New England Women's Leadership Institute www Thu, 08 Jun 2017 11:13:01 -0400 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 A Reflection: From Reason to Reasonableness www/reflection-reason-reasonableness/ Thu, 24 Mar 2016 16:48:35 +0000 www/?p=1734 Suddenly April of our new year looms. The first quarter of the year is almost behind us! Perhaps so too are those New Year promises and commitments we made in great earnest what seems a few weeks ago. All is not lost. We still have time for pause and reflection. The invitation as spring bursts forth with new life is to consider the significance of what it means to be a reasonable person. For reasonable people breathe life into all reasons.

When people quarrel, each says they are right because each has a reason. When a person helps another person in need, she gives a reason. When a person steals from a company, she has a reason. When a nation fights with another nation, the politicians provide their reasons. To outsiders to a quarrel, they have reasons for either agreeing with or disagreeing with certain parties’ reasons. As you can see, we can go around and around building our reality based on the reasons we prefer, that suit our needs, or seem most comfortable to us.

What we learn from this is that everyone has a reason. Naturally, we are inclined to believe that our reasons are the most sound or the most superior. Why? Well, we have reasons to support our reasons! We like to insist that our clear thinking and our rational approach trumps that of others. We forget that the real truth is that our wonderful, so called rational thinking, follows our emotions and not vice versa.

What does all this have to do with being reasonable and our rapidly passing new year? Let us review these ideas one step at a time. Most of us consider ourselves to be educated people, if not by holding formal degrees, but by being educated by life. Being a so called educated person, means knowing many facts; having assimilated many ideologies and theories; embracing many forms of logic, and having had many experiences. These provide the rationale we use to support, and direct our reasons.

Now an important question is whether our reasoning shows us to be reasonable people?  Reasonable people do not depend solely on their reason for their assessments and judgments. Reasonable people are people one can reason with. They understand that reasons are subjective, and are grounded in feeling and intuitions. Reasonable people combine the heart with the head; they seek out a middle ground. Reasonable people understand that reason on its own can turn quickly to cold, hard, rationalizations. Reasonable people do not cling adamantly to immutable truths but seek to go beyond truth to wisdom.

Wisdom combines rational rigor and principled thinking with compassion, sensitivity, and a willingness to acknowledge that “what we see depends on where we stand.” Wisdom emerges from wrestling with difference, misunderstandings, and conflicting truths.  Wisdom reflects an open heart and an open mind; the soul-prints of an educated person. Wisdom seeks to unite the deep knowledge that lies in the soul of the world with the deep knowledge and creative intuition that pulsates within every one of us. Only a desire for wisdom can place us on the path to find her – the Sophia – the personification of divine wisdom and insight. Divine wisdom has only one truth as its end and that is love. And love knows no confines.

Now to the matter of our continued intentions for the year: Maybe our resolutions could include the express intention to focus our efforts in 2016 on being wise and reasonable people. Surely the world could do with a return to the pursuit of reasonableness as a path to wisdom. Maybe, we could add to our resolutions a commitment to personal reflection regarding our own reasonableness and our own contribution to the wisdom of the soul of our world. Every contribution, no matter how small, counts. The akasha field holds it all.

I wish everyone a warm and life-filled spring.

Annabel Beerel, Ph.D.
March 24, 2016
www.annabelbeerel.com

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What are we doing to Leadership? www/what-are-we-doing-to-leadership/ Fri, 22 Jan 2016 21:59:04 +0000 www/?p=1650 Reflections For The New Year

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I wish you all a prosperous New Year. I imagine that you, like me, are wondering what this new year will bring. What will be its theme; tempo; color; vibration? In what way will it be memorable, and in what manner will you and I play a conscious, proactive part?

I believe strongly that the quality of our lives depends on our personal leadership endeavors. This reflection brings me, a leadership researcher, professor and coach, to a rather frustrating state of mind. I am of the firm opinion that leadership as a construct, is currently being misconstrued, sullied, demeaned, and, in the wrong places, and in the wrong way, hashed to death. It would seem that anyone and everyone who can spell the word leadership, or who has realized the marketing or publicity potential of throwing the word into any sentence, advertisement, article or resume, has jumped on the leadership bandwagon and has destroyed the true ethos of leadership with negligent abandon. Sadly, this smearing of every surface with leadership jam, has adverse consequences.

While I recognize that leadership is a social construct, and as such its meaning and relevance alters with the times, at the risk of being anachronistic or purist, I would like us to use the early stages of our year to revisit the more classical understanding of leadership. I think it will bring us to a more constructive deployment of this term.

