Partnerships and Possibilities is a podcast about leadership in organizations. Listen in as Sharon and Diana discuss issues of leadership at all levels.

The Latest

The Soft War On Diversity

Season 6 Episode 7 Duration 00:30:59

“It’s not just enough to get people in the pipeline. You have to make it worthwhile to get them to stay.”

In what ways does your organization seek and hire a diverse workforce? In what ways does it convince them to stay?

The Rest

Decisions, Decisions

Season 6 Episode 6 Duration 00:28:17

“A team is more than just the sum of a bunch of individual contributors’ thinking together. A team’s primary work is learning together and making decisions.”

What makes a team? How do you become an effective member of a team? And how does your team become effective together?

Haven’t We Heard This Before?

Season 6 Episode 5 Duration 00:30:19

“We’ve been making these issues [of women in the workforce] explicit at least since ’70s. Forty-five years is a long time to talking about the same stuff.”

How are you pushing to expand the discussion? How are you seeing others come up with genuinely new insights and observations about the struggles of women in the workforce?

Virtual Teams, Real Challenges

Season 6 Episode 4 Duration 00:21:34

“There is not much that is specific to a virtual team, that couldn’t apply to almost any team.”

Are you on a virtual team or managing one? What challenge does your virtual team face? How have you worked to solve them?

The Different Faces of Leadership

Season 6 Episode 3 Duration 00:30:05

“Everybody is saying we need to strive for servant leadership, but nobody seems to know what that looks like.”

What is your style of leadership? What kinds of leadership have you observed in colleagues? Which have been most effective for particular situations?

Revisiting Influence

Season 6 Episode 2 Duration 00:29:47

“We’ve been ranging over a lot of current topics lately, and for so many of them we feel we’ve visited them before – everything old is new again. Here is what we’ve been finding out about influence and how we’ve been making it new again.”

How do you observe yourself or your colleagues influencing each other? What kinds of influence do you see as critical for lasting positive changes?

The Gender Meritocracy

Season 6 Episode 1 Duration 00:21:56

“At one point during the ‘Women in Agile’ presentation, a man sat down to join the mostly female audience. One of the presenters thanked him for participating. He replied, ‘Don’t thank me – I have a daughter!’”

What are you seeing in your organization relating to women’s experience in the workplace? How are you involved in the growing conversation?

Work With Us

Season 5 Episode 9 Duration 00:28:10

“When I see inequity, here is how I’m responding to it, here’s how I’m trying to shift the behavior, both in myself and in creating the conditions to shift it in others.”

What are you seeing in your organization relating to gender roles and gender equality? What type of things are you doing that are helping these more subtle gender equity and equality shifts occur?

Who Needs ‘Em?

Season 5 Episode 8 Duration 00:27:03

“Do we need managers? It depends.”

What role(s) do managers have in your organization? How are managers viewed in your place of work? What does the staffing structure look like?

Old Wine and Gatorade

Season 5 Episode 7 Duration 00:23:37

“Technological and philosophical progress happens because it builds on the work of previous folks …we’re all part of a continuous stream.”

What are your thoughts? Are “new” ideas repackaged “old” ideas?


Season 5 Episode 6 Duration 00:30:21

“There are people who fundamentally believe that competition is the way to get the best out of people, and there are people who fundamentally believe that the spirit of collaboration is the way you that you get the best out of people.”

What are your experiences with staff ranking or other policies and processes in your organization that you feel have helped you perform better or have gotten in the way of performing better? Have you seen or experienced real significant differences in policies and processes between private industries or government, schools and other such organizations?

Retrospectives for the Rest of Us

Season 5 Episode 5 Duration 00:27:47

“Retrospectives help us define and examine a body of work, what we can learn from it, and what that tells us about going forward and then choosing those next steps to move forward.”

What would be useful for you to learn to incorporate retrospectives in your organization? Who would benefit from exploring this idea and how to do this kind of work in an effective way? How open do you think people in your organization would be to including retrospectives as a process for continuous improvement?

Tethers & Widgets

Season 5 Episode 4 Duration 00:23:26

“There is a cost to setting up a system where people feel less connected to your company.”

Have you had any experiences with the untethered office? What are your thoughts on this evolving workspace concept?

Welcome Aboard

Season 5 Episode 3 Duration 00:28:55

“The mission and the culture need to be embedded in every single process that touches a prospective employee.”

