The Cleveland Consulting Group



Hi Folks,

I took a break from writing to immerse myself in the latest on neuroscience and leadership, and to spend some time with my new grandson, Jaren. Both experiences have been grand adventures. To add some icing to this wonderful cake of experiences, I met up with two colleagues at the Linkage OD Summit, Cathy Greenberg and Relly Nadler, both well recognized authors and consultants.

Immersing in Hard Sciences

I decided to look into the hard science of leadership, only to discover that there is a phenomenal amount of research. Most of us have heard about Martin Seligman's books on positive psychology, Authentic Happiness and Flourish. In the latter book, Flourish, his conclusion that positive psychology is not about happiness alone, but about well being and the ability to flourish in the normal ups and downs of life, brings him very closely aligned with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Combining a sense of well being with being in flow creates some amazing possibilities in leadership development for executive effectiveness.

In addition, I read Gregory Berns' work about the brain's functional difference for the Iconoclast, a person who does something that others say can't be done. This research is particularly interesting to me from an executive development perspective. I read Edward Hallowell's book, Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from your People to gain a perspective of his work that is influenced from his career of working individuals with ADD. In this world of Tweets and sound-bites, I believe all executives suffer from a bit of ADD. In the coming issues, we will delve into these author's research and findings.

The icing on the cake is that I was invited to attend the pre-workshop of Cathy Greenberg and Relly Nadler at the OD Summit last May in Chicago. Spending some time with both of them was an offer I could not refuse. I discovered that Cathy has focused on the Science of Happiness through her many books such as What Happy Companies Know, each book an eye-opener on how we can be happy as women, working mothers, and leaders ( In addition, Relly Nadler, author of Leading with Emotional Intelligence, one of the most practical books on integrating leadership with emotional intelligence, has continued to integrate the science of emotional intelligence with leadership development ( What excited me about spending time with them was to discover they had joined together to form the Xcel Institute. In basic terms, they have created an executive coaching program that incorporates the science(s) of happiness, emotional intelligence, and leadership. The impact of this combination is to create a formula that suggests that Leadership (L) as a function of Science of Happiness (SoH) and Emotional Intelligence (Ei) equals Profits ((P). Personally, I would add Executive Effectiveness (EE) so the formula would be L(SoH + Ei) = EE + P. I encourage you to give some consideration to their work and to how the latest applications of neuro and brain science are impacting executive and organization development.

As promised, this issue will focus on my work from the last three years on Co-leadership or as frequently called Two in a Box Leadership (2nbx). You can listen to my recent interview with Dr. Cathy Greenberg and Dr. Relly Nadler at

May Your Summer be Bountiful

Herb Stevenson

Herb Stevenson, CEO/President
Cleveland Consulting Group

PS. As Chair of Executive and Organization Development at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland, I would be remiss if I did not note the very exciting program called Influence, Action, Change. I am recommending many of my clients to attend as it is a practical, great value to the dollar program. Rick Maurer, one of the foremost authors and authorities on change and resistance to change is leading the program, Influence, Action, Change. It is a culmination of his years of studying resistance and change and his application of gestalt principles of change. Details can be found at

Where 1 + 1 = 3

Over the last three years, I have been blessed with a co-creating client that wanted to create a shared executive leadership position. Dick Seaman, CEO, Seaman Corp., as the owner of a 150 million dollar manufacturing firm, knew it was time to move out of the executive leadership position. He had no siblings ready or willing to step into the position; nonetheless, he had two exceptional candidates to groom for the succession. His only problem was that he knew that if he chose one over the other, he would lose a valuable executive to another company. We discussed the form of leadership described by David Heenan and Warren Bennis in their 1999 book, Co-Leaders: The Power of Great Partnerships. In basic terms, the CEO/COO were placed in the executive box, much like an office of presidency. Though they may have been attached at the hip in concept, the differentiation of titles still reflects a hierarchy. It was recognized in this situation that any hierarchy would likely lead to the loss of one executive.

