Bocchino has authored numerous books and articles on:
Individual and systems change
The effects of fostering fundamental motivation
Literacy has become Rob's latest and most successful book:
"Emotional Literacy: To Be a Different Kind of Smart"
(available at major bookstores and at corwin.com).
The book provides solid background and real
strategies for helping young people (and adults) be more emotionally
literate. It helps the reader become more emotionally aware
and also more flexible by providing specific tools.
"Timely and useful. Provides clear and
practical strategies to help young people and adults achieve
successful and satisfying lives by understanding and managing
emotions" Robert Garmston, Professor Emeritus – California
State University, Sacramento
"Emotional Literacy offers a concise
and practical application of the social skills needed to be
a productive, fulfilled member of society. This must-read
is for everyone concerned about the development of the whole
child" Pat Wolfe, Educational Consultant - Napa, California
Excerpt from the forthcoming
Corwrin Press book
Conscious Leadership: by Rob Bocchino
From Chapter 1:
1-What is Conscious Leadership?
“With the change of heart there is a change
of eye, and to this new view there is meaning in what for long
was meaningless. Everything depends on the inner change; when
this has taken place and only then, the world changes.” Martin Buber, Good and Evil
Overview We believe that the heart of change
is a change of heart. Beneath all the hype, real, meaningful,
second-order1Limited perception narrows the field of options.
Conscious leaders recognize that their choices are reflections
of how aware they were at the moment they made them. And the
most remarkable consequence of this understanding is the realization
that efficacythe belief that one’s perceptions and choices
make a differencemeans accepting responsibility for the quality
of those perceptions and choices.
It is this acceptance that compels the leader
to pursue greater consciousness. In our effort to understand
these introspective patterns, we have identified and organized
conscious leadership in a developmental framework that includes
three specific attributes:
are decision-makers. Every choice, action and
behavior is simply an artifact of some decision. Leadership
itself is an invisible act, the act of making choices.
Second, like all experts, leaders are distinction-makers.
They study a specific body of knowledge that is constantly
evolving and as a result, they refine their ability
to differentiate according to specific attributes or
characteristics. They see things that others overlook.
This refined distinction-making is the prerequisite
for the precision that allows leaders to see the differences
that make a difference—differences that the less-conscious
leader is incapable of perceiving.
Third, leaders use a precise professional lexicon.
Whether in the intra-personal, self-reflective domain
or in the inter-personal, conscious leaders strive for
accuracy and fidelity in both thought and language.
Their vocabulary is specialized and technically explicit.
Lucid expression of reasoning and perception then is
one measure of the Conscious Leadership. Moreover, the
ability to be articulate in these matters is a measure
of the caliber of understanding and familiarity with
the maps, skills, dynamics, and other developmental
forces, both individual and systemic, that are the change
and leadership processes.
These three attributes set the conscious leader
apart from others. Moreover, these functions constitute a
significant focus of their work. One pattern that has emerged
while working with thousands of leaders is that these basic
leadership attributes are present in every successful leader
we have studied.
Leaders are decision-makers.
The first of these attributes is based on the premise that
leaders are valued for the quality of the decisions they make.
This is sometimes lost on managers who have the title of leader,
but not the deeper understanding of what leadership is. Managers
are rewarded for performing prescribed behaviors the same
way over and ever again. They are acknowledged for their loyalty,
and for their adherence to the status quo and to established
protocols. And while loyalty and consistency are certainly
worthy virtues, when managers begin to inquire about basic
assumptions and to challenge the conventional wisdom, their
motives, their intentions and even their value are often questioned.
Systems that are closed, systems that want to preserve the
status quo, systems that are afraid of change do not like
to be questioned.
It is natural for systems to be attached to
what has worked in the past. Toward this end managers make
sure that tried and true practices stay tried and true. People
are responsible for doing what they are directed to do. And
as important as these responsibilities may be, they are not
sufficient markers for creating systems that thrive.
In the extreme, many of the attributes of
systemic dysfunction–coercion, dishonesty, unbridled
use of power, authority and intimidation–are the natural
consequences of a void of real leadership. Instead of fostering
consciousness in leaders, unbridled accountability standards
require managing people and events so that they stay within
fixed boundaries. Scripts, high-stakes testing, inflexible
compliance standards breed at best obedience. At worst these
tactics break people. Mandated obedience, threat, and unilateral
control are symptoms of a lack conscious leadership.
Leaders on the other hand, make choices, sometimes
very difficult choices. And they are accountable for the quality
of their decisions. Moving quickly, staying the path, committing
to a course of action is only useful if it moves the system
ecologically in the right direction. Paradoxically, instead
of reacting or taking immediate action, conscious leaders
are often questioners: they wonder out loud, they initiate
collaborative inquiry. As thought-leaders, they question what
they know, and they may even question the beliefs that are
at the deep structure of the culture. They may be skeptical
of traditional boundaries, and even of success itself.
Mindful of the ecology of the larger system,
they do this responsibly and with due diligence. They explain
their assumptions and presuppositions publicly. They advocate
transparently, they inquire honestly. This takes time and
skill and faith and yet conscious leaders recognize that they
must foster individual and systemic consciousness in order
to create the conditions for reflection, for collaboration
and for collective commitment. Systemic, conscious behavior
whether it results in plans, actions or paths is a manifestation
of the root of the first attribute: Leaders are decision-makers.
Leaders are distinction-makers.
