“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

Working With the Instinctual Biases–Skill and Self-Management

When it comes to working with your instinctual biases, there are two things to focus on: Learning to manage our reactions to them rather than being managed by them, and Becoming more skillful at the activities related to the three instinctual domains. One might be tempted to think that doing one of these will automatically take care of the other, but that is not necessarily the case. Both self-management and skill building need to be worked on if we really want to become effective and well-rounded people. By way of understanding,… Read More

Leadership Presence and the Art of Letting Things Come and Letting Things Go

I’m often asked to work with leaders to help them improve “leadership presence,” which is usually a catch-all phrase for intangible qualities of leadership that range from polishing their physical appearance to developing confidence to learning to be more interpersonally and politically astute.  In this article I would like to discuss the first quality someone must have to develop and sustain any of these other qualities, the simple art of being present—attentive to what is happening here and now.  I’m not a practicing Buddhist, but there are some ideas from… Read More

The Leader as Conductor

Leaders set the tone for the organization. They establish the direction, set goals, support people along the way. They set an example of what behaviors are to be demonstrated by others—the work ethic, the interpersonal norms, etc. But they also set the emotional tone for the organization, and this is where many leaders miss an opportunity to be truly inspirational and influence the success of the team. ********** Think for a moment to the last time you were around someone who was very sad or negative. How did you feel,… Read More

Why Change Efforts Fail—Culture and the Instinctual Biases

One definition of culture that I like is “a group’s collection of implicitly agreed-upon ways of solving problems.” Culture is not something that is usually developed deliberately; it evolves from the psychological biases of those who form the group as they react to problems they encounter. This applies to cultures of all sorts—from national cultures to organizational cultures, down to the cultures of a given team within a company. Culture becomes habitual and unconscious over time—before we know it, culture governs many of our actions and interactions in ways we give little… Read More