Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders with Scott Allen

Dr. Aidan Harney & Dr. Jonathan Reams - Passionately Detached Curiosity

January 25, 2023 Scott J. Allen Season 1 Episode 159
Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders with Scott Allen
Dr. Aidan Harney & Dr. Jonathan Reams - Passionately Detached Curiosity
Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Aidan Harney serves as Global Talent Management & Leadership Development manager for Intel Corporation’s Fabrication, Sort & Manufacturing, or FSM, division.  This is a 12,000-strong organisation, responsible for the production of all internal Intel silicon using some of the world’s most advanced manufacturing processes. Since joining Intel in 2014, Aidan has held various roles in Leadership Development, Organizational Development, and Talent Management. In his most recent role, he was responsible for developing Intel’s enterprise-wide executive development curriculum – Leading Now – as well as the Ireland Leadership Development ‘Accelerator’ program to enable Project BlueJay, the latest manufacturing expansion in Ireland, paving the way for the production of Intel’s new 7nm process technology.

Aidan is an ‘Intel Achievement Award’ recipient (the highest annual recognition Intel can bestow on its employees) for his work on designing and deploying Intel’s ‘Managing @ Intel’ program to all 13,000 people managers in all global locations across the corporation.  Aidan earned his Ph.D. from Munster Technological University in Cork in, Ireland. His doctoral research focused on the aspects of mindset which differentiate outstanding leaders operating in complex environments. 

He resides in Ireland with his partner, Raphael, and they have family in Ireland, Australia, and Brazil. Aidan enjoys hosting dinners for friends, spending time in the great outdoors in Ireland, and volunteering with two organizations: Sport Ireland, which enables participation in sports for people of all abilities and ages, and ‘Aware,’ which supports people affected by depression and bipolar disorder.  Aidan’s dog Harry – a tea-cup Yorkshire Terrier – is 16 years old and weighs 4 lbs!

A Quote From This Episode

"One of the greatest themes of my work with senior leaders - whether it was leaders from financial services, engineering, retail, or even academia - was that they wish they had led with less fear and more intentionality during their quest, which I think is a profound and fascinating finding."

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

More About Series Co-Host, Dr. Jonathan Reams

About  Scott J. Allen

My Approach to Hosting

  • The views of my guests do not constitute "truth." Nor do they reflect my personal views in some instances. However, they are important views to be aware of. Nothing can replace your own research and exploration.

About The International Leadership Association (ILA)

  • The ILA was created in 1999 to bring together professionals interested in the study, practice, and teaching of leadership. 

Note: Voice-to-text transcriptions are about 90% accurate, and conversations-to-text do not always translate perfectly. I include it to provide you with the spirit of the conversation.

Scott Allen  0:00  
Okay, everybody, welcome to another episode of Phronesis. We are continuing this series. I have my co-host, Jonathan Reams, and we're talking about a book that he edited called Maturing Leadership, this intersection between adult development and leadership. And today, our guest is Dr. Aidan Harney. He is the former director of continuing professional development for engineers, Ireland, the professional body for engineers and technicians in Ireland. And he currently holds a leadership development role for the greater Europe region with Intel Corporation, where he is responsible for crafting more effective strategic and systematic approaches to the selection, assessment, and development of senior leadership and their successors. Aidan, we are so thankful that you are here with us today. We are excited about the conversation. What else do the listeners need to know about you before we jump into the heart of our dialogue, sir?

Aidan Harney  0:59  
No, I think you've given me a very nice intro there. Scott. It's always nice when you get your mother to write your introduction. Right. It's so glowing.

Scott Allen  1:07  
He's a very good boy.

Aidan Harney  1:09  
Exactly. Yeah, I guess it's great just to be here with you, Scott, having listened back over, you know, the great podcast series. And I got to know Jonathan through a really nice conference some years ago. So I'm just delighted to be here and excited to chat with both of you.

Scott Allen  1:25  
Well, so you have written this chapter in the book that was edited by Jonathan and Jonathan, I'm going to turn it over to you. I know you have some questions that you are itching to get to.

Jonathan Reams  1:35  
That is correct, Scott. So this is a way of context for the audience. I was in London at the European Society for Research in Adult Development conference in 2018, sitting around and waiting for the next presenter, and Aidan got up on stage and started talking, and the more I listened, the more I got curious because he was using this word. And I'm not quite sure what it is conation. Did I get it? Right? What does it mean? How do I piece together what he's saying and what it means? So I don't sound totally unintelligent about it. That really drove a kind of relationship of learning more about that by looking at Aidan's Ph.D. and inviting him to contribute a chapter to the book. Before we jump into the conation topic, and you want to tell us a little bit about the background of your work at Intel?

