Transformation Stance

Posted by on Sep 21, 2012 in Coaching, Transformation | One Comment

One of my take-aways from last week’s CultureCon2012 in Philadelphia was deepened understanding in the stance needed for influencers in a transformation. This post will give you a summary—depending on feedback and energy I’ll go deeper in later posts.


Influencer (Michael Sahota at Kayser's Ridge, WV)


A stance I’ve learned about from Siraj Sirajuddin, practiced for a few months and fully understood in a retreat with him a few days before the CultureCon:

How to influence a transformation:

  • Supplicate to the system.
  • Go in and sacrifice yourself.
  • Be transformed and inspire transformation around you.

Supplication requires you to give up yourself. Fully appreciate the system as it is and immerse yourself. Forgiving is not enough. As long as you think you know (or are) better, you’re done before you started.

Transformation is Positive Disintegration

Transformation will only happen if the system (mindset, culture, structure…) disintegrates to allow a new self to emerge. In a hierarchical organisation, this transformation cannot start when it doesn’t include the top. It will not be considered an option without a sense of urgency.

Disintegration and Transformation

Disintegration and Transformation

As an influencer, you will need to go first. Senior leadership (and situational leaders in the organisation, non-regarding their “position”) need to follow if there is any hope of success.

Influencers are On The Edge

Priests have two options whom to face during prayer. Facing the people, they are in danger of being the center of attention. Aligning with the people, standing in front of them, they show clearly to everybody that whatever might hit the people will hit them first.

As influencers, we do not want to preach. We want to inspire a system to improve and act as an attractor. We do not want to scare the system, or any of its people. So we need to make very clear that we face the same risks as everyone else, and first. We need to show vulnerability and fear.

Moment of Transformation

Influencers sharing a Moment of Transformation

When we observe vulnerability, dysfunction and pain, many of us have the need to look away. Our empathy would break us were we to really pay attention. Influencers don’t look away, they need to change the world for the better. On the edge, facing what’s not bearable for most, we need hope and connection to give us sustenance. On the edge, we’re always on our own. Knowing that others do the same, on other edges, is essential to go on.

Tribal Leadership

Tribal Leadership defines

  • Level 3: “I am great and you are not.”
  • Level 4: “We are great and they are not.”
  • Level 5: “We are great and so are they.”


Reaching level four requires everyone of us to transform themselves, so that we hold the identity of the tribe above our own. This is the level your leadership team needs to get to for an organisational transformation to begin. To continue, we need to overcome the “us vs. them” gaps in our organisation. As long as influencers think of themselves as better as “them” and try to “help”, this help will be received as violation, and meet resistance. True transformation into a breakthrough culture requires the influencers to aspire level five, to truly embrace the people we influence.
“We are agile and they don’t get it” will not help you to achieve any sustainable improvement.


Thank you Michael Sahota for helping develop and refine these ideas in 10 days of intensive and caring conversation.

Thank you Siraj Sirajuddin for introducing me to the Influencer’s Mantra and the stance of Supplication. Thank you for inviting me to Temenos and ACCUS so that I could attend CultureCon!

Thank you Samir Selmanovic for joining Michael Sahota’s and my session on “Heart of Transformation” at CultureCon2012 in Philadelphia and for our conversation on the bus the next day, gifting me with the priest and on-the-edge stories.

Thank you Portia Tung for introducing me to Tribal Leadership. Thank you Venessa Miemis for being a constant inspiration on vulnerability and many more topics…

Thank you André Dhont and Dan Mezick for the organisation of CultureCon, and for inviting me on the bus. There will be more posts with more details on this amazing event.


1 Comment

  1. Mike Wagner
    October 2, 2012

    Thanks for sharing these thought provoking insights.

    I especially liked, “Our empathy would break us were we to really pay attention. Influencers don’t look away, they need to change the world for the better.”

    Empathetic courage to keep looking is what I constantly need to practice.

    Keep creating…a story worth repeating,


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