The Art Of Storytelling

13 02 2018

Storytelling is the essential human activity. The harder the situation, the more essential it is.                Tim O´Brien

“The symbol; The New One Minute Manager’s symbol is intended to remind each of us to take a minute out of our day to look into the faces of the people we lead and manage. And to realize that they are our most important resources”.

This book really caught my eye as it is written in such a simple and easily understandable way through storytelling.

Throughout the story the authors reveal three very practical secrets; One Minute Goal, One Minute Praising’s, and One Minute Re-Directs, which they call the new, third secret.

This book will help organizations find new ways to adapt and prosper as well as find meaning in our work by giving us inspiration. It is based on studies on behavioral sciences and medicine which support why these methods are of great success.

Ken Blanchard, one of the two authors of this book, is considered a highly influential leadership expert who has co-authored 60 books, including “Raving Fans” and “Gung Ho!” (With Sheldon Bowles).

The second author, Spencer Johnson, is admired as both a leader and an author, and is maybe best known for writing the bestselling book “Who Moved My Cheese ?” He is also seen as an expert on finding simple, effective solutions to complex subjects and problems.

To make this book interesting, the authors are telling us a story about a bright young man searching for a special kind of manager who could lead and manage in todays rapidly changing world.

The young man wants to find a manager that can both encourage the people and make the organization successful and profitable. He had already spoken to many managers who had tried to deal with this rapidly changing world; executives, government, administrators, entrepreneurs and so on.

He wasn’t always pleased with what he saw according to how people manage people. He had witnessed ‘tough’ managers where the organisations seemed to win at the expense of the people.

Some of the managers thought they were good managers while some thought otherwise. The young man asked brief and interesting questions to the managers in their offices. He wanted to know what kind of managers they thought they were. The answers varied only slightly, when he heard their pride in their voices. Some of the answers would be; “I’m a bottom-line manager. “I keep on top of the situation !”. “Hard-nosed”. “Realistic”. “Profit-minded”.

Authors; “They said they had always managed that way and saw no reason to change. He heard the pride in their voices and their interest in the results”.

On the other hand the young man had heard about managers who had succeeded with their people and lost with their organizations. These kind of managers said; “I’m a participative manager”. “Supportive”. “Considerate”. “Humanistic”. Authors; “They also said they had always managed that way and saw no reason to change. He heard the pride in their voices and their interest in people. But he was disturbed. It was as though most managers in the world were still managing the way they had always done and were primarily interested either in results or in people”.

The young man describes the autocratic manager and the democratic manager. The autocratic is described as result oriented, and the democratic as interested in their people. “The young man thought each of these types-the ‘tough’ autocratic and the ‘nice’ democrat was only partially effective. It’s like being half a manager he thought”.

The story continues with the young man still searching in hope of finding the effective manager, but he almost gave up searching, thinking that he would never find this mythical person. He had however, heard some rumours about a special manager that people liked to work for and that produced great results.

He wanted to check this amazing manager out for himself, and, to make a long story short, he finally met him. During their meeting the young man asked the manager many questions about his managing style, and was impressed by all the interesting answers. The amazing manager described himself as the ‘New One Minute Manager’. He used this nickname because both him and his staff had found new ways to great results in a shorter amount of time. The young man spoke to the rest of the manager’s team and had interesting conversations with them as well. He learned a lot.

Among other things, he learned about the three secrets to One Minute Management; One Minute Goals, One Minute Praising’s and One Minute Re-Directs.

One Minute Goals: “Make it clear what the goals are. Show what good behaviour looks like. Put each goal on one page. Quickly review goals frequently. Encourage people to notice what they’re doing, and see if it matches their goals. If not, urge them to change what they’re doing and win.

One Minute Praising’s: “Praise the behavior. Do it soon, be specific. Say how good you feel about it. Pause to let people feel good too. Encourage them to keep up the good work.”

One Minute Re-Direct: “Re-clarify and agree on goals. Confirm what happened. Describe the mistake soon. Say how concerned you feel. Pause to let people feel their own concern. Tell them they’re better than the mistake, and you value them. When its over, its over.”

Towards the end of the story, the curious young man finds himself becoming a One Minute Manager. He was great at it because he led and managed by example, not because he thought or talked in a certain manner. He managed in simple ways, through the three secrets of one minute management, and by asking brief, but important questions. He was honest, he worked hard, all while laughing and enjoying himself.

