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  • 10 Oct 2018 12:44 PM | Irina Hoffmeister (Administrator)

    Tom Rottenberger

    "Nothing is more critical to the survival and independence of an organism – be they elephant or protozoa – than the maintenance of a constant internal environment.” wrote famed neurologist and author Oliver Sacks in a 2015 essay entitled A General Feeling of Tom RottenbergerDisorder.

    I believe we can confidently extend his illustrative examples of organisms beyond elephants and protozoa to organizations as well, which after all, share the same root word.

    I’m sure we have all seen from direct experience that the internal environment of an organization often determines its ability to achieve and sustain success. Yet very little meaningful effort is expended on addressing issues in that environment. There is a vague sense that it is important and often the word “culture” is used to address this sense.

    “Culture” however is too amorphous and ill-fitting a concept to enable a meaningful understanding of the internal environment. The word “culture has a variety of interpretations:

    ·       Some too superficial (foosball tables in break rooms or bagel Fridays)

    ·       Some merely vapidly descriptive (lists of values printed on coffee cups or corporate tchotchkes)

    ·       Still others pejorative, used to connote the “too soft” foil to a bottom line results orientation

    All of these interpretations treat the internal environment, described as culture, as a topic separate from performance, results, and the “real work” of an organization. Thus, efforts to meaningfully address the internal environment rarely move beyond executive lip service. Yet properly understood, the internal environment determines performance and results and is integral to the “real work.”

    Further in the same 2015 essay, Sacks uses a migraine as an example of when the internal environment is out of balance. He points out, “They are not associated with any tissue damage or trauma or infection. Migraines therefore provide the essential features of being ill without actual illness.” Yet patients during the onset of a migraine can be completely debilitated and unable to perform even the simplest activity.

    Here too, the analogy to organizations applies. An organization may have no defect in its structures or in the quality of its talent, there may be no ineffectiveness in its processes, yet if the internal environment is out of balance it will still be unable to execute and achieve its goals.

    It will exhibit the essential features of operational problems in the absence of any such problems.

    A structured examination of the dynamics that comprise the internal environment is the only way to restore the balance essential to success.


    Tom is the founder of Artisanal Leadership LLC, a boutique consulting effort that engages and activates organizations by working with leaders to shape healthy and balanced operating environments.  He is the creator of the SPACE™ framework of leadership and organizational effectiveness and has had more than twenty-five years’ experience, working with CEOs and senior executives to successfully execute strategy and achieve results. Prior to launching Artisanal Leadership, Tom was a Senior Partner in several consulting firms, as well as holding such C-Suite and Senior Executive corporate roles as Chief Human Resource Officer, Senior Vice President of Organizational Change & Leadership, and Chief Learning Officer.  Additionally, he has served on the coaching faculty for the Stanford University International Executive Residency Program.

  • 5 Oct 2018 11:17 AM | Irina Hoffmeister (Administrator)

    Bouvier Williams

    History’s leaders still have much to teach us about effective leadership.

    Whenever I have the opportunity to visit Egypt, I make a beeline for the Pyramids at Giza. Seeing the entire pyramid complex with one’s own eyes is an awe-inspiring event. It reminds you why Egypt once led the world in the realms of commerce, mathematics, science, medicine, military prowess, art, literature, and of course architecture.

    The ancient Egyptians also have a great deal to teach us about effective leadership as demonstrated by the decisions and actions of their pharaohs. Leadership lessons from these kings of old can prove as valuable today as they were when the pyramids were built. Here are some examples of leadership at work throughout Egyptian history and the insights we can apply to modern times.

    Khufu (reign c. 2589 BC – c. 2566 BC)

    Khufu, also referred to as Cheops, was the second pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty, and is credited with leading the construction of the Great Pyramid at Giza. The entire project took more than two decades to complete, during which time 2,300,000 building blocks, weighing from 2.5 to 15 tons each, were moved and positioned into an edifice that contains a network of chambers and passage-ways.

    The sheer scale of this monument stands as evidence to his skills in leveraging human resources. To make the pyramid a reality, required Khufu to put the right talent in place to ensure the project’s success. He chose his nephew Hemiunu to lead the construction effort and supported him by providing access to the most brilliant architects and engineers available.

    Insight: To achieve your vision you must be willing to partner with other individuals (who hopefully have even more knowledge and expertise than you do) to successfully execute your plans.

