Navigational Listening


By Judith E. Glaser |
Published: February 28, 2014

Put conversational intelligence to workNavigational-Listening2

Navigational listening is the most powerful tool for influencing others and creating transformation—perhaps, at times, more powerful that speaking. This highest and most expansive form of listening engages us with others in a spirit of co-creation

Many of us fall into listening habit patterns that stop us from engaging deeply with others. Instead we become we become addicted to being right—entrenched in positional thinking, defending what we believe without acknowledging other perspectives. By trapping us in thoughts from the past and locking us into conflicts, these habit patterns prevent us from generating new thinking and connecting with others in authentic, personal, powerful, and co-creative ways.

The listening mind is never blank or impartial. What we hear is influenced by our history—events, relationships, and experiences—and by our physical and emotional states. Feeling tired, angry, or stressful predisposes us to selective listening. Also, the speaker’s voice, dress, demeanor, mood, appearance or attitude can affect what we hear. And we may be so preoccupied with external things that we don’t listen at all.

Three Levels of Conversations

There are three levels or types of conversations, each with its own purpose – and each requires its own pattern of listening:

Level 1 Conversations: Inform. This transactional conversation involves an exchange of information. The goal is to confirm what you know and to align your meaning with others. There’s a give and take of information, as people share and confirm information. When we fall into Face-value Listening, we confuse fact with interpretation. Rather than informing each other and confirming what we each know and validating our information, we add our assumptions and interpretations—architecting two different views of realty, which then opens the door for conflict and misunderstanding.

Level 2 Conversations: Persuade. This positional conversation involves an exchange of power. The goal is to defend what you know and believe. When it’s working well, there’s a win-win solution. When we fall into Positional Listening, we listen to be right. Rather than giving each other the space for speaking out and sharing our points of view, we take a side. We advocate our positions and inquire into others positions with the intention of influencing and persuading them to our point of view—opening the space for resistance, conflict and manipulation.

Level 3 Conversations: Co-Create. This transformational conversation involves an exchange of energy. The goal is to explore each other’s viewpoint, to acknowledge it, to live in it, and learn from it. In this state of mind we are open to influence, to expand our view of what is possible, and to allow for generative thinking with others—co-creating conversations. We focus on learning what we don’t know and also on being open to learn what we don’t know we don’t know. When we co-create, we listen to connect, we ask questions for which we have no answers and navigate with others.

When we can move in and out of the right level for the task at hand, we are mastering Conversational Agility—the highest level of conversational intelligence.

Most organizations lack co-creative conversational ability (Level 3), and even struggle with persuasive conversations (Level 2). Instead, they focus on telling and selling—or debating endlessly without taking action. Learning Navigational Listening skills enables each person to size up the situation, choose the level of conversations needed and activate conversational intelligence in relationships, teams and organizations.

Four Harmful Listening Habit Patterns

Consider these four types of harmful listening habit patterns:

1. Noise-in-the-attic listening. When we sit silently while others talk, we appear to be listening; inwardly, however, we are listening to the noise in the attic—disengaged from the speaker’s ideas and involved in our own mental processes. Such listening tends to develop when we are told as children: “Don’t talk while I’m speaking!” “Don’t interrupt me!” “Don’t ask so many questions!” Conditioned by these warnings, many of us become preoccupied with our own internalizations: “Who does she think she is?” Or, we resort to reverie—returning from time to time to listen to what is being said.

NeuroTip 1: The talk in our head can take over our listening and become what we remember. Our self-talk becomes more prominent in our minds than what our ears hear. If the self-talk contains catalytic and emotional phrases like “Don’t interrupt me,” or if the words communicate judgment such as, “you stupid idiot,” our brains produce neuro-chemicals that activate our fear-networks in the primitive brain, closing down our executive brain, the prefrontal cortex. When this is turned off by the chemistry of fear, we forfeit empathy, trust, and good judgment. We lose our ability to handle complexity, and resort to old thoughts rather than process what is happening in the moment.

To prevent noise-in-the-attic listening, become aware when your brain is full of I-centric self-talk and turn it off. Instead, listen to connect to the other person and focus on we. By attending to the other person and removing the judgment, you create a neutral listening place in your brain to hear what others are saying without judgment. This mindshift also activates the mirror neurons, enabling you to experience the meaning others bring to their words, to connect, to build trust, and to make others feel safe to open up to you.