If we take our reference point as Plato or Aristotle, and work forwards, we will remind ourselves that leadership is a hallowed idea and a hallowed position if embodied. Leadership is linked directly to character; to virtue; to ethics; to courage, and to justice. Leadership is a disposition of the heart – the coeur. That does not mean that people who assume leadership roles do not have a shadow side. It also does not guarantee that there will be no abuse of power; that unethical actions will not take place, and that there will be no narcissism. Yet the role of leadership is one that calls for a striving toward goodness and virtue, along with competence and appropriate pragmatism.

Nowadays everything, short of learning to brush your teeth effectively, is tarred with the leadership brush. A corner of my desk is piled up with articles, brochures, and workshop advertisements inviting people to learn about leadership. The courses and articles center on how to be nice to people; how to influence them; how to build trust; how to be compassionate; how to get teams to work together; how to be creative…and on it goes. These ideas are well and good. They are, however, secondary to the real tasks of leadership. They also do not address the critical disposition required of those who take on the role of leadership. (Please notice I do not say leadership position as I believe everyone has the potential to take on the leadership role.)

The current emphasis of leadership discussion or training appears to be on pleasing or appeasing everyone else. Of course, everyone will be happy for awhile if they get attention; if they have good terms at work; if there is good dental insurance; if they feel trusted; if they have flexible hours; if they are heard; if consequences and accountability are handled gently. But, is creating these conditions the essence of leadership or a byproduct of the real tasks tackled effectively?

We have here the typical dynamic of the finger pointing at the moon. Everyone is so taken up with their finger that the ultimate purpose or meaning of the moon is almost entirely forgotten. What is leadership in fact? And what is its goal? Surely these aspects are the most important starting points that cannot receive sufficient attention. Why? Because the role is a challenging one, and achieving the goal, even more challenging!

Leadership is about leading. Where are we leading people too and why? What is the ultimate goal or purpose? Will leading people or the organization anywhere do? Is it about more profits; happier teams; better benefits; new exciting technical gizmos?

Surely the goal of leadership is to advance survival in the longer term. At best, it is not just about surviving, but thriving. And to thrive in the longer term, given the radicality of daily change; technical revolution; global flattening; and a poverty of political and social leadership, requires being highly adaptive and resilient. Everything we are experiencing, in every domain of our lives, is undergoing destruction and reconstruction. To survive – nay thrive! – we have to keep up mentally, physically, psychically and spiritually. We need good leadership to help us with that. We need leadership that demonstrates character, virtue, courage, nerve, and tenacity. We need leadership that can hold our feet to the fire. That can help us transform; grow; deal with the negatives, as well as the positive. We need leadership that pushes us; that brings out our potential; that takes us the next step; that helps us like in the movie, Chariots of Fire, find that extra yard. We need leadership that compassionately takes us to our own razor’s edge; to the limits of our breaking point; to the place where we take that next step and either fly or find the earth beneath our feet.

Just like the bird that emerges out of the egg; the butterfly out of its cocoon; or you and me out of our mother’s womb, there is no transformation without a struggle. Transformation is a healthy fight for life. Transformation only occurs as a result of adaptability and true, deep learning. Transformation ensures future life. And a healthy life demands determination, a will power, a deep desire to breakthrough – to grow – to fly – to be all that we can be. That is what we need leaders for, and that is the goal of leadership. Those leaders who can help us do that … they are really special… To develop these capacities, no class, seminar or workshop will suffice.

Our own personal leadership is doing some of this transformational work for ourselves. Where do we begin? With self-awareness; self-awareness; self- awareness! The hardest task of all.

So what is my personal leadership goal this year? What is yours? And what is ours?

May we have a transformative journey.

Yours sincerely,
Annabel Beerel, Ph.D.
January 17, 2016

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Women Managing Women www/nhbusinessreview/ Tue, 20 Oct 2015 20:00:29 +0000 www/women-managing-women-november-20-2015/ June 10, 2016 – June 10, 2016

320 Corporate Drive

View MapMap and Directions | Register

Description:

Women Managing Women! A MUST for every woman who wants to manage well and be well managed! 1/2 day seminar. June 10th, 2016 in Portsmouth, NHWomen Managing Women

Friday June 10th, 10:30am-4:30pm

$295

 

 

Back by popular demand! This one day seminar is for any woman who works for a woman manager; is a manager herself, or aspires to be a manager. The seminar’s goal is to enhance self-understanding of the “woman manager trap” and to provide strategies for dealing with challenging managers or not becoming a “challenging” manager oneself.  The insights, strategies and skills presented will positively impact the way you manage and boost your confidence in working with others.  You will have new approaches in working strategically with your boss, especially a female boss, if you have one.

