A Different Type of Feedback & Coaching Method

In an age where the cognitive components of individual human intelligence are rapidly absorbed by smart algorithms, the next milestone of human performance is emotional and relational in nature. The Kingbridge Institute is now offering a NEW type of learning experience and coaching method beneficial for giving feedback about group dynamics and effectiveness while engaged in discussions.

We have partnered with Mihnea Moldoveanu, Director of the Mind Brain Behavior Institute and Vice-Dean of Innovation at the University of Toronto – to develop the technologies, tools and experiences to help teams develop the awareness, acuity and aplomb to handle difficult dialogues, deliberations and decisions by better understanding their own emotional landscapes and being able to intervene with insight and incisiveness to transform the way they work together.

We are introducing a learning platform that provides a tailored and customized feedback solution for teams who carry out strategic and operational discussions. The tool is designed to diagnose and pinpoint interpersonal blockages to the flow of critical information, breakdowns of trust and hidden biases and power dynamics that undercut the objectivity of their discussions.

This is a transformative feedback solution for giving formative feedback on team member’s social, relational and affective abilities while they are engaged in discussions. Reveals the various degrees of engagement and involvement that people feel relative to each other when communicating.

The social intelligence learning platform – tracks, analyzes and displays variables that give coaches more information about learners’ emotional and physiological states – such as heart rate, heart rate variability and galvanic skin responses – which can be used in combination with a person’s features or characteristic expression and voice analytics to provide even sharper insights of what learners feel while they are interacting with others.

The technology – a 360 degree and virtual reality camera is used to capture footage and audio of leaners’ presentations, pitches, meeting discussions, and problem solving sessions which are stored on a secure server. The platform then uses advanced machine learning algorithm’s to identify and map individual users voices and faces and automatically tracks, records, and displays the emotional states of each learner on the basis of recognizing patterns of facial expressions and of voice-related variabilities (pitches, loudness, pitch range, loudness range, rhythm, articulateness) that identify the learners emotional states. Learners can see for themselves the kinds of interpersonal dynamics that their communications – or lack thereof – produce in other participants and they can be coached and briefed on the ways in which their ways of making statements, responding to questions and according or withholding attention from others contributes to the collabortiveness and effectiveness of group sessions.


  • Learn how your expressions, gaze, body language, tonality, modes of using language, beliefs and perceptions influence your teams ability to effectively engage in collaborative inquiry during discussions.
  • Learn how to become more self-aware so you can read and better understand how your emotional dynamics are affecting group performance.
  • Learn how to communicate more persuasively (great for sales professionals).
  • Learn how to adapt, modify, navigate and self-regulate your emotional states.


  • Sales Professionals
  • Coaches
  • Negotiators
  • Public Speakers
  • High Performing Athletes
  • Board Members
  • Project Managers
  • Leaders

To learn more about this exciting new technology and experience, visit our website.

Do you know which emotional states help you achieve peak performance?

How We Feel_Page_05

Introducing The Kingbridge Institute – Where we use the latest mind-brain-body science to create the ultimate learning environment.

Our work is focused on bringing the latest mind-brain-body science to executive skill development. We push the boundaries of inter-personal skills through the use of wearable technology to create an environment in which individuals and teams can learn about feelings. Real time brain-body mapping allows each participant to understand the effects their feelings and thoughts have on decision making. Seeing feelings as they unfold enables the next-level of collaboration in relationships and business.

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Test your abilities to read facial expressions:

Cultivating Your Personal Resilience

Cultivating Your Personal Resilience Photo

Written by: Mary Stacey, Context Consulting

In today’s ‘always on’ environment, leaders experience pressure, information overload and constant distraction. Over time this sabotages many things, from their wellness to their ability to be personally resilient: present and productive during turbulence. Perhaps its because of this that we’re hearing a lot about resilience these days.

Resilient people are more healthy, hopeful, optimistic, and positive, able to learn and adapt more quickly, turn adversity into a growth experience, and flourish in times of change. Its easy to see why they can be effective leaders.

The Impact of Resilient Leaders
Resilient leaders stand out. They boost their team’s performance. They exude spaciousness that allows others to open up and take risks, making it possible to accommodate diverse perspectives and needs. Their emotional self-regulation helps the team work through conflict creatively rather than become polarized. They contribute their resilience to pivotal team conversations where collaboration and collective intelligence are essential, creating a climate that is less reactive and more responsive. Their teams spend less time fire-fighting and more time being proactive.

