Lisa DeAngelis, Director

UMass Boston | College of Management | Center for Collaborative Leadership

October 11, 2018
by Lisa DeAngelis

Giving a Better Performance Review


The University of Massachusetts Boston is in the midst of our annual performance review process. It’s always interesting to me to hear the grumblings of managers and the trepidation of employees surrounding this process. Managers, let me start by saying that I understand your frustration with the process, particularly when the forms are cumbersome and you have multiple employees to evaluate. That said, I hope you’ll agree with me that our ability as managers to be effective is enabled by the effectiveness of those we manage.

Having managed many employees in my lifetime, and partnered with leaders with broad spans of control, I’ve developed a few practices that improve the caliber of the performance discussion.

Nothing in the review should be a surprise

Good managers give both positive and constructive feedback in a timely manner. They set clear expectations and offer specific feedback as to how the employee has exceeded or missed the expectation. So, theoretically, the performance review is simply a way to formalize and summarize the feedback you’ve been giving all along.

Keep notes throughout the year

A well-written review will offer specific examples of an employee’s performance throughout the year – versus just those things that are top of mind because they just happened (or were most egregious). I conduct regular one-on-one meetings with my direct reports for which they are responsible for creating a written agenda. During these meetings, they can share what their priorities are, what decisions they need from me, what obstacles they are facing, etc. It’s easy for me to jot notes directly on the agenda and save it in a file under that employee’s name. I do the same with pertinent email strings, feedback I get from others, etc. It then becomes a simple task to review the contents of the folder and draft the appraisal.

Many employees fear performance reviews – even the superstars

There is something about the formality of the review process that can unnerve even the best performers. It’s as though they revert back to the days of their grade school report cards worrying about the grade they’ve gotten.

My practice is to share the written review with the employee ahead of the performance discussion, letting them know that it is a draft that can be revised as an outcome of the conversation. In this way, they have time to read and process what has been written, and the meeting becomes a dialogue where you can highlight those points from the review that you want to reinforce; and, they can share examples that you may have missed (or not been aware of) and ask clarifying questions about expectations. This meeting also sets the stage for the year ahead. A good discussion about the employee’s future aspirations and the needs of the business can uncover opportunities. These opportunities may lie within their role, in the department, elsewhere in the organization, or, perhaps, outside the company altogether. Regardless of the path, you are both working toward the same outcome.

Good leaders leverage potential

I know I’ve used this analogy many times before but very rarely does a sports team draft for a utility player. They want the positional player who is talented and passionate about what they can contribute to the team. And, it is important to note, the manager/coach know the skills and talents that already exist on the team and those that are needed.

Additionally, with rare exception, the manager/coach doesn’t then tell the drafted player that they need to become proficient at another aspect of the game. The point I am trying to make here is that we should be identifying and exploiting the unique skills and talents that the employee brings to the job – the reason we hired them in the first place.

I am by no means suggesting that we should not hold people accountable for their performance. Instead, what I am saying is that if you hired the elite hockey goalie and you now want her to play center, it’s unlikely she’ll maintain an elite status at that new position.

As a leader, how do you partner with your employee to discover and nurture their passions and strengths?

June 15, 2018
by Lisa DeAngelis

Your Team Has Failed, Now What? 3 Ways to Deal With Failure as a Leader

Woman at computer frustrated

The following is a guest post by Pablo Mujica, marketing and communications assistant at the Center for Collaborative Leadership. We are thrilled to have Pablo join our team, and offer his thoughts on leadership and the role of failure. 

Throughout my academic career (which looks like it’s never going to end at this point), I have had plenty of experience with teams. And, as you might expect, not all of these teams have been successful.

I’ve been on teams with such lack of communication, dynamics, and respect for each other that not even the greatest Ted Talk about leadership could bring us together. Teams that would make the most seasoned leader wonder, “How do these people ever get work done!?”.

Through all of these experiences, one thing I’ve noticed is that teams seem to break down when their leader has a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for failure within the group.

