Tag Archives: Affective Leadership

Terry Murray to Speak About Affective Leadership Development at HR Management Institute Conference

Terry Murray Warriors in Transition HawaiiFeb. 12, 2013 – Terry Murray, founder and Managing Partner of Performance Transformation, LLC™, has been invited to present at the HR Management Institute’s upcoming conference entitled, “Enhancing HR as a Strategic and Transformative Business Partner in Times of Volatility and Change”.  The conference will be held at the Gaylord Palms Hotel in Orlando, FL from February 24th to 26th, 2013.Mr. Murray will be presenting, “Leadership 2020 – Developmental Strategies for Delivering Competitive Advantage in the New Economy”, an integrative, research-based approach for sparking engagement, collaboration and innovative thinking for today’s multi-cultural, multi-generational workforce.  The approach leverages recent findings from the scientific disciplines of affective neuroscience, social neuroscience, performance psychology, emotional intelligence, adult learning styles, creativity research, and applied behavioral economics.

“Our approach to developing inspirational leaders, what we call Affective Leadership, is a scientifically-substantiated methodology that leverages the neural mechanisms of human emotion to connect, engage and inspire today’s multi-cultural, multi-generational workforce,” commented Terry.  “The intention is not to manipulate emotions, but to develop keen insights into how our presence, congruity, authenticity, transparency and communicative style affects those we lead and seek to positively influence.”

Through the application of collaborative, experiential learning, in combination with Performance Transformation’s proprietary Accretive Coaching Process℠, leaders and high potentials are provided the opportunity to experiment and discover these lessons for themselves and immediately begin to apply them within the context of the business.

While the approach incorporates insights from more than 200 peer-reviewed research studies, it is far from an academic treatise.  Affective Leadership, and the firm’s developmental process is grounded in more than twenty years of real-world, executive leadership success.

“Simply put, Affective Leadership is the leadership of engagement,” added Terry. “Going as far back as the 1990s, I had the chance to lead multi-national business units for a global corporation.  I was twenty years younger than my Managing Directors in Europe and Latin America.  I had to learn how to lead multi-cultural, multi-generational workforces.  I didn’t have a choice as I had been tapped to turn around an emotionally and cognitively disengaged workforce overseas.  Our approach reflects those lessons and the rapidly emerging research supports our philosophy.”

“A quick canvasing of the contemporary business literature clearly demonstrates the importance of leveraging intrinsic values to engage and inspire today’s knowledge workers.  Personal development, authentic relationships, being of service to others, and a sense of purposefulness cuts across the broad spectrum of perspectives that are conditioned into us through culture and generational experiences.  This is especially important for creating a culture that attracts and helps retain the best and brightest workers from Gen-X and Gen-Y and for connecting these generations with the knowledge and wisdom our rapidly retiring Baby Boomers are taking with them.”

Performance Transformation exemplifies these intrinsic values through their community service programs.  Warriors in Transition, which has been introduced in six states since 2009, received a formal commendation from General David Petraeus in 2010.  The firm has also invested in developing programs for the Autism Spectrum Disorder community, and most recently, a leadership and life skills program for at-risk girls.

“Part of what we teach is congruency…the motivational power that can be unleashed by walking your talk.  In order for us to impart these lessons with integrity, we must embody them in our actions,” said Terry.

© 2013, Performance Transformation, LLC™.


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February 12, 2013 · 3:20 pm

The Dimensions of the Next Productivity Breakthrough

We’re on the threshold of a very exciting time to be in leadership.  Having survived the shocks of the Great Recession, business leaders are recognizing the traditional approaches to increasing productivity, engagement, collaboration and innovation have run their course.  Fresh thinking is needed to spark the next wave of prosperity.  Interestingly, insights from the broad and burgeoning field of neuroscience are validating the approach and philosophy we’ve been pursuing for five years.

Sophisticated neural imaging is providing hard evidence of what’s occurring in our brains under a variety of controlled inputs.  Our brains have plasticity, which is a relatively new understanding of what was once thought to be a staid organ once the developmental process was complete.  Our brains are constantly changing based upon our experiences and the neural input we choose to, or unconsciously, consume.  By developing intentional, neural development strategies, we can change the way we interpret and respond to the world around us.  To quote Dr. Richard Davidson, Affective Neuroscientist from the University of Wisconsin, commenting on the brain’s experience-dependent neural plasticity, “Neural plasticity refers to the idea that the brain can change in response to experience and in response to training.  The brain is literally built to change in response to experience.”