Aidan Harney  2:31  
Yeah, great. Thanks, Johnson. I guess I've been at Intel on there for about nine years. And it really is interesting. I know, it's on the way to Ohio, Scott; we were just saying. And you know, it's one of the most fascinating places on the planet still, 54 years later. What I love about Intel is that essence of the early core values from the founding fathers and mothers, we still really feel it, you know, everybody is expected to, on the one hand, deliver great results, and everybody's expected to be innovating other moonshot doing something that's fearless in terms of innovation. It's definitely a great place to work, very energizing place to work, and I've had a number of roles there, Jonathan, working with great leaders and great teams. But whether it's at a country level, or regional level, or business unit level, really what we're about is looking at the strategy and saying, "Okay, over the next couple of years, where do we need leadership capabilities? And what's the leadership capacity that we need?"

Scott Allen  3:28  
Engineer by training? Are you an engineer, sir?

Aidan Harney  3:31  
No, I'm not an engineer, Scott. But that's really, really fascinating. I do feel like an engineer. For most of my career, prior to Intel, I worked with a number of roles in Engineers Ireland, which, again, is just a great community of innovation and connection. And there, I was the director of their continuing professional development. So my background is in education, leadership, learning, and development. But what we designed and deployed was a beautiful government-backed scheme. We got to imagine this for ten years, Scott and John, got to go into really innovative engineering organizations, codify and document what was so good about their leadership, their learning, and their OD practices, and then port that to an organization that wanted to get better, sometimes really radical results. So those ten years for me were hugely formative in terms of my personal and professional development. But what I began to notice because I got so close to the C-Suite leaders and engineers who deliver some amazing mega projects. So again, I think back to it, you know, you're talking airlines, hospitals, bridges, the Olympics, because a lot of Irish engineers go international. What was it that these quite exceptional leaders were doing differently in these highly complex, dynamic megaprojects compared to leaders who are sort of doing okay? And it was just a burning curiosity, Scott, as a non-engineer, as somebody who is steeped in engineering, and then, of course, I arrived at Intel. And we have, you know, mega fabs, seriously high volume production, using some of the greatest nanotechnology in the world, and a real passion for caring for Mother Earth. And I was okay. You know, here's just another example of these exceptionally exquisite leaders. What's going on? How are they delivering that? But that's what got me on this quest and started me into a period of full-time work. Part-time Ph.D., but I'm still alive.

Scott Allen  5:31  
We are thankful for that, sir!

Jonathan Reams  5:34  
I want to make a slight small detour. Just listen to what you said, Aidan, because my impression was that Ireland really was not in good shape not that long ago. And is this part of the kind of strategic investment to really build up the economy in Ireland?

Aidan Harney  5:53  
Yeah, exactly, Jonathan. So I think it predated that there were some amazing people that Engineers Ireland that you know had the foresight to say, "if we can tap into largely these amazing American multinationals and sort of glide on the coattails of their best practices, imagine what could happen with the indigenous Irish engineering organizations." Now, just so happened when I was there, Jonathan, that the economy tanked, absolutely crashed. But that's where we were able to see these organizations who could strategically deploy the power of leadership and learning to get through a period like that versus organizations who weren't equipped to do that at all. So you're absolutely right, Jonathan; it really comes into its own 2009-2009. And the decade after that.

Jonathan Reams  6:36  
That is a transition; I think because what I've learned and understand now about conation has a lot to do with "the will to action." So, could you maybe now introduce conation as a construct? And then why you chose it as a research topic?

