#4: Chris Sansone – Spirit in Business Coaching, Executive Coaching and Leadership Coaching

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  Hi, Chris. 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach): Hello, Sasha. How are you? 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  I’m doing very well. I have a good day so far. Thank you for being here, and thank you for everyone who’s listening, watching, and reading. So this is Go New and it’s a platform for transformational education, self-growth, improving your relationships, your finances, building a business, authentic marketing, and all of the good stuff that’s not being learned in school. And I’m excited to talk to you, Chris, today because you have a lot of knowledge about self-growth and growth in an organizational environment. And I think people spend so much time in the offices or at their jobs that really there is not a big separation between work and outside of work, right? Especially today, the boundary is kind of loose. 

So if I can show up fully, authentically at my job or in my business, maybe I can do the same in my own personal life and vice versa. And I’ll let you introduce yourself. Yeah, take it away.

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Well, thank you. Yes, so I’m Chris Sansone. And as you’ve said it is my life quest really to develop my own self. And a big part of developing myself is to be attendant to the work that I do, to approach my work with complete awareness as much as I can, and with authenticity as much as I can. And it’s always a challenge, and that’s part of being in the role that I’m in, is to keep myself awake and attentive to who I am so that I can be most attentive and aware and show up that same person with those that I serve. So I do my best not to make a distinction between my own self and what I bring in to my clients’ worlds. I really approach that with attentively seamless about it. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  And how do you call what you do? Is it business consulting, business coaching, leadership coaching? What is it? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  It is really all of the above. And I’ve been at this for well over thirty years now. I started out as actually doing some wonderful work with an organization that was experientially based for teens who are emotionally disturbed. It was an outward-bound type of program – facilitation and therapy through the outdoors and such. And really lit my fire into my second career which really reached a point of accomplishment, where I was a senior vice president of a fast growth consulting group, and we expanded throughout the US, we started out with three offices – St. Louis, Kansas City, and Atlanta, and then expanded as I said throughout the US.

In that process I learned about this thing called organization development, and it really lit my fire for doing the work, this kind of work. We were smart, during our scaling-up period we hired an industrial organizational psychologist, we hired a firm to help us onboard folks, to test them and such, and to help us train and acclimate those folks into our environment. And it was from there that I had that first glimpse into the wise use of insight, of psychology, and looking at the individual and best fit with an organization. 

And from there some 16 years serving that role I decided I was going to go off on my own, made a big shift, a big commitment at midlife to take on a quest to become a leadership coach. I certified through the coaches training institute, and later would go on to teach their principles within organizations, and did with several hundred individuals with my wonderful partners in the past, and later ended up writing an article on leadership development programs in Stem organizations, because I’ve done so much work in tech and scientific organizations. I loved it all the way. 

And then found that I need to branch out more into organization development as I had made that mid-career shift into a program, a PhD program, through the Fielding Graduate Institute around organization development. And so I really wanted to do more and that’s led to my current work that I’m focused on now. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  So I’m a leadership coach as well, and my question for you – how would you even define it? What is leadership coaching? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Well, what a great question, because I think that within the field of organization development, organizational psychology, industrial organizational psychology, however we want to term this broad expanse, there has been a number of waves of interest or developments that we could say paradigms of thought. And not too long ago it was a total quality management and I think now that the focus is around leadership development, really focusing on the leader her or himself. That I think is we’re … I think we’re on the back end of that bell curve, and we’re moving into yet another phase of organization development where there’s a developing paradigm of thought. 

But to answer your question about leadership I think in my book what I have seen result in the greatest following, inspired following, is when a leader is coming from a place of authenticity. Personal authenticity meaning they’re coming from their own essence, they’re doing that inner work so that they can lead others to do their own inner work, and then together work toward a common shared inspiring purpose. And that’s what I found the greatest leadership. 

There’s lots of forms of leadership, you can look at the situational leadership model, there’s various wonderful Cruz’s and Posner kind of theories of leadership, which all blend wonderfully. And I think what each of these is saying is that there’s a strand of servant leadership, of being there for others as opposed to a command-and-control leader that takes and seizes the day and succeeds through heroism. It’s really about collaboration, about moving forward together. We’re so much more potent when we move together. 