To be good at this, the conscious leader must
be a mindful, continuous learner and deliberately pursue an
evolving system of knowledge. Conscious leaders are
mindful of the principles that embody such a dynamic system
as well as particular exemplars that connect the theory to
practice. In every instance, the conscious leader strives
to integrate the particulars of the specific event with the
principles that represent acquired wisdom. There is a balance
scale—WISDOM – sits on one side—and EVENT
on the other. The conscious leader examines both—was
this event wise in the light of current wisdom? Is current
wisdom sufficient to weigh this event or does this event enlarge,
refine, alter and shape wisdom? This examination, this reflective
pursuit, leads to the acquisition of skills, strategies and
tools. When this occurs, the course of action, or the direction
is the deliberate result of sound judgment and expert thinking.
One paradox of this pursuit is that the most
valuable consequence of the leader’s broadening knowledge
base is the refinement of perception. As one learns more,
she makes more precise observations, and more fully appreciates
the importance of subtleties and nuance. Attentional awareness
is the self-conscious recognition of perceptual focus. Novices
do not pay attention to the same things that experts do. Moreover,
they may be developmentally incapable of seeing the minute
details that are obvious to an expert.
Gladwell points out the expert food testers
use multi-dimensional 15-point scales to analyze and classify
the qualities of taste, texture, and appearance of various
products. These experts can even distinguish (and have continuums
to record) even the slight variations between different batches
of the same cookies made on the same day in the same factory!
Clearly the ability to detect these delicate differences is
beyond most of us. And while some may wonder about the inherent
merits of such ability, it has a remarkable mark value. The
expert’s ability to apprehend and record distinct instances
of multiple variables is a rare, valuable commodity.
Conscious leaders, like all experts, are valued
for their ability to know and recognize what factors, forces
and dynamics make a difference in a system. Effective communication
is as more about perceiving the subtle, non-verbal responses
from others than it is about charisma. Effective problem-solving
is as much about distinguishing between viable outcomes as
it is about action planning. Team building, and developing
capacity is more about diagnosis than having a repertoire
of team-building activities. Conscious leaders understand
this and it is reflected in the way they approach their work.
Over the past 15 years, we have attempted
to isolate the cognitive behaviors of conscious leaders. In
our work2 we have uncovered six cognitive meta-maps that seem
to be correlated not only to conscious leaders. These meta-maps
plot the terrain conscious leaders traverse in leading. And
the presence of these maps correlates to the ability to craft
what some researchers refer to as "elegant solutions."
Other groups also share this ability: those
with a high degree of emotional literacy, effective teachers,
change agents and coaches. Alison has also proposed a model
that examines wisdom and her data suggest a correlative pattern
The research on emotional literacy and on
wisdom suggests that conscious leaders are wise and emotionally
literate. Moreover, the meta-maps appear to be useful in identifying
the wise and emotionally literate. So there is an intersecting
of sets. As we studied these leaders, as we observed, talked
with, and explored their thinking, insights emerged. In addition
to the six meta-maps, a third attribute became apparent: a
predisposition to use precise, professional language.
Leaders use a precise professional
Conscious leadership and precision of language
are inseparable, and to some degree they are a measure of
each other. The leaders we have studies are careful about
how they express their perceptions and intentions, both to
themselves and to those they lead. They know the power of
language to shape culture, to build trust, to foster collaborative
advocacy and inquiry. Along with cognitive psychologists,
and those who study psycho-linguistics leaders share the understanding
that language shapes our perception events. How we talk about
what happens and they way we frame events has a lot to do
with the way we interpret those events short term and long.
And while it may be possible to be aware of something for
which one has no language, it is impossible to have meaningful
language for some thing that is outside of one’s consciousness.
And ultimately, it is impossible to move from awareness to
understanding without meaningful language of some sort.
In addition to shaping our perception to events,
language also shapes our response to events. Words reflect
the degree to we are able to make and articulate important
distinctions. To the uninitiated a skiff, scow or Boston Whaler
are all boats. Likewise to the novice leader, the distinction
between consensus and compromise is often vague or nonexistent.
And in fact, until she knows the difference between the two,
a leader may not even be able to see what the choices for
decision-making are for a particular team in a particular
instance in that team’s development. Language is how
we make meaning. In either case the degree of linguistic precision
is a measure of the refinement of perception.
Admission into a professional organization
is a process of socialization. Professional language also
sets standards for rigor with in a specialized community.
The ability to recognize, understand and use the specific
syntax and vocabulary of that profession is part of the socialization
as well. Beyond mere jargon used to exclude the uninitiated,
a professional nomenclature is a reflection of expertise,
of both distinction-making and decision-making. As Schoen
suggests, reflective practice is one measure that signifies
not only deep professional knowledge, but also the ability
to think like an expert.
Moreover, conscious leaders use language to
help people to see things that they might not have seen otherwise.
This shift in perception is both external and internal. In
order to do this, the leader must first see with new eyes
and then use language to help others see as well. In a recent
workshop a participant suggested that for him, this process
is like star gazing.
Looking at the night sky, he would of course
apprehend everything that is there, but not be able to make
meaningful distinctions. On the other hand if he were to look
at the sky with the help of an astronomer, he would begin
to distinguish stars from planets, to recognize constellations,
and to have language to communicate those new perceptions.
Now, within the field of stars, planets, asteroids and constellations
he would see things differently, and as a result of that new
perception his belief about his potential to see would
also be altered. This is the work of leaders: enhancing
perception and expanding potential.
When the leader opens new perspectives and
widens the frame of possibilities then real change can begin.
Those possibilities only exist outside current thinking. Yet
there are those who do just that.
Resilient Students: Integrating Resiliency Into Everything
You Already Know and Do"(2002,
in Grades K-8: Experiential Learning That Builds Character
(2006, Corwin Press).
She has published two articles: “Positive
Youth Development: If Schools Were Like Baseball Teams,” Reclaiming
Children and Youth, Summer, 2004, and “Popping the Clutch,”
published in Exceptional Parent Magazine, November, 2001.
Kate’s books can be purchased online at www.corwinpress.com