Aidan Harney  6:55  
Yes, definitely. I guess we can dig into it. You can guide me to what degree we want to dig into Jonathan. But I noticed that with these amazing engineering leaders, deploying mega projects in highly complex environments was 1) yes, they were brilliant and bright in terms of their cognitive ability. That part of the mind. 2) Yes, they were great people, people, they had the social and emotional maturity and the relating, of course. But 3) there was something else going on. And it was around, right? Particularly when I got my arms around the literature. I spotted it was a real "aha" moment. For me, there was this other piece, and in the literature calls of conation, as you know, it's largely omitted from the literature. But when I spotted this other piece of how leaders set goals, how they pursue those goals, the actual nature of how to pursue those goals, and then finally, as they're doing that, how they're constantly growing and learning, reflecting? So ironically, in the western scholarly work, conation is quite omitted. But what I found, particularly through the great guidance of my supervisors, is when you go to Eastern literature, it's absolutely core and central to leadership. And I often quote that tome by Yuval Harari (I hope I'm pronouncing his name correctly), Sapiens. So you know everything about human history and how we arrived and how we got to work. But in the last couple of sentences, the real question, he says, facing us as humankind is not "what do we want to become? But what do we want to want?" So we're goal-driven, forward-driven human beings, and conation being so omitted. It's a huge part of the jigsaw that we sometimes leave out when you think about leadership. 

Jonathan Reams  8:37  
So this drove you then to want to study this in the context of these leaders who were doing exceptional work? How did you get access? How did you formulate, you know, kind of scoping out how to actually do good research on this?

Aidan Harney  8:56  
Great question. So I guess it might be worth digging into just the definition of conation a little bit more, Jonathan, so that I know. And I've tried to describe it to my nephews and nieces. And my brother is still up, get I still don't get it. Before we go to the research piece, based on experience, I'm going to step us through the three components of conation. And the first one, as I mentioned, is that goal-orientated piece. So it's really, you know, some very often overlooked because we are all so goal-orientated. But it's really that ability to think about what intentionally is the direction in that I want to invest my energy in. And, you know, we very often don't stop and think like that, but these exquisite leaders tend to do that. And, like it or not, we've all gotta go. As somebody said to me once, even a Buddhist monk, who's striving to have no desires or wants or needs in life, that's a goal. So so, we just can't get away from it. The fact is that because it's ever-present, we tend to overlook it. So I argue very powerfully that our goal orientation has a huge impact on outcomes. Ultimately, the second piece is just the perseverance, mental toughness, the hardiness with which we pursue those goals, particularly when it comes to ambiguous environments. And that becomes a huge differentiator for leaders, the ambiguous, highly dynamic environments. And the third part is just that ability to as you work through a challenging goal and pursue that challenging goal. To what degree can you practice the third part, which is the ability to stand back and reflect on how you're doing, particularly the impact the journey is having a view on others and, ultimately, on society? This comes back to touching off the topic, Jonathan & Scott, is the moral element of conation. It's very connected to ethical and moral considerations.

Scott Allen  10:58  
I'm reading, you know, you mentioned the book by Harari, and I just finished 21 Lessons for the 21st Century - just a quick side plug, incredible book, fascinating read. But I'm reading a book by Ray Dalio right now, who was the founder of Bridgewater, and so much of his practices of developing these principles of how the world works, how management works, how an investment works, and how countries and economic institutions work and making a connection in my own mind to his process as he's trying to figure out these puzzles. He's constantly trying to identify principles and reflecting and staying in it, and entering these very gnarly spaces and trying to figure them out and trying to identify principles and reflecting in action. Right? To make sense of what's happening. Is that dancing around some of this?

Aidan Harney  11:55  
No, that's hitting the nail on the head, Scott, because for me, that's what the moral conation piece is about; as a leader, have you got what I call moral fortitude or the moral fiber? We get that from common sense language you have got the moral fiber to enter into two things you might remember before Twitter, we had dialogue, and we had a debate, right? Remember those things? Being able to enter into those realms and examine those issues and those ethics and those values and, and come away from something that seemed intractable, Scott, as you said, but actually have a much deeper understanding of how we can make progress. And that isn't through just, you know, reasoning cognitively. And it isn't through wonderful social and emotional relations, although they're a part of it. It's also, I think, this conation piece, this moral fiber to go into those environments and continue to pursue them to an outcome that allows all of us to flourish, I guess.

Scott Allen  12:49  

Jonathan Reams  12:50  
So you mentioned perseverance too, and that stood out for me. And, in relation to that, you talked about perseverance in the face of ambiguity. And right away, what comes to mind for me...How did you conceptualize or what did you find out about either through literature review or your research about different levels of conation or conative intelligence?