Have you observed a company or do you know about a company that you think does a fabulous job of finding good people and making them feel special? What are some of the things that you have seen this company do? What contributes to the whole recruiting, hiring and onboarding experience?

The Learning Organization

Season 5 Episode 2 Duration 00:26:56

“Do the thing to learn the thing.”

Do you work in a learning organization? Has it been effective in building your capabilities and enhancing your work processes?

Playing by the Rules

Season 5 Episode 1 Duration 00:27:06

“Simple rules need to be scalable and generalizable, they have to be action-oriented, and they’re always stated in the positive.”

Has your organization, team or group incorporated simple rules? What impact have simple rules had on your group’s coherence?

Change from the Middle

Season 4 Episode 9 Duration 00:28:39

“The more things change, the more our objections to change stay the same.” – Bill Taylor

Are you a middle manager whose organization has gone through a change? What was your role in this organizational change? What challenges and/or successes did you face?

Mentor, Coach, Sponsor

Season 4 Episode 8 Duration 00:30:45

“A mentor helps you understand how to navigate your organization, a sponsor helps advocate for you, and a coach is there to help you develop both the skills and the thinking acumen to be able to perform well.”

Have you been a mentor, sponsor or coach in your organization? Or maybe you have been on the receiving end? What differences or similarities have you experienced? Which relationship have you found to be most helpful in your career?

The Top Leaders

Season 4 Episode 7 Duration 00:27:41

As a leader can you acknowledge what is going on with the people that you’re dealing with, do you see them? Do they feel seen when they are with you? Seeing each other in a real way, and making that acknowledgement, is so powerful.

The Top Workplaces

Season 4 Episode 6 Duration 00:29:05

“Some of the highest performing companies in the country have the culture thing figured out, they nurture their internal brand as a strategic asset that stimulates a strong external brand.” – Ted Sickinger

If you work in a place that you really think could be a top workplace, what is it about that place that makes it so? If you have some opinions about what would keep a workplace from showing up on such a list, we’d be interested in your thoughts on what those conditions are.

The Gender Zeitgeist Part II

Season 4 Episode 5 Duration 00:20:52

“You cannot be a good contributor if you never look away.”

Have you read any of the recent articles published in the September 2013 issue of the Harvard Business Review? Where do you agree and where do you take issue?

The Gender Zeitgeist, Part I

Season 4 Episode 4 Duration 00:22:05

“There’s a lot in the zeitgeist right now that’s looking at the differences between how men and women lead, how those differences in leadership style, whether done by a man or a woman, impact people’s ability to get things done in the workplaces and move around in their organizations.”

What type of culture does your organization promote? Does it encourage collaboration? Conflict avoidance? Constructive confrontation?

Aitch Arr

Season 4 Episode 3 Duration 00:33:43

HR typically has been set up in the past and has been staffed by people who saw it as their role to protect the organization… but there is another whole set of function that support the strategic role of HR… That’s where organizational development work comes in, that’s where leadership development comes in. Those are the kinds of things that need to support the business unit of an organization to do what the business units need to get done.

Do you have stories about corporate structures and functions working well together?

Blame the Consultants

Season 4 Episode 2 Duration 00:28:57

“It’s how we respond to the changes, it’s how we think about them, it’s how we interact, how we deal, how we cope, how we make meaning of the change that makes the difference.”

What are you doing to influence change and recognize patterns in your organization?

Be Human

Season 4 Episode 1 Duration 00:33:30

I think that we have a culture, right now, a business culture, a larger social culture that has so much rigidity around scarcity and fearfulness and a lot of the negative parts of being human and we’re not very much focusing on the positive parts of being human … All of us, men, women, everybody can get better at how we interact with each other at work that opens up possibilities and potential for everyone.

If you have read Lean In, what did you think about it? Did it resonate with you? We look forward to continuing this conversation.

Leaning In

Season 3 Episode 9 Duration 00:34:49

“It’s really about stepping into your power, and believing that you have more power than many women typically do.”

Have you read Lean In? Or have you experienced some of the issues discussed in today’s podcast? Maybe someone you know, a mother, sister, friend, wife, grandmother? How have you or they worked through some of these challenges?

“What if...?”

Season 3 Episode 8 Duration 00:19:04

“The meetings you do have you want them to be a good use of everybody’s time but there is also ‘do we really need to have a meeting every single time?’”