The story ends with the young man being contacted by a young woman, who, much like himself many years ago, wants to ask him about his managing style. Just like in real life, this shows the importance of passing on our lessons and knowledge.  (Ref. The New One Minute Manger, by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson)

As shown through this book, a good story engage people and is a great way to learn and share experiences and knowledge.

This book is not the only good example on the importance of storytelling in organizations. Another great storyteller is the guru Robert McKee. He is a highly sought after lecturer, internationally. He has spent the last three decades of his life being an educator and a mentor to everything from screenwriters, to poets, to directors all over the globe. He is called “the Aristotle of our time” because of his insight into the substance, style, structure and principles of the grand art of stories. He says; “Storytelling has to be true”. This short, yet so profound quote explains the simple truth of storytelling, it always has to be true.

McKee; “Good story means something worth telling that the world wants to hear”. He makes us aware that finding a good story is a lonely task. And even though we might love great stories with inspiring characters and a worlds full of passion and bliss, this isn’t enough. The goal has to be a good story well told.

Good stories are important inspirational sources for people, it could for example be implemented in knowledge sharing or you can gain new wisdom from them. People can recognize episodes from stories and they can draw their own pictures from them. (Ref. Storytelling from my blog)

From his article in Harvard Business Review, Joseph Grenny writes about great storytelling. Grenny; “Most storytelling is brief. It involves using concrete examples that reframe a moment by personifying human consequences. People’s feelings about their work are only partly about the work itself. They are equally, if not more so, about how they frame their work. do they see it as empty compliance? Or do they see it as sacred duty? If you change the frame you change the feeling. And nothing changes frames faster than a story.” (Ref. Harvard Business Review, Great Storytelling Connects Employees to Their work, by Joseph Grenny)

Paul J. Zak says in another article from Harvard Business Review, that many business people have discovered the power of storytelling in organizations, and in a practical sense. Author; “Many of us know from Joseph Campbell’s work that enduring stories tend to share a dramatic arc in which a character struggles and eventually finds heretofore unknown abilities and uses these to triumph over adversity; my work shows that the brain is highly attracted to this story style”. (Ref. Harvard Business Review, Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling, by Paul J. Zak)

Zak, tells us that storytelling is a great tool to use if you want to motivate, persuade or be remembered. You start with a story of human struggle which eventually end with triumph. Zak; “It will capture peoples hearts-by first attracting their brains”.

To finish this article, I will leave with a quote from the man that says it best, McKee:

Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world”.

Author; Inger Lise E Greger, MSc in Change Management





Leader’s Courage To Be Vulnerable

7 08 2015

””We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…..we must do that which we think we cannot”  –  Eleanor Roosevelt

There are two main ways in which leaders wear masks. Some conceal their perceived inadequacies and flaws behind the polished facade we have come to expect of ‘great’ leaders, a bit like the Phantom from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s epic musical The Phantom of the Opera. Others take on a new persona at work that they feel is necessary for success, much like Jim Carrey’s character Stanley Ipkiss in the movie The Mask who transforms into a flamboyant green superhero. Both types of mask undermine trust and effectiveness. They also create inner conflict, as leaders struggle to align their work and home lives.(Harvard Business Review, 2013, Leaders, Drop Your Mask’s)

‘Daring Greatly'(Brené Brown, 2012) is an interesting book and a warning about the danger of pursuing certainty and control above all. Dr. Brené Brown, makes us aware of and dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and argues that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage. Daring greatly is not about winning or losing. Brown; “It’s about courage. In a world where scarcity and shame dominate and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times. And without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of feeling hurt”.

An important management’s task is according the writers of the book; The Drucker Difference, to develop people in a way that make them able to perform in an extraordinary way. “In Concept of the Corporation, Drucker wrote that ‘the most successful and the most durable institutions employ managers who induce  in their members an intellectual and moral growth beyond a man’s original capacities”. This end is embodied in Drucker’s very definition of leadership; “leadership is the lifting of a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, and the building of a person’s personality beyond its normal limitations”. (The Drucker Difference, what the World’s Greatest Management Thinker Means to Today’s Business Leaders,2010)

Going back to Brown and Daring Greatly. The author informs us that vulnerability isn’t good or bad, nor a dark emotion, nor is it always a light or positive experience. Brown; “Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness”.

