Welcome to Issue 10!
Over the last year, I’ve spent a lot of time studying and working with ideas from Conscious Leadership Group (”CLG”), the team behind the book, The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership. One idea of theirs that’s stood out to me in my work with CEOs has been the “whole body yes.” I’ve seen this tool drastically improve decision-making when a CEO applies it inwardly (do they feel a “whole body yes” when making decisions) and outwardly (are others—employees, customers, etc.—agreeing with “whole body yes?”).
CLG defines the “whole body yes” as when someone is “fully aligned with their head, heart, and gut…there is a bodily sense of well-being as you consider a choice.”
So what does that mean?
In the world of coaches and leadership development, “head, heart, and gut” is a common (and helpful) framework. Your “head” represents logical or rational arguments (usually based on research, numbers, etc.). Your “heart” represents your emotions (are you feeling scared, excited, angry, etc.). And your “gut” represents your intuition (that nagging sixth sense that you “know” what to do).
What I love about this idea is that it encourages people to use all the information they’re getting from their body instead of relying on just one or devaluing information from one of these three areas in the body (i.e., “emotions are a distraction; I only make decisions on cold hard facts!”). For example, here are a few decisions made using only one part of the body:
Only Head: A CEO and a Head of Product spend hours poring over market research and user interviews. They decide to invest a major portion of their R&D budget based on this information.
Only Emotion: An engineer ships a bug to production, causing the CEO to demo a broken feature in a key pitch to an investor, and the CEO decides to fire them out of anger.
Only Gut: A CEO hires a new VP of Marketing after meeting with them for one hour and without consulting with the rest of the team because “it just felt right.”
In contrast, “whole body yes” decisions are ones you can come up with some data to back up (head), feel excited or about committing to (heart), and have a deep hunch is a good path to go down (gut).
You can apply this to any situation where you’re making the decision, but it is also productive to apply this to work that involves coordinating with others. For example, let’s take a situation any manager will be familiar with: an employee says they’ll do something but then doesn’t follow through. It’s easy to get frustrated because *they said they’d do it—*they agreed! But chances are they didn’t give you a whole body yes. And on top of that, I’ll be you knew it in your heart or your gut when they said it.
To take this a step further, the legendary former CEO of Intel Andy Grove would always say there are only two reasons an employee doesn’t do something they’re requested to do, and it’s either that they can’t or won’t. If they agreed to do the thing, it’s now your job to find out which one it is and what is blocking them. When you get a hunch you’re not getting a whole body yes from someone on your team, dig in. Share the idea of concept, and then ask if they are able to sincerely give a whole body yes. If not, ask them what it would take to get there. Often, someone doesn’t know how to do the thing, and they’re scared of letting a manager down (and possibly losing their job). Often, they don’t have enough information to do the thing well.
I could go on for days about the benefits of the whole body yes. But the bottom line is that by being more aware of the signals you’re getting from your head, heart, and gut, in addition to the same signals from your team, you’ll have *more information—*a more complete picture of reality with which to made the critical decisions that your company’s future depends on. If you’d like to read more on the “whole body yes,” check out this PDF by CLG.
Great Reads I Found This Week
Ethan Mollick, professor at Wharton, shared a study on the distinction between two types of conflict in the workplace: task conflict and relationship conflict. If you’ve ever wondered why you can have “productive disagreements” with some people but only seem to step on land mines in others, this might be why!
Amanda Greenberg shared a quote that really resonated with me from executive coach Robyn Ward, “In a startup you need to operate with a mindset of abundance while in a reality of scarcity (time, resources, people), which is what makes growing a company so hard.”
Lenny Rachitsky launched Lenny’s Talent Collective, a new place to find product and growth people looking for new jobs. I’m a big believer that one of the ways to have an A+ hiring process is to be on the lookout for new “wells” that folks have tapped to find great people, and I have a “gut” feeling this is going to be a well that’s full of water for a while.
That’s it for this week. I’m looking forward to what’s next.