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Whirling Chief


Sesil Pir

Sesil Pir

Can Business Drive Meaning And Meaningfulness In The Workplace?

The annual World Economic Forum (WEF) was once again held in Davos, Switzerland.

A majority of us have the perception that the WEF is some kind of a billionaires’ club. In some ways, it is, though I discovered during last year’s attendance that it is not exactly true. It is an event many executives of highly prestigious companies gather in, dining and wining separately from the rest of the crowd – some throwing lush parties at their very own venues; yet, there is also a community of leaders, subject matter experts, and activists invited, who have undoubtedly devoted their lives to a particular cause they wish to bring visibility and offer global voice to.

Unfortunately, this year’s event seems to highlight the missing common purpose between those two parties in attendance. As much good as there always is in the debates and conversations, I was told, unlike last year, there were a number of leadership attitudes and behaviors in question – both in front and behind the curtains. That lack of common purpose and shared values play into the current picture and unfolding of Industrial Revolution 4.0.

For how to find a common purpose in the workplace, please refer to the original article here on Forbes.

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  • 22 May 2019
Whirling Chief

The Transformative Power Of Love In Leadership: How To Cultivate A Culture That Leads From Love


Earlier I published the first piece in a series regarding the transformative power of love in leadership and why it matters in the 21st-century leadership.

As children, most of us experience a deep sense of connection, as if we are a part of something bigger, a broader existence causing us to lead from a place of love, having the peace and comfort of belonging in our hearts. As we grow older, however, with our conscious and all the information is taken in, we find ourselves slowly separate from this sense of belonging and pride.

We see a human being behave in a particular way that provokes a mental image (and consequently an emotion) in us and all of a sudden, we start seeing the individual as an “object,” justifying our state. This causes us to develop an attitude, which often results in us behaving in an inauthentic way, leading the other person to see us as an “object” in return.

In the end, we are in a vicious cycle of “war” despite the civility we try to demonstrate on the surface.

To learn more about how to cultivate a culture that leads from love, please refer to the original article here on Forbes.

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  • 20 May 2019
Whirling Chief

Featured Video

Nº 223

Which Leadership Behaviors Drive Positive Employee Outcomes?


Leaders are a key element of any workplace: they play a big role in any people process, from selection to talent management and training. In every workforce, employer branding or employee experience survey, leadership comes up as a key category and every kitchen conversation has leader influence as a topic when discussing employee satisfaction, commitment, performance, or even turn over.


Leaders can help employees deliver work at the best level possible. To achieve this, however, they need to motivate folks to perform.

In what exactly can people leaders make a difference? Research across 87 studies found that [effective] managers can improve specific employee outcomes:

  • Help people in their team perform better,
  • Raise their employees’ motivation,
  • Keep people satisfied with their jobs.


Together with our science partners, we tried to summarize in this video!

We do hope you enjoy and consider sharing with others.

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  • 6 May 2019
Whirling Chief

Leadership & Team Development

Nº 222

The Transformative Power Of Love In Leadership



“There exists a form of power and intelligence that represents the highest point of human potential,” says Robert Greene in his book, Mastery. Arguably, it may be the ultimate source of greatest achievements, discoveries, influences in human history. It is the kind of power and intelligence that’s not necessarily taught and can be hardly found in our scholarly curriculums; and one that supports us in our life journeys towards leadership.

The problem with this form of power and intelligence is that because it’s rare to experience in time, it requires life-long work to grasp and calls on the courageous heart to remain connected, it is misunderstood, easily ignored and/or commonly seen as having no place in business.

For how to think of growing leadership grounded on compassionate, unbiased love, please refer to the original article here on Forbes.


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  • 1 April 2019
Whirling Chief

Leadership & Team Development

Nº 221

Integrity as a Form of Expression


I have been wanting to write about integrity for a while now because I observe too many of our clients struggle with the concept.

There is a sincere lack of congruence inside our organizations leading to loss of trust and de-formation of positive relationships. Some common examples we observe in our work are mission statements that are not lived; doctrines of respect resulting in disgrace (in action); customer-oriented slogans unsupported by routine business practices; promises during hiring betrayed by individual preferences, etc.

Especially in roles that embody direct human influence, the issue of personal integrity has increased importance.


Because integrity can serve as a glue for connection (to self and to others) or as a razor that cuts through the connection (to self and to others).