Brown say that vulnerability is the core , the heart, the centre, of meaningful human experiences. Experiencing vulnerability is not a choice, we can choose how we would like to respond when confronted with uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.

“When you fail, make sure that you don’t dwell on it. Fail fast, learn everything you can, and move on”. From her book ; The Mountain Within, Herta Von Stiegel has some interesting thoughts and makes us aware that it’s tempting to suffer and get too involved in the mire of failure. Stiegel; “Give failure it’s proper role in your mind, a place to dwell briefly, learn and reflect, and move on”. Uncertainties is always a challenge , either we like it or not. Stiegel; “The future is all about surprises. Expecting them is half the battle. Being ready for the unexpected is the other half. But how can you be ready for something that you don’t or can’t see coming ?” Stiegel shows us the importance of releasing yesterdays or even an hour ago’s attachment. (Berta Von Stiegel, The Mountain Within)( from my Blog)

Back to Brown and where she makes us aware of some very persuasive leadership research which supports the idea of asking for support is critical, as well as that vulnerability and courage are contagious. The author refers to an article (Harvard Business Review, 2011) Authors of this article (Peter Fuda and Richard Badham) is using series of metaphors to explore how leaders spark and sustain change. ” One of the metaphors is the snowball. The snowball starts rolling when a leader is willing to be vulnerable with his or her subordinates. Their research shows that this act of vulnerability is predictably perceived as courageous by team members and inspires others to follow suit”.

Shame is a painful feeling. Brown; “A sense of worthiness inspires us to be vulnerable, share openly, and preserve. Shame keeps us small, resentful, and afraid. In shame-prone cultures, where parents, leaders, and administrators consciously or unconsciously encourage people to connect their self-worth to what they produce, I see disengagement, blame, gossip, stagnation, favouritism, and a total death of creativity and innovation”.

To be open and honest includes among other things; the painful truth and standing up for what’s right, where keeping promises is of huge importance and proves that we can be trusted to uphold commitments and lead as a good example. From their book (Moral Intelligence, Doug Lennic/Fred Kiel)  say; “When leaders betray confidences, they lose more than respect of their work associates. They also dry up valuable sources of information because their employees and colleagues learn to withhold sensitive information from a loose-lipped leader.” (Ingerleg’s blog)

When Brown talks about shame resilience, she explains that it is a strategy for protecting our connection with both ourselves and our connections with the people we care about.

Brown’s four elements of shame resilience:

1) Recognizing Shame and Understanding Its Triggers. Here it is important to physically recognize and feel your way through it when you are in the grips of shame. You can ask yourselves questions like; what is the triggers ? What are my feelings physically ? Are there a way through it ?

2) Practicing Critical Awareness. Here it is important to be aware of the signs that are driving you to shame, and are the messages realistic or attainable ? Are you in pressure of what other people want from you, or is it what you want to be ?

3) Reaching out. Brown;” Are you owning and sharing your story ? We can’t experience empathy if we’re not connecting.”

4) Speaking Shame. Brown; “Are you talking about how you feel and asking for what you need when you feel shame ?”

These four steps can be used in different order and they will always ultimately lead to empathy and healing.

Leaders need to re-humanize education and work in order to reignite creativity, innovation and learning. Brown; “This means understanding how scarcity is affecting the way we lead and work, learning how to engage with vulnerability, and recognizing and combating shame”.

Shame and blame are disruptive in organizations. Showing respect and dignity of individuals should be of the highest values. Brown; “There is no leading by fear”. In an organizational culture where respect is of high value, there is no room for shame and blame and it won’t work as management style. Brown; “We can’t control the behavior of individuals, however, we can cultivate organizational cultures where behaviors are not tolerated and people are held accountable for protecting what matters most: human beings”.

Organizations need creativity and innovation as well as engaged learning to solve complex issues. Brown; “We can’t afford to let our discomfort with the topic of shame get in the way of recognizing and combating it in our schools and workplaces”.

Browns four best strategies for building shame resilient organizations:

1) Leaders who are supportive and willing to arrange honest conversations about shame as well as cultivating shame resilient cultures.

2) Brown; “Facilitating a conscientious effort to see where shame might be functioning in the organization and how it might even be creeping into the way we engage with our co-workers and students”.