The role of failure

Many leaders don’t understand the role of failure within a team, much less within the context of an entire organization. Some leaders tend to demonize the concept of failing so much that, when it does happen, no one has any idea what to do next. By assuming that failure has no intrinsic value whatsoever, leaders often make the mistake of punishing their team for not being able to accomplish their goals. This rarely helps to solve anything and, in fact, can lower the team’s morale and creativity when embarking on the next project.

Failure should be valued by leaders as much as success is. When a team fails at a task, they can regroup, analyze why they’ve failed, and be able to develop a strategy that will help them avoid making the same mistakes in the future. One of my favorite quotes regarding failure comes from Thomas Edison, who said “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” I like this quote so much because it tells you one essential truth about failure: It is far more educational than success.

For those hoping to capture the power of teams, let’s talk about how to use failure in your team’s favor.

  1. Create a place where your team feels safe to fail and learn
    I can’t stress this enough. If your team doesn’t feel safe to fail around you, then they will avoid trying anything new. By creating a team environment where failure is accepted and valued as necessary to the learning process, leaders will see their teams improve over time, have more confidence, produce more innovative and creative ideas, and become much more successful in the future.
  1. Don’t hide your failures
    Some leaders are so infatuated with meeting budgets and reaching sale goals that they sometimes avoid discussing their mistakes with others. When leaders embrace their failures and try to educate their team on how to not make the same mistakes, the work environment can improve drastically by generating more honest interactions within the group.Take the heads of Google Larry Page and Sergey Brin, for example, they have invested millions of dollars on ideas that were practically doomed from the start. They call these ventures “Moonshots Projects” and they have a whole website filled with improbable projects, I encourage you to check them out.The point is, Larry and Sergey are not shy about showing off their failures to the public, which is the reason why they have so much success with the projects that are actually successful. They have created an environment where Google employees are able to create amazing products by learning from past mistakes.
  1. Learn when to move on
    As much as someone can keep learning from their mistakes, it is important to keep in mind not to get stuck dwelling on failures. A good leader never stops working to find new ways to tackle a problem, so once they’ve learned what went wrong, they should go ahead and give it another shot. Going back to Edison’s quote, how did this experiment move us one step closer to our goal?

March 7, 2018
by Lisa DeAngelis

Finding Your Voice, Speaking Your Truth, and Telling Your Story

Those of you who have followed my blog know that I am a closet geek – well, truth be told, I’m not sure how much longer I can lay claim to the ‘closet’ part of that label. And, to some degree, that is the purpose of this blog.

I’ve just started reading Brené Brown’s book, “I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from ‘What Will People Think’ to ‘I Am Enough’.” For those who may not be familiar with Brené Brown, she is a shame researcher. As a PhD candidate, I am captivated not only by her research but her ability to effectively convey her research to a broad audience.

In the Introduction (did I mention I’ve just started reading the book?), Brené describes ordinary courage as speaking from our hearts. She goes on to say that “I think the idea of ordinary courage speaks to the importance of telling our stories. It is especially difficult to practice ordinary courage in today’s culture of shame – a culture of fear, blame and disconnect.” She suggests that the contradiction to these are courage, compassion and connection. And, while I am excited to continue reading, I felt compelled to share my initial thoughts with you, particularly where these thoughts converge with my own research.

I noted above that I am a PhD candidate. My area of interest is in understanding how teachers can help students (I use both terms very broadly) to see themselves and their relationships more clearly and inclusively. So, as I read Brené’s examples of shame stories, I connected them to my own story that I am not smart. The rigors of a PhD program will gladly reinforce that message for you. As a result, I spent the first two years of the program with a chip on my shoulder, working super hard to prove that I deserved to be there; and the second two years, reinforcing the rhetoric that I didn’t. This may seem oddly reversed to some. Wouldn’t I have those fears at the outset and then gain courage over time? In actuality, what posed as courage in the beginning was thinly veiled fear – many of you may recognize it as imposter syndrome. And so, now that I have passed my comprehensive exams, I have to make my scholarly contribution. There is no place for the fear to hide.

