Archive | January, 2015

Effective Leadership and Strategic Storytelling

Source: pixabay.com/pexels.com

Source: pixabay.com/pexels.com

Good storytelling is a hallmark of effective leadership. It’s a medium that allows leaders to move others. It also lets people know how the leader thinks and feels. Psychologist Howard Gardner examined how a leader can create an effective storytelling framework to move people in the right direction.

Levers of Storytelling

Innovative stories are crucial when:

That begs the question: What kinds of strategic storytelling levers does a leader use to motivate people in a desired direction?

First, it depends on your audience. If you are working with people who are highly sophisticated in what you’re doing – let’s say you’re running a hedge fund and you’re dealing with your partners who understand finance as well as you do – then the more academic levers of research and of reason are very important.

If you’re running for political office, chances are voters are not going to look at your syllogisms, and they’re not going to know enough to evaluate your data. That’s when things like resonance come into play. Whether you feel on the same wave length with the leader, and he or she manages to convey that “I’m one of you.”

If you are dealing with people who aren’t familiar with a subject, you would go for the redescription lever. Redescription is presenting the same ideas in many different ways. Some people aren’t going to be convinced by a linguistic narrative. Then a cartoon, a comic, wit, dramatization, games – those are other vehicles where you can bring about a different way of doing things.

Another lever is real world events. These are events you have no control over, but the effective leader uses them to change the conversation. Say for example the stock market tanked. A leader knows his team wants to understand how the event effects their job or industry.

Dealing with resistances is a common approach. When you tell a story, everybody has many other stories in their mind. Those stories are often quite resistant to the story you want to tell. Leaders often spend too much time convincing, and not enough time thinking of all the reasons why someone might be embracing a very different kind of story. The shrewdest mind-changers spend a lot of time trying to understand what the resistances are and how to deal with them.

Ultimately, a leader needs multiple strategies to employ during a crisis. They must understand their audience, and know which levers worked in the past and which ones ought to be pulled out for the occasion.

For a quick review, go to the SlideShare deck.

Strategic Storytelling

Watch a conversation between Daniel Goleman and Howard Gardner about ways to employ levers of storytelling.

Theory into Practice

Leadership A Master Class Training Guide

Apply these concepts into your training program with our Leadership: A Master Class Training Guide. The collection offers more than nine hours of research findings, case studies and valuable industry expertise through in-depth interviews with respected leaders in executive management, leadership development, organizational research, workplace psychology, innovation, negotiation and senior hiring. We developed an extensive, detailed training guide around the video content for human resources professionals, senior managers and executive coaches. Each module offers individual and group exercises, self-assessments, discussion guides, review of major points, and key actionable takeaway plans. The materials allow for instructor-led or self-study opportunities.

Email mike@morethansound.net for a sample guide and limited-time discount code.

Ep. 130: Creativity In The Work Environment, With Teresa Amabile, Part 4

Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast.

 

In this episode, Teresa Amabile and Daniel Goleman explore the disconnect between what most managers believe will motivate creative workers, and what her research has revealed actually drives them. Their full conversation can be heard in the new Leadership: A Master Class Training Guide.

 

Online Learning Just for You

Praxis You

This Spring, More Than Sound will launch Praxis You, our new online learning platform for personal and professional development.

To help us develop useful, practical courses for you, please take a few moments to take a very short survey.

As a thank you, we’ll give you free access to module one of our first course, Thriving on Change.

Be sure to provide your email address when you’re done with the survey.

How Praxis You Works

Our one-of-a-kind learning sessions are designed to help you harness the knowledge necessary to achieve your full potential. The content includes the latest research, real-life experiences, relevant guidance, and proven-effective tools.

Praxis You is designed to enlist all of your learning faculties. Each course offers a balance of:

  • video
  • audio
  • animation
  • self-assessments
  • discussion forums
  • downloadable practices
  • reading on your own time.

Praxis You also encourages relationship building with your peers and instructor through interactive dialogue during the course, and post-course follow-ups and evaluations.

Thought Leaders

Daniel Goleman, internationally renowned psychologist and author of What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

Joseph Grenny, bestselling author of Crucial Conversations

Elad Levinson, leadership coach and business adviser. Read Elad’s LinkedIn series, Learn to Dance on Jell-O: Part 1 and Part 2.

Mirabai Bush, co-founder of The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and author of Working with Mindfulness: Research and Practice of Mindful Techniques in Organizations

Sylvia Boorstein, founding teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center

Monica Worline, co-founder and President of organizational development firm Vervago

Theresa Glomb, Professor of Organizational Behavior at the University of Minnesota

Jane Dutton, Professor of Business Administration and Psychology at the University of Michigan

Jutta Tobias, lecturer on Business Performance Management

Juliet Adams, Director of A Head for Work, a firm specializing in leadership and workplace productivity

Learn More

Sign up for our free email newsletter to find out when and how to register for future courses. Email mike@morethansound.net.

4 Tips for Introducing Young People to Mindfulness

Holistic Life Foundation

Photo: Holistic Life Foundation

Introducing mindfulness to at-risk youth poses special challenges.

Ali and Atman Smith, and Andy Gonzalez of Holistic Life Foundation help children in one of Baltimore’s toughest neighborhoods find calm and confidence through yoga and meditation. Sam Himelstein, Behavioral Health Clinician at the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center incorporates mindfulness with his young patients’ therapy.

All four men participated in last years Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth conference. They offered 4 practical tips to help educators, counselors and parents effectively introduce young people to mindfulness practices.

1. Meet them where they are. They may not be ready to sit upright, or even close their eyes. Start with simple steps, such as focus on your breathing.

