The Simple Secret to Making Better Decisions: Tap into the power of triads

January 14, 2014

Check out the article at

3 Tips for Great Management

December 13, 2013

I am so proud of my daughter who has been my best student—brings real issues, listens, takes action, and reports what happens. Here is what she wrote in her blog. Please follow her at

Dear Fellow Managers,

We suck. Before you curse me and defend yourself, I say this out of love—and it applies to me as well. As a group (supervisors, managers) we are ineffective.  For the most part we have been on the job for TEN years before we get any specific leadership training. For years we often are winging it or maintaining crappy systems that our own untrained managers created.

We can’t be afraid to learn what we don’t know OR be critical of what we are doing.

It takes a lot of courage to look at ourselves and see where we are failing.  The higher up you go the harder it gets—but the results are that more powerful.

Read the rest at

Three Actions You can Take to Create Better Leaders on Your Team

December 1, 2013

TeamAre you challenged with people that are not performing to your expectations? Do you feel that your employees are not doing all they could? Maybe it is caused by your mid-level managers.

Authors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman said in their book, First Break All the Rules: What The Worlds’ Greatest Managers Do Differently, that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.

A survey of 2000 workers by management consultants Orion Partner found that almost half (47%) said “their managers made them feel threatened.”

It is no wonder why we have such a high percentage of Stage Two cultures. (Stage Two is a private conversation that “my life sucks”). My life would suck too if I felt threatened by my manager.

Why do managers behave this way? I believe that most don’t know better. A survey of 17,000 leaders found that “Average age for their first leadership training was 42, about 10 years after they began supervising people, and almost 20 years after they started experiencing leadership in organizations.” (Zenger/Folkman)

We are failing to train the very people that are responsible for our success.

What can you do?

  1. Offer leadership training. Organizations like Vistage offer training for Key Executives in addition to CEOs.
  2. Read books as a leadership team and review the principles. Some of my favorites are the following:
  1. Watch videos & TED talks and discuss as a group. These are some excellent ones:
    1. Dan Pink: The puzzle of Motivation
    2. Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action
    3. David Logan: Tribal leadership
    4. Vishen Lakhiani: World’s Greatest Workplace

The Enemy of Openness by Mark Taylor at TEDxTimesSquare

May 7, 2013

Key Points:

  • There is an enemy bouncing in our heads. It’s the enemy of openness “We think we’re open, but we’re not.”
  •  Openness is the grand illusion.
  • Social psychologists tell us the brain is wired for self-justification.
    • Biologists say that we cannot tell a perception from hallucination.
    • The only way we know that we’re not delusional is through feedback But here is the catch— with just two people, we still don’t know.  I see black and you see white—who is right?

When we have a dyadic relationship, perception is inherently unstable; especially when we disagree or have a difference of opinion.

We get stuck. We argue. We get defensive.

One person is right and the other wrong. The idea is good or bad.  Notice that we like people who agree with us and dislike those who don’t.

But openness is being able to listen when we don’t agree. How can we overcome this biological blindness?

The answer is the Power of Triads—two vs three.

A 12 year study of 24,000 people concluded 76% of work relationships are ineffective. (Tribal Leadership 2008)

That’s 3 out of 4 people who are being challenged at work – by dyadic relationships. What’s interesting is that the other 24% had a 3-5 times increase in productivity, less stress, & more fun. They also had one unique characteristic. They did not meet in dyads.” They met in groups of three. They used the power of triads.

A sandbox with two children and one toy—what happens? They fight.  “It’s mine!” Add a third child to our sandbox and the dynamic changes. We build a sand castle together.

This is the power of Triads. Three people working together on a common project. There is a shift from mine to ours.

Triads defeat the enemy of openness; Triads pull us from being stuck in the mud of dyads.

 Triads move us and others into action.

To create a “we” takes three.

So, the next time you get stuck in a sandbox with just one other person—remember the Power of Triads.

Tribal Leadership Stage Two is its Not My Fault

April 1, 2013

The book, Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization is the result of a 10 year study of over 24,000 people. Authors Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright recognized strategies failed 70 percent of the time. In their inquiry as to why this occurred, they discovered Peter Duckers’ statement that “culture eats strategy for breakfast” was true. A big reason is what we call Stage Two culture–25% of the workforce

At Stage Two, the language you hear is a theme of “My life sucks.” As you can imagine, it is not a productive stage.

This two minute video is hilarious!

46% of Newly Hired Employees will Fail within 18 Months

November 13, 2012

According to a groundbreaking three-year study of over 5,000 managers who hired over 20,000 employees, “46% of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months.”

Interestingly, the number one reason employees failed was their inability to accept and implement feedback from their boss and colleagues. Stage 2 and 3 are not good at accepting feedback. Stage 4 seeks feedback.

What can you do?

Here is the study and some great interview questions and other things you can do to prevent this from happening in the future.

Can Core Values Help You Through a Crisis? Vistage Members Prove They Do.

November 2, 2012

One of the topics I talk about in my workshop on Tribal Leadership: Because Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast is core values. Professor Warren Bennis says that leadership is born in crucible moments. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, leaders are showing up.

Vistage members Michael and Sheril Feldman run a family-owned business, David Feldman Worldwide, that provides court reporting services. For the past several years, they have been working on creating a culture that is based on their #1 core value, Create a Caring Family Culture.

Michael shared “This crisis has been an AMAZING opportunity to see DFW’s # 1 core value, Create a Caring Family Culture, in action.  I am very proud of the below quotes, all of which came this week as all DFW’ers have been in constant communication with each other and incredibly supportive, and you should be proud as well for helping me understand the importance and power in having clarity of our values.  Thank you.”