2. Face-value listening. We think we are hearing facts, when we are hearing interpretations. In face-value listening, the listener isn’t mentally checking back to see whether the words explain what they purport to explain. This explains why people can differ dramatically in their perceptions. Many of us hear what’s in our heads, rather than listening to connect with what others are really saying. Good listening requires guided attention to the meanings others are bringing to life.

NeuroTip 2: When we listen, we bring our own interpretations to the words we hear. We try to match what we think and know with what we are hearing. The actual act of matching up comparables in our head changes the meaning of what is being said. Our brains are designed with internal filing cabinets, which hold our personal history of experiences plus our own dictionary of what words mean. Too often we listen with face-value listening, thinking that others are sharing the same dictionary—when in fact, we don’t.

To prevent face-value listening, remember that your dictionary differs from that of others. Take the time to ask questions for which you have no answers. Rather than thinking you know what they mean, listen for distinctions—and ask questions that will bring out the meanings others have in mind and create new insights.

3. Positional listening. Such highly partial listening can lead to faulty assumptions and destroy team morale. For example, a leader might listen to her president’s annual report to determine whether her division will be growing. What she hears could affect her performance and her relationships with co-workers.

NeuroTip 3: When we are fearful about our role, or when there is high uncertainty about the future, our mind seeks clues assuring we have a secure place in our tribe. Our fears about where we belong in the pack influence how we listen, how we feel, and how we engage with others. The lower primitive brain, particularity the Amygdala, screens for concerns about our I; and when we feel excluded, judged, or insignificant, we activate the fear hormone cortisol and become more positional.

To prevent positional listening, engage with others around shared success and how you can support each other’s success. This we-centric conversation shifts the attention from you and your fears to connecting with others in positive ways. Once we know that they are friends, not foes, we bond and trust them. Our bodies start to produce oxytocin, a hormone that activates higher collaboration, even co-creation.

4. Navigational listening. Navigational listening—the art of listening to connect, to partner, and to perform better—is the most we-centric form of listening. Navigating with others leads to an expanded view of what is possible, often ending in a decision, strategy, change in behavior, or point of view. This highest and most expansive form of listening engages you with others in a spirit of co-creation, elevates your conversational intelligence, and exponentially elevates your chances for mutual success.

NeuroTip 4: When we shift from I-centric to WE-centric thinking, we enhance our partnership in co-creating the future. The prefrontal cortex, the executive brain, is where empathy, trust, good judgment, strategic thinking, emotional regulation and foresight into the future reside. When we listen to connect, we build bridges from my brain to yours, enabling the capacity to hold a broader view. Conflict gives way to co-creation, and the conversations shifts from the past to the future; oxytocin, the bonding hormone, flows freely; and the level of collaboration catalyzes new insight.

To enhance navigational listening, note when you are falling into positional behaviors, defending your point of view, and being right at all cost. Become sensitive to how your need to be right might be creating resistance in others. If you can’t turn off this addiction in your mind, write down what your brain is saying—this acknowledges your thoughts and ideas and releases their grip on your mindset. Then, refocus your attention on the listening to connect. You will find a new level of energy emerging from the dialogue empowering your conversation, and elevate your wisdom mutually.

As we evolve from Level I informing conversations to Level II persuasive conversations to Level III co-creating conversations, we elevate each other’s conversational intelligence. We explore what others are thinking to strengthen the relationship and our understanding of what they are thinking. We learn to step into their shoes and see the world from their eyes and ears. When we listen to navigate with others, resistance gives way to discovery, and fear gives way to trust.

Practicing Navigational Listening

To practice navigational listening, carefully take note to others’ answers—to their phrasing, context, and words to get clues to the meanings behind the words. To reduce the ambiguity of meaning and intent, ask questions, rephrase and restate what was heard.

Try asking these Level 3 Transformational Questions:

  • What is the situation?
  • How are you approaching it?
  • What outcomes do you want to create?
  • What are you focusing on?
  • What resources do you need?
  • What assumptions do you hold?
  • What does success look like?
  • How will you measure success?
  • What is holding you back?
  • What are your strategies for moving forward?
  • How will the desired outcome impact you and others?
  • How will you prepare everyone for the potential changes?
  • How will you reduce fear?
  • What new ideas and approaches are you considering?
  • How will you introduce them to others?
  • How will you engage people in creating the new outcomes?
  • What would you like to see happen?
  • How important are these changes to you?
  • What would happen if these changes did not take place?
  • What are the implications if they do take place?
  • Who will benefit from the changes?
  • How can you ensure the right people are engaged?