Instead of continuing to give life to – and feed and nurture – this fear, I chose to take a step back and hold it gently in the daylight, to see it for what it is. And what I see is that little girl who was told all those years ago that girls aren’t smart. But, I am not that little girl anymore, and I have a bit of proof behind me that would support the fact that I am curious and persistent – my definition of smart. You see, it isn’t about someone else’s definition, it is about the stories I tell myself about myself.

My research is about offering insights to those who want to help awaken the potential of the individuals they work with. And, as is typically the case with PhD students, my work touches close to home. So, I’ll leave you with this query, what are the stories you tell yourself about yourself that are not helpful? Pick one and examine it carefully, you may be amazed at how you see it, and yourself, differently.

February 7, 2018
by Lisa DeAngelis

Three Tips to Building a High Performing Organization: Harness Strength, Increase Morale, Empower People

In 2014, Simon Sinek delivered a TedTalk on, “Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe.” As the director of the Center for Collaborative Leadership, it is my goal to create an environment that inspires each person to fulfill their potential. And, in my role, I have the privilege of doing this with not only the center team, but also for the organizations and individuals we have the honor of partnering with.

If the idea of getting the best out of each person in your organization weren’t compelling enough for you, how about the frightening costs associated with not doing so. Costs such as employee turnover (currently estimated at 20% of a person’s salary), and the staggering lack of employee engagement (currently estimated at 85%).

While I would encourage you to watch the full TedTalk, below I’ve shared three of the principles he discusses. This is good fodder for leaders and aspiring leaders to consider.

  1. The dangers outside the organization aren’t going away. It’s the conditions inside the organization that matter.

Each day, organizations are faced with ‘dangers’ such as shifting regulations, a changing competitive landscape, and much more. For those familiar with the SWOT analysis methodology, these dangers are typically framed as either weaknesses or threats. And organizations invest a great deal of time and effort trying to shore up those perceived gaps. What Sinek is positing is that while it is important for us to understand our weaknesses and threats, we are better served to harness the organizations talents and energies on expanding our strengths and opportunities. Said differently, rather than focusing on what we cannot control (the external environment), we are better served to create the conditions inside the organization to succeed regardless. A twist on the SWOT methodology that I think helps with this reframing is SOAR methodology. This methodology replaces weaknesses and threats with Aspirations and Results. This framework gives the power back to the organization. What are our strengths? What are our opportunities? What are our aspirations? How will we measure our progress (What are the results we’re looking for?)?

  1. Employees are heart counts, not head counts. If you ever had hard times in your family, would you ever consider laying off one of your children?

The analogy Sinek is making here is to think about your employees as human beings rather than human resources. Sinek offers two compelling examples of organizations whose leadership refused to treat employees as commodities to be sacrificed. Importantly, in the second example he shares the positive impact this leader’s decision to implement a company-wide furlough program rather than lay-off’s, had on morale, productivity and financial results. The employees in these organizations know that they are valued members of a team and, when faced with adversity, these teams will rally to support the leader. Locally, we are reminded of two cases, Market Basket (see Market Basket: Workers risk it all for their boss) and PolarTec (see The Mensch Of Malden Mills) that exemplify this.

Sinek also contrasts the behavior of employees in two different organizations in the same industry with regard to how they treat their customers. In the first, the employee points to the repercussions on them if they deviate from company policy as the reason for their curt behavior. Whereas, employees in the second organization are known for actively working to ensure a positive customer experience. Sinek’s hypothesis for the difference, leaders in the latter organization have created an environment where the employees feel safe to take those risks.

  1. Leadership is a choice. It is not a rank.

I have said this often, title does not equate to leadership. To paraphrase Sinek, we acquiesce to authority because they have power over us; we follow leaders. There is a vast difference. Employees who do not view you as a leader will not expend ancillary effort nor will you benefit from their full potential. I have had the opportunity to work for and with some incredible leaders in my career. While I no longer work with them, I would still welcome their call and help them however I could. In each case, they created a clear and compelling vision, treated me with honesty and respect, and took an interest in my aspirations. And, I have been made a better leader by the talented individuals I’ve had the good fortune of working with. I hope those that work with me might say something similar.