And as I say I think the emphasis is fading from an intense focus on individual leadership development and looking more at what’s possible through collaboration and working together. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  So leadership as in leading people, right? And I see it visually as walking in front. I once talked to a shepherd, and he just had this idea, “Well, I want to try this out and see how it goes.” And he went and actually did it. And at the beginning he said, “I was walking behind the herd of sheep. I was throwing little stones at them and motivate them to walk forward by field. And later on what started happening is I could walk in front of the [unclear 07:54] and they would follow me. Motivated not by fear so much, but by trust and reward they knew I would take them to the right place where they could have great food and great water, right? And I didn’t have to micromanage them and move them right, left, right, left, and I didn’t have to work so hard. They would just follow me, and I would just feel and walk and enjoy the view,” right? And that’s the goal at the end.

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  I think that’s a poignant story, that’s a wonderful metaphor that to work with is really leading, and I would add to that, so yes, and what I would add is leading with an inspired purpose that is informed by … we could call it mission, vision, however we want to … how to posit that. But it’s formed by what is of the consciousness of the group, what is within the consciousness of the group? 

And I know that’s a vague notion, but once we capture that there is truly a consciousness, a collective consciousness among those that come together. And if one collective consciousness can be pointed in the direction of a shared purpose, that’s where we get inspired people through inspired leadership.

And I’d like to say that everyone is a leader all of the time, meaning that yes there is the leader of the day who can lead during crisis or lead by way of formal structure. But really to get inspiration and the exceptional accomplishments that so many organizations have had by this model it takes us developing an awareness of what our shared consciousness is and moving forward with that. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  So how do you get buy-in? When you come in into an organization as an outsider, as a business consultant, as leadership coach, and you basically guide the CEO for example to do things in a different way, right? For someone who is used to be the authority, how do you get the buy-in from that person to do things in a new way? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  So I want to be clear that I’m understanding your question. So in other words, if there’s a formal leader who’s been well established or well recognized in her or his role, then how does the organization, however that may be, how do they recognize that person as a true de-facto leader? 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  How does the leader, the de facto leader, in the organization basically listen to you as their leadership coach? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Oh, I understand, okay, yeah. Okay, that’s the hard part in some cases. Yeah, in some cases not so much. One of the most inspiring leaders that I ever worked with was a dean of agriculture at the University of Nebraska, Albert Dicky. And Albert was so …

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  And he’s okay with you sharing this story?

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  I don’t know. I would assume so, he’s allowed me to share it in other formats where he’s actually … Yeah, he’s done some. He did a write up, or I did it write up of similar experiences and he added to it. So in the past.

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach): Great.

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  I think so. Anyway, Albert had a focus as head of the State of Nebraska’s Extension Program. And his focus was on a sincere … in other words, sincerity, of delivering services to those individuals throughout the State of Nebraska who otherwise wouldn’t have access to services. Now, the State of Nebraska as we know is a great ranching and farming producer in the United States. And what the populace is also challenged by is urban development. And these were challenges that it being largely rural and rural state that they didn’t have on their radar so to speak. 

Albert was able to help bring access, to bring awareness to those different communities so that they could be more self-sufficient. And the youth were being challenged by high rates of obesity and drug abuse and such. And he was bringing a greater awareness to what was going on to help recruit people within their own communities to institute change for themselves, rather than look outward. 

So the story of Albert Dicky was that he had a sincere, a very sincere commitment, to serving and to empowering others to serve and ultimately to serve themselves, to help themselves. And so it was an inspiring vision, he was right place, right time, right person. 

To get him to listen wasn’t hard. He was curious and I used Albert as a model for the mindset of a leader, because they have that curiosity as of what’s next, how can I contribute, what’s possible? So the mindset is curiosity. It’s not the assumption that I know, I know all times. Of course, we’ve got to move forward with some certainty and commitment, but what’s always prevailing is a sense of curiosity, always asking what’s next, what’s possible. That’s the way I coach. I work with leaders to help them self-reflect and ask the question that’s not being asked ask, ask the question that’s being beg to ask, or ask the question that no one’s thinking to ask, and to have the willingness and transparency to explore that. 

