The boss isn’t right …But he defends order

BE11

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Peter Drucker

Competition is the dilemma we all face while climbing the business ladder. For someone to win, someone else has to lose. This is how the system has worked for years and we have had good, and even extraordinary results. Nonetheless, as we have said many times before, it seems as though it is not enough anymore, and it’s also not the best strategy.

There are many examples of such leadership success in business, but despite its concrete results, we can also see that they have a side that, rather than build, destroys. The problem is that the leaders of organizations have been successful, generally, because they have clung to being right. Certainly, in many cases their point of view and their actions are assertive and have had business results. Therefore, for many, exploring other paths could result besides unnecessary, unprofitable. Nonetheless, there is another type of leadership. There are leaders who, over time, have left a positive balance, not only on the organization’s bottom line, but also with their business teams and other stake holders. Both types of leadership share passion, dedication, focused energy and discipline. Their difference lies in how they solve business challenges.

Imagine two different scenarios: in the first, the leader has achieved success through competing and winning, through showing power and strength, and through having a business position cultivated by proving his or her point of view and by achieving results. In the second scenario, the leader has achieved the same results, but not by proving he or she  is right, but by integrating their team’s perspective to address challenges. This leader isn’t always right, but the entire team including him or her is. This leader has learned to effectively address challenges while  feeling at peace and being aware of his or her team’s development. We call this conscious leadership, a path that leaves behind self-realization and growth.

Although the first leader’s results are effective, there is a risk. It is likely that, at some point, these leaders will fail precisely by defending their point of view. Someone else will show up proving to be right and having better results than they do. It is also likely that their team members are satisfied with the results, but dissatisfied in working with them. It is likely that team members will be fighting under the table, trying to prove they are right so that they can have a better place in the team, because they need to be competitive in order to win. Over time, performance cost can be very high for the organization, thus not sustainable. If the marketing manager, the production manager, or the finance manager would focus on proving they are right, then they would only make decisions with a potentially high cost for the company, based on proving their point. It’s precisely their arrogance of trying to prove ‘I am right’ the cause for a probable low performance.

In the second scenario, the leader with whom their team is used to integrating perspectives, dialogue is the foundation to find better solutions, and therefore agreement upon what’s true for everyone yields admiration—not only for the leader, but for everyone. Self-admiration comes from the teams performance, their sense of success and their sense of accomplishment. This scenario would be nearly impossible to achieve with a boss who’s orientation would be to win by means of proving his or her point.

In both scenarios the boss has the final say, it is his or her prerogative and responsibility. Nevertheless, the leader of the first scenario runs the risk that, because he or she has ignored the team’s perspective during the strategic process, the opportunity to change the course of business will be lost. While the leader of the second scenario gives only the last word after having made sure that everyone expressed their perspective and that everyone has understood the perspective of others. From the economical and performance point of view, the second scenario is much safer and much more profitable. Those teams lead by a person whose mental model is of humility and self-realization, besides being more effective, can also have an impact, which will be significantly more successful for the business.

The boss isn’t right …But he defends order

Find One Million Dollars in Your Business in One Hour

BE10

“I have one major rule: everybody is right. More specifically, everybody —including me— has some important pieces of truth, and all of those pieces need to be honored, cherished, and included in a more gracious, spacious, and compassionate embrace.”

Ken Wilber

As I have been developing my consulting work to focus on what I call today conscious management, it has become easier to demonstrate with facts the direct relationship between the developmental level of leaders and its teams with business performance.

