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 68: Timeless Wisdom For Men With Sean LeClaire [The Amiel Show]

Men, this episode is for you.

Executive coach and author Sean Casey LeClaire joins me to describe his remarkable journey from a rough-and-tumble working poor hometown through flirtation with a professional sports career toward early success as an advertising executive and then discovery of what he calls “timeless wisdom.” This interview is filled with heartfelt stories about aspiration, loss, anger, challenge, and the still, graceful space within each of us.

Sean’s autobiographical tale provides the emotional core of my emerging series on Men in Leadership. It joins past conversations with Robert Augustus Masters about true masculine power, Janet Crawford on being a good guy and breaking with the bro code, and Keith Witt on men’s sexual shadow at work, as well as a Jedi Leadership Trick I call The Manly Apology.

Listen in, and send me an email to tell me which story resonated with you the most.

Highlights

  • 9:00 Growing up with sports, violence, and poetry
  • 14:00 Putting on a mask to stay alive
  • 16:00 Rick, Jim, and the power of a gentle challenge
  • 24:00 Anger and archetypal gestures
  • 27:30 The story of hugging an angry man
  • 34:30 A friend’s suicide and discovering yoga
  • 37:00 Sean reads his poem “If I stopped”
  • 45:30 When people think Sean is crazy or arrogant
  • 49:00 When coaches get co-opted by sickness in corporations
  • 53:30 Sean reads his poem “Parts”
  • 58:00 Sean’s son champions him through the frustrating construction of a Darth Vader scooter

Listen to the Podcast

Explore Additional Resources

New to Podcasts?

Get started here

Subscribe to the Show on iTunes (It’s Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
  3. If you get a screen without a Subscribe button (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on the Subscribe button. It’s in the upper left corner of the screen.

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”
  3. If you get a screen without “Ratings and Reviews” (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on “Ratings and Reviews”
  5. Give it a rating. Bonus for a review

 

Episode 67: Lies, Authority, And Assessments With Chris Chittenden [The Amiel Show]

How is a lie different from an ungrounded assessment, and why does this matter in leadership? Where does a leader’s authority come from? What happens when you provide a well-grounded assessment that doesn’t matter to anyone listening?

I have a hunch that your answers to these questions will help you understand the peculiar and disturbing state of politics in the United States today.

This week on the podcast, Chris Chittenden joins me to make sense of these questions. Chris and I previously spoke about real accountability. This time, he helps me use his powerful ontological lens to understand the age of Trump and simultaneously provide clarity about leadership in organizations.

Highlights

  • 12:00 It’s easy to mix up assertions and assessments. Don’t do it!
  • 17:00 Assessments help us see what’s good or bad for us
  • 20:00 Five steps to grounding an assessment
  • 30:00 Obamacare, shifting standards, and the meaning of words
  • 43:00 Certainty, autonomy and the fall of empires
  • 50:00 The President’s conditional promises
  • 1:00:00 Who actually gives the President authority?
  • 1:05:00 The role of “fake news” in shaping assertions and assessments
  • 1:25:00 When a country’s executive function has a damaged prefrontal cortex

Listen to the Podcast

Download l Listen in new window

Explore Additional Resources

New to Podcasts?

Get started here

Subscribe to the Show on iTunes (It’s Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
  3. If you get a screen without a Subscribe button (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on the Subscribe button. It’s in the upper left corner of the screen.

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”
  3. If you get a screen without “Ratings and Reviews” (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on “Ratings and Reviews”
  5. Give it a rating. Bonus for a review

 

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

Listen to the Podcast

Explore Additional Resources

New to Podcasts?

Get started here

Subscribe to the Show on iTunes (It’s Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
  3. If you get a screen without a Subscribe button (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on the Subscribe button. It’s in the upper left corner of the screen.

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”
  3. If you get a screen without “Ratings and Reviews” (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on “Ratings and Reviews”
  5. Give it a rating. Bonus for a review

 

Episode 55 Charles Duhigg on Smarter Faster Better [The Amiel Show]

Charles Duhigg pic

Charles Duhigg’s first book The Power of Habit spent over a year on the New York Times bestseller list. In addition to being popular, it was darn good.

So when I heard he was coming out with a second book, Smarter Faster Better, I invited him for an interview. After several back and forth emails with his friendly team of publicists, he accepted. (Although I’ve interviewed other luminaries like David Allen, this was my first experience with a publicist–other than the one I hired to help with Practice Greatness.)

The new book’s subtitle is The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. I forgot to ask him which part of business is outside of life. Or if he thought he’d sell more copies calling it Dumber Slower and Worse–which has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Otherwise, it was a good interview.

My goal is always to make my guests laugh, praise my genius, or comment on my humility. I’m not sure any of those things happened this time, but I sensed Charles smiling on a couple of occasions. Small wins, people. Small wins.

Enjoy!

Highlights

  • 3:30 Who ate the chocolate chip cookie?
  • 6:00 Charles’s experiments in meeting new people at conferences
  • 11:00 Why psychological safety matters in produces great teams
  • 16:00 Saturday Night Live’s early seasons—how even misanthropes can work well together
  • 19:00 Making better decisions by thinking probabilistically
  • 26:30 Subversives in nursing homes—transforming chores into choices
  • 28:00 Marine Corps Boot Camp—improving self-motivation by asking why you are doing something

Listen to the Podcast

Tweet a Quote

You’ll be amazed by how much self-motivation gets generated by asking yourself why.

–Charles Duhigg  Tweet this quote

 

Lorne Michaels models psychological safety and he’s not even a particularly nice person.

–Charles Duhigg   Tweet this quote

Explore Additional Resources

New to Podcasts?

Get started here

Subscribe to the Show on iTunes (It’s Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
  3. If you get a screen without a Subscribe button (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on the Subscribe button. It’s in the upper left corner of the screen.

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”
  3. If you get a screen without “Ratings and Reviews” (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on “Ratings and Reviews”
  5. Give it a rating. Bonus for a review

 

Episode 6: James Flaherty on How People Change and Where Excellence Lives

James Flaherty taught me how to coach, created the organization where I met my wife, and challenged me to grow myself as a person.

That’s quite an influence for one person, don’t you think?

In Episode 6 of The Amiel Show, I had the privilege to talk with James about some big stuff I’ve learned from him. We discussed:

  • 3:00 So much of our experience is an interpretation versus a fact “out there”
  • 8:20 Why self-observation is as important as 360 feedback
  • 13:30 Truly changing involves our bodies, social worlds, and language
  • 24:00 Excellence is evoked in relationship rather than something we create alone
  • 30:30 Aristotle’s notion of excellence, including all parts of ourselves
  • 35:45 What’s up with emotions in our culture
  • 43:00 Executive presence happens in the body
  • 51:50 What James is deliberately practicing to develop himself

Listen to the Podcast