So I worked through a series of self-reflection and bringing in observations from my own experience, and basically helping leaders to be honest with themselves. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  Why is that important? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Well, because if we’re not … let’s take it flip side, at the converse of it, if we’re not honest with ourselves then we’re moving from place of in-authenticity and we’re not moving from a place of conviction. So if we’re honest with ourselves and we’re self-reflective, we’re self-critical in a very positive way, then we can help others to do that as well. And my belief is that within each individual there’s a great reservoir of personal wisdom. There’s a great access to availability of that wisdom if we’re willing to access it. 

So often our organization makes unwritten rule, we got some rules about leaving parts of ourselves out the door before we come into the workplace. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  Yes. 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach): Whether that be our gender identification, our race, our culture, ethnicity, our sexual preference, our beliefs about the work that we’re doing together. Instead of preventing those aspects of each person from entering the workplace, we should bring those in, because now we’re having the whole person present. 

And then there’s this thing that we can refer to, the intangible part of what makes us uniquely human, whether we call that spirit or soul or essence or our deeper wisdom or intuition, if we’re requiring written or implicit or explicitly for our employees to check that at the door before they come into the workplace, imagine how much we are leaving out. And what a great tragedy that has been in so many organizations? 

So that’s what I see the what awakening happening, it’s more that there’s an evolutionary trend towards us inviting let’s call it spirit at work. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach): Yeah. And if I understand correctly, that’s one of your goals in life to basically change the approach to spirituality or this tapping into this bigger collective conscious and saying, well; spirit is not a dirty word at work, right? You can be a programmer and have connections to that, you can be a doctor, you can be whatever you want, right? Yeah, so tell me a bit more about that, why is that important? And is it really applicable in any work environment? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Yeah, to answer your second question first, absolutely, it’s applicable in any environment. What we’re essentially doing is we’re asking each person to show up 100%, to be present. And so when we have that presence we have a creativity that is possible, that is accessible to us. Without that presence, as I say we’re checking at minimum 25% of ourselves at the door. In my estimation it’s more like 50% of ourselves at the door. It’s being checked out and not involved. 

So would you state your first question for me again, the first part of your question was? 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  Well, I was just reflecting on what I understand to be one of your main goals, which is letting organizations explore the idea that spirituality is not a dirty word. 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach): Absolutely. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  That we can view this thing not as robots that need to achieve certain numbers, but there might be some bigger intentions, bigger positive ripple effects involved.

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Yes, absolutely. There are measurables. And first of all there’s a bigger … as I was saying there’s a trend that’s emerging. We are moving into a deeper pair of time of thought about the existence of what it is to be a human being. And I found that my own personal experiences as a leadership coach, I found it as an organization consultant, and I have founded it as a teacher of the Hartmann process, that there is an emergence of an awareness of something greater than self. Again, we could refer to that as spirit, we can refer to that as essence, authenticity, internal wisdom, intuition. 

But there are others, a great deal of research reflected by others, who are finding the same thing. Recently or perhaps not so recently, Patricia Aberdeen, who was one of the co-authors of Megatrends, she wrote with John Naismith, but wrote a follow-up book it called Megatrends 2010. And Aberdeen was predicting the unfolding of this new stage of evolution around spirit at work, about the necessity for honoring that within individuals, and then going a step further and being recruiting of it, inviting it in. 

And so Aberdeen has been a contributor to the field, and there have been other researchers with profound findings of this emergence of spirit at work. There’s been some research done within the last 10 to 15 years which is indicating … again, this is scholarly reviewed research articles that I’m referring to, that found that there is in fact an emergence of spirit at work with some very positive indications for organizations. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  What do you think causes it? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  What do I think causes it? Well, on the downside I think part of what’s causing it is we are spending more of our lives working, consumed with work, whether we’re working at home or we’re working at a large organization. And regardless of the complexity of where you work – we are spending more time doing our work. 