Dr. Davidson’s work goes on to identify that the practice of compassion activates the part of the brain that processes our perspective of people, events and the world around us.  Cultivating compassion also activates the part of our brain, the insula, that is in two way communication with our organs and body, and gamma waves expand that are associated with the creation of new neural connections.  New neural connections, initiated by novel experiences, are the foundational spark of creative thinking and innovative problem solving.

How does this relate to productivity in the workplace?  Let’s look at what CEOs and senior HR executives have recently acknowledged and are currently seeking to cultivate in their organizations:

1.) CEOs have identified inspirational leadership, customer obsession, and leadership teaming as the most important traits they are seeking in their leaders.

2.) CEOs surveyed in 2012 see human capital (71%), customer relationships (66%), and innovation (52%) as key sources of sustained, economic value creation.  They are also recognizing the need for more openness, transparency and collaboration.

3.) According to IBM’s 2012 research, CEOs are most focused on three organizational attributes; ethics & values (65%), collaborative environments (63%), and purpose & mission (58%).  CEOs in growth-market industries are 79% more likely than their mature market peers to make significant changes to their organizational values over the next three to five years.

4.) According to a SHRM 2012 survey, the three biggest challenges HR executives anticipate over the next ten years are:  Retaining and rewarding the best employees (59%), developing the next generation of corporate leaders (52%), and creating a corporate culture that attracts the best employees to their organization (36%).

5.) CEOs have acknowledged they will require an improvement in productivity of 20% from their current human assets in order to maintain competitive advantage moving forward.

If we reference the recent research from the Corporate Executive Board’s Executive Guidance – 2013, we can see today’s high performers and high potentials are already demonstrating many of the so-called, soft skills necessary to succeed in highly volatile, ambiguous times.  Skills that are grounded in Emotional Intelligence competencies (in particular and from the report, self and social awareness) and a passion for the customer and business that are a result of full engagement (both cognitive and emotional).  Skills that demonstrate nimble, neural plasticity.  Skills that can be taught to others.

Since 2008, we’ve intentionally chosen to work extensively with at-risk populations in our society and have come away with some powerful experiential lessons.  Segments of our society that present significant challenges in their engagement levels, awareness, sense of purpose, and ability to function as productive members of society.  Veterans and their families struggling with PTSD.  Teens incarcerated in juvenile detention.  Women coming out of county jail.  At-risk girls living in poverty and surrounded by crime.  Diverse populations that cling to the fringes, almost entirely excluded from participating in, and contributing to, our collective prosperity.  Populations that are dealing with challenges that are significantly greater and more deeply engrained than what we typically see with our business clients.   We’re happy to report we’ve witnessed remarkable results!

Here’s an example of a recent program for young, at-risk girls in our community:

So, as a business leader, where do you begin?  We suggest looking to the types of values your organization is leveraging for engagement.  Are they purely extrinsic (compensation, power, prestige) or a balance including intrinsic values (authentic relationships, personal development, purposefulness…feeling a part of something important and larger than one’s self interests)?

Extrinsic values, while highly effective during the Industrial Age, when the workplace was culturally homogenous, no longer resonate in today’s multi-cultural, multi-generational workforce.  Intrinsic values transcend the differences stemming from generational perspectives and cultural orientations.

These values resonate through the emotions of compassion, empathy and caring for one another.  These were, and still are, the survival skills that enabled human beings to survive, evolve and flourish.  Research from the neurosciences supports this insight.  It is only through the intentional creation of a culture that propagates these emotions and strikes a balance between intrinsic and extrinsic goals and values, that the targeted 20% improvement in productivity can emerge.

© 2013, Terry Murray.


1.) “Leading Through Connections – Insights From the Global Chief Executive Officer Study.” IBM® Institute For Business Value,  May, 2012.

2.) ibid.

3.) ibid.

4.) “Challenges Facing HR Over The Next 10 Years”, Society for HR Management, November, 2012.  http://www.slideshare.net/shrm/shrm-futurehr2022final.

5.) “Breakthrough Performance in the New Work Environment – Identifying and Enabling the New High Performer”, Executive Guidance for 2013, CEB, December, 2012. http://www.executiveboard.com/exbd/executive-guidance/index.page.

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From Knowledge Management to Content Collaboration – Unleashing Value Creation in the 21st Century

I’d like to share some exciting research and insights from several business thought leaders that have come to light over the past seven months that point to the remarkable business opportunities that are right before us!

