GLC VIII EMBODIED LEADERSHIP on Feb 6, 2015 at Wesley Center

What is Embodied Leadership? How aware are you of your body intelligence? Do you lead from the inside out, or from the outside in? When you take action, do you base your actions on your own values and purpose, or on values most shared with others? How much do expectations, rewards or fear of punishment influence the choices you make?

These are some of the questions that are likely to emerge in our “Embodied Leadership” conversation on February 6th. Come join the conversation and learn how to embody your unique leadership qualities in order to make a positive impact on those around you!

At this Global Leadership Cafe we will explore different understandings of Embodied Leadership and focus in on one definition that connects our body and behavior a leader. Shifts in our body’s physical stance and expression, can change the flow and balance of our natural brain chemistry.

Through participating in activities and discussion we will get clues about how to muster emotional resources we might lack as a leader — simply through changing our body posture or facial expression.

Physically embodying a more assertive or a more subdued tone in the way we choose to lead can also help us understand how our behavior and physical presence resonates with others as we seek their cooperation. What would you like from this Cafe and what can be unique contribution? Please join us, Feb 6, 2015!

CLICK here to tell us which questions you are most drawn to discuss on Feb 6. The question with the most votes will be included on the night.

Register for the Leadership Cafe here.

GLC VII Team Collaboration – A Summary

Taro art 1212Co-authored by Michael Shell and Annette Karseras

When have you experienced true Team Collaboration? How can you encourage true Team Collaboration in your organization? These were the questions that kicked off November 28, 2014 Global Leadership Cafe in Tokyo, Japan.

Instinctively, we all know something about collaboration. We are social animals after all. But why is it that some teams just jell, while others struggle? Individually we cannot solve the global scale issues of today. We need to enhance our ability to coordinate collectively – within and between organizations and, at the micro-level, as teams.

The Team Collaboration Café began by exploring teamwork as an interplay of leadership and followership. Forming first pairs and then small groups, the 40-strong participants played a mirroring game, taking turns to physically lead or follow the movements of their partners; exploring the dynamics of collaboration as the leader-follower roles moved fluidly between the players. We had fun and we learned a lot.

From bodywork, to café style discussion, small groups shared and mingled. Memories of trust and safety rediscovered on one discussion table, bled into experiences of alignment and synergy spoken on another, were refracted through lenses of shared accountability, harnessing diverse expertise, celebrating wins and scores of other perspectives.

Finally, participants took insights from these variously re-invoked pasts and distilled them into an action; one small step each person could take individually in their own organization – to move purposefully nearer to achieving true collaboration.

Some of the shared commitments include:

  • Scheduling regular meetings to share passions
  • Saying thank you every day
  • Practicing Deep Democracy – meaning listening and respecting every voice
  • Sharing self more and be more open
  • Putting myself in other people’s shoes
  • Focusing on the quality of my relationships
  • Starting conversations by asking questions, not by giving the answers

We’d love to hear from you! How can you enhance team collaboration at work?



Thoughts on Staying Foolish, the conversation

What does Staying Foolish have to do with Global Leadership? Plenty, it turns out. A leader who is willing the play the fool intentionally is the one who courageously challenges the status quo and makes it safe for others to follow. He or she skillfully breaks rules created from the past in a time when the future was more predictable. The Foolish Leader invites us to examine our unexamined assumptions. Knowing which rules to break and how to break them seem to be the difference between being foolish and being a fool, often a fine line!

These are some of the insights gleamed from the October 3, 2014 GLC conversation on Staying Foolish. By entering the conversation open-minded and curious we were left enriched and with a new sense of what is possible. People shared that when you are willing to be foolish you engage those around you and help them to return to their natural state of resourcefulness and creativity –  the very same qualities global organizations strive to develop in their people today.

On a couple table-conversations comparisons were made between Foolishness and the court Jester. In ancient times, the court Jester was the only one who could safely challenge the King. He illicits laughter at our commonly held assumptions and in the process provides a pathway to wisdom.

Many talked about learning from children and the benefit of being more playful at work. David Nevin led us through a playful exercise where we learned the benefits of design thinking, unbeknownst to us at the time, and how our assumptions left unexamined limits our creativity and emergence of new solutions. We discussed how seriousness often narrows our focus, which is sometimes needed, but not helpful when innovation is called for. Absurdity was discussed as the extreme form of foolishness.

People questioned why a difference exists between work and play why it takes so much courage to bring play to work. When asked about the “how question;” how we can incorporate play into work some of these ideas emerged:

  • schedule a “playful week,” where people are encouraged to do things differently
  • foster people’s natural state by encouraging an environment of fun
  • create a “playground” at work, a space where it is safe to play
  • look for patterns to disrupt in yourself
  • have intentional “nomikai’s”
  • insert elements of surprise at work
  • be selective about the people you bring into your organization, test their ability to play!

One group made a “foolish” analogy between foolishness and a hot air balloon! The hot air balloon is powered by the creative energy that propels us to float up into the air to see wider and broader perspectives not possible from the ground. The higher we go, the wider our perspective and the more we learn. We then need to come back to earth and put into practice the new acquired knowledge. The obvious “negative” sides of foolishness were also discussed.Harvest wall

GLC VI had a nice mixture of first time GLCer’s and veterans as well as Japanese and non-Japanese. The topic stimulated perhaps our most paradoxical and whimsical conversations.

