Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders with Scott Allen

Dr. Jonathan Reams - Leadership Development Laboratory

February 22, 2023 Scott J. Allen Season 1 Episode 163
Dr. Jonathan Reams - Leadership Development Laboratory
Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders with Scott Allen
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Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders with Scott Allen
Dr. Jonathan Reams - Leadership Development Laboratory
Feb 22, 2023 Season 1 Episode 163
Scott J. Allen

Dr. Jonathan Reams is driven by an insatiable curiosity about the essence of human nature and how to cultivate this essence in the service of leadership.

He uses various outlets to achieve this. He currently has a position at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, where he teaches and does research on leadership development, coaching, and counseling. He serves as Editor-in-Chief of Integral Review, A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal for New Thought, Praxis and Research. He is also a co-founder of the Center for Transformative Leadership and the European Center for Leadership Practice. Jonathan’s Ph.D. is in Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University.

Jonathan practices the cultivation of leadership through consulting and leadership development program design and delivery. He brings awareness-based technology to this work, focusing on how the inner workings of human nature can develop leadership capacities for today’s complex challenges. 

Quotes From This Episode

  • "Leaders create the weather, and it's often leaders' unconscious shadows that are the most active weather creation patterns."

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. 
Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Jonathan Reams is driven by an insatiable curiosity about the essence of human nature and how to cultivate this essence in the service of leadership.

He uses various outlets to achieve this. He currently has a position at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, where he teaches and does research on leadership development, coaching, and counseling. He serves as Editor-in-Chief of Integral Review, A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal for New Thought, Praxis and Research. He is also a co-founder of the Center for Transformative Leadership and the European Center for Leadership Practice. Jonathan’s Ph.D. is in Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University.

Jonathan practices the cultivation of leadership through consulting and leadership development program design and delivery. He brings awareness-based technology to this work, focusing on how the inner workings of human nature can develop leadership capacities for today’s complex challenges. 

Quotes From This Episode

  • "Leaders create the weather, and it's often leaders' unconscious shadows that are the most active weather creation patterns."

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  0:01  
Okay, everybody, welcome to the Phronesis podcast. And we are continuing with this series on the book that was edited by Jonathan Reams, and it's called Maturing Leadership. We are embedded in this conversation about a number of chapters from that edited volume, really exploring the intersection between adult development and leadership. And I'm excited today; you're becoming a regular sir. I think you will be the most, the most present scholar ever. On the Phronesis Podcast, I have Jonathan Reims, and he practices the cultivation of leadership through awareness-based practices in consulting, coaching, and action research on leadership, development, program design, and delivery. He has an Associate Professor position at the Norwegian University of Science, and Technology and serves as editor-in-chief of Integral Review. And as a co-founder of the Center for Transformative Leadership and the European Center for Leadership Practice. Jonathan, sir, how are you today we discuss your chapter in this edited volume!

Jonathan Reams  1:10  
Yeah, so I've been having so much fun being co-host and getting to engage the authors who I kind of invited into this. And now, it's my turn to tell my story. So I'm really looking forward to that. And I was thinking, you know, you often ask people, "What else do we need to fill in about the bio?" and I think, you know, that bio is getting old, and I need to update it. And it's true that I use the term awareness-based processes, but I think I need to find a better formulation now. There's certainly something about "awareness," but now it's pointing more towards a kind of metacognition and skill development and micro-learning. And there's something going on, but finding a nice simple synthesis, it's not there yet. So how about just "awesome, awesome, man?" Wouldn't that be kind of cool? 

No...that.brings me back. My kids went to this private junior high school and they had their friends over and my nickname was "Dr. Awesome."

Scott Allen  2:23  
Okay, there's a story there, tell it really quickly, and then we'll jump in. 

