Do focus on outcomes and especially those that may be good or better for the person down the road. They are focusing on the loss and you want them to focus on how to use this situation to grow and to gain something better than what they had before.
  • Do deliver the message in person whenever you can. It’s felt as honest caring and does make a difference. It also allows a discussion about feared implications which are what often cause people to spiral down. Fear implications are “mental imaginations of the worst” and they can be controlled by a dialogue around the news. Conference call is next after face-to-face. Again it allows for dialogue. Emails or newsletters are last on the list. It turns something that should be personal into something very impersonal – and that is the wrong message to be sending. Some employees have learned their company is going down, or they will be losing a job in the newspaper… that is the worst example of how to do it right.
  • Do be open to discussing the impact and implications of the news. People will always say after the fact, that when a leader was open to discussion, it makes them feel that the difficult news was palatable. They feel if the process of exchange is fair and open, with candor, respect and caring, then they can accept the news. Also, if there is dialogue they may come up with other ways of handling the situation that had not been revealed before.

A Process for Discussing Difficult News with Candor and Caring
When bad news can be set in a context for future growth, it is no longer seen as bad news - it’s seen as a new way to achieve success. Too often, we project “feared implications” onto a difficult conversation, and make it mean the worst case scenarios that our mind can conjure. As a result, we begin to fear the encounter so much that we either avoid it or we project fears into it that are beyond what is healthy – thereby shaping the actual impact in negative ways.

We can minimize the impact of this difficult situation by setting the context for the conversation first. First we need to start by asking ourselves a set of questions even before the conversation so we are prepared to move ourselves mentally from fear and protection, to a state of partnering.

Prepare Self

How do I want this person to feel after our conversation?
What can I do to allow them to hear the news with an open mind and heart?
How can I set the context for an empathetic exchange?

Engage with Other

  1. Set the Context for Caring and Empathy: Includes everything from: "I need to have an important conversation with you... and I really spent time thinking about it before I called” to “I really care about you and what you are thinking and feeling about this.... and I believe this will be a very valuable conversation for us.” You can’t partner unless you care!
  2. Explore Desired Outcomes: Share what you hope they will gain from the conversation. “I really hope this will help you grow... understand something important... take away the confusion... clarify... or deepen their understanding of ... what you say depends on the news.” Conversations help us grow!
  3. Share Perspectives with Candor: Be open, honest and non-judgmental. People usually know when they have failed. Be empathetic, yet firm. When you find things that the person clearly missed... say "let me share some thing you can do in the future to make this phase easier to manage.” "What we’re going to talk about are the projects you were working on - I know they were important to you, and to me.... this was a very challenging project with lots of unexpected dynamics.... and at the end of the project the results were not what either of us expected.” Focus on the future so this is a learning experience!
  4. Discover What’s Important to Both of You: It’s important to discuss the news in the context of a larger frame of reference. For example, if it's a person who failed to deliver results and they are scarred that they really disappointed you, you can say something like “I'd like to hear more about how this unfolded for you... what do you think worked well, what did not... what was the toughest part... etc.” Then share your perspective and together get a clearer view of what happened. Be sure you make as few assumptions or interpretations as possible - and listen well!
  5. Agree to Next Steps: Discuss how to do this differently in the future. Make sure the person realizes how to improve, not just that they missed the mark. People are usually more responsive to "constructive foresight" than "constructive criticism" which sends most of us into protect behavior.
  6. Contract for Success: Discuss how what you need to give and receive for this to be successful. How will you measure success? How often will you communicate? What will you each do if the changes are not working?


How to Respectfully Disagree

Our brains are incredibly sensitive to nuances and meta-messages - those very subtle "micro-inequities" or signals we send each other about who is up, and who is down - who has the power - who does not.

When we disagree with another person, we are stepping right into the dynamic "alpha-alpha" conflicts that set off people in the workplace, and sustain conflicts. Too often this dominates an organization leaving people feeling the are in a toxic, competitive environment.

Disagreeing with someone is not just "disagreeing with their point of view, or the information they are sharing. Disagreeing can communicate the following "meta-messages" if not careful:

1. I am right, you are wrong.
2. "You stupid idiot" (YSI) - how could you think such thoughts.
3. How could you see the world that way.
4. You must be blind to the truth

Human beings has a gene for "truth-telling" and when people disagree it is felt at the deepest level. We all want to trust our observations and beliefs, however disagreeing can challenge us at the core of who we are, not just and rarely just at the informational level.


