Guest Post from Otto Scharmer's new book The Essentials of Theory U

Here is a guest post from Otto Scharmer's new book The Essentials of Theory U. This book should be at the top of your reading list and this post will give you a taste of the great nuggest in his book.

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By Otto Scharmer

The method of the U is summarized in 24 principles that are presented in five groups along the moments of the U from co-initiating to co-shaping. I will number them throughout the movements to indicate that the 24 principles work as a whole. Here are the first five:

1.    Listen to What Life Calls You to Do

The essence of the U process is to strengthen our ability to be present and consciously co-create. Just as Ed Schein’s approach to process consultation (PC) starts with the principles “Always try to be helpful” and “Always deal with reality,” the U process of presencing starts with the primacy of attention and intention: “Listen to what life calls you to do.” Or, in the words of Martin Buber: “[She] listens to what is emerging from [herself], to the course of being in the world; not in order to be supported by it, but in order to bring it to reality as it desires.” The U method is firmly grounded in process consultation as one of its principal parent disciplines.

2.    Listen and Dialogue with Interesting Players on the Edges

The second domain of listening takes you out of your familiar world and to the edges and corners of the system. Connect and talk to interesting players in the larger eco-system of your relationships. Talk to both the visible core players and the less visible ones— including people from marginalized and underserved communities that do not have a voice in the current system. As you proceed on your mini-journey, let yourself be guided by the field. Focus on emerging opportunities. The most important helpers, partners, and guides often turn out to be different from what you expect; therefore your inner work is to stay open to suggestions.

3.    Clarify Intention and Core Questions

Do not rush the first step of clarifying the intention and core questions that guide the inquiry. When working with designers from the consulting company IDEO, I have been impressed by how much time they spend up front, before beginning a project. “The quality of the creative design process,” one IDEO leader explained, “is a function of the quality of the problem statement that defines your starting point.”

4.    Convene a Diverse Core Group around a Shared Intention

Convene a constellation of players that need one another to take action and to move forward. The opposite of co-initiation is marketing—getting people to “buy in” to your idea. That almost never works because it is just your idea. So part of the art of convening these players is to loosen your own grip on the idea— without necessarily giving it up. You lead by painting a picture that is intentionally incomplete; you make a few strokes and you leave lots of blank space so that others can make a contribution. In this way you shift the power dynamics from individual to shared ownership, and from ownership to belonging, to seeing your part in a larger social field. The quality of the impact of your initiative depends on the quality of the shared intention by the core team.

5.    Build the Container

And the quality of that shared intention largely depends on the quality of the container, the holding space that shapes and cultivates the web of relationships. The most important leverage point for building a high-impact container is right at the beginning, when you set the tone, when you evoke and activate the field. Container building includes outer and inner conditions, the most important of which is collective listening to the different voices and to the whole

 More about Otto Scharmer
Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer at MIT and co-founder of the Presencing Institute. He chairs the MIT IDEAS program for cross-sector innovation that helps leaders from business, government, and civil society to innovate at the level of the whole system. He is the author of Theory U (translated into 20 languages) and co-author of Leading from the Emerging Future, which outlines eight acupuncture points of transforming capitalism. His latest book, The Essentials of Theory U: Core Principles and Applicationsilluminates the blind spot in leadership today and offers hands-on methods to help change makers overcome it through the process, principles, and practices of Theory U.

In 2015, he co-founded the MITx u.lab, a massive open online course for leading profound change that has since activated a global eco-system of societal and personal renewal involving more than 100,000 users from 185 countries. With his colleagues, he has delivered award-winning leadership development programs for corporate clients and co-facilitated innovation labs on reinventing education, health, business, government, and well-being.



Guest Post from Ken Blanchard


Servant leadership has been around for decades, however, for many it is just becoming mainstream. It's leadership that focuses serving people not standing on a pedestal asking to be served. I'm please to host a guest post from Ken Blanchard who just happens to know a thing or two about leadership! Enjoy.

Servant Leadership: A Model for Leading in Today’s World

By Ken Blanchard

When I first began to teach managers back in the late 1960s, I met Bob Greenleaf, who was just retiring as a top AT&T executive. Bob talked about servant leadership—the concept that effective leaders and managers need to serve their people, not be served by them. It was entirely new thinking then, and in many ways Bob is considered the father of that term.

Today, it is much easier for people to see the importance and relevance of servant leadership. There seems to be general agreement that leaders have two basic roles in business: one of vision and the other of implementation.

In the visionary role, leaders are the definer of direction. They must communicate the mission, values and beliefs the organization aspires to for its people. They need to communicate what the organization stands for and how organizational values encompass the individual values of its members.

I once asked Max Dupree, who wrote a fabulous book entitled Leadership Is an Art, what he felt was the most important role of a leader. He compared the role to that of a third-grade teacher who keeps repeating the basics. "When it comes to vision and values, you have to say it over and over and over again until people get it right, right, right!"

