Episode 66: Men’s Sexual Shadow At Work With Keith Witt [The Amiel Show]

Dr Keith Witt

Men who are conscious of their sexual shadows at work are better leaders. They are less likely to do stupid things like sexually harass women or have illicit affairs. By spending less energy fighting their shadows, they can use their human superpowers to do good things like build great teams and guide them toward a better future.

People don’t talk a lot about this. Not in day to day work. And not even in classes about diversity and inclusion—or women in leadership.

That’s why I was so excited to talk with this week’s guest, Keith Witt, about his new book Shadow Light: Illuminations At the Edge Of Darkness.

His book and our conversation are about everyone (not just men) and all types of shadow (not just the sexual one). Still, the part I found most valuable was about straight guys who still haven’t gotten over their teenage crush on Suzie next door. Yes, we actually riff on this for 15 minutes!

Keith and I previously spoke about creating a marital love affair. You might say that this time we talk about loving your shadow.

For integral folks, we also talk about your personal moral system. How does this system change as we grow? What happens to our bodies when we violate it?

As if that weren’t enough, we also look at how healthy and unhealthy nationalism differ. Hint: it has to do with the collective shadow!

Highlights

  • The shame of violating your moral system
  • Constructive versus destructive shadow
  • Human superpowers
  • The roots of sexual harassment
  • Evaluating potential employees for their willingness to be influenced
  • Healthy and unhealthy nationalism

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Episode 64: Overcoming Immunity To Change With Deborah Helsing [The Amiel Show]

Deb Helsing

This week on the podcast, I welcome back Deborah Helsing to discuss Immunity to Change: what it is, why it matters for leaders and organizations, and how to overcome it.

Deb teaches at Harvard and heads up Coach Learning Programs for Minds at Work, the company created by Bob Kegan and Lisa Lahey, who coauthored Immunity to Change.

Deb and I previously spoke about deliberately developmental organizations.

This time, we met at her office in Cambridge, to explore why every time we try to change, we look down and discover our foot is on the brakes. Yikes! And, more importantly, how to use our understanding of this messy situation to our advantage!

Highlights

  • 12:00 Seeing the brilliant way your psychological immune system operates
  • 18:00 Hidden or competing commitments, the brakes on change
  • 22:30 Feeling the pit of your stomach is a very good sign
  • 35:00 Some people felt tricked by flipping complaints into commitments
  • 40:00 Designing safe experiments to test your untested assumption
  • 46:30 Which developmental stages benefit from this approach?
  • 49:30 How Immunity to Change approach nurtures developmental change

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Episode 63: Using Worldviews To Explain The Election With Cindy Wigglesworth [The Amiel Show]

cindy-w-2

Still trying to make sense of the U.S. presidential election? Me, too.

This week, leadership consultant and author Cindy Wigglesworth helps us understand what happened through the lens of worldviews. With an approach called Spiral Dynamics as our guide, Cindy describes how worldviews emerge progressively as we grow, what happens when they rub against each other, and how to reintegrate worldviews that we have kicked under the rug.

It’s a rich topic, one with interlocking questions about our political moment. For example:

What happens when the Blue “rules and roles” worldview gets attacked on one side by the Red “powerful self” and on the other side by Green “pluralism?”

Might liberals’ pluralism have underestimated the visceral appeal of the fierce Red within Donald Trump and many of his supporters?

What happens when Orange “achiever” values take the form of crony capitalism–and what would a healthier capitalism look like?

What new and more advanced worldview might be called forth in our culture if the survival of our species is at stake (if it isn’t already)?

This conversation with Cindy is part three of my post-election series. Although I’ve received a lot of positive feedback about parts one and two, I realize that politics—even at this dramatic moment in history–isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If so, stay tuned for future interviews with Deb Helsing about Immunity to Change, Steve Waddell about large systems change, and Sean Casey Leclaire about men and leadership.