In other occasions, we have already spoken of Conscious Capitalism, where Rajendra S. Sisodia and John Mackey demonstrate how organizations that have transcended conventional leadership and the zero-sum approach, even transcending social responsibility as the formula of ‘giving back to society’, have shown that value return for all  stake holders is far above the industry’s standard. Rajendra S. Sisodia, David B. Wolfe and Jagdish N. Sheth in their book Firms of Endearment say that:

A humanistic company is run in such a way that its stakeholders—customers, employees, suppliers, business partners, society, and many investors—develop an emotional connection with it, an affectionate regard not unlike the way many people feel about their favorite athletic teams. Humanistic companies—or firms of endearment—seek to maximize their value to society as a whole, not just to their shareholders. They are the ultimate value creators: They create emotional, spiritual, social, cultural, intellectual, ecological, and, of course, financial value. People who interact with such companies feel safe, secure, and fulfilled in their dealings. They enjoy working with or for the company, buying form it, investing in it, and having it as a neighbor. [i]

In our consulting work, we are often invited by Human Resources or by Organizational Development, which makes it difficult to prove how there is a correlation between the developmental level of a person and its team with business performance. Going beyond the beliefs that a leader can make an organization achieve extraordinary results, the question we always get is: what is the economic benefit or the return of investing on the development of a leader and its team? My work is not about developing a leader, nor is to help improve the organization. What my colleagues and I do is to talk with our clients about the business challenges of the company, together we look at the threats the business is facing and we help them integrate the entire team’s perspective.

Companies are generally used to a hierarchical culture, where challenges are faced according to the vision of the most experienced person or the one with the highest position. Our job is to facilitate dialogue, where everyone can express their vision and integrate perspectives co-creating in this way, opportunities that would otherwise not have been visible.

It is impossible to find solutions that are different when team members, supported by consultants and experts, are used to defending their point of view. However, if instead of focusing via the conventional PPT presentation meeting format, challenges were addressed by placing them on the center of a table, with dialogue being facilitated to agree on the objective, caring for the inter-subjective and ensuring that each team member is in a good place, the potential benefits of the company will emerge and amazing possibilities of performance will arise.

When individuals transcend competition and arrogance, by taking sit  at a roundtable (figuratively), they allow themselves to first understand and then talk about the business challenges. It is here, where we may find huge profit. Putting a multidisciplinary team to discuss and co-create strategies to reduce spending, increase market share, improve EBITDA and to ensure performance of the organization, is an exercise that organizations rarely do and in our experience can generate a huge benefit within hours. It is useless to teach leadership, embark on a culture change journey or spend a weekend doing outdoor teambuilding courses, if it is not precisely the strive to overcome business challenges that serve the team development itself. All that is required is that team members address a challenge the company may be facing. Then talk about what they see and understand what others see. We call this co-creation and it’s only possible when the leader is leading himself and joins the team with full responsibility, humility and integrity.

[i] Sisodia, Rajendra, David B. Wolfe, and Jagdish N. Sheth. Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose. Upper Saddle River: Wharton School Pub, 2007. Print.

Find One Million Dollars in Your Business in One Hour

I Iead

…There is no other way. We all need to lead.

BE09

“All of us are smarter than any one of us”

Japanese saying

As children we look up to the mythical figure of a hero, either in comic books, movie starts, or even in our parents, because it represents a gateway to the future and into our potential. It’s as if, by holding on to the hero’s image, a magnificent scenario of our life lays out in front of us. As children, those heroes are amazing allies who inspire us to dream in what we want to become. Then, as we start growing up and begin learning social conventions, the hero becomes precisely the possibility of remaining un-conventional and a connection to a higher purpose, to fight for. Our magic hero gives turn to a real life leader.

The leader even though it’s much more vulnerable than the hero, is also much more powerful because it is, like us, a person who dared to do something that inspires us. It is no longer a mythical hero of our fantasy, but a hero of flesh and blood. Life goes by, and paradoxically, we find that it is inspired by the leadership of someone just like us, that we  transcend the strident conventionalism. Theis leaders  also inspire us to believe in the possibility of a better world.

However, today more and more  people discover there is something more powerful than the leaders who inspire masses. If those who are followers could become aware of their leader qualities, they would also experience  their life with responsibility. And their impact, even though less massive, would be more sustainable.

When transcending the mythic leader and then the ‘human leader’, we can recognize the importance of our own leadership; which, even though is less multitudinous, in many ways, it’s much more powerful.

The ability to look at the world from our humility seems to be a constant in leaders who grow into the next evolutionary and conscious level. Humility is precisely the step that enables the I leader to become a change agent.