Once people are clear on where they are going, an effective leader’s role switches to the task of implementation. How do you make the dream happen? This is where servant leadership comes into play. The traditional way of managing people is to direct, control and supervise their activities and to play the role of judge, critic and evaluator of their efforts. In a traditional organization, managers are thought of as responsible and their people are taught to be responsive to their boss.

We’re finding that kind of leadership isn’t as effective as it once was. Today when people see you as a judge and critic, they spend most of their time trying to please you rather than to accomplish the organization’s goals and move in the direction of the desired vision. "Boss watching" becomes a popular sport and people get promoted on their upward influencing skills. That role doesn’t do much for accomplishing a clear vision. All people try to do is protect themselves rather than to help move the organization in its desired direction.

The servant leader is constantly trying to find out what his or her people need to be successful. Rather than wanting them to please him or her, they are interested in making a difference in the lives of their people and, in the process, impacting the organization.

More about Ken Blanchard

Ken Blanchard is a best-selling business author with over 21 million books sold. His newest book, Servant Leadership in Action, is being released on March 6. Ken is also hosting a free Servant Leadership in Action Livecast on February 28 featuring more than 20 authors, CEOs, and thought leaders speaking on the topic.  Learn more here!


Knowing the Self Who Leads by Shelly L. Franci

Have you ever found yourself wondering where inner wisdom and courage come from? Have you been in a situation where your real leadership blooms because you know what you value and believe in?

Shelly L. Franci's new book The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity offers soul searching and a path you can take to find your authentic self and bring out your true gifts to impact others. Here is an excerpt from Shelly's new book.

The underlying premise of the Courage Way is that we all have a trustworthy source of inner wisdom that informs our lives and leadership. It is our identity and integrity, the sum of our shadows and light, our true self. Without knowing our true self, we cannot be an authentic leader.

Just as Ed came to recognize, leaders must find clarity about what they value, what unique gifts they have to offer, what contribution they wish to make. Strength and resilience as a leader come from knowing the ground on which you stand, the convictions you will act on with courage. But that’s not all. Resilience comes from being aware of and accepting your limits and what problems your shadows are causing. That is wholeness—and that comes from knowing your true self.

Otto Scharmer, author of Theory U, acknowledges this inner life: “We observe what leaders do. We can observe how they do it, what strategies and processes they deploy. But we can’t see the inner place, the source from which people act when, for example, they operate at the highest possible level, or alternatively, when they act without engagement or commitment.”

This inner place Scharmer speaks of is more than intellect, ego, emotions, and will. In the inner work of leadership, it is a light behind the eyes, the energy that animates us, or, as Howard Thurman puts it, “the sound of the genuine in you.” Instead of true self or soul, you could say inner wisdom, essential self, or even trusting your gut. Poets, musicians, and mystics have given words to the essence of who we are—our human spirits—when we take off the trappings of our resumes. John O’Donohue calls it the dignity somewhere in us “that is more gracious than the smallness / that fuels us with fear and force.”  William Stafford appeals to “a voice, to something shadowy / a remote important region in all who talk.”

Although Parker Palmer often refers to his inner teacher, he often says that what you call this core of our humanity doesn’t matter, “but that we name it matters a great deal. It’s important to recognize it: If we don’t name it anything, we start to lose the being in human being. We start to treat each other like empty vessels or objects to be marketed. When we say ‘soul,’ or ‘identity and integrity,’ there is something to make a deep bow to. There is a word for it in every wisdom tradition.”

Beyond being the sum of your life experiences, the true self is a mystery that simply is. How do you get to that underlying mystery of knowing people deep down? Intimacy is not necessarily the goal of every relationship in community, especially in the workplace. But respecting that each person has an essential core self, an undeniable dignity and humanity—now that is worthwhile.

But seldom, if ever, do we ask the “who” question. Who is the self that engages in leadership? How does this self impact the practice of leadership, for good and for bad? How is the self continually honored and renewed as we lead?

—Parker J. Palmer

About Shelly L. Francis

Shelly L. Francis has been the marketing and communications director at the Center for Courage & Renewal since mid-2012. Before coming to the Center, Shelly directed trade marketing and publicity for multi-media publisher Sounds True, Inc. Her career has spanned international program management, web design, corporate communications, trade journals, and software manuals.

The common thread throughout her career has been bringing to light best-kept secrets — technology, services, resources, ideas — while bringing people together to facilitate collective impact and good work. Her latest book The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity identifies key ingredients needed to cultivate courage in personal and professional aspects of life.



Women Need to Break a Few of Their Usual Rules - Jill Flynn


Women continue to drop out of the workforce in large numbers because of the barriers that we face. Unfortunately, we don't help ourselves any because we are often our own worst enemy. We need to collectively take back control of our careers and use our strengths to become the influential leaders that we really are deep inside. Here is a guest post from Jill Flynn one of the authors of the new book The Influence Effect. 