But first off, what is integrity anyway?

In our common dictionaries, integrity is often described as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.”

As a psychologist, I tend to rather think of integrity as a state of being whole. I find it better related to a process of integration – a unity of our ideas, beliefs, values, and behavior. In other words, when the seen part of us – our behavior – is congruent with the unseen parts of us – our internal possessions such as ideas – we tend to lead with integrity.

Why does it matter?

There is a lot of talk about integrity being important to the make of communities and law-abiding and it is. Especially in the business society, we tend to pay more attention to the morals of our doing as an outcome.

I find there is a more esteem reason as to why our integrity matters: That’s the quality of our relatedness.

The quality of our relation to ourselves differs invariably depending on the degree of integrity we are able to experience within ourselves. This quality is a decider of impact on our self-esteem. If not nourished, it can result in a massive dent, leading to a negative base that serves the way we relate to others.

What do I mean?

When we behave in ways that conflict our judgment of what is appropriate (right or wrong), we actually lose face in our own eyes before anyone else.

For example, if someone is (in our opinion) wrongfully going at someone in a meeting and we become a witness, it is likely our intuition will tell us to interfere while our mind will tell us to stay out of it. If we listen to our rational side only to not react, walking out of that meeting, not only we judge the person responsible for misbehavior and the person who had to receive malpractice; we start judging our environment and ourselves, too. We start generating thoughts like… “This is an unsafe place, where people yell at each other.” “One day, I will be yelled at, too.” “When that day comes, no one will speak up for me either.” Then, we start being negative towards ourselves because we respect ourselves less as a result of our behavior.

If and when we repeat this pattern, we end up trusting ourselves less. When prolonged, we take a dent on our self-confidence or worse self-worth. Then, this lowered self-esteem becomes our base for building a “healthy” relationship – a very hard parallel to draw…

Even in situations where there is a value clash or complexity of context, it is imperative we choose to stay authentic and act from a place of consciousness. When we are conscious, we connect better to our true self, drawing in from a holistic place of knowledge, checking in with rationality for clarity of purpose to grow responsibility for the choice we make.

I can write so much more about the neurology and emotion of integrity, but I really want to offer a simple and quick tool for all of us to leverage in face of examples we witness lately.

When in doubt, let’s please ask ourselves these three simple questions:

  1. Am I honest (to who I am and what my heart really wants)?
  2. Am I congruent (to my values)?
  3. Am I reliable (in my action)?
  4. Am I fair (in impact)?
  5. Am I contributing to the building of trust (or taking away from it)?

If we still find ourselves break from integrity, which we all do from time to time, let’s try to follow these actions to grow from the specific experience:

  1. Own our responsibility in action and show courage to face reality as is.
  2. Seek to understand why we did what we did.
  3. If our action involves others, acknowledge explicitly the understanding of our behavior’s consequence.
  4. Take necessary action to minimize harm to self and to others.
  5. Commit to behaving differently next time.

It is a hard task to hold onto integrity while our governing structures fail to stand by humanity. Nevertheless, we can contribute to the making of it.

First, we need to remember integrity is a form of expression for our leadership virtue and our self-esteem.

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  • 21 March 2019
Whirling Chief

Leadership & Team Development

Nº 220

Building Work Cultures of Trust & Wellbeing One Human at a Time



The world of work is changing and changing fast.

It’s becoming more human.

Leadership is also shifting fast and in many places, leaders are falling behind. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I am delighted to join the series of #HumansFirst conversations Kevin Monroe is hosting on the Higher Purpose Podcast and share what we’re learning through our work and research.  

Some key takeaways from our conversation include:

  • Leaders sit in all chairs but lead self-first,
  • Leaders connect head, heart, and hands,
  • 8 core human attributes that serve leaders in the development of individual capacity and organizations in enhancing capability,
  • Leaders have a participatory choice in building environments of trust and wellbeing,
  • Welfare is not the same as wellbeing.


I invite you to listen to the complete conversation at bit.ly/HPPSesil and please feel free to comment here what most resonated with you.

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  • 12 March 2019
Whirling Chief

HR Management

Nº 219

A Newfound Context For Business: Workplace Considerations For 2019


Researchers recently discovered a rare and unknown microbe called “hemimastigote” in a piece of Nova Scotian soil. Their subsequent analysis of its DNA revealed that it was a kind of tree that fell outside of any known large category. This reminded me of the times in the early part of this century when we came across that rare structure of life, a newfound context of an organization that’s now famously becoming the “21st century business.”