Aidan Harney  13:16  
That's fabulous, Jonathan, so I think that element of conative intelligence is probably something that really comes on stream as a higher order ability, as what academics might call the post-conventional leadership tier, or what common sense people might, you know, sort of say, you know, it's just an exceptional leader, and a North Star? Somebody who we all aspire to be and somebody who has that range. But what the literature says is that there are broadly three levels, and we could call it you know, in terms of the literature, you've got the formal level, then the more systematic level, and then the more meta-systematic level, connected to your ambiguity question, Jonathan. And I think really, you know, understanding the literature and understanding those different levels. Yes, my key question came to be between leaders operating in these highly complex, dynamic environments, delivering results that are fruitful for them, their organizations, and society, compared to some other leaders who are operating well but tend to struggle when it comes to highly ambiguous environments. But what was the lived experience of this? So I really entered into it, you know, as a process of discovery. And the application of good adult development theory really helped me in terms of triangulating an understanding of those leaders and further rather than what we were experiencing. So the process of finding those leaders, Jonathan, was really interesting. Thankfully, having worked with Engineers Ireland, I had access to this, you know, just an unrivaled group of C-suite leaders. So in terms of purposive sampling, I was able to assess those leaders by looking at their annual reports, looking at their results, but more broadly, seeing how they have got recognition from a really diverse range of stakeholders across society, not just one segment. But how have they been recognized, written about, and potentially rewarded? And so that made them quite exceptional in terms of their achievements. Two, Jonathan, I just got all of them to take at least one and, in some cases, two sentence completion tests. So then I had, you know, a really good estimation of where the where, and the third part of that triangulation was the discovery work that I, I use the set method, master's level. And so a Ph.D. level, again, it was just a really detailed content analysis, not only what they were saying, but the sort of sub-layers and the context of how they were saying it and the context in which they're saying it. So that led me to be able to identify, borrowing from Eigel and Kuhnert's Leadership Development Levels, okay, which was "Leadership Development Level - Four (LDL4)." So broadly, the self-authoring leaders are achiever leaders, and who was "Leadership Development Level - Five (LDL5)"...those post-conventional or strategist leaders. And I interviewed all of them. So then I was able to compare, gosh, what's the lived experience of both of these groupings of LDL4 and LDL5 leaders, and yeah, they're just some really fascinating results, Jon...

Jonathan Reams  16:16  
Share some of those results! Now we are curious to hear!

Scott Allen  16:21  
You just left us on a cliff there!

Aidan Harney  16:25  
I think there might be three, as I've described, and as I've worked in real-time, as a pracademic, with leaders in the industry, and through coaching outside of my work at Intel, I think it's really three things that have come up for me if I summarize differences between these LDL4 and LDL5 leaders. And the first one is around what we talked about, which is the motivation piece. And the difference in motivation was really interesting, and that LDL4 leaders tend to have a very clear purpose that they're wedded to, and it serves them incredibly well. Very often, what I found was they described it as a "purpose in life." And I call that out because it has a really strong sort of emotional, almost semi-religious overtone to it, that this is my purpose in life. And, and we all know that that can serve a leader incredibly well, particularly in competitive environments, even you know, some athletes, I interviewed competing with myself, business people, you know, it's got a real binary nature to which, you know, winners, losers, bigger, smaller, faster, slower...all of that. And, what I call the "purpose trap" was the really interesting thing that happens between those who can sort of get out of that orbit of LDL4 and let themselves rise into LDL5 where LDL5, it's less driven and so wedded that that purpose, when things change, or the dynamic shift, or there's a whole series of polarities that rise up, being so wedded to that purpose doesn't allow me the flexibility and the spaciousness to handle that. But an LDL5 leader is much more described by a term, a quest-based leadership philosophy. So I'm on this journey; I might hold my purpose, or my purpose in life, quite lightly. You know, I used to be really wedded to it. Now I hold it lightly. And as I move along, I've got some values that are really important to me. But I'm really, really focused on this big word, Jonathan & Scott, which is my "intentionality," because I need to be really, you know, quite a evaluate my environment; there's me as a leader, but I've also got followership,  and I've also got the environment,  and I've also got chance, and look as well as strategy. So when you put all of that into the mix as an LDL5 leader, I'm holding purpose lightly. I've got values that guide me, but I've got a real strong intentionality to life. And that intentionality is a certain flavor to it, which we can talk a little bit about as well.

Jonathan Reams  18:57  
Just an observation; listen to that distinction. I get the feeling also that there's probably a sense of dialogue or dialectic with life that you're looking for signs and purposes revealing itself in ever-unfolding ways.