There is almost nothing more crucial to success in any organization than developing excellent leaders. It is a no-brainer. But, although there’s no shortage of ambitious people with executive aspirations, what threatens the strength of your leadership pipeline may be a scarcity of senior-level women.

You may have seen the stats: Women are entering the global labor force in greater numbers than ever before; they earn more undergraduate and graduate degrees than men in many countries; yet, just 13 of 500 CEOs running Fortune 500 Global companies are women. In addition, the gender wage gap across the world remains significant. Some of this can be attributed to the type of age-old gender stereotypes and traditions that take generations to eliminate. But there are other culprits to consider—ones that are within our control to address right now that will significantly strengthen women’s chances of rising to the top of organizations.

Over the past decade, my colleagues and I have coached and trained over 7,000 professional women, traveled across the globe and to Africa to speak with women, and interviewed over 3,200 senior executives to find out how they believe women can be more successful. What we’ve found is that for women in middle management, and particularly those approaching the top, continued career momentum is not about adding technical skills. Many women are taught as children to behave in certain ways that don’t help them succeed as executives. What women need to do in order to succeed at higher levels in global business is to think differently.

The New Rules

In essence, we’ve found that women need to rethink the conversations they are having in their heads and tell themselves a new story. They need to challenge some of their outdated expectations and attitudes about themselves and the workplace. These are the rules women need to break:

1. Take Center Stage (Instead of focusing on others):  Many of the smartest women around the conference table focus too much of their attention on other people’s needs. They are assisting others, pitching-in and volunteering to pick-up other people’s slack. This leaves precious little time and energy to allow themselves to thrive professionally and personally. The instinct to put others first can work against women by keeping them from focusing on their own career goals.  The result is that too many women let their careers “happen to them” rather than putting themselves in the driver’s seat. We tell women to invest in themselves and have a written plan for their career. Women who have a clear vision for what they want to achieve are much more likely to own their ambition and work in ways that allow them to succeed.

2. Proceed Until Apprehended (Instead of seeking approval): In our coaching sessions we’ve worked with countless women executives who are exceptionally collaborative leaders. They like to be liked, but the desire for consensus can slow them down. In order to succeed, women need to retain that core strength of collaboration while at the same time acting creatively and decisively to make things happen. They need to stop “asking for permission” and instead demonstrate behaviors that exhibit leadership. In terms of career success, we tell women that remaining silently behind the scenes is much riskier than putting forward bold ideas and proactively campaigning for the big assignments.

3. Project Personal Power (Instead of modesty): We’ve found that many women who are motivated to move into leadership positions are ambivalent about projecting power. Modesty and self-deprecation come more naturally. In fact, some women act downright apologetic in the face of success—as if it doesn’t suit them or they don’t deserve it. To exude confidence and power, women need to pay attention to their non-verbal messaging. Stance, eye contact, tone of voice, and facial expressions all send a message to others about confidence. In addition, women need to take credit for their many ideas and accomplishments. Taking credit for their success and being assertive will help women move more quickly into the jobs they want.

4. Be Politically Savvy (Instead of working harder): Many women are disappointed when their hard work and long hours don’t seem to pay-off in terms of career advancement. They dislike politics and try to remain above the fray. Yet, being politically savvy is actually about building relationships, achieving consensus and networking—women are great at these things. We coach women to build their careers as if they are running for office: create a platform of ideas, line up sponsors, put together a coalition – and then do it over and over again as their agenda and goals change.

5. Play to Win  (Instead of playing it safe): We hear in our interviews with senior executives that women need to get out of their comfort zones, be bold and take risks. Women can make themselves visible in this way by taking the lead on high-stakes projects and bringing in new business. Putting themselves out there means getting comfortable with risk and the possibility of failure. It may seem safer to let someone at a higher pay grade take the risks, but it is the major decisions that offer women the best opportunities to establish their credibility as leaders.

6. Have a Both/And Perspective (Instead of all-or-nothing thinking):  One phrase that has crept into dozens of our coaching files over the years is the notion of having it all. It’s no coincidence that many of the women who are trying to have it all are also the ones who get burned out. There’s no one right way to succeed, but avoiding black and white thinking – and remaining flexible – can help women establish leadership credibility. Because complexity and constant change are everywhere today, dealing with ambiguity has become skill that all of us (not only women) need to master.

As these new rules illustrate, we’ve found that most high-performing women don’t need to make major changes in order to give themselves a better chance to succeed. Small adjustments in how they think about themselves can have a big impact on their everyday behaviors and lead to visibility and continued career momentum. And that outcome will be good for everyone.

From a bottom line perspective, paving the way for more women at the highest levels in leadership is a net positive for business. Women are natural consensus builders and collaborators, so they are well suited for the nimble, less hierarchical workplace of the future. And research proves that companies with more women leaders have a higher return on equity and a better return on sales. There’s no doubt about it: when women get ahead it is good for business.