    Khafra (reign c.2558 BC – c.2532 BC)

    Khafra was the son of Khufu and is recognized as the builder of the Second Pyramid at Giza. Some Egyptologists believe his face was the model for that of the Great Sphinx, which guards his tomb site. Khafra’s wife, Meresankh III, and his mother queen Hetepheres II played a very important role in his court. Women in Egypt at that time had a status that was more in line with our present day when compared to the status women occupied in the majority of contemporary societies of the ancient world. Khafra is believed to have often sought their counsel on matters of state.

    Insight: Having diverse team of advisors is more than a nice thing to have. Diversity of background (whatever the type), thought, and experience stimulates creativity and the application of innovative solutions.

    Hatshepsut (reign c. 1479 – 1458 BC)

    Hatshepsut was one of a handful of women who held the title of pharaoh. She established trade networks with other countries that brought tremendous wealth to the eighteenth dynasty. Hatshepsut is said to have commissioned more construction projects than any pharaoh before her. The majority of her 20+ year reign is seen as one where Egypt experienced a large period of peace and a significant burst of artistic expression. Hatshepsut was viewed as a leader who reached out to foreign countries, instead of making war with them, and who had brought new ideas and goods to Egypt’s citizens.

    Insight: Engaging in relationship building/sustaining activities with one’s peers/colleagues tends to be far more productive than spending time and energy on conflict.

    Amenhotep III (reign c.1391 – c.1353 BC)

    The reign of Amenhotep III marks what many describe as the height of ancient Egyptian civilization in terms of its political and economic power. His empire stretched from the Euphrates to the Sudan. One of Amenhotep’s great achievements was to negotiate formal peace treaties with Assyria, Babylonia, and Anatolia (the Asian part of Turkey) in order to protect Egypt’s territories. He supported the treaties by regularly offering gifts of gold to the kings of these nations. He also engaged in frequent correspondence with these nations to keep the lines of communication open.

    Insight: In your negotiations with other parties always think ahead about ways to sweeten the relationship even after the deal has been reached.

    Ramesses II (reign 1279-1213 BC)

    Also known as Ramesses the Great, he ruled Egypt for more than 60 years. One of the most significant events during his years as king was the battle with the Hittites at Kadesh in 1274 BC. Despite demonstrating poor military leadership on the battlefield, he and his forces were able to overcome the Hittites. Ramesses later communicated to the Egyptian people that he had won a great victory against their enemies in order to secure support for the campaign at home. Even though he was forced to negotiate a treaty between the Egyptians and the Hittites, most Egyptians saw Ramesses II as a war hero.

    Insight: You need to pay attention to your personal brand as a leader. You should be actively involved in how you message your brand in order to manage the perceptions of others.

    None of the pharaohs I cited was a perfect ruler by any means. In a few cases, historians are able to point to some pretty questionable practices unbefitting a king. However, we know that the quality and stability of the pharaoh system greatly contributed to ancient Egypt’s dominance on the world stage for over 2,000 years. So we can say that many of the Egyptian kings managed to do their jobs right.

    The nice thing about the study of history is that if offers us lessons we can choose to apply from people who were not all that different from people who live today. What kind of leader do you want to be? Take some time to ponder your own style as it relates to the pharaoh’s and see where you need to get better.

    Then get busy by putting these lessons to work in leading your own team. Who knows? You may just be the one to create the next wonder of the modern world.

    AUTHOR: BOUVIER WILLIAMS

    Dr. Bouvier Williams is the founder of Your Personal Brand Solution LLC, an executive coaching and HR consulting firm specializing in talent management and digital learning strategy. He has over 20 years of experience in providing human capital solutions to global organizations in the Fortune 500 that have included Citibank, Ernst & Young, JPMorgan Chase, Viacom Median Networks, DSM North America and Amazon. Dr. Williams has been recognized for his expertise in coaching, talent development, personal branding, and leadership development. He is the recipient of Speakeasy’s Leader’s Edge Award, the Tri-State Diversity Council‘s Multi-Cultural Leadership Award and Diversity MBA Magazine’s Top 100 under 50 Executive Leader Award for implementing innovative HR processes and technologies that help business leaders and organizations achieve phenomenal results. Dr. Williams is also a keynote speaker and panel moderator who seeks to share insights about the intersection of professional development and technology. Dr. Williams is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and holds an Ed.D. in Learning and Leadership Development. He has received a MBA in Human Resources Management from Tulane University and a BS from St. John’s University.

  • 16 Sep 2018 3:38 PM | Irina Hoffmeister (Administrator)

    Suzanne Copeland

    So many trending topics in workplace dynamics suggest the diminishment of the role of leaders--the gig economy, where everyone is their own boss; leaderless matrix teams assembled for projects; flat organizational structures; and leaders coached to lean back, ask questions, and let their teams call the shots. Are we on our way to a leaderless workplace?