Jonathan Reams  2:27  
Okay, so they had a retreat and sleepover kind of thing. And I was out with some of these guys who were like 15, or something. And we were out on some back roads, I let them drive my car. And we're driving up this mountain road to a ski hill. So we're way up in the mountains, gravel road, big cliffs, and they're taking turns driving, I'm sitting in the back seat. And this one guy, you know, I say to him, "Hey, you might want to slow down, you know, is slippery around these corners, you know, and there's, you know, 100-foot cliff there." And he didn't really slow down and at some point, the car spun and did a couple of 360s and stop facing backward next to the cliff. And so I said, "turn the car off, pull the handbrake, hand me the keys, everybody gets out of the car." And one of the first things I said to him was, "good job," because he didn't take us over the cliff. And then I just calmly, calmly said, you know, "lets everybody get out of the car and take a walk for a moment." And they came back. And I think they were like, wow, he didn't freak out on us. And that was awesome.

Scott Allen  3:38  
Remind me not to have my children hanging out with yours! Oh, that's so awesome. That's funny. That's Dr. Awesome. Maybe that's all call the episode Doctor Awesome. Well, so your chapter is in this edited volume. I'm excited to kind of dive into that a little bit. And, listeners will really have a nice, as I understand it, this is a little more applied, correct?

Jonathan Reams  4:09  
Yes/And it's called Leadership Laboratory or something, Leadership Development Laboratory. The context is that here in Trondheim, the municipality was going through a big restructuring. And they had people who had like 40 or 50, direct reports and then realize they needed another layer in there. So they did some restructuring and created 800 new positions. And then they needed to train these people. And what they wanted was a kind of accelerator program for some core people who would both support the design and delivery of the program for the larger group. And somehow I got connected with the person responsible for this, and he thought, "oh, this sounds awesome." And gave us carte blanche, you know, we had a budget ceiling limit. But we had 16 people and says, "you can do whatever you want." Wow, cool. So we had this group of people for eight, nine months, I think we had 10 or 11 days with them, and we basically said, what are all the coolest things we can imagine doing and how would we put them together?

Scott Allen  5:26  
And that's what I mean, by 'applied.' I mean, you're so much of your life, I know you're doing both. But a lot of your life is engaging in conversations like this editing papers, it's really focused in on that academic side of the house. And now it's very much, "hey, let's put some of this stuff into practice. What are the coolest things we know about?" And so I'm excited to hear what you learned what you observed, and hear about this kind of laboratory.

Jonathan Reams  5:55  
So the first thing was really designing. Thinking, okay, "out of all the things that we have, what do we choose? How do we sequence them? How do we deploy them?" One of the first things I did was I wanted to use Lectica's developmental assessments, skill theory, and all these kinds of things. But I didn't want to make it an imposition. So what I did was I interviewed everybody prior to the program, okay? And this was to get to know them a bit, set some expectations, and do some orientation, and give them a case, a dilemma, and invite them to reflect on it. And so I would interview and record that for about an hour, transcribe it, and then we use that to develop a report, giving us a lot of information on how they're thinking, what their skills were in different areas, like how they thought about collaborating - what scope of contexts they thought about. How do they coordinate perspectives? What kind of process around decisions do they have? We got down all these kinds of things, then we let that sit in the background a bit. And to start, I took, I think, on another episode, we talked with Chuck Palus and John McGuire, we took their developmental action logic cards, the first day of the program, we gave people these cards and said, "look, pick a card or two that represents you five years ago, pick a card or two that represents you now and pick one that you where you'd like to be in five years, and then have a discussion on what is this journey like for you, and what's helping you on the way?" And just to give them this sense of leader development as a journey, and that they can recognize change over time and see where they aspire to.

Scott Allen  7:53  
Well, Jonathan, you've said a few things, just even in the first few moments of the podcast, that intrigued me. So you use the word that I absolutely love, its design, there's intentionality, there's a lot of forethought, there's a lot of care that's going into what this learning experience will be like. So you had me at "design," and then the fact that you spent some time with these, these 16 participants and got to know them, learned about them, built a relationship. I just think, obviously, you can't do that every time. But I think it's a really interesting way to even enter the space because you've developed this relationship with folks ahead of the formal learning experience. And then what a wonderful way to invite people into beginning to think about themselves, beginning to think about their quote/unquote, journeys, the activity that you mentioned, developed by Chuck and John. I mean, that's just it's so I liked I like it. I mean, it sounds very, very thoughtful and intentional.

