This blog was written as a companion to the VoiceAmerica Interview between Mike Sayre and Maureen Metcalf on May 23, 2017, Characteristics of Leadership 2020 – A CEO Perspective. Mike Sayre is the president & COO of Metcalf & Associates, a trusted partner inspiring and enabling perpetual innovation, evolution, and growth in leaders and their businesses. Mike is highly experienced and a successful software, e-commerce, and manufacturing services CEO, COO, CFO, and Board Director. Waves of change in technology are advancing at an exponential rate—20,000 times more than in the last century according to Google CTO and futurist Ray Kurzweil. So are waves of change in society, global and local economics, as well geopolitics. These incredible rates of ongoing change are driving… the evolution of your customers’ needs and your competitors’ offerings faster than ever, the obsolescence of technologies your offerings depend on today, your most capable employees’ desires to leverage new technologies to innovate, grow, and evolve themselves, and a vastly accelerated pace of change in your business. Are you evolving the way you and your team lead to continue to ride these waves of change? If not, you may be swept beneath them. Over the course of human history, there have been six major shifts in societal/cultural norms (eras) with corresponding leadership development and advancement. The first four were driven over tens of thousands of years by increasing populations, the continued need to feed and protect growing population centers, and a primal power base: ARCHAIC: nomadic clans hunting and foraging for food TRIBAL: the formation of tribes and villages and the developments of horticulture and shepherding WARRIOR: the building of city-state empires using serf or slave labor to establish early agricultural practices TRADITIONAL: the growth of city-state empires to wide-spread kingdoms and monarchies battling over turf and power Next came the MODERN Industrial Scientific era where leadership spent more time and energy on perfecting tasks and processes (think assembly lines) to support mass production and distribution of traditional products, but also products based on new technologies, like automobiles, mostly in developing nation-states with access to the required resources. Commercial success translated into new power bases. The Modern era developed over a period of approximately two-hundred years and many people and organizations are still functioning at this level. Then came the POST-MODERN era where leadership became much more introspective, thoughtful, and systems oriented, where the information age and the internet have spanned virtual transnational networks. This era has really only developed over the last 20-30 years with the advent of the internet. Note that the first four eras developed over tens of thousands of years and that some parts of the third-world still may be functioning at some combination of the Tribal, Warrior and Traditional eras. They co-exist in close proximity to parts of the world where the Modern and Post-Modern eras developed over just the last couple of hundred years. Hence, it is reasonable to assume that the incredible rate of increasing technological advancement over time so far will only continue to increase exponentially going forward, and Kurzweil’s predictions are not so far-fetched as they may seem! It has become more and more difficult for leaders and organizations to keep up. So now, we are beginning to experience the seventh societal/cultural/leadership shift into what we call the INTEGRAL era. In this era, technological change, economic change and geopolitical change outpace the abilities of most Modern and Post-Modern leaders who think in terms of tasks, processes, and systems. Integral era leadership must consider the constant evolution of entire ecosystems in which we operate, and evolve ahead of the curve—or at least with the curve—to just survive, let alone thrive. When today’s foremost leadership experts were doing research for the book Leadership 2050, they looked at five recent global studies on organizational leadership needs for the future. All five studies generally concluded that there are not enough leaders in our current leadership pipeline that have the higher-ordered skills and capacities to meet the complexity of today’s challenges, not to mention those needed for 2050. What are those higher-ordered skills? 1. Being professionally humble – Astute leaders care more about doing the right thing than being right. Their focus is on the mission and they consistently give credit to their team and others when they succeed. 2. Having an unwavering commitment to right action – A thoughtful leader consistently makes decisions based on what action will most effectively advance the organization’s mission, even if doing it is not the easiest path. 3. Being a 360-degree thinker – A prudent leader consistently considers the industry, environment and trends driving future success, in addition to the organizations’ strategies, capabilities, and, most obvious, environmental factors. 4. Being intellectually versatile – Creative leaders draw from a broad set of interests and involvement in activities outside their organization. Those activities also give them opportunities to recharge. 