Fear and Love in the Workplace; A Nation’s Concern?

Despite what you may think, Fear and Love in the Workplace is not the name of a new daytime drama. However, it certainly sounds like it could be, don’t you think? I can only begin to imagine how juicy it would be with secret office romances, power plays and backstabbing as daily occurrences.  Unfortunately, these day time dramas play out every day and not on a TV screen, but in real corporate offices, with real people. The effect can shape more lives than we might think.

Some may call it our “foot print” or “mark” that transcends us as individuals and influences generations. What we must ask ourselves, however, is ours a mark of love or fear?

To begin to see the impact of love and fear in the workplace, we can look to nature as our guide and example. In fact, the fractal nature of existence is a perfect model and analogy that can be applied to a business by noting that, as an individual improves so do teams, departments, divisions and entire organizations.  An organization’s influence is inevitable on employee’s behaviors. The question is whether that’s a good thing?

The type of organization that makes a positive difference economically and in community members’ lives, recognizes the interdependent nature of how each aspect of our lives (personal, social, professional, spiritual, community, environmental, etc.) effect one another.  Further, these organizations support employees with whole person health benefits in mind, generous leave, telecommuting, community volunteering, casual work environments and even on-site meditation areas and “chill” zones, created to promote employee social interaction.

When we stand back and look to see the “fractal effect” of organizations who recognize and support the whole person, we realize the significance of investing in our economic futures that, by developing the leaders we need in business we also develop the leaders we need in our communities. Investing in our future business leaders, creates a ripple that rises all tides, (personal, social, professional, spiritual, community, environmental, etc.) to quality living and abundance for those who desire and work for it.  THIS is precisely how business can be a conduit for social evolution

The workforce implications for choosing love over fear:  As individuals we are innately limited in our capabilities.  When we add new individuals with new skill sets the team expands its collective capabilities and is able to produce more than they could separately and individually, a dynamic called synergy.  As we make decisions based on love, rather than fear we begin to grow and are accepting of all manner of people, places and things.  We cannot separate the person doing the work from who they are.  And we are certainly much more than the roles we perform!  By being open and accepting of our coworkers and their differences we have an opportunity to expand our relationship capabilities, networks, learning and consequently our business opportunities. Fear limits all the aforementioned benefits and seeks status-quo and control.

The societal implications for choosing love over fear: Love accepts differences, while fear ridicules and isolates differences. A diverse society, supported by love and guidance yields diverse talents and a larger, more diverse pool of capabilities to be leveraged for society’s benefit.  It is cooperation that expands capabilities, while competition limits them.  A society that chooses love over fear recognizes the exponential synergy of leveraging small and large groups of people with diverse skill sets around a shared purpose. In fact, it’s how many of our current beliefs and cultural norms came to be today. While we haven’t yet reach the point of majority for organization’s (or our nation for that matter), operating from love over fear, however, one can see a growing demand for greater work/life balance, more consideration for our environment, compassion for others and a growing need to incorporate more meaning and purpose in our work and daily lives.

For the companies not sure yet, about the financial benefit of love over fear, think about this conversation once overheard between a CFO and CEO.  CFO asks, “What if we train them and they leave?” CEO responds, “What if we don’t and they stay?”

The CFO is operating from fear, of not having enough.  The CEO is operating from love and the sense that what’s best for employees’ growth, aligned with goals and purpose can only produce greater capabilities and consequently greater outcomes. Certainly things are not this black and white in real world circumstances. Yet, what matters is the intention of providing employees continuous learning and the tools to successfully perform their assigned roles and goals. Our intentions of support will lead us to develop creative alternatives rather, than simply see employee growth as an extra cost factor.

Fear-based leadership and cultures are the recipe for mediocrity, the workforce is literally conditioned to do just enough to not get fired or in trouble.   Fear-based leaders typically suppress talent and competition from the ranks and surround themselves with “yes” people who insulate them from dissent and reality and for their reward receive a different standard of treatment.  The culture becomes one of apathy as employees recognize they can do little to change the inequities and disparity of treatment.

One the other hand, a “love-based” leader understands his/her role is not to create followers but more leaders. Servant leaders are the original love-based leaders. They are selfless, they do not make us fear for our jobs or protect knowledge and information as a tool to create leverage over others.  Servant leadership operates from the stand point of enabling the greatest capabilities of his/her followers!

A supportive environment, where decisions are made based on love (support/guidance) and not fear (intimidation/internal competition/command and control leadership) is conducive to growth, right?!

So, if you want to grow as a person, a team, a family, an organization or a community it has to begin from a foundation of love. It is the environment in which all things grow!  Now, before you think I went all “Flower Power” on you, let’s boil it down to the simple fact that, we can only make decisions one of two ways, from fear or love. 

Love, support and guidance, are the few characteristics rarely discussed in organizations lead by fear and intimidation.  Currently, conservative estimates indicate over 60% of organizations are run through autocratic or authoritarian leadership norms.  When more than half of organizations in our country are run on fear-based norms and the high stress that accompanies these environments it’s time to pay attention to deleterious effect of fear on individuals, families, teams, up to and including our entire nation. Fear-based organizations commonly control information, lack compassion for employee work-life balance and support a culture of competitiveness amongst staff, all contributing to stress.