Navigational Listening is the most powerful tool of conversationally intelligence. It enables us to peer into the minds of others and set more helpful, meaningful, and satisfying objectives for action. When we adopt the framework of Navigational Listening, and honor the 3 Levels of Conversation, we enhance our ability to communicate, thereby making more timely and better decisions within our teams and organizations.

How Great Leaders Handle Difficult Conversations


By Tal Shnall |
Published: May 17, 2013

The following is an excerpt:

difficult-conversationsEven though communication is the lifeblood of any organization, it’s difficult to find a company that doesn’t have its breakdowns in this area. Part of a leader’s job is to keep these to a minimum and handle effectively.

In reality, most people avoid conflicts and the confrontations required to deal with them not because they lack the will, but because they lack courage to overcome that fear of “what if” and the potential of something unproductive.

No one is immune to workplace tensions- It is inevitable that you will have some challenging conversations with colleagues or customers.

When we need to have a difficult conversation with someone—we always have that gut feeling of resistance. Fear and contemplation drowns that inner voice and we put the conversation off.

Meanwhile the other person continues to provide substandard performance, miss deadlines, engage in interpersonal conflicts and contributes to a toxic culture.

The consequence of not having that uncomfortable conversation is costly.

A  recent study by Accenture revealing that, even in this challenging economic climate, 35 percent of employees leave their jobs voluntarily because of internal politics and conflict.

Judith E Glaser in her recent book about Conversational Intelligence says that, “…confronting another person with difficult conversations brings up potentially volatile emotions, so we move with caution and keep our real feelings close to our chest. In the most extreme cases, when we are faced with situations that stir up highly charged emotional content, most of the tension and drama is actually taking place in our own minds. “


Read the full article:



Conversational Intimacy

By Judith E. Glaser | &
Published: February 14, 2014

Conversational Intimacy

Men, women crave it more than chocolate.

We often talk about emotional and social intelligence—and emotional and physical intimacy—without acknowledging that intimacy starts with an intelligent conversation, a verbal or nonverbal valentine.

Factoids: Our brains are designed to be social. Our need for belonging is more powerful than our need for safety. When we are rejected, we experience pain in the same centers in the brain and body as when we are in a car crash. Being emotionally orphaned is more painful than death. When others show us love, respect, and honor us, it triggers the same centers in the brain as when we eat chocolate, have sex, or are on drugs.

Learning these emotional facts of life will change how you live, love and lead. From birth, we learn to avoid physical pain and move toward physical pleasure. Over time, we avoid pain to protect ourselves from ego pain, building habits and patterns of behavior that keep us safe from feeling belittled, embarrassed, devalued, or unloved. This may translate into avoiding people who stop listening when you speak, send you silent signals of disappointment, criticize your behavior, and find fault in your choices.

Pain can also come from anticipated rejection—not from what is real. If you imagine that telling your friend that he or she is annoying you will lead to a fight or argument, just the thought of having that conversation will produce the social pain of being rejected. We often avoid having such uncomfortable conversations and hold the frustration inside. The feared implications of pain become so real for us that we turn to avoidance, since confronting a person with a difficult conversation may lead to yelling, argument, rejection, or embarrassment. Our emotions are tied directly to feelings of pain and pleasure—in fact they are the source of pain and pleasure.

Neuroscience of Emotions

For the past 20 years, new discoveries at neuroscience research centers are revealing ways to handle negative emotions in new and healthy ways. Conventional wisdom suggests that it’s better to not talk about these emotions. So, we turn to alternative strategies—such as holding negative judgmental ways, is being validated.

This is now science—not science fiction. We feel happy when someone appreciates us, sad when they think little of us. As we communicate, we read the content and emotions being sent. Conversations are more than the information we share or words we speak. They are a way to package our feelings about ourselves, our world, and others.

We communicate sad or happy with almost every conversation. As we understand the power of language in regulating how people feel every day, and the role language plays in evolving the brain’s capacity to expand perspectives and create a “feel good” experience, then we can improve our relationships in profound ways.

