© Don Willerton
Los Alamos National Laboratories
There’s a pile of pillows on the floor. Surrounding the pillows are about a dozen people, seated on the floor, giving their attention to an instructor who kneels within reach of the pile. Each person, at their time and if they so desire, will move to the side of the instructor, kneel, and, then, as the rest are quiet and attentive, the instructor will converse with the individual. With practiced care, she will guide the individual into a personal area that may be a combination of childhood, family, parents, friends, self. She will look for feelings long hidden or forgotten. She will go with him or her into the realm of fear, neglect, sorrow, worry, grief, confusion, intimidation, disappointment, failure, success, injustice, abuse, joy, happiness, love, perception. Listening, asking, pursuing, drawing out.
At a point known only to the instructor, the individual will be asked to bring out painful and inhibiting feelings in a physical way – hitting the pillows with increasing force and fury, letting the feeling out without restriction. It is hard to be open, revealed, unrestrained. It is at first embarrassing, but the surrounding people are soon forgotten and the focus is on the memories of the pain. The rush of aggression is soon followed by exhausted relief and release. Typically, the tears flow freely.
The surrounding people move to the individual, placing their hands on the body, stroking with words of caring and support. All are caught up in the experience. All combine with no need of understanding; being there is enough.
Returning to my place along the wall, my thoughts dwell on a central idea: if I ever tell my boss what I did at this management seminar, he’ll laugh me out of his office and summarily consider that this sort of training has nothing at all to do with management.
At the time, I wasn’t convinced that it wouldn’t have been the right response. I wondered to myself: what have I gotten myself into?
Two years previous to this time, I had read a brochure from Weinberg and Weinberg, Inc., that described a training course that specifically addressed problem solving for technical people, with a distinct connection to leadership. There were three strong reasons that I was interested. First, the idea of meeting and participating with Gerald Weinberg was very appealing, more for his reputation and status than for the brief description of the course content. Second, the stated goal of the Weinberg organization (as recorded on the brochure) was to “make organizations more fully human”. This was intriguing because I had absolutely no idea what they meant. Third, I had just recently heard the use of the descriptor “experiential learning” and my long-term interest in training was piqued to understand in what areas this type of training might be preferred to other formats.
From that acquaintance and the next four years, I have been involved with the Weinberg curriculum of management and leadership training. I attended Problem Solving Leadership (PSL) in Oregon in 1994; Change Shop (CS) at Wickenburg in 1995; the 1996 Software Engineering Management Seminar (SEM96); and served as a staff assistant to the 1997 SEM (SEM97).
And I have grown restless.
I need to articulate the meaning of the experiences that I have experienced, the growth that I have grown, the lessons I’ve learned. Without that articulation, I will not have contributed in accord with the responsibility of the experience. What I have found is a richness of thought, experience, and relationships into which I would have had little insight four years ago. It has produced change in me, and in the actions that I perform as a manager, and in the thoughts that I think as a leader and organizational participant. It has particularly caused me to identify management and leadership training as a professional pursuit and advocacy.
I want and need to wrap up loose ends, to set down in writing the important principles and ideas that I have perceived. I want to create some “frames” around the picture of my experience and learning, and use those frames to make the connections between the Weinberg training and material of other writers in the area of leadership and management, as well as my own real-time, in-the-trenches, practical experiences as a manager and a leader. In doing this, I hope to find order and completeness, and to give back some sort of gift to Jerry and Dani in appreciation of their knowledge, courage, conviction, and love.
I want also to serve the friends I have found in my series, some of whom I have not met. In discussions last year, the issue of management approval for employee participation in Weinberg seminars and sessions has been a concern. In general, Jerry’s curriculum doesn’t fit any of the well-known boxes of management or leadership training, and doesn’t have the usual vocabulary and documentation. There’s hesitancy on the part of management to agree to something that they don’t understand. The value is well recognized by the participants, for the most part, but articulating that value to a supervisor has been a problem.
I want to provide support from recognized, highly respected, leading authorities in the areas of management, leadership, and organizational thinking, for the objectives, goals, and results of the Weinberg training. Not only do the Weinberg activities address critical and unquestioned needs in the area of manager and leader development, but the training addresses fundamentals that are beyond the scope of your usual training curriculums. If one can see in the current literature what I see, then not only have I participated in something unique and powerfully applicable to my effectiveness as a manager, but remarkably current and cutting-edge for having started this curriculum four years ago. To be ready, now, to step into the roles that require such training makes me a substantial asset to my company’s success.
The chapel at the Glorieta Baptist Convention Center has the size, shape, and appearance of a small auditorium. The only distinguishing feature are the rows of pews rather than chairs. In the front of the chapel is a grand piano. In the back of the chapel is an upright piano. In a side room off the chapel, on an October weekend when most adults are at home, I am teaching a high school class in problem selection, statement, and solution using supercomputers, and we’re on break. For some unknown reason, teenagers who wouldn’t be caught dead playing for their parents will perform “chopsticks” to the best of their ability to an audience of complete strangers. And on a grand piano, at that. During the day, there also will be other, more accomplished piano players, so there are several refrains of the theme from “The Sting”, at different levels of competence, and an occasional strain of a hymn or two.
And so it is at every break. Pianos must be magnets for idle hands.
In the afternoon, something different happens. A group of students from one particular school are gathered around the upright piano, a much poorer piano as one might guess, and much farther from the limelight of the grand. A boy sits at the keyboard and begins to play. And he plays not notes, but music. Not just one composition, not just one kind of music. And he even talks to the others as he plays. And it sounds wonderful, enthralling. Soft, smooth, no mistakes, no hesitations, even improvisations, as if he is just expressing with the piano what he hears in his mind. And he is clear about what he hears in his mind.
I hate to go back to class.
A piano is a fascinating mechanical device. Being musically challenged, I can only admire the ability to play one. But from a mechanical point of view, I appreciate the simplicity of the machine: a wire being hit with a hammer; the vibration of the wire generates a sound of a frequency that is a function of the length and thickness of the wire; for multiple sounds of different frequencies, add more wires and more hammers. I don’t know how the piano, as we know it, came to be. I don’t know why there are 8 notes to an octave, and I don’t know why the number of half-frequencies (sharps and flats) are asymmetric within an octave. And I might guess that the length of the keyboard is probably descended from the average length of somebody’s arm span. Of course, large organs have multiple levels of keyboards, so perhaps there’s a more fundamental reason for a piano to have only one keyboard of what seems to be a universal size.
Who decided on the width of each key? On each key being the width of every other key? Who decided that the keyboard was to be straight and level? Ergonomically, it seems better to make the keyboard on a curve, so a player needn’t put their wrist at such extreme angles near each end. Or, as with an organ, a stacked set of keyboards so that all keys are within a smaller reach.
And why all of the keys? It seems like that last black key on the left-hand side would rarely be used. Why not just leave it out and avoid music that requires it? The black key two notes to the left of that one is not there and people seem to live quite well without it.
One may wonder about these things, but let me specifically look at the “play piano” that was my gift to my first child when he was about one or two. This is the small piano-like thing that has about 12 or 15 keys and is what you buy your children when you are still a dumb father. Not that it isn’t a good gift – the children like the crashing sounds from that as much as they like the crashing sounds from other toys. What’s dumb is the idea that the child will learn to associate different keys with different sounds, or, in particular, that they’ll have any greater appreciation or desire to “grow” into a real piano.
Imagine that we improve the “play piano” and make it a real piano, but still with 12 or 15 keys. And let’s even let the child grow until he is a proficient piano player. Now I have an accomplished player of 12 or 15 notes on a 12 or 15 note piano, and those notes, when played, have the quality of a regular piano. You can even throw in the pedals, if you want.
So, is this a good thing, or is there a problem?
Fundamentally, given the music that my son will hear and will want to play, he does not have an instrument that can provide the range of notes needed to play that music. There aren’t enough notes (keys) on the piano. And he’ll know that he’s missing them because he not only hears them from other music, but he can even sing notes that he can’t play. So there will be a large margin of discontent and obvious mechanical deficiency.
However, suppose that he IS content to stay with only the music that he is able to play with 12 or 15 notes. Although he has a small repertoire, he will be able to play it very well. And if he can block out from his mind and his ears the absence of the notes that he can’t play (or perhaps he can convince himself that the 12 or 15 notes that he does have are the most important 12 or 15 notes, and that all other notes are vastly inferior), then he’ll have all that he expects to have, and will be satisfied.
The Roles Of A Manager
In August two years ago, my management team was due to have a retreat of three days. The objective of this retreat was to come to a greater understanding of what the role of management was within our division and company (my manager being the leader of the division). In preparation for this time together, my manager requested all of the group leaders (my level) provide him with ideas of what roles might be valid.
Being of unsound mind and belligerent nature, I responded with the idea that there were dozens of roles that managers and leaders play. It’s identifying those roles, understanding what the roles entail, and learning to play them that was critical to managerial success. It is, in fact, knowing when and where different roles are needed, and then balancing those roles in day-to-day practice that marks good management. I developed a questionnaire that could be used to audit the management team, assess our readiness for the future ahead, and have a stirring discussion of our high calling.
The answer, of course, was predominantly that our role, as lower managers, was to act as if we were higher managers, because that is what’s needed in a unified, team-oriented, performance-based company.
Shucks. And I thought I was brilliant.