As the world of work is evolving, shaped by global trends of globalization, digitalization and democratization, business needs to continue adapting to the changing context and its demands. In particular, the growing diversification of organizational work, work experience and workplace considerations will become a distinct feature of today’s labor markets in both developed and developing countries. While some of the more traditional forms of organization will continue disappearing or transforming in the wake of automation, new forms of organizations will continue evolving.

I share some workplace considerations and trends for 2019 on Forbes here.

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  • 25 February 2019
Whirling Chief

HR Management, Uncategorized

Nº 218

Redefining Leadership: Ten Commandments for the Digital Age


“Learning is not mandatory; neither is survival!”

Edwards Deming’s assertion many years ago is most relevant in today’s context. The rapid mortality rate of companies in the digital age is ultimately a leadership issue. The success of the digital transformation for organizations depends on how well leaders transform themselves first. Along with a healthy dose of optimism, leaders need to demonstrate unprecedented levels of learning agility. This is crucial because the very survival of their organizations is at stake.

Then, how does a leader develop clarity in the age of digital? Perhaps by doing what Alvin Toffler once said: “by unlearning, re-learning and learning”, and not just about technologies; more importantly about mindsets and behaviors.

I am an honorary alumnus of the Indian Business School in Hyderabad and have the honor of being invited for lectures regularly. I met Rajiv Jayaraman during one of my lectures and we have been following (and supporting) each others’ work since. A TEDx speaker and a thought leader in the space of digital transformation and learning, Rajiv has a keen interest in the psychology and business of learning. As the Founder-CEO of KNOLSKAPE, a talent transformation platform, he works with CXOs and senior leaders of leading organizations to aid their talent transformation strategies in the digital age.

I was thrilled to learn about Rajiv’s new book coming “Clearing the Digital Blur“, which argues there are quite a few things that leaders must unlearn in reach of rethinking talent in the speed of digital.

Below, you can find some insight into his current thinking.

Leadership Unlearning

  1. Digitalization demands a new leadership style

With the emergence of boundary-less organizations and the proliferation of stakeholders, leaders must unlearn old leadership habits anchored around command and control. Leading with authority is passé. Leading without authority is very much in vogue.

An industrial-age leader’s natural response to valuable resources is to hoard. Digital leaders’ natural response is to share. It is in fact by sharing that digital leaders gain their license to influence others without authority.

Continuous collaboration and real-time dialogue between leaders, managers and frontline employees is a crucial success factor in the digital age. Leaders must architect a collaborative, networked organization that responds to internal and external changes in an agile fashion.

Digital also forces leaders to be much more engaged with the external environment of the organization, be it with governments, NGOs or consumer groups.

  1. Digitalization requires a complete re-think of the external business environment

The companies that are likely to disrupt an industry are increasingly unlikely to come from the same industry. The ones that are armed with a digital arsenal from different industries are becoming threats to incumbents. To develop foresight, leaders need to develop a clear understanding of the forces that are shaping not just their industries but also other industries.

Additionally, be it the 4Ps of marketing or Porter’s 5 forces, the traditional lenses for analysing the external business environment have become less relevant in the digital age. It may be useful for business leaders in their respective industries to ask, “What would Google do”? This question brings to sharp focus the re-thinking that needs to be done to be relevant in the new age.

  1. Organizational mission and purpose to be revisited

Leaders may need to revisit the “Why” question for their organizations and question assumptions behind the business model of the organization and the industry. To adapt, they would need to bring the risk of disruption into business planning, no matter how comfortable they may feel at this point about their business performance. The single most important factor that galvanizes the ecosystem partners, customers and employees of the organization is the overarching organizational mission.

Leadership Re-learning

  1. Digital is an organizational capability

Digital is not just a senior leadership issue. Digital capabilities need to be built from individual contributors all the way up to the board. Failing which, severe gaps would likely rear their ugly heads between strategy and execution. To add to this, capability building needs to be an agile, continuous process. Nothing captures this better than Peter Senge’s timeless quote, The only sustainable competitive advantage is an organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition.”

