The Practitioner Scholar

Doctor of Management Blog

DM 'Intentional Change' Group Building an Impressive Body of Work

May 3, 2010 ·

The DM program is a source of important research. As most scholars know, research in a field builds when a series of studies develop new insights about a theme. DMs have done just that with a key element of my of Intentional Change Theory. As part of the theory, sustained, desired change occurs in individuals, dyads, teams, organizations, communities, countries and even globally when people emerge through a series of five discoveries. Using concepts from complexity theory, the key is the movement between two stranger attractors, the Positive and Negative Emotional Attractors.

The Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA) is functioning in the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). In this state, people are cognitive, perceptually and emotionally open and at a level of their maximum functioning. It also allows for neurogenesis (growth of new neurons throughout adult hood).  In this state, the human body can rebuild itself-it is the only known antidote to the ravages of chronic stress. In contrast, when experiencing chronic stress, a person is embedded in the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) continuously and pulled into the Negative Emotional Attractor (NEA). In this state, a person is cognitive, perceptually and emotionally impaired, has a diminished immune functioning, and is generally exhausting their tissues and cells. The chronic stress is the buildup of almost perpetual annoying daily stress. Because of the emotional contagion emerging from mirror neurons and the speed of such neural processes, the mood and relationships of a leaders invoke either the PNS or the SNS in those around them, whether they know it or not.

Terry Brizz (DM 2003) showed that Catholic Pastor priests who showed more emotional and social intelligence (i.e., able to build better resonant relationships) created more parishioner satisfaction and mission effectiveness than others. They did not generate more Mass attendance or increased donations. Several years later, Ray Massa (DM 2008)showed that effective financial service executives built resonant relationship with their key staff as compared to dissonant relationships of their less effective peers. Then he showed that the emotional and social intelligence competencies they show (as seen by other around them) predicts effectiveness of their regions-and cognitive intelligence and personality traits did not.

Meanwhile, a key element of the PEA is a shared vision. In the NEA, in teams and organizations, vision either does not exist, is not shared, or is talked about less than goals, threats, and dangers. Byron Clayton (DM 2009) showed that mergers and acquisitions were more successful when there was a shared vision, and it was the most potent predictor of the success of these ventures. Then Kathy Overbeke (DM 2010)showed that daughter's who become successors in family businesses versus those that lose opportunities to equally or less effective brothers have a vision for the family business. A year later, Ed Mahon (DM 2010) showed that shared vision was a powerful predictor of job and organizational engagement in IT teams. And he showed that emotional intelligence amplified this effect. These studies have been presented at academic conferences and have either been published, accepted for publication, or are in the process of being rewritten for submission.

In studies underway, John Neff (DM 2010) is looking at shared vision as a key indicator of success of family businesses. Kathy Buse (DM 2011) is predicting that personal vision is key to retention of women in engineering careers. Meanwhile, Joann Quinn (DM 2012) is examining the degree of resonance as it effects leadership effectiveness in health care and Linda Pittenger (DM 2012) is looking at a similar dynamic but in IT. In each of their studies, they are seeking to show differences between outstanding individual contributors (physicians or programmers) and their managers.

Supporting, encouraging, and at times provoking each other, the DMs are building a literature that makes scholarly contributions AND has practical significance to leadership and organizational effectiveness.  We do it by getting folks to help each other and participate in study groups. The study groups are combinations of DM and PhD students working on understanding and studying related topics. All of the above people have been involved in the Intentional Change Study Group or it's forerunner, the Coaching Study Group. It is exciting for me to help and guide these doctoral students, and continue our relationship after they graduate. With them and through them, research is occurring that would not be done or would be done at glacial speeds.

Richard Boyatzis is a Professor in the Departments of Organizational Behavior, Psychology, and Cognitive Science, and is the H.R. Horvitz Chair of Family Business.  Professor Boyatzis has been a key leader of the DM program since its inception.

Tags: DM Research · Faculty Perspectives

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