3) Normalizing is according to Brown a critical shame resilience strategy where leaders and managers are helping their people to know what to expect. You can ask these questions; What is the common struggles and how to deal with them and what you have experienced ?

4) Brown; “Training all employees on the differences between shame and guilt, and teaching them how to give and receive feedback in a way that fosters growth and engagement”.

Giving feedback is everything, without feedback there can’t be any transformative change. Brown; “A daring greatly culture is a culture of honest, constructive, and engaged feedback”.

“Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.”   – Winston Churchill

Author, Inger Lise E Greger MSc Change Management

Humility in Leadership Matters.

17 04 2015

Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues.         Confucius

“If you lead, or aspire to lead, people in an organization, then you must make many assessments every day. Think of the job you have right now. Before deciding to join your organization, you had to assess the company or organisation – the location , pay package, and opportunity for advancement. However, it is unlikely that any of the assessments that you made – or continue to make – are more important than the assessments you make of people. That is the Pope Francis imperative; people first, and then everything else follows”.

Jeffrey A Krames is a bestselling author and has written; Lead with Humility. This is a book about Pope Francis leadership style. The author translates the popes key issues as well as his ideas and practices into practical tactics which anyone can copy.

Pope Francis is a great man with a big heart and is a leader among leaders, and has also proven that he is a man of the people. Francis makes us aware that we need to understand that leaders lead people and not institutions. Francis; “Unfortunately, too few people understand this in an increasingly impersonal, high-tech working environment”

Krames, makes us aware that fewer leaders roam the halls of our largest corporations as well as setting positive examples of effective leadership. Pope Francis is a great example with his unique leadership style in action and his genuineness which people can see from the Pope.

Kramer; “However, leadership is not about perfection; it is about espousing a new vision and getting others to live that vision. In that respect, Pope Francis has been incredibly successful. Peter Drucker would call him a ‘natural’, a ‘born’ leader”.

Pope Francis would be the last person to call himself a natural leader or a born leader, such self-praise would be completely out of character for him.

Krames refers to a Harvard Business Review blog post that makes us aware of the amount of scores of books, articles, and studies that warn us of the perils of hubris – and yet the attribute of humility seems to be neglected. The blog post inform us that the attribute of humility seems to be neglected; in leadership development programs; Perhaps this owes to some feeling that humility would hold a leader back, these mavericks and sui generic leaders who dislike being restrained” Others may feel they are humble enough, and many might feel that humility can’t be taught or learned. “You have it or you don’t, so reading a book on it would not add to their ‘humility quotient’.

Krames refers to what Bergoglio wrote before becoming pope; “If we can develop a truly humble attitude, we can change the world”. Krames; “And he misses no opportunity to show that a person can never be too humble and that people can learn to be more humble.

Leadership is all about people stuff. A key element of  a leader is to set goals and create performance indicators. The employees should be empowered to solve problems as well as achieving results. This will enable innovation and create trust. A prerequisite of a leader, is an open dialogue with their employees to clarify what goals are, and equally important, what they are not. Open communication will help visualize the expectancy the leader has of the employees and avoid misunderstanding.  ( My blog)

Francis; “We have to be humble, but with real humility, from head-to-toe”.

Here are some of Francis important leadership lessons;

– The first one if you are fortunate to be a leader, do not to use your position for selfish reasons.

– Do not signalize to workers or colleagues that you are above them

– Move out of your corner office to an inside office or even a cubicle

Krames; “Engaging people in an in-depth conversation is near the top of Pope Francis’s leadership to-do list. Bergoglio; “Dialogue is born from a respectful attitude toward the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say. It supposes that we can make room in our heart for their point of view, their opinion, and their proposals. Dialogue entails a warm reception and not a preemptive condemnation. To dialogue, one must know how to lower the defences, to open the door’s of one’s home and to offer warmth”.

Kramer makes us aware of Bergoglio’s pragmatism which makes him capable of understanding the roadblocks to successful communication. “There are many barriers in everyday life that impede dialogue; misinformation, gossip, prejudices, defamation, and slander.”

Warren Bennis; “Leaders come in every size, shape, and disposition-short, tall, neat, sloppy, young, old, male, and female. Nevertheless, they all seem to share some, if not all, of the following ingredients; The first basic ingredient of leadership is a guiding vision, passion, integrity, trust, curiosity and daring.

