"Virtual collaboration is fast becoming the norm. Are you ready?" (Harvard Business Review, 04/24/18)
14 years ago, sick and tired of attending meetings where I left feeling, at best, depleted and others moaning about, yet another meeting, "that didn't go anywhere"; I invited 12 leaders to join me in the 1st Art of Convening Teletraining. It was an early virtual laboratory or "skunkworks" project to explore what the components of what makes for a transformational meeting, gathering or even conversation. Now, 14 years later, we've learned a thing or two.
Here are 5 bedrock steps to improve your "Webside Manner" in any virtual meeting or conversation...
- Clarity of Purpose and Intent- Get crystal clear BEFORE your engagement on why you are meeting and what your intent is for success.
- An invitation that has meaning and relevance- Make sure your invitation clearly articulates the form, function, and purpose. Then ask yourself why people should come and what's in it for them.
- Set the Context- Open with a warm welcome, tell them why they have been invited and review the high points of the agenda including expectations and outcome.
- Create a container of safety and generativity- People want to know what the "terms of engagement" will be. For example: ask people to be present by resisting the urge to multitask.
- Hear all the Voices- When people feel their views count, they become more engaged and engaged people tend to own the outcomes. (Accountability!) Start with a check-in to take the temperature of the group. Take a few minutes to ask each to respond to what expectations they have for the meeting. A simple 30-second check in from each will tell you volumes about where you might go and what people want from the meeting.
These simple 5 steps can go a long way in improving clarity, buy-in, and alignment in any virtual meeting. Check out our next Convening Powerful Virtual Meetings Training!
"Virtual collaboration is fast becoming the norm. Are you ready?" (Harvard Business Review, 04/24/18).
Whether you are leading a virtual collaboration or a weekly team meeting, an Art of Convening Training adds a powerful skill set to any facilitation or gathering.
Explore the art, science and application of convening and purpose practices to transform the way people meet and gather.
Jul 11, 25, Aug 8, 22, Sep 5 Sep 12, 28, Oct 10, 24, Nov 7, 21, Dec 5
8:00am-9:30am Central US 7:00pm-9:00pm Central US
$199 by 5/15/18 $595 early bird by 7/15/18
2 payments of $100 6 payments of $100
Ren Wei is a family man, OD consultant and convener sharing his purpose on a global level. I have the good fortune to work closely with Ren Wei, along with five of his fellow Chinese colleagues, in the current Art of Convening training. This brief yet inspirational interview captures the commitment he has for being an active catalyst for societal and global transformation.
#PurposefulLeadership #Purpose #Leadership #Convening #ArtofConvening #Engagement
The Art of Purposeful Leadership: The Future Leader
11/7/2018, 11:20 a.m.-12:35 p.m.
Get registered to join him! group rates are now available. Bring your teams. For the best rate, register now while the preview rate is still in effect.
"Convening leaders create and manage the social space within which citizens get deeply engaged."
Peter Block became a foundational mentor when we founded Heartland/CPL 22 years ago. His writing and thought leadership was invaluable.
'The Answer to How is Yes' and 'Community: The Structure of Belonging' were both primary texts for the early Art of Convening Training's. The essay below states the case for purpose shared as convening, and convening as a foundational characteristic of an on-purpose leader.
Leadership is Convening
Excerpt from Community: The Structure of Belonging, by Peter Block, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, May 2008
In communal transformation, leadership is about intention, convening, valuing relatedness, and presenting choices. It is not a personality characteristic or a matter of style, and therefore it requires nothing more than what all of us already have.
This means we can stop looking for leadership as though it were scarce or lost, or it had to be trained into us by experts. If our traditional form of leadership has been studied for so long, written about with such admiration, defined by so many, worshiped by so few, and the cause of so much disappointment, maybe doing more of all that is not productive. The search for great leadership is a prime example of how we too often take something that does not work and try harder at it. I have written elsewhere about reconstructing leader as social architect.
The Art of Convening
The shift is to believe that the task of leadership is to provide context and produce engagement, to tend to our social fabric. It is to see the leader as one whose function is to engage groups of people in a way that creates accountability and commitment. In this way of thinking we hold leadership to three tasks:
• Create a context that nurtures an alternative future, one based on gifts, generosity, accountability, and commitment.
• Initiate and convene conversations that shift people’s experience, which occurs through the way people are brought together and the nature of the questions used to engage them.
• Listen and pay attention.
Convening leaders create and manage the social space within which citizens get deeply engaged. Through this engagement, citizens discover that it is in their power to resolve something or at least move the action forward.