It was admitted, of course, that we have other roles. For example, each group level manager is responsible for the group budget, so we should have some level of competence as budget analysts. And we have to appraise our employees, so we should be judges (remember – we’re paid for our judgment! That’s part of the job.). And we have to recognize the activities of our organizational units and where those activities should be pushing the limits of our work, so we should be risk-takers. And, of course, we’re all members of a team, so we should be team players. And let’s not forget the fundamental that managers are decision makers.
But the predominant role was to be a manager supporting the organization at large, and not be focused only on our individual groups. The unspoken reaction to my proposing a plethora of roles was that a true manager
1) needs to be very good at the small number of roles that he or she plays the majority of the time and that they are best at,
2) should do their best at anything else, but admit your limitations,
3) expects their employees to not expect everything from their managers, but to take considerable responsibility for themselves and the work goals. That will make manageable the number of roles expected of the manager.
Piano Keys As Roles
I make decisions; I am a decision-maker.
I understand budget numbers and their meanings; I am a budget analyst.
I evaluate people’s performance; I am a judge.
I listen to people; I am a listener.
I talk to people; I am a communicator.
I talk to really important people as a representative of my organization; I am a statesman.
I sometimes have to condition communication to important people; I am a politician.
I help people learn and grow in the specific activities that they do; I am a coach.
I help other managers or managers-to-be to benefit from my experience; I am a mentor.
I convey my knowledge to other people; I am a teacher.
I read continuously so that I am aware of the aspects of my job and my abilities; I am a learner.
I stay congruent and flexible in the midst of organizational chaos; I am an organizational anchor.
I handle complexity; I am a manager.
I handle change; I am a leader.
I make the structure of my group fit it’s various needs because of the kind of work that we do; I am an organizational designer.
I am honest, real, and present with my employees; I am a model.
I treat people as I expect to be treated; I am an example.
I work with others for common objectives; I am a team player.
I help others on my team to determine and accomplish their work; I am a team leader.
Let me imagine that I am sitting in the front of a piano keyboard. I identify the key in the middle as the role that I play most as a manager. That is, I spend the most time in this role. I’m not even sure what it is, but I’ll use the word “administrator”. What I mean is that, for what I do during a typical day, I spend the most time handling little things: attending meetings that give me information, reading email, responding to email, creating new email, talking with people for mostly noncritical information, answering mostly noncritical questions, and thinking in-between. A lot of small, reactionary type of stuff.
Next to that key, on the left, I’ll put “communicator”, which will include the numerous times that I briefly talk to people in informal settings, or decide what to write in email. I always try to draw the correct frame for the conversation and remind people of the larger picture of why we’re doing something in a particular way, or why we’re doing later rather than now, or who else cares about the decision or action that we make in a given context.
Perhaps on the right, I’ll put “financial manager”, because I often have to understand the revenues and expenses to make a decision on personnel, equipment, or space. Money is always a context for the work that my group does.
One by one, I label the piano keys with “my roles”. Over all, the keys close to me are the roles that I am in for most of the time. The farther keys are roles that are not used very often.
As an example of an infrequent role, a member of my group died last year. He was an immensely admired and respected senior member of the scientific consultants, and he died suddenly, unexpectedly. Over the next few months, I served in small ways as a minister and caregiver to the group. Without religious preferences, with a light touch, I listened to people who were grieving. I sat with them and was sympathetic, understanding, and gave them time. I was open with my own grieving and sorrow, and shared my dealings with death and life, but with restraint. As time went on, the group held onto good memories and to each other.
What I did at that time is not what I had done before. I had never experienced an employee’s death, and I felt a need to respond not just as a person but as a person with position and with expectations from other people. I could have done a lot less in the situation and still fulfilled what most managers would be expected to do. For that situation, to do those specific things was a different “role” for me. Perhaps what I did was not actually needed; everything might have progressed as well with my not having responded in such ways. But I like having recognized something that I could do as a leader and manager of my group.
When finished with my keyboard, I have a “role piano” with about 88 “roles” before me. The metaphor can be stretched too thin, so I should admit that not everything is this simple. Real notes produced by hitting real piano keys are distinctively unique notes compared to all of the others. There is a unique frequency produced by each key. It’s not so distinct with roles. An “administrator” role has a lot of the “decision maker” role in it, as well as “judge” and “communicator”. And a “communicator” can have the components of “writer”, “orator”, “debater”, and “humorist”, although I may have assigned to those roles keys of their own.
I need to admit that I’m not sure that I could actually characterize 88 specific roles, but I’ll pretend that I can.
And there’s not the distinct, musical connections between the keys as in a real piano. It’s not practical to try to define octaves, triplets, chords, or harmonies, although there may be “complimentaries” between roles, or even the combining of different roles that produce “consonant” sounds as well as “dissonant” sounds.
The metaphor of my role piano can be taken only so far, so bear with me.
Imagine that I sit before a piano of 88 management roles.
Piano Keys As Skills
I want to make a digression about the piano metaphor. One traditional approach to identifying the activities of managers is to group the activities by the “skills” needed. In my own experience, I can think of several courses that are more or less “standard” for management training curriculums:
How To Lead
How To Communicate
Making Dynamic Presentations
Financial Management For Non-Financial Managers
Learning To Delegate
If one looks at a Course Catalog from Learning Tree (a training company), one can see a considerable number of courses aimed at developing skills in managers, leaders, and others. Some courses are more formula oriented than others, but the attitude is that “continuously learning” is tantamount to increasing the skill set of the participant. The larger the skill set, the larger the sphere of influence and activities in which the participant can be effective.
And there are other ways of slicing the universe as well. I’ve seen lists of “manager capabilities”, “manager competencies”, “manager attributes”, and “manager characteristics”.
This is good. Viewing this learning from an origin of a “skills” universe is good. Viewing it from “capabilities” or “competencies” is good. Viewing this learning from a “roles” universe is good, interesting, and will address the same kinds of things. It has the additional flavor of providing a greater feeling for the application of skills, the balance between skills, and the use of the skill set in a dynamic environment where the identification of “skills” may be considerably complex. To me, a role well-played is the manifestation of good skills. The multitude of slices is reflective of the difficulty of articulating what it takes to be a manager or a leader.
The Problem With Aggregation
I also need to digress to address the aggregation of skills, competencies, roles, or whatever the “slice of the universe” descriptors are. I am not against aggregation whenever everyone involved knows what’s being aggregated.
For example, in an article for the Training & Development Journal, Choosing A Consulting Role, the authors (one of whom is Jean McClendon) develop a “consulting role grid” that identifies 9 distinct roles that a consultant may play when working with a client. The roles are functions of trade-offs between two aspects of consulting: the need for results, and the need for growth. For the 9 roles, they assign the following titles:
? Reflective observer
? Technical adviser
? Hands-on expert
If I had a “consultant piano”, I expect that each of these would be a separate key.
In most meetings that I attend, where “a lot” of different things are talked about, the very first feeling from the group or the leader or a facilitator, is to “decrease the complexity” by aggregating “a lot” of things into “a few” things, and usually into the “a minimum of” things.
It is my experience that if the above 9 roles were presented as a sub-category of the role of “consultant”, then the role of “consultant” will survive, but the sub-categories will be relegated to the minutes of the meeting, maybe. My 88 roles would be aggregated to about 12 or 15, or maybe 5.
What is lost doesn’t necessarily occur to the people who were present at the aggregating. They at least saw the roles that were initially talked about, although they will probably never hear them articulated again. The next level of participant, however, will see only one role: consultant. They will not know about the 9 roles that could be associated with the one title.
The loss to me is extreme. What has happened is that automatic and wholesale aggregation has led to loss of information, and, more importantly, to the loss of depth of thought. The one title “consultant” is now more shallow than “consultant: meaning counselor, coach, partner, facilitator, teacher, modeler, reflective observer, or technical adviser”.
Therefore, in opposition to aggregating, I will build my “role piano” to whatever level of granularity is needed to convey as much information and depth of thought as I think is needed. I may not need 88 keys, but I may need 100. It’s always easier to have keys that aren’t played, than to need keys that aren’t there.
Tom Peters And The New Age
Beginning with the First Great Book, The Pursuit Of Excellence, Tom Peters became a management household name. In person and on video, he was like a Revivalist Preacher in the Great Awakening, revealing sin and declaring the grace of God to all organizations, that they should come to the altar and find the Light. He used a style of storytelling in delivering his message. In one two-hour video that I saw, he must have had 200 stories, quotes, or observations from every kind of organization in America. Tom’s message was a wakeup call for organizations to compare themselves and their practices to the organizations next door, across the town, or across the country. “If Nordstroms can do it,” Tom would go on, “then don’t tell me that you can’t do it, too!”
He, as much as anyone, began the movement of organizations toward performance measurement and the pursuit of performance goals.
I was particularly fascinated that he would go out of his way to revile current managers and management, and would tell stories of downright insulting managers in his audience that “didn’t get it”. It was an assault on the King’s clothes.
