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Co-Active Global Newletter

Growing Co-Active Cultures: A New Chapter in CTI’s Evolving Story

Written by Barton Cutter

Transformation is afoot inside CTI. Over the last seven months, a new impetus has emerged to bring Co-Active leadership to the organization at every level.

With this, Co-Active pioneers throughout the organization are experimenting with new ways to integrate the principles of leadership into CTI’s internal culture. In true Co-Active fashion, this process has garnered both significant learning and failure, and in some cases, has been met with great resistance.

Yet, through the explorations of peer to peer feedback, accountability structures, forms of self management, and continual adjustment along the way, pockets of Co-Active leadership are now popping up, offering insight into what this cultural transformation may yield.

Among these experiments is the CTI Operations Team, whose members have stepped forward to test the playing field as a fully Co-Active and entirely self-managed team. Based on principles from the Co-Active Leadership model, the team aims to create an environment where each person is both committed and responsible for their full impact.

Team members Gayle Trenam, Joyce Wong, Jennet Lee, Stefanie Snee, and Stephanie Rincon manage end-to-end logistics for upwards of 216 Core Curriculum courses, 80 Certification Pods, 240 Group Supervisions, and 30 Leadership Retreats a year.

This past August, the Operations Team made a radical decision to eliminate formal roles and reporting structures in favor of embracing greater individual responsibility and cooperative decision-making.

At the heart of this transformation has been a commitment to increased self-awareness, communication, acknowledgement of teammates creative potential, and trust in one another as well as the collaborative process.

Six months into the transition, the CTI Operations Team has felt a significant impact in how they function as a team. Gayle Trenam, who’s main role is scheduling course leaders, comments, “Self management took some getting use to, and it has taken some time for us figure out what accountability looks like now. But we’re amazed at how much more effective we are.

“Before we where self-managed, making a simple change to who was leading a course would take all kinds of time getting an approval from our manager before updating it in multiple databases. Now, we just make the change and go directly to our teammates with the update. This may not seem significant, but in providing scheduling and support for over 800 personnel needs per year, the impact is huge.”

Joyce Wong, who focuses on new event creation as well as travel and accreditation support, adds, “The longer we are a self-managed team the more confident we become as a team and as individuals. At first, we got a lot of comments like ‘I didn’t know you did that’ and I think its funny how this has pulled back the vale on what we do. And, it’s brought us closer as a team and has taught us to trust ourselves more.”

As in the microcosm of CTI’s Operation Team, the heart of the vision for Co-Active culture within organizations lies in a redefinition of personal responsibility.

Moving away from defined roles and perceived obligations, the responsibility of modern leadership lies in a buoyant ability to respond to any situation, moving the work forward collaboratively and in alignment with the organization’s vision.

At its foundation, responsibility insists that each team member, no matter their position, be firmly rooted in their personal values and sense of purpose while also seeing how those values and purposes combine with their unique areas of expertise to serve the organization’s overall goals.

Today’s corporate community requires that novel solutions come at an increasingly rapid rate.

With such an accelerated demand, opportunities for innovation must keep pace. The one-dimensional, leadership model prevalent in many of today’s existing corporate structures lack the agility to respond effectively.

And CTI is no exception. Like other organizations at the leading edge of the shift toward cultural consciousness, CTI recognized there was an untapped potential in its people that could not be accessed through a traditional management structure.

Henry Kimsey-House, Co-Owner and Founder of CTI comments, “We envision having an immersive experience in organizations, cultures, and systems where we work with these cultures to create transformation into the next evolutionary stage using Co-Active principals and models.

“We see these cultures focused more on the ongoing development of its people and less on quarterly financials. We know that those financials will improve consistently and steadily as the people’s development is being attended to. We see these as cultures populated with leaders from the top to the bottom and from the center to the edges.”

Efforts to redesign CTI’s internal culture were bolstered as Karen and Henry Kimsey-House discovered Frederic Laloux’s work while doing background research on alternative leadership models.

Laloux points to five shifts in the evolution of organizational structure. The most recent of which, known as conscious organizations, moves away from top-down management models in favor of greater individual responsibility, a sense of ownership throughout the organization and a deep sense of purpose at all levels.

They realized that his work offered a basis to build from, finding elements of his ideas already within the Co-Active Leadership model.

“Laloux’s book points to three specific things to pay attention to: self management, wholeness, and guiding principles. So we started paying more attention to those three things in the evolution of our business.

“One of the first things that happened was that people began to see that all the principles were in place to build a Co-Active business based on all the principles that we have been shaping these past 20 years, to lean into all that we already know, and to trust ourselves and our own wisdom,” says Henry Kimsey-House.

CTI’s journey is unique, embracing the natural similarities to Laloux’s findings and then deepening the organization’s experience with the richness of Co-Active.

With a belief that all people are naturally creative, resourceful, and whole as a backbone, explorations within the Operations Team continue to cultivate a sense of freedom and confidence allowing them to step into leadership more fully. Through a conscious effort to promote open communication between all members, a tangible sense of safety and authenticity has emerged.

Wong says of the Operations Team, “We’ve had to learn just how much our actions and responsibilities impact others on the team. Before, we had to go through our manager for issues and he held the responsibility for talking to others involved. Now, we pay more attention to our own self-awareness and each other as naturally creative, resourceful, and whole. When issues arise, we address them directly.”

While still in the pilot phase, the Operations Team is hopeful about its impact on the greater CTI culture. Operations Team member, Trenam remarks, “We are grateful that Karen, Henry, and John have given us this opportunity to be the front runners in testing a new company culture.  Hopefully, how we design and work in our self-managed team will be an inspiration in helping other departments within CTI to be part of a more Co-Active organizational culture.”

Ultimately, CTI’s work in evolving the way it functions internally to embrace a more Co-Active culture will serve as a springboard for fostering Co-Active cultures in other environments.

“The evolution of Co-Active has always been contextually based and experientially driven,” Reflects Kimsey-House.

“When we first started, our coaching clients wanted to learn to do what we were doing with them as coaches, so we developed a series of courses drawn from our experiences and placed participants in a context of being coaches themselves.

“Similarly, our Leadership Training developed from our experiences and immersed people in the context of already being a leader and calling forth their brilliance. We learned that this was ideal for leaders of every stripe, not just workshop leaders, and we started attracting these leaders to this program.

“The next chapter is now being written on how do we use these Co-Active coaching and leadership principals and models to build and sustain Co-Active cultures in the larger world.”

Other Links:
Frederick Laloux on Reinventing Organizations
Frederick Laloux and Ken Wilber: Reinventing Organizations
CTI: The Co-Active Leadership Program
Karen and Henry Kimsey-House: Co-Active Leadership: Five Ways to Lead