Google has found that resilient leaders create the most important dimension of team success: a climate of psychological safety. In contrast, non-resilient leaders who are reactive and emotionally off-balance create a climate of threat, triggering the brain’s shut-down fight-flight-freeze response. Threat undermines a team’s ability to form trust relationships, stay goal-focused during uncertainty, and bring their diversity to solve complex problems—all essential elements of collaboration.

Teams of Resilient Leaders
Teams of resilient leaders achieve exponential benefits. Their psychologically safe environment has coherence, things make sense and flow more easily. The team experiences high energy and continuously renews its sense of purpose. Conversations are open and vulnerable, helping the team access greater capacity to lead complex change. At peak performance, the team is collaboratively resilient, able to quickly improvise and adapt in ongoing turbulence.

Building Collaborative Resilience
Here are some ideas for developing your personal resilience and turning it into a leadership act that supports collaboration.

1. Cultivate your personal resilience
A recent Harvard Business Review study demonstrated that even ten minutes of daily mindfulness practice produces improvement in resilience, the capacity for collaboration, and the ability to lead in complex conditions.

Developing a personal practice (journal writing, breathing for relaxation, embodiment exercises) will help you to remain present, emotionally self-regulated, and capable of performing at your best. Over time you’ll spend less time in threat response and be better able to thrive in uncertainty.

2. Turn your resilience into a leadership act
You can translate your personal resilience into a leadership act by modeling presence: the ability to focus on the current moment, be open to diverse perspectives, listen and reflect. When others see that your presence combines with the performance level you are able to maintain, you will be demonstrating how they, too, might contribute to collaborative resilience in turbulent times.

3. Facilitate collaborative resilience in your team
Begin your meetings with a check in. Combine the HBR study’s ‘mindful minute’ with a round-table response to a question as simple as ‘How are you?” This allows team members to settle in, re-connect with themselves, choose their quality of attention, and build trust with others before turning to the issue at hand.

Be aware that your team members’ brains are constantly evaluating what you say and do in relation to threat. Design your meetings and pivotal conversations to maximize creative conflict and minimize threat. You’ll know when you’re in the zone: your team will experience a surge of energy and a renewed sense of purpose. They’ll anticipate disruption with confidence and navigate it with greater ease.

I introduce these strategies, along with many others, during Leading with Personal Resilience, part of the Collaborative Leadership Essentials at the Kingbridge Conference Centre.

One Second Ahead: Enhance Your Performance at Work with Mindfulness (Hougaard, Carter, and Coutts, 2015)

How to Bring Mindfulness to Your Company’s Leadership (Harvard Business Review, 2016)

What Google Learned from its Quest to Build the Perfect Team (New York Times, 2016)

Kingbridge founder John Abele speaks on collaboration

Exceptional Leadership, Requires Imaginative Thinking

Leading from Within Image

A few weeks ago we unveiled our second newly designed leadership workshop, Leading From Within, hosted by Kent Osborne. Those that attended the workshop valued one of the leadership tools that Kent shared with us, so we thought we would share this technique with you.

Exceptional leadership demands imaginative thinking. While the analytical thinking of your left brain enables you to manage your business, it’s the intuitive wisdom resident in your right brain that enables you to creatively unlock the knowledge you’ve acquired. Understanding the power of combining logic and intuition is the key to masterfully coaching the men and women directly reporting to you.

Kent’s workshop provided participants with practical, powerful tools for knowing when and how to help your direct reports use imaginative thinking. One tool focused on performance reviews.

Kent directed participants to be wary of spending time discussing performance “in general terms.” This common practice leads to platitudes about what a performer could have done or should have done differently, but it generates no change in future performance and thus adds no value. Instead, leaders should guide direct reports into a detailed discussion about a specific moment in time. The direct report needs to imagine that she is observing herself performing, and from that detailed observation she will literally “feel” both her strengths and her weaknesses. The emotional connection will fuel a specific conversation that will surface meaningful insights about performance improvement.

If your organization wants to get more value from performance reviews, or if you’d like to explore the possibility of transforming the way your leaders coach their direct reports, contact Lisa Gilbert at The Kingbridge Centre and she will discuss how Kent’s work can be customized to meet your learning outcomes.


Conversations that Build Trust, Agility, Resilience & Creativity

image for tree post for Michael

Last week at Kingbridge we unveiled our first newly designed leadership workshop, Leading through Conversations that Matter, hosted by Michael Jones. One of the techniques that Michael shared with the group involved using the ecology of a tree to help us understand the distinction and value of learning how to host three very different levels of conversations.