Scott Allen  19:14  
Well, and Jonathan, to that point there, I mean, if you explore some of Dalio's where it gets really interesting because he'll say, "You know what, I've developed this way of thinking, but I am now going to stress test that thinking with the world's best leaders, put it in the center of the table, knock down, drag out, discuss, see if it is in fact, you know, it holds," and he's very open to that he's very open to the quest of truth quote-unquote, versus it being him that is the founder of it, so to speak.

Aidan Harney  19:51  
Scott, I love that, so please don't edit it out because the flavor of the intentionality and LDL5 was this sort of unfurling. I have a really radical and extreme curiosity. Yes. So Jonathan as my amazing editor for the anthologyGnosis, it's their meeting; making the structure of these LDL5 leaders is a quest for finding differences and divergence, a quest for actually just opening up to wider interests. And that discovery piece that you mentioned, Scott, and then a quest to tap back into a whole constellation of amazing others, not just those who have been learning from others, to really see, is there another way to lead in this environment? What's my quest calling for now? So I love this stitch you put in there, Scott, so So hopefully, we don't lose it in the edits.

Scott Allen  20:36  
keep it in? Keep it in?

Jonathan Reams  20:39  
Well, and that, you know, you have a nice table here in the chapter in that describes the conative intelligence component quite well. But you also talk about conative complexity and conative capability. Could you say a little bit more about those and how you notice distinctions between the different leaders?

Aidan Harney  21:03  
Yeah, well, we might take those two others and unpack them. So I really focus there and that sort of motivation that comes on stream. So the motivation becomes the motivation of curiosity and real intentionality about growth to learning that I guess the other two parts Jonathan, that volition piece, or that "ability to pursue" that we mentioned, the real marked difference between those l DL4 leaders who are, you know, amazing, but there are LDL5 leaders who can sustain greatness in high complexity, it actually, ironically becomes their ability to know when to engage in "goal disengagement." Or, as some of them said, to me, sort of "optimal quitting." So this is the big, interesting difference in terms of the perseverance they develop a new kind of tenacity, and the tenacity, to know when to detach from something that you're passionate about.

Jonathan Reams  21:59  
Well, and this seems to me very much what we were just discussing around the intention. And in relation to the purpose. It's like you're listening for cues from the universe of when you need to reconsider or change tack in some way.

Aidan Harney  22:14  
Absolutely great stories from leaders, one amazing Spanish boss of an incredible alternative energy organization, who I still am in touch with, shared this really rich example of how she's engaged, predominantly, her organization was engaged in South America. And it still is to a hugely successful degree. But that ability, Johnson to pursue a certain, again, piece of technology that seemed like a great product, and seemed like it was going to be the sort of blockbuster product. But as they got to know their customers, and as they leaned in and learned more about the market, there came a really interesting point for her as the boss of this organization; she had to say, "guys, as we've learned, I think we need to learn to pull back and disinvest with this. And actually, what we're learning is, this market is far more orientated towards this kind of alternative energy," that you know, and now, of course, everyone's talking about this, and it's coming to fruition. But this is, you know, five to 10 years ago in terms of my research, so just a great example of a leader who can be passionately detached, to the degree that she can course correct, and bring her her organization and her people with her. And again, the outcome of that, Jonathan, in terms of conative intelligence, is ultimately the best result for the organization. And very much the best result for the society that that organization is embedded in, in Spain and South America.

Scott Allen  23:36  
Aidan, there's a mindset there. Again, what was the phrasing you used? Was it passionately detached? Again, there's a mindset of where it's the quest that is the ultimate objective that we are trying to capture versus my doing so or me or I; it's that puzzle that's fascinating and driving that purpose. I just love it. I love it.

Jonathan Reams  24:05  
That relates a little bit to some of, you know, what we see in other parts of the book in terms of how people are studying leaders making this transition to this much more meta-systematic or post-conventional phase. And I was thinking of David Day's work around leader identity. And I think this is a big fundamental part of this shift too because, at LDL4, the leader identity is more of something that people are embedded within almost they are really...that purpose that identity is how they...their North they guide themselves in the world. As we're this transition seems to indicate the ability to be more fluid, dynamic, and flexible, to not be embedded in a fixed identity, but have a more creative sense of unfolding identity in relation to a larger context and a sense of purpose in the world, and then to turn around, and maybe the conative pieces to then are, in fact in service of that.