A few years after the flame of fame, I attended a day-long class sponsored by the Tom Peters training organization. The presenter, teaching in the style of Tom Peters, was very good, and he also had about 200 stories that illustrated his points. He was so good, in fact, that I brought him to my company about 6 months later. Again, he was very good. But in talking to him after the presentation, I learned that he was soon to leave the organization to start his own business, not related to management training. I was surprised to hear the lack of passion in his voice about the very stuff that he had just spent the day teaching! The Tom Peters’ Gospel had been spread and everyone had been told. It wasn’t impacting people the way that it had. Everybody had heard of Nordstroms. Everybody had learned to use the words “quality” and “excellence”. And, sure enough, businesses had changed. The message was no longer new.
Tom Peters is, of course, alive and doing well. He was only one of many prophets that heralded a new age of management, leadership, organizational thinking, and the awareness of business competition. Who hasn’t heard of the Japanese and quality? Edward Deming, Peter Drucker, Philip Crosby, Peter Senge, Peter Block, John Kotter, Malcom Baldridge; one minute managing, MBWA, MBO, TQM, quality circles, quality forums, process definition, process refinement, paradigm shifts, reengineering, performance-based assessment, employee empowerment, customer involvement; partners instead of customers, shareholders instead of investors, relationships instead of commodities, environment instead of irresponsibility.
The person on the street is more familiar with the concepts and vocabulary of management and leadership than ever before. The Challenger disaster: bad management. Watergate: corrupt leadership. Iran-contra: lack of ethics in leaders. Ten thousand dollar toilet seats and coffee makers: stupid and irresponsible people in charge. A 100 hour war and marvelous victory: good leadership, good organization, good people. A monstrous salary for the head of the United Way: bad management, bad leadership. Lee Iacoca and Chrysler: outstanding management, outstanding leadership. Saturn: a different kind of company. Ben & Jerry’s nationwide search for a company president: way cool! Megabucks and mega-corporations: Nike, WalMart, Microsoft, AT&T, IBM, Motorola. Megabucks and mini-corporations: Netscape, GateWay, Qualcomm.
And CHANGE is the word. The world is CHANGING. Business is CHANGING. Organizations must embrace CHANGE. The family has CHANGED. The social fabric of the nation is CHANGING.
I expect that even change is changing.
And technology has been both a cause and a result of change. And information technology is even more a source and sink of change. And the software industry supporting information technology is an epicenter of the earthquake of change.
Software Engineering Management
I grew up in the industry of programming, software engineering, software products and software environments. With that background and the exposure to the industry, the impact of the changing attitudes, tenets, foundations, practices, messages, structure, and everything that fits in this Great Awakening of organizations has been part of my business, as well.
If the Great Awakening is at work at a global scale, then software engineering represents a microcosm of that world. From Fred Brooks and the IBM in the 60’s, Yourdon, structured design, and the waterfall model in the 70’s, object-oriented languages, CASE, reengineering and reuse, RAD, Barry Boehm and the spiral model in the 80’s, to all of the preceding, distributed applets, and the Year 2000 Problem in the 90’s, it has been a time of rock and roll. For all of the enormous technological change, intense competition in software and hardware, extreme needs in software development, lack of substantial developmental history and patterns of stability, and wholesale cultural change in the use and presence of computers, it’s still doubtful that any particular software project has more than even a small chance of success.7
Tarek K. Abdel-Hamed, in an American Programmer article, had this to say:
“Technical managers tend to think of innovation in terms of technologies that give rise to new classes of products or to improvements in the design and production of existing products. The software engineering field is no exception. So it is not at all surprising that after two decades of impressive innovations in the technology of software production, many in the field are consumed by self-congratulation.
“Yet, to the dismay of executives and customers, technological innovation in the engineering of software has not been matched by a corresponding maturity in the capability to manage the production of software. There continue to be too many project failures, marked by cost overruns, late deliveries, poor reliability, and user dissatisfaction.”
If there’s difficulty in management and leadership, the difficulties are amplified and more obvious in software development.
Software development has also had the disadvantage of being centered around technical people and technical products. This has made it a more obvious exercise in mismanagement because of the innate lack of people skills in the typical programmer and software engineer and their associated management, who typically came from the ranks of the programmers and software engineers.
There is also the problem identified by Fred Brooks, that software isn’t like anything else that we’ve dealt with. It is an intrinsically complex and difficult realm to comprehend and fully understand. This makes developing software a tenuous science, at best.
Which makes the management of the development of software a very interesting pursuit. And makes fertile ground for observing management and leadership philosophy in general.
Management And Leadership In The New Age
The managers of my Division used to meet every two weeks for a discussion session, lead by the Division Leader. The typical discussion would be centered around an article or a chapter from a book. The best session addressed an article in the Harvard Business Review by Peter Senge: The Leader’s New Work: Building Learning Organizations. It talked in length about the new roles of a leader in a modern organization:
“Leaders are designers, teachers, and stewards. These roles require new skills: the ability to build shared vision, to bring to the surface and challenge prevailing mental models, and to foster more systemic patterns of thinking. In short, leaders in learning organizations are responsible for building organizations where people are continually expanding their capabilities to shape their future–that is, leaders are responsible for learning.”
In the section that discussed mental models, Senge stated, “The leadership task of challenging assumptions without involving defensiveness requires reflection and inquiry skills possessed by few leaders in traditional controlling organizations.”
This idea of “challenging assumptions” resonated with what I had heard Jerry Weinberg talk about in several of the sessions. We had talked repeatedly about the inability of people to express why they displayed certain behaviors. In one session, we used a fascinating device called family reconstruction, that revealed considerable information on how families develop rules (assumptions, prejudices, conditioned thinking) within the family unit that mask or distort disfavorable actions of family members into more palatable “truths” or construct patterns of outright denial.
This resonance with what Senge had written sensitized me to watching for other words or ideas that echoed what I had heard or experienced in the Weinberg series. What I found within the next few months, by listening, observing, and reading, was a wealth of confirmational instances where my learning experiences were supported by several well-known and respected writers and speakers in the areas of management and leadership.
In the appendix, you will find a (long) series of selected passages from different authors that I have read. Reading these different authors, seeing them in the context of what I’ve learned, noticing the close correlation of ideas, themes, thoughts, practices, attitudes, principles, and values give the confirmation that, even to the practice of beating pillows, there is considerable support for the Weinberg training as a personal development path that is aimed directly at learning the fundamentals of management and leadership and how to behave in organizations. It is, in fact, a curriculum that involves much harder and more complex “training” than the ordinary management and leadership training that takes place in organizations. It’s purpose is not so much to develop skills as it is to change people.
Some Major Themes
When going over the passages in the appendix, I feel that there are four areas of transcending themes that I have witnessed through my association with Jerry and Dani. These are not so much “principles” of managing in organizations, but perhaps “assumptions” good managers use to perceive good organizations in their minds. What the organization is, is what the assumptions are.
I was fascinated by a PBS documentary on Albert Einstein. Intermixed with the biographical aspects of his life, they presented a simplified explanation of the theory of relativity. Demonstrating the experiment that was performed to confirm that light bends around a planet, they used a 3D drawing of how Einstein viewed space as a huge “field of energy flux lines”, exactly like the drawing of magnetic lines around a magnet, or electric field lines around a conductor with current. Using grid lines to portray the flux lines, you could see the idea of the flux becoming distorted around objects of high mass.
Using this “field theory” view of the universe, it became easy to visualize how everything with energy (including light) flows in this field, and how ubiquitous that field is to everything. Everything in space has an effect on the field, and the field reflects that effect by experiencing distortion (change).
This is an analogy of awareness to me. Awareness is multi-dimensional through all of our senses, making us aware of the space around us. When something happens in that space, we know it. Each of the senses are a dimension that has its own “field of flux lines”. When something disturbs the field, the movement is radiated back to the source, much like a spider’s web sends the vibrations to the spider. So things are known. When developed, and Jean McClendon is a master at this, you can be aware of another person’s words, body movements, expression, tone of voice, and their whole demeanor to the extent that you hear things that aren’t said, and see things that aren’t visible.
The passage I remember most from Virginia Satir’s writings is her comment that everybody is basically 90% the same. We all have feelings, we all have physical bodies, we all have relationships. Only in the 10% are we really different. Being so much alike, and being only a little different, creates a large foundation for fundamental empathy between our own being and everyone around us. That makes considerable difference in how I view the people around me – their capabilities, their frame of reason, the reasons that they do things, the way that they act or don’t act. They are mostly me. I am mostly them. Within error bars, basically the same. Not that the 10% doesn’t sometimes result in drastically different behaviors, but it gives a common reference frame and a common bond.
That means that organizations are basically going to be the same. Probably about 90%. There may be different structures, technologies, cultures, principles, purposes, rates of activities, sizes, products, time of existence, or another hundred differences, but most of the ways that they function will be the same as what I see within my own company because they deal with humans. Which means, perhaps, that most organizations also have a substantial common reference frame and a common bond.
Over and over in the passages, there is the idea that managers are responsible for the growth of themselves, their employees, their organizations, and their society. Robert Greenleaf goes into considerable length about the purpose of organizations, and if the means justify the ends.11 His conclusion is that the means determines the ends. And the means should be the being of a servant leader to yourself and your employees. That means that people are the focus of a manager’s efforts – creation and innovation of the wholeness that should be within individuals.
In simpler ideas, it makes people the prime concern of organizations, not work. Recognition of the value of relationships, the interdependence of people, the common needs of the workforce (professionally, technically, and personally), means that the responsibility of the organization is to aid and abet life.
