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Archives ~ January 2013 Entries

Your search for "all posts in January 2013" returned 4 results.

Fifty Shades of Gray

Dr. Foster Mobley // Business, Quotables, Wisdom Leading

There are many sides to every issue. Said differently, reality comes in at least 50 shades of gray. Our views are colored by our experiences, morality and sense of ethics, and differ from those of others. Understanding this is a fundamental tenet of wisdom. Understanding this allows us to respect nuanced arguments and take diverse points of view into account before making decisions. Unfortunately, some in our culture approach discourse as extremists. Extremists see all things in black and white. Either you are with them or against them. If you don't love President Obama, you're a right-wing redneck. If you support gun control, you hate the Constitution. Extremist thinking breeds hardened fanatics who can't and won't compromise. We see its effects daily in the Middle East and in the U.S. Congress, but it's also a common phenomenon in organizations. When a leader's strongly held position is challenged by contradictory evidence or opposing preferences, the result can be anger, punitive action or chaos. Here's why. Extreme views are often camouflage for strong emotions, including (and especially) fear. An effective leader welcomes multiple points of view on a topic not only because s/he's not threatened by them but because s/he may actually be empowered by them. Conversely, extremists' deepest fear is that not only are their beliefs might be wrong, but that their very sense of self-worth is diminished if they are. They cloak that insecurity behind often boisterous irrationality and anger. One path toward cultivating wisdom is recognizing when your anger is a primitive reaction to one of your beliefs being questioned. A wise leader is constantly questioning his/her own views and inviting others to challenge them as well. Unlike the loud voice, it's the true sign of strength. I'm guessing you're up to the challenge. What are you doing to create an environment where all beliefs are openly, respectfully questioned?

There are many sides to every issue. Said differently, reality comes in at least 50 shades of gray. Our views are colored by our experiences, morality and sense of ethics, and differ from those of others. Understanding this is a fundamental tenet of wisdom. Understanding this allows us to respect nuanced arguments and take diverse points of view into account before making decisions.

Unfortunately, some in our culture approach discourse as extremists. Extremists see all things in black and white. Either you are with them or against them. If you don't love President Obama, you're a right-wing redneck. If you support gun control, you hate the Constitution.

Extremist thinking breeds hardened fanatics who can't and won't compromise. We see its effects daily in the Middle East and in the U.S. Congress, but it's also a common phenomenon in organizations. When a leader's strongly held position is challenged by contradictory evidence or opposing preferences, the result can be anger, punitive action or chaos.

Here's why. Extreme views are often camouflage for strong emotions, including (and especially) fear. An effective leader welcomes multiple points of view on a topic not only because s/he's not threatened by them but because s/he may actually be empowered by them. Conversely, extremists' deepest fear is that not only are their beliefs might be wrong, but that their very sense of self-worth is diminished if they are. They cloak that insecurity behind often boisterous irrationality and anger.

One path toward cultivating wisdom is recognizing when your anger is a primitive reaction to one of your beliefs being questioned. A wise leader is constantly questioning his/her own views and inviting others to challenge them as well. Unlike the loud voice, it's the true sign of strength. I'm guessing you're up to the challenge.

What are you doing to create an environment where all beliefs are openly, respectfully questioned?

1.28.13 0
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Are You Training Innovators or Elevators?

Dr. Foster Mobley // History, Wisdom Leading

On the day dedicated to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., I'd like to share a lesser-known Dr. King quote: "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education." In building our organizations, are we teaching individuals to think critically and challenge conventional wisdom? Too often, the answer is no. In many training programs, participants learn methods or systems by rote. Such education doesn't cultivate the innovators who can energize an organization with new ideas. It breeds "elevators": people who specialize in narrow, repetitive work. While every organization needs some "elevators," they are not the people to take it to the next level. A true culture of education doesn't fear challenges to established ideas; it welcomes them. Instead of saying, "Memorize this," it asks, "What is your wisdom?" On a day recognizing a man who challenged the accepted wisdom of an entire nation, ask yourself: What can you do to teach your people to recognize and value their own wisdom?

On the day dedicated to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., I'd like to share a lesser-known Dr. King quote: "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education."

In building our organizations, are we teaching individuals to think critically and challenge conventional wisdom? Too often, the answer is no. In many training programs, participants learn methods or systems by rote. Such education doesn't cultivate the innovators who can energize an organization with new ideas. It breeds "elevators": people who specialize in narrow, repetitive work. While every organization needs some "elevators," they are not the people to take it to the next level.

A true culture of education doesn't fear challenges to established ideas; it welcomes them. Instead of saying, "Memorize this," it asks, "What is your wisdom?" On a day recognizing a man who challenged the accepted wisdom of an entire nation, ask yourself:

What can you do to teach your people to recognize and value their own wisdom?

