Musings

The Golden Rule Isn’t

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In late September of 2015 I found myself in opposition to Pope Francis. Don’t get me wrong; I’m crazy about this guy, the first pope I ever really loved, let alone paid much attention to. He’s enthusiastic, warm, authentic and humble, all attributes of leadership that I espouse in my doctrine for highly-evolved leadership. Pope Francis has this engaging wink that often accompanies a thumbs-up sign, an endearing display of optimism that I find irresistible. But all of a sudden … Read More

Disengaged Employees? Blame the Consultant!

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Diving into the world of organizational development, leadership and culture has been a real eye-opener for me. One might think that my past life of influencing change in surgeon clinical practice, while navigating the economic and regulatory conundrum that is the U.S. healthcare system, was challenging. Trying to show people that they’re taking themselves awfully seriously – way harder! I should have gone into the cat obedience business. (Not that I know anything about cat obedience, but not knowing stuff clearly … Read More

The Inevitable: How Contemplating Mortality Can Yield Better Leadership and Higher Employee Engagement

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For years I’ve been checking the Sunday obituaries, the week’s comprehensive guide to who’s recently relinquished life, replete with occasionally entertaining and inspirational biographies. I suspect that most young—or young at heart—readers relegate this section to the bottom of the gerbil cage, but I’ve been a fairly loyal reader and, up until now, didn’t completely understand why. Some people will say that they’re just making certain their names aren’t included, but even I, at an age where I can no … Read More

Incompletely Evolved

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I can’t stand it when essays, defined as “short literary compositions”, start off with definitions. If the issues are so complex that understanding them requires an unusual vocabulary, then we’re taking ourselves too seriously. And you are, by now, keenly aware of where I stand on THAT issue. We humans (even with disproportionately long arms and hairy shoulders, I count myself among you) have a tendency to give ourselves a lot of credit. From learning the ABCs and knowing that … Read More

A little soap wouldn’t kill ya

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“I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!” Sally Field loves to be liked, made clear by this exclamation for winning an Oscar in 1985 for her role in Places in the Heart. Social psychologists claim that most of us derive great emotional pleasure from being accepted and liked. This pleasure is profound to the degree that our brains don’t substantially differentiate emotional from physical pleasure. As evidence, in a study from the University … Read More

Why The Institute?

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After more than 30 years experiencing the world of business and organizational function (dysfunction), I recently awoke with something like the opposite of an existential crisis. Maybe I should call it finally coming to my senses, but after witnessing so much command-and-control, take-it-or-leave it and my-way-or-the-highway leadership, and the aftermath of worker unhappiness and dis-engagement, I realized I have a purpose. Call me soft, naïve or just plain idealistic, but I believe in people’s fundamental right to be treated with … Read More

Euphemisms

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Once upon a time (I won’t say how long ago, lest some people get exposed) I was in a meeting of company leaders: CEO, CFO, Director of Sales, Director of Manufacturing, Director of Engineering, and myself. There was a lot of collective wisdom around that table and the discussion centered on strategy. The company was forever at a crossroads, given a lack of funds and a long line of vendors needing to satisfy their own selfish desires, like making mortgage … Read More

My Boss Was Killing Me…Literally

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Okay, so I have, like, this master’s degree in physiology. But I don’t have much patience in scouring the literature and filing reports – it feels so academic. I just want to have fun. So, imagine my joy when I stumbled across this post from Melissa Hughes, Ph.D., on precisely the stuff The Institute’s fans of science might want. Below Melissa courageously tells her story about a rotten work situation, and then dives deeply into the physiology of fear and … Read More