If you have other techniques in helping meetings really work where you work, or things that have worked for you in the past, share your clues, hints, stories, and anecdotes.

Effective and Efficient Meetings

Season 3 Episode 7 Duration 00:33:49

“ More often the same person who is convening the meeting is expected to lead and facilitate it. Leading it is making sure the right content is being covered, and introducing the content, facilitating it is making sure the discussions go well, that there is a process in a group that gets you those outcomes that you are looking for, and those are really two separate jobs.”

Have you led a meeting where you were both the leader and the facilitator? Or attended a meeting where the leader and the facilitator were the same person? What was your experience?

Learning Lean, Part II

Season 3 Episode 6 Duration 00:30:51

“It is not only new information coming in all the time that needs to be learned. But old assumptions are being challenged, so everything we thought we knew and could be put on the shelf and rely on, those are coming up for grabs too.”

Have you come up with other ideas and application for some of the core principles of lean and notions of agility and complexity?

Learning Lean

Season 3 Episode 5 Duration 00:25:11

“Lean is about being accessible to and more influenced by the voice of the customer and having the flexibility to adapt and adjust as you move along.”

Have you participated in a lean start-up process? What was your experience?

The Star

Season 3 Episode 4 Duration 00:40:51

“In a team situation, having a star performer becomes a threat and an opportunity. If a person is a star performer, their job is to spread their skills around to other members, to mentor and pair with people so other people’s skills are lifted up to where theirs are.”

Have you encountered a star performer in your organization? Was it a positive experience? How did your organization respond to the star performer?

Know Thyself

Season 3 Episode 3 Duration 00:26:38

“Using self-awareness and self-knowledge for self-management seems to be key in becoming an effective leader.”

What instruments have you experienced that have been helpful to you? When has really good self-awareness and self-knowledge helped you self-manage as a leader? If you’ve experienced the Hogan, tell us about it. We’d love to hear your stories.

An Inquiry into Questions

Season 3 Episode 2 Duration 00:32:55

“Leadership really comes from the nature of the questions you ask rather than the statements that you make.”

What questions have been particularly powerful for you? What questions have you asked or have been asked that have made a difference in your life or which have stimulated learning in others (and in yourself)?

The Secret Club

Season 3 Episode 1 Duration 00:32:38

“Membership in the secret club carries with it the need to behave in certain ways that may not be your personal inclination. My advice would be to get some experience to get a clear-eyed understanding of what it looks like because it’s not a one size fits all.”

Have you made it in the secret club? What has your experience been like? If you opted out of the secret club, what prompted you to turn away and go in a different direction?

Simple Rules

Season 2 Episode 9 Duration 00:30:55

“One of the guiding thoughts about simple rules is that not only are they pretty short and action oriented by starting with a verb, but they are also generalizable and scalable so that they can help you in many different kinds of context in any situation, whether it’s a big or small decision to be made.”

Are you using simple rules in your work? Have you found ones that work particularly well for you and your team? Do you have questions about how simple rules can be applied in your organization?

The Complexity of Change

Season 2 Episode 8 Duration 00:29:01

“How can a leader be an innovator or expect innovation in their own organization if they’re not willing to experiment with the idea of innovation about what leadership is and how you do it?”

How is leadership defined in your organization? Does it stay confined at the top or is it a shared function throughout the organization?

Our Changing Views of Change

Season 2 Episode 7 Duration 00:38:46

“To really accept that the world and change are emergent is to accept a kind of stance that says ‘I really can’t know the future and I really can’t do a whole lot to prepare for it’ and that makes people, including me, sometimes uncomfortable.”

What kind of changes are you encountering in your organization? How is your view of change changing and what are you learning from that?

Leading through Negotiation

Season 2 Episode 6 Duration 00:45:50

“You can’t really be a good negotiator if you can’t hold boundaries …And to hold the boundary you have to be able to see it, you have to be able to perceive where the boundary lies.”

What kind of negotiations are you involved with every day? Have they been successful or unsuccessful? Where are you using power and love? If you’re a woman, what strengths are you using in negotiations and where are your boundaries?

Asking for What You Need

Season 2 Episode 5 Duration 00:31:59

“We become somehow acculturated to making do with what we’re given rather than asking for what would make things better.”

