A new season of great conversations

This photo of a suspension footbridge leading straight ahead through a forest to a glowing dawn illustrates the theme of purpose-led leadership taking us to a better future.I trust this finds you well and thriving as the new season comes in.

There is a real sense of a ‘new term’ starting so I wish you every success with your own new directions.

Over recent years, my own leadership work has started to take a more defined shape. To help build a bridge to a better future for us all, I am working with leaders, teams and organisations in the following three ways:

How leaders can build trust across the whole organisation

“Trust, not authority, is the only glue that will hold organizations together in a diverse, global, technology-empowered world” Paul Polman, CEO Unilever

ask more questions poster on office wall

Building trust not only between individuals but also systemically – between teams and across a whole organization – is vital for enhanced business performance and employee wellbeing. I offer three practical solutions for increasing trust through better quality dialogue, more constructive challenge and healthy interactions between teams at different levels.

Trust is a hot topic in business. Since the 2008 financial crash and a seemingly never-ending stream of scandals such as bribery in big pharm companies and the Volkswagen emissions debacle, there has been a proliferation of ‘trust’ events to explore how to restore a better relationship between companies and customers. In a recent article in the FT (18 July ’17), Michael Skapinker argues that shifting the focus from talking about trust to building trustworthy organizations through changed behaviour is the right next step. I wholeheartedly agree. 

Leading Systemic Dialogue: From Silos to the Whole System

Co-authored with Edward L. Rowland

What is Systemic Dialogue?

Group of people in an office looking out over cityscape“Leadership is about being better able to listen to the whole than anyone else can”
Otto Scharmer (2009) Theory U: Learning from the Future as It Emerges

During these times of upheaval, the need to move forward in alignment with others has never been greater. The leadership challenges of today are too complex for any one person to solve alone. In our rapidly changing, increasingly uncertain and globally networked world, leadership needs to be less about individual heroics and more about listening to – and mobilising – collective potential.

Developing the skillset of what we call ‘systemic dialogue’ is critically important for leaders and their teams, whether they want to create a new vision, implement a new strategy or shift their performance. We define systemic dialogue as:

The artform and skillset of holding powerful meeting spaces to navigate critical business challenges and find solutions that strengthen the system as a whole. 

Purpose-Led Leadership: The Three Adventures

Co-authored with Edward L. Rowland

Tapping into Purpose

Image of a circle of parachuters holding hands against a backdrop of a cloudy sky“It’s at the juncture where organizational purpose and individual calling start to resonate with and reinforce each other that truly extraordinary things happen.” Frederic Laloux, Reinventing Organizations

This post explores how we can tap more fully into personal purpose and organizational purpose, so that they align with and resource each other. When we bring these powerful and compelling impulses together, we create inspiring organizations where people love to work and attract customers who are energized by what’s on offer. Purpose-led leadership is the new frontier in where progressive organisations are going.

During these times of turbulent change, many of us want to discover our true work in this troubled world of ours. Having the courage to follow this deeper impulse is the key that unlocks the door to our deeper fulfillment and creativity – renewed engagement with our work and career and a stronger sense of satisfaction with our lives.

Research shows – very simply – that people who follow a calling in their work have better life outcomes than those who don’t. A recent study underwrites the psychological and physical benefits of following our passion even more clearly. Writing in the most recent edition of the Research Digest of the British Psychological Society, Alex Fradera concludes, “Ignoring a calling hurts you.”

Cultures of Purpose: Developing Systemic Leadership

By Sarah Rozenthuler & Edward L. Rowland
Originally published on LinkedIn, Oct 14, 2015

“Leadership is discovering the company’s destiny and having the courage to follow it… Companies that endure have a noble purpose” Joe Jaworski

spider-web-net-grid-silk-drops-dew-morning-dawnCo-creating purposeful organisations is a new frontier in organisational development. This post taps into the growing body of evidence about the financial, social and psychological benefits of creating “cultures of purpose.” It explores how leaders can attune their organisation to a rapidly shifting global marketplace and catalyse purposeful action by developing four core capacities of “systemic leadership.”

To have a conversation, create a container

This post explores how we can create the conditions for generative dialogue so that together we achieve more than we could alone. A “container” for a conversation provides a “holding” atmosphere in which the things that matter most can be discussed. As a fan of the British writer Virginia Woolf, I recently went to the National […]

The choreography of collective leadership

It’s been a great pleasure the last few days to be in the throngs enjoying the Edinburgh Festival. Established in 1947, the Festival was created to “to provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit” through the transformative power of the arts. At a time when it’s all-too-easy to focus on the destructive […]

We need to talk

To live is to be related. Nothing and no one can live in isolation. We are all interdependent, and increasingly so, on this planet of nearly seven billion of us. If, as the population forecasts predict, we double in number to 15 billion by 2100, the need to talk and get along with each other […]

Conversation matters

Conversation is centre-stage in most people’s lives. We might even see the whole of life—and work—as one conversation followed by another and then another. Talking together is what many of us spend a large portion of our time doing, whether it’s in the boardroom, across the kitchen table, on the factory floor or at the […]

Better dialogue – the power of tone

Tone Affects Energy The tone is a crucial point of leverage in interactions between people. The quality of the tone determines whether people’s energy is amplified or diminished by the conversation and this, in turn, impacts their levels of performance, commitment and satisfaction. Research shows that the quality of the “field” operates as a key […]