When we consider stress is the number one cause for health related issues and absenteeism from work, costing organizations billions each year, it no longer sounds like a “hippy notion” to incorporate the fear vs. love test when engaging in decision-making, leadership and organizational culture.

So, you may be asking yourself, how do I make sure I am a “love-based” leader, employee or entrepreneur?

Be the Leader You Seek. Begin with yourself, share what you’ve learned with others and begin creating your own ripple of love, support and guidance.  Every once in a while, we can all take a pause for the cause and ask ourselves:

“How do I feel when I make decisions from love over fear?”

“Are my motivations and outlook on certain topics fear-based (corrosive and detrimental to growth) or love-based (a positive environment for growth)?”

“Where in my life have I made decisions from fear?  What’s happening in that area?  What can change/improve?”

“Where have I made decisions from love?

“Who currently needs support and how can I provide that?”

Lastly, to further support your recognition leadership modalities, to serve as a model for others, and personally make the shift to ever increasing love-based decision-making, here are two lists of leader behaviors.

Fear-based leadership behaviors

  1. Communication is one way
  2. Lacking clear guidance of roles and behaviors
  3. Selective hearing- only good news
  4. Distrust amongst leadership
  5. Recognition, promotions etc. do not consider behaviors only numbers.

Love based leadership behaviors

  1. Puts others first
  2. Clearly and often articulates a compelling vision
  3. Recognizes behaviors that support the norms of the company, not just results
  4. Equips followers with the tools necessary to do their jobs
  5. Views work and life as a continuous learning process

With this foundation you can begin examining your own motivations, as well as those imbedded in larger systems (again, groups are a reflection of the individuals such as family, teams, business systems, communities, etc.).

Choosing love-based decision-making, support and guidance as a daily mode of being when we’ve been taught otherwise by the autocratic leaders of our ancestors for several generations is not an easy shift to make yet, there are a billion reasons why it benefits everyone to make the effort!


By Ryan McShane


Ryan is a HR Consultant, specializing in Leadership Development and Career Guidance. To connect with Ryan and learn more about the tools and services designed to guide individuals and organization to evolve to their highest potential, email [email protected] or visit the website at www.marc3solutions.com


Coming to Consciousness: Personal and Organizational Growth

Each time I thought I suffered most, I came out of the experience knowing more of my self.  More accurately, each incident shook me, pushing me beyond ego. It was the earthquake that shook-off another layer of who I thought I was.

Each incident so hard, so painful at the time, now has become a memory that still fills my eyes with tears. I’m not sure if the tears are for the love of the moment that squeezed my conditioned beliefs until it yielded a diamond of greater consciousness or if I’m experiencing echoes of healing continuing to taking place. Either way, the tears have turned from pain to joy.

I’ve come to shake off the notion of who “I thought” I was through each incident. Organizations and teams; like individuals will go through a similar coming to consciousness or greater understanding of group relationship dynamics, if they are to become a high functioning, high achieving team. 

What began to occur more and more is that, I could “see” the separateness of my conditioning and who I really was. In other words it became increasingly clear that my life existence is just that, an experience that makes an impression on me. However, what I choose to carry with me from my experiences is that which I believe, “I am”.  Specifically, if I continue to carry the burdens and beliefs of the past, I am operating from those burdens and beliefs. Yet, if I let go of the past, I am able to see the present moment through no filter of beliefs but, as it actually is. By removing the filter or lens of past conditioning I am free to make decisions and take actions on what exists not, what I believe to exist which is biased from my experiences. It comes down to better relationships and decision-making; two of the most critical factors in business success today!

When we recognize our lens of past beliefs and conditioned thought we then have an opportunity to evaluate why we believe as we do. Do our beliefs serve us and our connections to others? Or does it separate us and create a divide from others?

All things being the same, had I been born into another family, those experiences would no doubt be different, yet, they too would not be me, but my experiences. Again, it is only when we hold onto these experiences and operate from them that we are relegated to exist at the level of our experiences alone.

I am not a thought as you are not a thought.   Yet, if we are to live beyond thought (conditioned beliefs), how does one reconcile this with modern life?

Meditation first and foremost by the very practice of it, enables one to rise above thought and truly see the interconnectedness of people.

Businesses, non-profits and even sports teams are taking advantage of the benefits of meditation for creative thinking, wellbeing, visioning and execution of highly focused tasks. What these groups have found through meditation is a higher level of cognitive functioning enabling better decision making due to a reduction of emotional influences which limit higher cognitive functioning. In other words, we are able to make decisions based on the collective highest good and not from fear and self-protectionism.

Experience and genetics are what separate us physically.  We have been taught to limit our focus to the material and consequently we miss what’s in front of us. Our common humanity! Our common humanity must be the solid foundation from which organizations build their labor force, in order for the full capability of employees to be realized and experienced daily.

All too often, I see businesses that maintain an external focus, neglecting the people who do the work and support the business. Because many Executives are externally focused on sales and service to customers, they may not realize those they depend on to serve may not be well equipped or properly aligned to provide the best service possible. Therefore, companies begin to lose customers and market share due to poor service or incapable staff.