How to Create Conversational Intimacy

Men, women and children who are regularly receive positive affirmation of their worth and engage in appreciative and value-based conversations become more optimistic about life and more self-confident. Those who live in punitive, judgmental relationships tend to be less positive about themselves and more judgmental about others. In effect, they pass the judgment “gene” on to others with whom they interact. Those who grow up in families where they are loved, where they discover their strengths, and where they are challenged in positive ways, tend to be healthy of mind, body and spirit.

Take the time on Valentines Day to focus on practicing how to create a feel good environment – at home, in relationships and at work:

  • Focus on the “feel” of the conversational culture that we create together.
    • NeuroTip 1: Science is showing us that focusing on creating healthy environments can reduce illnesses associated with toxic environments.
    • NeuroTip 2: We have two basic types of reactions in conversations—one causes us pleasure, and one causes us pain. Appreciation is pleasure; negative judgment is pain. Your pleasure centers are more closely linked to the pre-frontal cortex of the brain where your strategic and social skills reside, so you feel better when you come up with new and better strategies for the future.
    • NeuroTip 3: Mentally and emotionally healthy people have a stronger immune system, affording them increased protection against disease.

We tend to underestimate the time required for the dialogue conversations people need in order to feel comfortable and understood. When stressed, people’s mental acuity and processing circuitry closes down. When people are afraid, they listen differently—they listen for the implications of how change will affect them. Each person is having his or her internal dialogue, hypothesizing what these changes might be; and usually they fear loss, rarely do they anticipate gain. They fear that they will be rejected, their status will change, and they’ll be transferred or asked to leave.

Each of us has a hand in creating feel good environments that enable us to connect in healthy ways and thrive. And the way we can do this rests on new wisdom emerging from the field of the neuroscience. You can become more conversationally intelligent by applying these powerful insights and wisdom to your daily conversational rituals every day.

Judith E. Glaser is CEO of Benchmark Communications, Inc. and Chairman of The Creating WE Institute. She is an Organizational Anthropologist, and consults to Fortune 500 Companies. Judith is the author of 4 best selling business books, including her newest Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results (Bibliomotion, 2013) Visit;; or call 212-307-4386.

The High Cost of Avoiding Conflict at Work


By Joann S. Lublin|
Published: February 14, 2014

The following is an excerpt from:

As More Companies Seek Feisty Leaders, An Eagerness to Please Could Kill Your CareerAs More Companies Seek Feisty Leaders, An Eagerness to Please Could Kill Your Career

It’s time to kill a common myth: Executives who avoid workplace conflicts get ahead. Instead, their advancement often stalls.

A well-liked senior vice president at a big health-care company lost a key promotion and left in 2012 because he never disagreed with colleagues during meetings. The man’s failure to manage conflict derailed his career, recalls David Dotlich, a leadership and succession coach. His research has identified “eagerness to please” as one of the top reasons that executives fail.

Keen to innovate faster, employers increasingly choose bosses “astute at dealing with conflict rather than ducking it,” says Judith Glaser, an executive coach and author of the new book, “Conversational Intelligence.”

And with more businesses relying on teamwork, top managers’ conflict-resolution skills are in greater demand, adds Theodore Dysart, a vice chairman of Heidrick & Struggles International Inc., a major executive-recruitment firm.

Read the full article here:

Tackle Conflicts with Conversation


By Judith E. Glaser |
Published: February 11, 2014


My husband and I got married after only three dates. Three weeks after the wedding, we had our first fight. An extreme conflict avoider, I packed my bags and walked out. Rich chased after me. “Turn around,” he said. “Let’s sit down and have a conversation. There are two things we have to learn to do — one is to fight, the other is to make up.” We’ve now been practicing both for 44 years.

Effective leadership, like a good marriage, hinges on how you deal with the tough stuff. But addressing and resolving conflicts requires enormous mental and emotional strength, which is why many of us try to avoid it. When confronted with a problem or dispute, we either move away (flee the scene, rely on others for resolution), move against (quietly using positional power to quell opposing arguments) or move toward (make nice, give in). This is natural. We instinctively want to avoid the risk of loss and social embarrassment, to stick with our points of view, to preserve relationships and the status quo.