This Ted Talk is a wonderful antithesis to the thinking, “People don’t leave organizations. They leave leaders.” People will stay with, and even follow, good leaders. How can you create an environment that inspires your employees to fulfill their potential?

December 15, 2017
by Lisa DeAngelis

Say What Needs to be Said Without Looking Bad: Difficult Conversations

difficult conversation photoThe following is a guest post by Dr. Amy Rebecca Gay of the Mediation Group. The center has been partnering with Dr. Gay for a number of years. She provides her insights and expertise on discussing difficult issues to fellows in our Emerging Leaders Program, and most recently to executives in The Kraft Group in our Custom In House Leadership Development Programs. We are pleased to share her blog with you and offer a Master Class on Difficult Conversations with Dr. Gay on January 3rd.

A difficult conversation moment can happen anytime throughout the course of your work day. Picture yourself at a meeting where the decision makers have decided on the “best” course of action and feedback is not an option. But, hello, there are number of issues that should be raised, vetted and discussed and they are moving ahead with the agenda. What do you do? I’m sure in this scenario there are a million thoughts going through your head, including “You’re creating more problems than you are solving” and “How do I say what needs to be said without looking bad?”

All too often we withhold our thoughts and feelings because we’re politically savvy enough to know that if we speak without a filter we’ll damage our relationships. So, we hedge. We sugar coat. Or we try to be diplomatic, but our disdain is written all over our faces and infused into our tone. We leave the meeting thinking that didn’t go so well, but we’re stuck for what else we might do.

Here’s the rub, though. Buried within these thoughts and feelings is crucial information and perspectives that need to be shared. For you. For your team. For the organization. Many strategically important conversations are difficult and ignite in us strong, almost visceral reactions. You’re probably right that it’s not beneficial to just dump it on the table in its raw form. And yet the ideas embedded within are an important part of the discussion. So, what do you do?

You need to shift what you’re thinking and feeling into a productive frame that facilitates discussion, problem solving and negotiation. One place we often go is right/wrong. How often do you find yourself thinking something like, “You’re so wrong” or “That’s the stupidest idea I ever heard”? That might be right, but it’s only one perspective. What does the other person see? What benefit do they see in the idea? You don’t need to agree, but you do need to get curious.

Blame is another toxic place our minds tend to go. We want someone to be at fault. And we feel better if that person is punished or somehow held accountable. Blame looks back to figure out who did what wrong. If we change our purpose and we look back to understand, we are better equipped to pivot toward the future to figure out what to do differently. Because it’s doing things differently going forward that’s going to propel change in an organization.

The cost of avoiding difficult conversations in any organization is too high to ignore – resentfulness, disengagement, missed opportunities and more. For practical, hands-on tools to make these shifts and begin raising the difficult, strategic conversations in your organization, attend our training on January 3. Information below.

Conduct Difficult Conversations with Ease and Confidence | January 3, 2018 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm @ Seaport Hotel Boston

register now buttonTo succeed in any organization, you need to share what’s on your mind – with confidence and skill so others can hear. You also need to receive what others say, especially when it’s hard to hear. The most successful teams and leaders are able to raise difficult issues, test ideas and hear multiple points of view. Learn to increase your ability and willingness to have candid conversations on important issues affecting your organization. Facilitated by Amy Rebecca Gay, PhD, The Mediation Group.

Email or call 617.287.3890 for additional information.








September 13, 2017
by Lisa DeAngelis

May I Have Your Attention, Please?

As the academic year gets underway, and I begin what I hope is my final year in the dissertation process, I’m experimenting with productivity techniques  – you know, so I can actually finish. For the fall, I am taking a vacation day each week to focus on my dissertation. Carving out this chunk of uninterrupted time was a significant first step for me. It required that I set boundaries and realistic expectations for myself and with my team, family, etc. (more on each of these topics in upcoming blogs).

Given all of the research on the effects of multi-tasking, I approached last week’s writing day with the Pomodoro Technique firmly in hand. However, given that I was spending the day writing and researching, rather than the 25 minute blocks of time suggested, I opted for 90 minutes. I blocked the better part of 6 hours into 90 minute segments with 15 minute breaks.

