Posts Tagged ‘ leading from within ’

When to Escalate Conflict

As a nation of primarily conflict avoidant people, just the notion of escalating conflict can sound like a contradiction. And yet, there are times when escalating a conflict is exactly what you need to do.

But the conditions have to be right.

What do I mean? I mean that there has to be an intention…a purpose…or a reason for escalating a conflict, first and foremost. And the more favorable the reason—the more favorable the likely outcome.


If the ultimate desire in escalating a conflict is to improve or enhance your relationship with the conflicting party—and the unresolved or nagging issue between the two of you is impeding that from happening—then YES, the conditions are right for escalation. After all, how else will this issue get on the table? I may suggest, however, that you carefully frame the escalation by stating what your desired goal is before the actual escalation begins, if you catch my drift. It’s called framing the conversation or setting the context. This will prevent the other party from being overly defensive and feeling attacked.

What you don’t want to do is escalate a conflict under any of the following conditions:

·      You’ve had too much to drink

·      You’re angry and you want to vent

·      You are feeling victimized

·      You love a good debate and want to stir things up

There’s a lot at stake here. Successful relationships are built on trust, mutual understanding, respect, and most of all, love. A misused escalation could severely hamper those foundational characteristics and be quite difficult to rebuild.

Escalation, if done correctly, can help a team grow, develop, and mature as well.

I was a member of a four-person mastermind group a few years ago when I had a disagreement with Dan, one of the members, about a business opportunity he presented to me and then rescinded the next day. Frankly, the conflict didn’t involve the other two members of the team and didn’t need to involve them. However, both Dan I thought it would be a good idea to play out this conflict in front of the whole group.



Because, even though our mastermind group had been together for over two years, we never had a conflict in the group before. We barely had a disagreement. We thought of ourselves as a tight team but the truth was we were still in the forming stage. We had a lot of maturing still to go if we were going to become a high performing team. To do so, we needed to become efficient at working through group conflict, among other things.

So, with the intent of introducing conflict into our mastermind, we played out our argument in front of the other two members of the group. And this was a real argument, I might add, with differing opinions, emotions, and even conflict styles. But what was most surprising in this real-life experiment was not the conflict itself but the lack of engagement from the other two members of our group. Neither of them made a comment, a suggestion, or an intervention during the whole escapade. Not a word. They both simply watched from the sidelines, like spectators at a boxing match.


Failed experiment?

Had we not debriefed as a group about the group dynamics, both before, during, and after the conflict, it could have been a real missed opportunity. Fortunately, we used this conflict escalation as a means to having a very powerful conversation about our group’s level of engagement with each other and our commitment to becoming a high performing team. That led to some additional group expectations and a significant shift in our relationships with one-another.

What I’m saying here is that planned conflict escalation for the betterment of a relationship or group relationships can be an effective use of this conflict method. It is also easier to direct an escalation towards a desired goal when the intent of the escalation itself has been stated upfront. Thus, by following these simple guidelines above for escalation, you should have tremendous success.

One final point. Now that we’ve entered the season for holiday parties and festivities with friends and family, conflicts may be on the rise. Knowing this, you may want to pick and choose your battles carefully; and only escalate a conflict if the right conditions exist.

Now go and be Merry!

Greg “Geese” Giesen


Why is this leader laughing?

Because he’s a laughing leader.


What’s a laughing leader?

Very simply, a laughing leader is someone who is happy and productive in both work and life.

Allow me to explain.

There is a direct correlation between our internal motivation, passion, focus and zest for life and our corresponding results, be it in our personal or professional worlds. In other words, who we are impacts what we do and how well we do it.

If the end game is to get results in business and live a fulfilling life in the process, then the ultimate work for each of us is to learn to become the leader we were meant to be—in all facets of our lives—so that what people see on the outside is a mere reflection of who we are on the inside. We call this leading from within. And the way to lead from within is to become a laughing leader. It’s that’s easy and that difficult.

Becoming a laughing leader requires a commitment to self-improvement…on a daily level! Why? Because we impact the lives of everybody around us and we have an obligation to ourselves and to those people to role model the very attitudes and behaviors we expect from them.

Here are some of the characteristics of a Laughing Leader:

·      They are internally motivated

·      They have compassion for self and others

·      They view mistakes and failures and valuable insight toward success

·      They are authentic in word and deed…what you see is what you get

·      They value laughter and play

·      They are open to trying new things

·      They admit their mistakes and take responsibility to fix them

·      They laugh at themselves

·      They ask for help

·      They embrace the trials & tribulations of life

·      They practice work-life balance

·      They see problems as challenges waiting to be solved

·      They are supportive and present with others

·       They are transparent

·      They are quick to give credit where credit is due

·      They are committed to seeking and creating joy in life 

Who wouldn’t want to work for someone like this? Who wouldn’t want to have a friend or family member with these characteristics?