     Maybe. But I predict it won’t work and it won’t last.

    Human nature is the only thing that has never evolved. Humans may physically look different than our ancestors and we certainly use more sophisticated tools and have a more complex man-made environment than ever before, but we are still social creatures. Much like ants and bees we don’t merely desire social structure, we require it to survive.


    One of the more interesting aspects of human nature, however, is our strong aversion to our nature. We resist our social structures. Take a look at our animated movies about ants and bees. Those story lines are always about how the lead character breaks out of their assigned role and goes in their own direction. We value non-conformity in spite of our strongly conforming nature. This explains why those in assigned leadership roles are often met with lack of support and even outward hostility. Who doesn’t have a bad boss story? No one. 


    It is therefore understandable that leaderless organizational structures appear to be superior. But, if those leaderless structures are examined more closely in practice, I believe it would become apparent that leaders emerge in those situations regardless of the desire to work without them. It just takes longer and is likely more frustrating for everyone in the early stages of the process while the group struggles for a leader to emerge.


    Having a leader, therefore, remains critical for getting any group of humans to work together toward a common objective. Being a leader is an art, a science, and on some days a magic trick, getting results in spite of the odds against you. Yes, you have to engage the team, and many times defer to the expertise of others, to get the best results. And, yes, you need to do more listening than talking. But, someone needs to have the vision for the future state and guide others to get there. And, it needs to be clear to the team who is in that leadership role. Like it or not, it is just how humans are wired to operate.


    What does this mean for your company? Invest in developing leaders. Strong, effective leadership will always deliver a good return on your investment and, more important, leadership is never going out of style.


    AUTHOR: SUZANNE COPELAND


    Suzanne Copeland specializes in maximizing the effectiveness of your workforce. Suzanne’s success in developing employee communication programs and leadership initiatives stems from her accomplished career as a marketing executive. She has been at the helm of marketing for both market leading and rapid growth financial services companies. As CMO, she also spearheaded culture change programs to educate and engage the workforce to align with and embrace the strategies of the organization. She has founded highly successful leadership initiatives in corporations for many years. Her programs deliver a curriculum of personal and professional development topics, networking, and leadership skill application opportunities. Her approach, influence, and emotional intelligence in delivering programs aimed at employees have had a significant impact on the success of the companies and the individuals with whom she has worked. Suzanne's firm, Copeland Collaborative, provides employee communication strategies and leadership development for companies, executive coaching for individuals, keynote speeches, and group workshops.

  • 1 Aug 2018 6:56 PM | Irina Hoffmeister (Administrator)


    Tom Rottenberger

    Like in the Indian folktale The Six Blind Men and the Elephant, where each man touches a different part of an elephant and comes up with a different description of what an elephant is, there are many definitions of leadership and descriptions of what makes one a great leader. 

    On any given day, you can scroll through your LinkedIn newsfeed and find various different metaphors for leadership and a recipe for becoming a great leader based on that particular construct.

    The most common metaphors that I have come across tend to fall into three categories:

    • The Leader as military general– the emphasis here is on devising the right strategy vs. the competition and then driving the execution of that strategy with efficient processes and disciplined practices. 
    • The Leader as star athlete– here leadership is viewed as a basket of must-have competencies. The more of these key competencies a given leader possesses and the greater the degree of mastery of them they exert, then the stronger leader he/she is - much like a "five-tool" player in baseball.
    • The Leader as social worker– in the construct of this metaphor, the leader is focused on the needs of the people in the organization. The strong leader is the one that effectively develops and nurtures individuals and is there primarily to enable them.

    And just like in the folktale, each of these has something to offer a view of leadership. However, each alone is insufficient to define the nature of leadership.  The critical defect common to all of them I believe, is the exclusive focus on the leader.  Leadership is a practical art and it is impossible to look at the qualities of a leader without addressing the particular situation and environment in which they must lead. Thus, none of the metaphors above can adequately explain why the same leader may be a stunning success in one role be recruited to another, and fail miserably.  The same person would have the same strategic ability, the same set of competencies, and the same nurturing traits in both circumstances.

    I propose there is a better metaphor for leaders, The Leader as Artisan.  An artisan is defined as a person skilled in an applied art.  Someone who produces high quality, distinctive products, in small quantities, usually by hand

    I believe this metaphor suits a leader well. The notion of “high quality” places the emphasis where it should be, not on the leaders themselves, but on the organizations that they shape.  The qualities of being “distinctive” and produced in “small quantities” realistically reflect the situational nature of leadership.  There are no cookie-cutter situations.  And finally, “by hand” highlights the importance of a leader being hands-on and close to the activity of the organization.

