What Yoga Teachers Can Teach Leaders About Untangling

Fri, Feb 27, 2009

Corporate TanglesI just returned from what is now an annual week long sojourn to the Ixtapan de la Sal Spa in Ixtapan de la Sal, Mexico. Located two hours south of Mexico City, in an idyllic village, it is easy to unwind, reflect, and relax. The spa itself is reasonably priced and clean, with friendly staff. Visitors enjoy pampering and veritable feast of classes. Every day, I attended a yoga class with Maria. Maria has a soothing voice, with a German accent, and guides students through a series of stretches and exercises that calm the mind and body.

During one of the exercises, Maria instructed us to rotate our necks, gently. She encouraged us to untangle the fibers in our necks, to smooth them out so that they would move more easily. That got me thinking.

Corporate tangles as I define them occur within a social network, when large egos, protected turf, and a propensity to blame others get in the way of solving complex business challenges. One aspect of untangling tangles is to create conditions that lead to smoother working relationships. Or, put another way, working relationships are smoother when egos are in check, peers work with each other rather than against each other, and everyone in the system is accountable and accepts responsibility. And when working relationships are smoother, trust is higher. People are not afraid to speak up, to share ideas, and to do the kind of innovative thinking that leads to solutions.

Just as there are yoga exercises to untangle the knots in our bodies, there are leadership practices to both prevent corporate knots, and untangle them if they occur. Maria, our yoga teacher, led us through exercises that untangled our necks and bodies. Good leaders guide their teams with clear communication, specific goals, and an accountability system. Good leaders also provide air cover that empowers employees to do their best work. I've worked with companies in which some leaders allow peers to derail or interfere with the work of their direct staff, which leads to decreased morale and ultimately less productivity. Good leaders remove barriers that inhibit effective performance. And finally, good leaders create conditions that foster trust and teamwork.

If your leadership team needs to smooth out its working relationships, contact info@rubenconsulting.com for a 10 minute free consultation.

Marcia Ruben Ph.D, PCC, CMC

Marcia Ruben Ph.D, PCC, CMC

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