Creating a Yes, and Culture

Creating a Culture of Yes, and. . .

By Jodi Clark

(Originally published for NHBSR’s November 2016 Newsletter )

“Would you lead us in an improv game right now?” That was the question I received at the conclusion of a panel discussion on how to build a network at the recent Sustainatopia conference in Boston. I responded with, “Yes, I would be glad to!” I had not known that would be asked of me. I had simply shown up to the session wanting to participate, to be informed, enlightened, and make new connections. I was delighted to be invited to co-create the end of the session! I was grateful that I had something I could readily contribute and that it was so openly and enthusiastically received. All of the participants took part in the activity. It was a magical, emergent moment of group co-creation.

This is the essence of the improvisational theater concept of “Yes, and. . .” One person makes an offer of an idea. Another person in the scene accepts that offer without question, and then builds off of it with their own. The scene continues in this way, birthing into being one offer after another until the actors collectively decide it has come to an end. There is never a moment of “No, and. . .” or even “Yes, but. . .” as the ethos of those statements is to negate, shut down, and exclude. Improv theater is about accepting what is brought, building off of it and unequivocally supporting everyone in the scene, no matter what, in order to co-create the best possible story together.

“Yes, and. . .”  and weaving the principles of the ensemble or what we call Shared Leadership is something we are committed to supporting in our work with organizations and teams at Global Round Table Leadership. In our definition of Shared Leadership, everyone is equally responsible for the vibrancy and high function of the whole, no matter their role, status or expertise within their team or organization. When everyone in your organization shows up leading with your full selves in support of and in relationship to everyone else’s success in the organization, there is greater purpose and meaning for the team and the whole company. Your team experiences greater creative sparks in the work itself and greater capacity to create positive impact in the world with your work.

W. S. Badger is one of these workplaces where you do not need to leave parts of yourself out. The company has said “Yes, and. . .” to all who work for them by the nature of their everyday practices with each other. Recently named as one of NH Business Magazine’s Best Places to Work and also named Best for the World and Best for the Environment by B-Lab, Badger’s culture reflects their commitment to the wholeness of their employees, accepting the offer of everything that’s brought. In addition to the initiatives my colleagues, Lori Hanau and Claire Wheeler featured in their recent spotlight article in Conscious Company Magazine: 3 Lessons From a Case Study from a True Sharing Model, there are a number of practices and initiatives which honor the wholeness of each employee in their everyday lives with the company. When an employee asked if there could be a labyrinth on site for meditation, Badger said “Yes, and…” by supporting the employee to construct it. They have said “Yes, and. . .” to families being an essential part the work environment by implementing a Babies at Work program and building a daycare center down the street on their old company site. Badger has said “Yes!” to committing to sustainably grown ingredients for all of the products “and. . .” to ensure that the food they eat together is partially sourced from the onsite organic gardens the employees cultivate.  Badger’s “Yes, and . .” ethic has provided the opportunity for community, nourishment, and stewardship of the land to be woven into their everyday experience together.

Badger’s participatory, ensemble-like culture recognizes the inextricable link between the wholeness of each person to the wholeness of their work together and their impact on the world around them. We at Global Round Table Leadership are continually inspired by companies like Badger who offer the “Yes, and…” power of shared leadership by creating the space for their employees to be their whole selves in order to offer their full gifts.

(Thank you once again to NHBSR  and Conscious Company Magazine for inviting us to share our thoughts and shining the light on companies living into shared leadership!)

Exploring the Benefits of Creating a Yes, and. . . Culture at work @BadgerBalmUSA @ConsciousCoMag… Click To Tweet

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Wholeness in Practice

Wholeness in Practice

By The GRTL Team

GRTL Team at Pizza Night

GRTL “Home Team” Members, Lori Hanau, Jodi Clark, and Melissa Whittemore out for Pizza Night.

As Lori Hanau wrote in her article: Leading From Wholeness *  in the July/August issue of Conscious Company Magazine, the daily journey of resetting our balance and wholeness is truly “an inside job.”Inside GRTL, we are committed to exploring what it means to cultivate our own wholeness both individually and collectively in our work together. We offer you our top 10 practices we have been exploring in our daily work life together.

Beauty: We ensure that the spaces we work in have photos, paintings, flowers, a window facing forest or gardens or some other source of beauty. When we travel to other spaces to work with colleagues and clients, we will frequently bring flowers with us to carry that essence of beauty with us. Walking into a conference room that has flowers in it feels immediately different, lighter.