Jonathan Reams  8:57  
Good. It was there was a lot of thought that went into it, and when you get the chance to play, you want to do it well. The next thing we did that day was set them up to take a 360. So one of the things we realized was important for them to get feedback on how their leadership is experienced by others in their environment. They need second-person perspectives, you know, they may have their own ideas of how they are/where they want to be, but they need a reality check. We did all the kind of logistics and orientation and then set them up, and then they had six weeks or so to get people to evaluate them and do their own.

Scott Allen  9:38  
How do you think about 360s Jonathan? What's your perspective on that conversation? I have not had an episode dedicated to the topic. How do you experience that as a tool?

Jonathan Reams  9:49  
For me, it's been really helpful, and I've used it in the leadership course I do at the University for 15 years now. I use the Leadership Circle 360. Primarily because it integrates Bob Keegan's work, it has that developmental kind of component. And it really shows the dynamic relationships between limiting beliefs and assumptions, and competencies. The other thing I think about it 360s are useful for is that self-assessment is notoriously poor. Now, for some people is better than others; some people are more self-aware. But for anybody, there can always be blind spots. And those are such rich opportunities for learning and development. And to be able to kind of map those out with some real data - and it's not the limits of these - they are "second person impressions." How do people interpret your behavior in their context? So it's not an absolute measure of stuff. But it gives a clear indication of how you are seen in your context. That gives people feedback that is relevant, and useful and the debriefing process. So the second gathering, we had three days, and we would do that they would get their feedback, we'd debrief them, and then we would do Immunity to Change (See Kegan and Lahey - Minds at Work) with them. Okay, because this would give us clues, and give them clues about limiting beliefs and assumptions, the Immunity to Change would take that further and really help make that richer, more robust understanding.

Scott Allen  11:34  
Well, and for listeners, the Immunity to Change activity, you can look up the book Immunity to Change by Robert Kegan/Lisa Lahey; we will put that link in the show notes. And there's actually training that the organization Minds at Work - will - you can participate in. And Jonathan, I know you've also done a review of that book. And we can put that in the show notes as well so that people can access that. But there's just a really wonderful opportunity. This is probably, for listeners, the Immunity to Change activity I'll never forget. This might be 2006. I'm at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard in this program put on by Ron Heifetz, called The Art and Practice of Leadership Development, and in the middle of this program, Robert Kegan comes walking in and takes us through the Immunity to Change exercise. And I'll never forget Jonathan; I was at a really, I was on the precipice of something. And I couldn't name it. And I, in some ways, wasn't in a great space. And this hit me at the perfect time. But he took us through the process, and I have this map. And I called him over. And I said, "is this what it's supposed to look like?" And he looked at me and said, "Yes." And I just got tears in my eyes. I mean, there was just I could finally observe and look at kind of the system at play. And, wow, I mean, I took that piece of paper. I brought it to my wife. I showed it to her. She was like, "yeah, yes!" And it was one of those moments, Jonathan, that, again, was just one of the most powerful learning exercises that I not only deliver but also participated in. So I love that you're including that work in the Immunity to Change exercise.

Jonathan Reams  13:20  
Well, I think you give a good illustration of the impact we saw it had on people in the program. And I use this in my university leadership course; I've got an article where we use it in a corporate program for about 400 leaders. So I've got some report on that, and I can give you the link to that too.

Scott Allen  13:42  
You're using Immunity to Change. You're using the Leadership Circle. I'm not familiar with that 360. I look forward to investigating that. But then that leads nicely into the Immunity to Change exercise.

Jonathan Reams  13:55  
Well, and I think what you described is, is what people experienced - they have a phenomenological felt sense of something that's holding them back or something that's not right. But they can't name it or talk about it; they are "subject" to it. Yes. And this process helps map that out in ways that get around internalized defense mechanisms. And gives names to things. And so people in the program found this so helpful. And then, we did a couple of coaching sessions individually for them based on this. So that was the first kind of phase of the program. We help them, and what we call it is we help them "clean up." Find out what is the impact you're having as a leader that you would not like to know you're not happy with and what's going on in you that's generating that? And what is that based on? And how do you kind of reveal that and clean it up a little bit? So that now you're in a position to look ahead and say, "Okay, now that I'm not held back by this, how can I go forward? How can I grow up after I've cleaned up?"

