“Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”
– Terry Pratchett
As a way of reflecting on the CCO and all that you have gained from your experience, let’s review the journey we’ve been on together and all that you’ve learned over the past eight weeks.
Phase I: Current State: Taking an Honest Look
- With Week 1 of the CCO, you dove into the experience. We began by setting the stage for learning. To that end, you examined the skill of listening itself and you learned that listening is an act of leadership. You also learned that how you listen is a choice you can make, as opposed to something that just happens. We explored the most common form of listening: something called habitual listening, in which we are bound by our preconceived ideas. The growth mindset requires a different kind of listening, one that is characterized by more curiosity and openness. To get the most out of the CCO experience, you were invited into a form of listening that is more inclusive and grounded in a less subjective reality.
- Week 2 continued to lay the foundation for your learning experience. Any time we want to develop further, we need to first come to a more complete understanding of ourselves — our current state — and this begins with self-awareness. Week 2 brought an exploration of the various ways many of us have a blind spot around how we show up at work. You learned about some of the hiding strategies that are common in professional life, including acting like the Critic, the Clown, or the Cheerleader; working in ways that render your contributions invisible (like stalling or overcomplicating); and avoiding interactions and projects that have an element of the unknown to them. In this Lesson, we explored a possible cause of much of this hiding behavior: fear. Understanding that, and learning to distinguish between fears and more helpful critical thinking, is an early step you were invited to take toward making different, more intentional choices.
- In Week 3, you learned about the ladder of inference and how all of us bring personal filters into the workplace every day that can short-circuit reality, leaving us less effective as contributors, as collaborators, and as leaders. You learned about the amplifying effect the amygdala hijack has on this inferential process. This is, in essence, the fight, flight or freeze response that can get triggered at work and can powerfully shape the inferences we make, and thus the beliefs we have and the actions we take based on those beliefs. You learned techniques to manage amygdala hijack and to challenge inferences in order to welcome a broader variety of perspectives and to practice greater intellectual agility.
Phase II: The Game-Changing Moves
- Week 4 was a deep dive into the topic of executive presence. Many of you have, of course, heard plenty about executive presence but it is often left undefined. Here, we look at the pillars that often are said to make up executive presence: conviction of belief, clarity of thought, and composure under pressure, and add to that a fourth pillar: integrity. The CCO explains that executive presence isn’t something you are born with; instead, executive presence is a practice much like the practice of law or yoga. With this Lesson, you examined five practices you can work with to “be more executive:” being for-the-business; being a truth-teller; taking a stand; filling action vacuums; and playing into the white spaces.
- In Week 5, we moved in the direction of taking more personal responsibility for how things are in your life, at work and beyond. The Lesson analyzes the ways many of us typically do not take responsibility — even though we think we do! — and how that often shows up as complaining. The Lesson explores the negative effects on self and others of complaining and its overall effect of diminishing personal effectiveness. You learned how to more powerfully drive the outcomes you want by forming powerful and effective requests. You saw that by making requests, instead of complaining about the ways that others fall short of expectations, you are better positioned to foster collaborative relationships and create win-win solutions. You closed this week by committing to a period of no complaining and received tips for how to honor that commitment.
- In Week 6, you learned another set of game-changing techniques designed to sharpen your communication and collaboration skills. These techniques focus on the fact that much of the work you do happens through the conversations you have with colleagues (be they in meetings, hallway exchanges, over Skype, email, IM, social apps, or text). The Lesson centers on the theory that the ability to create success with others has a lot to do with the degree of skill used in the context of these conversations. You were encouraged to introduce more intentionality into this aspect of your work and you learned several ways you might go about skillfully designing and carrying out more effective conversations. To that end, you were introduced to the Clarity Checklist, which is a way of organizing thought and conversation to address the building blocks for working successfully with others. You were also introduced to three specific types of conversation that are common at work: Conversation for Relationship, Conversation for Possibility, and Conversation for Action, and you received a framework and robust tools for working with each type.
Phase III: Mastery: The Real Deal
- Week 7 focused on conflict and the powerful techniques Challengers can use to navigate it. The Lesson begins by looking at a core part of the job — helping the audience listen — and how you can make sure you are skillful at that. You learned the common causes of distraction and disengagement in workplace meetings, and how to avoid or address those causes before they derail progress. You also learned two powerful conversational moves to master to bring more ideas to the table, improve decision-making, and strengthen relationships at work: working with open-ended questions and balancing advocacy and inquiry. In this week, you also received a detailed handbook of process moves you can incorporate into how you lead and a series of sample statements to use to bring more openness into how you respond to “unusual ideas” that others may raise during your meetings.
- With Week 8, we turned our attention back to the final aspect of executive presence that we had yet to address: composure under pressure. You learned that one way to fuel your own composed presence is with a clarified understanding of the vision you hold for yourself. Week 8 included an invitation to you to tap into who you are, what has meaning for you, and what drives and inspires you, and to bring that together into a galvanizing vision of you performing at your very best. This week, you received a powerful vision workflow you used to increase your understanding of your vision and to bring that vision to life. You were also guided to look for how you might connect your vision to the work you do for your company to bring more focus, intention, and composure into how you carry out and view your role.
Phase IV: Completion and Carrying the Learning Forward
- Which brings us right up to Week 9, the present moment…