Don't say, "yes - but" - and then deliver your perspective. The "but" negates anything that came before that appeared like an agreement - and turns the conversation into a combat.


Alternatively, saying "yes and" creates an extended conversation that builds on ideas - it says, what you said is really important, and lets take it one step further... the "and" invites further development of the conversation and expands perspectives. I call this type of conversation "co-creating" and when people in the workplace make a shift to this way of talking - even with they don't fully agree with others, it moves people away from adversarial behavior and into collegiality.


With a boss, using the phrase "respectfully speaking" is also a way of saying.... "I know I should respect your position" - "BUT" I don't' so here goes with what I think.


I understand what you are trying to say... help me with this aspect... I'm having trouble seeing how to get from here to there. This is an invitation to talk more deeply about beliefs or observations, it takes you out of the positional dialogue where you are going back and forth one-upping or arguing about what is right, and it invites people to be open to influence.

In summary, when we get into conversations that feel adversarial, we see people in "persuasion" using high levels of Advocating (their point of view). Sometimes they are Inquiring, however the intention behind it is to learn what the other person is thinking so you can turn the conversation back to "winning your point."

Sharing and Discovering
As an alternative, "agreements" come more easily when people are open to influence, and when we get into conversations that feel like partnering - where people share and discover from each other - open the context and framework to both gain new perspectives. Then agreements seem to be the outflow. Even if you agree to disagree - it comes with the spirit of respect.


Sunday, August 5, 2007

The DNA of Leadership... Future Leaders

Old beliefs about leadership can stunt our leadership growth, unless we take time out to reflect on what leadership really is. Old command and control style of leadership is old – and ineffective for the world we are evolving towards.

Leadership is encoded in our DNA and is often undercut by erroneous and conflicting beliefs about authority, leadership, dominance, power, and winning. We too often accept many of our beliefs about these important concepts as “conventional wisdom” without questioning them. The problem is, these beliefs are not necessarily true—and, worse, they may be corrosive to healthy individuals and to healthy enterprises.

One of the most corrosive is the belief that authority is the same as leadership. In reality, this hierarchical, chain-of-command notion of leadership is a major contributor to organizational dysfunction. Too often, when we think of leadership, we envision the tough boss, the intimidating executive. Out of a desire to simply survive, we may even envision ourselves assuming a position of submission to such “leaders.”

Abandoning these outdated beliefs can be the first step in releasing your leadership insitincts and capabilities.

Developing Future Leaders

Our genetic leadership code develops over time by focusing on the following leadership mindsets, beliefs, and practices:

C-gene: Future leaders act, think and speak inclusively to develop co-creating environments. They understand how to develop inclusive environments for asking inclusive questions that open minds and inspire others to think co-creatively. By cultivating an “inclusive mindset” they continuously demonstrate greater capacity toward creating community than their peers.

H-gene: Future leaders act, think and speak appreciatively to develop humanizing environments where truth-telling abounds (candor and compassion). They understand how to develop engaging environments that honor the best strengths people can bring each other, and at the same tine are able to provide honest feedback to catalyze growth in peers, colleagues and direct reports. By cultivating “an appreciative mindset” they continuously demonstrate greater capacity toward compassion than their peers.

A-gene: Future leaders act, think and speak about the future and in doing so develop aspirational environments. They encourage people to discover their aspirations and ambitions and they encourage them to develop action plans to achieve their ambitious results. By cultivating “future site” they continuously demonstrate greater capacity toward growth and evolution than their peers.

N-gene: Future leaders act, think and speak about power and how sharing power – in the form of knowledge, support and other currencies creates a navigational environment where everyone benefits. In doing so develop navigational environments. By cultivating “sharing” they continuously demonstrate greater “we-centric” behaviors than others.

G-gene: Future leaders act, think and speak about learning, growing and nourishing each other, and in doing so develop generative environments. They have the ability to move from status quo, to experimenting with new and better ways of doing things. They take leaps of imagination to grow the business. They continuously demonstrate greater adaptability to the future that others.

E-gene: Future leaders act, think and speak about developing future leaders, which includes both nourishing them and challenging them, and in doing so develop expressive environments. They seize the opportunity for challenging people to take on bigger assignments, thereby expanding capability and capacity to develop a leadership voice. By cultivating “speaking up” they continuously demonstrate greater capacity towards mutual growth and evolution than their peers.