Engagement, and the accountability that grows out of it, occurs when we ask people to be in charge of their own experience and act on the well-being of the whole. Leaders do this by naming a new context and convening people into new conversations through questions that demand personal investment. This is what triggers the choice to be accountable for those things over which we can have power, even though we may have no control.
In addition to convening and naming the question, we add listening to the critical role of leadership. Listening may be the single most powerful action the leader can take. Leaders will always be under pressure to speak, but if building social fabric is important, and sustained transformation is the goal, then listening becomes the greater service.
This kind of leadership––convening, naming the question, and listening––is restorative and produces energy rather than consumes it. It is leadership that creates accountability as it confronts people with their freedom. In this way, engagement-centered leaders bring kitchen table and street corner democracy into being.
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"So start tomorrow, right now. Welcome to the first few seconds of your bright, beautiful future."
Cindy Kent was the lead Conversation Starter at our 20th Anniversary Conference in 2016. As a thought and purposeful leader, her values are central to all she does and how she does it.
In nearly five decades of life, and too-many-experiences-to-count later, I have come to realize how misguided the notion of finding happiness is. You don’t really find happy, in truth, we make happy. Finding Happy is an ill-conceived notion, that inherently implies that happiness is some illusive by-product of luck or fortune or even, some edenic destination—a wistful, ideologue of a reward at the end of one’s diligent pursuit. Instead, I believe, we make happy—one decision, one choice, at a time.
The very idea that we make happy can be hard for some people to accept. Why? Because if we accept that we make our own happy, then it places the responsibility of our happiness squarely on our own shoulders. As such, it puts an end once and for all to the infamous “blame game” and the convenient opportunity to blame someone, anyone, for our failing to achieve the love, success and happiness that we desire. It would mean that the years we’ve spent blaming friends, parents, spouses, partners and employers for failing to make us happy were in fact, a bad use of our good and precious time. It does not mean that these individuals are abdicated from any wrong-doing, but it does suggest that we maintain absolute control over the effect that we allow their actions to have on our emotional and mental well-being. Fundamentally, happiness is much more about our reactions than it is about the actions themselves—reactions, which are completely within our own control. At some point we must make the choice to let go of the pain and hurt inflicted by others and choose to forgive them, let it go and MOVE ON. In fact today, or better yet right NOW, you can choose to let this very moment be the last bit of hurt that you ascribe to any event of your past. As you take deep cleansing breaths, you are releasing the bitterness of yesterday and taking in all the joy and hope that tomorrow brings. If you choose to wait, to have one final pity party or to savor the familiarity of pain’s bitterness one last time, then tomorrow will never come. So start tomorrow, right now. Welcome to the first few seconds of your bright, beautiful future.
So what is happiness? Happiness is the deepest level of contentment that you can possibly imagine, a sense of fullness that envelopes every fiber of your being. It is soul joy—a knowing that you are where you’re supposed to be, doing what you’re supposed to be doing at this very moment in time. It is not a feeling, for feelings are fleeting, but instead it is a sense of wholeness and being completely at peace in the moment. Happiness is inextricably tied to purpose. Walking in purpose and living life on purpose, by its very nature is a higher order of livelihood. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that many people go through their entire lives having never experienced the depth of peace that comes from a life truly lived.
After years of “ordinary-ness,” the human spirit that is purposed for greatness will eventually take one of two paths. It will either grow dull and bitter, having convinced itself that ‘this is as good as it gets’ or two, the intensity of frustration will fuel the yearning to find ‘something more.’ It is at this point that one becomes increasingly aware that what you’re doing now, or even what you’ve spent the last twenty or thirty years doing is not fulfilling. This can be a frightening and overwhelming experience fraught with questions and self-doubt. What will I do instead? I don’t have the training or education to do what I really want to do. Will I be able to meet my financial obligations? I have a thriving career; people will think I’m crazy to leave this great job. Be assured that these feelings and questions are normal—and necessary—milestones as one endeavors to make happy.
Cindy (Smith) Kent
Innovative Healthcare Executive. Focused Operational Growth Leader. Visionary Change Champion. Public Speaker.
President & General Manager, 3M Infection Prevention Division
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The Convening Method is much like baking a cake. Purpose is the flour, convening is the yeast. Convening activates purpose. The ingredients, all added at the right time, consciously tended in a step-by-step manner, can be successful time after time.
The recipe for convening transformational meetings follows a path:
- Start with a clear purpose and success factors. A two-sentence statement will do.
- Your agenda comes next. It will embody your purpose along with what you are to do together to reach your success factors or intent.
- Your invitation simply outlines what you are to do together that integrates purpose and intent.
- Giving thought and consideration to the space in which you meet is often neglected. Think what would stimulate and enliven the attendees beyond all the necessary materials.