I have to say, the culture we have at DFW really gives me this desire to come through for the company, and it makes me happy to know that because I have internet and power, I can make even a small difference in the productivity of the company.”


It is very apparent that you, Sheril and your dad have succeeded in creating a wonderful, warm and caring DFW family!  A job very well done Mike.  :)


It is in times like this that leaders have the opportunity to show up and demonstrate what they are committed to.

Michael was in Staten Island on Saturday and The Rockaways on Sunday to help out with the relief efforts. Today, he is bringing several employees from his company to volunteer. This is when actions speak louder than words.

“Recent research has led us to conclude that one of the most reliable indicators and predictors of true leadership is an individual’s ability to find meaning in negative events and to learn from even the most trying circumstances. Put another way, the skills required to conquer adversity and emerge stronger and more committed than ever are the same ones that make for extraordinary leaders.”

–Warren Bennis & Robert Thomas (Harvard Business Review 2002)

The Oil Change: A Tool for Tribal Leadership Stage 4 Teams

October 29, 2012

Many times, teams or triads get stuck. Results aren’t occurring; people aren’t doing what they promised, and resentment amongst the team members happens.

In the book,  Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization, by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright, on page 178-179, the authors provide a tool, that they named an “Oil Change.” It is very simple to use and we recommend that a triad use it at least once every 90 days.

It consists of three questions:

  1. What is working well?
  2. What is not working well?
  3. What can the team (triad) do to make the things that are not working well, work?

How can utilizing this oil change help your triad?

IBM CEO Study Concludes: Outperformers are at Tribal Leadership Stage Four

September 22, 2012

IBM conducted more than 1,700 in-depth, face-to-face interviews with CEOs, general managers and senior public sector leaders from around the globe. This 2012 CEO Study, the largest of its type ever undertaken, explores how CEOs are responding to the complexity of increasingly interconnected organizations, markets, societies and governments.

One key finding: “CEOs believe their organizations will be impacted more by the pressure to be open than the need to control.

In our Tribal Leadership research (a 12 year study of over 24,000 people published as the book, Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization) we would categorize this type of culture as Stage Four. And the way to move to Stage Four is by giving up control.

So, it does not surprise me to see that this study found that this emphasis on openness is 30% higher among outperformers.

The other hallmarks of a Stage Four culture are organizations that live by their core values and have a higher sense of purpose or what we call, a Noble Cause. This also came out in the IBM study:

“CEOs recognize the need for organizational values and a clear sense of purpose to guide decisions and actions as some formal controls loosen. Clearly, openness increases vulnerability. The Internet — especially through social networks — can provide a worldwide stage to any employee interaction, positive or negative. For organizations to operate effectively in this environment, employees must internalize and embody the organization’s values and mission.”

“It is important for employees to see the company’s values as a reflection of their own. Values are at the core of the social contract between company and employee.”

Wichian Mektrakarn, CEO, AIS

You can get a copy of this IBM study here.

Tribal Leadership Stage One: From an Integral Theory & Spiral Dynamics Perspective is Beige

September 3, 2012

I recently returned from working with the executive team of a not for profit organization in Brazil, called Reviravolta, (which means “turnaround” when translated to English). This program works with homeless people of Sao Paulo to re-integrate them back into society or to help them turn around their lives. Homelessness is a problem because this is a part of society that becomes invisible and we tend to forget or ignore their situation.

In 2008, my colleagues, Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright completed a 12 year study of over 24,000 people and published the study as the book, Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization. They came up with a simple way to measure the cultural stage of a group, or what we call a tribe. Tribes and people go through stages of development, and according to their research, tribes operate at five different cultural stages, with Stage One at the bottom and Stage Five at the top.

The general description of Stage One is that the language used is “life sucks,” and people act out in despairingly hostile ways. Most of the time, when I hear others talking about Stage One, I hear about street gangs and prisons. In the context of the work force, it is violence and accounting scandals.

“All of this leads to a mood of despairing hostility. People give in to their desires. They act against their values, and everything is permissible: violence, suicide, drugs, any kind of sex. If indulged long enough, these appetites turn into addictions, reinforcing the person’s view that life sucks.” (Tribal Leadership, p. 46)

Through my work with this executive team, I have another perspective of Stage One. The homeless people at Reviravolta are not violent and are not hostile; yet clearly, for them, “life sucks” as would for any of us in their situation.

According to the philosopher Ken Wilber and the authors of the book, Spiral Dynamics, Don Beck and Chris Cowan, “All stages co-exist in both healthy and unhealthy states, whereby any stage of development can lead to undesirable outcomes with respect to the health of the human and social environment.” In their human development model, beige is the lowest stage and is described as a worldview, culture, and mental attitude of basic survival; food, water, warmth, sex, and safety have priority. This is also consistent with the bottom stage in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

I believe that the violent and hostile nature of Stage One is the unhealthy state of Stage One and not its sole nature. The other side, which isn’t healthy, but perhaps less unhealthy is simply despair. This is a group of people who are homeless and hopeless. What the work of Reviravolta does is provide hope that life can be different. By providing a place of the homeless to work, earn some money, wear clean clothes, get a shower and a meal, they are creating a Stage Two culture that gives these people a new possibility.

It was inspirational to work with this executive team that is making a difference towards eliminating homelessness in Sao Paulo and providing a model for the rest of the world. If you would like to contribute to their cause, please contact Vivian: (11) 3311-9928 e (11) 3311-9961 or email:


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