In the November, 2012 edition of the McKinsey Quarterly®, research published in the article, “Capturing Business Value With Social Technologies” provides us with a glimpse into the breathtaking potential of creating real business value through the targeted application of social connectivity platforms.  Obviously, we’re not talking about Facebook here, but emerging media designed specifically for business.  What the authors of the article have discovered is too important to paraphrase, so I’ll quote them directly:

“An in-­depth  analysis  of  four  industry  sectors  that  represent  almost 20  percent  of  global  industry  sales  suggests  that  social  platforms can  unlock  $900  billion  to  $1.3  trillion  in  value  in  those  sectors   alone.  Two-­thirds  of  this  value  creation  opportunity  lies  in  improving  communication  and  collaboration  within  and  across  enterprises.”

As promising as this sounds, technology, in and of itself, is not the entirety of the answer.  Capturing this promise will require a shift in leadership perspective.  One that ferries organizations, and most importantly, organizational culture from an orientation forged during the Industrial Age to one that truly fits what author and thought leader Don Tapscott calls The Age of Networked Intelligence.

In an interview (also from the McKinsey Quarterly) that was published last month entitled, “Making Internal Collaboration Work”, Don Tapscott shared his views on the subject.  First, he states that Knowledge Management has failed.  According to Mr. Tapscott, attempting to containerize knowledge in repositories is futile.  Why?  Because knowledge is not a static entity, nor a finite asset.  Tapscott also points to the false assumption that a company’s knowledge assets exists within the walls of the company.  In the interview, he states that the most important knowledge exists outside of the boundaries of the organization and the way to tap into it is through open collaboration.

Tapscott goes on to identify the problem with email, humorously pointing out that, like Mark Twain once said about the weather, “Everybody’s complaining about it, but no ones doing anything about it!”  (In actuality, we are…and I’ll share more below.) Email sequesters valuable information and knowledge resources.  Not only does email make access to knowledge difficult, it’s a time and productivity sink.  Referring again to research from the November McKinsey article, the researchers discovered that the typical interaction worker (i.e. knowledge worker) spends 28% of each day reading, writing and responding to emails.  This figure represents 13 hours a week or the equivalent of more than 80 days a year working on emails!  All to further lock away valuable, company knowledge into an unsearchable, uncatorgorized tomb.  The authors go on to identify that the productivity of interaction workers could be improved by 20% to 25% by migrating away from email and onto collaborative, open media platforms.  This is the exact productivity improvement CEOs have identified as necessary to maintain competitive advantage in today’s economic climate (as reported in the Corporate Executive Board 2013 Executive Guidance report).

Knowledge sharing on email, once initially exchanged, falls into a virtual safe deposit box that requires two keys to open; knowing exactly what it is that you’re looking to retrieve and remembering who that email was sent or received from.  The first iteration of Knowledge Management attempted to pull the knowledge out of the safe deposit boxes, but still left it in the vault.

Let’s take a look at this opportunity through another lens, one that will help us focus on how we get from where we are to where we need to be.  In order to incorporate and successfully orchestrate emerging social technologies for value creation we will need to prime the knowledge pump.  Here’s where traditional corporate training, another artifact from the Industrial Age, falls short.  In a white paper written by thought leader Jay Cross for Citrix® entitled, “Why Corporate Training is Broken and How to Fix It”, the author points to the challenges traditional training represent in a collaborative, networked world.  In his paper, Mr. Cross identifies the fact that 3 out of 4 Chief Learning Officers are dissatisfied with their corporate training programs and lack of results.  He points out as Industrial Age hierarchies begin the slow migration to collaborative networks, corporate training must follow suit.

Here’s a great example.  I got into a debate the other day on a LinkedIn discussion group focused on team building.  Having suffered through seemingly endless, nonsensical team building programs during my corporate days, be it ropes courses, game playing, or building toy boats in a resort swimming pool, I hold some strong opinions as to the vacuous nature of such investments.  As an executive, I sought a truly meaningful, efficacious and aligned approach to building cohesion and collaboration in the organizations I led.  It was a framing perspective for the development of our own, scientifically-substantiated Adaptive Team Building programs that focus on cultivating soft skills, that are truly causal skills, that positively effect team cohesion, creative thinking and collaboration.  The ropes course advocates took great offense.  Yet, with ten minutes of research, I discovered that by the year 2000, there were more than 20,000 such courses offering team building programs to businesses in the country.  The CAGR of courses was adding an additional 250 sites per year to the landscape.  Sitting here today, with somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 of such programs in operation, why are we still searching for tools that support collaboration, cohesion and creative thinking in teams?  This Industrial Age approach to training no longer delivers value, if in fact, it ever did in the first place.

