Below are my current answers to these frequently asked questions (FAQ).
How did you arrive at this thinking?
Are you talking about religion?
Can you find another word than “spiritual” to describe these ideas?
Do you have to use the word “God”?
How do you share these ideas with senior executives in a corporation?
How do you discuss these ideas with atheists or agnostics?
What role do you feel vision/mission plays in why alliances fail?
What is the best way to transfer these principles to people you work with?
What role does culture and personal leadership play in alliances?
How does this help when we’re asked to do unethical or illegal things?
You might also want to read some of the topics discussed in Voice of the Collective.
I am interested in open and healthy dialogue. If my answers miss the question, raise other questions, or come across as harsh or confrontational, please let me know.
A: Wow! What a question. This question is asking me to describe my life, at least half of it!
First, I was drawn to be a strategic alliance manager. I am fascinated by, and attracted to, its complexity and challenge; and, the opportunity for true creativity. I honestly love this work!
Second, life experiences compelled me to bring spirituality into my work. After roughly 6 years as a strategic alliance manager I “hit bottom” as a drug addict and was forced into recovery. The Twelfth Step in 12-step recovery talks about “practicing these principles in all our affairs” and strategic alliancing is one of my affairs. Around that same time my family had to deal with having a debilitating and life-shortening neuromuscular disorder afflict two of our four children. I was forced by life to confront difficult issues head-on, to stay in the moment, be very present, and to figure out some way to find gratitude in every situation. I had to do this while continuing to work and provide financially for my family. I was forced by life to practice spiritual principles in all of my affairs; otherwise I would die – physically, emotionally or spiritually.
As you can imagine answering this question could be a very long discussion. I refer you to a two-page document that talks about my story, as it relates to the melding of spirituality and alliancing. I would also refer you to the section titled Experiencing Transformation (a couple of pages) in the first chapter in my book.
A: My answer to this often emotionally-charged question is both “yes” and “no.”
A: “Spiritual” seems to be the best word to adequately point to that something that is going on within all of us, between us, and all around us. There is something, a real and tangible substance that lives in relationship. There is something that lives in me. This is the same something that is beyond me and beyond all of us. This something can inspire, motivate and give us joy and fulfillment. This something can bring greater creativity into our lives and into our alliances.
I have considered other words like “ethics” or “values” or “principles” to describe or label what I am talking about. All of those words fall short. “Spiritual” seems to be the best label; maybe there’s a better word, but I haven’t found it, yet.
A: I am actually pleasantly surprised at how receptive many, not all, senior executives are to spiritual ideas. Consider this counter-intuitive quote from the book The Corporate Mystic by Hendricks and Ludeman:
“Corporations are full of mystics. If you want to find a genuine mystic, you are more likely to find one in a corporate boardroom than in a monastery or a cathedral.”
The point is that this stuff works; it works everywhere and all the time. Executives often use different words to convey the same ideas. And, I contend that the most successful long-term companies are already using spiritual ideas in how they run their companies.
Finally, the best way to convey these ideas is in my living. I don’t really need to say anything.
Q: How do you discuss these ideas with individuals who are either atheists or agnostics? How does your spiritual outlook apply to the atheist strategic alliance manager? How would these “instructions” be beneficial to atheists and agnostics?
A: I have actually had some of my most in-depth and thought provoking discussions with atheists. I have found that atheists are against my use of the “God” word. Beyond that we can have a very lively discussion on all kinds of spiritual matters. Sometimes I have to use different words, but the ideas can be conveyed in words suitable to the audience, to the other person. It is especially helpful to focus on ideas and behaviors that deepen relationship. I have yet to find any atheist, agnostic or anyone who is against the deepening of relationships.
A: So long as Vision/Mission statements capture the essence of the possibilities or opportunities in an alliance, those statements are part of the solution. If a Vision/Mission statement is simply dictatorially imposed on the alliance by an executive, without hearing what the alliance has to say (i.e., without hearing the voice of the collective), then it can be a symptom of a greater problem.
I refer you to a whitepaper I have written, described as the 2-Slide MethodologyTM which is a process for listening to the voice of the collective. One of the key results is a vision for the alliance, vision results from a distillation or an abstraction of the potential teaming scenarios at the bottom of the incremental value slide.
A: First, I would say that we convey our ideas, that we “teach”, in the way that we live. The best way to teach or convey these ideas is in your living them, in your being.
Then I say that in any situation you should be full present and tap into (listen to) the truth that is within you. Truly hear and feel what the others are saying and feeling, and then ask the spirit within you how you can be most helpful to them, in that situation, at that moment. Then practice what I call just-enough and just-in-time training or teaching. Most people who are working in your alliance are not interested in the breadth and depth of these ideas; they just want to complete the task in front of them, in that moment. Help them, and then get out of their way.
A: They both play a huge role. Unaddressed cultural differences, between organizations, are the greatest detriment to collaboration. Culture affects how we communicate and how we perceive the world around us. Until you can perceive their world view and use words in ways that make sense to the other, you are not communicating. Again I would refer you to the 2-Slide MethodologyTM the value-impediments slide is primarily focused on a practical means for spanning cultural differences.
And personal leadership is really all I am talking about. The question is how do we lead? I say we lead first and foremost from within ourselves. We lead by changing how we perceive self and others. We lead via our being. If we want to change our alliance (lead it) we need, to as Gandhi says, “Be that change.”
A: The simple answer is to (a) stay true to the truth within you, (b) speak your truth, and (c) trust that the Universe will take care of you.
Feel free to contact me with comments on these answers, other questions or suggestions.