Posts in Articles

Being Mindful

Flipping through a recent issue of a prominent business magazine, I came across yet another article on how organizations are flocking to “mindfulness” training based on traditional Eastern practices. In fact, according to the article some 22% of companies offer such mindfulness training for their employees. There is a lot to be said for such practices, but there is more than one way to become mindful and I prefer the kind of mindfulness work that focuses on developing relaxed, deliberate, and purposeful thought rather than simply breathing and observing our… Read More

The Missing Piece in Creating Change

Most advice on how to change is very straightforward (and simplistic): Become aware of your patterns and what you need to do differently, then make a plan for doing the new behavior. Of course, if it were that easy, everyone would keep their New Year’s resolutions and the whole self-help industry would fade into irrelevance. Executive coaches like me would have to get real jobs… We all know that change is not easy. The reason that most attempts to change fail is because they overlook a critical step between “become aware” and “act… Read More

Instinctual Leadership

Each of us has a particular area of instinctual focus that can significantly affect our leadership style. These instinctual biases incline us to pay more attention to some things and to neglect others, often to our detriment. In a very real sense, because it shapes our focus of attention, our bias shapes what we value. This post identifies those instinctual biases and explores how they influence our leadership style–and what we can do to be more effective. To understand these biases, it helps to imagine watching a documentary about peacocks–yes, peacocks. The first segment of the… Read More

Instinctual Leadership (2)

Each of us is wired with instinctual drives that shape what we value and what aspects of life we focus on. These drives have been wired into us through millions of years of evolutionary pressures and they enhance our ability to survive and reproduce. Understanding how these instinctual drives influence our work lives has a transformative effect. These drives can be thought of as fitting into three distinct domains—Preserving, Navigating, and Transmitting—and while we each exhibit behaviors related to all three domains, we tend to have a non-conscious bias toward… Read More

Instinctual Teams

In a previous article I wrote about “Instinctual Leadership” and the effect of our instinctual bias on the way we perform as leaders. As I wrote there, each of us has a tendency to habitually focus on one of three domains of life’s challenges more than on the other two. Many of our strengths and vulnerabilities as leaders stem from this habitual focus. The effect goes beyond individual performance, however, and understanding how these instinctual biases shape team dynamics can be very useful. Before we go further, let’s quickly recap what… Read More

Instinctual Leadership: Signaling Warmth and Competence

Humans are contradictory creatures. We have the capacity to step back, think rationally, and reason through complex problems, but we often don’t use that capacity—relying instead on snap judgments to guide us. Daniel Kahneman’s book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” popularized the idea that we have two “systems” for thinking: System 1 is “fast” thinking, which relies on emotion, naïve intuition, and non-conscious mental models or “rules of thumb” (called “heuristics”) that are part of our evolutionary heritage. System 1 is very useful in helping us quickly solve simple problems and… Read More

Are You a Leader for the Future?

Every generation tends to think it is living in a uniquely revolutionary time. This generation may actually be correct—the world seems to be changing exponentially and to degrees that have not been seen since the Industrial Revolution. Joshua Cooper Ramo, author of “The Seventh Sense,” makes a compelling case for this view. Ramo, co-CEO of Kissinger Associates (yes, as in Henry Kissinger…), describes how the leader of the future will need a “seventh sense,” an ability to see patterns and connections that are driven by technology and globalization in ways… Read More

“What Business Books Should I Read?” My Personal Top Five, and a couple of others….

It should be a simple question, but I’m usually a bit perplexed when people ask me for recommendations for business or leadership books to read. There seems to be an endless supply of such books, with new ones being published each week. Many are good and worthwhile; and many are not. So I’m cautious–people are busy, people’s taste in books is highly subjective, and I’m leery of wasting people’s time with poor recommendations. But I get the question a lot and I’ve been embarrassed that I didn’t have a ready… Read More

The Core Qualities and Accelerators: Finding the “Heart” of the Enneagram

This post is an excerpt from “The Notes and the Melody: An Introduction to the Awareness to Action Approach to the Enneagram,” by Mario Sikora. The book can be obtained here.  The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms…  George Santayana There is a lack of romance, perhaps, in all this talk of genes and biology and neural rewiring in the previous chapters of this book…. Read More

What Kind of Game is This?

We often find ourselves in the midst of a conflict without realizing how we got there and without really thinking about how we can find our way out. Or, since there are three instinctual ways of reacting to conflict (fight, flight, comply), we may find ourselves avoiding a conflict or simply submitting to others and suffering the consequences that come along with those choices. Either way, we end up dissatisfied and frustrated, wasting a lot of time and energy when we don’t have to. The ability to manage conflict is… Read More