But, first, Cindy Wigglesworth. Cindy is a recognized expert in spiritual intelligence and its application to leaders and organizations. She describes her approach as faith-neutral, faith-friendly, and science-friendly. She created the SQ21 assessment of spiritual intelligence and is author of SQ21: The Twenty-One Skills of Spiritual Intelligence.

This conversation about the election, although informed by Cindy’s wisdom and compassion, doesn’t focus explicitly on spiritual intelligence. On the other hand, I think it will recharge your spiritual batteries as it did mine.

Highlights

  • 7:30 Spiral Dynamics stages: red, blue, orange, and green
  • 15:00 Different reasons people voted for Trump
  • 18:30 How Bernie pulled Hillary more into Green
  • 22:00 Green pluralism often attacks Blue rules
  • 25:40 Strategic approach to societal survival issues
  • 31:30 How to reintegrate the virtues of your Red (Powerful Self) and Blue (Rules and Roles) world views
  • 40:30 How we can disown world views as we grow
  • 45:00 Variety of forms capitalism takes
  • 48:30 Critiques of capitalism—and their limits

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Liberalism often underestimates the value of enforcing society’s rules and roles

–Cindy Wigglesworth   Tweet this quote

Spiral Dynamics worldviews discussed in interview

  • Red: Powerful Self
  • Blue: Rules and Roles
  • Orange: Achiever
  • Green: Pluralistic
  • Yellow: Strategic

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Episode 62: Crisis, Healing, Civic Engagement With Terry Patten [The Amiel Show]

Terry nPatten

It’s been two weeks since Trump’s victory shocked the world. An avid reader, I’ve been exploring 101 different interpretations of why he won, what his presidency means for the future, and what actions responsible citizens can take. I know many people who are still in shock even after undertaking practices to heal the body and soul. Yet, at some point, the future calls us to make sense of this complexity.

What are the implications for my family and friends? How might the next 6-12 months play out in terms of public policy, health of our constitutional democracy, and the quality of community life? Some of us are drawn to what previously were known as worst case scenarios. Now they are plausible futures. Other prefer to hope for the best. After all, we’ve survived far worse situations, haven’t we?

Our times call for a quality of thinking and awareness that can embrace all of these perspectives. To explore this, I reached out to Terry Patten, a leading voice in integral evolutionary leadership and spirituality. Terry believes that this moment in history calls for lighthearted sobriety. According to Terry, “Denial (deciding to be optimistic without reckoning seriously with the challenges) is morally indefensible.” Yet because “despair is a self-fulfilling prophesy, optimism is an even more essential moral imperative.”

Terry and I discuss this and more in a wide ranging interview.

Terry describes three ways we can view this moment in history: the beginning of collapse, a healing crisis through which something greater will emerge, and a call to greater civic engagement.

Can we grow our minds, hearts, and bodies sufficiently to embrace all of this—and still smile in amazement at the miracle of our lives?

A bit more about Terry. He coauthored with Ken Wilber the groundbreaking book Integral Life Practice: A 21st Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening. He hosts a free webcast called Beyond Awakening and will soon offer a free course called “Befriending Your Overstimulated Brain.” In fall 2017, North Atlantic Books will publish Terry’s new book about the practice of responsible, conscious citizenship of a civilization in crisis.

While talking with Terry I felt my mind physically stretch, my heart soften, and my feet extend deeply into the earth.

Enjoy and share widely to people you care about.

Highlights

  • 6:30 Facing up to our own subtle superiority
  • 14:30 Exchange with Ken Wilber about the excesses of postmodernism
  • 21:30 Scenarios of ecological and social collapse
  • 30:00 Why immunizing ourselves from crisis won’t work
  • 35:30 The restoration of amazement even amidst collapse
  • 44:00 The redemption in making a “no matter what” commitment
  • 50:00 Citizenship as an American and fellowship with the world

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To be delivered a higher purpose is an existential gift.