What are some of your negotiation experiences? What tips did you garner from those interactions? What has helped you or hindered you in the midst of a negotiation? Share your stories with us and help us learn from you.

Missing the Mark

Season 2 Episode 4 Duration 00:45:54

“If we admit that we can continually improve, we somehow think we’re admitting we’re not enough right now. And I don’t think of it that way, I think we are doing the best we can right now, and we can identify a new level of best and strive for that.”

What are you seeing in your organization? Where are your disappointments and what progress is being made? Where you are seeing real progress being made, how it is made and how is it sustained?

The Vulnerable Leader

Season 2 Episode 3 Duration 00:29:29

“Vulnerability is really about allowing ourselves to be seen… there are ways of being seen a little more clearly in places that actually helps and helps other people and helps the situation.”

What kind of strategies do you use to help you get through the stressful time when you hit the wall? And what are the healthy ways that you’ve found to deal with that? We look forward to hearing some of your tips on how to manage stress and change.

Welcoming Women

Season 2 Episode 2 Duration 00:24:43

“The need to have more women involved in software development, since women are at least half of the consumers of software development … does give us some differences in perspectives, although there are some conversations about how we might characterize those differences.”

If you are a woman, what has your experience been as part of a team in a male-dominated industry? If you are a man, what are your concerns or thoughts about including more women on work teams primarily made up of men? And if you’re leading and you’ve come up with some good ways of making your work environment friendlier to technical women, please share with us what you’ve been doing.

Stories We Tell About Ourselves

Season 2 Episode 1 Duration 00:41:29

“Stories can be very powerful, [but] it’s not enough to just have a story to tell, it has to have relevance, it has to have meaning, to you personally, you have to tell the story sincerely, [and] with authenticity”

What is your experience of storytelling in your organization? Where has it been successful? Where has it not been successful? Where has it fallen flat? Where has it taken things in a direction opposite from what the storyteller intended? How do you as a leader use storytelling in your own leadership practice?

Power and Politics

Season 1 Episode 9 Duration 00:31:07

“Politics is really how we get things done – it’s the networks, it’s the interactions, it’s who talks to who, who influences who.”

What kinds of power and politics have you seen in your organization? Have you seen positive use of power and politics in your organization?

The Persuasive Leader Part II

Season 1 Episode 8 Duration 00:27:52

“If you use the credibility that comes with your job title, once, and then people discover that it really wasn’t authentic then you’ve broken trust and trust is difficult to restore once broken.”

How do you use your credibility and what are the sources of your credibility when you are trying to persuade other people? How do you use the relationships in your life to help you make the world better for you and others?

The Persuasive Leader

Season 1 Episode 7 Duration 00:28:04

“Effective persuasion becomes a negotiating and learning process through which a persuader leads colleagues to a problem’s shared solution” – Jay A. Conger, PhD, Professor and Author

Have you experienced persuasive leadership? How does the discussion on persuasion resonate with your experience?

Power and Influence in Organizations

Season 1 Episode 6 Duration 00:30:39

“Our influence is a source of power; the way we influence is unique to each of us.”

What is your unique source of influence and how are you using it in your organization? When have you needed to reach out and tap someone else’s style of influencing to really get things done that benefit the whole?

Stories of Leadership

Season 1 Episode 5 Duration 00:17:32

“Once you define a problem differently, it opens up different solutions and the possibility then of influencing the patterns becomes much greater because there are different places you can touch the problem that you might not have thought of otherwise.”

What leadership experience has made an impact in your professional life? Share your story.

A New Role for Leaders

Season 1 Episode 4 Duration 00:30:20

“Leaderful organization…It’s collective because it involves lots of people and it disburses the leadership throughout. It’s collaborative and it’s compassionate…”


Season 1 Episode 3 Duration 00:18:44

“The essence of leadership; it’s about who you are and being clear about your values.”

Coaching a Change Leader

Season 1 Episode 2 Duration 00:22:17

“He knows the organization that they have now can’t do what it really needs to do. It’s just not functional enough.”

How does your organization begin the process of implementing change? What are some of the challenges you have faced in the change process?

The Different Levels of Leading Change in an Organization

Season 1 Episode 1 Duration 00:10:24

Diana Larsen and Sharon Buckmaster embark on a discussion of defining what it means to be a change agent at different levels of the organization.

How do you define change agent leadership? Is it the same at all levels? If not, what makes it different? Share your comments and questions.