Scott Allen  15:11  
Wow. Well, Jonathan, I was I was saying to you before we started recording, I was in a day-long session yesterday that I was leading in my community for an organization. My guest, Doug Lindsay, on the podcast, had shared a quote by Bob Hogan from, you know, Hogan Assessments - "who you are as how you lead." And I mean, I love your visual of kind of "cleaning up" because when you ask participants, well, "what does that quote mean?" You know, people come back with things like authenticity or values, or they talk about personality. And I said, "Yes, all of that." Right? So if others are in your care, are you doing that work to ensure that you are the best version of yourself? The best possible self, and again, we're never going to be perfect, all of us have drawbacks and limitations, and we have strengths and we have challenges. But if others are in our care, I think we have a duty to, as you said, "clean up" and systematize that learning and systematize that process to take part in this these very, very challenging roles. Right?

Jonathan Reams  16:21  
Yeah. Well, it's that phrase that "leaders create the weather." It's often leaders and unconscious shadows that are the most active weather creation patterns.

Scott Allen  16:36  
Say more. Where did you get that?

Jonathan Reams  16:38  
No, it's just I've heard it around. Leaders create the weather is, you know, the metaphor for the culture for the holding environment for the space that is there that everybody's reacting to and finding themselves in. And it's often the unconscious projections of one's own needs or beliefs onto others. So another of the tools and models we use is the Arbinger Institute's work - Leadership and Self Deception, Anatomy of Peace, and The Outward Mindset. And they have a very simple but profound way of getting at that

Scott Allen  17:20  
Jonathan, there is a CEO in my community whose favorite book is Leadership and Self Deception. I've never read it, though. And I know nothing about the Arbinger Institute. So you're sharing several resources today I'm not familiar with. I'm curious about, it now that you've mentioned them because they're kind of pinging in a few different corners here. But would you talk a little bit about the Arbinger Institute?

Jonathan Reams  17:46  
My understanding is there's a Mormon philosopher named Terry Warner who spent a lot of time trying to understand core kind of philosophical issues in human challenges and came to a kind of Martin Buber-like notion that there's a fundamental difference between treating others as people and treating others as objects. Now, what triggers that? Because when we treat others as people, when we see them as whole people, if we see a need, we feel called to help. And we act on that, and then all as well. But sometimes, we will see a person, and we will feel called to do something, but we won't. And at that moment, we need to have a good reason why we didn't. We need to make ourselves okay. And then what happens is we naturally justify our lack of action by cutting away the wholeness of the other and making them a little more two-dimensional, we foreground some things that give us good reason not to, and we put in the background other aspects of the person. And that leads to all sorts of consequences. So what they talk about, though, why the first book was Leadership and Self Deception, is that once that has happened, it gets so deep into the lenses and filters through which we view others that we don't notice it. So we're not aware that we're deceiving ourselves.

Scott Allen  19:28  
I think that happened to me in the last couple of weeks.

Jonathan Reams  19:31  
It happens to us all the time, Scott. It's part of the, and it's a fundamental part of the human condition. But becoming aware of it and understanding what ways our waters typically signs of it? So the Leadership and Self-Deception book talks about being "in the box" or "out of the box," and they even talk about different kinds of boxes. So what are some typical patterns of thinking and acting that you can notice that are probably signs that your actions are driven more by a need to justify yourself rather than the others' actual situation?

Scott Allen  20:11  
You've listened to that episode with Dr. Akram Boutros from MetroHealth. I'm sure you were, you know, it talks about love, and that's one of his favorite books. I mean, it's just...

Jonathan Reams  20:21  
it's one of my favorites, too. So I use it in all the classes that I teach. So we introduced those concepts, to them, as a simple distinction, and they found that very useful because it's simple was easy to anchor on. There are some great simple resources and simple tools that you can use. So very briefly, this notion of a Collusion Map. Okay, as my friend calls it, "unintended collaboration."