Arrogance, i.e. the capacity in which I can express a relative truth as an absolute truth and share it in a way that thousands see it as absolute, becomes the intrinsic seduction for conventional leaders to move masses.

Recent generations have been experiencing educational abundance, economical abundance and even business success as few other generation did. If you take a walk around Silicon Valley, you will notice something quite unconventional: young millionaires who live by simplicity, openness, transparency; who have an entrepreneurial spirit, and have discovered that leadership needs to come from within, from the I leader.

Google, which started as a search engine, brought an evolutionary culture program appropriately called: search inside yourself (SILY). This generation that had heroes and in their youth met the leader of flesh and blood, had much more access to information, to content, and to education, and discovered that their leaders had a dark side. The myth slowly passed and reality was imposed— reality that can only be understood with responsibility and by experiencing life as: “This is what I see, what do you see?”

I am a leader because there is no other option. Up to this day, most of massive changes inspired by one person’s absolute truth, have proved un-sustainable. There are far more deaths in the twentieth century caused by leaders who ‘sold’ their ideas, than by war conflicts. We have enough information to be able to understand how the world is. There is not much more to find. What’s missing is that we change the way we see the world, because we are the ones who define reality. The extent to which we can incorporate the perspective of others is relative to consciousness development. And we will discover that what connects us, what allows perspective integration, is compassion. The leader: I leader, improves the world without being on the cover of a magazine, or on the first page of a newspaper. He or she changes the world with their everyday work, with humility and compassion, living  an integral life, with constant learning. ¿Can you think of some?

I Iead

Meditation Doesn’t Enlighten You… Only

BE08

“If you want to find God, hang out in the space between your thoughts.”

Alan Cohen

According to a brain imaging study done by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, mindfulness meditation alters regions of the brain associated with memory, awareness of self, and compassion. [i]

I am frequently asked about the positive impact meditation has had on my life. Although I am far from being an expert –far from the 10,000 hours of practice— in my experience this positive impact has come from the discipline of training my mind to be present. As it is with any practice, outcome is not seen session after session but over time; and its benefits come in the least expected moment. Throughout the years that I have been meditating, some periods have been intense and disciplined while others have been spaced out. Despite this fluctuation throughout time, I have never stopped. The experience I have when I sit down to meditate has been each time, more and more, one of coming home. “Stop the world, I want to get off!” Mafalda would say. For me the act of meditating is a good way for me to “stop the world.”

For me, the daily decision to sit down and meditate is about more than just becoming enlightened. It is also about developing a muscle. Similar to going to the gym, when I do abdominal repetitions my abdominal muscles strengthen; that’s all. When I meditate— when I put my attention on my breathing, letting my thoughts pass one by one— what I am doing is strengthening my attention muscle; that’s all.

Certainly, there have been moments in which I have had experiences beyond my physical body and experienced how I am a part of and close to that which some call Spirit; but beyond these experiences, meditation has also allowed me to respond better in complex situations than if I hadn’t trained my “coming home” muscle.

To sum it up, meditation for me has three main characteristics:

1. Meditation is as important and as insignificant as any other practice we might have – exercising, playing an instrument, cooking— because a practice is already a form of meditation.

2. Meditation is a space that makes me feel home. That small altar that over the years has been nurtured with sentimental valued objects; that cushion and that blanket I cover with, especially on those cold days; make it so my house is one where I can be alone and feel at home.

3. Meditation helps me go back to my center. Over time, continuously practicing going within; even though I still sometimes fall asleep, have my legs go numb, or have sessions where my thinking won’t slow down; being aware of my breathing and counting “one, two, three, four…” has helped me to not react and to detach from my thoughts and emotions enough to be present in myself.

To sit and count one to ten with each breath, going back to your center every time a thought arises, is a simple but rigorous method that I have practiced with good results.

For more resources visit: http://www.integralworld.net/meditation.html

[i] Results were published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging (Jan. 30, 2011)

Meditation Doesn’t Enlighten You… Only