More and more of us are transient, the connection that we have digitally through the internet is really minimizing the need for community. It’s evidenced by a lack of participation in formal religious organizations in community gatherings, at schools, those places it used to be our normal means of coming together and forming community and having a sense of greater purpose by belonging. Those are becoming much more blurred in this age that we’re entering into. 

And so people still need to connect. We still want that sense of community, of contributing to something greater than self. And with this greater emphasis on work and the flexibility to express ourselves through our work, there’s this emergence of deeper connection, of the willingness to connect to what’s already going on within every person. 

And I’m going to make that a little clearer – there’s an emergence of awareness within what that’s happening globally. I can speak for this country, for the United States, there’s an emergence of awareness of ourselves from a spiritual perspective. So often I hear people communicate this in one way or the other, and one of the most frequent ways I hear it is, “I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual. I have a sense of something greater than myself.” Now that’s the rudimentary level, and we could elevate that to a more conscious one, now we can take it into a greater purposefulness and expression. 

And by purposefully inviting that awareness into work we get people who are more engaged, there’s less voluntary turnover, there’s higher productivity, there’s higher job satisfaction. And all of this has been proven by recent research within some fairly rigorous studies. 

So the key factor here though is the organization leaders cannot do this as the next HR flavor of the month movement. So this is not about, “Let’s see if we can make this a spiritual workplace to attract and retain the greatest number of employees, or to raise productivity.” It’s not about that. This is about truly wanting to run an organization in a different way, and to lead from essence. Does it make sense? 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  It does. And I find it interesting. So you’re saying more productivity for example and higher retention can actually be byproducts, maybe not the main goal, but people will be more product, right? And in a way it creates a more authentic personal connection between employees or between employer and employees or between leaders in the same organization and spirituality, all those are things that cannot really be measured so much but more experience can actually lead to measurable results, right? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Yes, absolutely. Those conditions, the sincere commitment to inviting the whole person at work is the condition for creating all of those big pluses. The word of caution is that if however it’s intended to be a project, to be a technique for raising productivity, for reducing turnover, for example, it backfires. Because one cannot act authentically within authentic intentions.So it has to be that leadership is making a commitment for the sake of the individuals and those that they serve. Ultimately it begins with self. 

So that’s my job as a leadership coach is to help my willing clients to look internally and to evaluate, to be self-critical in a positive way what is it that they want to accomplish, what is their legacy that they want to leave as a leader? And once they connect to that in a continuous explorative way, just constantly unearthing what that is, that’s infectious. Then people follow. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  So what is your legacy? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Well, that’s a great question. All right, so here’s one of my legacies that I’m aiming for, right? Is earlier you had said, well, you’ve undergone some of your own personal growth and engaging in that, and that true. And I hit a place in my life where I was severely challenged by circumstances, my own circumstances of my own choosing. And I was at that point where you just keep trying something over and over again and hoping with the best of effort and said, “I’m going to do it right this time.” And it didn’t work out. I was at that point, right? 

Yeah, like just keep digging the hole deeper and I was taking myself down in the hole deeper. Until I got influenced by a very close friend of mine who suggested that I do the Hoffman process, and through the Hoffman process I was able to connect with this thing called spirit, my essence. And from there life didn’t turn all rosy, and I had thinking of trying to single off and things changed immediately, over time I’m reconnecting over and over again to my deeper essence, is what led to the personal transformation that I experienced. And I figured if I can bring that into my life at midlife, then I can bring that to others. 

One of the other legacies that I intend is to as a white male, a privileged white male, with higher education and all the advantages that has come to me via those channels, I am working to increase my own self-awareness around my race, my gender, and other advantages that I’ve had as a white person living in this country. And I figured that if I can grow from that, I can share that growth with those that I serve. 

I talked to a moment ago about organization transformation and the shifting that can occur through spirit, to the invitation of intuition and wisdom at personal a essence. The greatest opportunity that we have, that we are facing now at this time in our civilization is to bring together varying viewpoints, diverse perspectives from those that are divers from the north. 