Let’s look at it this way, as it is consciousness expanding for individuals willing to reflect on beliefs and alignment of actions to achieve goals so, too is it true that teams and organizations benefit through self-reflection and examination.

Providing a safe space for employees and leaders to practice critical thought, challenge the status quo and engage in self reflection is a great start.  Lunch and Learns or facilitated “tough conversations” can begin to provide the environment of practice and dialogue that lead to employees feeling safe to act from their personal authenticity.

The following saying is not just true for sales, but, in organizational engagement and leadership as well, “People don’t care what you have to say, until they know you care”.

Whether you’re interested in maximizing your own individual capabilities or you’re more focused on group achievement; providing permission, support and modeling are critical to make the shift to high performance leaders and teams.

By Ryan McShane

Ryan McShane, has been serving the Human Resources Profession for over 20 years and currently operates a consulting firm specializing in Human Resources Consulting, Leadership Development and Career Transition Services.

Prior, to that Ryan worked in the public, private, start-up and not-for-profit sectors, learning the various cultural norms, principles and practices of each sector and applying that learning to create High Performance Leaders and Organizations. Ryan is also the immediate past president for the largest Local SHRM Chapter in the state of Maryland, Chesapeake Human Resource Association (CHRA).

Ryan’s professional affiliations include serving on the Board of Chesapeake Human Resource Association (CHRA), Board member and Membership Director of Hunt Valley Business Forum, a founding member of Conscious Capitalism- Central Maryland, a Member of York, PA’s local SHRM chapter, a Member of UMBC’s Instructional Systems Development (ISD) Advisory Board, and a former Member of the Boomer Council, an advisory council focusing on civic engagement and mature workforce strategies.

Ryan is passionate about creating and leveraging practices and systems to enable both, individuals and organizations to achieve their highest potential. By promoting greater self-awareness and a conscious approach to workforce management, Ryan seeks to enable a stakeholder orientation, giving rise to equal consideration of People, Planet and Profit.

Cooperation or Competition, which leads to greater abundance?

cooperationWe are but parts of the whole. Each part informs the whole and the whole informs each part. This is true for a family, a team, an organization, community or society. We recognize cooperation is what best serves each of these units individually and collectively; from a single person to the largest of groups. So, why does competition dominate our minds and institutions?
Our corporate and political cultures are reflective of the Darwinian notion of competition, “kill or be killed”. We can see the result is an ever-expanding economic divide between the “haves and have nots”. This divide, in a sense has created a polarity. The opportunistic “haves” seize upon the polarity notion and posit, there are only two options and it must either be “this” or “that”. (You can see this reflected in today’s politics and our two party system.) These arguments are perfectly positioned by the “haves” to seem like there are only two choices and no matter how fancy they are framed, they all end in “I win, you lose”. We see examples of this by leaders and decision-makers where the deck is stacked in the favor of the decision-maker, by the decision-maker, which leads to distrust for positions of leadership and authority.
A novice observer could easily see we (individuals, families, teams, organizations, communities, etc.) cannot come together in unison and have the full power and benefit of our collective expertise, if our institutions and organizations model and reinforce internal competition. We are obviously then divided against each other, instead of united around our common challenges. Even worse, despite all the energy and resources being used most of it is wasted as we work against each other.
So, what does this have to do with corporate culture and leadership?
Remember, I said in the beginning the parts inform the whole and the whole informs the parts? We do not live in bubbles and the more businesses openly reflect the personalities, cultures and societal norms of its people the more the organization fosters cooperation over competition. Not only is a cooperative approach to work more profitable, healthy and sustainable but, the next largest talent pool available to the labor force, called the Millennial Generation is also keenly aware of how large institutions have impacted individuals, families, and the larger community through reported mass lay-offs, buy-outs and shutdowns. Millennials saw this happening to their parents or their friends’ parents and heard it discussed on the news, as well as, social media and throughout their communities and schools too. Needless to say, anything that causes a shaking to one’s sense of security is going to be remembered for a long time.
Therefore, the Millennials are responsively focused on supporting organizations that are mission and purpose driven, not simply money driven.
Despite years of conditioning and examples to the contrary, I’ve seen a few shining examples of the wisest of executives and leaders who have recognized and tapped into the abundance of cooperation, throwing off the constraints of competition.
In fact, a ten year, longitudinal study compared organizations who operated consistently with the tenants of Conscious Capitalism (Higher Purpose, Stakeholder Orientation, Conscious Leadership and Conscious Culture – a highly cooperative approach to workplace management) against the earnings of the S&P, revealing the organizations who operated from a conscious capitalism approach exceeded the S&P earnings by 1,025%. (That’s not a decimal point, it’s a comma – one thousand and twenty-five percent!)
How do we make the shift to cooperation when all we’ve known is competition?
The Conscious Leader
The aware, awake (conscious) leader is not threatened by cooperation but, recognizes the greater value of a workforce representative of their local community of consumers and stakeholders. That by serving the greater needs of the community through providing good jobs, good pay, safe working conditions, opportunities for growth and a chance to serve something greater than the individual themselves, the organization is best positioned to achieve long term success. To make the shift the leadership approach must be one of being a servant leader; enabling the greatest capabilities of our followers through support of education and resources, aligned with organizational purpose.