Those who attended the workshop found this valuable so we thought we would share the information with you.

Most organizations are not short of innovative ideas. What they do lack, however, is an environment that allows for the careful enrichment of the soil in order for these seeds of possibility to take root and grow.

What builds this soil is conversation. But not all conversations are the same. The leader’s ‘art’ involves knowing which conversation they are taking part in – and which ones they need to be taking part in – in order to achieve the results they desire.

One picture that helps us understand different levels of conversation is the image of a tree. This image offers a lens for making distinctions between three levels of conversation and how each contributes to growing the culture of an organization.

Level 1: Tactical/Incremental
In Level 1 conversations – the primary question is, “how do we do things differently?”

In Level 1 conversations, the focus is on the distribution of power, influence and getting things done. There is an emphasis on negotiation advocacy, tools, techniques, problem solving, action planning and results.

Level 1 conversations see the enterprise as a mechanical system for which all problems have a corresponding technical or expert-driven response. To extend the tree metaphor, Level I conversations – like the upper branches and the leaves of the tree – are highly sensitized and reactive to changing circumstances. Because they are focused on the performance of the parts rather than the system as a whole, their emphasis is on efficiency-based thinking, quantitatively-driven results and mechanistic responses to problems.

Level 2: Strategic/Transactional
Here the primary question is, – “how do we do different things?”

At Level 2 we see not only the leaves and branches, but their connection to the trunk of the tree as well. Here the focus is on structure and strategy as well as rational problem-solving through policies, technology, detailed plans and systems thinking.

Level 2 conversations shift the emphasis from efficiency to effectiveness, embracing a human resources lens which encompasses human assets and potential, matching people to jobs and working in teams.

Both Level 1 and Level 2 conversations tend to focus on change that is instrumental. They don’t ask the larger questions like ‘why’ or ‘what for?’ For this more profound shift of mindset to occur and to navigate the complexities of a rapidly changing world, we need to look to another level of conversation.

Level 3: Regenerative/Transformational
With regenerative Level 3 conversations the primary question is, – not on “how we act differently”, but in “how we see differently.”

Here, there is a shift from mechanistic thinking to engaging with the organization as a living system. If the other levels focus on the leaves, branches and trunk, Level 3 conversations examine the soil and the root system underneath.

By ‘regenerative’, I mean conversations that focus not only on the people, the power and the structure of the system, but also on the culture and the sense of place where the leader is also the steward, the sage or prophet, the storyteller and place maker.

At Level 3 there is a greater attention on dialogue and listening together as well as on the regenerative power of beauty, destiny, synchronicity and mythic thinking in which art and poetry, music and celebration carry an equal voice. Generative conversations are participative, reciprocal and imaginative. They involve a collective search for deeper meanings and insights to emerge.

In so doing, these conversations shift the focus from preserving the life of the tree to growing the tree into a sturdy and fertile oak through the constant turning and care of the soil.

Eighty percent of what determines the health of a tree is the condition of the soil – the ‘magic’ that supports and nourishes its roots. In the context of an organization, this ‘magic’ is found within its creative spirit: conversations about what we aspire to, about when we feel vital and alive, about the gifts and heritage from our past and our present challenges and opportunities. These are ‘root’ conversations that focus on the common roots of our shared human experience. As such, they create the fertile ground – so frequently passed over in a fast-paced environment – where the seeds of our future can take root and grow.

It is commonly believed that the fastest way to change a system is with Level 1 and Level 2 conversations. So the overwhelming majority of an organization’s attention is usually focused in these two areas and the typical goal-setting processes that have been used for decades emphasize specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and strategic time-bound results. Yet these rarely correlate with either work satisfaction or real success.

We need to be highly literate with Level 1 and Level 2 conversations while being aware that they concentrate our attention on the most obvious and visible issues. They promote an expert-driven ‘outside in’ response and rarely evoke a fundamental shift of mind when practiced without Level 3.

All levels of learning are necessary, but only Level 3 conversations invite us into seeing new possibilities in the future. As such they take tactical and strategic learning in new directions that could not have been foreseen in advance.

The practice of engaging in Level 3 conversations connects us with how nature itself creates and sustains life. We become allies with each other and our destiny in ways that intellect, tactics, and strategies alone cannot encompass. Our destiny is rooted in the rich soil of intuitive wisdom, the power of place, our heart’s desires, our greatest aspirations, the gifts in each person and the collective intelligence that has called us to be together on this journey.