Integrity in Bennis mind, consists of three essential parts; self-knowledge, candor, and maturity.

Bennis; “Know thyself, was the inscription over the Oracle at Delphi. And it is still the most difficult task any of us faces. But until you truly know yourself, strenghts and weaknesses, know what you want to do and why you want to do it, you cannot succeed in any but the most superficial sense of the word”.

Inclusion means leaving no one behind. In todays world, people works together with people from different cultures, and you have to adapt to each other. Many organizations has a challenge in getting better to open up for inclusion. “Leaving no one behind” is the essence of Francis.

Krames;” That is the difference between Pope Francis and so many other leaders in our society. Leaders in government and business often say something because they know that it is what various constituencies want to hear. But when Francis says something, he speaks from the truth of personal experience, and he operates not by appealing to influential minorities but by empowering the people he serves”.

Humility in leadership is all about their people.

Human self-understanding changes with time, and so also human consciousness deepens.            Pope Francis

Author, Inger Lise E Greger, MSc Change Management

Transparency and Leaders Will to Create a Culture of Candor

23 01 2015

There is no diplomacy like candor.     E.V.Lucas

A culture of transparency and candor is a must for every organisation.

From their vital book; “Transparency” —Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman and Jim O’Toole addresses us with the vital question whether organizations have the courage to be open, honest and most of all, transparent.

The writers make us aware that claiming to be transparent is not the same as actually being transparent. You may believe in transparency without practicing it.

Warren Bennis gives us this definition of being transparent; “It means, in addition to the literal ‘capable of being seen through’, without guile or concealment; open, frank, candid”.

When companies cover up their mistakes instead of learning from them, they will probably do the same another time. Author’s; “But any time an organization makes a seriously wrong decision, its leader should call for an intensive postmortem. Such learning opportunities are too often overlooked”.

The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership, is a book written by, M.A. Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas. The book implements thought-provoking ideas from Aristotle, Heraclitus, Sophocles, Hesiod and others.

I have chosen rule 5; Always Embrace the Truth  —–Antisthenes. Authors; “Wise leaders, the men and women who possess genuine insight about administrative life, understand that honest assessment is an essential requirement of effective leadership. However, there seems to be an inverse correlation between level of authority and level of truth. In other words, the higher up the corporate ladder an executive ascends, the less likely it is that person will receive complete and accurate evaluation”

When climbing the corporate ladder, leaders makes the distance to the subordinates to evaluate them harder. They often have their own agenda and is not always sharing their information with their colleagues. “Encouraging to whatever degree such submissiveness on the part of subordinates jeopardizes the welfare of both the organization and the leader”.

Going back to the book on transparency, and let us see what Bennis, Goleman and O’Toole have to say on this important subject. The author’s are signalizing that wise leaders are engaged and close to the actions. “There’s a compelling reason to become more open to information from people at every level; those close to the action usually know more about what’s actually going on with clients, with production or customer service, than those on the floors. ( There’s truth to the maxim, “None of us is as smart as all of us” )

Leaders who cares about a good culture in their organizations, develop a culture of candor. Author’s; “Before an organization can develop a culture of candor, it must examine the cultural rules that currently govern it. Such cultural rules run deep and they typically resist change”.

Leaders need to take action if they want information to flow freely in the organization and in that case be the one who set good examples. “If leaders regularly demonstrate that they want to hear more than incessant happy talk, and praise those with the courage to articulate unpleasant truths, then the norm will begin to shift toward transparency”.

Lead with Humility, written by Jeffrey Krames, translates the pope’s key ideas and practices into practical tactics that anyone can emulate. Krames, emphasize’s Pope Francis great leadership style as a good example for anyone who wants to connect in a meaningful way with employees, teammates and customers for their organization. “He believes that authentic humility empowers leaders like no other leadership quality. “If we can develop a truly humble attitude, we can change the world”, wrote Bergoglio before becoming pope. And he misses no opportunity to show that a person can never be too humble and that people can learn to be more humble. In doing so, he has altered the standards by which we measure our leaders”.

Here are the Pope’s key ideas;

Remove the walls-literally-between yourself and your employees.

-Enlist your executives to join you each year at the front desk or in the delivery truck.

-Consider all points of view, and make decisions in consultation-not as snap judgements.

-Focus on enhancing people’s strengths, not fixing their weaknesses.