5. Being highly authentic and reflective – Self-aware leaders who possess a strong sense of mission and are transparently guided by a set of consistently adhered-to principles build trust that promotes an environment of high performance. 6. Inspire followership – Leaders strong in the previous competencies, with a sense of humor and mild self-deprecation, who are warm and empathetic, inspire a followership that appreciates the tough conversations required to maintain ever-higher performance and achievement, and are continually inspired to do more. 7. Being innately collaborative – Exceptional leaders value input from experts and those impacted by key decisions, and promote the offering of differing points of view, knowing that multiple perspectives result in better outcomes, more support, and stronger execution. How can you develop these higher-ordered skills? These competencies generally take years to develop and are gained through both unplanned and planned life and career experiences. Nick Petrie from the Center of Creative Leadership says what he calls “vertical ego-maturity development” is helping leaders move from one level of ego-maturity to the next (becoming less self-centered) to match leadership style with the demands of society. A similar leadership developmental process occurred to move between each of the societal levels referenced above, with the specifics varying according to life conditions. This transformation process occurs through: Heat Experiences where a leader faces a complex situation that disrupts and disorients a habitual way of thinking. Through this experience there is a recognition that the current way of making sense of the world is inadequate. The leader opens up to different perspectives and starts searching for new and better ways to make sense of the situation. Colliding Perspectives where a leader is exposed to people with different world views, opinions, backgrounds, and training that challenges existing mental models and increases the number of perspectives through which the world is viewed. Elevated Sense-making where a leader uses a coach, or a self-developed process, to help integrate and make sense of these perspectives and experiences from more elevated stages of development. A larger more advanced worldview emerges and, with time, stabilizes. At Metcalf & Associates, we work with our clients to create perpetual innovation, evolution, and growth in their leadership and business by providing Individual or group Innovative Leadership training Team/organization innovative culture development Organizational transformation engagement, and Ongoing consulting, coaching and/or follow-up sessions to ensure: Growth in perspectives when unplanned heat experiences or colliding perspectives “barge in,” Development of elevated sense-making with new perspectives, and Sustainability of developmental goal achievement and/or transformation. Thanks for following us! Please look for more upcoming blogs and blog series at “C” level from Mike.
This post, written by Gary Weber, is a companion to the July 5 VoiceAmerica interview with Gary Weber, Using Brain Science to Enhance Leadership. Gary talks about our personal mental operating systems and how to replace them with an updated one.
Replacing our current “I”-based, mental operating system (OS I) with an upgrade, largely by reducing the self-referential internal narrative (SRIN), is something I have been exploring for a while. The belief that our current OS has become “maladaptive,” was discussed in the blogpost “Does your nondual awakening benefit ‘everyone’? the world?” and in the video “dysfunctional evolution of the mind.”
OS I developed about 75,000 years ago. (see blogpost “How old is the “I”? Â How/why did it come into existence?…new science”) Our predecessors split off from our nearest relatives, the chimpanzees, about 6,000,000 years ago; the “I”-based OS 1 has been in operation for about one percent of the time we have been distinct from other primates.
Our brain size increased three times after that split from the chimpanzees until when we developed OS 1. Many structural, organization, and neural modifications evolved before OS 1 could emerge.
As we know, our current OS has many limitations. It is difficult to focus on important “stuff” with the continual interference from our SRIN. “Does insufficient apoptosis cause cancer?” competes with “Why did Jane treat me the way she did?” “I’ll tell her next week what I think of her,” “I should stop eating ice creamâGreek yogurt would be better”; “What should I wear tonight?”, etc.
The persistent SRIN also consumes huge amounts of energy, wastes much bandwidth, and increases negative energy. It also results in emotionally-charged memories that lead to depression, anxiety, dis-ease, worries, craving, attachment, suffering, etc.
The recognition that SRIN was THE problem causing “my” personal unhappiness occurred when I was in grad school walking to campus. I just could not believe that this never-ending cacophony of the SRIN was how we were supposed to live “our lives.” There had to be a better way. So, I set out to see if and how SRIN could be reduced or perhaps even eliminated, while still retaining functionality in the “real” world.