As we discussed his desires, it became clear that he was interested in the following:

A co-leadership (shared leadership) method based on Self Awareness, Engagement, Dialogue, and Holism where the leadership dyad is more than the sum of the two individuals (1 + 1 = 3 ).

As we unraveled what had been suggested, we agreed that the two leaders would need to go through a developmental process that would include buy-in to the following premises:

1. Self Awareness: We agree that the two leaders would have to have a great deal of self awareness surrounding their emotional intelligence and social intelligence. To do this, we would need to support them to understanding themselves as well as the other's personality type, conflict styles, interpersonal relation styles. This would require extensive coaching.

2. Engagement: For the 2nbx to work as a shared leadership structure, we realized that we would need the following:

  • A strong commitment from both to the structure
    A willingness to stay engaged regardless of the tensions—time-outs used well
  • An acceptance that differing opinions are critical to success
  • An understanding that divergent opinions can result in better strategic decisions
  • An agreement to reframe from blame and shame games

3. Dialogue: We realized that both individuals were well schooled in discussion and providing direction; however, the 2nbx would require a dialogic process for much of their decision-making processes. We would need to create a process for them that

  • Can contain an exchange of ideas seeking to create new information, understanding and the best strategic decision as well as snap decisions in day-to-day operations.
  • Requires clear listening skills—no internal debate before the other is finished.

4. Holism: Intuitively we believed that if successful, the leaders would become more than the sum of their individual skills. In essence, they would created s synergistic effect where 1 + 1 = 3.

The Developmental Process

As we agreed to move forward with the process, it became clear that both individuals and the Dyad must go through a process of (1) Defining the parameters of the 2nbx, (2) Determining the common ground, and (3) Discovering the potential

Defining the Parameters

Definition is the normal process of developing sufficient understanding of each other to create safety and sufficient respect to work together. We do this very quickly as suggested by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Blink. However, first impressions could not support this process; in fact, it would likely subvert it. As a result, a clarifying process to support them was created around the following basic questions:

  1. Who and what are you?
  2. who and what am I? and
  3. who and what are we?

The goal was to familiarize differences, similarities, and ways of making meaning so that instead of snap judgements that can divide, we were seeking awareness that as a dyad their was an added value.

Determining the Common Ground

After a period of civility, there comes a need to establish common ground. Typically, there is a heightened awareness of differences in approaches, styles, and personalities that continues their sense of separation and individuality. Trust and common ground requires facing the conflicts and differences with a high degree of emotional and social intelligence. We focused on how to disagree under the worst of conditions and know that they would stay engaged until an agreed upon resolution.

To support them in this process, the following overlapping circles were created

Overlapping Circles

Typically, we look at the overlapping areas of the circles to see a place of common ground; however, in a 2nbx we look at both the overlapping and the separating areas. The overlapping areas are the common ground for meaning making and final decision. The areas without overlap are the differences in how both make meaning and come to a variety of decisions. For lack of a better phrase, it is the differences that define their uniqueness. Moreover, we discovered that, though the majority of how they make meaning is different, 90% of the time, they came to the same conclusion. This created a sense of a higher quality of each decision.

Determining the Potential

As we progress through the in-depth, three year process, three key awareness developed for the 2nbx.

  1. Valued interdependence: They were any see their differences move from sharp edges to ways to weave strengths into better decisions
  2. Identity to Dyad: They began to have clearer definition and boundary as individuals which led to greater awareness of the dyad
  3. Holistic synergism: As a Dyad, they saw that as a 2nbx they had become more than the sum of the two individuals, where 1 + 1= 3

The value of the 2nbx leadership method is that the performance of the Leadership Dyad is more than the sum of the two individuals as separate leaders. This was proven when the 2nbx was granted the authority to lead the company. They guided the organization to 45% real growth and triple profits in a recessionary period. In year two, they have met the supply chain challenges head-on and will come in with another outstanding year.

In the next issue, we will continue the discussion of the 2nbx before moving over to some of the breakthroughs in neuroscience and leadership.