Walk the Talk
We hear executives and leaders from all levels of organizations state their desire for cooperation amongst employees, only to implement competitive bonus programs, play favorites, and operate from a win at all cost mentality, which can compromise employee health by a culture tolerating abusive and toxic behavior. Whether the executives recognize the incoherence of the stated vision and the actual environment is another matter. Examine policies, procedures and norms considering whether they are a barrier or conduit to the corporate mission.

Walk the Walk
It’s important to know the “temperature” of your greatest and most expensive assets. Get out there and be a leader known, recognized and loved for who you are and not feared because of your role. Conduct regular engagement surveys and other mechanisms for feedback and measure growth milestones to make sure operational priorities are well balanced with your people priorities. Investing in your people creates loyalty and foundational strength, not to mention a greater capability to serve customers. To put the operations ahead of your people will result in sub-par employees and regular turnover, impacting client services, as well as increasing headaches and costs!

Think Long Term
I’d like to believe that leaders would recognize the long term societal cost of squeezing employees with high demands and diminishing returns is not worth the short term gains to the business or executives. Yet… I’d be naïve to think there aren’t those bad actors that actually do put profit before people.
Yes, we have some work to do as a society in the areas of honoring long term commitment and sustained growth. Currently, the business norms honor and recognize immediate, short-term results! You know the feeling, living quarter-to-quarter and thinking “I gotta make the numbers”. It is these extreme demands to make the numbers or potentially face loss of employment that coerces an epidemic of short term thinking.
Please know, the decisions we make to support short terms gains are almost never the same as those we would choose for long term gains or successes. Why? Because the short game is predicated on the return, with no regard for the resources. However, a long term plan must consider the availability and sustainability of resources (natural and human). Without these (natural and human) resources neither products, nor services can be expanded to generate more revenue and profits.
Yet, almost paradoxically to the short term thinking, the long term interests of both business and responsible stewardship of resources are not mutually exclusive but, in fact complimentary to one another.
Unfortunately, we have seen extreme examples were short term interests where chosen, using the company and employees to serve selfish means. Names like Enron, Bernie Madoff and Volkswagon come to mind as top level executives who acted in their own best interest, ultimately harming individuals, families, businesses and communities as a result.
It’s evident many individuals and institutions still operate from a competition-perspective of I win, you lose. However, with an ever-increasing skepticism for authority, demand for greater transparency and a growing economic divide the cooperative-perspective may finally over-take the competition-perspective yet, for mutual short and long term gains.
A simple shift in perspective and a stepping out of our conditioned thinking around competition, demonstrates an elevated consciousness. We are no longer trapped by the limits of competitive thinking and the results in produces. Given our new cooperative perspective, we can now consider the sum of all parts and the impact of each on the whole. In other words, when we take the whole into consideration, we are now conscious of the impact of our decisions on our people, families, community and society at large and can make sure our decisions are of benefit to our people, as well as, our bottom line.
By Ryan McShane
Ryan, has been serving the Human Resources Profession for over 20 years and currently operates a consulting firm specializing in small business Human Resources Advisory Services, Leadership Development, Career Transitions Consulting and Outplacement.
Ryan is passionate about creating and leveraging conscious business practices and systems to enable both, individuals and organizations to achieve their highest potential. By promoting greater self-awareness and a conscious approach to workforce management, Ryan seeks to enable a stakeholder orientation, giving rise to equal consideration of People, Planet and Profit.

Workforce Mindset: Never Fear, Mistakes Can Make It Clear!

I’ve learned more from my mistakes than my successes. Maybe because I’ve made more mistakes? Maybe because having reflected on the feelings (the pain of mistakes typically calls one’s attention: more so than the thrill of successes, however either are of little concern without reflection.) I’m now more mindful of avoiding those same traps and the mindset that precipitated … Read more

Dichotomy of Intention and Action

Dichotomies of intention and action point to a greater knowing for all those willing to look.

We can see these dichotomies in ourselves, our families, our workforce and our society.
A glaring example of a dichotomy of intention and action is our current education system and that of preparing students for success within our larger economic and business context.

Science admits knowing little about the brain yet, what we do know lags in educational institutions.
In fact, public schools operate from a model developed 124 years ago to equip a manufacturing-based society.  Yet, what we experience now is an information and service-based economy and society. Our society would obviously benefit from education methodologies in alignment with our current and future societal and workforce needs.  The rote learning, teacher-lead methods do not espouse the business and economic needs of creative problem solving, interpersonal awareness, and quality communication.   Above we can see a dichotomy in approach and methods of education as well as, a dichotomy between what is needed in the workforce and what is being supported in formal educational environments.

Surely, I am not the only one to recognize this. In fact, I hear hiring managers and business owners often complain about too many applicants but, too few with the necessary skills and competencies.

Education is not keeping pace with market and economic needs. However, what’s most concerning for businesses and our economy is that very few institutions even exist to properly equip our current and future workforce for today’s needs!

