Showing posts from September, 2009

The Seven Essences of Leadership

Leadership is on my mind today.

I just read Phil Gerbyshak's list of top management and leadership twitterers, that includes Rosa Say, Lisa Haneberg, Wally Bock and Steve Roesler. I heard about a new book called The Five Commitments of Leaders by Mark Leheney. And I am preparing to teach a module on leadership at the Rutgers Supervisory Management Development Program.

There are tons of thoughts out there in print and in the blogosphere about leaders.

A couple weeks ago, I had one of my little thought flashes that I usually get while riding on a train, but this one came to me in my kitchen. The word that surfaced for me was essence. So, as is my usual habit, I looked it up in the dictionary:

Essence = the basic, real, and invariable nature of a thing; the inward nature; the substance, spirit, lifeblood, heart, principle, soul, core.

So, I asked myself, What is the essence of leadership?

Purpose - A leader is here for a reason, a mission, and pursues it with intention and determination…

Ineffable Connectedness

Blogger Dick Richards is musing on Jung's concept of synchronicity in his latest blog post about parrots and pirates.

He says: "“Temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events.” That barely comprehensible phrase is how Carl Jung once described what he called “synchronicity.” Fortunately, it isn’t all that hard to understand: improbable events happen that did not cause one another, and that seem connected in some way that appears to mean something that isn’t immediately obvious."

I've always liked that concept, and have experienced the feeling that Dick is writing about, that recent events seem connected.

For me this past week, it was Hair and Greeks. Hair, the landmark Broadway show about the Sixties. And Greeks as in people from Greece. Suffice to say, that within a two to three day period, I kept encountering both.

Why? There is sometimes an ineffable connectedness in life.

You notice it, but you can't explain it.

You wonder if the universe is trying to tell y…

Stop Harassment

Do you want to stop workplace harassment? Then you must DARE to take the lead.

- Diversity

In today's diverse workplace, it's becoming harder to figure people out. Our diversity can be a great advantage if we learn to appreciate differences. If not, our differences will be a source of confusion, conflict, and discord. The answer? Get to know others better, especially those who are different from you.

- Act

Detecting harassment in your workplace? Nip it in the bud. Take action on the problem fast, rather than ignoring, or sweeping it under a rug, or telling yourself that someone else will take care of it. Harassment can be stopped dead in its tracks if someone will dare to confront it with clear, direct, and specific communication. It takes courage sometimes to face a harasser. But remember: If no one objects to the behavior, it will continue. And maybe even get worse.

- Respect

Can workplace harassment be prevented? While there is no foolproof way to prevent it from ever occur…

The Change Formula

Why do so many change projects fail?

Yesterday, I attended a New Jersey Organization Development Network meeting where the presenters shared their story of business transformation at a very large and well-known company.

Then, the other night, at our weekly family "pizza nite," we had a big discussion (i.e argument) about a controversial topic at our church: whether to build a new church building, a parish center, and a gym for the school.

As a seasoned OD guy, what struck me about both discussions, was the relevance of the good old change formula (established by Richard Beckhard and David Gleicher, sometimes called Gleicher's Formula).

The Change Formula has several components and is written like this:

D x V x F > R

Here's a quick breakdown:

- D - To make change, there has to be Dissatisfaction with the status quo. This is critical, but not enough by itself. People live for years with dissatisfactory conditions, at work, and at home, and make little effort to change.


Today's OD Consultant

A colleague asked the other day what I would recommend he look for in hiring an OD consultant to expand his business.

Those of us in OD need to think big, make connections, challenge limits, facilitate the wisdom in the system, and possibilitize.

OD professionals must be consultative, approaching client engagements with a spirit of inquiry, observing, listening, asking questions, learning . . . striving to understand the client's needs before moving to solutions.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Sept 17, 2009

Thoughts on 9/11

Last night at my church, St Matthias, we held the annual 9/11 memorial prayer service.

It starts with our local fire department's roll call for the dead, naming all those fire-men and women who perished in the line of duty that day. Including one young man, John Collins, from our parish in Somerset, NJ.

We then pray for peace.

The call to service is part of our program. We suggest various service projects such as Habitat for Humanity. We also add giving blood.

The last part of our program is the call to action. We say that we are God's agents of love in the world.

And how shall we live? The following guideline from Micah points the way:

~ He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

Posted, in memory of all those who died that day, by Terrence Seamon, 9/12/09

The Suffering & Dreaming Organization

Back in July, blogger Dick Richards wrote an entry on the inherent in-human-ness of organizations. He says:

~ "To be human is to be imperfect. To be human is to be vulnerable. Humanity is denied when organizations encourage norms requiring that we relinquish our imperfection and our vulnerability, and require instead that we bring only our competitive nature, our striving, and the pretense of perfection and invulnerability within their doors. They then become inhuman."

I commented on Dick's site, "Taking this to the corporate world, I’d say that organizations are inherently (and wonderfully) broken…and gifted…because they are collections of people."

Organizations are mostly inhuman, often insane, places to spend your time. They deny basic aspects of our humanity.

His entry reminded me of the theme of brokenness that I have written about here at this blog. So I'd add to Dick's blog:

~ To be human is to be broken. To be human is to suffer.

Therefore, all hu…

What Every OD Practitioner Needs to Know

What is it that every Organization Development practitioner needs to know?

There are probably as many answers to this as there are OD professionals. So I'll start the ball rolling with my list of The Ten Paradoxes that Every OD Practitioner Needs to Know.

1) There is no such thing as an "organization." Organizations are collections of individuals, trying to do things in concert, aiming toward common goals. - AND - There are such things as organizations, dammit! Look at a flock of birds. It's as if there was one mind governing all the individuals.

2) Changing an organization is very hard. Like turning a battleship around. - AND - Changing an organization is very easy. Shoot the CEO between the eyes.

3) To really change an organization, you have to change the invisible wiring, the culture of the organization. - AND - You can't really ever change the invisible wiring, the culture, of an organization. It would be like trying to change the DNA.

4) When entering a…

Motivation, Captaincy, and Digging Deeper

Last week, I was on vacation, without a computer, and so it has been awhile since my last blog entry.

So here are three blog-thoughts in one.


Thanks to a note from my friend Loretta Donovan, I watched author Dan Pink give a talk at TED about what business leaders can do to better engage and motivate people.


One of the books I brought with me to read on vacation is Crossing the Unknown Sea by David Whyte. Beautifully written. One of the concepts he muses on is captaincy, the idea that each one of has the capacity to be the captain of our ship as needed.

Digging Deeper

I lost my reading glasses on our last day of vacation, so I had to buy a new pair. The next day, back in New Jersey, when emptying out my knapsack at home, I discovered my old glasses, buried deep under a bathing suit, stuffed down at the bottom of the sack.

My son Dave's comment, "Dig deep enough and you never know what you may find," struck a chord with me.

Time for some deeper digging.