Breathe: Either alone or together we practice breathing deep, slow, intentional breaths. Sometimes it is right before we commence with a meeting together or on the phone with a client or walking into the office. The steps: Feel your feet on the ground. Roll your shoulders back slightly, opening up the chest cavity. Smile inwardly to yourself. Make sure your energy is grounded and calm. The breath should be easy without any forcing. Slowing down even for five minutes sets a Melissa and Jodi at Pizza Nightcompletely different tone for the work ahead. Download GRTL’s Healthy Breath Practice Resource Guide

Commune: We try to eat with each other or outside, but somewhere away from screens and more intentionally with each other and/or the natural world. We also make sure to have a monthly social night out with no work talk allowed focusing on play, restoration, food, celebration or all of the above. (see photo to the left from our pizza night at Orchard Hill Breadworks in Alstead, NH!) During the week, enjoying afternoon tea and home baked scones together is a frequent occurrence since one of our team members has a wife who bakes magnificently and shares generously!

Ask, Don’t Tell: We invite feedback from each other and cultivate our curiosity. It helps us check our egos when we ask more questions rather than assume we have to be certain all the time.

Quiet: We make room for silence, even in the middle of a meeting  or conversation to help balance the busyness that still creeps into our daily lives.

Take it Outside: Much of our work can keep us indoors staring at screens for long stretches of time, impacting our energy levels and physical well-being. Whenever we can take a phone meeting or in person meeting outside, we do so! We ensured that our WiFi does allow us to work outdoors. But we also take walks. A daily walk of 10-15 minutes either alone or with a colleague does wonders for lifting the spirit and resetting, not to mention stretches the legs!

Play On!: Weaving play into a day allows for different kinds of thinking. Play and laughter are great friends. Laughter supports us to become more nourished and relaxed. We shift out of stress and the fight or flight syndrome into a more nurtured state of being. We access more of our creativity. And we celebrate each other in a moment that helps fuel the rest of our work together. We have started having both planned and spontaneous 5 minute dance parties as an intentional moment of play and even as the structure for our team check-in!

Add Music: Even when we aren’t dancing, having music in the background can lift the mood of the work space, as long as it isn’t distracting. One of our team members loves to have classical music in her space. She says: “There is a particular vibrancy to classical music that both lifts me and puts me at ease at the same time. When I have it in my work space, even on low volume, I tend to be more productive and joyful.” And those of us walking by her office are also appreciative to connect to music for even a moment. Deep sighs are heard and felt!! The best breath work ever!!!!

Write it Down: We each try to keep a journal to reflect on our days. What are we noticing? What are we challenged by? What is inspiring us? Surprising us? What do we want to remember and refer to later? We are just now exploring a new norm of writing down our progress with learning new practices together to hold ourselves compassionately accountable and be able to both integrate and track our learning. We believe that personal development, team development and organizational development are all essential parts of the whole.

Breathe Again: We can find ourselves getting caught into a swirl of activity or stuck in a complex problem that starts to put us into a stressful, anxious, uncreative space. Taking a few slow, even breaths even for 30 seconds can make all the difference to slow us down and remember to access our bodies as sources of wisdom.

What are your top practices to cultivate your wholeness at work? We would love to hear what works for you and your colleagues in the comment section below.  Easily share what you love from our practices with your colleagues: Top Ten Practices for Cultivating Wholeness at Work… Click To Tweet

To easily share Lori’s article: Leading from Wholeness @ConsciousCoMag #leadership #wholeness http://bit.ly/2bAP9uM Click To Tweet

End of the evening at Orchard Hill Community Pizza Night

End of the evening at Orchard Hill Community Pizza Night, August 2016.

*Title from print edition article

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A Hundred Strangers

A Hundred Strangers

Guest Blog on Shared Leadership by Dhruv Jagasia, CEO and Founder of Dharma Eyewear @dharmaco

Dhruv Jagasia

Dhruv Jagasia

A hundred strangers. That’s how we all started out, at least; as strangers. I took a fifteen minute subway ride to Parsons, walked into the classroom and I sat down at a desk not too far from the front. After all, I knew Lori Hanau well and I wanted to experience firsthand what was about to happen. Little did I know what would actually happen.

I knew that Lori was a community builder within the management programs at Marlboro College Graduate School and that she worked in the Shared Leadership space, but I hadn’t yet experienced her work outside of the ultra-liberal safe-zone that is Marlboro College. I’m a graduate student at Marlboro, working towards my MBA in Conscious Business. There, in the tiny city of Brattleboro, Vermont, amongst yogis, business people and non-profiteers, Lori had cultivated a close-knit community at a graduate school in which our hybrid in-person and online learning setup meant that we commuted from as far as California, New York and Florida. “Building a community there mustn’t be too hard, I thought. After all, we’re all a bunch of pseudo-hippies. Sitting in circles and talking about our feelings comes naturally to us.”

“So how the hell was Lori going to achieve that in New York?” I thought. New York is so densely packed and the pace of the day is so quick that by the end of the day, most people want to lock themselves in their apartment or in a bar, let alone sit together with strangers and talk about the “f” word – feelings.