How do you introduce a totally new concept to a skeptical market?

Explore some of the idiosyncrasies of changing not only organizational culture but market perception with John Abele, Co-Founder Boston Scientific – a medical device company that helped pave the way for less invasive medicine.

Today’s Kingbridge Insight from Owner, John Abele:

“When introducing a new idea to a skeptical group, market or society, it is important to start small and build a band of disciples.  They must be believers who are knowledgeable, eloquent, passionate and resourceful.  They won’t be present leaders.  They will be future leaders.  The establishment is inherently resistant to change.  They need to be won over by demonstration and understatement, not hyperbole.  The successful future leaders will be courageous and patient.”  ~ John Abele

Artists in the Boardroom

A recent article in Fast Company magazine posed the question: Is an MFA the new MBA?  Author of the article Steve Tepper points to the need for creativity in the next generation of business leaders, making the point that those trained in the role of artist (such as a graduate of fine arts) as being ideally suited for the new economic climate fraught with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.  On the one hand Tepper challenges us to literally bring an artist into the boardroom or the business planning process to see one’s organization through fresh eyes.  He also offers several excellent points outlining how business leaders could strive to tap into the talent nurtured in the creative arts, those traits and skills that may be hiding in plain sight within their workforce.

Our “Kingbridge Knowledge Gift” for this week comes from Tim Dixon, one of our strategic partners within our Collaboration Institute and our Meeting Experience Architect, working with our clients to design and deliver Kingbridge Organizational Programs:

In reading this article, I was reminded of those times when I have facilitated strategic conversations about “charting a new business direction” or “engaging our employees during a significant organizational change” – when words simply weren’t enough to convey meaning.  The shared understanding of the participants’ “cultural climate” was greatly enhanced during those types of leadership forum events when we were literally able to “ask an artist” what they were hearing.  The use of a graphic scribe allowed us to capture the essence of the dialogue so that the organizational landscape the artist was able to record provided a visual anchor for those leaders to engage their own teams when subsequently telling the story of their new direction and initiatives.  Below is an example of such a graphic representation of organizational complexity in uncertain times, which emerged during a multi-media simulation based on the metaphor “cross the desert of change”.

graphic scribe of shifting sands program

Another gem that can come from an arts-based orientation is a concept I picked up many years ago from a mentor and longtime thespian – Dr. Possibilities, who taught me the importance in an organizational setting for being a ‘SpectActor’.   Howard Jerome – aka Dr. Possibilities and founder of the Canadian Improv Games reminds students and executives alike to play their part in the grand theatre of life or business, while aware of how one’s role serves to bring the best out of the other actors.  This skill of critical self-reflection in action is what adult learning theorist Mezirow saw as pivotal to transformative learning.  So let us all strive to draw upon our inner Spectator to enhance relationships in our teams and with key stakeholders, as well as seek opportunities to bring the artist into the organization to see business through a fresh set of eyes.


Leading from the Ground Up – Conversations that Evolve Potential

What types of conversations transform problems into potential? How might conversations accelerate and amplify change? How do we bring people together in collaborative ways to address complexity, diversity and rapid change? What do I need to deepen in my own capacity so that I can host conversations differently? Yesterday I spent the day with good friend, colleague and strategic partner, Michael Jones discussing these exact questions. Michael provided me with a metaphor of the ecology of a tree to help me understand the distinction and value of learning how to host three very different levels of conversation.

The leaves and branches of a tree symbolize our outer life; tactics, action plans, performance goals, desired outcomes and results. The trunk and lower limbs are the structures, strategies and processes. We spend the least amount of time in the ground underneath. Yet it is the re-generative nature of the roots and the soil that give the tree the resilience and the strength to grow. Eighty percent of what determines the health of a tree is the condition of the soil. Here are the three levels of conversation that Michael taught me this week –

Level 1 Technical/Tactical – At the first level the primary question is; “How do we do things differently?” 90% of an organization’s attention is usually focused at Level 1 or 2.

The content is focused on tools, techniques action and results. It frames the organization as a mechanical system for which all problems have a corresponding technical expert-driven response. To extend the tree metaphor, Level I conversations take into account only the branches and the leaves. If this level prevails in an organization, everything is rushed to market with nothing conserved for the future. As such, Level 1 conversations are highly sensitized and reactive to changing circumstances. Because they are focused on the performance of the parts rather than the system as a whole, their emphasis is on efficiency-based thinking, quantitatively driven results and mechanistic expert-driven responses to problems.