8-9:30 Work on Intro chapter

9:30-9:45 break

9:45 – 11:15 Work on Methods chapter

11:15 – 11:30 break

11:30 – 1 pm Work on Methods chapter

1 – 1:15 pm lunch

1:15 – 2:45 pm Assemble Lit Review reading list

The first 90-minute segment started off laughably. I sat down, with the best of intentions, to focus on the Introduction chapter of my dissertation. I don’t think it had been three minutes before I was doing a ‘quick scan of email.’ And, of course I had to read and respond to the text message that buzzed on my phone. I literally had to shut down all of the apps, other than Microsoft Word, on my computer, and place my phone in another room. It took me a good 20 minutes to settle into the chapter. Once I did, however, I found that I was able to move through it quickly.

I had ‘planned’ my breaks as a way to make progress on a bunch of smaller tasks that I’d been letting pile up. In other words, while it was a break from the cerebral work of academic research and writing, it was not really a break!

By the end of the day, while I’d made significant progress on all of the topics I’d planned to address, I was mentally exhausted. I was so exhausted, in fact, that it wasn’t until the middle of the next day that I began to feel like myself again – not the best testament for productivity when you are ultra-productive one day but pay for it the next…

What did I learn from this experiment?

  • I’ve created a habit of distraction. My mind has gotten used to not being able to focus for any extended period on a single topic. And so, when no distractions present themselves, I will create them.
  • Conversely, when I get into the groove of productivity, I am able to get quality work done.
  • I tend to set unrealistic expectations for myself. This was evidenced both in my approach to the method and in the work product I intended to accomplish.

What will I do differently this week?

  • I will ratchet it back and follow the method as it was designed.
    • Scheduling 25 minute blocks of work.
    • Taking breaks as breaks.
  • I will plan the blocks of time in advance and work with an accountability partner to determine if they are reasonable.

I believe that much of what I do, whether it is setting the strategic direction for the center, or engaging with the team, alumni of the Emerging Leaders Program, or clients, will benefit tremendously from my ability to be fully present. Therefore, I am dedicated to building new habits of mind that allow me to be more focused on the task – or person – in front of me. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going!This image requires alt text, but the alt text is currently blank. Either add alt text or mark the image as decorative.

July 31, 2017
by Lisa DeAngelis

Reframing What We Tell Ourselves about Being Laid Off

Over the past few days, I’ve had the privilege of speaking with several talented individuals who have either recently been laid off or in the process of being laid off. Having had this experience not once, but twice, in my career, I am acutely aware of the psychological toll this turn of events can take.

The first time I was laid off, I spent a good deal of time ruminating over what I could have done differently. This lay-off had a conscious and subconscious impact on me. Consciously, I worried about how the job market would receive me. Would they think me a poor performer for having been let go? I worried about job security. How could I insulate my family from having this happen again? And, I didn’t know who I was outside of my job title. How would I answer the question, “So, what do you do?” as I began networking.

Subconsciously, I placed a lot of blame and shame on myself for doing this to my family. Just take a moment to take in the power of this sentence, I held myself wholly responsible. I did this. Ouch! While I hadn’t actually said those words to myself, my actions certainly exemplified it. My next role was in a large, well-established organization and I worked diligently to prove my worth to my bosses and business partners. It wasn’t enough to meet expectations, I needed to exceed them. And, by the time I took the job after that, I had a well-earned reputation for not only being a strong performer but for being a workaholic. What I didn’t understand at the time was that this was my way of trying to make myself indispensable, not from an egotistical perspective, but rather for the safety and security of my family. The irony is, this ended up being the position from which I was laid off the second time in my career.

So, what have I learned? Far more important than what the marketplace or those you are networking with think of your having been laid off, is how you think about it. The language we use when we talk to ourselves (both aloud and in our heads) has power. Are your words compassionate and constructive? Or are they critical? One litmus test for this is, if your best friend had been the one who had been laid off, would you say these things to them? I am not suggesting a rose-colored glasses, ignore reality, view of the situation, but rather that you are able to look at it with a bit more objectivity.