As an empirical scientist “in-training,” I conducted this investigation totally empirically. Every understanding had to be personally validated. There would be no philosophy, theory, or teachings from millennia ago. To make certain that I had the best possible data, I developed some design parameters:
1. Any information had to come from sources alive now, or who were alive while I was alive.
2. There had to be movies/videos, photographs, and direct transcripts of the information from any of the sources.
3. My preference was to personally see the sources, or talk to folk who had.
4. The sources would be in first-language English to avoid misunderstandings from translations.
5. The sources must have been validated by well-known and credible “experts.”
6. Ongoing direct feedback on progress/success was critical for a DIY approach. Good news/bad news, SRIN provided continuously-available feedback…if SRIN was there, more work was needed.
7. The process must retain/enhance functional “real world” performance.
8. Happiness would increase, and suffering, stress, and anxiety would decrease.
9. The result would be a change in life, not just experiences; it would be a new OS.
10. It would be scientifically verifiable.
The source that met all of these parameters was Ramana Maharshi. I also drew upon sources who partially met these parameters, like the late Toni Packer (my iconoclastic Zen teacher), J. Krishnamurti, Amrit Desai, Swami Rama, Roshi Eido Shimano, etc.
As described in my book Happiness Beyond Thought: A Practical Guide to Awakening, I did many direct empirical exercises to understand thoughts, how they were constructed, whether they were continuous or intermittent, energetic or not, linked or “stand alone,” how the “I” was constructed, etc. With that perspective, particularly “Who Am I?”, I embarked on an intensive program of self-inquiry and “I” deconstruction.
SRIN occurs when my blood sugar gets low (hypoglycemic) or I am very tired. Some early mornings, there is a short clearing out of some residual “stuff” from the day before, such as “Is this important, or should we dump it?” mode. If you don’t take advantage of the invitation to explore, it just vanishes…the brain gets its answer.
Surprisingly, a loss of self-referential desires and fears, as well as dramatically enhanced functional capability occurred with the disappearance of SRIN/”I”.
What also fell away, which was a total surprise, was “free will,” or “control”âwithout an “I”, there was no other logical possibility. Despite expectations of chaos and anxiety, it was incredibly sweet. Life without the illusion that one is, or can be, in control is like having the world lifted from your shoulders.
There is also much scientific validation manifesting now, for example in the value of meditation. This is described in the blogposts: “Folk who meditate decrease mind wandering”, “Do your mystical experiences fit with w/quantum physics? Â neuroscience?”, “What is the Default Mode Network?”, “What is really ‘real’? Â What does ‘nothing is real’ mean?”.
There is no doubt that much more will be discovered going forward; we are at the beginning of what cognitive neuroscience will find. A big question is whether it is possible to decrease SRIN without extensive meditation experience. We have evidence that it is absolutely possible based on my experience with clients.
As to why more folk don’t reach the state of a decreased SRIN:
1. They do not believe it is possible.
2. They will not let go of their attachments.
3. They will not let go of their suffering (often caused by the SRIN).
I believe we are at a tipping point. If we don’t make fundamental changes now in how we function, our egoic/”I” operating system OS 1 could well destroy us. The change from the belief that the “I” is a constant, fixed, real entity to understanding that it is an “ad hoc,” haphazardly-assembled, mental construct, needs to be as fundamental and clear as our knowledge that the earth is round. And, in my humble opinion, it needs to happen soon.
About the author
Gary Weber, PhD, is a subject/collaborator in neuroscience studies at Yale, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, the Baumann Foundation, the Center for Study of Non-Symbolic Consciousness, at Johns Hopkins, and at Penn State.
From 2000 to 2004 he was an associate vice president of research for Penn State responsible for all technology transfer operations of the University, including angel investing, venture capital, licensing, patenting and start-up support. He was also responsible for external industrial R&D contracts and interfaces with the University.
In the late 1990s, Gary was senior vice president of science and technology for PPG responsible for all corporate R&D with four research laboratories, approximately 1000 engineers, scientists, and technical folk, and a $260MM budget. He was also a member of the Executive Committee.
Since then he has been researching and writing about happiness beyond thought. He is applying his extensive research skills to helping leaders.