-Break the habit of doing things the same old way, and reinvent ineffective process.

-Communicate with everyone, at every level of the organization.

-Surround yourself with truth-tellers-no matter how painful it is to hear.

-Shake up the status quo and get out of your comfort zone.

 Hope is the only good that is common to all men, those who have nothing else possess hope still  —–Thales


Inger Lise E Greger/MSc Change Management

Leaders Mental Challenges

18 09 2014

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”    —   John Quincy Adams

From one of his books, Richard L Daft, speaks of every leaders six mental mistakes; reacting too quickly, inflexible thinking, wanting control, emotional avoidance and attention, exaggerating the future and chasing the wrong gratifications.

“Kings, heads of government, and corporate executives have control over thousands of people and endless resources, but often do not have mastery over themselves. From a distance, larger-than-life leaders may look firmly in control of their business and their personal behavior ? What about up close ? Personal mastery is a difficult thing.”   (Daft, 2010)

Leadership is all about ‘people stuff’. A key element of a leader is to set goals and create performance indicators. The employees should be empowered to solve problems and achieve results. This will enable innovation and create trust. A prerequisite of a leader’s, is an open dialogue with their employees to clarify what goals are, and equally important, what they are not. Open communication will help visualize the expectancy the leader has of the employees and avoid misunderstandings.

Life can be challenging, in all of its aspects. The question is how we choose to face these challenges in order to reach our goals.

When Daft speaks of every leader’s six mental mistakes, he use metaphors. The metaphor Daft use for our two selves or parts are the executive and the elephant. He illustrates this by referring to as the inner executive and the inner elephant. “The inner executive is our higher consciousness, our own CEO so to speak. Visualize an executive riding on a large elephant, attending to control it, with legs dangling on either side of the elephant’s neck. The inner elephant symbolizes the strength of unconscious systems and habits”.

Daft makes us aware of the importance of being able to lead yourself first, which may lead you to become a great leader of your people. By leading yourself means seeing, understanding, mastering and leading your unconscious but powerful inner elephant. “You can appreciate that bringing your two selves into alignment and learning to be the master of your own behavior would have a terrific leadership payoff in satisfaction, inner peace, impact, and productivity”.  (Daft, 2010)

Let us take a closer look at; the six mental mistakes.

Reacting too quickly.

Patience, is a key word here, and be able to hold back instant reactions. “You have to be patient enough and make sure that you always remain calm”.  (Daft, 2010) Sometimes leaders have a tendency to overreact because their point seemed urgent, which can easily lead to interruption of someone. “Instant reactions often feel urgent, which makes the impulse hard to control. If you feel that urgency, when you were a child your inner elephant probably wanted to eat the marshmallow”.

By slowing down your reaction, it will lead to produce a better response. Daft mentions Robert Iger, who is CEO of Disney, he makes us aware of an important leadership lesson he learned, which was to “manage reaction time better. What I mean by that is not overreacting to things that are said to me because sometimes it’s easy to do”.

Inflexible thinking.

Our gut feelings is difficult to change. If we are convinced of something, good or bad, yes or no, we have a tendency to stick with our beliefs. “Once the inner elephant jumps to a conclusion about something, it typically does not like to change its mind. Your inner magician and attorney will fill in any needed details and defend against competing views. Why? To maintain your sense of well-being, prevent or reduce psychological pain, and let you feel good about yourself. Once your inner elephant settles on a viewpoint or belief, it resists, it resists letting go”   (Daft, 2010)

Wanting control.

People tend to have a desire for control. Managers don’t like to give away control. Daft tells us that many managers need to learn to give away control, managers think it is more efficient for them to keep their control. “If your inner elephant micromanages other people, your satisfaction will be at their expense” (Daft, 2010)

The author tells us that everyone’s inner elephant wants to be in control and is happier when in control. The key is to activate their inner executive to give control to others.

Emotional avoidance and attraction.


Our emotions plays with us. In times we are aware of tasks we have to perform, or deadlines coming up, but can not fulfill the task. This is procrastination. To procrastinate means to; “delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off delay. You do not want to delay, but do it anyway, because your inner elephant resists more strongly than your intention”.

Daft, makes us aware that the resistance to the task symbolizes something from your past which triggers modest anxiety even when your inner elephant wants to avoid it.


