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Jan Byars

Jan Byars

Jan Byars is the founder and president of LeadSync, LLC. After years of study and research, she believes an organization leader’s internal state is critical to leadership ability and ultimately affects the organization’s success. The philosophy that Leadership is Being and then Doing drives LeadSync’s unique approach to leadership development which can be applied across all levels, organizations and industries.

Learn more here.

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How to stop war, Peace Is

Friday, 29 January 2016 17:10 Published in The Blog

How to stop war, Peace Is.

It's been fun to watch the growth of Benefit Corporation states and B-Certification companies --  a 20% increase in 2015. This is definitely, a clear and growing trend in business today.

Benefit Corporations/B-Certified companies place an emphasis on societal change: parity with profit. They make a commitment to do no harm to the earth and to support their communities.  One of the main intents of B-Corps is to effectively reduce greed.  More and more people are asking of their work, “Is this doing good? Is it adding value?”  Benefit Corps are on the fast track to attract and to keep the best and brightest talent.

Assessing an organization's impact is the kind of self-reflection that I am always talking about in this blog.  Aligning what you are doing with who you choose to be.

There is, however, an even deeper way to look at benefiting society -- a benefit that may not even meet the criteria for a B-Certification and it is actually more important.  It is about adding peace.  How do we do that?  By not participating in the war within your own organization -- passive-aggressive behavior, the nasty gossip and thoughtlessness. These too, are part of the greed cycle. The greed of power.

Our thoughts and behavior actually affect those around us. Think about the resources, the energy, and the attention, that could be focused on productivity if the infighting didn't exist... if the workplace was a mindful, collaborative place where we realize we are interconnected.

After all, what IS the net effect of feeding the children, when we're stabbing our co-workers in the back?

- Jan

Find LeadSync on Facebook, and drjanbyars on Twitter and Instagram.


Winter’s call: No strong branches without deep roots

Monday, 25 January 2016 19:51 Published in The Blog

Recently, I was hiking in the woods and came upon a large fallen tree.  The roots were exposed and I took a minute to really look at what it took to support such a large tree.  The roots were massive; they were at least as big as any of the branches.

It struck me, how deep and sustaining the roots really are.  How necessary for a strong tree.

In business, we tend to evaluate our success by the length of our branches and the fruit that they bear. We look for quick business cycles and fail to look at our roots. Of course, there's nothing wrong with finding the "perfect opportunity" that allows for fast growth and good profit.  However, focusing solely on this "quick fix" impairs our judgment.

Winter is historically a time to look within, to hibernate and move deeper -- to get to the "root" of things in order to strengthen your foundation and prepare for sustained growth. 

Remember: no one gets to start with the harvest. An orchard's crop begins with immense preparation: soil, seed, roots. 

What is the state of your organizations’ roots? There is an implied interconnection in our roots, a network of support. 

- Jan

Find LeadSync on Facebook, and drjanbyars on Twitter and Instagram.


Real Change is Internally Driven

Thursday, 14 January 2016 15:33 Published in The Blog

Most of us have something we’d like to change -- either as an individual or as an organization.  However, when asked about it, we tend to list all the reasons change can’t happen.  And those reasons may even be true. But, they’re not the whole truth. 

Change happens by focusing on what CAN happen. 

One of my favorite quotes addresses this beautifully: “Argue for your limitations and they are surely yours.” 

 When you argue, you place your energy and attention on obstacles rather than the goal.  I am pretty sure the Wright Brothers didn’t sit around talking about why flight was impossible. Instead, they focused on what was possible, until their ideas materialized and took flight.

If you saw the movie, “The Martian”, Mark Watney survived being marooned on Mars by focusing on what he could do, not by focusing on dying. (Oops! Spoiler Alert!)

This is the key to sustainable change, individually and organizationally.  Start from where you are.  Do what you can do. Show up again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next, etc., etc., etc. 

 There’s a quantum leap embedded in this kind of change.  A leap that is actually sustainable.  But it starts from beginning where you are and showing up, again and then again. “At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you.” Johann von Goethe

 Where do you need to show up?  What can you do today, in line with your new direction (regardless of how small)? Do that. 

- Jan

Find LeadSync on Facebook, and drjanbyars on Twitter and Instagram.


Reflection – Rebirth

Wednesday, 30 December 2015 15:58 Published in The Blog

We like to think life is about running around ticking off items on our lists. That is actually as close to a Zoombie state as we are likely to get. It’s one of our cultural blind spots.

Recently, I met a woman who laughed at me when I told her I was working on my New Year’s resolutions. So I asked, “How do you evaluate where you are and what needs to be adjusted, changed, or grown in your life.” She responded: “I don’t need New Years to do this.”

Absolutely!” I said, “Self-reflection and evaluation can be done at any time. Tell me how you used this in your life.”

She stared blankly. She wasn’t able to think of a time.

