Team Dynamics Across Cultures

As organizational teams become more horizontal; crossing oceans, cultures, functions, and demographics, team leaders are required to be sensitive to the tensions, fears, and separations that cause breakdowns in team dynamics and performance. This can be a challenging task when such teams meet via the internet or teleconference, as the leader’s ability to “read” his or her people becomes limited by the technology in play. There are, of course, unspoken and unwritten rules governing how such teams are expected to interact: courtesy for all and professionalism ad nauseum, yet there will still exist unspoken and unwritten fears and doubts within the individual team members regarding their place on the team, the team itself, and the seemingly impossible expectations. So how do team leaders gain insight into such individual doubts, fears, and, often, a lack of trust in the team’s purpose or even in the team leader? Currently, the answer to that question seems to take the form of more regular electronic communication: e-mails and instant messaging, inquiring into the team members’ questions or concerns. But in a virtual environment, team members are less likely to be forthcoming with questions or concerns due to the crippling fear that such truthful admissions will effectively lower their status on the team. They will, understandably, suppress such doubts and plow ahead, in order to be seen as aggressive team players with an eye on the prize. But in informal settings, away from their desks, such team members will often voice those questions and concerns to anyone who will listen, in order to validate their own views and to steel themselves for the dropping of the other shoe. Such covert breaks in faith and trust are nearly impossible for a team leader to gauge, unless he or she has a good understanding of what the doubts and fears will be in the first place, and is the first to give voice to them. Effective leaders, in both actual and virtual environments, are the first to say: “This is our objective, and these are my fears and doubts – what are yours?” Putting the doubts and fears on the same level as the objective itself opens the lanes of honest communication and gives each team member an avenue of trust to navigate, rather than the dark alleys of doubt and fear, littered with all the other shoes that have dropped along the way.


Diversity & Governance Slide

This new offering from Leadership Masters helps executive students and managers understand how unconscious bias is created in the workplace, and how to eliminate it from the working culture

Leadership Development in 2016 and Beyond

As the L&D pendulum continues swinging toward virtual, web-based learning, Fortune 500 companies around the globe are becoming increasingly more aware of the need for balancing such training with instructor-led, high-impact, emotionally intelligent learning EXPERIENCES. Such experiences can be vital in helping managers and leaders look beyond the bureaucracy, the systems, the processes and the compliance, and see more clearly into the hearts and minds of both employees and customers, who have their sights clearly set on growth. Such growth implies horizontal technologies, and horizontal cultures. Technologies that can circle the globe in an instant, and cultures that embrace all nationalities, ethnicities, and persuasions. Leadership Masters ( has been the industry leader in high-level, high-impact, transformative learning experiences since 1987. With annually contracted clients such as Coca-Cola, GE, Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Dell, Booz-Allen, State Farm, and the U.S. and Canadian governments, Leadership Masters must continually create and innovate in order to satisfy the needs of our clients in this age of accelerated change and horizontal influence. Take for example the recent increased focus on diversity & inclusion. Fortune 500 organizations are seeking experiences that can explain the process of assumptions, beliefs, judgment and separation that cause divisive energy in the workplace. It is difficult to explore this belief-based, emotional process via web-based learning, so Leadership Masters created an emotionally sophisticated learning experience that allows student participants to actually see and feel the process of unconscious bias as it develops. The module is based on the D&I practices of Queen Elizabeth I, arguably the world’s first female chief executive, who examined her own unconscious bias before asking her counselors and advisers to examine theirs. Although presented in modern dress, the psychological distance between 2016 and 1600 means that the subject of unconscious bias can be approached SAFELY, and the subject of divisive energy in the workplace can be discussed without fear. And, ultimately, in order to eliminate divisive energy and unconscious bias in the workplace, you must begin by having a frank, fearless and honest conversation. Leadership Masters inspires conversations, conversations that lead to actions, actions that lead to change. Such inspired and inspiring conversations could and should include all of the information and strategies gleaned from web-based learning, so that both learning technologies achieve maximum results.

The Mandela Architecture

Title Slide

He began with his “Blueprint of Self”, challenging himself to evolve from a reactive and controlling authority figure to a responsive and inspiring leader. He then challenged himself to build more creative and inspiring environments, to use empowering, transformational language, and to create a blueprint for sustained excellence that would support his country’s efforts for years to come.

Now, through this compelling and powerful module from Leadership Masters, executive participants will discover for themselves how Nelson Mandela created extraordinary change within himself, before going on to change the attitudes and perceptions of the world.