Well maybe they already do…and it’s YOU!


It’s important to note that I’m not talking about being a Laughing Leader periodically or when it’s convenient. I’m talking about showing up in life as a Laughing Leader, day-in and day-out.

I have to tell you…I’ve been teaching about personal and professional leadership practices and philosophies for over twenty-five years to corporate America and to hundreds of graduate students at the University of Denver and I’ve never been as excited as I am now to share with you this new paradigm…this new way of leading.

Do you want to be happier and more productive in work and in life?

Then stick with me. I have a lot of good stuff to share in coming weeks!

Lighten Up!

Lighten Up

You are not your title

You are not your job

You are not your actions

You are not your looks

Lighten Up

You are not your experiences

You are not your past

You are not your faults

You are not your accolades

Lighten Up

You are not your car

You are not your house

You are not your wealth

You are not your financial debt

Lighten Up

You are not your family

You are not your friends

You are not your kids

You are not your reputation

Lighten Up


Life has a way of defining us by the things we have or the people we know or the clothes we wear or the job title on our business cards. But that’s not who we are. All those things are merely feedback on who we’ve been and how we’ve shown up in the world.

The moment we identify ourselves using external criteria is the moment we’ve lost touch with the essence of who we are. And we are much more than that.” Greg Giesen


I read a story recently about an Army medical doctor who suffered a terrible illness and was declared dead in the hospital. The sheet was pulled over his head and the hospital staff sadly left the room. Only he wasn’t dead. His heart stopped…his vital signs ceased…but his spirit had not completely left his body. In the timeless world of the afterlife, he experienced the most amazing journey of going through a tunnel towards a white light that radiated love and warmth. You’ve heard these stories before.


During his out-of-body experience, he prepared himself to meet his maker. He recalled all of his life accomplishments…from getting straight A’s in college to graduating from medical school…from joining the Army to marrying his beautiful wife…from having three incredible kids to receiving numerous awards for his scientific research. He was proud of all that he had done and was ready to defend the life he had lived.

And then the most unexpected thing happened.

This powerful and radiating bright light of energy engulfed him and asked him one and only one question:

How much did you love?

Moments later he was magically back in his body in the hospital room with the sheet over head. Only a few minutes had actually passed and yet his whole life instantly changed forever.

He now knew that the essence of life was about love.

From that day forward the doctor transformed himself into a man who was truly in the moment and present with people. He laughed again. He was no longer afraid to be wrong. He had a renewed compassion for himself and for others that was based on love and acceptance. And he smiled all the time and for no particular reason. He was simply grateful to be given a second chance.

In the weeks ahead, I’m going to be sharing with you a concept called The Laughing Leader. I’m going to introduce to you a brand new, creative, and powerful leadership style that will help you lighten up and enjoy the journey, while increasing your productivity at the same time.

I can’t wait!


Greg Giesen

Bless me Father…

From the desk of Greg Giesen

I went to a Halloween costume party the other night dressed as a priest. Actually, I went to the wrong Halloween costume party the other night dressed as a priest. Turns out there were two houses right next door to each other having parties and I, having never been to my friend’s house before, walked into the wrong one.

And then things got interesting.


Since I was so sure this was my friend’s house, I decided to simply let myself in, bypassing proper protocols like knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell. After all, these were my friends.

Upon entering, I was greeted by a little eight-year-old girl who happily took my coat.  That’s odd, I thought to myself, I didn’t know kids were going to be at this party.


I then paused for a second and surveyed the room, searching for a familiar face. There were none. Actually, I thought I recognized Count Dracula and the Cat Woman, but neither seemed to recognize me. There was also a group gathered in the kitchen, but outside of a couple bad imitations of Johnny Depp’s pirate character, I recognized no one.

Usually in these awkward moments, the party host or hostess will surface and formally invite their guest (in this case me) into the party, but no such luck. No one emerged. It also occurred to me that I have never met my friend’s friends before.

I suddenly became a little self-conscious. Here I was dressed in a priest’s outfit, standing aimlessly in the hallway, while starring at a room filled with Goblins, Ghosts, and shady characters. It was like I was an extra in a bad movie, called in to perform some kind of exorcism. Oh yeah, and apparently I’m invisible at the same time.


I need to do something, I reasoned, so I did what anyone would do in this situation…I headed for my safe haven—better know as the bar.