Santa Fe is a great center for Holistic medicine. As a technocrat in Los Alamos, it’s my sworn duty to make fun of it. At least, I used to. I watched Roderick O’Connor one night at dinner, after the day of learning Aikido. He received a salad from the waitress, thanked her, and set it in front of him. He then cupped his hands over the salad, closed his eyes, and had a moment of reflection, of thankfulness, before he began to eat.
My word is connectedness. I don’t think that he was absorbing life rays from the food. It was just that, along with everything else that he encounters, what was before him had value, and for that he gave thanks. He also has value, and for that he gives thanks. And so he goes as he walks, moment by moment, aware of his position relative to everything else. He is connected to life. And he gives thanks.
In an elementary sense, congruency is the agreement of the inside and the outside. I look how I am. In the early exercises of PSL, we talked about how we don’t reveal how we feel in the way we look or talk or act. Being congruent was the exercise to counteract ourselves, to be consistent in the feeling and looking. Being connected to yourself. Knowing who you are. Knowing why you are. And allowing yourself to look it.
I have grown to understand that it also means wholeness – not being a multiple person, not being in hidden conflict. It also means centeredness, working from the source of stability and strength. Robert Greenleaf has a paper devoted to looking at what strength means, and it’s enriching to read.
These four things, awareness, humaness, peoplemaking, and congruency are major themes in the training that I’ve participated in. There have been a host of other learnings as well. But these are the transcending “glue” that speaks to all other skills and roles. I have not found these addressed in any other management training. I think these things are feared by the usual management curriculum. For the most part, they are viewed as “improper”. In reality, they require too much.
Back To The Piano
I sit in front of my “role piano” with 88 different roles before me. Let me be aware of my feelings:
I am most comfortable with the keys that are directly in front of me. They are easy to reach. They are directly in front of my eyes, so I don’t have to turn my head. Farther away from the center, however, I am uncomfortable.
It’s easier to do what I’ve always done, and rely on skills that I’ve already proven. It’s uncomfortable to be in roles that I’m not used to. It’s uncomfortable to learn skills that I don’t already know.
Suppose that I need to play in a different area of the piano. As long as my hands are close, I can move my body until I’m centered to where my hands are. I can then pretend that I’m in the middle of the piano, and I am comfortable again, even though the sound is a little different.
I’m used to playing certain roles. If put in a different situation, I may need a completely different set of roles. However, instead of treating the roles from the new perspective, I keep my thinking in the same orientation, expecting that the same combination of roles will serve me as well as when I’m in my familiar set. The results may look a little different and unexpected, but the important thing is that I’m still feeling comfortable.
When my hands are relatively close, I don’t have to move my eyes or head. However, when I need to play both low and high notes, my hands are spread apart. This makes me very nervous and unsure of whether my fingers are above the right keys or not.
My versatility is dependent on my experience. If I live in an organization that does not allow growth or movement, or if I work for a manager who is very limited in his respect for different roles, then I will never grow comfortable in the roles that may be needed most but not often.
As I move to keys that are farther from the center, I am mentally prepared to view them as “different” from the ones close to the center. This makes me hesitant to use them. And I will not overcome the hesitancy until I practice all of the keys, and I see that they are needed for making music.
I’ve been taught to have a different level of regard, and a different level of respect, for little-used roles. I basically learned this from some of the managers I’ve been around. My reaction is to use the tactic of getting done with that role as soon as possible and get back to the familiar and more important stuff. The major result is that I admire my ability to play a 12 or 15 note piano. And I am satisfied.
Playing scales can be fun. They can be a substitute for real music. I can play, be real careful, try not make mistakes, there’s a lot of repeated finger patterns (which means that if I get really good and fast on one part of the scale, I automatically get good and fast on the other parts), and doing it well fills me with a feeling of accomplishment.
I once interviewed a person for an assistant management position. He had collected management training and skills like merit badges. He could quote course curriculums, recite buzzwords, roll out sentences with context, and gave the impression of a seasoned manager. According to people who had worked with hin, however, he was a manipulative, egotistical brute with no values. A substitute for a real manager.
Almost all of the music that I will learn will include the main part – the melody, the tune, or what have you. If I play accompaniment and don’t adjust for the different purpose for which I’m playing, I’m in trouble.
If it has always been my role to exert dominance over directions, pace, deliverables, working conditions, or the other myriad tentacle responsibilities of a lead manager, I will have severe difficulties if I suddenly have to be in support of another manager and am not aware enough to realize the change in role.
I’ve also learned to not question the construction of the piano. I know that it’s more difficult to play on a long, straight keyboard, and I certainly am not going to question the width of the individual keys. Far be it for me to question why. It’s hard enough to learn without imagining trying to learn on an unconventional piano.
I’ve learned to not question the roles that I am expected play, their relative importance, their relative consumption of time, and the difficulty of accessing the skills needed for a role that’s hard to reach. Some managers think that you need to be radical and do unusual and new things. Well, not me! If it worked for my boss, then I expect that it’s best that I be like him and that I value what he values.
I watched a TV special that followed the Boston Pops Orchestra on tour. They were filming some of the members wandering around an African market place. One of the flute players picked up a gourd that had holes drilled in it’s side. It was an African shepherd’s flute. Within about 30 seconds, the orchestra member was playing a light and lively tune on it.
Now, the gourd was not the same shape as his flute. The number of holes was not the same as his flute. The holes were a different size and spacing as his flute. In my thinking, this thing in his hand was not anything like what he usually had in his hand.
But, in his thinking, his flute was just a sophisticated gourd. He understood the mechanics of a flute. He understood the principles of music. It only took adjusting his fingers and his thinking to make the associations necessary to make the gourd do what it was made for, in the same way as his flute.
Perhaps what change in organizations means for managers is that the piano keys are suddenly not the same size, and the keyboard is now curving, and the keys are at different levels, and there are suddenly some keys there that weren’t a while ago, and some keys are moving to other locations, and it’s all happening while I’m playing my music, and I’m not allowed to stop.
When that is happening and I have no control over what the “piano” is doing, I need to respond to the situation by adjusting me – becoming more aware, more versatile, more directed, centered, less fearful, focused. I have to relearn how to be comfortable with all of the keys, even though they move. I have to revise my view of the mechanics, whatever they may be, to make music, and not allow the mechanics to determine the music.
I have to learn to fully appreciate the instrument, to conquer the fear of it’s size, shape, orientation, and stability. To do this, to be ready for my dynamic piano, I need four things: awareness, pianoness, musicmaking, and congruency. They will be the continuing themes that will allow me to be comfortable, effective, and happy in playing my piano. I am the master of the music; the piano only the instrument that I use.
Why do I manage? Life could be so much easier. But I want to make a difference. No matter what comes, I want to be able to respond with confidence, with inspiration, excitement, and anticipation. And good skill. People deserve leadership that willingly serves in whatever roles are needed to reach the goals, and does it well. To do it, I must realize the manager within me, regardless of the size, shape, orientation, and stability.
I want to use the word “dimensionality” to describe the aspect of people who are adept at using different roles. What should be looked for in a manager or a leader are their “dimensions” in life. To live with fullness, with wholeness, as a connected being, in the aura created by a “field of awareness”, acting with assurance, confidence, and competency. To be fully centered, understanding of human weakness and strength, and to understand the precious gift of “becoming”. To be full in many dimensions.
From The Piano To The Orchestra
If playing a “role piano” is a challenge, then how much greater the dimensionality must we have to guide an orchestra? Zubin Mehta, famed conductor of the New York Philharmonic, was on the subway. A lady next to him, noticing a musical score that he carried, said, “Oh, you’re a musician! What do you play?” The Maestro thought for a moment, and then replied, “I play the orchestra!”
How rich, indeed, it must be to function as a manager of managers – to conduct people who are playing their “role flutes”, “role trombones”, and “role timpani”! Is Zubin capable at every instrument? No. Has he mastered the transcending qualities that allow him to use all of the sounds of the instruments? Yes. At whatever level, there you will find the transcending fundamentals of the conductor knowing who he is, why he is, what he is doing for each member of the orchestra, and to what ends he is directing. To make music! To reach the hearts of the audience!
Not a dimensionality of one, or 12 or 15, or 88, but of uncountable.
Managing With Love And Wonder; Leading With Delight
My latest Harvard Management Update came today. The lead article is called What You Can Learn From 100 Years of Management Science: A Guide to Emerging Business Practice, by David Stauffer. It is a short, fascinating perspective of what the current managment literature is saying that “management” is about. Reviewing a series of essays by Peter Drucker, Peter Senge, and other leading business thinkers, the editors of Harvard Business Review note that “[E]ach thinker, in his or her own way, has identified challenges that are not so much technical or rational as they are cultural: how to lead the organizations that create and nurture knowledge; how to know when to set our machines aside and rely on instinct and judgement…The continuing challenge for executives, their collective observations suggest, is not technology, but the art of human – and humane – management.”
Stauffer goes on, “The idea that an organization is a community of people who share interests, rituals, habits, and goals, rather than a machine for the creation of goods and wealth, is found with increasing frequency in the business literature…..Humanistic thinking has, in fact, opened up a path for the expression in the workplace of that which is most quintessentially human: initiative and generativity…..The idea that institutions can literally profit by tapping our ‘humanness’ — rather than by asking humans to act like machines — is one that business leaders can expect to hear more about.”