- In creating safe spaces for authentic engagements remember the cultural norms and what agreements you wish to have to allow people to settle in and feel safe.
- Once in the meeting, how many times and how many ways can all the voices be heard to allow the opportunity for full participation?
- Essential conversation is the result of the preparation you have put into the first 5 steps of the recipe. Here we are aware of mood and level of connection each has for engaging in the agenda. Has the space been created for mutual trust and respect?
- Calling for a commitment to action brings clarity to what has been agreed to. A commitment to action invites responsibility, accountability, and commitment to an individual and collective way forward.
In Part 1 we gave you the recipe or the method. In Part 2, next week, the yummy ingredients!
"What is most exciting is that even though there are clear outcomes and objectives for the program and each session, we also know that this is a dynamic and emergent process"
As Oprah said beautifully at the Golden Globes recently: "A new day is on the horizon [for women]." Now is the perfect time to explore and bolster whole person leadership for women.
A year ago, Rachel Harris had the idea to renew an offering for women leaders from 2008 as a way to explore what Whole Person and On-Purpose Leadership means in the world of life and work for women leaders today.
What it means to be a woman at work has evolved significantly since 2008 to include an understanding that to be a great leader, integrating who you are with what you do is crucial. Additionally, the definition of "leader" has expanded beyond a title to include situational leadership that calls on not only functional capacity, but capacity for authentic engagement and collaboration. Perfect opportunity!
Your WPL Faculty
What began a year ago as an endeavor of 2 expanded in scope and capacity with the addition of Center for Purposeful Leadership team members as content contributors, and so much more...
With the addition of this dynamic team, what has transpired is a collaboration of spirit and expertise. I presented the initial concept and inspiration as a basic framing. Since then, each team member has assumed a role of stewardship and primary contributor to design from not only their area of content expertise, but from many-decades-real-time experience with the challenges and opportunities for women in the workplace, as well as their own personal and professional development.
This evolution to stewardship didn't just happen by accident. We utilize the principles and practices of convening to create a consistent structure, path and map to build trust and mutual respect, parallel to getting work done.
We follow the thoughtful 9 steps of the Convening Wheel as the structure of each meeting and conversation. At the center: the heart of the matter.
What is at the heart of the matter is always a crucial place to begin. So, what IS at the heart of the matter? First and foremost, we are colleagues that did not know one another before being introduced by CPL becoming trusted colleagues and even friends. What is crucial is a relationship-first orientation.
Next, in a collaboration structure that is developing quickly to meet the timeline of the work to deliver, there are some crucial constructs still being worked out:
- How are all voices heard?
- How do decisions get made that honor each voice and expertise?
- What are our individual and collective values?
- What does excellence look like for each of us and for the whole team?
- What do we agree are the "non-negotiables" for trusted participation and delivery of content?
We are "building the ship" as we design program and presentation together. We set sail next week on January 22 for the first of five Zoom video sessions and complete in May for a 2-day in-person Summit.
What is most exciting is that even though there are clear outcomes and objectives for the program and each session, we also know that this is a dynamic and emergent process: the learnings that emerge from each of the sessions and [very accomplished] participants will guide and propel us towards that final two days that will be more about co-discovery than about teaching and learning.
I can't wait to see what happens and who we will be by June 1!
"Convening is about being open to relationship rather than closed. It is a challenge to choose to stay connected and open when our lives and schedules are full and our time is precious."
By Jeevan Sivasubramaniam, Managing Director, Editorial, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.
Craig and Patricia Neal have been organizing gatherings and meetings for decades across the nation and have a pretty solid idea of what works and what doesn't. However, even seasoned conveners still make mistakes when bringing people together or forget what really matters.
In this entry, Patricia and Craig list the Five Most Common Convening Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them):
1. Not "Staying Connected": Convening is about being open to relationship rather than closed. It is a challenge to choose to stay connected and open when our lives and schedules are full and our time is precious. Stay connected by knowing who you are and how you want to be in relationship with others. You always have a choice when you walk into a meeting: do you want to be connected, or stay closed? Choosing connection can lead to collaboration, creativity, purposeful outcomes.
2. Fearing Rejection: The fear of rejection can derail our ability to extend a wholehearted and sincere invitation. Invite often - for all kinds of things - and experience acceptance and rejection as others’ freedom to choose rather than a personal success or failure. We often think that colleagues are too busy to talk beyond the cursory business at hand, but when we persevere, people are grateful for the opportunity to catch up and reconnect. Our fear of rejection, rather than rejection itself, was holding us back.
