Episode 73: Five Pivotal Thinkers On Race With Greg Thomas [The Amiel Show]

This week, writer and public speaker Greg Thomas, CEO of the Jazz Leadership Project, helps me launch a new podcast series on the American experience of race.

Greg provides a refreshing and nuanced take on a complex topic. Listen to him, and you will find that race is not just a political issue or a moral quandary. It also provides a rich opportunity to grow as a leader and live life fully. Whether you consider yourself white, black, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, or just plain Human, dive in with Greg, and you will come out a bit wiser and a lot more curious. Race is not what you think it is.

I met Greg through our shared interest in integral approaches to leadership, culture, and politics. When approaching topics with our “integral” fedoras on, we bring a mix of curiosity and critique. Rather than pick sides, we like to ask, “How is each perspective true, yet also partial? What wisdom does it offer, but also what are its blinders?”

In this conversation, we apply the integral lens to race in America. I call it the True But Partial Game. We explore five leading American thinkers on race. For each, I ask Greg to describe the both the wisdom they offer, and the perspectives that, if meshed with their own, would create a more accurate and pragmatic path forward.

What if we acknowledged both the systemic forces that constrain and the personal gifts and virtues that liberate?

Highlights

  • 1:00 Why a series on race in America?
  • 7:30 Interview begins
  • 15:30 Integral view of race and culture
  • 22:00 “So-called black people” and “so-called white people”
  • 26:30 Whiteness harms white folks
  • 31:30 Na-Nehisi Coates—brilliant, bleak, and still growing?
  • 41:30 Kimberle Crenshaw, “intersectionality,” and victimhood
  • 46:00 Oppression is not a death sentence
  • 50:00 bell hooks—love and the beloved community
  • 1:01:00 John McWhorter—linguist and refreshing independent thinker
  • 1:06:00 Cornel West—brilliant, influential, and stuck in critique

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Episode 72: Friendship After #MeToo With Hilary Bradbury & Bill Torbert [The Amiel Show]

Hilary-BradburyBill-Torbert

Is workplace friendship between women and men possible in a time of #MeToo? If so, what might it look like, and how can both women and men show up differently?

In our important societal discussion about sexual harassment and power, these questions aren’t exactly on the tips of people’s tongues.

Yet they are vitally important to the health of organizations and the quality of our lives. If men avoid women out of self-protective fear, who does that benefit? If men respond instead with new ways of silencing women’s voices, that moves us backwards.

Many women are angry. Many men are befuddled and/or defensive. Where we can meet each other for the good of all?

Credit Hilary Bradbury for these questions. I asked to interview her about sexual harassment, power, and adult development. She made a counteroffer—actually, two:

  1. Let’s talk about friendship
  2. Let’s include men in the conversation

Isn’t it great when people come up with better ideas than the one you started with?

This week, Hilary and Bill Torbert join me for an enlivening and provocative conversation that builds to a level of intimacy that I found heart-warming. Hilary previously spoke with me about power in relationships between women and men, and Bill about framing conversations for powerful results.

We talk at the cultural and societal level. We also talk about how their own friendship has evolved over decades, the subject of their recent book, Eros/Power: Love In The Spirit of Inquiry. 

Tune in, share with your peeps, and let me know what you think.

Highlights

  • 15:00 Women’s rage
  • 27:00 From unilateral power to mutual power
  • 36:00 When two people become attracted at work
  • 40:30 We cannot rely on police-like rules
  • 43:00 The “whitest white woman” on the receiving end of rage
  • 52:00 What to do with the urge to discharge?
  • 57:00 When Bill shouts out in pain

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The Year Ahead [New Post]

Thank you all for listening to my podcast, reading my posts, and sending kudos, queries, and quirky questions. As we close out 2017 and step into 2018, I want to share a few words about what you can expect from staying in conversation with me.