About Jill Flynn

Jill Flynn is a founding partner at FHHL and a co-author of Break Your Own Rules and her latest co-authored book, The Influence Effect: A New Path to Power for Women Leaders. Jill previously served as Senior Vice President at the nation’s fourth largest bank, First Union (now Wells Fargo), where she established their leadership development, diversity, organizational consulting and employee satisfaction initiatives. As the corporation grew exponentially during her tenure, Jill and her team prepared a cadre of high-potential leaders to assume senior positions. Within a three-year timeframe, the number of women in these roles increased from 9% to 26%.


Play With Soul at Work and in Life by Mark Nation

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Mark Nation is the author of the new thought provoking book Made for Amazing: An Instrumental Journey of Authentic Leadership Transformation. Mark takes us on a journey to learn more about ourselves and our own hidden gifts. Following is a guest post from Mark Nation.

“Beautiful music…is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.”      —Martin Luther

Think about your favorite musician or band. The greats all play what they possess in their souls, and it is evident in their timeless pieces, many of which endure for generations. All famous musical artists play with deep intention. They already grasp the basics and could easily just play the notes, instead of playing with their heart—but they always seem to find a path to the soul.

Don’t think. Feel!

Many times, we tend to overthink what we are doing instead of feeling, or sensing, what we should be doing. Your brain is merely an outpost, yet your music comes from the center of you. It can be so easy to overthink things, but you must find your groove and try not to play too hard, nor think too much. Overthinking can lead to confusion, make you fumble, or result in output that comes across overly-rehearsed and clinical.

Many musicians sound good technically, but have no ‘soul’ in their music; you don’t ‘feel’ it when you listen. They aren’t playing from their heart nor listening to their spirit. This is where God comes in. God has given us His Spirit, a helper to walk alongside us, to direct our own spirit. God is all about the soul, and He loves the chance to develop more ‘spirited’ players.

Strength is found in the struggle.

Think about a struggle you are having in your life. Are you overthinking it, or seeking to rely on the direction you feel from the Holy Spirit? We all face persistent mental battles, particularly when trying to live more authentic and purposeful lives. This is where it helps to practice seeking God diligently each day. Remember, beautiful music rarely happens alone. It’s hard enough to navigate routine daily challenges, much less the seasons of serious distress. It stands to reason that if we knew a strong, steady lifeline was available to us at any moment, we would make use of that lifeline constantly. God is our soul’s lifeline, our spiritual Maestro. Relying on Him is what truly brings our best music to life.

To achieve success, you must dedicate yourself to achieving excellence—there are no shortcuts. You can’t get to where you want to be by going through the motions. We so easily slip into a routine of going to church or synagogue, skimming a devotion, and praying…occasionally. We believe we are seeking God, but these markers might also indicate we’re just ‘phoning it in.’ If we’re honest, we all know when our playing lacks soul; nothing satisfies in that place.    

Treasure the journey inside yourself.

The Bible encourages us to seek God like a buried treasure. Now that’s a passionate endeavor! How many movies have you seen that are related to treasure?! This approach promises an exciting journey, where you learn to trust your gut and follow His clues. Are you seeking God, and listening to His Spirit, with that kind of abandon?

In business, and in life, you need to inject your soul into your goals. It’s what makes life really sing and the light of your own song resonate with others in a transformational way. Assess your intentions, and resolve to seek God with reckless abandon. Feel the Spirit rising inside you, resisting the urge to follow your same worn-out routines. We’re all on the journey to discover our best selves, and we can do that with the help of the Spirit.

Make good use of His precious gifts by bringing your most soulful music with you everywhere you go.

Mark Nation is a globally-recognized management expert, leadership consultant, executive coach, author, and speaker. He is personally driven to discover what makes individuals, teams, and organizations amazing—those elements which power the heart and soul of individuals and businesses worldwide. His new bookMade for Amazing: An Instrumental Journey of Authentic Leadership Transformation, helps people to identify and optimize their unique talents.


It All Matters: I Can See Clearly Now The Rain Is Gone by Paul Cummings

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I'm always drawn to books that can help me find clarity, focus, and more confidence. There are so many distractions pulling at us from every angle. Our brains become fuzzy, our goals fall to the wayside, and we feel disconnected and off track. I'm excited to share this insight from Paul Cummings on how you can start to see clear again and the importance of doing so.

I Can See Clearly Now The Rain Is Gone

By Paul Cummings

Do you know who Johnny Nash is? In my opinion, he is a genius who provided a tremendous life lesson hidden in the lyrics of a great song. If you investigate the meaning behind the message, you’ll discover the impact of his words.

Have you ever realized that your perception of life is the lens through which you view your life? Our perception truly shapes our reality. Is your lens clear, and do you like what you see? Or have you allowed circumstances in your life to cloud up your lens and change your viewpoint and perspective?

“I can see clearly now the rain is gone.”

I love this lyric. Here is a person who has cleaned his lens. The rain was blocking his vision of life. When the “hard rain” is pouring down all around, it’s easy to miss the beauty around you, the opportunities open to you.

