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 71: Biology of Power & Sexual Harassment With Janet Crawford [The Amiel Show]

This week on the podcast, I welcome back Janet Crawford to discuss sexual harassment as an expression of high and low power tactics rooted in human biology. Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and experimental psychology and her own professional and personal experience, Janet brings to light many subtle dynamics overlooked in the public debate about this charged topic.

Janet is a highly regarded executive coach and public speaker based in the Bay Area.

Janet and I previously spoke about leaders’ brains, emotional literacy and power and, more recently, about being a good guy and breaking with the Bro Code.

Highlights

  • 3:00 Biology of power. High and low power tactics.
  • 9:00 Why do many high power men not harass?
  • 16:00 Why women wait to come forward—a big list
  • 22:00 Why are women coming forward now?
  • 30:00 Professional harm versus sexual harm
  • 37:00 Women walk a tightrope based on how high power people will evaluate them
  • 40:00 Women’s backlash against women. Men’s backlash against men
  • 52:00 Men get an “aha” when they see how power works
  • 1:00:00 A young Janet’s harrowing episode—and how she grew from it
  • 1:18:00 How to stop harassment at low level insinuations
  • 1:26:00 Janet uses humor to respond to a power challenge

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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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The Five Reasons You Became A Manager [New Post]

There are five reasons you became a manager.

The first reason is that you’d rather be a boss than have a boss. More power!

Exactly seven minutes after your promotion, you get a call from the person who hired you for the new job. The one who wooed you. This person, you realize, is your new boss. Part of your job is to keep this person happy. That will take real effort.

There is an exception: when your new boss is the same as your old boss. Whatever you did before to keep her happy, you can keep doing. Easy peasy.

Alas, either way, you don’t get what you wanted: freedom from a boss.

The second reason you became a manager was to get a bigger office. Bigger offices are nice because they create more distance between you and your boss—either your new boss or your old boss with the new title. Space is freedom, so it feels great.

Exactly seven minutes after you move into your new office, you realize that the room is full of people who want things from you. It’s a bigger office, so there are more people.

So you bring in bookcases (even though you don’t have time to read) and file cabinets (even though all your files are electronic). These protect you from people who want things from you.

Unfortunately, when people who want things from you can’t find you—or need to lift heavy bookcases and file cabinets to see you—they become unhappy. Your engagement scores plummet. This makes your boss—either your new boss or the old boss with the new title—very anxious.

The third reason you became a manager was to increase your influence. Instead of looking up at other managers, you get to call many of them your peers. And by persuading them, you indirectly impact all of the people who report to them. The other good news: directors and vice presidents now want to talk with you.

Exactly seven minutes after feeling excited about this, you realize that your calendar is now filled with back-to-back meetings. These may be great opportunities to influence people, but you won’t have time to prepare for them. So it dawns on you that the purpose of these meetings is actually for other people to influence you.

The fourth reason you became a manager was to impress your friends, family, and the three high school classmates you bump into over the holidays.

Exactly seven minutes after telling them about your promotion, they ask you what you do as a manager, and you realize that you don’t know how to answer. You’ve spent all of your time so far figuring out how to make your new boss happy, filling your bigger office with furniture, and going to meetings that you haven’t had time to manage.

So you tell them that your new job positions you really well for the promotion to director.

The fifth and least conscious reason you became a manager was to get things done through others rather than yourself. You hear about this strange explanation 18 months after your promotion during your second performance review with your boss—either the new boss, the old boss with the new title, or the brand new boss who replaced the first new boss because the first new boss was trying to get everything done herself.

By the end of the performance review, you finally get it. Getting things done through others rather than yourself is what managing is all about. Of course!

You are so excited to figure this out that you give your boss a big warm hug and announce that you are now ready to give yourself fully to the organization, just as soon as you switch back to being an individual contributor.

***********************************************************************************

If you know anyone who is a manager, was a manager, or would like to become a manager, think hard for 10 seconds before forwarding this to them.

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

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