An important step is to get out there. One response to a traumatic event, such as being laid off, is to retreat – to withdraw back into our shells to protect ourselves. Perhaps a healthier approach is to actively engage with others. You will be surprised at how vast and supportive your network really is. A few ideas:

  • Meet with those people in your life who can help you see how much bigger you are than any title that you’ve held; who can remind you of your true value.
  • Meet with those who have been through this so that you may better understand that you are not alone and to realize that you will survive.
  • Meet with those who work for companies, or do the sort of work that you may be interested in. They can offer valuable insight.
  • Join associations and/or volunteer for organizations whose mission and values align with yours.

I can tell you that both of my lay-off’s ended up being gifts to me that, ultimately, helped me to see more clearly who I am and how I can best contribute to the world around me, and for that I am most grateful.

March 22, 2017
by Lisa DeAngelis

Talented and Disruptive People: What’s a Manager To Do?

This guest ptraits of bad rebels vs good rebelsost is by Lois Kelly, co-author of Rebels at Work, and former marketing agency executive.  Lois is leading our upcoming Master Class Workshop, Be the Change Maker on May 10.

I walked into the office at 7:30 a.m. and found a mess.

Radical, half-baked creative ideas for a new client in the copying machine.

Upset people who felt they had been run over by domineering egos.

Expense charges that I hadn’t approved.

The most disruptive people in the firm had been up all night working, but many felt it was more of a frat-boy brainstorming party. Geez, Louise, this isn’t how we work around here.

As a young manager I knew that these team members were big-brain innovators, the kind that would help win clients and provide amazing new value to current clients.  But I had no idea how to manage them.

It was the most stressful period in my career. Probably for them, too. They wanted to do brilliant work, not be “managed.”  I wanted some sort of order and predictability.

What I learned from managing disruptive rebels

What I learned from my experience and co-writing the book, literally, on rebels (Rebels at Work: A Handbook for Leading Change From Within) is that these disruptive types are not a manager’s enemy or even necessarily a troublemaker. In fact, they may be our most valuable employees, helping us identify risks, solve problems, and create better ways to serve our customers and clients.

The second thing I learned is that many young, talented people coming into the workforce think that we as managers want new ideas.  They assume that part of their job responsibility is to find ways to improve things at work. Not take orders and obey rules. What they need from their manager differs from what we may have needed from our bosses 15 or more years ago. The world of work is being transformed.

That said, it can be exhausting to supervise someone who constantly generates ideas, asks questions, and challenges the way things operate. (And who occasionally gets angry and pissy when things aren’t changing fast enough.)

At the May 10 Center for Collaborative Leadership master class workshop, Be the Change MakerI’ll be helping talented people learn how to be more constructive Rebels at Work.  How to how to rock the boat without falling out, and do so in ways that feel inclusive and positive vs. defiant and negative.

8 things rebels need from their boss

Many managers like to take this workshop with their Rebels to learn how to be a better rebel boss and deepen their relationship in win-win ways.  But if you can’t come, here are eight things Rebels at Work want their boss to know:

  • We are not troublemakers. We’re motivated to make our organization better than it is.
  • We care more about work than most people. That’s why we’re willing to engage in controversy and be snubbed for pointing out the elephants in the room.
  • We need a work environment where it’s safe to disagree and ask questions that challenge the status quo.
  • Research shows that the more diverse a team’s mindsets and experiences, the smarter and more creative the team. We may not be like you and that is a good thing. Love our differences and quirks.
  • Challenge us. Give us the thorniest problems.  Let us prove that our “wild ideas” can work.  We want to be stretched, not do work as usual.
  • Don’t give us lip service. If one of our ideas isn’t important to our goals or it’s just too radical for the culture, tell us that, not something glib like, “there’s no budget or resources.”
  • Coach us on how to navigate organizational politics so we avoid making mistakes that could embarrass you and us.
  • Tell us what we’re doing right more than what we’re doing wrong.  Appreciation has been found to be the greatest sustainable motivator at work.  Give us more and we’ll move mountains for you.