    Adopting the Artisan as metaphor for the leader will get us closer to the whole elephant.  It will help foster an appreciation for the situational dynamics at play in organizations and move us beyond narrow, paint-by-number solutions.



    Tom is the founder of Artisanal Leadership LLC, a boutique consulting effort that engages and activates organizations by working with leaders to shape healthy and balanced operating environments.  He is the creator of the SPACE™ framework of leadership and organizational effectiveness and has had more than twenty-five years’ experience, working with CEOs and senior executives to successfully execute strategy and achieve results. Prior to launching Artisanal Leadership, Tom was a Senior Partner in several consulting firms, as well as holding such C-Suite and Senior Executive corporate roles as Chief Human Resource Officer, Senior Vice President of Organizational Change & Leadership, and Chief Learning Officer.  Additionally, he has served on the coaching faculty for the Stanford University International Executive Residency Program. 

  • 26 Jun 2018 3:27 PM | Irina Hoffmeister (Administrator)

    Irina Hoffmeister

    I had the pleasure of attending a wonderful evening organized by the OD Network of New York. I listened to the inspiring Dr. Donna Hicks share her thoughts and insights about dignity in the workplace, its impact on team dynamics and especially its importance in creating an inclusive and healthy work culture. Her impressive 20-year background of facilitating international conflicts across the world as well as her approach to honor dignity, which she defines as, “inherent value and vulnerability,” made this night a passionate conversation amongst the ODN of NY community members.

    Why honoring dignity in the work place is key to a healthy work culture                                                 

    Today’s most successful organizations understand and value the critical contribution people make to their success. The most essential part to an organization are its people; they keep the company and its mission alive. They bring skills and competencies to the table that make the organization function. And finally, they provide work and effort that result in services and/or goods that an organization puts out in the marketplace.

    That being said, while many leaders show strong IQ coupled with technical knowledge, Dr. Hicks raised the question if there is enough understanding about ‘the human’ and our emotions amongst today’s top leaders. If we understand that people are the key to success, why do some organizations struggle to build a culture of dignity? Way too often, employees find their dignity violated at work leading to demotivation, a fear driven culture and poor interpersonal dynamics. Dr. Hicks discussed the importance of leaders modelling trust, vulnerability and dignified behaviors to build a culture of dignity that fosters an inclusive work environment where employees strive to be their best. Honoring dignity has also proven to give employees more energy at work, boost productivity and most importantly strengthen the sense of belonging to an organization. When dignified actions are modelled, dignified relationships are built and employees become more emotionally skilled to create a healthy emotional infrastructure in an organization that feels safe for its people.

    The impact of dignity violations                                                 

    Dr. Hick shared the interesting finding about how we experience the violation of dignity.  When a person’s dignity is violated, the brain receives signals in the same location that gets triggered when a we experience physical injury. Thus, “when dignity is impacted it literally hits the core of humanity.” Dignity violations that occur in the workplace amongst people pose an imminent threat to its culture being toxic, spreading quickly from team to team resulting in a culture of dysfunction. In order to drive a culture of dignity, it is useful to understand the ten elements that honor dignity. Dr. Hicks shared that list with the group and it includes: acceptance of identity, recognition, acknowledgement, inclusion, safety, fairness, independence, understanding, benefit of the doubt and accountability. These elements derived from many years of her work with parties in conflict across the world. Her research showed that safety was the most violated element in today’s work environment often leading to employees not speaking their mind and feeling disconnected from the organization’s mission.

    Dignity is connection, connection, connection….  

    Looking further into the breakdown of dignity when implementing change in an organization, Dr. Hicks classified three focus areas: connection to our own dignity, connection to the dignity of others, connection to the dignity of something beyond self.

    To create a functional culture of dignity, the people of an organization firstly need to be able to connect to their own dignity. If feelings of depression, failure, insecurity or worthlessness are detected, the process of change needs to start with the individual. Secondly, the connection to other’s dignity is a vital piece of driving strong interpersonal connections through acknowledgement and understanding of others. Thirdly, only if people are connected to their own and others dignity, can an organization create a culture where individuals connect to something beyond themselves such as a mission or a work environment.

    As the night went on, Dr. Hicks guided us through a journey of her incredible experiences and told many stories of fascinating and eye-opening events she collected throughout her extensive journey across the globe. This evening was a great investment in one’s personal and professional development, created amazing dialogue among the ODN NY community and provided guidance to implement new strategies at people’s work places in support of dignity.