Equality

“Okay, everyone, let’s all take our desks and turn them so we form a circle,” she said, after introducing herself and introducing us to the four pillars of shared leadership. Circle was something I was used to and had been exposed to going to school at Marlboro. There, we were all considered ‘learning partners’. Sure, it can sound a bit cheesy, but flattening hierarchies can introduce a sense of ease, openness and ownership (at the best of times).That meant that we spoke up to professors or administrators if we thought they were in the wrong. In a way, it turned professors in to students as well; there was a sense that they were there to learn from us just as much as we were there to learn from them.

But what about these Parson’s students, teachers, and otherwise New York professionals? How would they react to it? I could sense a little uneasiness, but we were all reassured by Lori’s calm and pervasive sense of confidence that filled the room. “She’s bringing a bit of Marlboro to New York,” I thought to myself. “This should be interesting.”

Wholeness

The first thing you’ll notice about Lori Hanau is that she is wacky – in the most charming and disarming way possible. She’s smiling, she’s laughing, she’s cracking jokes, she’s goofy – but she’s Lori. And that is what she preaches. “We need to show up in our humanity and in our wholeness,” she would often say. I hadn’t really understood what that meant until that night at Parsons. Just as being vulnerable and opening yourself up to others allows others to open up around you, being your goofiest self, if that’s who you really are, gives others the confidence to show up authentically, too. In a few moments, we went from being a mix of strangers, unsure of ourselves and unsure of each other, to laughing and sharing deep vulnerabilities; some stuff, I’m sure, not even our closest loved ones knew about us.

Humanity

At one point, we were practicing an exercise where we all stood in a circle, and we would take turns sharing vulnerabilities and stepping further into the circle and, thus, out of our comfort zones. The most profound moment occurred when one of the teachers, whom many of the students were familiar with, admitted to everyone that speaking in front of others filled with him a sense of anxiety and dread. At first, we were shocked. He’s a professor, after all. And then, we all held him together in a sense of nurturing. It was like we were all saying, “there, there… we understand… it’s okay.” No one said anything, but that’s what we all felt and we cared for him in that moment. We transcended our individual selves, we became a community and, without words, we felt as one. In that moment, I understood what shared vulnerability meant, and how powerful communities can be.

Collective Wisdom

And I realized the power of vulnerability, as after the professor spoke, a very young student said another thing that shocked us all with its rawness and its bold truth. Here was a nineteen year old student speaking with maturity, with poise, and with assuredness. In that moment, she immediately gained all of our respect for being vulnerable and for being her true self. I can’t imagine many other scenarios where someone so young could be so openly bold and frank, speaking amongst her peers and adults, many of whom she did not know, and could be regarded with that much respect. Community norms established and held by us all in the last hour had allowed for her personal growth in that moment.

Shared Leadership

Now that I think about it, Lori Hanau had not issued one single command. She only asked us that we form a circle. She only asked us to be ourselves. She only asked us to share space with each other. She asked us to listen with intention. She only asked us to respect ourselves – whoever we are. Whoever we are – that can’t be stressed enough. No judgments were issued. Here was a safe space, in the middle of New York City.

She did not lead in a traditional sense; she was not our boss. We were given the space to be human, to grow, to laugh, to learn, to be kind, to cheer and to be together. This was Shared Leadership; this was the product of Equality, Wholeness, Humanity and Collective Wisdom.

By the end of the workshop, we were no longer strangers. The kinship we felt cannot now be put into words. The way we felt, as one, could never be truly synthesized into this article. But, one thing became certain. If Lori Hanau can convert strangers with all sorts of superficial differences into kindred spirits in just a couple hours in the middle of New York City, we can create kinship and community anywhere. And our world needs this more than ever.

Many of us feel, I’m sure, a sense of longing, of loneliness, of disconnection and discontent. Especially in an age of electronic-device proliferation. What many of us want, I think, is to be needed, to belong, to be close to other people; to be part of something bigger than ourselves. That is but a small part what community offers us.
So I urge you to step out of your comfort zone. I urge you to be vulnerable. I urge you to give others the space to be their authentic whole selves, to grow, to earn respect, and to be human. Everyone has a leader hidden inside of them. All we have to do is let that seed flower and watch the world become a better place.

Dhruv participated in Lori Hanau’s Shared Leadership Workshop at Parsons School of Design in the Spring of 2015. We so appreciate him sharing his insights and reflections about his experience. For additional reflections from that workshop and Shared Leadership Practices, see Lori Hanau and Claire Wheeler’s May/June article in Conscious Company MagazineLead Better By Putting People First

How do you show up in your wholeness and humanity in your work and community? Please share your thoughts and stories with the link below.