I don’t know if you’ve ever worn a priest outfit to a party before, but it can be an interesting experience to say the least. I’m walking over to the bar area of the (wrong) house and notice that people (who I don’t know) respectively moved out of my way as I passed. You know, kind of like the parting of the Red Sea. What’s more, many nodded and said, “Father” as I went by. And I nodded back, like I was blessing them or something. Weird.

I pour a beer (I know, it should have been wine) and started chatting with the Shakespeare character standing next to me. Within seconds he asks for some advice on a personal situation, like we’ve know each other for years. I gladly gave my two cents, just happy to have someone to talk to.

Moments later another guy in a robe comes in from having had a cigarette on the back porch and says to me, “It was so strange out there. I was hearing voices.”

Are you telling me this because I look like a priest, I thought. I laughed and awkwardly, hoping he’d go away. He did.

Eventually a cave woman found her way to me and introduced herself. “So how do you know Paul?” she asked.

I said, “I know Karen.”

“Who’s Karen?” she replied.

“Karen, the host of the party.”

“This party?” she questioned with a confused look on her face.

“Isn’t this Karen’s house?” I asked, feeling the floor start to give way underneath me.

“No, this is Paul’s house. I think you might be at the wrong party!”

In that moment I could see heads turn towards me as the room became uncomfortably silent.

“This isn’t 3757 Briarwood?” I joked, already knowing the answer.

“No, this is 3755.”

“But we’d love to have you stay Father!” yelled Johnny Depp #2.

“Why not, you’re already here,” added Cat Woman.

If there ever was a time for an exorcist, this was probably it. I smiled as my face turned three shades of red. Even the guy in the devil’s outfit looked pale in comparison.

“I should probably at least make an appearance next door,” I mused, as I backed out of the kitchen. “But I’m sure I’ll be back.”

The walk from the coat room to the front door couldn’t have happened fast enough as I humbly walked out of the house and over to the party next door.

Having just had a surreal experience, I rang the doorbell next door this time and was immediately greeted by Karen, the host of the party.

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” she said as she brought me into the house.


 “You have no idea,” I said and headed for the bar.


How to take a vacation every day!

From the desk of Greg Giesen

I’m enjoying the final few hours of my Maui vacation. I’ve already checked out of my room and get to spend the whole day at the resort before flying home in the evening. Normally I’m not a fan of evening flights but this one made a lot of sense and essentially added an extra day onto my vacation in paradise.

Here’s my Maui satellite office that has served me well during this week. What was particularly interesting to me about this spot was that I was able to be effective and efficient in whatever business dealings I had to take care of while my mind remained in vacation-mode—in many ways a contradiction of sorts.


And yet that’s the beauty of it. The setting—which includes the tropical sights, sounds, smells, and warm temperatures—put me in a constant state of peacefulness, serenity and appreciation.

So this leads to the million dollar question: Is there a way to maintain this state of mindfulness…this state of being…when I return home back to the hustle and bustle; where the work has piled up in my absence with deadlines looming?

The answer is YES! All it takes is a daily meditation practice.

Think about it. The many benefits of a vacation include:

·      Restfulness

·      Change of pace

·      Relaxation

·      Increased right brain activity

·      Being in the moment

·      Playfulness

·      Mind-body integration

·      Slower heart rate

·      Appreciation

·      Peacefulness

·      Ability to go with the flow


The many benefits of a 15-20 minute daily mediation include:

·      Restfulness

·      Change of pace

·      Relaxation

·      Increased right brain activity

·      Being in the moment

·      Playfulness

·      Mind-body integration

·      Slower heart rate

·      Appreciation

·      Peacefulness

·      Ability to go with the flow

Interesting! I’ve been practicing daily meditation for years but didn’t see the power of this analogy until now. Meditation is a mini-vacation and can provide the same benefits.


Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating putting an end to vacations. Not at all. But I am advocating the importance of a daily meditation practice. After all, who wouldn’t want to operate from a place of peacefulness and appreciation all the time! I know I would. And if you haven’t realized it yet, this is also what Zen leadership is all about…the ability to lead from within so that we can remain calm and in control while in the eye of the storm.


If you do meditate daily, perhaps this blog will enhance the experience as it has done for me. If you do not meditate, I would strongly encourage you to explore the idea and consider trying it out. What do you have to lose?

Lastly, there are a variety of different mediation techniques and modalities out there and it would be difficult to recommend a particular one without knowing a little more about each of you individually. With that said, I will leave you with a resource who has not only been on our radio show as a guest but who has created a powerful meditation technique that will work for anyone. His name is George Green and his technique is called Heart Harmonies Immersive Mindfulness Training. Click on the link to learn more and tell him Geese sent you.

That’s it for now. I still have a few hours to go here in Maui and it’s time to play a little more.