And so one could look at it from a resource perspective and say that, “We’ve been leaving out a greater portion of our minds, collective minds.” We look at it from a perspective of humanity, it’s simply the right thing to do, is to bring everyone into and to open up, to reduce those barriers that frankly through our own whiteness if we will has prevented the rest … all of us including us white people from enjoying. And so it’s a self-limiting set of beliefs that if we reduce that and welcome everybody in and open to various forms of decision-making, leadership, and perspectives, then we’ve tapped what’s been so far the gold vein of humanity. 

And that’s part of my legacy, is to help create those kinds of conditions, one of my roles is to serve as a white ally, is to be to folks who are white about the personal advantages of opening up to different ways of seeing. 

And I’m a cisgendered white male, so bringing in the perspectives of … the limiting perspectives that we’ve had and how that’s limiting our own thinking. So yeah, let’s tap into self-interest, what is it about that that’s hurting us? So not so much white guilt, not so much about I must do the right thing so as to be politically correct, but actually being true to self and opening up to what’s possible, rather than limiting by these self-limiting beliefs. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  I love that. And I see at the beginning of I think social awareness development, when people with privilege such as myself, also able-body, cisgendered male, my own development it’s definitely was … it was not easy, and it was easier for me to go into defensive mode and, “No, but I had so much oppression as a Jew and Holocaust and all that.” So it’s in a way it was easier for me to try and find and kind of glean into where I’ve been hurt versus acknowledging, well, I’ve been given all those privileges, right? And instead of clinging into something that … Yeah, it’s important, and I have those opportunities to actually be an ally for other white people, for example, and look at around privilege and power. 

And instead of going into like you said white guilt, like I’m so sorry, and all of that, but yeah, owning the fact that I have those privileges, talking about it, and seeing what I can do with those and expanding my worldview. And actually really looking at the suffering that I might be causing in everyday life of others without even thinking about it so much, right? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  And if I may, yes … First of all, yes, to your own personal self-reflection and appreciating, not feeling guilty because of those advantages that you’ve had. And in fact, let’s look at it from a prosperity perspective, that there’s so much more that we can do so that others too can have those advantages. So it’s not as if we want to siphon off or to cleave off those advantages, it’s about bringing those into a wider sphere. So because we know of those advantages, now we can help develop those within others’ accessibility, make those accessible to others. 

The other thing I want to emphasize is, and your own personal experience is one that I can relate to as well, through our own pain, through my own pain is how I can identify with the pain of others. So that’s called empathy, right? And so having childhood trauma I’m able from that place to say, “Oh, I have a sense of how that feels.” Now, I have the advantage of being able to step out of that past and move into a new future, and by virtue of the color of my skin and my gender and how I identify, and because of my social class and other things, I can move up. It takes another bit of empathy for me to understand that I have that mobility and others may not. 

But so the pain that we experience within our own lives is a great starting point, it’s a great reference point. So let’s not minimize that, but instead appreciate that as a point of entry so that we can empathize with others. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach): Yeah. 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  And the little practical story behind that is unbeknownst to me when I was in my doctoral program I had one of my faculty members suggest, after I had said I wanted to study leadership development from the perspective of starting a men’s group, he suggested to me, “Why don’t you make it a men’s … do your men’s group, but make it about race?” And I said, “Well, Charlie, I don’t know anybody. I lived in Boulder, Colorado. It’s 95% white.” And he said, “Well, why don’t you find them.” And he said, 
“Here’s a couple of leads,” and a faculty member or two live in this community, contacted them, and went from there, and one thing led to the other. And I co-started a multiracial men’s group with a person who (is Latino?). 

And from there I got a greater sense of awareness as to what they were experiencing, and I studied it from the perspective of fathering and developing our children and ultimately wrote a dissertation on ethnic identity development, and went on to present at some summits that were sponsored by the Governor Romer in Colorado and served on the child support services committee for the governor, Governor Owens. 