Level 2 Strategic/Transactional – Here the primary question is; “How do we do different things?” 90% of an organization’s attention is usually focused at Level 1 or 2.

It is stepping into the forest and seeing not only the leaves and branches but their connection to the trunk as well. Although Level 2 conversations shift the emphasis from efficiency to effectiveness they don’t necessarily engage the larger meta questions regarding the effectiveness for what and to what end. Their focus is on connecting the parts to the whole and interpersonal or transactional strategic-based learning. They are focused on systems, structures and processes and are oriented to leading groups and teams. They don’t engage the higher order questions that build deep relationships and engage the questions that shift the paradigm we are working within. For this we need to look to another level of learning that is associated more with a perceptual shift and with deeper levels of engagement.

Level 3 Re-generative/Transformational – With regenerative Level 3 conversations the primary question is not on how we act but how we sense and see differently.

Their focus is on the shift from mechanistic thinking to engaging with the organization as a living system. If the other levels focus on the leaves, branches and trunk, Level 3 conversations examine the soil and the complex root systems underneath. Re-generative is participative, reciprocal and imaginative. It means doing things that move beyond preserving the life of the tree to growing it into a sturdy and fertile oak.

To learn more explore The Three Conversations by Michael Jones by Micheal Jones

How do we learn to play well in the sandbox? – An invitation to a conversation

A few colleagues and I got into a deep conversation the other night as we discussed what it might look like if we included “dialogue and interaction skills” into school curriculum beginning in Kindergarten through University.  Can you imagine how we might interact differently with each other in our families, communities and organizations if we were taught early on how to build stronger relationships? How our ability to address domestic and international issues would change if we enhanced our engagement and communication skills each year as we progressed through school? This could be a real game changer for society, especially in today’s new world where everything we do is interconnected.

However, if you’re reading this you likely did not have the good fortune to learn these skills in school and have been left to your own devices. How do we learn to have “conversations and interactions that matter” to give all of us a stronger sense of unity and purpose.? Perhaps it is our responsibility to drive this organically from a grass roots level and be socially responsible beings? What if we started a community of learners and shared “effective engagement methods” with each other through blogs and discussion forums? We could continue to develop our skills by learning from each other. For example, here is one approach to designing effective interactions that might come in handy – This strategy comes from Charles Holmes, colleague and strategic partner in our Collaboration Centre at Kingbridge:

“Successful interactions depend on how well we design processes that engage, connect and mobilize individuals, families, communities and organizations to create their desired futures. When the end goal is to develop a shared vision whether it is with one other person or with a group of people it is important to create a supportive environment where the right conditions can exist for authentic, open and respectful conversations to take place. This is especially important when diverse perspectives need to surface and be understood allowing many voices to be heard.”

Because we are social beings, and we understand that everything is interdependent and interrelated here is another simple approach to build a stronger sense of community which also creates great interactions – Develop neighbourhoods or ‘front porch’ style exchanges like we do in our home communities. This method, which comes from colleague and strategic partner Michael Jones quickly connects people in ways that can help them see how their strengths add value to what the group is trying to accomplish whether it be innovation or problem solving. This provides each person with a sense of purpose and belonging allowing the group to mobilize around change initiatives with more passion, clarity, speed and precision.

John Abele, owner of Kingbridge and I are so passionate about this topic that we would like to spend the next few months engaging in dialogue via this blog platform with others out there who are equally as passionate about this subject. If you would like to be a part of this community of learning, please let us know by leaving a comment below. For those of you interested in engaging we would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to Michael Jones and Charles Holmes who practice this type of work all over the world. They are great friends and strategic partners in our Collaboration Centre and have agreed to join our learning community. Michael and Charles recognize that building connections for the future involves creating communities of belonging, where people are drawn together in authentic and at times challenging conversations. It is in these conversations that people begin to see and share strengths or gifts that we see in each other. These gifts are discovered thorough stories of experiences and places that hold meaning and significance for us – experiences and places that have shaped our lives. These stories are infinitely practical, in that they illuminate ideas and insights that can lead to new possibilities for innovation and ways of being together in community. Michael and Charles recognize that the vision for the communities we create together are often not found in the “flashlight world” of spreadsheets and strategic plans, but are more likely to occur in the complex and subjective “candlelight” conversations that bring to light our aspirations through embracing a world of imagination, possibility, mystery and surprise.