Jay Cross makes another insightful observation in his paper regarding the limitations of applying social technology without additional support.  He states, “Simply bolting on informal and social learning as a new technique doesn’t work.  A company cannot take full advantage of networked learning without shifting its values, culture and practices.  It must move toward becoming a collaborative organization.”  This migration requires the alignment and optimization of leadership, strategy and organizational culture; the fundamental premise and philosophy we at Performance Transformation have been discussing for five years.  Mr. Cross goes on to offer a four step approach to solving this dilemma.  Here are his recommended steps and Performance Transformation’s tools and solutions for igniting the value creating, collaborative flywheel:

1.) Create a Collaborative Culture.  This requires engagement well beyond the approximately 30% of associates that are actively engaged today (Gallup and the Chartered Management Institute).  Trust must be repaired.  This begins with adopting a fresh approach from transactional leadership toward transformational leadership.  Affective Leadership development focuses on cultivating the interpersonal and emotional intelligence skills that help leaders get off the dance floor and into the balcony by gaining insights into how their leadership neurologically and biochemically affects those they lead.  This approach literally invites engagement, the prerequisite for successful, open collaboration.

2.) Impart Collaborative Motivation.  Once again, we’re back to leadership, but also organizational structure.  Command-and-control leadership is as outdated to Gen X and Gen Y workers as an Etch-A-Sketch, and hierarchies can stifle motivation, especially in younger workers.  Introducing an Open Network Strategy Accelerator (“Accelerate”, Kotter, Harvard Business Review, October, 2012) that can thrive along side the efficiencies of the hierarchy opens the door for multi-generational, multi-cultural collaboration across company silos.

3.) Introduce a Collaborative Infrastructure.  While hierarchies can deliver remarkable efficiencies ensuring companies hit next quarter’s numbers, this structure is also stable to the point of being staid.  Hierarchies weren’t meant to be nimble.  Through our partners at Democrasoft, we’ve introduced a dynamic software infrastructure that supports the Open Network Strategy Accelerator described by Professor Kotter in the HBR.  This platform invites engagement and collaboration throughout the organization, cross pollenating creative ideas and insights, delivering remarkable visibility and transparency.  It pulls knowledge sharing and content collaboration out of email threads and onto a highly accessible, open platform.  The software even enables social branding initiatives to reach out into the marketplace as well as enabling segments of the network to open and capture knowledge from outside of the organization.

4.) Enable Collaborative Learning.  Our unique approach to collaborative learning incorporates Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning (EFEL).  Our relationship-based approach has been commended by General David Petraeus and, most recently, adopted into the core curriculum of a charter school for at-risk girls.  It is not traditional training.  It is experiential learning on a truly collaborative level, both with fellow participants and the horses.  It is no more static than today’s economic landscape and engages the participants in a research-based, statistically substantiated and efficacious approach to professional development.

Touching on what Don Topscott shares in his TED video, he identifies four principles necessary for success in the new, open world.  They are collaboration, transparency, sharing of assets, and empowerment; all dramatic shifts from traditional managerial philosophy.  Again, we’re back to leadership, strategy and organizational culture as the overarching drivers of creating nimble, engaged, and innovative companies.

The point is, there’s no one, silver bullet solution to the challenges and opportunities we face today.  Success going forward will require an integrative approach to how we connect, engage, inspire and motivate human beings to collaborate and co-create in the age of Networked Intelligence; the rapidly emerging source of business value creation in the 21st century.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

Learn more about our integrative approach at Performance Transformation, LLC™.

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Triangulating Talent Management ~ Leadership, Strategy and Organizational Culture

Over the course of my career, both in Corporate America and with investor-driven startups, I came to understand the driving elements of breakthrough performance.  Elements that transcend markets, industries and technologies. What I observed, and wrote extensively about in my book, was that the companies that consistently over-achieved and outperformed their competition optimized and aligned leadership, strategy and organizational culture.  As simple as this sounds it takes a concerted, mindful effort to coordinate and execute these mission-critical elements.