Scott Allen  20:51  
I don't know; I've never heard of a Collusion Map.

Jonathan Reams  20:54  
Well, so it's a very simple thing. You know, there are four little four quadrants; you ask people, "so think of another that you have a conflict with" - "What do they do?"So you write down what they do, whether an individual or group, what are the behaviors, it's another department or another person, you know, and they do certain behaviors. Then you write, okay, "what do we see?" or "what do I see?" And it's basically what labels give - what judgments do you make when they're doing that? What names do you call them? - "They're stupid, they're lazy, they're ignorant," you know, whatever it is, depending on what they're doing. The third one is okay, "so if that's what you see, what do you do?" Well, "we do this, we do that, we take this action, we protect ourselves." Okay, that's great. Then you do the perspective-taking move and say, "well, if you're doing those things, what do you think they see?" Hmm. And then you start to see, okay, now, "if they see, though, that characteristic of your behavior, do you see a link between that and what they're doing?" And once you show people this, and I've never had it fail to work, once people see that, they go, "Wow," they go, "Oh!" and then say, Now, how can you intervene? Now that you're aware of this system of unintended collaboration, you know, everybody's making things worse because you think you're following a good logic, "because they're like this, we're doing that." Once you break that cycle, you create opportunities for other options, and you start seeing the person more holistically.

Scott Allen  22:46  
So it sounds Jonathan, like in a lot of your work. And we haven't gotten to other aspects of it yet, but you are working to situate people in themselves. Yeah, really do that work to help people look at themselves, see their behavior, better understand. And that's a starting place.

Jonathan Reams  23:13  
and the starting place. So this is "cleaning up." Now, if I return to the interviews I did at the beginning, all the data we got from this from the Lectical Assessment. I know you had a conversation with Theo Dawson - and it is basically - I've learned more from her about this than anybody. What we did next was we had a summer break and came back, and we had kind of one-day-a-month workshops. And we gave them criteria to bring a challenge or case from their workplace. And we had criteria because we said look, "there should be either be some conflict involved or messy complexity," or, you know, we gave them four or five things that it should meet at least two of these criteria should be challenging in some way. Okay, so they would bring that, and then what we would do is we would give them a small portion of feedback that says, "based on the way you talked about this case, where I interviewed you back, then you're likely thinking about communication or collaboration or conflict in these ways. And here is a slightly more mature, complex way of thinking about it and look, look at what the difference between these is and what would you do differently, and how would you apply that difference to your case?" We put them in groups that were based on them having similar kind of levels of thinking in that sense, and they loved that they said, "How did you know how to put us together?" Well, we had our magic formula, but they said, "we can finish each other sentences we recognize how much we think in similar ways similar patterns," because the underlying structure sure of their thinking was very similar. So they worked in small trios? Share their cases? Looked at the feedback and use that to kind of think of what would I do differently. Then we sent them out and said, "now you go practice that." Come back a month later than reflect - "OK, What happened? You did this; you applied it? What did you learn doing it differently?" Okay. Now, here you've either got a new case or the same case; here is another piece of feedback on a little different skill area - "now, can you apply that developmental growth edge difference here?" And we did this four times with them. And they got so addicted to this - so here in Norway lunches, 11:30, it's early - and they're very good at going for lunch - on time, right? But this one day, it was the third month we were doing this. And we were taking a long time doing the reflections from what they'd been doing in between. And it was about 10 minutes to lunchtime, and I was gonna give them their new worksheets with new feedback and just let them look over them quickly before lunch, so they could sit with them. Like, I couldn't get them out of the room for half an hour! They were so intent on looking at, and this showed me this kind of - Theo talks about the dopamine opioid cycle and this natural learning. And there was, it was such clear evidence that they were so motivated and getting so much out of it that they weren't going to go to lunch, "no, I'm gonna get into this now!"