“I can see all obstacles in my way.”

This person has arrived at a moment of clarity. Now that the rain is gone, he can finally see the obstacles preventing him from the goals and dreams he has been pursuing without success. Once you define and acknowledge your obstacles, you can create a compelling plan of action to turn these obstacles into tangible opportunities.

“Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.”

Wow, this is such a powerful use of words! We have all experienced "dark cloud" moments in our life. We have been hurt and disappointed. We have experienced losses and unexpected moments of sadness. We have been this close to a major victory only to fall short and have to start over. To me, these powerful words represent a message of hope. The dark clouds in our life will disappear. We will maintain our faith and belief that things can and will work out in the end.

“It’s going to be a bright bright sunshiny day”

Beautiful optimism! What an inspiring and positive outlook this lyric project. This person has cleared off the lens, recognized the obstacles, removed the dark clouds, and replaced his blindness with a powerful vision. The road ahead is bathed in bright sunshine.

Johnny Nash's words are open to interpretation, but I believe the rain could have been a series of negative emotions. The obstacles could have been the source of that (rain) pain. The dark clouds could have been the acceptance of those negative emotions causing blindness to the possibilities. The bright sunshiny day could be the moment the person said, “No more! From today forward, I will take hold of my life and choose to look through my lens with the hope, faith, and confidence that a bright future brings.”

Clear your lens and embrace your future - every day. What song has a lot of meaning to you?

Make A Difference Today,


More about Paul Cummings

Paul Cummings is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Paul D. Cummings World Wide Enterprises, a global training and teaching company that has motivated and inspired hundreds of thousands of individuals and businesses to make real and lasting change. Fueled by his personal and corporate desire to give to others, Paul developed skills and techniques in Leadership, Goal Setting, and Sales Techniques, including his Grid Square Technology.

Paul continues to revolutionize the way people and businesses learn by making learning simple, affordable, fun, and efficient. His Level 10 philosophy has become the benchmark that others have aspired to achieve. His latest book, It All Matters: 125 Strategies to Achieve Maximum Confidence, Clarity, Certainty, and Creativity releases October 9, 2017. The book provides an all-encompassing framework for achieving the life of your dreams offering strategies to inspire professionals—and help them develop skill sets, build knowledge, improve attitudes, and develop work habits that pay off.

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Lessons for Self Leadership

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I am a big fan of Ken Blanchard and his One Minute Manager books. Each one teaches valuable lessons through storytelling and there is no better way to learn and become more motivated to grow. I'm delighted to share some thoughts from Susan Fowler from the new book Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager.

Originally Published at Blanchard LeaderChat on 8/17/17:

I can’t get what I need. My boss doesn’t understand me. My organization’s systems don’t work. I don’t have the resources I need. My job doesn’t take advantage of my strengths. No one appreciates me. My boss micromanages me. There’s no room for me to grow. They don’t understand how much I could be contributing if only they’d give me a chance.

If you’re human, I imagine you’ve thought or invoked one of these statements. I know I have.

Even though we may be able to justify these types of statements, they often reflect our own assumed constraints: beliefs that allow us to escape personal accountability and fall victim to circumstances or the actions of others. In the new Self Leadership program I co-created with Ken Blanchard and Laurence Hawkins, we teach that self leadership is about having the mindset and skillset to accept responsibility and take initiative.

While it is wonderful to learn how to ask for the direction and support you need to be successful in your role, it’s also important to remember that when something goes wrong, there’s no one else to blame.

The Hard Truths about Self Leadership

  • Sometimes you misdiagnose your competence. Not knowing what you don’t know can be dangerous. Enthusiasm and high commitment are blessings, but don’t mistake them for high competence. Self leaders are able to appreciate where they are on the learning curve, diagnose their development level on a goal, and recognize the times and tasks where they need direction. Self leaders also have the wisdom to ask how to do something they’ve never done before.
  • You have to ask for feedback. One of the most important habits of a self leader is proactively asking for feedback every day instead of waiting to get it. Recent research suggests people are more likely to listen to feedback when they have asked for it. And neuroscience shows the brain is more ready to integrate feedback when it’s asked for and received at a time that is most relevant to the learner.
  • The best person to solve your problems is you. Nobody knows your problems better than you do. With experience, the best person to solve a problem is the person who identifies it. Self leaders go beyond problem spotting to proactive problem solving, which has been shown to reduce workplace stress and result in higher energy at the end of the day.
  • You must stop blaming others. Even if your manager is ineffective, dismissive, or a micromanager, you need to build on the positive direction and support you do get from them—and manage up or around to get what you still need to succeed. When you take the lead in regular one-on-one meetings with your boss and ask for what you need, you may discover they simply weren’t aware of those needs.  

Who Benefits from Self Leadership?

At an organizational level, recent research shows that the most important key to successful initiatives in organizations is the proactive behavior of individual contributors—self leaders who have the ability to accept responsibility and take the initiative to make change happen.

