Three questions on my mind today [new post]

It’s been over a month since I’ve shared a podcast episode or blog post. How are you doing? What questions are on your mind?

Here are three questions that I’ve been wrestling/playing with in different domains of my life:

Executive coaching. How can I support and challenge leaders to practice new conversations on the job?

For the past fifteen years, my work has been guided by a simple premise: all the leadership wisdom in the world matters little unless it shows up in how leaders speak and listen on the job.

How do you know you are a better leader? By shifting the conversations you have and quality of presence you bring to them.

The challenge is how to do this in organizations that devalue preparation, reflection, and feedback (three phases of what I call the “on-the-job practice cycle,” the fourth phase being action); with bosses who rarely had role models for this themselves; and in a culture that squeezes out the inner life.

It’s a big hairy challenge!

Here’s one experiment I’ve been inviting leaders to try:

  • Designate a specific meeting each day as a practice field. Mark it on your calendar.
  • Start that meeting by quickly grounding in the body.
  • Look for opportunities in that meeting to practice specific words, body movement, and breath.
  • Ask a trusted colleague to give you feedback shortly after the meeting about the specific actions you want them to observe. Ideally, ask them in advance so they are prepared.
  • Briefly reflect in writing after the meeting—or at the next brief break—about what happened and what you can learn from it.

What can I do to increase the frequency and quality of this practice? What visual, auditory or kinesthetic cues could help? Is there an iPhone app for this?

Organizational consulting. In working with an entire organization, where do my interventions have the greatest impact?

During my first ten professional years, I exclusively consulted. During the second ten years, I did mostly one-on-one executive coaching. The past few years have seen a mix of the two. I’ve worked with entire leadership teams, advised executives and HR about system-wide succession planning and leadership development, shadow coached teams in action, and simply hung around waiting for people to pull me over for a question or request.

I think of these less as services than as experiments in having impact.

Where is my time best spent—and who gets to decide this? How do I assess requests coming my way, and what guides me in making counteroffers and new offers? Since I have to make a living and like being respected, how do money and public identity play into all of this?

Public Calling. In the age of DJT (my abbreviation for the current U.S. president’s name), how might I redirect my energy toward a better global future?

I’ve made no secret of my opinion of the current President and the grave threat he brings each day he remains in office. A lot of my writing and podcasting has been devoted to this topic. And for years, I’ve felt dedicated to promoting clean energy, slowing global warming, and supporting community resilience. Yet with a few notable exceptions, these commitments have shown up more in my public voice than in my day-to-day client work, and my public participation itself has been sporadic and, by my assessment, of negligible impact.

So, looking at the next six months—and, beyond that, the next few years—what’s possible? How might these commitments find expression in my coaching and consulting? If I were to invest more time on my public voice, what forms might this take? How about a daily podcast devoted to high-quality interviews on topics of broad public interest (likely at the intersection of politics and leadership) to attract listeners and sponsors?

These are three questions on my mind today.

Next week: questions about three other domains: friendship, parenting, and presence

 

Episode 54: Geoff Bellman on The Consultant’s Calling, Money, And Power [The Amiel Show]

Geoff Bellman pic

This week I speak with Geoff Bellman, author of The Consultants Calling: Bringing Who You Are To What You Do.

This was the first book that told me — when I read it in 1993 — that it was OK to be myself while working. What a novel idea!

Geoff has seen a lot and has a folksy reflective manner I think you’ll enjoy.

Join us for this conversation about consulting, money, friendship, and power

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Episode 49: Ed Schein On Humble Consulting [The Amiel Show]

How do you help employees become more engaged? How do you retain your best people? How, on any organizational challenge, do you provide real help faster?

Ed Schein answers this question in his brand new book, Humble Consulting.

Ed Schein

One thing you don’t do, he says, is conduct six-month assessments of an organization’s problems or culture. That takes too long. Instead, have a real conversation with the person you’re trying to help. Don’t just give them what they ask for. Find out what really matters to them. Sometimes it’s simpler than you think.

And Ed Schein has a pretty cool resume. An Emeritus Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, he invented the notion of organizational culture. Yeah, that was him! He also was the first person to describe what process consultation looks like. That was him, too!

So if you work in and around organizations, you’ve been influenced by his work–whether you know it or not.

To understand what he means by “humble consulting” and how it can add value to your work, listen in to this week’s episode.

It was an honor to talk with Dr. Schein. I hope you enjoy it!

Listen to the Podcast

Highlights

  • 6:30 Why do we need humble consulting?
  • 12:00 In a professional relationship, the client often mistrusts you initially
  • 15:00 Evolution from process consultation to humble consulting
  • 21:00 The most extraordinary gift a consultant could be given
  • 27:00 Trying to fix an unruly group at Digital Equipment Corporation
  • 33:00 Staying overnight with the Ciba-Geigy CEO and his family
  • 41:30 Are you a track team or a soccer team?
  • 46:00 A company dies but its culture survives–is that success?
  • 50:00 Ed is described as a “terrible failure” for overpersonalizing a committee
  • 54:30 Ed’s new partnership with his son

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Doing an organizational diagnosis & making recommendations is much too slow

–Ed Schein  Tweet this quote

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Episode 41: Peter Block On Ambition, Authenticity, And Community [The Amiel Show]

One of my favorites interviews of all time!

In the consulting field Peter Block is a giant. His book Flawless Consulting–now in its third edition–taught us how to show up in client relationships with authenticity, rigor, and an eye for potential pitfalls.

Peter also influenced a generation of managers with his book The Empowered Manager. Today, he brings his passion to building local community around people’s assets.

In this interview, Peter and I walk through the trajectory of his career–his earlier years as an ambitious internal consultant, the decision (unusual at the time) to start an external consultancy, how he learned to build relationships with others despite being a self-described “loner,” and the questions and commitments that have pulled him in and shifted how he works.

For a serious conversation about big ideas and a full life, this was a heck of a lot of fun.  Enjoy–and share widely!

1PBlock color 05

 

Highlights

  • 5:00 Getting into the field by accident & influence of Chris Argyris
  • 12:30 A loner finds connection in Gestalt and T-groups
  • 16:30 Early years of restless ambition and almost getting fired
  • 22:30 The risks of being authentic
  • 25:30 Influence of Werner Erhard, language, and speech acts
  • 31:30 The Philippines—working with citizens and loving it
  • 37:00 Taking two years off to raise kids
  • 42:00 Peter tells me, “You’re amazing. You frighten me.”
  • 47:30 Why focus on gifts rather than deficiencies
  • 50:30 John McKnight’s work on asset-base community development
  • 58:30 Contracting in place-based communities

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Authenticity–putting into words what you see happening–is risky.

–Peter Block   Tweet this quote

As soon as you acknowledge your gifts, you become accountable.

–Peter Block   Tweet this quote

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New to Podcasts?

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Give Me a Rating or Review on iTunes (It’s Also Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
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  4. Give it a rating. Bonus for a review