More than ever employees lack the ability to negotiate cultural dynamics, perform career navigation, initiate personal growth and leadership development, amongst the many other skill and competency needs of the current and future workforce.

These efforts have to be consciously thought out and facilitated as a compliment to existing systems, requiring alignment from top to bottom of the organization.

Examining dichotomies in intention and action require skillful facilitation, trust and courage.  Yet when done in earnest there remain no barriers to achievement of the established vision and mission!

Are you or your team looking for an immersive growth experience sure to change your perspective and create greater alignment in your intentions and actions?

Allow me to focus on your people growth while you focus on growing your business!

Contact Ryan for Leadership Development, Topical Training Needs, Culture, Engagement, Coaching, Outplacement and expert HR Consultation.
[email protected]

Evoking Conscious Cultures: Dialogue to High Performance

One of the reasons why change fails is due to unconscious beliefs that define the culture. I’m going to show you how to uncover these limiting beliefs by sharing a communication methodology that provides the conditions necessary to design a conscious culture. Therefore, strengthening the fabric of the organization to become more flexible, proactive and adapt from a traditional culture to one of high performance!

First, we want to establish a clear understanding of what we mean by culture, conscious culture and unconscious cultures. Then, we will talk about how culture is driven and sustained and finally the methodology for enabling the establishment of a conscious culture through a practice called, Dialogue.


An organizational culture is reflected in the array of behaviors expected and accepted by members of the organization, including how stakeholders view their relationships based on interactions with the company. Culture includes shared beliefs, values and behavioral conduct.

Conscious culture fosters awareness, as well as, individual and collective reflection as a means of promoting ongoing learning, growth and development. Conscious cultures perpetuate relationship building, compassion, emotional intelligence and a greater alignment of purpose.

According to Jeff Klein, CEO of Working for Good, “Conscious Culture fosters recognition of the purpose of the company and the interdependent relationship between the company’s stakeholders”.

Unconscious culture is the result of an unplanned or accidental culture which, comes about from accepting and performing around unwritten or unspoken behaviors and norms passed from one employee to the next, and even one generation to the next.  Most likely an employee “knows” that certain behaviors are a part of the culture, yet it has never been documented. Accidental cultures can create both positive and negative outcomes according to Priscilla Nelson and Ed Cohen in their ATD article, The Journey to a Conscious Culture.

Jeff Klein explains, “Conscious Leaders catalyze Conscious Culture by applying and cultivating the practice of Conscious Awareness for themselves, their team members, and between the company and its stakeholders.”

Realize now, from no other place can massive cultural change occur and be sustained than through its leaders. Therefore, any change must start with understanding the current perspective of the leadership.

Leaders Drive Culture

Once leaders come to understand their role in visioning purpose and aligning resources to achieve the purpose, they must equally concern themselves with the “how”, of how the purpose will be achieved. The how determines the nature of the relationships amongst, across and beyond the organizational team, ultimately influencing the larger relationship to the community.

Great leaders know all too well, when purpose is not commonly held amongst the team thought dominates and conflict arises. One might say thought in itself is void of humanity, because it is a brain based activity; absent intention, it is simply brain activity. We also see however, that humanity (or our collective conscience) can, does and should influence thought, if we are to realize peace. Thought derived from compassion (understanding our action’s impact on the whole) will certainly include action that considers the whole. Leaders who wish to coalesce their teams and organizations must learn to tap into and reinforce this understanding regularly for their followers to remain aligned.

Dialogue to Conscious Culture:

Here is an approach to establishing authentic conversations to improve clarity, relationship building and performance.

Dialogue is a methodology that enables groups to rise above their beliefs, positional authority and egos, to operate and make decisions from values that respect others point of view and allows space for multiple and many times opposing viewpoints to be examined in a safe environment.

The very practice of dialogue creates interpersonal awareness and furthers emotional intelligence in the participants. By rising above positional authority, egos and current cultural conditions, we create a space and process for any organization across the globe despite its customs and culture to consciously align purpose, people and profit.

The premise…. Dialogue creates this change collectively by means of a large group speaking together in a circle. The theoretical basis for dialogue in the Center for Organizational Learning is David Bohm’s work on the nature of thought. Bohm was a physicist and his thinking was based on quantum theory, according to which, the observer and the observed are not in reality separate entities and that what we observe is a creation of our own perception.

“What you perceive, in other words, is not determined by independent external properties of ‘parts’ of reality, but is a function of the ways in which you try to perceive that reality.” (Isaacs, 1993)

Bohm’s 4 Principles of Dialogue: David Bohm, Physicist

  1. PARTICIPATION: The observer and the observed are not truly separate, even though we create an artificial separation so as to describe and manipulate the world. Bohm had a conception of the world of thought being like a kind of field in which we all participate – our mistake is in identifying with thoughts and claiming them as our own.
  2. COHERENCE: Look for incoherence between our intentions and our results, as this will point to where knowledge is defective.
  3. AWARENESS: Become aware of thought arising, rather than immediately identifying with it. This process would also allow us to be more aware of the results of our thoughts – in our feelings, perceptions and actions.
  4. ENFOLDMENT: As it relates to thought, this is the principle that indicates a thought does not disappear “once we have finished with it”, but that thoughts emerge into consciousness and back again.