At an individual level, self leadership helps you liberate yourself from the perceived tyranny of organizational life, which frees you from assumed constraints that can limit the quality of your work experience. Being able to respond effectively to everyday challenges can be personally and professionally rewarding.

The responsibility for your success at work falls to you. The good news is that you have a choice. Is developing the mindset and skillset required to be a self leader worth your effort? Yes! A not-so-hard truth: the benefits of self leadership are as good for you as they are for your organization.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Fowler implores leaders to stop trying to motivate people. In her latest bestselling book, she explains Why Motivating People Doesn't Work ... And What Does: The New Science of Leading, Engaging, and Energizing. She is the author of by-lined articles, peer-reviewed research, and six books, including the newly revised bestselling Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager with Ken Blanchard. Tens of thousands of people worldwide have learned from her ideas through training programs, such as the Situational Self Leadership and Optimal Motivation product lines. For more information, visit


Have you heard about The New Leadership Literacies?

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Effective leaders need to commit to managing their own energy, health, and wellbeing. That's not enough in today's hectic world. We need to do the same with our people and everyone that we have contact with day in and day out. Following is a guest post from Bob Johansen author the new book The New Leadership Literacies.

Four Elements of Well-Being

In 2010, I worked with Humana and Gallup on the topic of well-being, beyond just sick care. Gallup was just beginning its remarkable work on global well-being and Institute for the Future was focused on the future of what we started to call the global well-being economy. The last big economic driver was engineering and the digital economy. The next big economic driver will be biology, the life sciences, and the global well-being economy. Engineering will still be important, but it will be bioengineering.

Building on that work and the work I’ve done since then, I’ve become convinced that well-being for leaders will involve so much more than not being sick.

If leaders are going to thrive in a future of extreme disruption, they must not only manage their own energy, they must encourage, model, and reward positive energy in others. The tools for energy management are so much better now than they ever were—and they will get ever better over the next decade. Leaders have no excuse now. Fitness will be a price of entry for top leadership roles. Extreme fitness—physical, mental, and even spiritual (thought not necessarily religious)—will be required for most leadership roles.

These are the elements of well-being that I believe will be most important in the future:

Physical Well-Being: While there is much debate of almost every healthy living practice, everyone seems to agree on the importance of exercise. Here is what former chief medical officer of Google Kelly Traver says: “Exercise physically changes your brain. It helps you learn and remember better. It promotes alertness and enhances creative thinking. It elevates mood and lowers stress. In short, exercise is your biggest ally in achieving and maintaining good health.”85 When I was president of Institute for the Future, I worked with an excellent executive coach named Pierre Mornell, who reminded me again and again: “more stress, more exercise.”

Mindful Well-Being: The good news is neuroscience will get very practical over the next decade. Leaders will have a wide range of new resources to help them develop brain-smart ways of leading.

Interpersonal Well-Being: Family, friends, neighbors, and those with whom you have direct communications. As Charles Vogl said in The Art of Community86, interpersonal well-being is defined as the community of individuals who you feel you could call at 3am when you are crying.

Societal Well-Being: How well linked are you to the culture, the society, and the planet around you?

Financial Well-Being: I’ve always been intrigued with the notion of “making a living.” For many people, making a living means having a job. In the future, however, there will be fewer traditional jobs and lower job security for those who do have jobs. On the other hand, the new ways of working will allow much greater flexibility and many more ways to make a living. Dee Hock, the founder and former CEO of Visa summarized this logic well: “Money motivates neither the best people nor the best in people. It can move the body and influence the mind, but it cannot touch the heart or move the spirit.”

Well-Being in Work: When I was in divinity school, I was always intrigued by the notion of a “calling.” A calling is a strong urge, a push even, in a particular vocational direction. In a religious context, a calling often comes from God or a representative of God. I don’t believe that is always the case, but certainly a career calling is much more then a casual choice of what you want to do with your life. Leaders, particularly in a work-oriented country like the US, are at their best if they truly believe in what they are doing at work.

Spiritual Well-Being: I mean having a sense of meaning in the face of a world of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. Spiritual does not necessarily mean participation in any organized religion. While I am a student of world religions, I am not an advocate of any particular brand of religion. Religions can provide a sense of meaning for leaders, but there are many different approaches. The key is a sense of grounding, a sense of meaning that allows a leader to maintain a center in spite of being encircled by disruption. Meaning will be illusive in the VUCA World, but there will be a wide range of options for leaders to develop a sense of spiritual well-being, some personally uplifting, some socially constructive, and some downright dangerous.

About Bob Johansen:

Bob Johansen is a distinguished fellow with the Institute for the Future in Silicon Valley. For more than 30 years, Bob has helped organizations around the world prepare for and shape the future, including corporations such as P&G, Walmart, McKinsey, United Rentals, and Syngenta, as well as major universities and nonprofits.

