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How Compassion Can Transform Your Organization

compassion at work

The following is an excerpt of Elad Levinson’s interview with Leadership Development News.

It’s no secret that the “softer” personality traits aren’t as valued in organizations. Empathy, self-reflection, and goodwill take the backseat to efficiency, results, and profits. What would you say if I told you that fostering the former skills would actually improve the latter?

Jane Dutton, one of the founders of the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship and University of Michigan Roth School of Business, has been studying and researching compassion in the workplace. Her research shows that when you train in mindfulness, it has an immediate impact on the quality of your relationships with your colleagues.

Mindfulness and compassion in the workplace happens in three ways:

Responsibility

You take more responsibility for your own reactions to situations. Instead of being unaware of the impact you have on the people around you – whether it be the team you manage, the project you’re a part of, or even in your personal life outside of work – you begin to step back and observe. Once you are able to view yourself from a semi-objective standpoint, you will find that your actions, positive or negative, may have been really influencing outcomes.

Listening

Your listening skills will be immediately impacted. When you are mindful, you tend to be able to put aside your internal reactions to things and really listen to someone and what they are experiencing. As a result, you will improve in being able to include other people and their experiences with the problems you’re trying to solve, which will make not only you, but your team, happier and more efficient.

Warmth

You just might become warmer. You become more interested in others. There is a sense of concern that the people around you might translate as, “I’m with you, not against you. I’m here for you and interested in your growth and development.”

What people like Jane Dutton and myself are trying to say is that there is room for compassion in the workplace. Work should not be a place you have to completely turn yourself off. Practicing mindfulness and compassion in the workplace can start with you; give it some time and you just might notice your colder co-workers warming up to you, and your workplace become a more enjoyable place.

thriving on change

Preview the free Introductory Module from Thriving on Change here.

Learn more about the course here.

Download Elad’s free ebook, Learn to Dance on Jello here.

 

 

Learn to Dance on Jello

learn to dance on jello

To dance on jello is to gracefully handle stress and change. This is especially key for leaders, as the ground beneath their feet is constantly – and rapidly – changing.

Learn to Dance on Jello is a free ebook adapted from a series of articles originally posted by Elad Levinson on LinkedIn. Additional material comes from Thriving on Change: The Evolving Leader’s Toolkit, a Praxis You online course by Elad Levinson and More Than Sound.

Download the free ebook here.

You’ll need to provide your email address to access the ebook. You will receive an email with download instructions. It could take a few minutes to receive your email. If you’re having trouble, contact angie@morethansound.net.

More about Thriving on Change

There is a growing disconnect between traditional management techniques and the unique assortment of skills required of today’s impactful leader.

How we manage ourselves informs how we lead… on every level. Stress, frustration, and burnout from an increasingly complex, ever-changing business environment can lead to poor decision-making, strained relationships, and weakened mental and physical health. These are ruinous to thriving in a competitive landscape.

Our online course, Thriving on Change, integrates the necessary proven-effective skills, tools, and practices to ensure leaders expertly respond to uncertainty, conflict, and inevitable distraction.

Unlike other leadership development courses, this program is delivered in bite-size chunks, designed to enlist all of your learning faculties. And because we all learn differently, each course offers a balance of:

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

Course developer and facilitator Elad Levinson, a 45-year veteran of organizational development, has collaborated with experts in organizational psychology, leadership development, and social and cognitive science to provide first-hand experience, research findings, and practical exercises you will incorporate into your daily routine.

Elad’s co-instructors include:

Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence;

Mirabai Bush, co-developer of Google’s game-changing Search Inside Yourself curriculum;

Joseph Grenny, author of Crucial Conversations;

Jutta Tobias, lecturer on Business Performance Management whose work focuses on the link between mindfulness and performance;

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

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

Sylvia Boorstein, founding teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center;

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

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

About the Author

Elad Levinson has over 45 years of experience as a leadership coach and organizational consultant. He’s currently the Senior Organization Effectiveness Consultant at 4128Associates.

Elad has been a senior Organization Development and Learning and Development professional at Agilent, Stanford University, ICANN and several start-ups. He was the first to apply the Stress theory to business and leadership at many of these organizations.

Healthy Relationships Begin with You

self-awareness

Something to ponder: when people become more mindful, do they also tend to become more relational, more aware of other people? And if so, does it also move them to action?  Elad Levinson, instructor for our first Praxis You course, Thriving on Change, spoke with Mirabai Bush about her experience with the interdependence between mindful awareness and cultivating goodwill.

“I think that mindfulness is very important in cultivating goodwill toward others.  In my experience, when I work mindfully with an intention toward compassion, for instance, I notice that I am working better with others. The more you practice, or the deeper you go, the more you tend to develop awareness of how you can make change to relieve the suffering of others.

Mindfulness gives you the space to cultivate calmness and clarity, which can allow you to become quiet enough to be present for another person–to really listen to them and be conscious of their emotions. Of course, practicing mindfulness doesn’t, in and of itself, always provide such results.  Some people begin to practice mindfulness and other meditations and would prefer to sit in a cave, so to speak. Just stay inward.  And there are long traditions of that in all the religious and spiritual traditions: contemplation doesn’t have to focus on relationships.

We really need to do complementary compassion practices to cultivate goodwill. When I consult with organizations dealing with difficult leadership transitions or mergers, I introduce a practice called Just Like Me. Here’s how it works: you look at another person and remember, call to mind, all the ways in which they are ‘just like me.’  Participants silently repeat phrases like, ‘You are another human being, with thoughts and emotions, just like me, and you have been through very difficult things in your life, and you want to be a good person, just like me.’ At the end, you send goodwill and kindness to the other person.