With a reading and general understanding of the above principles, we are ready to move into the practices of Dialogue.

4 Practices of Dialogue

  1. Listening
  2. Respecting
  3. Suspending
  4. Voicing

Allison Jones is to be acknowledged for outlining the principles and practices succinctly in her shared PDF on spaceforlearning.com. Jones provides full detail with wonderful descriptions of the Practices and Practices within the Practices that inform each aspect of Dialogue. For brevity, I will pull out the main points below.


“By listening deeply we put ourselves in touch with a larger whole – people’s words carry not just an immediate meaning but a whole context and connection. In preparing to listen at this deep level, five practices are recommended.

  • Be aware of thought: Notice how much our thinking arises out of memory, out of a host of ready-made responses and opinions. Things are already categorized in our minds, which makes fresh, intelligent thinking difficult. Listening to your own thinking and its limitations is the first step.
  • Stick to the facts: Listen without jumping to conclusions or judgments.
  • Follow the disturbance: Look for what happens when what we hear disturbs us emotionally. Ask, in what ways am I doing the very thing I claim others should not do?”
  • Listen without resistance: Notice the reaction and then continue to listen.
  • Stand still: Cultivate inner silence, using all of the practices above to get beyond the usual noisy turmoil that prevents us from hearing.

In dialogue these practices are taken into a collective setting. The shift in perspective, becoming “an advocate for the whole” – comes from not just listening from my own or another’s perspective. When we listen for the whole, we “speak to the center of the circle”, not just to individuals.


See a person with the intention of taking in more of them, understanding what has created their particular experience. It is suggested a practice to aid in this element is to listen as if it were all in me, based on the idea that if we can perceive something in another, it’s also a part of our own mental world.



By suspending thought – neither identifying with nor suppressing it, we can watch the thought and not be bound to a mental direction taken by identifying with that thought. Removes positional thinking.


To begin this process (being aware of our thoughts in the present), we can ask ourselves, “What needs to be expressed now?” This practice is about focusing inwards, rather than rehearsing thoughts before speaking.

First finding and then having the courage to speak with your own voice is the challenge, then we want to overcome self-censorship by considering the risk of not speaking up.

Having explained now, the principles and practices one can begin to see how they contribute to shifting the culture and uncovering a more authentic and conscious way to be with one another, in the effort to align purpose.

Creating the New Culture

In dialogue, what develops during the process and practice is then used to create a common pool of meaning together. A conscious culture then evolves from written and spoken goals, values and behaviors, and practices that are taught, measured and reinforced in the organization.

Note: The active and engaging process of dialogue can be used with large groups for everything from articulation of mission and purpose to describing the culture that supports it.

Reasons to Start Now!

  1. There are distinct (performance) benefits to a conscious culture: according to Priscilla Nelson and Ed Cohen in their article, The Journey to a Conscious Culture
  2. New team members and leaders more rapidly assimilate to the culture.
  3. Employees more quickly understanding the range of acceptable behaviors.
  4. Top Talents are drawn to an empowering environment.
  5. Misalignment is easily diagnosed and realigned when there is a lack of fit.
  6. Likelihood of successful integration in the case of a merger or acquisition.
  7. Systemic change is easier because there is no battle between the conscious and accidental cultures.

Take action today and schedule a free demonstration or consultation to learn the secrets of dialogue and conscious business transformation practices that consistently lead to High Performance Organizations.


By: Ryan McShane

Ryan McShane has been guiding organizations to align their greatest resources to organizational purpose for the last 20 years.

The Result: High Performance Organizations!

Ryan McShane, Vice President, Marc3 Leadership Solutions [email protected], marc3solutions.com, 410-688-5054

For a Free Assessment of your Leadership Team’s impact on Employee Performance, contact me here to schedule. [email protected], www.marc3solutions.com, 410-688-5054

Marc3 Leadership Solutions provides small to medium sized businesses Fortune 500 Level Resources, creating “High Performance Organizations” expanded capabilities leading to Greater Profit, Top Talent, and Outstanding Culture.


Purpose, Pulse and Perception: Enable Achievement of Any Organizational Change!

Understanding the collective conscious or perspective of your workforce and how employees have been conditioned to view workplace events, provides the targeted insight to create any organizational shift! Think about it, workforce views around change, performance management, career opportunities and learning development or even speaking up and sharing ideas will tell leaders a great deal … Read more

To speak up is to be shipped out.

Leaders, could you be sabotaging the return on your best investment?

Allow me to ask you a seemingly simple question: Would you spend the extra money to buy a color copier and only use black and white prints? Of course, you wouldn’t. It doesn’t make sense. It’s a poor investment of money. The same is true for employees. If employees do not obtain results and contribute at their highest levels, we do not receive a proper return on the single largest investment most companies make—employee salaries!

I write mostly about how to maximize employee performance, but today, I’m going to share with you what can absolutely shut down employee performance and how to avoid it.

It’s the epidemic no one talks about across ranks, but you can bet employees are talking amongst themselves.  You see, if you disagree or even propose another approach some leaders see this as a direct challenge to their authority. In fact, you’re labeled a troublemaker, dissenter and nuisance..