Gestalt Institute of Cleveland will offer a multi-session workshop beginning in September 2011 on how to better communicate about and gain support for ideas and change initiatives

"Influence. Action. Change!™"
Resistance to Change in Businesses & Organizations

The Bad News: Statistics show that only 30% of change initiatives within businesses succeed and live up to expectations, whether they are significant mergers and acquisitions, implementation of large enterprise resource management (ERP) systems, relocation of corporate headquarters or even relocation of the office supply cabinet. In the book, "Beyond the Wall of Resistance" — a must-read for today's successful businesses - acclaimed author and consultant Rick Maurer delves into the underlying organizational behaviors and ingrained cultural patterns that result in this dismally low success rate.

The Good News: Maurer and noted organizational consultant Dr. Jacqueline McLemore are collaborators in a hands-on professional development program entitled "Influence. Action. Change!™" designed to address the very issues affecting large-scale change initiatives within the business arena.

Many good ideas die a slow, costly death or never take hold because the leaders, managers, or advisors lack the ability to connect fully with the energy and culture of the organization. When a successful outcome depends on having meaningful support, engagement, commitment, or resources of others, the ability to influence and gain that support is paramount.

For most leaders, consultants, coaches, and individual contributors, the ability to influence boards, individuals, teams, and sometimes entire organizations is critical to success. Influence may seem like a "soft skill", yet people who get things done in businesses understand it deeply, especially when everyone is doing more with less.

Influence. Action. Change!™ is a new intensive program tailored for busy lives and demanding schedules, and combines Web-based conversations, group calls, two three-day training sessions at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland, and one-on-one coaching support to apply the learning back on the job. This program is all about what it takes to get support for ideas; it provides an opportunity to practice, receive feedback, and apply this practical learning on the job.

The workshop opens with a Webcast & Podcast on September 12 and continues with sessions in Cleveland on September 25-28 and Nov 14-16. Individual tuition is $4,200, and groups receive discounts.

Download a PDF brochure or signup at

Additional information and media contacts: Teaching faculty are available for interviews.

Influence. Action. Change! Details

Jacquie McLemore
Faculty Member teaching Influence. Action. Change!

Rick Maurer
Faculty Member teaching Influence. Action. Change!

Dave Patterson
Executive Director Gestalt Institute of Cleveland

The Gestalt Institute of Cleveland is the world's largest Gestalt institute, and one of the finest, for the study, development, and application of Gestalt theory. Its professional and personal development programs draw participants from all over the world. Institute faculty and graduates innovatively apply Gestalt principles to psychotherapy as well as to business, health care, educational, governmental, community, and religious organizations. Currently, the Institute offers workshops and professional training programs and conferences in the areas of human, personal, professional, and organization development.



The Power of Choice

Date to be Announced
Nosara, Costa Rica

Join Executive Coach Herb Stevenson for an exclusive three-day exploration to re-connect with your life purpose in order to live with greater passion and fulfillment.

Herb Stevenson is President/CEO of the Cleveland Consulting Group, Inc. and bridges the worlds of business and spiritual healing. He is a nationally recognized author, trainer, executive coach and management consultant. He has published 26 books on various aspects of banking and business. Herb's expertise in facilitating group discussion and individual goal setting will assure attendees achieve optimum take-home value, leaving the workshop ready to live a more fulfilling life with purpose and passion.

Tierra Magnifica is the premier retreat resort on Costa Rica's stunning Pacific coast. Resort owners Steve and Maggie Jacobus will be your weekend hosts, providing an experience guaranteed to induce inspiration and transformation.

Learn more...


Becoming an Effective Organizational Intervener
Program (BEI)

Becoming an Effective Organizational Intervener is a dynamic program for people involved in leadership within organizations whether it be via day-to-day management or organizational change and development. It provides an introduction to the body of knowledge developed in the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland's Executive and Organization Development programs. In five exciting sessions, participants will explore our overall model and theory base as applied to individual, group, and organizational levels of system. The program offers participants a powerful and integrative opportunity to increase their awareness, knowledge, and skills in order to become more effective interveners in organizations.

Learn more and register at