Aidan Harney  25:12  
Yeah, I love that Jonathan and act in service of it. And also, maybe the third major finding from my research is this, how does the reflexibility piece change between LDL4 and LDL5? I think what you're both alluding to really, very starkly, and quite profoundly, and it still sort of lives with me today, that the greatest difference between LDL4 and 5 I found from leaders is talking to Him that very often an LDL5 leader reflecting back on how they lead at LDL4. The number of times that they're related, this strove to be, you know, number one market leader or to, you know, kill off the competition or to be hugely successful, or whatever it might be. A lot of that was grounded in a sort of sense of fear that they may not have been able to tap into at LDL4, but rising up or dropping down to LDL5, they were able to see it with a different perspective. And I would say one of the greatest themes of my work with those senior leaders was actually their sort of reflection, whether it was leaders from financial services, engineering, retail, or even academia that they wish they had led with less fear and more intentionality during their quest, which I think is a really profound and fascinating finding.

Jonathan Reams  26:32  
Yeah. And as I was listening to that, I also wondered is part of their reflection was that they became more aware of their own shadows and took those into account or even leaned into trying to learn from them as we're at level four; they're kind of trying to pull them off and be afraid of them?

Aidan Harney  26:52  
I think so, Jonathan because I think that curiosity that they open up to obviously has got to be a much deeper curiosity about their own leadership identity. And again, you know, the phrase elder sticks with me; one leader has said, you know, I, I striving for about eight years to get our organization to number one. And you know, what happened when we got to number one? The fear increased even more! What was going to happen if we got toppled off number one and were back at number two, three, or four in the market? So, I think it's that ability to be curious about all those other elements of life and leadership we mentioned, but definitely, Jonathan, to go deep and think about, you know, what is the core of my leadership identity? And what again, back to the first part of conation, what motivation is truly driving past? And, again, it's a great coaching discussion with leaders where I've gotten to that although we tag fear or feel fear as an emotion, I think fear is much true, and we've never, or rarely think about this; I think fear is much more truly a motivation, that, you know, it's a desire to be successful, it's a desire to be, you know, the best it's a desire to be...and that motivation actually drives a funny kind of dynamic that if we can step back from that and have broader intentionality about...are we growing others? Are we allowing society to flourish? Are we doing something that's great for our stakeholders but also grateful? That kind of thing that just broadens out the sort of forcefield, I say, that's around the leader. And it becomes one that isn't motivated by fear, but one that's motivated by, you know, far more fruitful things, principally, curiosity, as I said.

Jonathan Reams  28:33  
Yeah, and I remember, curiosity was one of the things that really kind of emerged from your findings, and it's interesting because some work that I've been doing lately is looking at the relationship between fear and curiosity. And I was thinking of what you just said in relation because I use Eigel and Kuhnert's book in leadership courses I teach and the phrase to lean into the challenge as a way to accelerate or address development. So if I hear you right, you're reframing fear as something from something to avoid to something to lean into and be curious about and learn from.

Aidan Harney  29:21  
Definitely, I think, for me, the curiosity piece in terms of practicalities, you know, we've constructed a lovely little workshop that we tend to embed in a lot of the leadership development that we do. And at the heart of that is, what can you do to augment your level of curiosity? Because that's going to open doors all over the place? And you know, many leaders I work with, we begin a conversation, and yeah, they feel that they're wildly curious beings, and that's gotten to where they are today. But then, when we look at, okay, what are your routines? What's your weekend like? What are your meeting practices like? You know, what music do you listen to, what books do you read or not read, and suddenly, gosh, there's a whole spectrum of curiosity that I haven't opened up to yet. And I think that really is allowing them to move away from, again, this idea of I get them to write down, if possible, this is my purpose in life that has served me well to date. Now I can I have that, and I can place it very gently and safely there. But then I get them to ask trusted others, typically their spouse or their loved ones, about this purpose in life. Do you think this is what the current quest I'm on is still calling from me? Or do you think there's more spaciousness? I'm curious to learn there more than I've been called to do as a leader, aside from this purpose in life that I attached to some time ago? And that tends to open up some really interesting conversations. And then I ask them to just go get curious, think about the food you eat, think about the travel you do, think about you turn left or right when you leave the house to go for a walk, and so just start building that part of the mind.

Jonathan Reams  30:57  
You've talked a little bit now, Aidan, about, what you've learned from the research, and you're tapping now into how you've been applying that. Do you have a simple model you use with leaders in coaching? How do you work with this now that you've done all this work and have all this in your toolkit, so to speak?

