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The Most Common Disparity in Difficult Conversations: Thinkers and Feelers

By | Professional Development | No Comments

In the last newsletter (January), I alluded to the fact that over the years, I have developed an interactional process called, Facilitative Communication.

As shown in the Communication Process table below, facilitative communication simply means that when a leader or anyone for that matter “Hits a Speed Bump” and no longer has that comfortable and easy “Cruise Control” feeling that the savvy executive will consciously change her language in order to elevate the conversation, advance the relationship and create a transcendent resolution.

By transcendent resolution I mean  one that has the best of what you think; the best of what they think, but a solution that is better or superior to both.

Facilitative communication simply means that we know that we have communicated when we hear our thoughts, feelings and ideas coming out of the other person’s mouth, i.e., the words we initially wanted to say.

They tell you what you wanted to tell them.

They, then take you where you want them to go.

In other words, people generally are in love with the sound of their voice, not yours.

If you tell them they are “wrong”, in their mind you have suddenly become a “you-know-what”.

If you have a mindset that is genuinely curious and interested in them, that is to say, their point of view, and you know how to elevate the conversation that a very good thing will happen.

You will find that they will tell you what you wanted to tell them.

Their comment actually becomes for them the acknowledgement of a wise, judicious and rather mature person.

A positive conversation ensues and you both win.


And How in the Name of Heaven does a Leader do That?

We do this by leveraging the fact that the human brain cannot multi-task but can only iterate.

In effect, people cannot see what is right about their idea(s) what might be wrong, (likely your idea) about their point of view until they have fully expiated their argument and can then and only then see the opposite or different perspective.

A smart leader never forgets that after food, shelter and clothing people want one thing.

People want to be right and they want the glory for being right.

That realization and knowing what to do about it, my fiends is the essence of a facilitative conversation. Read More

The Stages of Interaction: the Communicate – Facilitate – Negotiate Process

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 The Communicate/Facilitate/Negotiate Interactional Process

There are four stages, a leader or anyone for that matter, goes through when she finds herself in a difficult conversation.

Each stage is part of a progression and hopefully the leader will know what to do to be able to end the discord right there, before things escalate.

These stages tend to happen sequentially, depending on each party’s reaction to the other person’s previous comment(s).

Remember corollary nine from the Law of Reciprocity (in several of my books actually; buy one) which says “When we recall a conflict, the recollection is usually a skewed rendering of the incident in question which says more about how we feel now and our mutual history than about what actually happened then.”

Having said that, each stage represents a deepening rift between the two parties but also a specific type of power you can use to diffuse or resolve the onrushing argument.

You can see this progression in the table below:


The Power and Communication Process



Automobile Analogy

You can see in the automobile analogy above, we normally, 80% of the time, (unless we have a bad history with the other person) start the conversation with the relative ease of being in “Cruise Control”.

In other words, everything and everybody is doing fine.

If we do not know what to do, the situation can or will accelerate or escalate to the next stage and if we are not careful we end up in column or stage four, a “Head on Collision”.

When or as the situation becomes more difficult, (I call this first sign of dissonance, hitting a “Speed Bump), the savvy leader needs to know how to move from Communication in column one to Facilitation in column two.

In other words, when we “Hit a Speed Bump”, the beginnings of a mild disagreement, we need to know to how to speak with the target person to resolve the issue but in a manner such that they take you where you would like them to go.

Read More

The Five Stages of a Marriage

By | Personal Development | No Comments


This excerpt is taken from “How to Have a Great Marriage: The Art and Science of a Happy Marriage”

The Marital Process: Five Stages

Like the changing seasons of the year, there are five stages to a happy marriage.

They are very natural and happen to almost everyone.

Being aware of these five stages, assessing which one your marriage might be in and then how to move on to the next stage is very important for any couple to know.

I liken them to the four seasons of the year.

So, here they are; the five stages of a marriage.

Stage One: Summer: “You are my passion”

CropperCapture[667]You fall head over heels in love with each other.

You are completely in sync.

When little annoying things pop up you dismiss them.

Your brain literally changes.

For 18 months your brain secrets a hormone that blinds you to what the other person is really like and makes all the red flags look like green flags.

This stage ends when you get married and your joy gives way to the earth shattering realization that marriage isn’t everything you expected it to be. Read More

The Historical Development of Business Teams in North America – Part Three

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This excerpt is taken from “Champions: How to Build High Performing Teams” 

The Historical Development of Business Teams in North America

In part one of this three-part series, we explored the first attempts at team research  and development as conducted by Elton  Mayo.

We also looked at the philosophical questions his work spawned and their implications to team building, even to this day.

In part two we detailed the theories of group development, their essence and their history, most notably found in the work of two distinguished scholars,  Kurt Lewin and Bruce Tuckman.

In part three we will explore the work of Hersey and Blanchard and the other central researchers who furthered Tuckman’s theories.



