"Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof."
John Kenneth Galbraith

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Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 276

Estimated reading time:  1.45 minutes


Good morning from San Francisco! I love this city. I’m here on a course called Brain Based Conversations with the NeuroLeadership Institute  (https://www.neuroleadership.com ) I have lots to talk about, and am learning lots of new things about neuroscience and how we might increase the effectiveness of our conversations at work and at home.


Of the many notes I made today, one stands out upon reflection. I wrote, “how do I speak to and about myself?” The question came up from one of the other participants, in the midst of a wide ranging and fascinating conversation in the classroom about the difference between a “fixed” mindset and a “growth” mindset. As the labels suggest, a fixed mindset is one where you “are” someone or something. For example, “I don’t swim, because I am not able to swim.” A growth mindset is one where you might say, “I don’t swim.... yet.” 


The comment again that struck me was, “how do I speak to and about myself?” Do I talk to myself, or about myself as static and unchanging, or do I talk to myself and about myself as someone who is growing, learning and becoming?



For me, this is a key question for all of us as leaders. If you are stuck in a fixed mindset, beware, the world will soon pass you by. Open yourself, be more vulnerable, and take a chance on a growth mindset. I’ll be curious to hear what you notice this week about how you talk to and about yourself.


Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 631

Estimated reading time:  4.0 minutes


It was Thanksgiving here in Canada this past weekend. I am very grateful for this community of conversation and exploration. Thank you for your continued engagement and encouragement in our work.


These are challenging and difficult times for all of us in leadership roles. In the Autumn 2015 edition of Strategy and Business there is a great article on the Future of Management. The authors see three breakthroughs occurring; a self management, wholeness and evolutionary processes. Self-management is about peer relationships and autonomy to get work done in the best way, not necessarily in the prescribed way. Wholeness is about creating and enhancing space for people to be who they are (as opposed to simply doing what they do) at work. Evolutionary processes are about seeing the organization as a living, growing, learning and developing organism.


I am thrilled to see these predictions, and I wish such organizations on everybody. And let’s be clear, to some degree such dreams may doomed to failure as they are either window dressing or misunderstood by participants.     


I have worked and served as a consultant many organizations and have all too often seen Self Management fall apart when a crisis (as defined by the people with power in the organization) arises and they step in to fix “the chaos”. Or Self Management is sometimes confused with everyone is equal and every decision needs to be made by consensus, thus creating chaos. Sometimes people are in your organization because they want to a job, their wholeness is really to be found elsewhere. 


I have a great friend who got an office job at the age of 55, after 35 years as an actor because he wanted benefits. His vocation is as an actor, he is whole on stage, not working for this organization. To suggest that he bring his whole self to work is at best disingenuous. 

Evolutionary processes are great until the shareholders, or the stakeholders want to focus on efficiencies. Biological processes can take some time, and may not be fast enough for quarterly results. I often think too of the old Jethro Tull song, Bungle in the Jungle when people talk about organizations as living organisms: “He who made kittens put snakes in the grass.” The natural world is often a very scary place and we would be wise to be careful about setting it up as a the model for our businesses.


And I do welcome this thinking. For our departments and organizations some takeaways are:


Self Management, the more autonomy that a group of people have, the more creative and productive they will be. Trying to control people is a fool’s errand. People generally respond better to direction than to being directed.


Wholeness, we will work on our vocations for hours without ceasing, and if your organization happens to finds a person whose vocation matches with a job, hold on to that person for dear life. Do not however try to force wholeness on others.


Evolutionary Processes, if they are to be really entrenched in your business   will challenge deep rooted assumptions like competition, and even private ownership. The planet is not in competition for gain; the living organisms around us eat only what they need. They do not have mutual funds or stock options. They do not own a home, they thrive in relationship. It is a scary world, but not an unfair or unjust one; those are human conceptions. It is not about survival of the fittest, it is about those most responsive to change. And you and I are living in a revolutionary time.



I’m curious to read of your thinking on these three ideas?

Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 325

Estimated reading time:  2.45 minutes


I had a lovely lunch today with a close friend who is also a leader in the world of international trade. We had a great meal talking as friends sometimes do about the world, politics, leadership and economics. As we parted on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant he said, “you know, in the end, it’s simply all about the people.”


It’s all about the people.


In the US the corporate profits as a percentage of GDP are at their highest in 80 years while wages as a percentage of GDP are at their lowest in 60 years. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/05/business/economy/corporate-profits-grow-ever-larger-as-slice-of-economy-as-wages-slide.html?_r=0  Simply put, corporations are not hiring people, they are investing in technology. That is very bad news for anyone looking for a job, but raises a huge question about the medium term economy. If these trends continue, just who will be buying the products and services the corporations produce if we are not working?