Scott Allen  26:45  
That is just okay. As you're speaking, I'm just thinking of all of these different instructional strategies that you're building into this experience, whether it's creating a little bit of a practice field in between, whether it's these personalized case studies that obviously they're very interested in and engaged with, whether it's some of the feedback from these assessments sprinkled in throughout, whether it's the 360, some of the classroom lecturette that I'm sure is happening so that they understand some of these concepts from the Arbinger Institute, some of the group work that's occurring. I mean, you're creating the personalized interviews at the very, very beginning; you're creating a very rich experience for these participants. I mean, I want to be in this; how do I sign up?

Jonathan Reams  27:37  
Well, it was, you know, and I can put a link to we had a journalist come in on the last day; we did two days at the end to the integrate and summarize. And just before that, we'd had a visitor observing what we were doing. And so I said, "well, everybody, just introduce yourself to this person; just say who you are and what you do for the municipality." Well, to a person, they all started talking about what they were learning and how it was affecting them, and how much they were using it. And I thought, "Wow, we got to capture this." So the journalist got a photographer to come in with a good camera. And so we captured a bunch of little interview clips from people talking about what they did now that they didn't do before. I can put a link into that where it's a nice little article, and it talks about the 360 and so on. We also had two colleagues from the university who did a focus group, I think, about four or five months later. And a lot of what they said was, first of all, the 360 made such an impact on them because they were in a feedback-poor environment. Scandinavian culture is very egalitarian, conflict-averse people aren't good at having difficult conversations and giving. So there wasn't much of a normative culture for doing that in a good way. And they said they were starved for understanding how were they doing. And that feedback was so impactful for them to get a sense of how other people experienced them. And then the things about the practice and the simple concepts they could repeat and try out over time applied to their things. All of this gave them this feeling that, yeah, they had done something now that they couldn't do before.

Scott Allen  29:36  
Well, Jonathan, I'm working on this paper with Dave Rosch -  I've mentioned it in a few different episodes. And something we're interested in is how you create a learning environment that promotes development that helps people build their awareness and mental complexity; we can call it stages. You're not going to move that needle drastically in an 11-month program or something of that nature. But can you get people on the path, you start building some habits of mind. And we write about things like the holding environment, and we write about things like challenge and support. I mean, you're challenging these individuals to think differently about themselves. But you're also supporting them in that work and creating that holding environment. You're creating an environment where they're practicing active listening with others and really, truly being with them and listening to them. I mean, it's just, I mean, I could go down the list. But what's so fun about this conversation is you're talking about something you've created that has so many of the elements that we're thinking about built into the design of the experience, not necessarily the content, but the design of the experience, right?

Jonathan Reams  31:00  
Yep, I think so. And that was the intentionality of design. And having time to think through and adapt a little as we went along, as we saw what was going on, that was helpful too. I wanted to say a little bit about this notion of "development" - the dirty word stages, so to speak, because I think it's true, what you say, we're not going to, you know, major development over this short of time. But many of those models are our big, broad brush strokes. They're very coarse distinctions - in a sense. What we find more useful is working with "skill development." But so that notion of "Okay, so what are those things?"  There's also this thing of "cleaning up" because oftentimes, I think people's development or maturity is inhibited by their shadows, that they're weighed down by their baggage. And so there's a natural development that can happen by just taking the lid off, or, you know, getting lightening the load of baggage people are carried, I think that's an easy way in, in a sense, the more complex whims of taking micro-skills and building more complex neural networks of abilities to think more maturity and complexity, in precise ways, in precise areas. If you do enough of that, over time, you build up a more robust set of capabilities overall. And as you say, you start to get the wheel turning; you get the momentum going so that people are likely to continue to reflect and learn and think differently and look for ways to grow.

Scott Allen  32:51  
Real quick (and I know that this isn't a 'real quick' question).

Jonathan Reams  32:56  
Yeah, that's, as soon as you said that, oh, yeah, right.

Scott Allen  33:00  
What did you learn? 