I bought a new book this week. It is a collection of essays by Peter Block, Ken Blanchard, Margaret Wheatly, Stephen Covey, James Autry, James Kouzes, and others. Copyrighted in 1998. On the inside cover is a quote from Margaret Wheatly that introduces the book:
“It is one of the great ironies of our age that we created organizations to constrain our problematic human natures, and now the only thing that can save these organizations is a full appreciation of the expansive capacities of us humans.”
This is what highly respected, influential, leading-edge organizational thinkers are thinking, doing, and writing about: organizations becoming more fully human. And I understand what they’re saying, why they’re saying it, and what the basis is for their reasoning. I’m not only familiar with it, but have had experience in the areas of their concern. Jerry Weinberg helped me.
My piano is before me. It’s time to play. At some point, I will leave this wonderful machine called a piano. I will still be using it, like my high school student in the chapel, but I won’t listen for notes; I will be absorbed in the making of music.
This is my epitaph to my participation in the Weinberg sessions: Jerry has made me understand that I need to manage with love and wonder; to lead with delight. If I had to summarize what I’ve learned, this would be it: people are marvelously human, and it takes a special person to see the potential of combining these weak and vulnerable creatures into a community that allows them to accomplish work in a fulfilling, satisfying way. To do that requires to never forget that love is the basis for all things; to never lose the sense of wonder at the awesome power that is available through ordinary people; and that there is no greater feeling than to successfully exercise the position of leading and managing.
I am humbled. And I give thanks.
In the following book and article excerpts, I am reminded of words, phrases and activities that occur in the Weinberg classes and discussions. This remembrance has had a significant effect on my ability to understand and enjoy these passages. In particular, it has facilitated the recognition of general themes, stories, values, and principles that are repeated throughout, sometimes in the same context and sometimes in new and interesting perspectives.
Don’t give up before the end. Some of these words are tough, and the passages long. It will be worth it.
The following words, phrases and activities are meant to remind the reader of their own experiences with Jerry, and to refresh the mind so similar ideas in the passages will be easier. Please add your own; the list is not meant to be exhaustive.
congruency weak and vulnerable
family reconstruction listening
parts party patterns
centering knowing yourself
family rules self-esteem
Ravi S. Achro
“Marketing channel leaders have long used various reward and coercive powers (offering or withholding favorable location, delivery, payments, marketing allowances, and discounts) and legitimate authority (contractual or market power based) to cajole and coerce cooperation among channel members. But these kinds of power bases are not conducive to the evolution of a network organization. Indeed, restraint in the use of power by one exchange party over another is one of the social norms of governance (Kaufmann and Dant 1992; Macneil 1981). Macneil (1981) observes that the more relational an exchange becomes, the less likely the parties will exercise legitimate or coercive power. Cook and Emerson (1978) found some evidence that power use varies inversely with commitment (a key element of social norms) in exchange networks.
The kinds of power that are compatible with network relations have less to do with authority and traditional carrot-and-stick approaches to coordination. The kinds of power consistent with interorganizational influence in networks build social bonds and close relationships, that is, expert, reputational, and referent types of power.”
“Traditional thinking focused on how to prevent disintegration or how to cajole cooperation out of inherently apathetic or opportunistic partners, the implicit assumption being that the dominant forces in a relationship are destructive forces. Relational cultures, on the other hand, are based on the assumption that exchange is an inherently constructive relationship, but it has to be constructively nurtured. Network cultures emphasize strong “loyalty” processes along vertical relations and strong “dialogue” processes along horizontal relations. The key variables here are trust and social norms of behavior (Kaufmann and Stern 1988; Macneil 1980; Morgan and Hunt 1994).
According to Granovetter (1985), mutual trust in a relationship reduces the development of opportunistic intentions and thus may eliminate the need for structural mechanisms of control. A firm’s trust in its network partners is the belief that the partners will, without the exercise of influence or control, strive for outcomes that are beneficial for all member firms (cf. Driscoll 1978). The level of trust in a network is indicated by each member’s confidence in its partners’ sincerity, reliability, loyalty, and willingness to refrain from opportunistic behavior. Trust has been shown to be a determinant of critical factors related to performance — such as more open exchanges of relevant ideas, and feelings, greater clarification of goals and problems, more extensive search for alternative courses of action, greater satisfaction with efforts, and greater motivation to implement decisions (Zand 1972).
Trust in exchange relationships may yet turn out to be the most intractable of constructs we have dealt with in the interorganizational research in marketing. Many business decisions that may have the outward look of trust — that is, few details are negotiated or contractually spelled out — may be nothing more than (1) calculated risks or (2) judgments based on a party’s reputation or history. On the one hand, our intuitive understanding of trust is that it has a large dose of a leap of faith in it somewhere. On the other hand, we often qualify our discussion of trust with the caveat “trust does not mean blind trust.” In fact, the following three caveats identify the three component dimensions of trust, and we would be well advised to understand the interrelationships among these dimensions before we charge into studying the determinants and consequences of trust in exchange relationships.
1. Risk: the willingness to become vulnerable
2. A leap of faith
3. A self-regulating verification system
Trust implies some degree of uncertainty of outcome and involves relinquishing some influence and control. Consequently, risking and faith are intimately related dimensions (Lundstedt 1966). The two imply a willingness to become vulnerable and interact in a dynamic, mutually reinforcing spiral (Golembiewski and McConkie 1975, p. 141). The two variables offer alternate process models for initiating close relationships under different circumstances.”
“Our dependency is closely tied to the way we choose to be political. One of the basic tenets of this book is that negative politics is a direct outgrowth of the fact that we give too much power to the people around and above us. Our fear that power will be used against us in a destructive way leads us to be indirect and manipulative. We use indirect strategies as a way of coping with our frustration at not getting our way. We defend manipulation with our claim that it is a jungle out there and authenticity would be suicidal and a choice for unemployment and poverty. The problem arises when we become so accustomed to negative politics that we continue to use it even when the external dangers have disappeared. Each of us has developed over the years a patterned way of dealing with powerful people. This is our political script. Our script is an influence strategy that we bring to the party almost independent of who our boss is or what kind of organizational environment we are working in. It is by understanding these scripts that we eventually are able to choose them instead of being controlled by them.”
“It is important for us to understand what form our own political behavior takes. What follows are some common ways we indirectly go after what we want. These political scripts in and of themselves are not a problem; in fact, they can become our strengths. The risk is they often become subtle ways we keep ourselves from taking responsibility for our actions and for the organizations. The political scripts get us in trouble when we use our behavior as a form of implicit barter. We are making a deal that if I treat you this way, you will give me what I want. Strategic, script-oriented bartering then replaces direct, authentic communication. Positive politics requires direct communication of wants, feelings, hopes, disappointments, and doubts. Direct contact is especially required in dealing with people that have power over us, even though the risks are greater.
[here are the eight political scripts:]
“We know when someone is dependently seeking our approval and so do our bosses. The alternative is to recognize fully that we are not in this job simply to seek our bosses’ approval. Our bosses are not our parents. The key to our survival is not in their hands. The key to our survival is in the quality and integrity of the work that we do. It is in the quality and integrity of the way we manage our work relationships. The approval of our bosses will come and go with the rising and falling of the tides, and the rising and falling of the fortunes of our unit and function. Putting tremendous energy into other-directed, script-oriented strategies is a self-defeating investment. We all have our scripts; it is important that we know what they are so that we can choose them; they express who we are as individuals. They are the form that our contribution to the business takes, and this is what gives them value. The task is to be aware of how the scripts operate to reinforce our dependency and to let go of that use of the scripts. Political scripts, at this stage of our lives, are not there for our personal gain. They are there for our personal expression and contribution.”
“A psychological fact is that manager development means change in the manager’s self-concept. Each of us, whether we realize it or not has a self-image. We see ourselves in some way — smart, slow, kindly, well-intentioned, lazy, misunderstood, meticulous, or shrewd; we all can pick adjectives that describe ourselves. This is the “I” behind the face in the mirror, the “I” that thinks, dreams, talks, feels, and believes, the “I” that no one knows fully.
One reason this self-concept is crucial is that it has a great deal to do with manager development — with being a growing person and eventually realizing one’s self-potential. Note the term manager development rather than management development; the purpose of such development is to help individual managers to grow. ”
“Although the self-concept is important in understanding human behavior generally, it becomes critically so in understanding manager development, where changes in behavior are the objective. As a matter of cold, hard, psychological fact, a change in behavior on the job, for better or worse, means a change in self-concept. Thus, we are dealing with an immensely and immediately practical consideration.”
“But growth in self-concept is not always simple and clear.
Such growth implies changes in the man himself — in how he uses his knowledge, in the ends to which he applies his skills, and, in short, in his view of himself. The point is clear that the growing person examines himself; and as he does so, he emerges with new depths of motivation, a sharper sense of direction, and a more vital awareness of how he wants to live on the job. Growth in this sense is personalized and vital. And such growth in self-concept is at the heart of a real manager development effort.”
“We have noted that changes in the self-concept of the executive are “gut-level”, not peripheral. They are changes in perception and attitude and understanding, not changes in knowledge or experience or skills. So our exploration of how change occurs must include those factors which seem to operate more deeply within the individual and which polarize new directions and behaviors. We are looking for those basic, vital factors which, as they operate, really change the person beyond his power of dissimulation or pretense. This is change in the fundamental makeup of the person, not change in his apparel. When such changes occur, the man is different.”