We all have dreams and desires, which is important for having a good life. However, strong attractions, such as the need for perfection, may lead to problems for managers. Managers may also feel the need to act on their unthinking desire always to be right rather than let other people shine, to perpetually find fault with other people’s ideas, to win every disagreement, to blame others when something goes wrong despite being culpable, or to speak harshly when upset”.  (Daft, 2010)

Exaggerating the future.

Why do we have a tendency to exaggerate the future ?

Simply put, when we are attracted to a task, we are optimistically to the results, and doesn’t see any problems. “When the inner elephant is attracted to a future outcome, it overoptimistically anticipates good results and underestimates potential difficulties, so it fails to see the problems ahead”.  (Daft, 2010)

The same is happening when everything looks hopeless. “When the inner elephant dislikes or wants to avoid an outcome, it will pessimistically see more difficulties and problems than will actually occur”. (Daft, 2010)

However, when you start working with the ‘terrible task’, it wasn’t that bad at all.

Chasing the wrong gratifications.

Sometimes we are going in the wrong direction. If your work is only about money and fame, then you are chasing the wrong gratification. “The inner elephant loves the temporary good feeling that goes with external rewards, whether in the form of a trip, plaque, promotion or more money.

If you are passionate about your work, the work will feel easier and happier. ” The inner elephant can chase money into infinity, acquire luxury goods beyond imagination, and never experience the joy of performing a task just for pleasure. That is why the adage ‘Love what you do and the money will follow’.

It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.   —  Charles Spurgeon

Written by

Inger Lise E Greger, Master of Science in Change Management



Understanding Moral Intelligence and Values.

16 01 2014

In our lives we have chosen our own moral compass.

In our world we meet with people from different cultures and values.

In organizations people with different needs and values has to work and relate to each other. Organizations will not survive the test of time without strong values.

Leaders who actively apply moral values to achieve enduring success, makes their companies great. “For today’s leaders, it is even more clear that moral competence is not a nice to have , it is a must have”.

Compassion is the basis of morality.     Arthur Schopenhauer.

Through my reading of the book; Moral Intelligence, my eyes opened towards the importance of a leaders responsibility and understanding of the people in the organizations. However, we should not take for granted that every leader is capable of understanding moral intelligence, but those who do and involves has a passion for their people show’s their ability of being moral intelligent.

About the authors of this important book; Doug Lennick, works as CEO of Lennick Aberman Group, in addition he works directly with the CEO of Ameriprise Financial, retaining the EVP title and focusing on workforce culture and performance.

Fred Kiel, PH.D; often called ‘father of executive coaching’ because of his pioneering work is cofounder of KRW, International, Inc. He has 30 year’s experience with Fortune 500 executives on building organizational effectiveness through leadership excellence.

The third contributing author; Kathy Jordan who is a psychologist, coach, writer, editor and consultant highly regarded for her inventive and practical approaches to managing strategic change and enhancing business performance.

Moral intelligence is the key-element through this book and the authors show how greater moral intelligence can lead to higher trust and engagement, but also retention and innovation.

Author’s; “The best leaders think we, not I “. They are quite simply, good people who consistently  tap into their inborn disposition to be moral. They follow a moral compass – even when it’s tempting not to”. Also they believe in honesty and see themselves and others. These great leaders are capable of sharing common moral values. ” They show compassion for their fellow humans and know how to forgive others – and just as important – themselves”.

When the author’s are talking about moral intelligence, they describe it as new for the playing field. “Just as emotional intelligence and cognitive intelligence are different from one another, moral intelligence is another distinct intelligence”. Moral intelligence describes our personal values, goals, and actions.

Leaders need to be aware of what the author’s call differentiating competencies. Moral intelligence and emotional intelligence are two types of intelligence. The challenge to many corporate leaders is to understand these ‘soft skills’ and see the differentiating.

Daniel Goleman’s books on emotional intelligence, makes us aware of the importance of emotional skills to corporate leaders.

From his book; Focus, The Hidden Driver of  Excellence, Goleman say; ” Empathy in its many forms from simple listening to reading the paths of influence in an organization, shows up more often in leadership competence studies. Most of the competencies for high – performing leaders fall into a more visible category that builds on empathy: relationship strengths like influence and persuasion, teamwork and cooperation, and the like”.

Goleman makes us aware of the importance on managing ourselves and sensing how what we do affects others.