–Terry Patten  Tweet this quote

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Episode 58: My Stand On Trump and Clinton [The Amiel Show]

Last week’s post, Executive coaches are normalizing a demagogue: It’s time to stop, created quite a stir.

Thank you for your comments, questions, and encouragement.

I’m taking a risk using my professional platform to discuss politics, so I’m grateful the message has landed for so many of you.

This week, I have more to say. I recorded a solo riff yesterday so you could hear it during the week when we all are making sense of the first Clinton/Trump debate.

After you listen, drop me a short note and tell me what you think, OK? And if you choose to respond to my call to action, let me know what you do.

Highlights

  • 1:00 I read excerpts from the post
  • 9:00 What’s the point of developing leaders if we don’t speak up now?
  • 15:00 Imagining a choice that truly would be challenging
  • 17:00 My call to action for leadership coaches, trusted advisors, and leaders
  • 23:30 None of us have clean hands
  • 26:00 Our country has not gone mad, and a liberal Berkeley sociologist visits Trump country

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“Why devote my life to developing leaders if I’m not going to speak up now about Trump?”

–Amiel Handelsman   Tweet this quote

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Executive coaches are normalizing a demagogue. It’s time to stop.


This will ruffle feathers.

The field in which I work, executive coaching, faces an identity crisis. We claim to stand for better leadership. It’s part of our core promise to clients. Yet we often get mired in mushy talk about style, treating people as one big horizontal typology. So we blind ourselves and others to what leadership is most deeply about: not how a person talks, but for whose benefit.

Unfortunately, the “style” view of leadership dominates the field. This blinds us to history: tyrants and demagogues have ruled human civilization for centuries. More importantly, by ignoring morality, we shirk our responsibility to clients and society by ignoring the tyrants and demagogues in our midst.

I know we can do better.

Let’s start with this year’s U.S. presidential race.

It’s not about “Feeler” versus “Doer”

Clinton is a “Feeler,” whereas Trump is a “Doer.” That’s the opinion of a seasoned executive coach quoted last year in Inc. “No style is better or worse than the others,” she says. “And Doers can be extremely effective leaders.”

Pause the tape. Is this the biggest distinction between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? Feeler versus Doer. Is this what we want to say when given a public platform?

Really?

I glanced at this coach’s web site. Her team includes people I know and respect. Her company runs women’s leadership retreats. She undoubtedly is familiar with the history of men getting hired over better qualified women and the dangers of cruel, autocratic leaders of any sex. So, I’m curious: why did she choose to focus on differences in style? Perhaps she was quoted out of context. Or maybe she criticized Trump’s moral character, yet the writer chose to omit this.

Either way, I think this coach let herself be used to normalize a dangerous demagogue. Normalizing. That’s what happens when we place a person like Trump into soft, familiar categories. He’s not an egocentric, deceptive bully who aims to dominate and humiliate others. No, he’s a “Doer.” Just like many readers of Inc. Just like you and me.

Is this the best we can do as a profession? Have we spent so many hours staring at 360 assessment instruments that we’ve forgotten about human history and moral character?

I hope not.

It’s not about “Collaboration” versus “Inspiration”

Yet the signs continue to come. Yesterday, I got an email from friends of mine linking to an article they just published in a major business journal. It’s about the election. It focuses on…yes…style.

Ugh.

They draw a distinction between “collaboration” (Clinton) and “inspiration” (Trump). “An effective approach,” they write, “balances directive and inclusive traits.”

Friends, it’s six weeks before the election. A impulsive and vindictive man is in position to have his hands on the nuclear codes.  He will be talking with, and probably lobbing insults at, leaders of other nuclear weapons states. Is this all we leadership coaches have to say about Trump? That he is inspiring and directive?

Really?

When my friends see this post, I imagine what they’ll say: “Amiel, chill out. We’re not going to vote for him. And we noted his low score from PolitiFact for truthfulness. We’re just taking advantage of a great learning opportunity. People can’t stop talking about the election. Shouldn’t we shed some light on what it means?”