But all three strategies are wrong-headed. When you fail to engage with a conflict, you can’t gather the input you need to find a workable solution. And it hurts your image as a leader. Take Sarah, the head of IT at a global technology company. Her job was to develop new engagement technologies in her organization, but instead of embracing critical feedback on her ideas, she ignored it. When people challenged her, she would simply reiterate her points, smile, nod and move onto something else as though the issue had been resolved, leaving everyone frustrated. Team members and colleagues began to see her as a conflict avoider, and she lost their trust.

So how does someone like Sarah learn to embrace, rather than avoid, disagreement?  Through my executive coaching work (and my own experience), I’ve developed a few conversation-centered techniques that help.

  1. Clarify the conflict by talking through each party’s stance.  For example, “You seem to be suggesting that we really need to focus on elevating our gross revenue before we invest in a new IT strategy. Is that right?” or “It seems like we’re envisioning two different levels of risk. Tell me more about what you’re seeing as the downside.”
  2. Consult a neutral friend or colleague. Discussing the problem with someone else will make it seem smaller. The social interaction will also put you in a more collaborative, connected state of mind.
  3. Reframe, refocus, and redirect the conversation. Use the conflict as a springboard to find common ground. Say something like, “Let’s leave this aside for the moment and think about another way to approach the issue.”

All the companies I work with have checklists of behaviors their leaders need to thrive at the top. Chief among these are courage, resilience and agility in the face of change. There’s no question that an ability to manage conflict is part and parcel of all three. So the next time you’re faced with a situation in which positions are hardened and disagreement seems inevitable, don’t avoid it. Engage in conversation, and tackle the conflict head on.


Stop Having the Same Conversation Again and Again

By Judith E. Glaser |
Published: February 11, 2014

Groundhog Conversations again

In the 1993 cult movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays an ego-centric TV weather man doomed to repeat the same day over and over again—until he consciously decides to evolve into a better version of himself to win over Rita, his station director. Bill must live Groundhog Day over and over until he gets it right.

As Phil progresses by trial and error, hit and miss, his old habit patterns that had led to dead ends shift into a new pattern leading to new identity and community. In effect, by seeing what wasn’t working well for him, Phil gains immense conversational intelligence and wins over his love interest in the process. He even becomes a respected community leader, someone who can gain trust and get extraordinary results.      

What changed for Phil? His motive and means become aligned with his intended mission.

Every entrepreneur can relate to Phil’s predicament: how to evolve beyond a narrow core skill-set into a respected developer of self, business and community. And yet, all too often, we get stuck in a Groundhog Day rut and get sucked into territoriality or reactivity. These cycles lead to behavior that erodes relationships, dissipates energy, and takes away from being productive, healthy, high-performing individuals, teams, and organizations. In the worst of these scenarios, we become harvesters of politics, power, control, arrogance and egos that fill organizations with invisible signs that say, don’t go there, you can’t do this, you don’t know that, save face, blame, protect, win at another’s expense.

To change, we need to tap into the vital instincts hard-wired into each of us. These natural instincts provide us with codes for how to live healthy and connect deeply and lovingly with each other. Vital instincts give us the intuitive awareness and wisdom to know how to bring together people to form communities, to support each other, to thrive in the face of challenges, to transform cancerous cultures riddled with politics, power, and dysfunction back into healthy cultures.

Here are three conversational strategies for interrupting old habit patterns and activating new patterns for success in relationships, teams and organizations:

Pattern # 1: Being the center of attention
Symptom: You do most of the talking in the meetings you run.
Why you do it: You love to hear yourself talk and it feels great.
Why you should change: Your selfish behavior makes your team feeling ignored.
What to do: Stop talking and make your team the center of attention. Everyone has good ideas to share, but if you put your ideas first you’ll soon find people’s initiatives and voice dry up. When people are afraid of your positional power they stop raising their hands to add ideas.  

Pattern # 2: Insensitivity to others feelings, needs and aspirations
Symptom: You’re too often surprised to find a staffer angry with something you said – or didn’t say.
Why you do it: You’re not worrying enough about how you and your actions impact other people.
Why you should change: When we aren’t considering other people, we stop focusing on what they need help with to be successful. As a result, people lose their aspirations and passions for success. They can even start to trust their bosses less, since they don’t believe their bosses have the staff’s best interests in mind.
What to do: Create a feedback-rich culture where it’s not about ‘me,’ it’s about ‘we’. Find ways to check in with staffers and identify needs, give healthy candid and caring feedback, and support people achieving their aspirations. In a feedback-rich culture, a new level of honesty and awareness emerges so that people don’t feel territorial and learn to support each other.