“The function of self-examination is to lay the groundwork for insight, without which no growth can occur. Insight is the “oh, I see now” feeling which must, consciously or unconsciously, precede change in behavior. Insights — real, genuine glimpses of ourselves as we really are — are reached only with difficulty and sometimes with real psyche pain. But they are the building blocks of growth. Thus self-examination is a preparation for insight, a groundbreaking for the seeds of self-understanding which gradually bloom into changed behavior.”
“In fact, anything which enables the man to get a new perception — reading, observing, studying, going to conferences, attending meetings, and participating in clubs — can provide insight into himself. Out of insight comes change in self-expectation.”
Gail Fairhurst and Robert Sarr
“…, as many organizations have shifted toward greater employee empowerment and democratization, their communication environments have become significantly more dynamic and characterized by mutual influence and real dialogue than they were as recently as fifteen years ago. These factors lead us to an inescapable conclusion: to be effective leaders today, we must understand how to function as managers of meaning.
The skill that is required to manage meaning is called framing.”
“My concern is with a key set of these ‘other characteristics,’ emotional intelligence: abilities such as being able to motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustrations; to control impulse and delay gratification; to regulate one’s moods and keep distress from swamping the ability to think; to empathize and to hope.”
“Much evidence testifies that people who are emotionally adept – who know and manage their own feelings well, and who read and deal effectively with other people’s feelings – are at an advantage in any domain of life, whether romance and intimate relationships or picking up the unspoken rules that govern success in organizational politics. People with well-developed emotional skills are also more likely to be content and effective in their lives, mastering the habits of mind that foster their own productivity; people who cannot marshal some control over their emotional life fight inner battles that sabotage their ability for focused work and clear thought.”
“Among the practical intelligences that are, for instance, so highly valued in the workplace is the kind of sensitivity that allows effective managers to pick up tacit messages.”
“Self-awareness – recognizing a feeling as it happens – is the keystone of emotional intelligence…..the ability to monitor feelings from moment to moment is crucial to psychological insight and self-understanding. An inability to notice our true feelings leaves us at their mercy. People with greater certainty about their feelings are better pilots of their lives, having a surer sense of how they really feel about personal decisions from who to marry to what job to take.”
“…emotional intelligence adds far more of the qualities that make us more fully human.”
“The question, then, is what can we do to break out of these self-deceptions, and the others that have us in their web?
The answer this book proposes is to understand, first, how it is that we are caught at all. For self-deception, by its very nature, is the most elusive of mental facts. We do not see what it is that we do not see.
Self-deception operates both at the level of the individual mind, and in the collective awareness of the group. To belong to a group of any sort, the tacit price of membership is to agree not to notice one’s own feelings of uneasiness and misgiving, and certainly not to question anything that challenges the group’s way of doing things.”
“Let me give you some examples, drawn from various realms of life. They all suggest the pattern I mean to get at.
Take the case of a woman in therapy who recalls having heard, as a child of five, her mother crying at night. The memory comes as a surprise to the woman; it does not fit at all with her conscious memories of that period of her life, just after her father had moved out. While the girl’s mother made long calls to the father pleading with him to come back, in the girl’s presence she portrayed her feelings very differently: The mother denied missing her husband and put on a carefree and unconcerned air. After all, they were happy, weren’t they?
The daughter understood that her mother’s sadness was not to be mentioned. Since the mother needed to conceal these feelings, her daughter too was to deny them. The daughter repeatedly heard a version of the divorce that fit the image the mother wanted to convey; the story became an established fact in the daughter’s memory. The more frightening memories of her mother crying at night faded from memory, not to be retrieved until many years later, in psychoanalysis.
The theme of the devastating impact such buried secrets can have is so familiar in literature that it suggests the universality of the experience. The story of Oedipus revolves around the device, as do Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier and several of Ibsen’s plays. Indeed, Ibsen called this sort of secret a ‘vital lie,’ the family myth that stands in place of a less comfortable truth.”
“The brain, as we shall see, has the ability to bear pain by masking its sting, but at the cost of a diminished awareness.
That same organizing principle is repeated at each successive level of behavior: in the mind’s mechanics, in the makeup of character, in group life, and in society. In each of these domains the variety of ‘pain’ blocked from awareness is successively refined, from stress and anxiety, to painful secrets, to threatening or embarrassing facts of social life.”
“The cure for delusion, says Buddhagosa, is panna, or insight – seeing things just as they are. In terms of our model of the mind, that means a comprehension that is undistorted by the defensive urge to avoid anxiety…..The cure of an attention gone askew, said Freud, begins with an unclouded awareness.”
“What the therapist does for the patient, a lone voice can do for the group — if he is willing to break the hold of the group’s blind spots…. The devil’s advocate can save the group from itself, making sure it faces uncomfortable facts and considers unpopular views, any of which could be crucial for a sound decision…..This willingness to rock the boat is the essential quality of all those who would remedy delusion.”
“If more, and more capable, managers are to emerge, people adequate for the requirements of the future, the change that has to come, it seems to me, is a shift from the point of view of doing something to people to thinking of permitting something to happen to them. This may sound abstract and a little vague, but anybody who makes this change in point of view toward someone for whom he or she feels responsible has made a profoundly revolutionary alteration in thinking.”
“If my idea as the senior manager is to help great people grow, as the best guarantee of the future, then I need to know something about what I mean by growth in greatness.
If we had a crystal-clear answer to this and if we were all agreed on it, we could usher in the millennium right now. But we have no such answer; yet we need some sense of it if we are going to make the best of our opportunity, and I venture my opinion as to what it is.
I believe that people grow in these moral, perceptive, creative, and decisive qualities as they achieve the freedom to become themselves.”
“Becoming a manager means learning to frame problems in ways that are much broader, more holistic, more long-term. Understanding what your role is, how you can intervene, and how you can have impact, is a continuous learning process.”
“Highly controlling organizations often destroy leadership by not allowing people to blossom, test themselves, and grow. In stiff bureaucracies, young men and women with potential typically see few good role models, are not encouraged to lead, and may even be punished if they go out of bounds, challenge the status quo, and take risks. These kinds of organizations tend either to repel people with leadership potential or to take those individuals and teach them only about bureaucratic management.
Successful organizations in the twenty-first century will have to become more like incubators of leadership. Wasting talent will become increasingly costly in a world of rapid change. Developing that leadership will, in turn, demand flatter and leaner structures along with less controlling and more risk-taking cultures. The negative consequences of putting people with potential into small boxes and micromanaging them will only increase. People need to be encouraged to attempt to lead, at first on a small scale, both to help the organization adapt to changing circumstances and to help themselves to grow. In this way, through thousands of hours of trial and error, coaching, and encouragement, they will achieve their potential.
In the last ten years alone, we have come a long way toward creating this kind of organization. Anyone pessimistic about our capacity to build leadership-incubating structures should look carefully at what already has happened. But we still have a long way to go. Narrowly defined jobs, risk-averse cultures, and micromanaging bosses are the norm in far too many places — especially in big companies and many government organizations.”
“Management is about coping with complexity. Its practices and procedures are largely a response to one of the most significant developments of the twentieth century: the emergence of large organizations. Without good management, complex enterprises tend to become chaotic in ways that threaten their very existence. Good management brings a degree of order and consistency to key dimensions like the quality and profitability of products.
Leadership, by contrast, is about coping with change. Part of the reason it has become so important in recent years is that the business world has become more competitive and more volatile. Faster technological change, greater international competition, the deregulation of markets, overcapacity in capital-intensive industries, an unstable oil cartel, raiders with junk bonds, and the changing demographics of the work force are among the many factors that have contributed to this shift. The net result is that doing what was done yesterday, or doing it 5% better, is no longer a formula for success. Major changes are more and more necessary to survive and compete effectively in this new environment. More change always demands more leadership.
These different functions – coping with complexity and coping with change – shape the characteristic activities of management and leadership. Each system of action involves deciding what needs to be done, creating networks of people and relationships that can accomplish an agenda, and then trying to ensure that those people actually do the job. But each accomplishes these three tasks in different ways.”
“A central feature of modern organizations is interdependence, where no one has complete autonomy, where most employees are tied to many others by their work, technology, management systems, and hierarchy.”
“Since change is the function of leadership, being able to generate highly energized behavior is important for coping with the inevitable barriers to change.”
“The more that change characterizes the business environment, the more that leaders must motivate people to provide leadership as well. When this works, it tends to reproduce leadership across the entire organization, with people occupying multiple leadership roles throughout the hierarchy. This is highly valuable, because coping with change in any complex business demands initiatives from a multitude of people. Nothing less will work.
Of course, leadership from many sources does not necessarily converge. To the contrary, it can easily conflict. For multiple leadership roles to work together, people’s actions must be carefully coordinated by mechanisms that differ from those coordinating traditional management roles.
Strong networks of informal relationships – the kind found in companies with healthy cultures – help coordinate leadership activities in much the same way that formal structure coordinates managerial activities. The key difference is that informal networks can deal with the greater demands for coordination associated with nonroutine activities and change. The multitude of communication channels and the trust among the individuals connected by those channels allow for an ongoing process of accommodation and adaptation. When conflicts arise among roles, those same relationships help resolve the conflicts. Perhaps most important, this process of dialogue and accommodation can produce visions that are linked and compatible instead of remote and competitive. All this requires a great deal more communication than is needed to coordinate managerial roles, but unlike formal structure, strong informal networks can handle it.”