Are resolutions cliché? Maybe, but there is a reason the term has become ubiquitous.

Have I kept every resolution? Clearly not. Now, that we really can laugh at! But without question, my life – my mental, emotional, physical and spiritual state – is better with a plan and a yearly focus. Even if I only accomplish 20%, it is better than being unconscious of where I am and what I am creating in my work and life. Sometimes, I have a year that blows up and I have to just focus on keeping it together.

We don’t realize how much power small, daily practices have in our lives.

Just doing a practice of awareness, is big.

Reflection isn't scary, it can be done at lunch: What have I accomplished this year?  What did I do very well? What didn’t go as planned? Can I see a reason for this derailment?  Can I do something to change the current trajectory?

We forget that a 1% adjustment now, means a huge change in the future. It’s like compounding interest!

Even if you are disappointed, you restabilize and start again, from right where you are. Life happens! The same happens with business. Sometimes the best plans blow up. But knowing where you are and the resources you have, makes getting your feet back underneath you faster and easier.

 This year I have been inspired by one of my mentor/though leaders, Cynthia Beaugault. I have heard her say many times, Plug the Leaks. She is referring to our energy and attention. In 2016, I will be watching and tightening up my attention. I hope to spend a bit less time spinning in my thoughts; and more time on what I want to see.

 As I get out of my head, I help remove my blocks to seeing opportunities that are already there.  Whatever I choose to do with my time and attention, I will be more fully there. Even if I am eating too many cookies!

- Jan

Find LeadSync on Facebook, and drjanbyars on Twitter and Instagram.


Whole System & Whole Self

Friday, 09 October 2015 12:13 Published in The Blog

I have the honor to present in Barcelona this coming week.  I am teaching small daily practices that change a leaders’ capacity to bring attention to the present.  Each practice can be done while walking down the hall.  It only takes seconds of attention, throughout the day, to increase energy and clarity of attention. In fact, you can begin with the time you use worrying about not having enough time. Yes, it can be that simple.  Where is your attention, do you let it drift away, dart around frantically in your head; or use it purposefully?

Plugging those leaks allows for each of us to be more integrated. A fully integrated Self creates a fully integrated System. Integration has to do with our own level of psychological development.  Yes, there are levels, and growth that go all the way to very old age.  Most of us stop growing around 30 or so.  It is our choice to be present and direct our attention and energy to grow into a more flexible, fluid person; into a more innovative, agile company.

 See you in Barcelona?

- Jan

Find LeadSync on Facebook, and drjanbyars on Twitter and Instagram.


Where Ever You Go, There You Are.

Thursday, 24 September 2015 12:47 Published in The Blog

Have you heard the story told by the recently departed Dr. Wayne Dyer?  It's a great one.

It starts with a question. . . .What do you get when you squeeze an orange?

Uhhh . . . Orange Juice.

But what if it is hit with a hammer?  Smashed against the wall?  Or put it through one of those fancy juicers?

The answers are the same. . . Orange Juice

Guess what, it works the same with you.  When the world squeezes you, you get you.

It doesn’t matter who squeezes, how you get squeezed, how tired you were when it happens.

When you get squeezed, you come out. 

Now the question is, How often are you able to hold the alignment with who you choose to be?  Or, have you ever even considered how important it is to be consciously clear, who you are?

No one is calm and clear all the time.  But if we don’t have a plan, a clear vision of who we choose to be, we tend to point at what squeezed us and say, It wasn’t me!

Just some food for thought.
- Jan 

Find LeadSync on Facebook, and drjanbyars on Twitter and Instagram.


The Practice of Mindful Transformation (AKA Leading Change)

Tuesday, 01 September 2015 16:31 Published in The Blog

Individual and organizational change starts in the same place: daily choices, daily behaviors.

How do you actually do this? Daily attention- a process of directing attention, until the change ‘catches,’ integrates into daily work.

Understand, this is not change management.  Change management is actually an oxymoron.  Management means the opposite of change. Managing change means to deal with the external ripples created by change but does not really engage, educate and empower transformation.

Management is about efficiency and streamlining the process. 

Change is about upsetting the status quo, resetting the processes and procedures.  

Leading change is not efficient, but it is necessary for growth, development, and survival. 

Leadership is change. Leadership directs attention to engagement, education, and empowerment -- the qualities that enact lasting improvement.

- Jan

Find LeadSync on Facebook, and drjanbyars on Twitter and Instagram.


Watching for the Critical Moment

Friday, 31 July 2015 21:10 Published in The Blog

What does it take to sit in Ambiguity and Paradox?

It requires the ability to suspend, what you think and what you feel.  Suspending allows you to see what else might be true. This is the painful part.  This is where the pieces we don’t want to see, the ones pushed away, are waiting. Denial seems easier and faster.  Unfortunately, blocking out the parts we don’t want to deal with ties up our energy, reducing our creativity and resiliency. (They can also turn into the proverbial cosmic 2 x 4s).