3. Making Assumptions: We say “assume and doom.” When we assume others know what a gathering’s all about, we put our gathering squarely in the realm of the unknown. Make the purpose and desired activity for a gathering as clear and explicit as possible - even if it seems unnecessary. At one important meeting, knowing we had only an hour, we jumped right into the action items. We neglected to set the context, assuming we were all on the same page. At the end of the meeting, people had different understandings of the purpose of the meeting and were not aligned in a commitment to action.
4. Reluctance to Impose Our Will on Others: “You’re not the boss of me!” How often have we said or heard words like that? But providing structure, environment and terms of engagement is a crucial part of convening. People need structure. If there is no structure, people look to create it. At a recent family gathering, we felt we should not be too controlling, but this led to a lack of clarity in stating the terms of engagement or agreements for a discussion. Everyone jumped in, in their own way, with cross-chatter and began talking over one another. It would have been better to state our expectations ahead of time to enable all people to be heard.
5. Impatience and Judgment: The compelling desire to “Just get on with it!” can rush us obliviously past the most important pieces of wisdom and capability present in our gathering. Remember, anyone included is equally important and essential. At the beginning of most meetings we do a check-in to hear from everyone. This one time we were 15 minutes late. we suggested we skip the check-in and move right into the agenda. Halfway through the meeting we realized we didn’t have everyone’s attention and didn’t have the necessary alignment to make important decisions we were there to make.
There are actually four other scenarios that generate obstacles for effective convening but we chose the five most common. What do you think? Did we choose the five most common? Do you have any feedback or ideas for us?
Stay tuned for the next article on 5 Things that Work and Matter.
"Patricia and Craig recently presented at GTS Government IT Symposium, Dakota County employee development, Work/Life Expo for Women, and other venues with the focus of purpose, leadership, connection, engagement."
70% of American workers don’t feel secure in their job and with their company/organization.
What most want in life was to be “valued” as an “individual”.
An avalanche of research shows the most common reason talent walks out the door is their manager who is either micromanaging, not recognizing others’ contribution, and/or disengaged. More research shows that a sense of purpose and related skillsets are essential for authentic engagement. How are the two connected?
GTS Government IT Symposium
Patricia and Craig recently presented at GTS Government IT Symposium, Dakota County employee development, Work/Life Expo for Women, and other venues with the focus of purpose, leadership, connection, engagement. The “soft stuff”, the “touchy-feely” stuff. Right? Well, to quote Seth Godin* in a recent blog post, “Let's stop calling them the 'soft skills'.”
What is at the heart of the matter? Your values as a leader are on show with every action. The “Talent Revolving Door” is a direct indicator of values of the
leader and/or the organization. Authentic engagement is an attractor and creates greater ease of communication and delivery because it builds trust. Trust is everything.
Organizations are scrambling for value-add for their product or service, differentiators to attract great talent, and increased productivity to do more with less. Authentic engagement is not only an expression of leadership values, but creates the conditions for collaboration at a truly different level.
HR is now recognizing that hiring for emotional intelligence skills is crucial to an individual’s ability to integrate into and connect with your culture, build trust, and deliver results. It is a key indicator of success.
Here are 3 steps to engagement:
- Commit to building authentic engagement as a skill set
- Commit to practice
- Commit to measure progress
1. Building authentic engagement
What are the essential elements? Engagement is more than creating exciting events or one-time recognitions. Fundamentally, engagement is about connection. The ability to connect with others in a way that lets them know they have been heard and you are seeking to understand and clarify what is needed, is foundational to building trust. In order to do that you must build the "muscles" of purposeful leadership: purpose, emotional intelligence, conversational intelligence, convening intelligence.
2. Commit to practice
Just like an athlete building new muscles, building new skills requires practice, practice, practice! Learn, Practice, Repeat!
Some of the tools and concepts CPL employs include:
- 9 Steps to Collaboration from The Art of Convening (CPL)
- Conversational Intelligence Assessment (CPL)
- Trust Changes Reality (Conversational Intelligence, Judith Glaser)
- The Business Case for Trust (Vivian Jenkins-Nelsen)
- More resources listed below
3. Commit to measure: informal and formal ideas
- Give people stretch assignments and new opportunities to contribute and learn. This shows you have paid attention enough to measure their current condition, progress and can identify opportunities for them to grow.
- Recognize and reward your people for their contributions.
- Walk the floors to initiate regular conversation.
- Convene virtual “town hall” conversations for new ideas.
- Pulse Surveys. Short, frequent surveys are a great way to maintain a consistent pulse on the vibe in your office.
- One-On-Ones.Another great way to measure engagement is through one-on-one meetings with employees.
- Stay/Exit Interviews.
#Talent #AuthenticEngagement #Purpose #PurposefulLeadership #Collaboration