1.21.13 0
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Compromise: A Four-Letter Word?

Dr. Foster Mobley // Quotables, Wisdom Leading

With the New Year comes the looming fight over the debt ceiling. You know the basics: Congress must authorize an increase in the debt the U.S. can take on so we can pay our bills. What strikes me about the current situation is the refusal of anyone to compromise. Each side insists they are acting in good faith while claiming the other is being intractable. At its most basic level, the obvious problem is that everybody thinks of the situation in terms of winning and losing. It's not about doing what's right but humiliating the other side. It's a zero-sum game played by combatants for whom compromise equals surrender...a four-letter word in today's political culture. The great statesman Edmund Burke said, "All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter." He knew that a wise leader does not intimidate, bully or command others into doing things his or her way, but finds solutions that work for as many stakeholders as possible. Winning then, isn't about wielding power, but resolving problems in service of your constituents and your commitments. Some unsolicited advice to Congress: how about replacing that four letter word with a six letter word, like listen? Or an eight letter word like consider? Or, how about this...the ultimate four letter word? Lead. What about you? Do you see compromise as wisdom or weakness?

With the New Year comes the looming fight over the debt ceiling. You know the basics: Congress must authorize an increase in the debt the U.S. can take on so we can pay our bills.

What strikes me about the current situation is the refusal of anyone to compromise.

Each side insists they are acting in good faith while claiming the other is being intractable. At its most basic level, the obvious problem is that everybody thinks of the situation in terms of winning and losing. It's not about doing what's right but humiliating the other side. It's a zero-sum game played by combatants for whom compromise equals surrender...a four-letter word in today's political culture.

The great statesman Edmund Burke said, "All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter." He knew that a wise leader does not intimidate, bully or command others into doing things his or her way, but finds solutions that work for as many stakeholders as possible. Winning then, isn't about wielding power, but resolving problems in service of your constituents and your commitments.

Some unsolicited advice to Congress: how about replacing that four letter word with a six letter word, like listen? Or an eight letter word like consider? Or, how about this...the ultimate four letter word? Lead.

What about you? Do you see compromise as wisdom or weakness?

1.14.13 0
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Teams of Leaders, Leaders of Teams

Dr. Foster Mobley // Business, Quotables, Wisdom Leading

Leading others powerfully isn't a solo sport. I know. There's a lot of hyperbole (e.g., exaggeration) attached to leadership conversations that state otherwise. In fact, there's about a half century devoted to extoling the "great man" myth; that is, that leadership is a heroic endeavor successfully journeyed by only the strong, intelligent, confident, handsome. The reality is that in today's complex world, few accomplishments are made outside a collective effort. Even Michelangelo, commonly credited with being the solo genius behind the painting of the Sistine Chapel, employed a team of 300 talented artists to create virtually every image seen today. It seems only natural then that the focus for future Weekly Wisdoms, while still emphasizing thoughts of mindfulness, presence, wisdom and life, expand to include considerations of collective efforts - of teams and groups. After all, a leadership team is often a team of leaders, rife with egos and power and strong opinions. How does that work best? My partner, Matt Brubaker, and I are writing a new book that I believe will transform how organizations perceive team performance and their growth dynamics. In the coming weeks, we'll share some of our most provocative ideas. Even Michelangelo needed to engage a collective effort. How does your personal "genius" impact your ability to team with others?

Leading others powerfully isn't a solo sport.

I know. There's a lot of hyperbole (e.g., exaggeration) attached to leadership conversations that state otherwise. In fact, there's about a half century devoted to extoling the "great man" myth; that is, that leadership is a heroic endeavor successfully journeyed by only the strong, intelligent, confident, handsome.

The reality is that in today's complex world, few accomplishments are made outside a collective effort. Even Michelangelo, commonly credited with being the solo genius behind the painting of the Sistine Chapel, employed a team of 300 talented artists to create virtually every image seen today.

It seems only natural then that the focus for future Weekly Wisdoms, while still emphasizing thoughts of mindfulness, presence, wisdom and life, expand to include considerations of collective efforts - of teams and groups. After all, a leadership team is often a team of leaders, rife with egos and power and strong opinions. How does that work best?

My partner, Matt Brubaker, and I are writing a new book that I believe will transform how organizations perceive team performance and their growth dynamics. In the coming weeks, we'll share some of our most provocative ideas.

Even Michelangelo needed to engage a collective effort. How does your personal "genius" impact your ability to team with others?

1.7.13 0
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Dr. Foster Mobley

Trusted advisor and coach to admired executives globally for 3 decades, Thought leader on wisdom-based approaches to breakthrough leading, "Lead Coach" for Deloitte's experienced and high potential leader development, Team performance advisor to two NCAA championship teams