  • Growing as a leader and human being in organizations. This remains the primary focus of my podcast, blog, and client work. What can we learn about this process from different teachers, studies, experts, traditions, and organizations?
  • In-depth interviews. I’m committed to providing high-quality, in-depth interviews that make you think. I pick guests whose work I admire and ask them to dive deeply. These folks have a lot to say, so I give them the spotlight and challenge them to stretch their own thinking an extra inch.
  • Accomplishing work together by managing promises. My clients are reporting a great deal of benefit from an approach to collaborative work that I call “managing promises.” I’m using it with teams and individuals to produce better results with fewer headaches. (If you’d like to talk about using this with your team, send me a note). You may recognize this theme from past interviews with Elizabeth Doty about making only promises you can keep, Bob Dunham on listening for commitment and executives’ new promises, and Chris Chittenden on real accountability. Why do so many handoffs between people go awry? Why is it frustrating when people don’t give you what you ask for and yet so challenging to talk with them about this in a way that improves future results? What happens when you make more powerful offers in your organization, and what specific steps are needed to do this? How can you raise the performance of your entire team by learning the real anatomy of action? I’ve taken many of these ideas (originally from Fernando Flores’s “conversation for action”) and fleshed them out into a comprehensive model called the “promise cycle”. I’ve written a short yet fairly technical playbook about this called Reliable Results. In the coming year, I’ll be doing more interviews and Jedi Leadership Tricks on this topic, posting more diagrams like Fuzzy Promises, Fuzzy Mittens, and continuing to share it with teams. I think there is great potential to do for managing promises with others what David Allen has done with managing agreements with yourself.
  • The American experience with race—a new series. Most conversation about race in the United States is simplistic, polemical, and poorly grounded in history. We are arguing past each other rather than listening to each other, focusing only on the latest outrages, and not sufficiently integrating different perspectives. To me, it’s a huge leadership topic, something that can inform how we understand ourselves and the people we work with even when the topic at hand is not about race. That’s because to talk with wisdom about race is to talk about what it means to be human beings in all our beautiful complexity. I’ll be asking podcast guests to explore this topic with me in an integral way. We’ll delve into individual beliefs and behaviors, culture, and societal structures.
  • Synthesizing key concepts. Several listeners have recently challenged me to share my own understanding on the many ideas I explore with guests. To synthesize and illuminate what I’ve been learning. Expect to see at least a couple forays in this direction in the coming year.

Once again, thank you for walking with me on this journey. Anything in this note strike you as particularly important? Have any other suggestions for me. I welcome your emails!

 

Episode 70: Later Stages Of Leadership Maturity With Susanne Cook-Greuter [The Amiel Show]

This week on the podcast, I welcome back adult development expert, Susanne Cook-Greuter, to discuss the most advanced stages of leadership maturity. Each of these stages is both increasingly complex—bringing new capacities and new challenges—and increasingly rare. We discuss:

  • Self-actualizing or Strategist stage
  • Construct-aware/Ego-aware or Alchemist stage
  • Unitive or Ironist stage

Susanne and I previously spoke in episode 36 about the how vertical development works and what’s common between all developmental models.

In episode 37 we explored how developmental theory helps us reframe two everyday challenges: work/career and pivotal conversations.

In both episodes, we focused on the development stages where 80 percent of adults in the West live. But what about the stages beyond that? What is it like to live there?

That is the focus of this episode.

Our conversation was a genuine “wow.” My mind got a vigorous calisthenic workout, and we teamed up to investigate common confusions about these later stages.

Have a seat, go for a walk, get on a plane, and take a listen. This is one you’ll want to share with friends!