Pattern # 3: No one ever agrees with you.
Symptom: You’re always frustrated that no one listens to your point of view. You might find yourself shut out of discussions or that decisions are made without you.
Why you do it: Neuroscience research is showing us entrenchment to your own point of view leads to the ‘addiction to being right.’ Dopamine is released each time we feel we’re right – and we want more – closing down our awareness of the negative impact it has on others.
Why you should change: You stop picking up cues and feedback and people think of us a ‘bully boss.’
What to do: Instead of debating a point, start exploring solutions. Create opportunities for other people to share what they think. Listen to them and act on their ideas. The more people engage in becoming navigators of the future together, the more courage they have for taking innovative risks.

Intelligent Mar-Com: Engage in Conversations for Mutual Gain


By Judith E. Glaser |
Published: February 5, 2014

I have great respect for professionals who work in business and marketing communications (Mar-Com)—including advertising, investor relations and public relations—because you tend to hit the mark more often with your messages, a consequence of being more focused on the receiver than the sender.

You are paid to reach, contact, connect with, and influence the thinking and behavior of certain people—your selected public, target market, preferred audience, business demographic, client base, or customer segment. You want to get their attention, listen, connect emotionally and to think, feel and act in a certain win-win way. .

So, you often start with a set of basic questions:  Who are these people? What do they want and need? How can my product or service help meet this want or need? How can I make it easy for them to access and purchase my product or service?  How can I best support them as customers and encourage them to trust me and buy from me again? How can I get them to refer me to others, to recommend me, to friend or like me? 

Discover New Intelligence

Yet, even mar-com pros can harbor a narrow view of communications and conversations—supposing they are just about talking, sending, sharing information, telling people what to do, expressing what is on our minds.

An intelligent conversation is much more interactive and inclusive. In fact, conversational intelligence impacts how we connect, engage, interact, and influence others, enabling us to shape reality, events and outcomes in a collaborative way.

Intelligent conversations move us from power over others to power with others, to get on the same page and experience the same reality by bridging reality gaps between how you see things and how I see things.

Conversational intelligence gives us the power to express our inner thoughts and feelings in ways that strengthen relationships and boost results. To get a person to change his old habit patterns and try something new, you need to know how communications and conversations can trigger emotional reactions. By learning how verbal messages and nonverbal behaviors trigger different parts of the brain and stimulate certain reactions and responses, you and I can develop our conversational intelligence to build healthier, more resilient relationships and boost desired results. .

Seven Intelligent Conversations

To create CHANGES, engage in seven intelligent conversations:

1. Co-creating Conversations: Are conversations healthy? Do people complain about others behind their backs, or do people have face-to-face healthy discussions? Is there a lot of triangulation (people using others to tell someone what’s on their mind) or do people give direct feedback to others? Are people working in silos, or is there an ongoing conversation about team success? Are people engaged in working out how to get to the end game, or are they distracted with conversations about whose fault it is that things are not moving forward? Is there a blaming/victim culture or an accountability culture? Is the enterprise being run by fear or hope? Do people share a common language and a common reality? Can people tell the truth? Or is truth telling painful and hidden to protect people from reality? Be an inclusive leader: Help people to see how they can contribute and participate in creating a great culture and community. Shift from exclusion (pain) to inclusion (pleasure).

2. Heart and soul: Is there a spirit of appreciation or a punitive spirit? Do leaders complain about poor performance, or are they skilled at developing talent?  Do leaders provide developmental feedback? Do they recognize good work and effort, or only look for what’s wrong? Do they look at the past and complain about what’s not happening, or do they focus people on creating the desired future? Do they focus on problems or opportunities? Be an appreciative and honest leader: Set the tone for open, honest, caring communication, helping people learn how to express what they are feeling and to move from being politically driven, to respectful, supportive, direct and open in all communications. Shift from judging (pain) to appreciating (pleasure).