Adding to this challenge is the shift in the underlying driver of value creation in our ever-accelerating evolution from the Information Age to the Age of Ideas.  Human creativity, in the form of commercially viable intellectual property, is now the source of value creation in our global economy.  Today’s business leaders, for the most part, came up through the ranks optimizing processes, eliminating variability (think Six Sigma and TQM), and reducing costs.  Optimizing processes requires technical skills and evolves around good management.  Optimizing human capital requires adaptive skills (the so-called soft skills) and is driven by inspirational leadership.  The underpinnings of business success have shifted beneath our feet.

Taleo Research® published a white paper that supports this perspective.  The study, entitled, “Talent Intelligence – Key To U.S. Business Success”, identifies that in today’s knowledge economy upwards of 70% of an organization’s value is based upon the skills and experiences of its associates.  When we overlay other research from Gallup, McKinsey, and CEB, breathtaking opportunities for breakthrough performance and company valuation growth are revealed.

Employee engagement levels continue to hover around 30%, meaning that upwards of 70% of employees are sleepwalking through at least a part of their day.  Realistically, what level of discretionary effort can we expect from the 70%?  CEB’s Executive Guidance – 2013 report revealed CEOs currently believe they will need to increase workforce productivity by 20% in order to stay competitive in the coming years (the CAGR of workforce productivity has been a little over 3% per year since 1993).  The takeaways?  The 30% of employees that are intrinsically motivated contribute the vast majority of company value and elevating the growth rate of productivity from 3% to 20% will require innovative thinking and new approaches to engaging and motivating the other 70% of associates.  As daunting as this appears, the upside is nothing short of spectacular.

The fact is, robust Talent Management is central to success going forward.  So where do we begin?  Taleo identified the most important talent analytics and found they could be broken down into four major categories.

1.) Business Strategy – Defining goals and aligning employees to achieve these goals.

2.) Retention – Identifying and retaining high potentials and high performers.

3.) Leadership Development – Identifying and developing leadership bench strength.

4.) Workforce Metrics – Insights into the skills gaps to execute the business strategy.

Supporting my observations from twenty years of executive experience, Taleo’s report reveals leadership, strategy and organizational culture (a key to retention) are driving elements of Talent Management, which is now the driver of breakthrough performance.

mckinsey-quarterly-right-leaders-image-003It all begins with leadership, but what kind of leadership?  In June, 2011, the McKinsey Quarterly® published a major study that identified the fact that only 1% of “C” level executives and one step down executives measured “excellent” in five out of eight leadership competencies.  Ten percent scored “above average”, leaving the vast majority of executives scoring average or below average.  Strikingly, many of the competencies McKinsey was measuring back in 2010/2011 were more closely aligned with an approach to leadership that no longer resonates in our multi-cultural, multi-generational workforce.

Fortunately, CEB’s recent research has identified the key competencies high performers are demonstrating in today’s highly volatile, fast-paced environment.  Skills that include self-awareness and social/organizational awareness, adaptive, innovative thinking, as well as learning agility.  Critical skills that don’t show up in McKinsey’s research.  Critical skills that must be present if we are to reverse the employee engagement trends and achieve a 20% improvement in productivity.  There’s lots of room for improvement here as well, as CEB reports that, on average, only 5% of workers demonstrate a well balanced blend of these skills.

We’ve coined a phrase to describe this approach to leadership.  We call it Affective Leadership, which is the leadership of engagement (the approach integrates research from many scientific disciplines including affective neuroscience; how our brains react and function under various, emotional stimuli and interpersonal relationships).  An approach to leadership that is grounded in empathy and authenticity.  In fact, the Creative Leadership Institute conducted an eight year study in which they identified the only competency that differentiated mediocre management from inspirational leadership was empathy.  This is a learnable skill that requires a shift in perspective; from me to we.  The path for cultivating empathy begins with the development of emotional intelligence competencies; self-awareness and social awareness; which leads to self-regulation and the emergence of strong relationship management skills.

This is the starting gate for capturing that 20% improvement in productivity.  There’s a hidden workforce lying just beneath the surface in many organizations and it is through the process of implementing Affective Leadership that spectacular improvements in productivity, innovation and creative thinking will emerge.  With this foundation of leadership in place, strategy becomes more mindful and adaptive, and the organization’s culture becomes much more supportive of open collaboration, communication and innovation.  It is this approach to leadership that will set the tone and trajectory for success in the 21st Century.

© 2013, Terry Murray

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