2. Make it practical. Let them know that they can return to their breath, or focus on their thoughts no matter where they are or what they’re doing. This will help them practice more often.

 

3. Clarify the session. For instance, tell them, “We’re going to focus on our breath and notice whatever comes in.” It helps set expectations.

4. Don’t be attached to formality. Setting strict conditions is unrealistic. It may prevent people from wanting to practice.

HLF at TedX

Holistic Life Foundation

If you’re having trouble connecting with the young people you work with, fear not. There’s hope. It works. Holistic Life Foundation gave a TedX Talk about the effectiveness of their work in the community. HLF started in 2001 with 20 fifth-grade boys. The foundation’s after-school program introduced yoga, mindfulness, urban gardening, and teamwork. In a city where the dropout rate for high school students is routinely higher than 50%, 19 of those first 20 boys graduated and the other got his GED.

Watch the 2012 and 2013 Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth conferences for more insights behind the research and practice of mindful techniques in educational settings.

Source: HLF’s TedX Talk video from Mindful.org.

Ep. 129: Goleman & Senge on Systems Awareness in Schools, 2

Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast.

 

In the last episodeDaniel Goleman and Peter Senge discussed the origins of systems thinking and its introduction to schools. This time we pick up where they left off, as their conversation ranges from the difficulties of applying systems thinking in our modern world, to the role early education can play in turning that around.

You can hear more from Goleman and Senge in the new Leadership: A Master Class Training Guide.

 

It’s Time to Demystify Meditation

meditation research

[Image Source: Know Your Images]

Meditation’s Unlikely Champion

Dan Harris, co-anchor of ABC’s Nightline, had a panic attack on air several years ago. As he recounts in his latest NPR interview, it’s the stuff of nightmares.

“My heart started racing. My mind was racing. My palms were sweating. My mouth dried up. My lungs seized up. I just couldn’t breathe,” he remembered.

After the ordeal, Dan discussed ways to address his panic attacks and stress with friends and health providers. Meditation was frequently suggested. But Harris remained a skeptic. “That’s only for people who are into crystals and Cat Stevens, use the word namaste un-ironically, and live in a yurt.”

Meditation still has a “bad rap” as too weird or difficult. But fortunately that’s changing. What helped changed Dan’s mind was the growing neuroscience research on the real benefits of the ancient practice.

Talk About the Research

Mirabai Bush and Daniel Goleman spoke about their experience of introducing mindfulness techniques to secular audiences – including the US Army. Here’s an excerpt from their discussion in the new print edition of Working with Mindfulness: Research and Practice of Mindful Techniques in Organizations.

Mirabai Bush: For a long time there was a lot of resistance to introducing mindful techniques in some of the organizations I worked with. But as soon as people agree to try it, the benefits become very obvious. Participants become more calm, more clear. They begin to have better insight into what’s happening, and they begin to get along better with the people they’re working with. So once people agree to try it, there’s really no problem. But there is still resistance to trying it, although much less
since the publication of the neuroscientific research on mindfulness. All the work that’s come from Richard Davidson and others has really helped people get past a certain level of resistance and skepticism.

Daniel Goleman: I can give you a little background on that change. You mentioned Davidson. He is now a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Richard and I were fellow graduate students at Harvard. He was the other one who was interested in meditation. He did his dissertation on attention and so on, and he has gone on to develop a field called Contemplative Neuroscience, which has upgraded the quality of the research on mindfulness and meditation.

Until Richard’s work, frankly, some was great, and some was terrible. Now this research is using fMRIs and state-of-the-art brain imaging. What it’s showing is what we knew intuitively when we were in India, which is that these practices can be quite transformative. And if you practice them a lot, it’s really transformative. If you practice a little, it’s still transformative.

What we found in the research on relaxation was that one of the byproducts of focusing your mind is that your body lets go and relaxes. And the reason it lets go is that one of the things that keeps us stressed is these tight loops of thoughts and ruminations—what’s on my mind, what’s upsetting me—which are hard to let go. Meditation training, whether it’s mindfulness or any other kind of meditation, teaches you how to drop those upsetting thoughts. Our understanding is that it’s the letting go of those thoughts, putting your mind in a neutral or present place and keeping it there, that causes the body to be able to drop the tension, let go of the stress, and then get deeply relaxed.

10% Happier

Harris’ positive experience with meditation led him to write a book: 10% Happier: How I Tamed The Voice In My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, And Found self-help That Actually Works – A True Story.  The somewhat tongue-in-cheek title says it all. The hard-nosed reporter is still grappling with his new “identity” as a meditator. But the benefits aren’t lost on him, and he wants to encourage others – especially the chronically stressed, highly driven professional like him – to think twice before scoffing at the idea of sitting still to notice your breath.

He talks more about the book’s mission in the interview. “I honestly believe meditation is the next big public health revolution. The big problem is that there’s this PR issue around meditation. People think it’s either too weird or too difficult. And so my goal is to dispel both myths and to say, A, if a skeptic like me is doing it, you can do it. And, B, if somebody with the attention span of a kitten, like me, is doing it, you can, too.”

Resources

Articles:

Meditation: Breathing New Life into an Ancient Practice

What Mindfulness Is – and Isn’t

What Makes a Good Mindfulness Coach?

Mindfulness at Work: An Interview with Mirabai Bush

Videos:

What is Meditation? It’s Not What You Think

Bringing Mindfulness to the Mainstream

Mindfulness at Google

Podcasts:

Guided Exercise: Sensory Focus

Focus and Leadership

Finding Time for Mindfulness

Books, Audio, Video:

Working with Mindfulness (CD and download)

Cultivating Focus: Techniques for Excellence

Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth

Relax: 6 Techniques to Lower Your Stress