S-gene: Future leaders act, think and speak about ongoing evolution, which includes celebrating milestones, reinvention and sharing in a common purpose, and in doing so develop spirited environments. They are driven to take things to the next level. By cultivating a mindset of “reinvention” they continuously demonstrate greater capacity towards mutual growth and evolution than their peers.

Insight Driven: In-sight and outward-sight
What distinguishes future leaders is they exercise a combination of instinct and observation in making leadership decisions. They are mindful of when they are making assumptions and jumping to conclusions, and they will slow themselves down to take in new information that may shift the perspective on the situation.

At the same time, they develop the skills of independent thinking – and are able to hold a point of view different from others – at the same time holding the space for multiple perspectives to be shared and new insights to emerge.

The DNA of Leadership is based on the belief that our genes are encoded for leadership. By engaging with others to develop each other’s leadership capacity we are advancing our leadership capacity in our selves, our teams and our organizations. The 7 Vital Leadership Genes are the blueprint for the expression of our leadership genes.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Creating We At Work!

Our belief in "I" ~ a belief so encouraged and rewarded in our individualistic society ~ needs to change in order to work in concert with others and create the conditions for company growth. Before any of us can transform the organization, we needed to change our own beliefs.

Organizational transformation begins with people. More specifically, it begins inside every employee ~ both leaders and colleagues. It begins with something that causes each of us to think, see, feel, and act in new ways. For a company to change, everyone across the organization needs to change. Change starts from inside and radiates out. The deepest change we can make is in our belief about who we are.”

Executive coaching has taught us that what is missing for many leaders is the view from the outside in ~ how we influence others and how they perceive us relative to the actions we take every day. Since feelings have been considered taboo for so long in the business world, we have pretended they do not exist. Among new leaders, feelings make a big difference.

In fact, how we make others feel about our leadership is now a critical measure of our success or failure. When we hold one view of ourselves ~ and that view is from the inside out ~ we are living in a one-dimensional experience of leadership. When we become aware of how we affect others and the experience we create with them, we are living multi-dimensional experience of leadership.”

Becky's Poem

My daughter, Rebecca, wrote this poem before she was 12... and gave us all a gift of sight.

Today she is a mother of 2...

A Special Poem

A little boy grew, with a dream all his own,
To fly to the moon, and invent his own phone.
He had such big dreams That spread far and wide,
That nothing could hold them ’Cause they came from inside.

As the boy grew, his thoughts started to stray,
Soon all he wanted was a job with high pay.
And all those dreams that he had collected
Were no good now and quickly rejected.

Years slowly passed, and the boy grew older.
He sat for long whiles, getting much less bolder.
He didn’t walk much for because when he did
His bones creaked loudly not much like a kid.

Then one day, while sitting in his chair
The man remembered, the very, very rare
Dream that he had known while around the age of ten
And suddenly the man became a young boy again.

Rebecca Amy Glaser
Age 11.5, 1984

Cracking the Code on Culture

We spend more time at work than in any other activity. When we join an organization, we enter a new community with expectations to make a difference, to contribute, and to be part of something greater and bigger than we can accomplish on our own.

Every person has instincts for greatness. We instinctually want to do well, to contribute, and to be included on thewinning team. No one needs to teach us to have these desires-they are built into our DNA. Yet many organizations often become harvesters of politics, power, and control, arrogance and egos that fill organizations with invisible streetsigns that say "don't go there," "you can't do this," "you don't know that,""save face," "blame" and "protect."

Allowing ourselves to get sucked into territoriality or reactivity can lead to cycles of behavior that erode relationships and take energy away frombeing productive, healthy, high-performing individuals, teams, andorganizations. When we are stuck in territoriality-protecting what we have and fearing loss, we are living at a low level of effectiveness, which ensures we will never achieve our greatest aspirations. In the face of negativity, positional power struggles, and self-limiting beliefs, our courage and ambition shrivel up and die. Companies lose their spirit, and mediocrity becomes a way of life. Often, without seeing it until the pattern becomes a death spiral, we put out the very flame needed to thrive.

Cracking the code on culture change is much easier than most of us think.

Old vs. New Approach

Traditional strategies for culture change come from different disciplinesand from decades of consulting experience that is built on a set of beliefs that I want to demystify. In the old paradigm of thinking, culture change:

* Takes years, if not decades, to do
* Provokes tremendous fear
* Incites tremendous resistance
* Requires changing large systems
* Requires redesigning processes

I propose a new approach to culture change that breaks from the old ways of thinking. In this approach, I suggest that we all have Vital Instincts thatare hard wired into our DNA (like survival skills) and provide us with the codes for how to live healthy, deeply connective, and loving lives with eachother.

