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Are You Leading From Your Whole Body Yes?

Diana Chapman
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July 28, 2015
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Mark called me for support in addressing infighting at his startup. Though Steve, his head of sales, was generating a rapid influx of new business, he was not a team player. He was often late to meetings or skipped them all together, raised his voice with colleagues who he felt were not meeting his customer’s needs, and complained regularly about his lack of compensation to whomever would listen.Morale was low organization-wide. After interviewing the various teams it was clear that Steve was a catalyst for a lot of drama in their workplace. As CEO, Mark chose to invest in Steve by having us coach him to address his behaviors that were negatively affecting others.

After a few sessions, it became clear that Steve was unwilling to change, so we discontinued coaching. Mark was at a crossroads. He was afraid to let Steve go because he didn’t want to lose revenue. He was concerned about keeping him because his culture was becoming more negative by the day. 

Other strong team members were coming forward to say that they didn’t want to stay if Steve was going to continue working at the organization.

“I have no idea what to do!” Mark told me. His reputation, investors’ money, and his teams’ jobs were all at risk. He wanted to make the most informed decision in the best interests of all. He wanted to “get this right.” I reminded him that from above the line there is no right answer. Instead, there is an opportunity to listen to your IQ, EQ (Emotional Intelligence) and BQ (Body Intelligence) and learn from your results.

I invited Mark to quiet his mind, relax his breath and listen without judgment to his three centers of intelligence. I asked him to visualize Steve staying on the team. “What do you notice in your body?” I questioned. He reported a constricted sensation in his belly, tightness in his neck and an overall flatness in his energy. He also reported feeling scared and angry.

“Now visualize asking Steve to leave the team. What do you notice as you think of this option?” Mark was surprised to discover that while he felt afraid, he didn’t notice any constriction in his body and he felt a lot more energy. He also said that it seemed easier to breathe as he thought of Steve leaving. Mark experienced what we call a whole body yes. A whole body yes (as opposed to only a head or heart yes) is the experience in the body of alignment with the decision to be made. Letting Steve go was a whole body yes for Mark and how he decided to move forward.

Mark let Steve go, and as he had feared, a couple of key clients left too. But the morale of the organization immediately went up. They hired a new head of sales quickly who was able to regain the losses within a matter of months.This practice of listening to the intelligence of the body as well as the heart and mind has been a key skill that Mark continues to rely on to make important decisions in his company. As he now understands, “If it’s not a whole body yes, it’s a no.”

So ask yourself, are you leading from your whole body yes?

About the Author
Diana Chapman

Diana has been a trusted advisor to over 700 organizational leaders and many of their teams. Clients from Genentech to Yahoo! value her clarity, compassion, ferocity and playfulness. A well-respected facilitator for the Young Presidents Organization, Diana works with forums and chapters worldwide. She invites leaders to the edge while igniting the courage to leap into the unknown, the space where a bigger game of life awaits.