3. Actualization of vision: Are leaders providing direction? Often the vision is too far out for people to grasp its implications. When guiding principles are not practiced, breakdowns occur in the actualization of the vision and in relationships between leaders and employees. Leaders communicate a vision and expect employees to implement it. What’s missing is the interpretation of the vision down to the level of “what does it mean to me and what do I have to change to get there?” It also means creating benchmarks for measuring success, sharing those measures, and using them to create a culture of learning. Be an aspirational leader: Are you limiting people’s aspirations and leading them to lower their sights rather than helping them to embrace exciting and challenging possibilities? Shift fromlimiting (pain) to expanding (pleasure).

4. Networks: Are people collaborating and bonding across boundaries? Clanning takes place when people cluster together to support each other in the pursuit of their goals. Clanning customs either strengthen or weaken the culture. Some cultures form silos, where groups of people are excluded from others by division, department, function, or sub-culture. Healthy organizations create collaborative teams, where individuals seek ways to improve the organization; they form networks that allow vital information, innovative ideas, and best practices to be shared internally and with outside vendors and customers. The mental health of the culture depends on the “wellness” of the factions with sub-cultures co-existing and co-creating together in spite of their differences. Monitor the behavior of your culture. When teams are in conflict, there may be excessive gossip. The remedy is to bring the groups together to harmonize or expand their common perspectives. People can have different voices, but when they come together they need to sing a common song. Be a trusted and collaborative leader. Are you sharing information, exchanging best practices, reducing the need to protect turf, and breaking down silos to explore uncharted territory, test the waters, explore, and pioneer new territories? Shift from withholding (pain) tosharing (pleasure).

5. Give and take: In what ways are colleagues engaging with each other for mutual success? An enterprise depends on the sharing of resources, ideas, and practices to survive and thrive in the face of challenges. A cultural fingerprint spans the dimensions from harboring to sharing these resources. As colleagues learn to share and trust, leaders evolve the capability of sustaining trust in the face of challenges. Are they learning from past mistakes and using them to find new and better strategies? Cultures that encourage brainstorming with no support process for turning the ideas into reality create incredible frustration. Unmet expectations abound, and employees lose faith in their leaders and in themselves. A mature culture puts in place support systems such as Ideation and Innovation Centers. The management team resources projects designed to test and experiment new ways of thinking and doing. Making mistakes is okay in the spirit of discovery. People are rewarded for coming up with new products and services and turning their ideas into realities. Be a generative leader: Are you stuck in old ways and grooves—instead of focusing on innovative, creative, experimental, and generative ways of leading? Shift from fear (pain) to experimenting (pleasure).

6. Enterprise leadership development: Is there a feeling that “we’re all in this together?” developing the talent and voice we need to be successful. Are employees and management working together to develop the bench strength and talent to address the challenges of the present and the future? Are leaders enabling employees to challenge the status quo and have a voice? Are they developing leadership points of view? Are leaders pushing their ideas on others (creating a culture of compliance) or are they setting the stage for people to grow their points of view (take ownership and have strong commitment)? Do people feel suppressed? What forums exist for pushing against the current rules and culture and creating the next generation of thinking and being? What kind of leader are you?Be an influential leader: Are you setting the tone, teaching people how to speak up, express their voice, challenge authority and group-think, and develop their ideas, points of view and wisdom to contribute to the growth of the brand. Shift from dictating (pain) to developing (pleasure).

7. Spirit: Is there a spirit of discovery and inquiry in the enterprise? Are people learning from past mistakes and using them to work better and smarter? Can people let go of the past and embrace the new? Is everyone connected and working to realize a common purpose? Are people clear about who we are and what we stand for? Is there an enterprise brand? Do employees live the brand? Do they understand it? How do they engage with customers about the brand to build its power and magnetism? Does the brand engage the hearts, minds, and spirits of employees and customers? Be an enterprise leader: Are you setting the tone for enterprise spirit, helping people move from a focus on making the numbers or from “win at all cost” or “I win, your lose” to contributing to their growth in the context of enterprise growth.

Self-aware leaders look inside and explore the dynamics of their own nature, and the impact they have on their culture. They learn what it takes to create a culture that enables colleagues to be fully engaged and motivated. Examine your leadership and how you influence colleagues? When you influence in positive ways, you have a more profound impact on growth, and you create a culture that sustains commitment and enthusiasm to achieve your vital strategies and goals.