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Collaboration is the New Competition: Guideposts for Leading Conscious Growth

Collaboration is the New Competition

by Jodi Clark

“Collaboration is the new competition.”  This was a running theme at a recent panel event on social enterprise hosted by Marlboro College Graduate and Professional Studies which featured a range of local social entrepreneurs. The depth of the conversation spanned the origins of our current corporate structures, steeped in the plantation model which relied on slave labor and padded the pockets of the British elite, all the way to the emergence of various modern social enterprise structures that enable entrepreneurs to pursue social missions in addition to profit.

Throughout the discussion, themes of collaboration and shared leadership punctuated questions around shifting the current business paradigm and leading consciously:

  • What does it look like to work together across sectors and industries to shift the definition of business?
  • Does that require that we completely shed the competition default built into the traditional business paradigm?
  • How can companies fulfill their missions and provide meaningful engagement with employees and communities in the key decisions??

Some answers to these questions certainly lie in the story of Impact Makers, the company featured in Lori Hanau’s most recent article Guideposts for Conscious Growth in Conscious Company’s Winter 2016 Issue.

A Total GameChanger

As a for-profit, IT consulting company,  Impact Makers has made a radical move in ensuring that all of their assets are owned by two community foundations which serve the city of Richmond, VA. They are a certified B-Corporation, an increasingly popular certification offered by the non-profit B-Lab. One marker of the assessment is a company’s community benefit, which is where Impact Makers soars above the average of 17 points with a total of 91 points. In their recent video, they tell their full company story and speak to their transformation into a completely publicly owned company that gives away 100% of their profits in addition to the direct support they give to four other organizations that align with their mission priorities.  

When an organization is able to make that kind of direct impact on its community, the reverberations are huge.  My gut reaction to hearing about this model was exactly in the words Michael Pirron himself uses to describe his company, “this is a total game-changer.” It completely disrupts the norm for how far a social venture can go to not only benefit their community, but weave their own thriving into the fabric of the thriving of their community.

One of the biggest challenges facing communities engaging in systems level transformations, such as those working on population level health and wellbeing initiatives, is a lack of sustainable funding.  What if the primary source of funding for long-term systems change could come directly from the community seeking to transform?  How would that impact the community’s perception of their ability to achieve their goals?  What does that do to their ability to move with more agility and commitment because they are working with a social enterprise that not only understands them, but IS them?

Scalable at Any Level

The model for Impact Makers is scalable at any level, can be based in any industry, and has proven that profit does not suffer when inextricably linked to social good.  This is Shared Leadership from the inside out.  The keys to making this work are outlined in the CCM article.  May companies and communities far and wide be inspired to take make this kind of deep commitment to their collective thriving.

What opportunities do you see for innovative social ventures to contribute toward social good in your community? We would love to hear your thoughts, comments, and inspirations! [Click to Tweet]

 

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My Path to Fulfilling Work {video}

My Path to Fulfilling Work {video}

On October 22 in Boston, I spoke at a Sum+Substance event for Conscious Company Magazine. The theme was “unique stories about the path to fulfilling work,” and there were six of us on the panel, each sharing our personal journeys to fulfillment at work. We were asked to leave the audience with challenges that would hopefully spark new ideas, partnerships and opportunities.

And to my surprise, I found it much more knee-knockingly vulnerable to share my own story than to show up the way I am more used to – listening to and sharing the stories of others. A great opportunity to burn through my own unreasonable terror and deeper shyness. Ugh!!

I opened my story by sharing that when it comes to fulfillment in work and life, my Dad, Ken Hanau, is my hero. He ran a human-centered business selling corrugated cardboard boxes, and created a soulful organization built on empowerment and dignity. I never once heard him give a speech without reminding us that the essential importance of relationship first – leading with our humanity – equaled a thriving and meaningful business. And we thrived in every way.

Below are some of the practices I offered to the audience that evening. These have been instrumental in supporting me on my own journey out of my more conditioned, unconscious habits into leading from a truer, more honest and authentic aspect of myself.

Here are the tangible take-aways you’ll experience in my talk:

  1. Practice being open minded and open hearted: To notice or “track” where you may shut down, cut off or turn away. To practice “returning” or opening your mind and heart back up, staying connected and turning toward. Who are you then? What do you recognize?
  2. Practice being more curious than convinced: To stay open to what we do not know as much as what we do know.
  3. Be willing to be uncomfortable: To treat discomfort as neither good nor bad but as a benign, normal stage of transition and transformation.

P.S. Loved this video? Share it with your colleagues & friends! “Check out @GRTLeadership ‘s tangible take-aways from the @consciouscomag Sum & Substance talk.” (Click to TWEET)

If you’re looking for opportunities to deepen these (and more) practices in your own life and work, join me and up to 12 others for the virtual Round Table beginning in late January 2016. The theme is “Awakening to Your Agency”. Sound good? Apply here.

 

 

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