  1. Change must be built into the organizational DNA

The operating principle in the digital world is that if something can be disrupted, it will be. Adapt or perish, the inexorable law of nature is more true today than ever before. Digital has caused tectonic shifts that have displaced individual companies and even industries. Change management used to be a program management activity for companies faced with a massive transformation. Today, leaders must ensure that the capability and motivation to continuously change are built into the very DNA of the organization.

Digital revolution is not so much a technology revolution, it is a cultural revolution. Organizations that have an agile, open and learning culture will thrive and others will fall by the wayside.

  1. Strategy at the speed of digital

There used to be a time when leaders could lock themselves up for weeks on end to come up with their five-year strategic plans. Today, the shelf life of strategy has been drastically reduced, and more importantly, strategy and execution happen “in sync” in a tight feedback loop on the job. It is no longer a closed room exercise.  The ‘Build, Measure, Learn’ cycle advocated by Eric Ries in his book, “The Lean Startup” for product development is also very much applicable to business strategy.

Leadership Learning

  1. Design Thinking: From economies of scale to economies of experience

Leaders who have earned their stripes in the industrial era need to pay attention to Design Thinking. In the industrial age, business decisions were geared towards achieving economies of scale by optimizing operations through a one-size-fits-all approach. Today, digital has empowered individuals in an unprecedented fashion. Consequently, hyper-personalization is expected in every offering, be it with consumers or employees. In other words, one size fits none.

By following a structured design thinking process, leaders can create differentiation for their businesses by crafting exceptional personalized experiences for their stakeholders.

  1. Agility: Fast fish eats the slow fish

In an on-demand world, if organizations are not agile, irrelevance is imminent. To succeed in this new environment, leaders need to empower their managers and frontline employees with enough avenues to take agile decisions and bring information back to the organization to learn about the outcomes. Organizations such as Zappos and Medium are experimenting with holacracy, which is a whole new way of organizing work to enable agility in the organization.

  1. From educated guesses to data-driven insights

Business leaders need to ensure that decisions across levels are guided by data and insights. The successes of many new-age digital organizations show that organized data-driven trial and error process is guaranteed to produce better results at an organizational level than the educated guess of a lone genius.

  1. In constant search of blue oceans

Innovation cannot just be a buzzword. Leaders must champion bold experiments on a continuous basis and help organizations learn faster. This requires leaders to prepare themselves and others for embracing volatility, uncertainty, ambiguity and risk. Searching for blue oceans is no longer a one-off activity, it is part of the daily agenda.

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  • 20 February 2019
Whirling Chief

Featured Video, HR Management

Nº 217

Effective Leadership Behaviors


People leads are a key element of our workplaces: they play a big role in people processes and impact experience creation. They can help employees deliver work at the best level possible and they can become a big blocker, too.

For sure, their influence comes up when we speak about employee satisfaction, commitment, performance, or even turn over. Yet, we asked ourselves do we actually know whether people leads can actually make a difference when it comes to specific outcomes?

For example, according to the Center for Creative Leadership, about %60 of people become leaders of others without getting any proper training. A 2016 survey of 500 managers from micro-learning platform Grovo found that 44 percent felt unprepared for their role. McKinsey studies list “more than 80% of frontline managers are unhappy with their own first-time performance.”

Despite the odds (with or without training), evidence tells us people leaders can make a difference in driving outcomes and they do!

To enable success through growth in the new century, people leaders really need to learn how to support inspiration and meaning in another human being – before they are granted the authority to lead others. AND, there are a few specific behaviors that help them support more positive outcomes.

Today, we share a short, evidence-based video in partnership with ScienceforWork around key leadership behaviors for effective team performance.

We hope you enjoy!

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  • 30 January 2019
Whirling Chief

HR Management

Nº 216

Getting Ready for a Review? Start by Shifting Focus!


“In broaching the possibility of ‘being’ … we have to imagine a world, in which celebration is less suspect than criticism,” wrote psychoanalyst Adam Phillip in Unforbidden Pleasures, published last year.

Q4 and Q1 in business means everybody is preparing for some sort of performance management activity.

It feels odd to recognize the fact that, despite our need to go through the process, most of us involved as employees, people leaders and practitioners will not find joy in the process. For yet another year, this often-annual task will fail miserably to meet the needs and expectations of our workforce.

If you are looking to re-imagine your performance management practices, you may want to check out our article, ‘The Future Of Performance Management: A Redesign Leading To Creativity, Resilience And Collaboration‘ on Forbes.

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  • 14 January 2019