Aidan Harney  31:17  
So I think it's those sort of using those elements of the buffet and applying them, where are we kind of different ways. So again, it's if we think about the whole different elements of conative capability that connect together, it's one really tuning into your value set. So thinking again about your values afresh, what I really asked myself to do is think about your values, not so much as really tight-knit values, but more sort of things that can sit at ends up poles and polarities. And this is the channel that you can navigate within; this is the sort of locus of concern that you can broaden yourself out to. And again, that's sort of the first part is just really thinking about your intentionality. And where I find that really useful, Scott and Jonathan, particularly for engineering leaders, which is sort of my world - if you're working on a mega project, all those elements that we mentioned, the hospital, the motorway, the airline, that national broadband, whatever it might be. The impact you're delivering has got to be broad and vast across society. So the range of your values, and the way you experience them, I think, has got to be equally broad and equally able to move along those poles appropriately...Depending on the situation you find yourself in and where you want to move to in that range. So that tends to be the first place I start, Jonathan, getting leaders back again to think really deeply about the values, but the expansiveness of the values that are driving their intentionality.

Jonathan Reams  32:48  
So as you're describing that, I can just imagine, and some of the scope of projects you kind of alluded to throughout the conversation, that to lead successfully in the adaptive challenges that those situations bring, leaders would need to have some both knowledge about, but a genuine interest in empathy for different stakeholder needs different concerns, different constituents. And so it sounds like that broadening is really helpful for them in being able to show up in all these different areas they need to.

Scott Allen  33:24  
Well, we've used some words that I just absolutely love in this conversation. And I mean, as we began to kind of wind down our time, you know, just the word intentionality. And Goleman had a wonderful metaphor in an article; he wrote this as a Harvard Business Review article; it might have been, I don't know, maybe 12 years ago, but I think it was called Leadership That Gets Results. But it was that golf bag metaphor, where here I am on the course, am I intentionally choosing a tool and using it, right? And depending on the level we're at, or depending on the situation we're in, here's the tool, and I'm being intentional about how I show up. And then that that curiosity that just fundamental belief and understanding that I can't possibly see at all I don't have all of the expertise. Going back to Dalio, he calls it...he calls it "Radically open-minded," that I might be missing something, that I might not see something that's a possibility, though a very real possibility. So that curiosity that Wergin would call "humble curiosity." You're confident, but you're also humble about it. Right?

Jonathan Reams  34:34  
Well, our drill shines "humble inquiry,"..." accessing your ignorance." Yes. And I find that that's a very helpful thing for leaders to say, "you don't have to be attached to this identity that you need to know all the time. If you can also tap into the integrity of your unknowingness. This is a very different place." And I think some of the things you've talked about Aidan have really tapped into that kind of quality of beingness that these leaders seem to anchor themselves in.

Scott Allen  35:08  
Well, and Aidan, you've really helped me better...maybe I was just ready to hear it this morning; I don't know. But you've helped me better construct in my own mind what that LDL5, or what, you know, Kegan's, stage five would look like in an individual; you've helped me begin to parse that out a little more clearly, which I really, really appreciate. Because, you know, how the conversation goes, we get through the first four. It's like, and then there's five, which is a whole nother level. We don't really know what that is. Yeah, you might disagree with me, Jonathan. I don't know. He's for listeners. He's nodding like he does disagree with me a little bit...

Aidan Harney  35:56  
And Scott and Jonathan, I know we're winding down. But I'm going to add to the really good tracking curiosity because conation then drives leaders to do something with that to make a decision to take some action to try and experiment. So again, I think the other thing we can leave listeners with is to use the curiosity and then have the courage to try something, you know, the practice or the Praxis piece. In other words, I'm finding wisdom "in the doing" that, hopefully, you want to come back to do. I'm doing it from wisdom. So for me, I think I will put a cap on it that conation should push right through to something that I think is critical for leaders that make a decision. Try it, experiment, and learn loopback again.

Jonathan Reams  36:38  
Yep. And this sounds like perseverance and even moral fiber because you're not always sure that you're doing the right thing. When you're experimenting on the edge, and you're listening for clues. What is the universe feeding back to you...How can you course correct and persevere through the setbacks?

Aidan Harney  36:58  
That's because we're on a quest Jonathan, rather than there's a beautifully predefined purpose in life that travels with me through the entire span of my adulthood. That's unlikely.