Is it worth the effort?

People often ask whether managing a rebel is more work for a manager. Most definitely.

Is it worth the effort? Our research shows that rebels have the guts and courage to take risks amid uncertainty — and make tough decisions even when there’s a chance they’ll fail. These are the same characteristics as innovators and how many organizations define high performers.

The most surprising value of managing rebels, however, is that they push us to grow and become stronger leaders.

Being a manager of rebels was never easy for me and the business results were brilliant.  But if I had only known how to be a better manager of these creative and talented people, the work would have been so much more fun and meaningful for us all.

Please, learn from my mistakes – and send your Rebels to me on May 10. There will be a whole lot of learning and raucous fun.

To learn more about Lois, her points of views, and her workshops, check out and  She tweets under @LoisKelly and under @RebelsatWork with co-author Carmen Medina.

November 14, 2016
by Lisa DeAngelis
1 Comment

The Collaborative Leadership Model Offers A Pathway Forward

Addendum: For those looking for a tangible next step, a way to begin engaging in dialogue, I would strongly recommend your checking out this website designed by a Harvard Business School MBA student. This Washington Post article does a wonderful job explain the purpose of this initiative.

The universal tenets of the collaborative leadership model speak to the ability to act collaboratively, identify and rethink boundaries, build purposeful relationships and be a better leader and citizen. And, by definition, a democratic society is one in which individuals are treated equally and have equal rights.

One of the clear lessons that I think this election cycle has illuminated is the need for collaborative leadership. Individuals came out to the polls and, according to the political pundits, voted into office an individual who, for them, represented an upheaval to the existing system. A system that they believe offers them no voice and no representation in government. They chose, as Michael Moore shared, to use their vote to vocalize their discontent.

This radical departure from the status quo has left many unsettled as to what the future may hold for them, their families, their friends, their communities and their nation. I would submit that this is the time, as our President, President-Elect, and the Former Secretary of State have all called for, to come together; to engage in dialogue; to open the path to greater inclusivity.

This election has brought to the surface many biases, fears and beliefs, and while this country has endured significant upheavals throughout its history, I believe we stand at a precipice as a nation. The real opportunity lies in not turning our attention toward one group and our back to another, but in stepping back in order to encompass and include all. This is not easy as this involves being able to truly engage in dialogue; to listen to those whose views and experiences may radically differ from your own, and to do so from a place of seeking to understand rather than needing to be understood. To be clear, understanding does not mean that you need to agree with someone else’s point of view; rather, it is the act of deeply hearing them. And this is not the work of the President alone. The President, or any individual, cannot make this country great for every citizen alone. This election has shown us that we each have a voice, and that our voice matters. How powerful would it be if we used our voices to engage in dialogue, in civil discourse, recognizing that we cannot make this country better for ourselves at the expense of someone else?

For more than a decade, the Center for Collaborative Leadership has worked to inspire and challenge leaders in our region and beyond to act collaboratively, identify and rethink boundaries, build purposeful relationships, and be a better leader and citizen. We firmly believe in a collaborative leadership model that is a process built on teamwork, trust and respect for diversity of thought. The process enables people to lead while encouraging leadership in others.

The impact of collaborative leadership is that it provides a means to achieve far better results than any one leader can accomplish on their own. We are incredibly proud of our more than 600 alum who continue to work to bridge differences in an effort to address the issues we face. We at the center are committed to continuing to explore, expand, embody and imbue this view of leadership – for our communities, our region, our nation, and the world.

So many individuals are asking, ‘what can I do to?’ In the words of a good friend, I would recommend you consider a space for people to have their feelings, whatever they may be, and once they’ve been able to process their emotions, get to the business of participating in the democracy that was designed to facilitate participation of people with a variety of beliefs. I encourage you to engage in dialogue, in civil discourse, acknowledging the human being in front of you in an effort to find common ground and a path forward. This is the essence of collaborative leadership in a democratic society.

