A Talk with Diana Chapman, an Upcoming COCAbiz Speaker, on Conscious Leadership

In this day and age, creativity is the ultimate competitive advantage. It’s a differentiator and is often ranked by chief executive officers as the number-one factor for future business success—above management discipline, integrity and even vision. However, you can’t just snap your fingers and acquire creativity.

Enter Diana Chapman. An advisor to exceptional leaders and the host of the upcoming COCAbiz bizSESSION “Expanding Creativity Through Conscious Leadership” on Feb. 13, Chapman will lead participants through an interactive presentation to break down roadblocks to creative thinking and problem-solving in their daily work. Based on her best-selling book “The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Success,” the workshop will help participants focus and find clarity while becoming more collaborative, creative, energized and engaged—and subsequently more valuable within their industries and more desirable to employers.

Leading up to her appearance in St. Louis, Chapman shared tidbits about the experiences that qualify her to teach the concept of conscious leadership, what attendees of the bizSESSION can expect, how drama in the workplace can crush creativity and more.

Tell me about your work as an advisor to leaders around the world.
I use one tagline to sum up everything nicely: “I help leaders and their teams eliminate drama in the workplace.” Most organizations find office drama challenging; I help the people in these organizations see how they’re creating the drama and how they can shift it by encouraging them to become more self-aware. Firstly, they need to understand that they’re existing in a state of threat versus a state of trust.

The human brain is hardwired to perceive threat, and when it does, a chemical cocktail courses through our veins, and we enter survival mode—a state in which it’s impossible to thrive. When we believe something or someone is threatening our desire for approval, control or security, we behave in certain ways. We cling to an opinion, find fault and blame, gossip, explain, rationalize and justify, get overwhelmed and avoid or pursue conflict for the sake of winning.  

The focus of my talk at COCA is how to understand where you are: Are you in a state of trust or a state of threat? If you are in a state of threat—and many of us are most of the time—how can you transition to a state of trust, at which point you become less stressed, less defensive and more committed to learning?

Is entering a state of trust part of the process you teach in order to break down roadblocks to creative thinking?
Yes, they’re completely related. We can’t collaborate and think creatively when we’re stressed out. If we’re reactive with one another, we tend to get righteous, hold back our ideas and lose our curiosity. When we’re relaxed, we have more access to not only our IQ, but also our EQ and BQ (our body intelligence). When we’re in touch with these various centers of intelligence, we are naturally more creative in our thinking. And if we really want to think outside the box, it requires all of us to let go of being right about the way we see the world and open up to a lot of different perspectives.

What can attendees of the workshop in St. Louis expect?
The workshop will be very experiential. People will bring real-life issues to the table and practice the steps to removing roadblocks to creative thinking and innovative problem-solving, which can ultimately resolve those issues.

Another thing worth mentioning is that everyone who comes to these workshops and trainings invariably says, “I wish I had brought so-and-so with me.” Whether it’s a spouse, a business partner, a troublesome colleague, whomever, everyone knows someone who can benefit from this experience. So I suggest you think of someone who is in an important and valuable relationship with you and bring them on Feb. 13. You won’t regret it.

How did you know you were ready to teach the concept of conscious leadership?
Before I started teaching, I spent decades practicing all of this myself. I tried the tools on myself and watched my world radically shift. My relationships vastly improved, both personally and professionally; my sense of well-being—the amount of peace, joy and playfulness I feel—grew a thousandfold; and I wasn’t nearly as stressed as I had been for my entire working life. So I began teaching based on my own experience, and so far, my results have been wildly successful.

Do you have any final words for readers?
There’s a lot of drama in the world. If you’re someone who wants to shift the drama in our government, in our justice system, our health care system, our financial systems, etc., the best place to start is at home. I believe everyone can be a part of the solution by doing their own work first. Take a look at how you can eradicate the drama in your own life and in your intimate circles—that is the greatest gift a person can give to the rest of society. It’s an easier, yet not insignificant, way to positively impact the larger collective dynamic we’re in.

The bizSESSION on Feb. 13 starts at 7:30 a.m. with a light breakfast, followed by Chapman’s interactive presentation from 8 to 10 a.m. in the Staenberg Performance Lab at COCA. Tickets are $55 (discounted to $45 for participants from nonprofits) and can be purchased through the event homepage.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Featured image courtesy of COCA.

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