Scott Allen  37:09  
And I think that requires some unlearning on the part of how people construct the role of leaders or leadership, am I the person who elevates the right questions for us to explore, for us to really inquire on and have that difficult conversation vs. am I the person who has all the answers? Right? And sometimes it could be that, but sometimes it's, "am I emerging the right questions for the group to work on?" Right?

Jonathan Reams  37:39  
Well, and I think something that this touches on is that I think Aidan, your explanation of LDL5 that Scott alluded to helps unpack for me as well and for listeners. But what we're trying to do is understand what the models for meeting the highly complex challenges and demands that leaders are faced with today are. And there needs to be almost a deconstruction of the models in the sense of identity. And that's part of this transition from LDL4 to 5 is you really have to lose yourself. And having the conation to push through and persevere with that deconstruction of a sense of self, all the things that made you successful suddenly fall by the wayside to a degree, and as you're called to the next level in the quest, you got to reinvent yourself. And that is work that requires perseverance (and loss). And I know we're trying to wind down we are but

Scott Allen  38:50  
We are, but it keeps going. It's awesome. But there's fear in what you're letting go of... there's loss, and what you're letting go of, there's, I mean, it can be a scary, dark, and gray wilderness. Right?

Jonathan Reams  39:01  
Yeah. And so, what did you hear interviewing these leaders about this transition? About what helped them in that journey?

Aidan Harney  39:10  
Well, I think that's a great question to finish on, Jonathan, because my research, to be very transparent, was comparing the mark differences between the lived experience of LDL4 and LDL5 leaders. I think the next part of my research is a question really about, you know, "what is it that enables that transition? What is the fuel for that transition?" But what allows you to get through that scary piece that Scott's mentioning, but also the magic of opening up to that curiosity? What is it that, and I think it's that journey along that trajectory? That's, you know, again, poses lots and lots of questions that we'd have to spend 45 more minutes teasing out!

Jonathan Reams  39:48  
Well, and then I can say one of the other conversations we had in this series actually focuses on that transition. So we will, in the whole spectrum of things we will touch on all these, and it would be lovely to get everybody together to have a really big group conversation. But maybe that's a whole other series, Scott.

Scott Allen  40:11  
Well, Aidan, I so appreciate it when I am having a conversation. I know Jonathan feels the same way; with an individual who uses the term pracademic, I hold that in incredibly high esteem, and the individual who is steeped in the literature and steeped in organizational life - close to work and watching this play out. I just want to say thank you; I have great respect for what you're doing. Because it's not just some thought experiment. You're living it. You're seeing it; you're breathing it. And I think it's such an incredibly valuable perspective to have in the conversation. And so thank you for your work.

Aidan Harney  40:52  
Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for having me here, Scott. And Jonathan. Great to see you again. I really enjoyed that chat, and I look forward to the next time we get to have lunch or brunch, face-to-face Jon.

Scott Allen  41:02  
Before we go, what have you been listening to streaming? What's caught your attention recently? It could have something to do with what we've discussed. It could have nothing to do with what we've discussed. But what's caught your eye recently?

Aidan Harney  41:13  
Well, I think there are two things interesting I have in front of me, but I'm only on page 52. But it's a cracker so far, the latest book from Jennifer Garvey Berger and Carolyn Coughlin's Unleash Your Complexity Genius: Growing Your Inner Capacity to Lead. If it's anything like Jennifer's other literature, it's going to be a corker, and by page 52, I've already got two major insights. Actually wrote her an email yesterday to say that. So I highly recommend that. And you know, the other thing I did recently, Scott and Jonathan, almost by accident, I think it's from 1971, the Marvin Gaye album, What's Going On? It just, it just came on my Spotify list. But if you listen back to that album, and the sentiment and the lyrics in it, and then and then placed in the year 2022, I had a slightly out-of-body experience, listen to the lyrics and the topics he's bringing up. And some of the difficulties pointed to from 1971. I just, you know, 40 years later, it's still so relevant. So if you're a music fan, go back and put that on.

Scott Allen  42:12  
Okay, okay. Well, thank you. Well, thank you. Well, Jonathan, I hope you have this. For me. It was the start of my day. So this is a great way to start my day for the two of you. It's kind of mid-day. Jonathan, are you still holding down the fort in Norway?

Jonathan Reams  42:26  
I'm holding down the fort in Norway.

Scott Allen  42:31  
Okay, well, Aidan, Jonathan, thank you so much for the conversation today. Be well to the two of you. And for listeners. As always, thanks for checking in. Bye bye!

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