October 5, 2016
by Lisa DeAngelis

Four Ways to Develop a Strategy that Doesn’t Sit On the Shelf | By Greg Collins








This guest post is by Greg Collins of Collins Consulting. Greg focuses on both individual and organizational change as the means of delivering results and is leading the first in a series of master classes focused on change management. Register now for his November 2nd workshop, Creating and Implementing Strategy Amidst Change, which will be held at the Westin Copley in Boston.

As I prepare to lead the upcoming Master Class Workshop on Strategic and Organizational Change Management, I reread John Kotter’s 2012 HBR article “Accelerate.” His view that strategy is a “dynamic force that constantly seeks opportunities, identifies initiatives that will capitalize on them, and completes those initiatives swiftly and efficiently” is in lock step with the way I have approached strategy development and implementation over the last 20 years as both an operator and a consultant.

When I think about developing strategies that actually make a difference, these four components are essential:

  1. Start with purpose and vision: Why the organization exists and what the organization will look like at a specific point in the future
  2. Make sure the strategy development process is on-going, not episodic, and disciplined
  3. Be Inclusive: Include people at all levels throughout the organization
  4. Engage people’s hearts as well as their heads
  1. Start with Purpose and Vision:

Stephen Covey said, “Start with the end in mind” in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  The same statement is as relevant for organizations as it is for people.  When we think about organizations, “vision” is what we’re going to look like when we get there; “purpose” is why we felt it was worth bothering to get there in the first place.  Why start with purpose and vision?  Because they’re the anchors for strategy, and because they excite people– more on that topic toward the end of this blog.

As a friend once told me, “If we don’t know where we’re going, any train will get us there.“ It’s essential that we know where we’re going, our vision, before we start to think about how we’re going to get there.  And that’s what strategy is. It’s how we’re going to get to our destination, our vision, our desired future state.  The essence of strategy is making choices – do we take the train, bus, or Uber?

  1. Strategy Is Ongoing, Not Episodic:

Strategy, when done well, is a way of thinking that permeates an organization from top to bottom.  It’s a mindset that says, “There’s always a better way to do whatever it is we’re doing.”  Far too often, organizations – whether private sector, nonprofit, or government – approach strategy as an episodic obligation that once “completed” can be put on the shelf and revisited in a few years.   Strategic thinking is a continuous cycle, not a line with a beginning and an end.  And strategic thinking, like any discipline, follows a couple of rules:  it’s fact based and it questions everyone’s unquestioned assumptions.  If we use data, both qualitative and quantitative, challenge our assumptions and beliefs, and keep repeating that cycle – we’ll surprise ourselves with the strategic insights we generate.  And, looping back to the Kotter quote at the beginning of the blog, strategy is done continuously.

  1. Be Inclusive:

Adapting to change is the responsibility of the whole business, not just the top echelon.  Unfortunately, that’s not the way change is typically addressed in most organizations.  Responding to change and developing strategy are often the responsibility of an organization’s senior managers, who then delegate the implementation to those lower down in the organization.  And because the implementers weren’t involved in crafting the strategy, the first speed bump they hit generally causes the strategy to be put on the shelf while the organization reverts to what it’s most comfortable doing. To be effective, strategy development needs to include people from throughout the organization.  It’s essential that we collect and incorporate the knowledge and insights of people with multiple perspectives.

  1. Engage People’s Hearts as Well as Heads:

While inclusivity is important, there’s still one more step – engaging our colleagues’ hearts in addition to their heads. People want to know in their hearts that their input into the strategy matters and they want to feel that where they’re going matters too.  That last thought brings us back to the importance of purpose and vision that we talked about at the start of this blog.  It’s essential that we engage their hearts, their passion, and their spirit.  It’s the fire that comes from that level of engagement that enables us to overcome the inevitable roadblocks that we confront as we implement any strategy.

If you’re one of those people who, like me, believes that clear, compelling strategy that actually gets implemented, and actually delivers results is essential to thriving in this world of increasingly rapid change – please join me, ideally with a colleague or two, at the Master Class Workshop, Creating and Implementing Strategy Amidst Change on November 2nd.

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