James Kouzes and Barry Posner
“The quest for leadership is first an inner quest to discover who you are.”
“… if you’re to become as effective as possible, you must strive to improve your own understanding of others and build your skills to mobilize people’s energies toward higher purposes. While scholars may disagree on the origins of leadership, there’s strong consensus that leaders must be interpersonally competent. You must be able to listen, take advice, lose arguments, and follow, and you must be able to develop the trust and respect of others; otherwise, you can’t lead.”
“Such personal searching is essential in the development of leaders. You can’t elevate others to higher purposes until you’ve first elevated yourself. Like [Martin Luther] King, you must resolve those dissonant internal chords. Extensive knowledge of history and the outside world increases your awareness of competing value systems, of the many principles by which individuals, organizations, and states can choose to function. You can’t lead others until you’ve first led yourself through a struggle with opposing values.
When you clarify the principles that will govern your life and the ends that you will seek, you give purpose to your daily decisions. A personal creed gives you a point of reference for navigating the sometimes-stormy seas of organizational life. Without a set of such beliefs, your life has no rudder, and you’re easily blown about by the winds of fashion. A credo to guide you prevents confusion on the journey. The internal resolution of competing beliefs also leads to personal integrity, which is essential to believability. A leader with integrity has one self, at home and at work, with family and with colleagues. Such a leader has a unifying set of values that guide choices of action regardless of the situation.
This doesn’t mean that leaders are one-dimensional people who focus narrowly on their work. Leaders may have numerous pursuits and interests — arts, literature, science, technology, entertainment, sports, politics, law, religion, and family. Nor does it mean that leaders are flawless, perfect human beings. Leaders are human and make mistakes. We’re not suggesting that the ideal leader is a saint; however, we are suggesting that leaders who can’t personally adhere to a firm set of values can’t convince others of the worth of those values. Leaders without integrity are putting on an act. The believability and credibility so essential for leadership are earned when your behavior is consistent with your beliefs. Thus the first step in summoning the courage of your convictions is clarifying for yourself the beliefs that will guide your actions.
We’ve said that leaders take us to places we’ve never been before. But there are no freeways to the future, no paved highways to unknown, unexplored destinations. There’s only wilderness. To step out into the unknown, begin with the exploration of the inner territory. With that as a base, we can then discover and unleash the leader within us all.”
James Kouzes, Barry Posner
“As we saw, leaders with the longest time horizons are those who understand their past. Before you attempt to write your vision statement, we recommend that you write down significant past events. We especially like the “lifeline” exercise developed by Herb Shepard and Jack Hawley. Here’s an abbreviated version:
? Draw your lifeline as a graph, with the peaks representing the highs in your life and the valleys representing the lows. Start as far back as you can remember and stop at the present time.
? Next to each peak, write a word or two identifying the peak experience. Do the same for the valleys.
? Now go back and think about each peak, making a few notes on why each was a high point for you.
? Analyze your notes. What themes and patterns are revealed by the peaks in your life? What important personal strengths are revealed? What do these themes and patterns tell you about what you’re likely to find personally compelling in the future?
Participants in our leadership workshops have found this exercise extremely revealing and useful as they prepare to clarify their visions of the future.
We’ve also applied the process to the organization rather than the individual. By looking over the history of their organization, members begin to see the organizational strengths and weaknesses, the patterns and themes that have carried them to the present. They’re then better informed about the foundation on which they’re building the organizational future.”
“Leaders find the common thread that weaves the fabric of human needs into a colorful tapestry. They develop a deep understanding of the collective yearnings; they seek out the brewing consensus among those they would lead. They listen carefully for quiet whisperings in dark corners and attend to subtle cues. They get a sense of what people want, what they value, what they dream about. Sensitivity to others is no trivial skill; rather, it is a truly precious human ability. But it isn’t a complex skill. It requires only a receptiveness to other people and a willingness to listen.”
“Great leaders, like great companies and countries, create meaning, not just money. The values and interests of freedom, self-actualization, learning, community, excellence, uniqueness, service, and social responsibility truly attract people to a common cause.”
“In explaining why particular leaders have a magnetic effect, people often describe them as charismatic. But charisma has become such an overused and misused term that it’s almost useless as a descriptor of leaders. Bernard Bass, professor emeritus of organizational behavior at the State University of New York, has done extensive research on charisma. He comments, “In the popular media, charisma has come to mean anything ranging from chutzpah to Pied Piperism, from celebrity to superman status. It has become an overworked cliché for strong, attractive, and inspiring personality.”
Social scientists have attempted to investigate this elusive quality in terms of observable behavior. Howard S. Friedman, professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, and his colleagues studied the communication of emotions from the perspective of nonverbal expressiveness. They found that those who were perceived to be charismatic were simply more animated than others. They smiled more, spoke faster, pronounced words more clearly, and moved their heads and bodies more often. They were also more likely to touch others during greetings. What we call charisma, then, can be better be understood as human expressiveness.
It’s interesting to note that similar reactions to nonverbal behavior can be observed in the world of children. The French ethnologist Hubert Montagner has been studying the gestural language of children for several decades. He has developed a system for classifying the way children relate to each other nonverbally into five categories of interpersonal behavior:
? Attractive actions
? Threatening actions
? Aggressive actions
? Gestures of fear and retreat
? Actions that produce isolation
Montagner’s findings reveal that the children who become the leaders in their groups use attractive actions, not aggressive actions. At least in the world of the very young, real leaders — those who are naturally followed — aren’t the young Rambos. They’re not the hitters, scratchers, pinchers, biters, and pullers. The natural leaders are those who offer toys to others, lightly touch or caress, clap hands, smile, extend a hand, lean sideways, and the like. Adults can learn much about leading from children: it’s not aggression that attracts; rather, it’s warmth and friendship.
Becoming more expressive in our daily lives isn’t only about better technique — more examples, metaphors, word pictures, quotations, slogans, and the like. Neither is it simply learning to speak with more eloquence and style. While these elements do play an important role, they are not in themselves enough. The greatest inhibitor to enlisting others in a common vision is a lack of personal conviction. There’s absolutely no way that you can convince others, over the long term, to share a dream if you’re not convinced of it yourself. You must be sincere in your own belief.”
“We’re all able to spot lack of sincerity in others. We detect it in their voices; we observe it in their eyes; we notice it in their posture. We each have a sixth sense for deceit and can usually tell the fraudulent from the real. So there’s a very fundamental question that a leader must ask before attempting to enlist others: ‘What do I believe in?’ The true force that attracts others is the force of the heart. Inspirational presentations are heart to heart, spirit to spirit, life to life. It’s when you share what’s in your soul that you can truly move others.”
“Clarification of personal values begins with becoming more self-aware. There are a variety of opportunities available, from sensitivity training groups to assessment centers to individual counseling. Whichever you choose, find some way to become better acquainted with who you are and how others see you.
Leadership scholar Warren Bennis has said, ‘ “Know thyself” was the inscription over the Oracle at Delphi. And it is still the most difficult task any of us faces. But until you truly know yourself, strengths and weaknesses, know what you want to do and why you want to do it, you cannot succeed in any but the most superficial sense of the word.’ Acquiring self-knowledge, says Bennis, demands reflection. There’s absolutely no way we can get to know ourselves if we don’t take some quiet time for meditation and contemplation.”
“Researchers have long recognized that supportive relationships at work are critically important to maintaining personal and organizational vitality. Through the process of celebrating accomplishments, leaders create social support networks; they bring together people who share the same goals. And as organizational members interact on more than just a professional level, they’re likely to come to care about one another. Celebrating achievements reinforces the common stake that people have in reaching the destination. Making people feel included is a major function of celebrations. Believing that we’re not just part of the team but part of something significant and larger than the moment creates a compelling motivation to achieve and succeed. Being included and close to others increases our sense of belonging and esprit de corps. Celebrations bring people together so that information can be exchanged, relationships can be nourished, and a sense of shared fate can be sustained.
One of the significant lessons learned from an extensive ten-year study of service quality is that social support networks are essential for sustaining servers’ motivation to serve: ‘Coworkers who support each other and achieve together can be an antidote to service burnout.’ This research demonstrates convincingly that service performance shortfalls are highly correlated with the absence of social support and teamwork. As the researchers point out, ‘Working with others should be rejuvenating, inspirational, and fun.'”
“We once asked the-US Army Major General John H. Stanford to tell us how he would go about developing leaders, whether at Santa Clara University, in the military, in government, in the nonprofit sector, or in private business. He replied,
‘When anyone asks me that question, I tell them I have the secret to success in life. The secret to success is to stay in love. Staying in love gives you the fire to really ignite other people, to see inside other people, to have a greater desire to get things done than other people. A person who is not in love doesn’t really feel the kind of excitement that helps them to get ahead and to lead others and to achieve. I don’t know any other fire, any other thing in life that is more exhilarating and is more positive a feeling than love is.’