    AUTHOR: IRINA HOFFMEISTER

    Irina has led Learning & Development as well as Talent Management for over 10 years globally across 3 continents (Asia-Pacific, Europe & North America). As a Talent Leader, she has consistently pioneered new L&D and Talent Management initiatives, built positive employment cultures, coached top performers and built new L&D functions from the ground up. Irina holds and MA and BA in international business and is fluent in German and French.

  • 11 Apr 2018 7:43 PM | Silvia Orna (Administrator)

    Silvia Orna

    When you think about leadership development, what are the competencies that come first to mind? If we use as reference the five levels in which the 28 leadership competences are commonly divided, we think of competencies related to managing self, managing projects, managing people, managing programs, and leading organizations. Depending on the industry, when selecting new leaders --or developing them, we focus on identifying a handful of specific competencies within these levels. Some professionals chose to identify areas of improvement to level them, and others focus on areas of strength to continue to develop those. While the purpose of this blog is not to argue which approach is better, it is to bring to your attention an often-overlooked competency which is critical at the present time.

    Conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, and the practice of dignity


    A critical skill for managing people is the ability to manage conflict: to encourage creative tension and differences of opinions; to anticipate and take steps to prevent counter-productive confrontations; to manage and resolve conflicts and disagreements in a constructive manner. However, managing conflict is not exercised in a vacuum. Although leaders are often called upon to adjudicate when members are in conflict, conflict management also involves having the ability to either avoid or resolve your own conflict situations. Furthermore, it is necessary to do so while understanding and leveraging diversity: diversity of thought, gender, gender identity, race, age, and experiences. Does this experience sounds familiar?


    At this level the competency of emotional intelligence gains an additional layer of visibility. If emotional intelligence is our ability to communicate at the emotional level, to understand emotions and emotional situations, and be in tune with our own emotions; then we recognize that a leader does not just stand in the outside of a conflict as the traditional conflict resolution model suggested mediators to do. Much work has been developed in the last decade to recognize the emotional involvement of those mediating conflict, therefore emphasizing the need to develop self-managing competencies on any individual managing conflict. 


    People are not divorced of their humanity in the workplace yet work structures and dynamics force individuals to conform to traditional norms and expectations to guarantee advancement, often insinuating avoidance to verbalizing emotions and experiences particularly if individuals are female, people of color, or a member of any minority group. These work practices have led to regular and often institutionalized dignity violations that are now being acknowledged, and fortunately, there are powerful movements gaining momentum demanding for a much-needed change.

    But what is dignity and why do we need this additional perspective in the workplace?


    Often confused with respect (respect is earned, dignity is a birthright), dignity is a construct that we all “feel” but we don’t often are able to verbalize. In over 20 years of mediation practice in some of the world’s most intractable conflicts: Israel-Palestine, Sri Lanka, Colombia, United States-Cuba, Northern Ireland, and others, Dr. Donna Hicks experienced first-hand “the power behind deep listening and observed the power effects of seeing, hearing, and acknowledging others for what they have suffered.” She learned that “a major source of anger, resentment, and bad feelings among people who had to work together could be traced back to incidents in which individuals felt that their dignity had been violated.”


    Dr. Hicks developed a Dignity Model, that “put[s] a name to experiences that had made [people] upset, even ready to quit, but that they had not been able to adequately articulate their reasons for being upset. Once they understood the language of dignity, they felt relieved and validated.” Dr. Hicks’ experience in the experimental application of her Dignity Model illustrates that “[l]earning how to be in a relationship so that both people feel that they are seen, heard, understood, included, and given the benefit of the doubt can make weak relationships strong and a relationship that works reasonable well work even better.” Experiencing this success, Dr. Hicks decided to make her dignity model available to the business world, organizations, schools, and families – for anyone interested in improving the quality of their life and relationships. After collaborating with Dr. Hicks, I can attest to the transformational experience of her approach. Dr. Hicks’ Dignity Model is basic fundamental knowledge for anyone working in developing people and organizations.


    The ODN of New York invites you to invest in your personal and professional development and meet Dr. Hicks to experience first-hand the power of her dignity model. We invite you to participate on this skill-building engagement, to connect at a human level, and to develop a new understanding and new language that will enable you to improve your professional and personal relationships; to create a dialogue around new strategies to implement at your workplace in support of dignity; and to develop skills to coach executives in becoming better leaders. The ODN of New York invites you to experience transformation and become a dignity partner.  


    “We know the full value when we see our own dignity reflected in the eyes of others.”