The author or co-author of ten books, Bob is a frequent keynote speaker. His best-selling book Get There Early: Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present was selected as one of the top business books of 2007. His latest book is The New Leadership Literacies: Thriving in a Future of Extreme Disruption and Distributed Everything discusses five new leadership literacies—combinations of disciplines, practices, and worldviews—that will be needed to thrive in a VUCA world of increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. 


Where Your Moods Really Come From: The Answer Might Surprise You by Dr. Larry Senn


Ever feel moody or irritated but you don't know why? Do you work with people who have mood swings and it impacts your day? This guest post by Dr. Senn is a must read. Pick up his book Mood Elevator and learn not only how to control your mood but tose around you.

If you ask someone who is in a bad mood to tell you why they aren’t feeling happy, they’ll usually rattle off different reasons that may sound like “my wife and I got into a fight, my work didn’t grant me the vacation time I asked for, I haven’t been sleeping well, etc.” The list could go on and on. Most people think that their feelings and moods are connected to outside circumstances that are out of their control.

What most people don’t realize is that our moods don’t come from the outside world, they come from our thinking. This explains why two people who go through the same circumstance have completely different reactions. A seemingly bad situation could cause one person to go into a tailspin and for the other person it’s barely a bump in the road. On the outside, they experienced the same thing but on the inside it was almost as if it was two separate events.

Good thoughts, bad thoughts, scary thoughts, and worried thoughts will all pop into our head daily. We can’t necessarily control the thoughts that come into our heads. We can however, make a decision of how we are going to deal with those thoughts.

Let’s take worry for an example; a thought like worry can pass through our mind like a car passing on the highway. On the other hand, we can also take a thought like worry and nurture it, feed it, and embellish it, and that’s where we can get into trouble. The point is not that worry is necessarily all bad, worry can have some benefits when it comes to motivating us or planning for the future. When worry gets to a point that it’s consuming you, causing you extended periods of unhappiness or affecting your work or personal life it’s time to take some action. Sometimes that action is simply telling yourself, “Don’t go there.”

There are some thoughts that are good to nurture. Thoughts of gratitude, happiness, appreciation, and creativity are great to stay in for a while- you can do things like making a gratitude list or sharing thoughts of appreciation to remain with those thoughts and feelings. It’s the thoughts that evoke the feelings on the bottom of the Mood Elevator that we need to starve.

Ask yourself the following questions:

·       Are there certain things or people that make you impatient or frustrated? If so, do you find yourself brooding about those experiences, savoring the details and stoking the flames of your annoyance?

·       Do you frequently feel irritated or bothered? If so, do you feed those emotions by complaining about them to friends and family?

·       Are you habitually defensive or insecure? If so, do you feed those emotions by constantly reminding yourself of your weaknesses, failings, and mistakes while forgetting about your strengths, victories, and accomplishments?

If you’re like most people, you do any number of these things. These are the kinds of actions that will keep you in your negative thoughts and feelings. Instead of embellishing worry or insecurity, you can acknowledge you feel that way and then take the next indicated action step. Sometimes the most important thing is to take some action instead of staying in your head. There is a saying that you can “act yourself into right thinking but it’s very difficult to think your way into right action.”

Now on the flipside, ask yourself these questions on how to be towards the top of the Mood Elevator more often:

·       Would you like to be more creative and innovative? If so, try giving yourself permission to expand your thinking to embrace more non-routine, out of the box concepts, whether on the job or in your personal life. Set aside time to brainstorm, daydream, and play with ideas.

·       Would you like to be more hopeful and optimistic? If so, make time every day to think about your future in a positive, upbeat way. Imagine something you’d like to achieve, then take one concrete step toward making it happen.

·       Would you like to be more patient and understanding? If so, strengthen these traits by practicing them whenever they are needed. When stuck in line at the bank, use the time for a quiet moment of mini-meditation; when annoyed by a colleague’s careless errors, offer to demonstrate a better way to get the job done.

Remember, you don’t have to be a passive passenger on the Mood Elevator. You can make a conscious decision where you want to spend more time and take the steps to feed the thoughts that will take you there.

About Dr. Larry Senn

Dr. Larry Senn pioneered the field of corporate culture and founded in 1978, Senn Delaney, the culture shaping unit of Heidrick & Struggles. A sought-after speaker, Senn has authored or co-authored several books, including two best-sellers. His newest is The Mood Elevator (August 2017), the follow up to his 2012 book, Up the Mood Elevator. You can learn more about Larry and his work at his website,


Lessons for the Wine Industry to the Coffee Farm

 A guest post from Sandra E. Taylor

A guest post from Sandra E. Taylor

My work with sustainable agriculture began in the coffee industry, during a period of tremendous growth in high-quality coffee shops and retail categories around the world. As a senior executive at Starbucks Coffee Company, I led the company's global responsibility efforts focused on rigorous approaches to sustainable agriculture for coffee, tea and cocoa, fair and responsible relationships with farmers and engaging consumers in this effort. The company successfully implemented strategies to integrate sustainability into its coffee supply chain and social responsibility in farming communities with its ambitious C.A.F.E. Practices program.