Yes, but not that meaning. The core leadership lessons here are about character, not style. Moral fiber, not verbal communication.

It’s about levels of moral development in a nuclear age

What is the fundamental difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? It’s not about horizontal typology–the way they roll. It’s about levels of vertical moral development: who they are willing and unwilling to roll over.

A quick primer on moral development. Lawrence Kohlberg of Harvard first articulated the theory, and Carol Gilligan applied it to women. Both outline three broad levels of moral development. As kids, we are egocentric. Then, most of us progress to ethnocentric. We identify with people who are like us. Finally, a minority of us progress to worldcentric. We identify with everyone. The higher the level, the more people we include in our own self-interest. In other words, the very meaning of “self” broadens as we develop through these levels. To summarize:

  • Egocentrism is about me
  • Ethnocentrism is about us, i.e. my family, my tribe, my race, my country
  • Worldcentrism is about all of us, i.e. all families, tribes, races, and countries.

“Me” to “Us” to “All of us.”

Hillary Clinton is not just a smart, experienced, and hard-working person. She embodies a worldcentric view. This doesn’t mean she is without flaws. It means that she can do real leadership work in spite of her flaws. For example, she has a penchant for privacy/secrecy that has hardened over time. But did this keep her from succeeding as a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State? Not if you listen to the views of Republicans when interviewed about her while she was in office. They gave her high marks on her performance and universally agreed on her capacity to listen.

Where would you put Donald Trump? He’s been widely criticized for racism, xenophobia, and misogyny, so he’s ethnocentric, right?

I don’t think so. Donald is all about Donald. He is egocentric. Most of his outrageous and offensive talk is for the sake of himself. His poll numbers. His adulation from crowds. And, God forbid, his victory in November.

Trump lives to dominate and humiliate others, even those, like Chris Christie, who are his allies. (Take note, Vladimir Putin). He can’t stop talking about himself: his buildings, his money, his crowds, even his genitals. He lies so often to appear dominant that many people no longer notice. He even interprets terrorist attacks through the lens of his own pride (“I predicted it! Now my poll numbers will go even higher.”)

Even the man’s charitable foundation isn’t about serving others. David Fahrenthold, a reporter for the Washington Post, has done tenacious reporting about the Trump Foundation. Every few days he turns up new evidence of Trump’s egocentric corruption. The latest: Trump used hundreds of thousands of “charitable” dollars to pay his legal bills.

So is Trump ethnocentric?

No, because he has not yet developed that far.

He is an egocentric demagogue in position to be Commander in Chief.

Nuclear weapons are not profit and loss statements

Why does this matter? Because the stakes are high.

The President’s most serious responsibility doesn’t involve profit and loss statements. It involves nuclear weapons. Losing your cool in diplomacy can have enormous implications. Forget the nuclear codes for a moment and consider the impact of words. What if the person Trump insults isn’t a reporter but the head of a nuclear weapons state?
Maybe my friends and the coach quoted in Inc weren’t thinking about this. We’ve gotten so used to seeing Trump on talk shows that we forget this is about the Oval Office.
The New Yorker just published a piece imagining Trump’s first term. Read it, and you’ll find all this talk about “style” to be trifling.

Take a smart stand

So, fellow leadership coaches, it’s time to stop describing Trump as a “Doer” who brings “Inspiration.” Please, no more of this tepid talk!

Instead, let’s take a stand that we are uniquely qualified to take. Let’s speak out as leadership coaches about the real difference between these candidates. How and where you do this is up to you. No need to sacrifice your career or friendships–most of the actions you can take will affect neither.

For an example, check out the open letter about the election that over 100 leadership coaches have signed. For many, it was a courageous act. One East Coast coach said, “NEVER would have done this via my professional network previously. MUST do so in this circumstance.”

We can do better.