Hersey and Blanchard

 In the 1960s, Paul Hersey (born in 1931) a behavioral scientist developed the Situational Leadership Theory.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Hersey and Ken Blanchard both developed their own models for group development using the situational leadership theory.

The fundamental underpinning of the situational leadership theory is there is no single “best” style of leadership.

Effective leadership is task-relevant and that the most successful leaders are those that adapt their leadership style to the maturity (the capacity to set high but attainable goals, willingness and ability to take responsibility for the task, and relevant education and/or experience of an individual or a group for the task) of the individual or group they are attempting to lead/influence.

That effective leadership varies, not only with the person or group that is being influenced, but it will also depend on the task, job or function that needs to be accomplished.

The Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Model rests on two fundamental concepts; leadership style and the individual or group’s maturity level. Read More

The Historical Development of Business Teams in North America – Part Two

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This excerpt is taken from “Champions: How to Build High Performing Teams” 

Theories of Group Development: Their History and Development

In part one we discussed the earliest attempts to scientifically understand worker interaction in the workplace starting with the research at Hawthorne by Elton Mayo.

We also detailed the philosophical implications of his findings.

In this segment we will review the rather remarkable work of Kurt Lewin and then detail the extraordinary contribution made by Bruce Tuckman and his theories on the stages of team development which are so commonly used by business leaders that they have become akin to being the McDonald’s, Apple and Yankees in wrapped up into one for the leading contemporary philosophy for team concept and team development.

In many ways Tuckman is the founding father of the modern day team concept that many companies use.



Historical Overview of Teams

In the early seventies, Hill and Grunner (1973) reported that more than 100 theories of group development existed.

Since then, other theories have emerged as well as attempts at contrasting and synthesizing them.

As a result, a number of typologies of group change theories have been proposed.


Andrew Van de Ven and Marshall Scott Poole (1995) noted four distinct “motors” for generating change.

According to this framework, the following four types of group development models exist:

1. Life cycle models:

Describe the process of change as the unfolding of a prescribed and linear sequence of stages following a program that is prefigured at the beginning of the cycle (decided within the group or imposed on it).

2. Teleological models:

Describe change as a purposeful movement toward one or more goals, with adjustments based on feedback from the environment.

3. Dialectical models:

Describe change as emerging from conflict between opposing entities and eventual synthesis leading to the next cycle of conflict.

4. Evolutionary models:

Describe change as emerging from a repeated cycle of variation, selection and retention and generally apply to change in a population rather than change within an entity over time.

Below are descriptions of the central elements of some of the most common models of group development. Read More

The Historical Development of Business Teams in North America – Part One

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This excerpt is taken from “Champions: How to Build High Performing Teams” 

   The History and Philosophical Development of Teamwork and Team Building in North America

Because of the complexities, controversy, importance and challenges of teams in the modern day workplace, a discussion on the history of team building, its’ philosophy and development might be helpful for those leaders who want to seriously understand the nature and construct of teams for their business.

In great measure the point of this three part article is to demonstrate how surprisingly similar the principles posited by social scholars who have studied and formulated the notions governing team work over the last 80 years tend to be.

This study will also help team leaders make sure we are on solid scientific ground in our daily group leadership activities.

This article will review the history of group development in North American business and industry in order to contextualize the concepts we use to create high performing and superior group development and facilitation.

The Hawthorne Experiments

The first social scientific experiments in team work in the workplace were the Hawthorne Experiments conducted by Professor Elton Mayo, from 1927 to 1932, at the Western Electric Hawthorne Works in Chicago.

The experiments were primarily started with the intention of studying the relationship between productivity and work conditions.

Professor Mayo started these experiments by examining the physical and environmental influences of the workplace (e.g. brightness of lights, humidity).

He then moved on to the psychological aspects (e.g. breaks, group pressure, working hours, managerial leadership). Read More

Leaders Must Know Their Organization’s Three Distinct Team Processes: What They are and How They Work

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This excerpt is taken from “The jays, the Giants and the Lakers – A Systemic Model, Analysis and Prescription for Organizational Leadership”

Three Forms of Process or Task Interdependence

As you may know, I am almost obsessive that a leader understands the importance of knowing the systemic reasons for people’s behavior.

If you are familiar with my work at all, I contend that there are the organizational systems that companies use, unwittingly but consistently to effectively run their operations.

They are of likened to the three major team sports in North America, Football – the organization needing compliance; Basketball – the team needing cooperation; and Baseball – the players needing competition amongst themselves (example; sales).

This article will take that notion a step further.

Based on the organizational sports team model , it addresses the issue of task interdependence.

What are the various business  processes your company uses and what is the best way to have the best processes?

The crux of sound organization and superior service is effective management of task interdependence.

That is to say, how the different parts of an organization are related to each other and to the whole to deliver superior, personalized service as a matter of course.

There are three forms of internal organization, communication systems or task interdependence.

1.  Baseball: Pooled

2.  Football: Sequential

3. Basketball: Reciprocal


1.  Baseball Business Process: Pooled Interdependence


In Baseball the parts are relatively independent of each other and make discreet and separate contributions to the organization as a whole.