And I was able to immerse myself in a new perspective, and then from that, and again, this was all self-driven, I wanted to figure out what I had been missing. And so I took it as an opportunity for me to grow. I grew up in St. Louis, it’s a South City, my grandparents were in the neighborhood, they were some four blocks away and they were first-generation Sicilian-Americans. And we always identified as Italian, Irish, Scottish, it is my heritage, my mother Scotch-Irish. And I went to Bullet, Colorado and began raising two boys here and they never talked about their ethnicity. And I found that really strange and sad. 

But then once I started to understanding this, “Oh, we’re immersed in the soup. We don’t have to think about it. We’re white.” It should never come up unless we intend for it. 

What are my kids missing? What opportunities are they missing around their development? Because the more that I talk to fathers and parents who are raising children with a greater awareness of their own ethnicity, their own race, their own culture, I felt my children were losing out a facet of their identity. So once it became a personal … I had something personally to gain from this, I was all-in. So that’s what we have to look for is what do you have, what’s your personal interest in this, and let’s involved that in. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  I love that. That’s important, bold and courageous one.

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  I think it is. I think it is. We’re putting some things in the line. We have a lot of privileges and those privileges are structured. I remember the first time I started reading about this in depth, and understanding how this all worked. I remember how angry I started feeling. That, “Huh, the gig was up, I understand that I had been complacent in a system that was telling me who I could be friends with, where I could live, what school my kids would go to, where I would negotiate my driving around a certain town, because of race, economic class, and so on.” 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  And it is so much easier to control a divided society. 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Yes. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  I’m thinking about this amazing movie, Dogville Lars von Trier, that talks about how dividing people into race, gender, ethnicity, class, how easy it is to in a way create a competition between those different groups so that the society can be controlled easily. 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Yes, that’s an astute awareness. That what’s being out this gate is that fear, that’s a fear-based driven form of influencing people. I wouldn’t necessarily …

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  You against others, right? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Yeah. Now imagine if we take that away, and we make every effort to become aware and take that away and instead invite difference constructively, and we put ourselves on the line, all of those insecurities that we all have, we’re willing to put those on the line – imagine the potency that we create in those situations. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  And it’s important what you’re saying – inviting difference, right? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Yes. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  Not bypassing differences, right? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Yes. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  So saying I am color blind is a very much racist saying, right? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Yes. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  Me trying to ignore the fact that I’m white and someone else is not, right? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Yes. Or to fail to identify that there’s a significant part of that person in your own identity that you’re willing or attempting to ignore. And again, leave outside your place of work, leave outside your own personal identity, yeah, so I think that’s a really important consideration. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  How do you believe a change can be accelerated in an already established culture, in an organization that maybe is halting the people that are a part of it? When you come in into an organization and you can see, oh, this is being done just because it’s being done like that for years, how do you start shifting things around? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Yes, okay. How to start shifting things around. Such a great, great question. Is first of all it’s more than inviting difference. We have to go out and get it. We have to go out and bring it in proactively. We can’t wait for it to happen. That’s a great excuse, it can be considered a great excuse, or a belief that is self-fulfilling is we’re waiting for it to happen, we’re waiting for it to happen, we’re inviting it in, it’s just not coming. So that’s a passive way. 

Let’s go out and get it, let’s be proactive about bringing in difference. Imagine the power behind that rather than let’s resist. And so therein lies the difference in creating the shift. Under every change is a dynamic of resistance, so there’s always in every change a degree of resistance. That’s crucial to the change itself. And so for rather than us … and I’ll give you some quick ways to sort get your mind around it, is we can leverage resistance for change. What consider physical perspective that fish couldn’t swim if there wasn’t resistance, birds couldn’t fly if there was, in fact a turbo jet that we fly across the globe, if there wasn’t resistance that jet wouldn’t fly. 

So we harness that resistance in a way that we honor it. So it’s a bit like Aikido and working with the resistance to create the shift, the changes, however subtle or profound they may be. But rather than trying to overcome the resistance or resisting resistance or persuaded the resistance to not exist – we want to bring it in. We want to go out and get it, because that is being proactive, that’s an act of courage. And it’s creative, it opens up the creative process. Going after the resistance proactively.