    Dr. Donna Hicks

  • 22 Mar 2018 9:53 AM | Anonymous

    Kayla Festa

    If you were asked to describe your 2018 priorities in one word, what would that be?

    On March 13, senior Organization Development (OD) leaders from across industries, disciplines, experiences and backgrounds kicked off the first Organization Development Network (ODN) of New York live event of 2018 by sharing their thoughts. Transformation, digitization, simplification, and culture are the top areas of focus this year for the panelists.  

    Digital transformation

    The world is changing, and digitalization is creating vast opportunity for organizations. For OD professionals, the unprecedented, accelerated change we are facing is impacting the way in which we plan for, attract, engage, and develop employees.

    With seasoned Learning professionals on the panel, we wanted to understand how their organizations and learning experiences are being impacted. Particularly, as we move forward in the face of disruption, how do we equip our employees to grow and develop future-focused skills while being successful today?

    Understanding and embracing emerging technologies is important. One panelist spoke to the group about her organization’s move toward micro-learning. Employees are demanding more control of their own development, and micro-learning helps put the control in the hands of the employees to drive what, when, and how they are learning. Through this change, they’ve embraced artificial intelligence (AI). By shifting from a learning management system (LMS) to a learner experience portal, they are leveraging AI to deliver customized content in short and easily digestible ways.

    A common challenge for OD professionals is that we often focus exclusively on our client’s development and readiness for change while completely ignoring the need to have that same focus within the talent/learning organization. One panelist shared with the group about a realized need to step back and look at transformation as it relates to the learning department. By undergoing a learning transformation challenge, the department was tasked with rethinking every step they take in their learning processes – including challenging their own fundamental beliefs such as the decision to develop a program for any and all learning needs.

    Collaboration

    In the face of change and uncertainty, organizations are requiring their workforce to work faster, smarter, and more productively. New technologies are helping employees share information and collaborate better, but even with these tools, knowledge is not always shared extensively throughout an organization.

    We asked our panelists what their organizations are doing to support collaboration, and even further, develop talent with cross-functional collaboration skills. One executive shared an anecdote about his organization rethinking the overall organizational structure. In this company, a typical vertical organizational structure exists. An example of this is a brand within a portfolio that operates independently from the other brands or a marketing department where power emanates top down.

    In order to enhance collaboration, they are implementing horizontal structures in addition to the verticals. With this model, individuals with similar career paths (i.e., IT professionals across the businesses or sommeliers from various restaurants) become their own workgroup. By creating these horizontals, they are able to share best practices and leverage the collective knowledge of the group to be more innovative and responsive to change.

    Organizational change and culture

    As organizations change, so does the culture of the company. OD professionals play an active role in guiding the transformation of the culture. This is particularly true for one of our panelists who spoke about his role at an organization that recently underwent a massive transformation. Engaging the employees in developing the culture was critical, he shared. By successfully involving people across the organization, at all levels, and ensuring they know how to carry out his or her part is central to the transformation’s success.

    Connecting matters!

    During a time when the only real constant is change, connecting with others who are navigating new realities is critical. Around 50 OD professionals and students were not only able to hear from these leaders directly but also build on the discussion around what the future may bring for talent and learning professionals during a lively networking event.

    The ODN of New York provides curated content on topics relevant for the OD community. With monthly webinars, quarterly in person events, virtual book clubs, and mastermind groups, there is an opportunity for you to connect, grow and contribute within our community. With all of the disruption prevalent today, now is the perfect time to engage with the ODN of New York community and stay up-to-date in the dynamic field of OD!

     

  • 15 Mar 2018 2:36 PM | Anonymous

    Tricia Gorton

    I was recently on a 10 day bike trip in New Zealand with 19 other more experienced cyclists. I was not an experienced biker going in but after 10 days of support, leadership and coaching, I became a more enthusiastic biker as well as a better version of myself. This got me thinking, coaching is not only impactful but an essential catalyst for boosting performance and taking others to the next level.

    • Leadership Context – Leaders build more effective teams when they coach vs. delegate.  Building a coaching skillset takes conscious focus, practice and input from our stakeholders so we know how we are doing. 

    • Coaching Goal – I had a goal - bike over 300 miles during the trip with three 100km days (around 70 miles). I did not know how I was going to achieve those goals but I was determined!    

    • Coaching Moment – Day 3 was the first 100km day featuring over 1,800 feet of vertical climbing. A panic attack nearly overwhelmed me, however, during breakfast I received some much needed coaching.