Highlights

  • 8:50 Self-Actualizing/Strategist stage (5-6% of adults in West)
  • 19:00 Capacity to take a stand on ideals
  • 26:00 When growth first really matters to us
  • 30:30 Tempted to take an early retirement package from development?
  • 35:00 “Look how much I know about myself!”
  • 36:00 Construct Aware/Ego Aware/Alchemist stage (<1% of adults in West)
  • 41:00 “Am I nuts?”
  • 44:00 The limits of mapmaking and trying to get beyond the ego
  • 47:00 Unitive or Ironist stage
  • 51:30 Experiencing the wonder of things—consistently
  • 1:00:00 The virtues of hanging out at—and acting from—Self-Actualizing/Strategist

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Harvey Weinstein And Healthy Masculine Power [New Post]

The Harvey Weinstein scandal has prompted many important conversations about power, privilege, complicity, and shame. I’d like to weigh in with several observations that complement what I’ve been hearing and stretch it an extra inch.
  • The scope. The #metoo campaign on Facebook revealed what all women and some men already knew: sexual harassment and abuse are ever-present in our culture. Every woman I know has experienced it. The stories I’ve heard this week leave me feeling sick in the stomach.
  • The impact. Harassment and abuse are intrinsically damaging. They hurt human beings. But this is not just about individual pain and individual careers. Here I differ from the tone of media stories that are rooted in our individualistic culture. When bright and talented people get ensnared in webs of abuse, we all suffer. Consider women leaders. Great leadership is about serving others. A career cut short or constrained by harassment harms both these leaders and the people they would otherwise be serving. We forget this sometimes.
  • Beyond implicit bias. When men ignore women’s contributions, interrupt them in meetings, or overlook them for promotions, implicit bias is often at work. The actions are unconscious and outside of the person’s control. Sexual harassment and abuse by Weinstein and other men don’t fit into this category. We’re talking about conscious behaviors  arising from darker pathologies. The answer isn’t more self-awareness, but removal, treatment, and perhaps imprisonment.
  • Political and psychological complexity. Women who experience harassment and abuse—as well as interruptions in meetings—face extraordinarily complex situations. Speaking up can lead to social ostracism and professional punishment. Lost friendships and social networks. On a psychological level, many women report feeling shame and self-blame that causes them either to stay and remain loyal or to leave silently.
  • Innocent guys. Just because all women have experienced sexual harassment or abuse doesn’t mean all men have committed it. There are innocent guys. Many of them. Some would like to wish all of this away. Others realize it’s time to step up their game as men on behalf of women and all of us.
  • Good guys. Innocence and goodness are different. As Janet Crawford and Lisa Marshall have taught me, being a good guy requires more than clean hands. In our interview last October, Janet described numerous positive steps men can take that go beyond avoiding harm. Some actions won’t pose risks to our public identities or careers. Others require breaking with the Bro Code.
  • Healthy masculine power. If you stop going along with the Bro Code, what’s left to do? I have an idea. Let’s stop being bros and start being men. Channel that vital male energy into courage, blend it with empathy and savvy, and use the resulting mixture to rise to the challenge. This is really important. Virility and virtue need not be in opposition. As Robert Augustus Masters discussed on the podcast, when we bring these qualities together, we discover a deeper and healthier version of masculine power. What would it be like to speak up not only for the sake of women, but because that’s who we are as men?
I’ll soon be doing another interview with Janet Crawford about this topic, so send me your questions and comments.
And please share with others.

Episode 69: Executives’ New Promises With Bob Dunham [The Amiel Show]

Bob-Dunham

This week on the podcast, I welcome back Bob Dunham to discuss the transition from manager to executive.

Bob heads up the Institute for Generative Leadership, where for three decades he has developed leaders and coaches.

In episode 7, he described how to make reliable promises and the importance of listening for commitment.

This time, we explored how becoming an executive involves a new category of promises. Skillfully managing these promises requires new conversations, skills, and presence. Why do many people fail in transitioning to the executive role? What does it take to cross this chasm successfully? How can you prepare yourself for the transition?

Join Bob and me as we delve into these questions and more.

And, as always, share with friends who might enjoy these insights.

Highlights

  • 9:00 People are often blind to the outcome
  • 17:00 When you have plans but no promises
  • 21:30 Not having honest conversations is a setup for failure
  • 28:30 Blind spot: the learning path for new managers
  • 40:00 Good managers assess their direct reports’ assessments
  • 42:00 Executives’ new promises and conversations
  • 53:00 It’s all about what we listen for

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