‘Staying in love’ isn’t the answer we expected to get, at least not when we began our study of leadership bests. But after numerous interviews and case analyses, we noted that many leaders used the word love freely when talking about their own motivations to lead. The word encouragement has its root in the Latin word cor, meaning ‘heart’. When leaders encourage others, through recognition and celebration, they inspire them with courage – with heart. When we encourage others, we give them heart. And when we give heart to others, we give love.
Of all the things that sustain a leader over time, love is the most lasting. It’s hard to imagine leaders getting up day after day, putting in the long hours and hard work it takes to get extraordinary things done, without having their hearts in it.
We suspect that the best-kept secret of successful leaders is love: being in love with leading, with the people who do the work, with what their organizations produce, and with those who honor the organization by using its work. Leadership is an affair of the heart, not of the head.”
“Facing uncertain and ambiguous career paths and little job security, we’ll find in the years to come that the most critical knowledge for all of us — and for leaders especially — will turn out to be self-knowledge. ‘Leaders have to heed the voice within,’ urges a recent Fortune magazine article, exclaiming that ‘in the fast-moving New Economy, you need a new skill: reflection.’ As Fortune editor Stratford Sherman says, ‘To the degree that individuals are successful at plumbing their depths, those people should be better off, and the companies that employ them may gain competitive advantage. In fast-shifting markets, the unexamined life becomes a liability.'”
Peter Senge, in the introduction to Synchronicity, by Joe Jaworski
“Leadership is about creating a domain in which human beings continually deepen their understanding of reality and become more capable of participating in the unfolding of the world. Ultimately, leadership is about creating new realities.”
“One afternoon I asked Joe, “What are the guiding principles, or the organizing principles, with which this book is concerned?” Almost without hesitation, he responded by describing certain necessary shifts of mind and the consequences of these shifts. He acknowledged that this was all very new to him and that these ideas should be treated as preliminary insights, initial glimpses into a vast new territory. Nonetheless, I think they will be helpful, especially for those readers who would like a conceptual road map before embarking on Joe’s journey.
? we need to be open to fundamental shifts of mind. We have very deep mental models of how the world works, deeper than we can know. To think that the world can ever change without changes in our mental models is folly. When I asked Joe more specifically what these changes might be about, he said that it’s about a shift from seeing a world made up of things to seeing a world that’s open and primarily made up of relationships, where whatever is manifest, whatever we see, touch, feel, taste, and hear, whatever seems most real to us, is actually nonsubstantial. A deeper level of reality exists beyond anything we can articulate.
? once we understand this, we begin to see that the future is not fixed, that we live in a world of possibilities.
? when this fundamental shift of mind occurs, our sense of identity shifts, too, and we begin to accept each other as legitimate human beings.
? then, when we start to accept this fundamental shift of mind, we begin to see ourselves as part of the unfolding. We also see that it’s actually impossible for our lives not to have meaning.
? operating in this different state of mind and being, we come to a very different sense of what it means to be committed.
? when this new type of commitment starts to operate, there is a flow around us. Things just seem to happen.
? Lastly, when we are in a state of commitment and surrender, we begin to experience what is sometimes called ‘synchronicity’. ”
“My position on soft management comes down to this: proponents of all management styles will probably agree that to manage other people effectively, a person needs a battery of qualities that are not easily acquired, and that these include intelligence, energy, confidence, and responsibility. Where I differ from a lot of my colleagues is in believing that candor, sensitivity, and a certain willingness to suffer the painful consequences of unpopular decisions belong on the list of necessary characteristics. Being vulnerable to the give-and-take of ordinary emotional crossfire and intellectual disagreement makes us more human, more credible, and more open to change.”
“Over the years I have developed a picture of what human beings living humanly are like. They are people who understand, value, and develop their bodies, finding them beautiful and useful. They are real and honest to and about themselves and others; they are loving and kind to themselves and others. People living humanly are willing to take risks, to be creative, to manifest competence, and to change when the situation calls for it. They find ways to accommodate what is new and different, keeping that part of the old that is still useful and discarding what is not.
When you add all this up, you have physically healthy, mentally alert, feeling, loving, playful, authentic, creative, productive, responsible human beings. These are people who can stand on their own two feet, love deeply, and fight fairly and effectively. They can be on equally good terms with both their tenderness and their toughness, and can know the difference between them.
The family is the context in which a person with such dimensions develops. And the adults in charge are the peoplemakers.
In my years as a family therapist, I have found that four aspects of family life keep popping up:
The feelings and ideas one has about oneself, which I call self-worth
The ways people use to work out meaning with one another, which I call communication
The rules people use for how they should feel and act, which eventually develop into what I call the family system
The way people relate to other people and institutions outside the family, which I call the link to society.”
Peter Senge, quoting William O’Brien, CEO of Hanover Insurance
“The ferment in management will continue until we find models that are more congruent with human nature.”
“Before there can be meaningful participation, people must share certain values and pictures about where we are trying to go.”
“It comes back to what you believe about the nature of your work. The authoritarian manager has a ‘chain gang’ mental model: ‘The speed of the boss is the speed of the gang. I’ve got to keep things moving fast, because I’ve got to keep people working. In a learning organization, the manager shoulders an almost sacred responsibility: to create conditions that enable people to have happy and productive lives. If you understand the effects the ideas we are discussing can have on the lives of people in your organization, you will take the time.”
“…emergent thinking about the qualities and competencies that make managers successful is zeroing in on a capability that may be even more vital: the ability to deal with feelings.”
“We are indeed dealing with a separate competency, says Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence, the 1995 book that became a world-wide best seller. The title of his book notwithstanding, Goleman prefers the term ’emotional literacy’, because it communicates the idea of distinct skill sets, as does the term computer literacy. He says this ‘EQ’ is the ability to read, transmit to, and engage with other people. He first saw the signs of its importance in studies that tracked the careers of people who graduated from Harvard in the 1940s. The most successful were not those with the highest IQs, but those who displayed the greatest emotional intelligence, a discovery that has since been supported by a growing body of research.
Goleman believes that EQ can be learned, largely through the ongoing, individualized training of awareness, through which we can gain insight into ourselves that we can then apply to others.”
“Those who would guide us to greater emotional intelligence are unanimous in proclaiming the futility — indeed, the possible harmfulness — of squelching our emotions. Instead, they say, our objective should be their appropriate management.”
“[from a negative exchange with a boss] In such situations, [psychologist Hendrie] Weisinger observes, you are managing the ‘components’ of emotion — ‘your thoughts, physiological changes, and behaviors’ — so they work on your behalf. Changing thoughts after the moment of arousal can make our feelings easier to manage. ‘Constructive internal thoughts can help slow down your physiological changes and behavioral actions; a diminished arousal level can help you gain control of your thoughts and behaviors; productive behavioral responses — deep breathing, for example — can help defuse destructive automatic thoughts and facilitate return to a comfortable arousal level,’ Weisinger argues.”
“Weisinger calls self-awareness ‘the foundation on which all other emotional intelligence skills are built.’ He advises bolstering this critical skill with ‘some serious thoughtfulness and the courage to explore how you react to the people and events in your work life.’ ”
“Taking the energy to focus on a colleague’s feelings may seem the way of madness when we are so hardpressed to get things done. But people with high EQs do this as habit. This, Goleman points out, is the habit of old-fashioned empathy.
If we’ve lost the habit of empathy, say Robert K. Cooper and Ayman Sawaf, Executive EQ authors, we can relearn it through basic observation. Sounding a bit like a hypnotherapist planting a suggestion in the subconscious, they say, ‘See [others], and sense what they seem to be feeling. Notice their eyes and posture, their gestures and tension level. Listen to them talk…you can then take these deepened perceptions into account when you interact with each group member.”
“An organization is built on the mutally interdependent web of relationships among the many people who are stakeholders in that organization. Weisinger believes that an organization’s strength comes from the strength of individual’s relationships and that the strongest organizations are built by emotionally literate employees who help others become more emotionally intelligent.
The payoff for what seems to be a lot of touch-feely work, Goleman and others believe, is clear. ‘Those who are adept in social intelligence can connect with people quite smoothly, be astute in reading their reactions and feelings, lead and organize, and handle disputes… They are the natural leaders, the people who can express the unspoken collective sentiment and articulate it so as to guide a group toward its goals… They leave other people in a good mood, and evoke the comment, “What a pleasure to be around someone like that.” ‘ Now that’s productivity.”
“But as Senge, Hammer, countless other consultants, CEOs, and managers have had brought home to them, focusing organizations on learning means changing people.”
“The basic concept, posited by Mike Lombardo and Bob Eichinger, principals of the Lominger Ltd. consulting firm and former researchers at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), is hardly new. The folks they call agile or ‘active’ learners may be similar to those who have what psychologists call ‘functional flexibility’ and what evolutionists call ‘adaptability’.
The learning agile are likely to possess what Daniel Goleman calls ’emotional intelligence,’ a quality that research suggests is more critical to success than IQ. Lombardo likens learning agility to common sense, and to what Robert J. Sternberg, IBM Professor of Psychology and Education in the psychology department at Yale, thinks of as ‘tacit intelligence’ or street smarts.
What makes the idea of learning agility intriguing to organizations is its potential for application: Identify the best learners and you can optimize your return on human capital, turbo-charging your company’s adaptability and capacity to respond to competitive challenges.
Indeed, experts of this persuasion are beginning to believe that learning agility may be more important to organizational and individual success than benchmarking and competencies.”
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