As we shift from an outdated directive command and control approach to leadership towards collaborative frameworks, it is clear that today’s leaders need the capacity to hold and manage multiple paradoxes. They create the container for which smart foolishness is allowed and nurtured. Global Leaders need to be highly self-aware to know when it makes sense to be foolish without being a fool!

Please share your current thinking on the topic of Staying Foolish here on our community blog and we would love to hear your ideas for GLC VII!

Please take 2 1/2 minutes to share what theme would you like to discuss in GLCVII – Topic Ideas

GLC on FB:


Join the Leadership Team!

Interested in practicing Foolishness in a diverse and supportive environment? If so, please join our leadership team, guided by these principles:

  • effortless effort
  • act from joy and
  • there’s nothing wrong
  • we are stronger when we think together

We support the development of leadership capacity by supporting their leadership commitments. All of us have benefited through our participation. The more we contribute the more we grow.

Common benefits include:

  • developing authentic relationships
  • listening to others
  • listening for what wants to emerge in a group
  • adapting to uncertainty, ambiguity, chaos and the unknown
  • allowing the emerging group process to unfold
  • comfort with discomfort
  • c0-creating the pathway as we move forward.

Join our team and work with us to catalyze connections!

Impact of GLC VI Staying Foolish

We’ve just completed our sixth Global Leadership Cafe – Staying Foolish.

How did you or your thinking change, if at all, by attending GLC VI Staying Foolish?

Please share the impact GLC VI had on you by commenting below!

GLC V Creative Conflict Summary

GLC V Creative Conflict Summary

What is conflict? What can conflict create? These were the first two questions discussed at the Global Leadership Café held at the Tsukiji Honganji Temple on June 26, 2014. The diversity of input on these questions and the core question, What Can We do to Encourage Creative Conflict? were not only insightful, these conversation led to a major shift in the way conflict will now be experienced by some of the participants.

GLC V Summary

The evening began with some social networking and then each participant took a seat at one of the 10 tables set up with paper, colored pens and playdough. After an introduction to our topic, we took a moment to get quiet and check inside to see how we were feeling about the subjectmatter we were about to discuss. Once done, we were introduced to the playdough and asked to work together in pairs to create a specific form that we independently chose without telling our partner what that choice was. Each striving to impose their form on the combined portions of playdough, conflict was created. This process was an opportunity for us to see how we deal with conflict in our lives. Some of the creations ended up being quite clever, like the elephant and ball looking like an elephant with a skirt, and an egg and nest becoming an egg in a nest.

After this exercise we were asked to place ourselves in a line across the room indicating how we feel about conflict. Those who relish it up front ,and those who try to avoid it in the back, and everyone else where they stand relative to these two attitudes. More insights were gleaned here.

And then the conversations began. Two rounds with the first question, What is conflict? And then two rounds on What can conflict create?

Cultural differences became obvious, as we described our own conflict experiences at home, work and in the world. One table determined that there are two kinds of compromise: compromising on the issues and compromising within oneself, where we compromise our own values by being quiet and going along with someone else’s way of thinking.

The second question led to discussions about how we can creatively deal with conflict, such as reflecting the other side’s position, playing with the energy, establishing a safe space, creating an agreement that conflict is OK, active listening (nonjudgmental, respect of differences, asking questions), looking for the worst possible solution, and going deep to recognize the emotion as well as the logic.

Our third question, (How do we encourage creative conflict?) brought forth ideas such as: love conflict, set clear objectives, ask provocative questions, agree to disagree, embracing our differences, clarify and agree on the vision and then encourage all ideas to come out, role playing, develop yourself, find a common goal, show the benefits and find out each other’s investment.

When we concluded the conversation we were once again asked to get quiet, go inside and ask ourselves, “How do I feel about conflict now? This was when we realized how impactful our café’s can be. In this case several of the participants who had placed themselves at the back of the line when we were asked to line up according to how we feel about conflict, discovered a totally new attitude within themselves that they will take forward into how they live their lives.

The evening ended with sharing our discoveries so we could mutually benefit from them. And the post-its they were written on helped me share them in this report.

Another successful adventure in collaborative leadership; domo arigato to all who came together to co-create this inspiring café.

Freedom to Fail Cafe – A Review

Freedom to Fail Cafe – A Review

The Feb 7, 2014 Freedom to Fail GLC not only helped to clarify ideas about failure, but for some they were transformative, and for one in particular, life changing.

This sold out café was an opportunity to voice feelings about our own failures in a structured, non- threatening environment. Many who attended discovered the importance of being able to view and express themselves honestly, without concern about societal expectations. Sharing our experiences and viewpoints about failure with those from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds encouraged us all to think in a more expanded way. As a result, most us in attendance no longer see failure as negative.

Many people, after placing their failures on the failure wall were able to see that what they had believed to be failures were actually necessary steps in their learning journeys. They were able to make peace with the past and transform present circumstances.

The exchange of ideas in the rotating conversatoin was also an opportunity to step into new levels of self-expression, release pre-existing self-limitations, and expand personal networks.

The resounding success of this event is sure to spark more interest in future cafes, so a larger venue is now being sought.