Keep in mind that we also need to cultivate compassion, understanding, and care for ourselves. Then an awareness of the ways in which others are just like me really begins to resonate. We have more of a predisposition, or an inclination, to treat each other with respect and dignity.”

Praxis You

Sign up for More Than Sound’s free newsletter to learn how and when to register for my Praxis You course, Thriving on Change. Email mike@morethansound.net to sign up.

Take a Survey

To help us develop useful, practical courses for you, please take a few moments to complete a very short survey. As a thank you, we’ll give you free access to the introductory module of our first course, Thriving on Change. Be sure to provide your email address when you’re done with the survey.

Follow Elad Levinson

Follow Mirabai Bush

3 Pitfalls to Avoid as You Rise Through the Ranks

arrogant boss

Avoid Groupthink

The higher up the ranks you climb in an organization, the less honest feedback you receive from peers. Your team becomes “yes men and women.” Daniel Goleman and Bill George discuss why leaders need to surround themselves with diverse opinions and outlooks.

Find Your Blind Spots

Leaders need to how they’re coming across to others. Blind spots can impact our ability to interact with peers, or be fully aware of a situation.

Stop Chasing Admiration

We all make mistakes on the job. The best leaders are humble enough to recognize that they messed up, learn what not to do in the future, and develop resilience.

Put these principles into practice with Daniel Goleman’s Leadership: A Master Class video series and training guide. Enter discount code LMC250 at checkout to save $250 on the training guide.

Leadership A Master Class Training Guide

 

A Mindful Workplace: Shifting from Difficulty to Opportunity

difficulty opportunity

Mirabai Bush, co-founder of The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and long-time mindfulness coach for organizations, has noticed the positive impact mindfulness techniques can have on employees throughout her 40+ year career. Below is an excerpt of her conversation with Elad Levinson, creator and facilitator of the upcoming Praxis You course, Thriving on Change.

Benefits of a Mindful Workplace

“When I began introducing mindfulness methods to co-workers or clients, the most noticeable shift was that people became more present with difficulty. They didn’t repress it or push it away. They were better able to say, “Okay, here’s a difficult situation. What are our options? What are the possibilities? What can we do with it?” I began to see a calmness and acceptance in difficult moments.

People also started to accept change with more ease. As you may know, when we practice mindfulness, we learn to see that everything is changing all the time. We watch our mind and our body. We notice thoughts and physical sensations rise and fall away. Sensations are changing. Ideas are changing. We become much more comfortable with change.

When I first started working with Google, I was intrigued by a real-time projection of what people were Googling. The whole wall was a projection of all these questions, phrases and fragments going up the wall, and then disappearing. I thought, “This is the global mind at work.” Just the way you watch your own mind in meditation, you’re getting to watch what the global mind is thinking and letting go of.

Back to coping with change. When I worked with a large chemical company in the mid-‘90s, there was always a possibility they were going to be bought by somebody else. It was that period of mergers and acquisitions. The employees were always really worried about job security. I would focus our mindfulness practice retreats on dealing with change.

We discovered that the more comfortable we become with change, the more we can just be with whatever arises. Including a job loss. And that’s not to minimize that such a change could cause suffering. But we’d be able to be there with that suffering. That presence and awareness was huge in terms of developing leaders.”

Praxis You

Sign up for More Than Sound’s free newsletter to learn how and when to register for my Praxis You course, Thriving on Change. Email mike@morethansound.net to sign up.

Take a Survey

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

Podcasts

Mirabai Bush on founding The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society

Mirabai Bush and Daniel Goleman on the importance of self-awareness and self-regulation

Coping with Change guided exercise

Practice Emotional Intelligence

Additional Resources

Working with Mindfulness: Research and Practice of Mindful Techniques in Organizations

Working with Mindfulness Guided Audio Exercises (CD or digital download)

Cultivating Focus: Techniques for Excellence

Distraction: How Americans Manage Stress

distraction

Image: Rubén Chase/Flickr

Avoiding Stress Doesn’t Help You Manage Stress

Effective Leadership and Strategic Storytelling

storytelling

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.

What Makes For a Good Work Day?

good work day

Teresa Amabile, the Director of Research in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School, spoke with CBC Radio’s The Current about the components needed for a good work day. According to her research, small wins can give workers the emotional boosts they need.

Small Wins

Teresa’s research showed that if people are experiencing progress in their work, they’re much more likely to feel emotionally positive about themselves and about what they’re doing. Under those conditions, they’re more likely to come up with a creative idea.

In her research, they didn’t ask workers to recall something creative they did on a particular day. They asked them to report one event that stood out in their mind from the day. If they happened to mention that they solved a problem, in a way that was not routine, or they came up with a new idea, they counted that as evidence that they’ve been creative and productive that day.

They study also found that on those days that people were having more positive emotional experiences, they were more likely to come up with a creative idea. What was also interesting is that small wins prime creative insights or breakthroughs not just one day but for the next day, too. There’s some kind of a carry-over effect that when people are in this positive state of good inner work life, they’re more likely to make new connections between ideas that can carry over even into the next day.

The effect of small wins is so powerful because people need to feel effective in their work. They need to have that sense of self-efficacy, that they’re competent, they’re getting somewhere, and that they’re doing something meaningful.

Learn how to apply Dr. Amabile’s findings in your workplace with Leadership: A Master Class Training Guide. [For a limited time, save $250 on the guide. Enter LMC250 at checkout.]

Leadership A Master Class Training Guide

[Image source: Inc.com]

 

 

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

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.

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