For the big decisions, we need to suspend the quick and dirty decision and watch and wait.  Let the hidden aspects emerge. We may need to breathe through a few emotions. Yes, sitting in ambiguity and paradox brings up our emotions. This is where most of us struggle.  We have stuffed for so long, it can be overwhelming. 

But if we wait . . . . When clarity finally emerges, we know it’s worth it.  We can see the patterns in what's happening. We can answer the tough questions.

How do you develop this strength?  Here is a beginning training exercise for you.

 Pick a problem, (not your biggest to start) and allow it to have your full attention.  Really, your full attention . . . . . . no multitasking, let your body and your mind actually stop. 

 Focus . . . . . Sit with it.  Write down a few notes about your thoughts and feelings.  Make sure you include the ones you just tried to push away.  

Allow all the pieces to come. They are all OK. Expand your perception.  We almost always narrow when we are stressed, it is a survival response.  The clarity comes from expanding our perception and ourselves.  Ask yourself,

What else is there to learn here? 

What else do you need to consider?  Do you need to talk to someone, include a broader perspective? 

There is always more to a situation than you can be aware.  Often the solution lies in a broader perspective.

- Jan

Find LeadSync on Facebook, and drjanbyars on Twitter and Instagram.


Paradox and Ambiguity are Keys to Transformation

Tuesday, 21 July 2015 14:49 Published in The Blog

Leadership requires the ability to sit in ambiguity.  It requires the ability to see paradox.  To be able to show up in these situations requires the ability for self-reflection; the ability to sit quietly and watch the dynamics of the system – to simultaneously acknowledge ambiguity and paradox.

Of course, this is where many people become confused – thinking leadership is simply a set of skills (or traits).  There are skills and it is fortunate if you are born with specific traits. But, leadership is actually based on your capacity –  built on your psychological and cognitive development

Think of playing a sport but refusing to do any weight training.  You may be a savant with your skills, but you will not be strong enough to stay in the game.

Ambiguity and paradox reside at the threshold of transformation.  To lead a transformational shift in your organization, you must be willing and able to self-reflect and watch the patterns in the dynamics.  The bigger the organization, the stronger and more capable you need to be.

The problem is, most people hate ambiguity -- especially in business.  Our instinct is to want things to be clean and clear so we can drive faster and faster toward the goal.  Isn’t that what we are supposed to do?  It depends on the level of organization you choose to lead.  If it is a values-based business, it will be up to you to make sure your decisions are aligned with the values, that the outcomes add a benefit to those you serve.

It’s a tough job. 

It is so much easier to give in to whomever is making the most noise.  Sitting in the ambiguity often needs to be done when someone is yelling at you for a decision. It’s part of the paradox -- everyone is telling you to go faster when, in fact, you need to sit and observe, and wait for the most critical point to emerge.  And then you act.

How do you deal with ambiguity? 

Do you push through, taking the fastest most expedient path? 

Or are you able to sit and watch and wait for that critical moment of intervention?

 - Jan

Find LeadSync on Facebook, and drjanbyars on Twitter and Instagram.


What We Share Multiplies

Wednesday, 24 June 2015 17:43 Published in The Blog

Mental Models are a critical aspect of leadership. 

It is the frame we place around our thinking, a short cut to help us move through our day faster. It shapes our world/lives/work. Embedded within our culture (all cultures) are these core beliefs/structures that go unseen.  So unseen in fact that we will sometimes fight to the death before we will let them go. 

One of these blinds spots is the scarcity model onwhich we base business.  We believe if I give something to you, I will  have less for myself.  This is sometimes true, but many times it is not.  Did you ever have a cold and give it to someone else?  Did you get less sick?  Have you ever loved someone?  Did giving your love result in less love?  In both cases it created more.

In the book Abundance, Diamandis and Kotler use the example about the extreme abundance of sunshine. There is more solar energy, than we can imagine using!

Their point, when we choose to use this source of energy, instead of fossil fuels, we change our world.  Think about the impact of that?  No more wars over oil; a truly abundant source of energy. More and more often, paradigm shifts create vast new resources. 

How do we break out of our mental models that limit our daily lives? How do we even begin to see enough to change them?

It is possible.

How is the scarcity model inherently affecting your decisions, your thinking.  Are the core beliefs we hold even true, when we look closer? Is there a way to shift into a truly abundant state?

A principle driven leader needs to look in themselves for areas that contradict the overall vision and values.  It is in our blind spots where we fail to see our possibilities. 

“Our most valuable possessions are those which can be shared without lessening; those which when shared multiply. Our least valuable possessions are those which when divided are diminished.”                      William Danforth.

Something to think about.

-  Jan

Find LeadSync on Facebook, and drjanbyars on Twitter and Instagram.

 


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