Door #1 – Meeting as Equals

By Lori Hanau

Greetings Wonderful Community,

In my first blog, I wrote about the impact that the natural world and my father have had on the direction of my life and the path of my work into the world with Global Round Table Leadership (GRTL). I shared that here at GRTL, we follow “the code of the golden thread” to support how we lead in our working lives and the whole of our lives, and explained that we commit to four foundational pillars: relating to one another first and foremost through our humanity as equal learning partners, relating through wholeness, honoring our diversity as our great strength and valuing our collective wisdom. We work to build these muscles and create thriving human systems where people can bring their best. Our vision and experience is that this becomes a way of being.

mandala - Zorzas

In this post I would like to focus on relating to one another as equals in our shared humanity first and foremost, before relating through roles, status and expertise. It is my belief that when we first created organizational structures, we did not understand how important the understanding and stewardship of our humanity is to the wisdom and success of all that we create.

I keep envisioning three connecting doors to any organizational system.

wooden door by QXZ

Door #3 is the output. It is what we are producing together within the organization.  It may be a school that is producing an education, a manufacturing company that is producing a product or a network that is producing a container and environment for peers to come together to connect and collaborate.

Door #2  is the bones, or structure, of the organization. This includes the roles that support how we operate in order to create whatever we are producing. It is essential to know who has what responsibility within the organizational structure for successful production. For instance, in a school, it is key to know  who are the staff, who are the faculty and who are the students. In a manufacturing company, it is essential to know who is working the equipment, who is in sales and who pays the bills.

It is my sense that we completely missed putting into place Door #1:  Meeting first and foremost as equals in our shared humanity. This is the heart, soul and collective wisdom of any organized group. Without this essential connective tissue, roles can become power plays that create illusionary status and give an imbalanced emphasis on expertise. Production can become mechanistic and too quickly shift us into inhumane activity in the name of getting something produced.


I am heartened by the environments I have been in where valuing and cultivating our humanity before roles, statues and expertise is embedded in the daily system of how people are showing up together. I am a faculty member in the MBA program, Managing for Sustainability, at the Marlboro College Graduate School in Vermont. This is one such place. I have often heard visitors express that, “Something magical is happening there!” At first, whenever I heard that (too many times to count!), I thought, how lovely! After a while, I became restless when I would hear someone express this. If we only think this is magic, then we won’t understand how capable we are of scaling this way of being with one another. What are some of the descriptors of this way of being? I will be sharing those in greater detail in my next blog post.

For today, I’d love to hear from you about any experiences you have had of being met and honored as an equal in your humanity? What has that experience felt like and ignited in you?

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While they were saying it couldn't be done, it was done.
— Helen Keller