Vital Instincts give us the intuitive awareness and wisdom to know how to bring together people to form communities, to support each other and to thrive in the face of challenges. Since the beginning of human history, people have demonstrated this set of instincts as they created communities of individuals who traveled across the continents to find food, build homes and create forms of communal life. No one went to school to know how to do this-this wisdom is hardwired into our DNA.

Vital Instincts is the foundation upon which we build our essential wisdom for transforming cultures riddled with politics, power, and dysfunction back into healthy cultures. The secrets are transferable and when practiced have extraordinary power to restore health and growth to an individual, a team,and organization. The presence of Vital Instincts makes culture change - a topic that has beenan eternal mystery - into a science of everyday practice.

The Vital Instincts Approach is based on discoveries emerging from the world of cancer research, specifically at the NYU School of Medicine, where scientists are developing a new technology for curing cancer. Their approach is one that restores natural functioning to cancer cells. By injecting a simple peptide into cancer cells grown in culture, this miraculous peptide has the abilityto reinstruct the cells at the DNA level to act again as healthy cells.

Principle 1: Make Beliefs Transparent

When the body is healthy, the immune system works at all times to ensure that anything that is a threat to healthis attacked immediately. Immune system flags arise from cells, directing the immune system to know where and how to target their action, and to marshalthe internal resources to restore health. When cancer forms inside ourbodies, normal cells loose the immune system flags. Without the flags,cancer takes over the body.

This principle reminds us of the importance ofthe immune system flags to health, and instructs us how to keep the "flags"visible by making our belief systems transparent to each other. Translated into business terms, this means that we need to learn how to makeour beliefs visible to each other, to become more transparent about what is on our minds, and to audit our mindsets so that we are always operating outof our healthiest beliefs.

In a culture where beliefs are transparent, wecan collectively monitor the health of our culture, our organization, our teams and our relationships. With this level of awareness in place, we can better recognize and reject belief systems that have a negative impact on our ability to create robust environments full of incredible support, synergies, and expansive possibilities.

Principle 2: Create a Feedback-rich Culture

when cancer grows, the cells lose thier sensitivity to each other and rampantly grow anywhere they can. They invade the body and grow into tumors that can block the normal functioning of organs and the body's systems designed to sustain health. This principle reminds us of the importance of restoring cell sensitivity, and instructs us how.

Translated into business terms, this means creating a feedback-rich culture that enables individuals to establish healthy relationships with their neighbors and coworkers. In a feedback-rich culture, a new level of awareness emerges so that we "don't grow all over each other." Rather than creating environments full of territorialism and competition we learn how to build robust environments full of incredible support, synergies, and expansive possibilities.

Principle 3: Harvest Growth and Prosperity

Cancer cells multiply bycreating their own growth factors. They build their own vascular system(angiogenesis) that supplies oxygen and nutrients to the cancer cells, enabling them to grow at a rapid rate. They become self-sustaining and encapsulated from the rest of the system, drawing out nutrients from inside the system for their own sustenance. Healthy cells, on the other hand, need nutrients from the outside. Since they are serum dependent, they need nourishment from outside to grow. They need to engage with each other for health.

Translated into business terms, this means that we need to be mindful when we are creating an internal view of the world that separates us from others. We can grow this internal view by sapping the nutrients out of the system. Instead, to become healthy we need to turn outside to others for support, engagement, and nutrition. In a healthy culture we see people engaged with each other building strong partnerships, collaborating and synergizing with each other to grow to their next level.

To create a healthy culture, we need to recognize the nutrients we need from each other and to provide them so that we don't retreat back into ourselves and become self-serving or I-centric. When we become aware of the key nutrients for growth and development, we are more equipped to release these nutrients into our culture and thrive on them. When we do this, we build robust, we-centric environments full of incredible support, synergies, and expansive possibilities.

Recognizing that we all have Vital Instincts is the first step inunderstanding how to create positive, healthy environments for growth andgenerativity. When we master these principles, we ward off the toxicity that limits life and health. These principles remind us of the life-giving wisdom we all know at the instinctual level. That's why I call them Vital Instincts.

Note: I am a cancer survivor. This article is based on NYU research that emanates out of thebreakthrough R&D of Biomega Laboratories (www.biomegalaboratories.com). Her husband, Richard E. Glaser, CEO of the company, has spent his professional life in the pharmaceutical industry searching for new cures for diseases.