The module contains four brilliant theatrical scenes, each of which are followed by one of four brief work sessions: The Blueprint of Self, The Blueprint of Environment, The Blueprint of Communication, and The Blueprint of Sustained Excellence. Four actor/facilitators recreate the four seminal moments in Nelson Mandela’s life where a critical decision had to be made and valuable action needed to be taken. The behavior that is modeled by the actors, combined with the four work sessions, result in a complete blueprint or action plan for both personal and organizational change. The presentation is both flexible and adaptable, and can fill a time slot of anywhere between two and four hours.

Organizations currently using “The Mandela Architecture” for both mid-level and high-level leadership development include: Coca-Cola, State Farm Insurance, Royal Bank of Canada, Novo Nordisk, The Boeing Company, Booz Allen Hamilton, Dell Computing, 3M, General Mills, BP, Praxair, Synopsys, and General Electric.

For more information, visit

Mandela Black and White

Rudolpf Steiner’s Multi-Dimensional Learning Approach: Emotional Engagement, Powerful Anchors, Extraordinary Results

Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner had a controversial idea in 1919 when he created a new system of learning for the children of the Waldorf-Astoria School in Stuttgart, Germany. His concept was to create holistic, interdisciplinary learning by integrating artistic and conceptual elements with standard deductive and inductive reasoning. The approach was revolutionary. It emphasized the role of both metaphor and imagination in the absorption of fact, which, in turn, created emotional anchors for learned information. The system helped students develop thinking patterns that included a creative as well as an analytic context, and those students went on to excel in all areas of human development, especially in art and in leadership. Today, there over one thousand independent Waldorf Schools in sixty countries. There are also hundreds of Waldorf-based public schools and charter schools,  over two thousand kindergartens, six hundred special education schools, and countless homeschooling environments as of this writing.

The Waldorf “model” also presents a compelling argument for leadership development platforms in the 21st century. It combines the analytic with the emotional, fact with inspiration, process with gratitude, and output with joy. Still, there seems to be only a handful of leadership development organizations that are taking advantage of the Waldorf methodology. One such organization is Leadership-Masters, a New York/London-based firm that creates “leadership theater” modules such as “The Mandela Architecture”, “The Churchill Chronicles” and “The Shackleton Experience”. Leadership-Masters also creates interactive immersion modules such as “The Authentic Journey” and “Frank Lloyd Wright: Conceive, Inspire, Build”.  Another firm that utilizes Waldorf-style theatrical principles is the Boston-based Ariel Group.  Using an approach borrowed from Shakespeare, the Ariel Group teaches leadership presence both visually and emotionally, which anchors learning deep into the psyche and produces immediate results. Another organization that employs the Waldorf method is Brave New Workshop, a Minneapolis-based group of improvisational artists who excel in corporate messaging: bringing emotional and creative contexts to mission statements and corporate initiatives.

What differentiates Waldorf-style learning from all other methods is the amount of emotional impact on the student. Other differentiating factors are the anchors that such an impact can produce, and the life of the “resonance”. According to General Mills’ Chief Learning Officer Kevin Wilde, “We ran our ‘Building Great Leaders’ program over two years ago, and people still stop me in the hallway every day to talk about ‘The Shackleton Experience’. That’s how powerful that module was for General Mills.”  John Gumpert of Praxair had similar praise for the Ariel Group: “We are an engineering culture.  What we lack, at times, is emotion and inspiration. Ariel helps us to appreciate the immense amount of positive energy and inspiration that Praxair supplies to the world.”

Perhaps the reason why so few learning and development organizations have embraced the Waldorf method is because there is limited demand. According to Steve Mercer, former Director of Education at GE Crotonville: “Human beings find it easier to look for flaws in the assembly line than they do looking for flaws in themselves. At GE, while we were promoting six sigma, we also introduced “The Mandela Architecture” and workshops with the Ariel Group in order to create balance. There was a lot of resistance to the “soft skills”, but those creative programs paid the highest dividends.”

Job satisfaction in the United States is at an all-time low.  According to the Harvard Business Review, citing a 2011 Conference Board survey: “Employees are the unhappiest they have been in the 22 years of tracking job satisfaction.” It would therefore follow that if job satisfaction is at an all-time low, learning and development must be at an all-time low. Perhaps what is needed is a good, old-fashioned, revolutionary new approach to business learning. When Rudolph Steiner created his teaching system in 1919, I wonder if even he could have imagined the impact and the resonance that has grown quietly throughout the world for nearly a century. I also wonder if he could have imagined the learning organizations, such as Leadership-Masters, the Ariel Group, and Brave New Workshop, that have adopted his principles. Perhaps he did.  After all, for Steiner, it was all about the limitless power and wonder of human imagination.

Wright Title Card_Conceive, Inspire, Build