In these cases there is likely one of two things happening, either the ego is in the way or these leaders are not in fact leaders, but figure heads placed to maintain status quo.

The ego scenario is more common and leaves employees with the sense that, if the idea wasn’t the leaders, it’s likely to be rejected. This “leader” wears their authority on their sleeve and any perceived threat to that authority (real or imagined) is reason to “put that employee in his/her place.” These leaders are performance killers!

The less common, placeholder leadership position is likely to reject anything new or different, because “this is how we’ve always done it.” They will seek to avoid conflict at all costs and even resort to non-responsiveness or passive aggressive behavior toward the employee(s) viewed as challenging the status quo.

Will top talent and especially next generation talent put up with a culture of compliance over creativity and impact? Consider for a moment we currently have 4 generations in the workforce: Seniors, Boomers, Gen X and Millennials. There are very few seniors remaining in the workforce. Yet, many boomers still remain due to a financial downturn and an effort to recapture lost investments. The boomers, also, still hold the majority percentage of leadership roles in companies. When we step back and consider the larger social influences and their impact to each generation, we are reminded just what this does to perceptions and ultimately how they lead.

The Senior demographic were dutiful and loyal. Boomers shared some of these characteristics, yet, later, went through a phase of questioning the corporate establishment only to have their questioning quelled by the enchantment of material items obtained through positions of authority and prestige. Next, we have the stereo-typically defined “question everything group” Generation X, who saw their parents downsized and became jaded with the corporate institution. Finally, we have the Millennials who grew up doing everything in teams and received trophies for participating and, yet, has no experience of life prior to digital technology. They are referred to as the “digital natives”.

One can see the very values typical of each generation create a variety of perspectives about the world around them. The perspectives if considered equally across generations would provide the value of diversity thought leading to adaptability to proactively meet, ever-changing client business demands across a new digital landscape.

What happens if the perspectives are not given equal consideration and influence, as is the case in many authoritarian-dominant structures? We are limited to operate through the lens of that one structure as defined by the current leader(s). In other words the “how” is pre-scripted to past experiences and we hear things like, “we’ve always done it this way”, a common perspective of the status quo “leaders” mentioned before. Additionally, the authoritarian style implies anything outside the prescribed is non-conformity and rightly punishable.

It comes down to this folks, where a dominant perspective is maintained in positions of authority which do not necessarily represent the views of the entire workforce, employee engagement is unlikely. When employees are not permitted opportunities to question, to grow and to seek new ways of doing then they effectively begin to shut down.

Leaders who do not permit questioning and alternative approaches or perspectives will reduce motivation and creativity; in essence, creating a culture of doing just enough to “fly under the radar” and collect a paycheck. The “color copier scenario” of not getting what you pay for plays out over and over in many organizations across the nation. Billions are being lost through disengagement of employees. Sadly, employee engagement levels are at their all-time lows and disengagement at its highest across the nation.

Hiring and paying smart, talented professionals and not listening to what they have to say is the color copier scenario, all over again. You’re not getting what you paid for!

Don’t wait any longer. You could be hemorrhaging money in disengaged employees. Now is the time to examine what are your disengaging systems and outdated modes of leadership that shutdown employee performance.

3 Steps to Avoid and Eliminate Employee Performance Shutdown:

  1. Assess, examine and reflect on whether leaders’ behaviors are creating outcomes consistent with company purpose or mission as it relates to stimulating employee performance.
  2. Create and clearly articulate a culture of openness, supported by policy. For example, promote and recognize creative thinking and innovation leading to greater efficiency and service.
  3. Model dialogue. Be the example and demonstrate a willingness to have the “tough talks”.

Very simply, if you are in a leadership position and you cannot accept another opinion or viewpoint from employees without viewing it as dissent, then you are hurting the people under your stewardship and the organization’s revenue.

It pays to know!

By: Ryan McShane, Vice President, Marc3 Leadership Solutions [email protected], marc3solutions.com, 410-688-5054

For a Free Assessment of your Leadership Team’s impact on Employee Performance, contact me here to schedule. [email protected], www.marc3solutions.com, 410-688-5054

Marc3 Leadership Solutions provides small to medium sized businesses Fortune 500 Level Resources, creating “High Performance Organizations” expanded capabilities leading to Greater Profit, Top Talent, and Outstanding Culture.


Conditioned to Survive or… Create?

Are today’s learning systems conditioning us to survive or create?   You may ask, what’s the difference? When we operate from survival, we see the world as a dangerous and unfriendly place, any inspiration gives way to apathy and we experience a sense of going through the motions. When we operate from creation, we drop all … Read more

How to maximize and engage staff and have them thank you for it!

If you subscribe to a command and control style of leadership, operating from positional power, (“Because I’m your boss, that’s why. Now do it.”) and have no plans of changing your approach, I invite you to keep scrolling. This article is not for you. However, if you operate from command and control, recognize its limitations … Read more

Workforce Engagement is Abysmal! But Why?