We will survive, we are a creative and generative species. But, it will not be because the corporations are doing us any favours. It will be because small groups of engaged and creative people band together to change how things get done. Your future as a leader will not be linked to a corporation. It will be linked to your ingenuity, confidence, agility, and commitment to collaboration.



I invite you to connect with other people doing cool stuff. Practice your leadership competencies in an arena that will change the world for the better for all people. The time is now, to know that, it’s simply “all about the people.” 

Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 277

Estimated reading time:  2.00 minutes



I am working with a client in Toronto this week, teaching leadership and coaching for a large retail operation. One of the common questions that comes up is, “this coaching stuff is fine, but I need to focus on my numbers.”


What is most interesting in this question for me is the assumption that there appears to be a choice between coaching people and managing to numbers. It sounds to me like the old dualisms of support or direction, men’s work or women’s work, finance or HR.


Coaching, that is building trust with team members, building awareness about the issue, and building a future, is actually an amazing way to drive numbers, especially over a sustained period of time. I will be more likely to work over time with you to get the needed numbers if trust exists between us. I will be more likely to work over time towards needed numbers when I see you understand that issues I face, and when you hold me accountable for my part in the issue. I will be more likely to work with you. I will be more likely to work over time to a future that I have contributed to building.


Leading people over a sustained period to achieve goals is not something we do to people, it is something we do with people. We work most effectively with people when we build trust, build awareness about the issue and build a desired future together.



May this week bring you trust, awareness and a great future.


Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 300

Estimated reading time:  2.30 minutes


On a flight home last week I watched the movie Tomorrowland  (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1964418/ ) with George Clooney, Britt Robertson and Hugh Laurie. My sister-in-law was on the same flight, coming with my brother on vacation to Vancouver. She had watched the same film and over the course of the next day or so, we had some very interesting conversations about it. Without spoiling it, the movie drives forward exploring the question, what is the impact of imagining a future of hope and love or imagining a future of fear and danger. My sister-in-law and I both said right away that we liked it, but were not sure if there was ‘something missing?’


It was only after we realized that the film had inspired the deep conversations for us that we said, “wow, that was great.” What had been missing was the ‘pablum.’ The movie did not answer the question about the future, rather it challenged us to live into a world of ‘both and;’ hope, love fear and danger. It did not nicely tie up the loose ends of the future. I’m frankly not sure the movie will be a hit, simply because it makes us think.


Leadership is about thinking beyond the pablum of tied up loose ends and gratification. Leadership is about moving into a future of hope, love, fear and danger. Leadership is about challenging yourself and your team to imagine and implement a world that is just that much better for everyone, even in the midst of challenge and pain. 



May this week be filled then with more questions than answers, more grown up food than pablum.


Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 347

Estimated reading time:  2.15 minutes



I’m currently working on one of the final chapters of my forthcoming book, 5 Thrives for the Digital Revolution. The chapter is called, “Disruptive Spirituality,” and one story from it seems apropos given the news from south of the border about a government employee saying that her religious beliefs preclude her from giving marriage licenses to same-sex couples. 


Here’s the story.


In April of 2004, H.H. The Dalai Lama was in the midst of one of his trips to Vancouver. He, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Human Rights Activist Shirin Ebadi were being awarded honorary doctorates by Simon Fraser University. The convocation was held at Christ Church Cathedral, and I was fortunate to be one of the invited guests.


His Holiness spoke to the gathering of 500 or so academics, civic and religious leaders and students. He began his remarks saying, “Buddhism is the greatest religion in the world.” There was a pause, then he said, “for me.”


Disruptive Spirituality is a fundamental thrive for the digital revolution. It gives us a radical and life changing perspective between and around the binary and dualist elements of the digital world. It helps us see the big picture, the grey between the black and white. In that way it is disruptive as it challenges the yes or no, 1 or 0 world that is unfolding around us. 



Spirituality is not disruptive when it falls into that very binary and dualistic perspective itself. Such a ‘spirituality’ is more likely based on fear and ignorance, and that is not healthy. Leadership is about leading people forward into difficult and challenging times. Times that challenge our past ways, times that push against our fear and ignorance, and may well spark deeper fears. Having a discipline around spiritual practice at its best gives us each a new perspective on ourselves, on each other and on the cosmos. And most importantly a disruptive spirituality gives us courage to face those very fears.