    • Coaching Framework – As with a well-known coaching model, GROW (Goal, Reality, Options, Way), the good news was they all knew my “Goal” which is where effective coaching starts. The skills needed are include active listening and effective questioning.  As the coachee, I could tell how focused they were no listening and asking the right questions to support me.

    I realized that I received differing styles of coaching, all of which I needed to help me achieve my goal:

    Style 1: Someone I could relate to and aspire to be. A woman named Pat, an experienced biker, offered a supportive mood and this coaching question, “What support do you need today on the ride?” And she was totally willing to offer that support.    

    Style 2: Someone to quiet the voices. Pat’s husband, Jon, who offered me a ‘buck up’ approach. He asked me, “What are the voices in your head telling you?” Once I vocalized them, he helped me quiet those voices of doubt. And this helped me to buck up!   

    Style 3: Someone to give me permission to fail. The guide, Laura, offered her approach. Her question was, “What is the worst that can happen?” This led me to realize that failure was not the end of the world. And even if I did fail, I would still learn from this experience - and that motivated me to try.   

    At the end of Day 3, due to this coaching, I successfully completed 100 kilometers and was one of three people who completed all the rides up to that point. 

    Does this inspire you to develop your coaching skills to enhance your team’s performance? What coaching style do you use to help others GROW?

  • 9 Mar 2018 8:06 PM | Tom McLaren

    Tom McLaren

    Career development and ambitions are often based, prompted, or fed on stories of audacious risk taking; living on the edge, being ruthless and shrewd in the pursuit of success. Whether it be Richard Branson making business decisions early in his career without the backing of his partners or access to the necessary finances, to someone like Henry Ford making a product that customers would seek, rather than making what they would request - "If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses". The same goes for Steve Jobs - who seriously wanted or could see the need for a product that equated to a cross between an insanely small laptop, and a large cumbersome mobile phone. I was absolutely not sold, and resisted for years...but like a proper sucker, I've been converted, and an iPad is exactly what this post was written on.

    Redefining risk

    While we look on in awe, replicating the Branson-esque kind of 'putting it all on the line' mentality can be hard to practically apply in our own lives. Having always struggled with this transfer, I read, with comfort, a text book a few years ago that contextualized risk and risk taking. The premise of its argument was that audacious risk means something different to all of us, especially introverts. If your idea of the perfect Sunday afternoon is with a book and a glass of wine, more than likely on your own (ahh, heaven), then your audacious risk may be as simple as going to that (highly social) networking event and playing the role of an extrovert, or being daring enough to introduce yourself to your CEO in the lunch line. Maybe your risk is actually saying hello and entering into a brief conversation with the people in your office that you have simply smiled at and mouthed 'hello' to for the last three months every morning as you've walked in. Yep, this is my life; living on the edge of being social. It feels like I am somewhat forcing myself to 'adult' at times - scary stuff. The take home message is…be brave enough to take that big [small] audacious risk!

    Redefining challenge

    A common definition of career development is "...the lifelong process of managing learning, work, leisure, and transitions in order to move toward a personally determined and evolving preferred future". A simple sentence, which is horribly vast, and scarily rigid. 'Managing learning, work, leisure, and transitions' equates to living; balancing needs and wants, and handling the emotional and physical roller coaster that is life - that is not a simple nor static task. An oxymoron then exists with the wording 'personally determined' and 'evolving preferred future'. Focusing on a predetermined image of the future can blind us to opportunity. We change, we grow, and with this in mind, we should continually question and assess what value we are bringing to our work, and what satisfaction our work is bringing to us. If our current work situation does not provide a challenge, then monotony is not far away - excitement cannot be drawn from the mundane.

    Redefining you

    You define big, and you define audacious. No one size fits all. Contextualize risk, and have the courage to be vulnerable, to potentially be embarrassed. Daniel Kahneman teaches that 'rational or not, risk provokes fear, and fear can be debilitating'. He also professes that we overthink risk and apply uneven biases in preparation and review - "Losses are weighted about twice as much as gain in several contexts". Career development is often viewed in isolation, and success determined using an increasing 'position status and reward' scale. However, career development is simply an outcome of self-belief, confidence, happenstance, satisfaction, and maturity.

    William Shedd famously stated "A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for". Don't let anyone else define risk for you; and don't be afraid to set sail for an unknown destination, one small risk at a time.

    AUTHOR: TOM MCLAREN

    From a Year 4 school report that included the statement - "Thomas doesn't see the need to spell", to winning a national writing award in Scotland, and an invitation into an international honor society for scholastic excellence at university, my journey from rugby player and sometimes reader, to avid reader and writer has been a meandering and interesting path.   Further colorful feedback from a Year 8 school report - "Tom has verbal diarrhea", led to putting pen to paper and has provided a creative release.   With a career ranging from sportsperson, to designer, to manager, matched with a keen interest in cognitive psychology, social psychology, and behavioral economics, my non-standard and sometimes anti 'management rhetoric' posts may provide interest to some.  