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  So let me ask a more specific question about that, and maybe challenge you a little bit just for the fun of it, so let’s say you are my executive coach, I’m the executive, and you are coming in with some beautiful ideas and I tell you, “That’s all great, Chris, but I don’t have time for this thing that you’re talking about. I hired you to make more money, be more efficient, my employees are not listening to me, no one cares about the company, I’m the only one who cares, I’m burnt out, I don’t know what to do, and you’re talking to me about those global changes in society. This is the business, I need to make more money, and have people to be more productive.” 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach): Great, perfect, I love the objectives. And that leader that you just described, being in a position of being the only one that cares or there’s a sense of isolation or there is a sense lack of followership – That is the resistance that we want to enter into. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  How do you work with it specifically, let’s say in this …

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Yeah, let’s have some conversations. First of all that individual leader has to be committed to change, because obviously the conditions are right for change if things aren’t working then something has to change. And it’s probably the leadership, there’s the one greatest point of consistency and leverage. So let’s begin with what are you willing to do, let’s have some clarifying conversations about that. How willing are you to be transparent with yourself? Let’s start there. And ask some clarifying conversations about what you have been doing, how you have been showing up, what influence are you having on people. 

And then from there start exercise your curiosity, start asking questions, get out in the workforce by way of you, others that you trust, to inquire within the organization what’s going on, what are we missing. And being willing to hear the truth.

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  I love this. So what are you saying, maybe last few sentences before we end, you’re saying as an executive coach, as someone who’s responsible for helping your clients to take ownership, you’re not going to shy away from telling the truth, right? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  That’s right, courageous leadership. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach): You’re not going to buy into the story of the CEO that wants to put all the blame on the employees, right? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Yes. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach): You’re saying, “Hey, let’s take an honest look at your role in what’s happening,” right? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Yes. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  And start with you. And I think this is the biggest power in a coaching relationship, right? You’re not there to be their friend.

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  That’s right. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  You can be very friendly, right? 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Yes. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach):  And you can supportive, but you’re not afraid to go in and be challenging. 

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach):  Yes. Challenging, yes, right. Challenging, compassionate, understanding, insightful, willing to offer observations, but the most important thing I can do is hold that container in a courageous way for my leader, my client to self-reflect honestly. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach): Beautiful. Thank you so much, Chris, for today. It was such a pleasure.

Chris Sansone (Executive and Organizational Coach): Sasha, I feel the same. Thank you. This is really wonderful. I’m so happy for our connection and be able to have a conversation like this regardless where this goes. So thank you, yeah. 

Sasha Raskin (Go New founder and Executive Coach): Thank you.

About the Author Sasha Raskin

Sasha Raskin, MA, is an  international #1 bestselling co-author , the founder and CEO of  Go New , a transformational education program, a  life coach, and business coach and a  psychotherapist in Boulder, CO. He is working on a P.h.D in Counseling Education and Supervision and is an adjunct faculty at the Contemplative Counseling master’s program at Naropa University, from which he also graduated. Sasha has been in the mental health field for more than 10 years, worked with youth at risk, recovery, mental health hospitals, and coached individuals, couples, families, startups, and groups. He has created mindfulness stress reduction and music therapy programs within different organizations. Whether it’s in person or via phone/video calls, whether as  a counselor , a  life coach or a  business coach, Sasha uses cutting-edge, research-based techniques to help his clients around the world to thrive.   As a  coach Sasha Raskin provides individual and group  coaching in Boulder, Colorado, and worldwide via video and phone calls, drawing from over ten years of experience. His services include:  life coaching,  business coaching,  career coaching,  ADD / ADHD coaching,  leadership coaching, and  executive coaching. Schedule your free 20-minute  coaching phone consultation with Sasha Raskin As a  counselor in Boulder, CO, Sasha provides  individual counseling in Boulder, CO ,  family therapy in Boulder, CO, and  couples therapy in Boulder,  marriage counseling in Boulder, and  couples intensives /  couples retreats, drawing from over ten years of clinical experience.  Schedule your free 20-minute  psychotherapy phone consultation with Sasha Raskin

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