Agenda:

 

Morning Session:            Afternoon Session:
The challenges and traps of being a manager Identifying the critical traps
From supervisor to manager Dealing with Anger – the unfairness of it all
Authority, Power and Influence– rare insights Handling Conflict
Sabotage from Below, Above and Beside
Depersonalizing the issue
Side-stepping the double-standards – not assertive enough/too bossy!
Case Studies: Breakout sessions Do not forget “the system”
Strategies for dealing with stress and distress Finding the Humor!
Self-Evaluation exercise Reflection -Take-away skills and techniques
Lunch (provided)

 

Meet the Facilitator – Annabel Beerel, MBA, Ph.D.  Founder and President of the New England Women’s Leadership Institute (NEWLI).  Annabel has been engaged in educating, developing, and working with women’s issues for the past 20 years.  Since NEWLI was launched in 2009, several thousand women have benefited from the workshops, programs, seminars and networking offered.

We are grateful to our partner, Great Bay Community College for hosting this seminar.

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Register

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Why ethics training doesn’t work www/why-ethics-training-doesnt-work/ Sat, 15 Mar 2014 19:53:10 +0000 www/?p=1146 We should be focusing on advancing learning, transformation and wisdom, not catching ‘bad’ people

I heartily support the call by Mark Connolly and Mark DiSalvo to stop the ethical merry-go-round so evident across all our sectors (‘Stop the unethical merry-go-round,’ Dec. 27-Jan. 9 NHBR). The unrelenting scandals are a sad testimony to the most important and powerful institutions in our country, notably business and government.

As a former ethics professor who has taught many MBAs and developed a course, Ethics Across the Professions, I can attest to the fact that ethics training as currently delivered does not have much impact on participants. In the interests of brevity I cite a few observations:

  • Most ethics training is heavily based on the stories, dilemmas or actions of other people, and minimal emphasis is placed on the moral dilemmas the students or the professionals are personally facing. As a result, discussions are an abstraction. People seem more interested in how and why people were caught than in the real-life emotional wrestling that results in misconduct. The ability to empathize with recalcitrants and to look deeply into themselves and admit “but for the grace of God there go I,” is rarely demonstrated.
  • Online ethics tools are a travesty. How can one take these seriously? Selecting the supposed correct answer from a list of multiple alternatives hardly teaches anyone about ethical deliberation, judgment and moral reasoning. The heart of ethics is deliberation and judgment, not ticking boxes. Yet online tools is how we train many of our professionals!
  • Most MBAs have their sights on gargantuan salaries and huge share options. Any discussion regarding excess CEO pay, for example, even when the company has clearly lost significant market value over a sustained period, is typically shrugged off with, “Well whatever is legal is OK.”
  • Some of the case studies I have presented regarding the financial fallout and the granting of inappropriate mortgages to irresponsible or naive citizens invariably ends with a clear injunction from both MBAs and professionals that “buyer beware” and that the professional has no responsibility other than disclosure of risks. The notion of “I am my brother’s keeper” is not something most MBAs or business professionals buy into.
  • Most organizations have reward systems that emphasize financial performance. There are few checks and balances regarding their impact, particularly on indirect stakeholders such as foreign supply chain employees, labor standards or the environment. Ethics research shows that rewards systems have a major impact on behavior.

A good society has good institutions. Our unethical institutions and the rampant corruption that appears everywhere is thus a reflection on us. Connolly and DiSalvo mention instilling a sense of citizenship and personal responsibility across society. I could not agree more. I would like to propose a somewhat different approach to education:

  • Ethics education is carried out at the workplace. Forget the classroom.
  • The program includes working with the organization’s own decisions – a detailed audit of significant decisions made by the organization each year.
  • The program is carried out once or twice annually. It is overseen by a random group across the organization, several representatives from key stakeholder groups and one or two members from the community at large. Lawyers and accountants should be excluded, as they have a tendency to focus on rationalizing the rules or the law.
  • The decision audit should be written up and presented in a transparency report attached to the annual financial statements and posted on the organization’s website.
  • The conclusion of the report should include a discussion of lessons learned as a good corporate citizen. This should be followed by remedial action, if any required.
  • A synopsis should be presented at an organization town meeting and, for a public company, at a selected shareholder meeting.

The entire spirit of ethics education needs to be one of advancing learning, transformation and wisdom, not catching “bad” people. Creating this atmosphere will be important.

Annabel Beerel, president and CEO of the New England Women’s Leadership Institute, is the author of “Business Ethics: A Manager’s Guide to Being a Responsible Corporate Citizen.” She can be reached at abeerel@comcast.net.

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