Jonathan Reams  33:03  
I have a project coming up for a couple of years in another setting, where we're going to get a chance to apply more of this kind of open thing, maybe not as much intensive research, because there's going to be 80 people - intervention group and a control group - and then we'll do the control group after we do the first iteration. We will have the opportunity to take what we've learned from here. So what have I learned is that what is the most important thing to stimulate this? If I have only to do "X" number of things, I can't do all of those things. And in this context, we won't be able to do all of those things because there's not enough budget for 80 people to do all that. So how do we create impact with fewer resources? And for that, I think it is around helping people "learn how to learn." So this VCoL to target this Virtuous Cycle of Learning this natural learning cycle, and how do you create the kind of motivational hooks? How do you make it salient, relevant, and engaging so that you get the dopamine active so that people are alert? And so we're looking at the key things that will engender that? Once we have that going, how do we give them just enough tools and support to start practicing, and then we're going to aim to, you know, how do you practice on yourself? How do you practice with your team? And how do you practice organizational-level issues?

Scott Allen  34:53  
So you're not getting in a room and talking about, you know, the seven attributes of effective leaders...

Jonathan Reams  35:00  
No. No.

Scott Allen  35:03  
You don't have a lecture on situational leadership for this learning?!

Jonathan Reams  35:07  
I can make one up. But what I find is at least over time now, having been in this field, you know, I did my Ph.D. at Gonzaga 20 years ago. And you know, the time I was doing my masters and Ph.D. there and the time since, you know, you get "exposed to your ignorance," you start to see how much more out there there is. But you see certain themes and things come around. And then eventually, I noticed that, okay, all of these things are constructs; people have constructed meaning around this or that. So we got exposed to Heifetz's Adaptive Leadership. Well, it's a very rich, robust conception. But if you encounter the word and a few intellectual abstractions about it, you will not be able to go out and do much about it. And I think I'm more interested now in trying to take the noise of intellectual abstractions away from people's attention because we're distracted enough and allow them to focus in on what's going on for you now? So we had a client in a pharmaceutical company in Copenhagen recently, and they talked about the buzzword box; they had been told to be agile - and here are three archetypes of agile leaders. And now we did the leadership circle with them - you have to be creative and not reactive and more jargon. And now, we're going to roll out servant leadership, and what's that about? And so we spent two hours just to Well, look, what are you been doing? Oh, well, that's a little bit like that. And help them show these abstract things - "no, they, they're just descriptions of things that they're doing or maybe not doing as much." So helping people filter out that intellectually abstract 'noise' and anchoring it in their experience more, I think that's more useful for people to learn and develop. 

Scott Allen  37:19  
Well, listeners, when you purchase Maturing Leadership, this is Jonathan's chapter in that book. So there's just a, I there's just a lot of, I think, wisdom, exploration, curiosity, design, baked into this whole conversation that we just had; I love that you are experimenting, that you're trying a different approach to some of this work, the whole notion of cleaning up. I love it. And, you know, as we wind down today, what's something that's caught your eye with something that's caught your attention recently?

Jonathan Reams  37:54  
I think the most exciting thing I read lately with Dan Coyle's, The Talent Code. It is such a clear illustration of this Virtuous Cycle of Learning model (Theo Dawson) you know, about deep learning or "Deep Practice," as he calls it. It's about the neuroscience of learning and the kinds of motivational triggers; what is deep practice about, and how do you coach and support it? It was super informative, with great illustrations and examples. That was the most important, interesting, and engaging thing I have read lately.  I would say in terms of streaming; I was streaming different conversations with interesting people streaming your podcast, I'm not quite caught up. So every time I'm in the gym, I listen to one or two more.

Scott Allen  38:50  
You're the only person I know who started at one and just got on the journey, so...

Jonathan Reams  38:57  
I'm like that. I'm very like to persevere. But what I would say about that is compared to cherry-picking. It was the ones that I had no clue who it was that I often found the most interesting.

Scott Allen  39:13  
Just some fun conversations, some fun, interesting, engaging conversations. I've just loved this project. And it's, of course, it's led me to people like you and your work. And so, Jonathan, thank you so much for your work. And again, thank you so much for your time today. As always,

Jonathan Reams  39:42  
I thought this was an anomaly, right being on the interviewee's end, and now I'll switch over to the interviewer. Okay, be well!

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