The authors from the book; Moral Intelligence, makes us aware of four principles they think are important and vital for sustained personal and organizational success: integrity, responsibility, compassion and forgiveness.


The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty.   Zig Ziglar

Integrity is a key-element of a morally intelligent person, on the other hand, if we lack integrity we lack moral intelligence by definition. We are focused on doing what we know is right.

The integrity competencies include; acting consistently with principles, values, and beliefs. Telling the truth.  Standing up for what is right, and keeping promises.

Telling the truth and leading with openness and honesty in organizations, includes defining reality under challenging circumstances. “When times are tough, leaders need to tell the truth while providing people with real reasons for hope and optimism”.

To be open and honest includes also, performance, the painful truth and standing up for what is right, and keeping promises is of huge importance and proves that we can be trusted to do what we tell to do. Author’s;” Keeping promises usually requires assistance from a few emotional competencies – the self-awareness to recognize the inconsistency between our intentions and actions and the self-control to adopt disciplined work habits that enable us to keep our promises”.

Another important key-element in trust is to honore confidence. The privacy of others is confident and the leader has a big responsibility to keep it that way. Author’s;”When leaders betray confidences, they lose more than the respect of their work associates. They also dry up valuable sources of information because their employees and colleagues learn to withhold sensitive information from a loose-lipped leader”.


The difficulty we have in accepting responsibility for our behavior lies in the desire to avoid the pain of the consequences of that behavior.    M. Scott Peck

Responsibility includes; taking responsibility for personal choices, admitting mistakes and failures, and embracing responsibility for serving others.

Glenn Lopis, is a contributor for Forbes and writes about leadership, he say; “Leaders that are self-aware, are clear about their identity and expectations, have the backs of others and can be trusted – they are the ones we instinctively gravitate towards”.

Leaders need to take responsibility for their personal choices and accept that they are accountable for the results of the choices they make. Author’s; “Responsibility is a radical competency because it requires that we accept personal responsibility for everything that we do, even though we each live in a complicated world where bosses, family members and friends all exert pressure on us to act in certain ways”.

If you want to be respected as a leader it includes the willingness to take responsibility when things go wrong. An organization that does not tolerate mistakes, are not showing responsibility. Author’s; “First, admitting personal mistakes helps an organization be healthier in several ways. If you admit you screwed up, this will prevent someone else from being blamed for your mistake . Second,  admitting mistakes creates a bond with other employees who feel that you are more approachable by virtue of your admission of fallibility. Third, if you can admit mistakes, it gives a strong signal of tolerance to the organization,  we all make mistakes”.

Embracing responsibility for serving others.

Glenn Lopis; “The most memorable leaders give you the time that they don’t always have. They recognize that their employees need attention and will find a way to make the time to listen to their concerns and provide insights to the situation at hand”.

If you want employees to be happy and give their knowledge to the organization, leaders need to serve them. Author’s; “Imagine how your employees will respond  if you consistently demonstrate that your primary leadership job is to help employees accomplish their own goals”.

Compassion and Forgiveness.

Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.    Confucius

A leader who cares about their employees makes them grow and are helping them achieving their goals. Glenn Lopis; “The leaders that are most grateful for your hard work and efforts will be the most memorable”.

The forgiveness competencies includes, letting go of one’s own mistakes, and letting go of other’s mistakes. Here, the author’s makes us aware of these two forgiveness competencies frequently considered “mirror competencies”, because they are clearly closely related. Author’s; “Some of us are much better at forgiving ourselves than others and vice versa. Many of us are hard on ourselves because of perfectionism. We can let go of other’s mistakes but hold on to our own, sometimes we are our own worst critics”.

Here the author’s makes it clear that effective leaders know that letting go of mistakes – their own and others – clears the way for better future performance.

If we cannot forgive it is impossible to relate to the people in organizations as well as in the private zone.

The moral leader are able to see the good things in people. Author’s; “Even though people are not perfect, and even though they make mistakes, most people have good intentions”.

Moral leaders are good motivators. “Moral leaders accelerate and enhance high performance by actively encouraging everyone in the organization to apply their moral principles to their individual actions while also creating organization – wide policies practices, and reward systems based on moral values”.

About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.      Ernest Hemingway

Author, Inger Lise E Greger/Master of Science in Change Management

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