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We’ve all been there, sitting through meetings that drone on and on discussing expected business outcomes, a dynamic that might be stimulating for some but not for most participants.

In fact, numerous studies, including those conducted at MIT spearheaded by Otto Scharmer whose work in this field reveals that the key characteristics influencing the way people work together best involve exploring possibility as opposed to predictability, a practice that triggers enhanced creativity, inspiration, and innovative outcomes.

So how do leaders guide discussions toward the realm of possibility?

Interestingly, the answer is in the way we listen. This requires refined and specific technique such as listening with all the senses, and noticing emotional as well as intellectual communication components. It means being sensitive to the factual and feeling information being expressed and receiving it in a safe, optimistic environment enabling both the speaker and the listener to enjoy a positive, encouraging experience.

Then, from this comfortable place of acceptance, letting go of barriers, and ego, the skilled leader moves the conversation beyond what is, and opens to what is possible. What future is emerging? What is becoming? The conversation becomes a lively, stimulating exploration of possibility for the leader as much as the participants.

The result is the true essence of cultivating a future-oriented experience where possibilities can emerge, and exciting, innovative realities can be realized and implemented. This future evoking practice sets business leaders on track for actualizing imagination and progressive brainstorming often moving business forward into unexpected, and sometimes unorthodox navigation of the unknown.


How do you respond to challenge in the workplace?

Do you perceive it as an opportunity to be shown something you may not have previously considered? Or do you see it as a reflection of inadequacy?

Rather than face confrontation, when it comes to conflict, many people tend to blame themselves, seeing the situation as a result of something they didn’t do well, whether it involved work performance or an interaction with colleagues.

Self-blame can be an unfortunate reaction, but it actually goes beyond that.

Assuming blame is usually counterproductive because it blocks the potential to reveal something that could lead to a significant breakthrough.

Take the example of John, a long-term employee of a prominent hospitality firm. During most of his career, John was confident about his performance and ability to handle the numerous aspects of his responsibilities. But this past year, with the company’s intermittent pandemic closures requiring remote participation, John had been feeling much less sure of himself regarding job security as well as his proficiency using technology that differed from the familiarity in the office. These factors kept him feeling vulnerable and somewhat on edge, so when an important report he completed failed to flow through the proper channels, John assumed he made an error. Perhaps the transmittal was executed incorrectly this time? Maybe he overlooked an essential component?

John immediately apologized without knowing why the error occurred.

However, if he had tracked each step of his report’s launch, he would have discovered that the error had nothing to do with him. There had been an overnight system glitch resulting in an accidental deletion of his work. All staff members were to be notified regarding the system failure, but the person attending to the group email unintentionally omitted John from the list. And since John was working remotely, he didn’t have access to the in-office dynamic of sharing what happened with his colleagues which could have alerted him to the facts.

If John was more self-assured, he would have been inclined to investigate what happened and realize the source of the problem. He might have been able to discuss the situation with the employee who made the error which in turn could have contributed to the development of a better way to ensure the delivery of critical information. John also could have become more aware of his concerns, taken time to address them, and ultimately have had a discussion with his supervisor requesting job status clarification. Instead, he went on with his worry and uncertainty.

Self-blame operates in a way that’s similar to depression. It serves as an insulator shielding with a blanket of misery so cumbersome it replaces dealing with the root problem. Basically, it’s a form of protection.

The moral of the story is to TRUST that when challenge arises, it’s not a bad thing. More likely it’s an opportunity to uncover a new perspective. It’s like saying ‘Thank you for showing me where to focus” and then taking a deeper look.

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There’s no question that the world as we once knew it is forever changed. This is obviously due in part to the pandemic and the shifts everyone has been making to accommodate health and well-being, education systems, and not least of all, the ways we participate in the workplace.

From working remotely to newly accepted personal pronouns, relaxed professional attire, and policy changes, the workplace, if you step back to gain perspective, has become a more holistic environment presenting individualized opportunities to thrive. However, modification requires new learning curves and different ways of defining who we are and how we choose to engage. We have been and continue to be in the process of revisioning.

One area that has been significantly impacted is business leadership.

Executive decision-making was once valued exclusively for action based on evaluation and data, but growing numbers of business leaders now also rely on reflection that includes intuition as an additional key. This ‘inner knowing’, ‘feeling’ or ‘hunch’ that in the past had been ignored or silenced is considered an essential component for choice.

By integrating intellect with intuition, decision-making becomes the blending of a greater reservoir of information. Accessing intuition helps with learning to trust that ‘gut feeling’ as a means to innovate or possibly avoid taking steps that might later result in regret. Culturally, we have been trained to listen to what goes on in our heads, but that’s not the only thing running the show. Our innate wisdom is always present.

How often has someone with impressive credentials interview for a position that seems like a perfect fit, but something feels off to the interviewer? Something just isn’t right. And if that ‘feeling’ is acknowledged, the applicant as well as the business may be spared the frustration and disappointment of an inappropriate hire.

Leaders who honor their intuition employ it in all phases of business development from team building to policy design, retreats, expansions, and so on. Allowing and cultivating intuition brings all of who we are to the table in every aspect of our lives. Think about the situations and relationships where you can fully be yourself. This is where you shine and embrace the potential to be most joyful, inspired, and creative, the true expression of holistic living.

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