  • 4 Jan 2018 9:14 PM | Tom McLaren

    Tom McLaren

    Living in Newcastle Upon Tyne in England, circa 2003, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a random article hidden in the middle of our local newspaper, a story/life lesson that has stuck with me ever since. It was a tale about a gentleman who had just been awarded his PhD in an innovative scientific field. However, that wasn’t the crux of the story; he had worked at Starbucks for many years to fund his study and what was he going to do now that he had finished and a financially rewarding career was beckoning? He was going to continue to work at Starbucks because he had come to the realization that he loved meeting people and being a part of their lives; knowing their names (and vice versa), their struggles, their successes, and being able to make them smile every day. He was part of something bigger than just himself. He decided that he would live his driving life theme during the day, and dip into what he studied (his second love) of a night time and on weekends. Two life themes working in tandem and guided by intrinsic, not monetary, reward. Now that is a fulfilling life! 
     
    Identifying, and perhaps questioning, your ‘life theme’ (as referenced in my last post; with a special thank you to Mr. Savickas) can be a simple comforting and confirming exercise, or a brutally confronting experience - ‘Wow, why have I been doing that for the last twenty years of my life?’ Whether the former or the latter, an honest result can only come from courageous self-reflection. From arbitrator to artist (a theme that I would like to claim but that I certainly do not live), caregiver to competitor (guilty as charged), educator to explorer, performer to preacher, life themes can vary greatly, but always remain intimately individual. David Brooks (a brilliant writer whose works include The Social Animal, and The Road to Character) suggests that a true test is to consider both our ‘resume virtues’ and our ‘eulogy virtues’. Do they even remotely align? Are we really who we profess to be? Would those closest to us confirm our claims? Life events and a world of influences have led us to where we find ourselves at this very moment. We have grown and matured, sometimes struggling to stay afloat in the meandering and choppy waters, as we have maneuvered our way through life. We adapt, we change. Something that once may have provided satisfaction and seemed right may now not. The scariness that comes with starting a new job challenges and pushes us, but in time a fine line between comfort and monotony can swell. Brooks encourages us to consider whether we are ‘living in an unconscious boredom, indulging ourselves in self-satisfied moral mediocrity - has a humiliating gap opened up between our desired self and our actual self; are we sleepwalking through life?’ 

    We can avoid this accidental self-condemning and regressive career spiral by living in accordance with our life theme (or themes) - experiencing true, and ongoing, satisfaction. It is perhaps articulated best in the unattributed romantic quote: “It is a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together”. Take comfort in the fact that you know more about yourself right now than you did at any other time in the past.
     
    Brooks preaches that in order to find true fulfillment, life must be organized around vocation. When vocation and life theme are in unity something bigger happens, something magical; personal contentment bounds into realizing sense of purpose and meaning. Viktor Frankl (author of Man’s Search For Meaning) questions: ‘Do you have enough to live, but nothing to live for; do you have means, but no meaning?’ Identifying your (as Dr. Martin Seligman puts it) ‘signature strengths’ can help with pinpointing your life theme. What are you good at? What makes you smile? What achievements are you most proud of and why? What are your hobbies, and why are you limiting them to being just your hobbies? What are the big study and career choices you have made to date, and why? What values do you hold dear?       

    Daniel Pink tells us that the search for meaning is a combination of external circumstances and internal will; so understand both, and challenge yourself to remove any barriers that exist. Brooks elevates life theme and fulfillment even further when he tells us that understanding what we are good at and want is not enough. He preaches that you need to also find out what the world needs of you. What hole are you meant to fill, or what ding in the universe or the lives of others are you meant to leave? 

    AUTHOR: TOM MCLAREN

    From a Year 4 school report that included the statement - "Thomas doesn't see the need to spell", to winning a national writing award in Scotland, and an invitation into an international honor society for scholastic excellence at university, my journey from rugby player and sometimes reader, to avid reader and writer has been a meandering and interesting path.   Further colorful feedback from a Year 8 school report - "Tom has verbal diarrhea", led to putting pen to paper and has provided a creative release.   With a career ranging from sportsperson, to designer, to manager, matched with a keen interest in cognitive psychology, social psychology, and behavioral economics, my non-standard and sometimes anti 'management rhetoric' posts may provide interest to some.  

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