The data is in! Employee Engagement is abysmal in the majority of workplaces today. But, why? We can no longer ignore it with thoughts like, “not MY employees” or “we’re not THAT bad”, resulting in inaction and burying of heads.  These mere “thoughts” and refusal to investigate and address engagement for fear leadership may have … Read more

Letter to Employees: If only you had come to me sooner!

If only you had come to me sooner, for no other reason that to save the pain and frustration you’ve experienced for the last six months and for some a year or longer. My heart goes out to those who find themselves unappreciated, under-utilized and in some cases down-right abused during work. Others tell me … Read more

The Corporate Shift – A Leadership Issue?

More and more full time employees are becoming disenfranchised with corporate cultures and feeling abused by their leaders are heading out on their own, to create the lifestyle they truly desire.  At least that’s how one Gen X’er referred to it recently when he shared with me that he started a side business. As poor leadership, high demands … Read more

3 Steps to Rocking Your Next Interview

The interview is seemingly the hardest part of the employment process for the job candidate. Understandably so, the interview can be intimidating, nerving, and just down right stressful for the ill prepared. Fortunately, you don’t have to experience any of these feelings again, when it comes to an interview! Below are tips on how to … Read more

A Choice in Thought & Perspectives- “This is Water!”

The following piece is a reflection on the prolific writer, David Foster Wallace’s YouTube video, “This is Water!” http://youtu.be/gGLavCC9H5E


As David begins his narration of the video, he describes an encounter between three fish, two of whom were swimming along lazily when they see another fish, who asks, “how’s the water boys?” As the third fish keeps swimming by the two fish look at one another and ask at the same time, “What the heck is water”?


This anecdote speaks to awareness. The two fish being surrounded by water all their life do not recognize water as anything separate from themselves, only something that has always been there and a part of their lives. This ancient story of a fish in water is often told to bring awareness to people about living more conscious lives often resulting in a more fulfilling, joyful and impactful existence.


Much like the water, seeing that our thoughts are separate from us, we have a choice that if exercised can contribute to the raising of consciousness for not only us as individuals but for all of humanity!


The video goes on to illustrate unconscious thought patterns that lead to frustration, feelings of being trapped and events that appear to be happening “to you”. These all too familiar scenarios of commuting through traffic and navigating busy, grocery stores, illustrate a few ugly aspects of unconsciousness.


When we are not aware of our thoughts and thus react to whatever “comes up” in our minds that is said to be our “default mode”. The default mode is an unconsciousness that leads to a belief that it’s, “all about me”, “all these people are in my way and interfering with my interest in getting home to make my dinner.” (Notice all the me’s and my’s)


However, as David Foster Wallace states, if we are fortunate to be awake enough to realize that we have a choice of thought, then we have options and we have freedom in how we see situations. But remember, this is not our default setting; it does take effort and practice.


Mental default settings are like a blinking 12:00 on a watch, clock or DVD player. The blinking 12:00 is the default setting we see anytime power was lost and then returned to the device. Just like the clock, the mind can easily be changed from the default setting. All one has to do is change it. Yes! It really is as simple as that, once you have awareness and willingness.


So, by now you may be thinking, “But Ryan what does this have to do with employment and human resources”?   Our level of consciousness impacts everything we do! It is a gauge for how we interact with the world around us, from interactions with co-workers to considering all the realms of possibility when it comes to solving an operational challenge. I believe education and more specifically, workforce education will soon include a focus on conscious leadership.


Here, we boil it down to the basics: Am I aware of my thoughts? Are these thoughts helping me or someone else? Yes? Great, continue! No? Can I learn something from these thoughts? Yes? Then create action around that learning to reinforce new habits. No? Then change your mind.


Yes, it is just that simple. However, it has been discovered that we have a major influence working against us, biology. Biologically we as humans tend to resist thoughts and actions that are outside of our prior experiences, because of the potential for or actual discomfort this may create. Yes, most people are naturally conflict avoidant. But, biologically we are also highly adaptive, if we choose to be.


So, here are a few tips to keep you moving in the practice of conscious living, when you encounter thoughts (which lead to feelings) that don’t serve you or anyone else, examine those thoughts. Discuss them with others to see these thoughts from a different perspective. Suspend judgment and consider all angles and perspectives on a particular thought or situation before taking action. By doing so, one will have a fair and balanced context, often leading one to find the least objectionable ranging to the most efficient solution.


Perspective shapes our world view. An unconscious perspective (default mode) of being in the center of the world and everything around us is either working in our favor or against us, leads us to being in a constant state of self-seeking, judgment and clash with opposition. But, what if we adopted a conscious perspective, leading us to choose our thoughts for a greater good?


By: Ryan McShane, Vice President, Marc3 Leadership Solutions [email protected]


Marc3 provides small to medium sized businesses Fortune 500 Level Resources, creating “High Performance Organizations” with Greater Profit, Top Talent, and Outstanding Culture.


Contact Ryan to get the results that, elevate individuals and organizations to their highest potential.

marc3solutions.com, 410-688-5054

The Crisis No One is Talking About: Leadership!

We are currently under a crisis of leadership as a nation. One need only look to our Presidential Candidates, to see how truly bad this crisis is. I mean really… THIS is the best our nation has to offer?! Now, take this grand-scale example down to the local level, into our businesses and communities. We … Read more