While researching the wine industry I instinctively grasped the similarities between both agricultural commodities. Coffee occupies a place in the market and in our cultural life analogous to wine, and the experience of it can teach us a great deal when it comes to understanding the elements of a sustainable wine industry. Neither is a nutritional necessity, but both are integral to our food habits, consumed for pleasure. And the aroma and flavors of both have the potential to connect those who imbibe with the lives and fates of people throughout the world, to their culture, their nation, their soil. What we enjoy is a direct result of their care of the plant, precision in processing, careful transportation and handling, and diligence in preparation. Consumer awareness of coffee cultivation, and its sometimes negative effect on people and the land, foreshadows current expanding developments in the wine industry.

The industries that produce and bring these two drinkable commodities to market also share important similarities. Vintners confess that wine is made in the vineyard, and the same holds true for coffee. Both are agricultural products from specific regions that are grown according to exacting standards. There are grades and flavor differences based upon where it was raised, how it was processed and flukes of nature that are recognized during evaluation, and priced accordingly. The soil, weather, orientation of the sun, altitude and rainfall - in other words, terroir, affect the flavor of coffee beans and grapes. Even the way we taste them and the words we use to describe those sensations are quite similar.

Granted there are very clear differences: wine and coffee operate along two very different supply chain structures. For wine, growers of the fruit and producers of the beverage have traditionally supplied their own region of consumers and the supply chain for wine is still largely immediate and fairly tight. If a winery does not literally own its own vineyard, for example, it is often within arm's reach of one as well as the other links in the value chain.

Coffee on the other hand is produced quite far from its eventual market. The coffee tree is a tropical evergreen shrub that only grows in a defined area above and below the equator, often called the "coffee belt" typically in poor regions of developing countries, also biodiversity "hotspots." The coffee supply chain is often complex and varies in different countries but typically includes many layers and the grower is often squeezed, receiving a small share of the value of production. The second most traded commodity in the world after oil, market swings in the price of coffee can have a profound effect on incomes of small coffee farmers who are sometimes forced to sell their beans for less than they cost to produce.

Yet some of the largest coffee corporations continue to reap enormous profits from the growth in trendy coffee shops and consumer demand for high quality Arabica based beverages. Some farmers cut down trees in rainforests to make room for planting more coffee trees, thereby destroying vital biodiversity and affecting green house gas emissions. This has resulted in a heightened level of activism by environmentalists, social justice campaigners and fair trade advocates, concerned with the negative impact of coffee growing on tropical rainforests and human inequity in the coffee supply chain.

The sustainability performance of the wine industry has yet to receive the kind of media scrutiny and activist interest that other industries like coffee have in recent years. But such issues have started to gain prominence, as consumers want to learn the cultural and environmental stories behind the wines they drink. And a day of reckoning for the wine industry is fast approaching judging by the increasing number of complaints over land use, objection to permits for new vineyards, water rights disputes, protests over pesticide spray drift and legal actions that producers face as a result of the health impacts of chemical use in vineyards. The industry should heed the lessons from the coffee experience.

In Sonoma County, California for example, the industry's growth has sparked strong blowback from many rural residents, who say unruly crowds, loud noise and traffic on narrow, winding roads is detracting from the peace and quiet of their neighborhoods. Critics object to the commercialization of agricultural lands and diminishing the rural character of the county.

In France pesticides awareness groups have sprang up in most viticulture regions and anti-pesticide protests have been rife in 2016 in the Gironde region, with Bordeaux at its epicenter, as the country's largest user of pesticides. Pressure groups in Burgundy and in the Maconnais area have demanded that grape growers cut pesticide use. Also a Bergerac vineyard worker successfully sued her ex-employer over pesticide-related illness — believed to be a first in France.

The industry is being shaped by rigorous, compulsory environmental regulations, voluntary assessment and certification, local activists, as well as by more environmentally conscious consumers who want to be sure they are purchasing products that respect the environment.

Sustainability issues extend beyond the natural environment in the vineyard. Producers and winemakers must also address environmental stewardship throughout the production and distribution of the wine, with regard to packaging and fossil fuel use, as well as maintain social responsibility towards workers and in their community to be considered truly "sustainable." In this the coffee industry experience can be instructive.

About Sandra Taylor
Sandra Taylor is an expert on environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and agricultural supply chains. After many years as a corporate executive with companies like Starbucks and Kodak, Sandra’s life-long passion for wine led her to the wine program at Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Bordeaux-Ecole de Management (Bordeaux Business School in France), where she earned an MBA. Today, through her Sustainable Business International consulting firm, Sandra helps clients in their corporate responsibility (CR) efforts, in areas like global supply chain sustainability, environmental risk management, international trade, and partnerships. Her debut book The Business of Sustainable Wine offers a new view of how the industry can be an important element in sustainable agriculture and provides a unique insight for the consumer on what to look for on supermarket shelves.