The whole is roughly the sum of its parts, each player’s individual contribution.

Like a sales force, a teacher or a research scientist.

Or a pure conglomerate or company system in which the various operating units have little to do with each other and interact periodically or minimally with the parent organization.

They carry out a variety of independent tasks, the order of occurrence of which is often impossible to predict. In those cases when the work of a Baseball-organization does unfold in sequence this sequence typically cannot be mapped beforehand.

Neither can the character of the end state be specified in any detail.

Clarity of process appears only in retrospect. Read More

A Tale of Two CEOs: How Leaders Unwittingly Cause Complexity

By | Organizational Development | No Comments


Get Unstuck

This excerpt is taken from “Get Unstuck, Stay Unstuck, and do What you are”

The Tale of Two CEOs – Jimmy and Jenna

How Leaders Unwittingly Cause Complexity

“When all you have in your hand is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.”

Abraham Maslow


Self Inflicted Wounds



Human nature is basically instinctual.

It is helpful and important to know that organizations are also fundamentally “instinctual institutions”.

And most leaders tend to be unwittingly instinctual in how they run their companies, that is to say, they (unwittingly) lead and behave in ways that are most natural and comfortable for them.

But in so doing they often make things more complicated than they need to or should be.

The way most businesses run is that once strategies and budgets are created (Football), no matter how much complexity is involved, managers need to translate them into specific goals for departments, units, and teams (Basketball) and then make sure that people actually carry them out (Baseball).

All three systems (games) depending on the task at hand, at some point will come into play.

We need to be good at managing all three organizational games, often in the face of our natural inclinations and instincts.

This is not an easy thing to do.

The point of this article is that the failure of a leader to be aware of what is needed by her company at any given moment and to adapt to the systemic demands and the requisite leadership style embedded in that moment, actually creates more complexity than otherwise would be the case.

In other words, leaders trying to do their best, sometimes actually make things worse; they actually cause more complexity simply by being who they are.


Two CEOs: Jimmy and Jenna

Jimmy and Jenna are CEOs of two young but progressive companies.

Both of them have very different styles.

Each of their organizations is still small enough to need direct involvement/management from their respective CEOs.

Each is facing complexities that are very frustrating but neither realizes how they (their personal and management style) are the primary cause of their concerns.

Jimmy (he owns and runs a software firm) does little to foster team play in his organization.

He does not hold regular staff meetings and in fact has little patience for meetings in general, preferring one-on-one sessions, phone calls, and e-mail.

And of course, Jimmy thinks this is quite fine.

But as a result of his style, his managers often find themselves bumping into one another when their goals and priorities conflict, for example, when a number of his brand managers wound up competing with each other for the same trade spending funds. Read More

How our Core Personality Develops – Part Two

By | Organizational Development | No Comments
Get Unstuck

This excerpt is taken from “Get Unstuck, Stay Unstuck, and do What you are”

How our Core Personality Develops – Part Two

Our Core Self Has Three Developmental Stages/Levels

Here and elsewhere I have posited that there are three determinants that make us do what we do.

They are:

1. The “Me” that is my System (the most powerful determinant because it makes “everybody do what they do; everyone stops at the red light and so forth).

2. The “Me” that is my Situation, which makes most people do what they do most of the time (team and social situations and so forth).

3. The “Me” that is my Self (our core personality).

In  part one we explored how the core personality, the “Me” that is my Self develops.

I suggested that there are three layers.

We also discussed a general theory, based on twins separated at birth for how our personalities develop.

In this section, we will analyze how the three stages we described in part one, that make up our specific or core personality type and preference, actually happen.

In other words, how and why we are the way we are and why and how we function, feel and interact with people the way we do.

Read More

How our Core Personality Develops – Part One

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Get Unstuck

This excerpt is taken from “Get Unstuck, Stay Unstuck, and do What you are”

How our Core Personality Develops

Our Core Self Has Three Developmental Stages/Levels

In other articles and certainly in several of my books we have discussed the three primary determinants to human interaction and behavior.

The first, the “Me” that is my System is the most powerful determinant because it makes “everybody do what they do.

Systems are designed to measure and reward the behavior that it wants from the people inside said system.

That is why, for instance, everyone stops at the red light and so forth.

We have also detailed the second determinant, the “Me” that is my Situation, which makes most people do what they do most of the time (team and social situations and so forth).

In this article we will analyze the third and most visceral determinant, the “Me” that is my Self (our core personality).

This is the part of us that makes each person do what they do (all the time; if they had their druthers).

A very interesting and important question for many of us is, “Who am I at the core, my center so to speak and further to that, how did I end up this way?”

Let’s talk about that.

As shown in the diagram below, three convergent, sequential and systemic developmental stages determine our basic or core personality.

In other words, they comprise how and why we are the way we are and why and how we function, feel and interact with people the way we do. Read More