As a Principal of CLS and Founder of its Advisory Services division, Al supports senior executives in navigating the personal and interpersonal challenges of facilitating business breakthroughs and integrating systemic change. He has been an advisor and coach to executives across multiple industries in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Al was previously a Director in a multinational Publishing firm, an SVP and Practice Leader in a global consulting firm and, in addition to his work at CLS, is currently a member of the faculty in the Graduate Psychology Department at UNH where he teaches Leadership, Organizational Development and an experimental course he has designed for future organizational practitioners called 'Personal & Interpersonal Effectiveness for Change Agents'. Al has a passion for public speaking and has been a featured speaker at over a hundred events over the past 15 years.
Navigating the Paradoxes of Leadership, Change and Innovation
CLS Advisory & Dialogue Services has not been designed as a traditional consultancy - with emphasis on content, expertise and methodology - but rather from the perspective that mastery of Context, Conversation and Commitment are the bedrock of leading in the 21st century. Each Advisory Services practitioner is a senior advisor with very deep content expertise and a track record of success that spans decades. Yet none of us sees our expertise as the starting point for a client engagement; we do not view the world through the filter of methodology. We are Master's of paradox and ambiguity, engaged with clients in the messy, unpredictable, and nonlinear work of creating new possibilities. We do not see ourselves as ‘clinicians’ or engineers working on a client system, but rather as co-creators and collaborators working with our clients.
Finally, and perhaps of highest importance, the single greatest factor in the development of our reputation is the fact that our work with clients not only produces results, but produces the kind of breakthroughs that seem impossible at the start of the engagement. No amount of expertise and no perfected methodology can produce these breakthroughs; they are the product of a qualitatively different kind of relationship between consultant and client…and they are a fundamental promise to everyone we work with.
Designing From the Future: Managers Plan, Leaders Create™
This service supports organizational members who are in the very early stages of a breakthrough. At this stage there is little other than an intuitive sense of possibility, a nagging feeling that there is something much ‘bigger’, more valuable, something that would transform the organization’s or department’s future and open up much greater opportunity. Conversely, the organization may have a sense of impending threat from forces in the marketplace that seem ambiguous, unpredictable and unknowable. The habitual response to this is to begin the process of analysis and planning; a path that, in our extensive experience, narrows the opportunity to a fraction of it’s potential. Our support here is to facilitate the process of creating, of engaging with the future as an artist engages with a canvas. These engagements result in powerful and transformative visions of possibility and, more importantly, an extremely high level of commitment and clarity on the part of key leaders and sponsors of the vision.
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The Trusted Advisor: New Visions Require New Ways to See
Taking on the work of Leadership, of creating a new reality for your organization, requires the willingness to take on a new reality for yourself. In our experience, this is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of organizational transformation. Too often, the assumption is that the Leader must take on a clinical, detached posture with respect to the breakthrough they are committed to creating and that a behavioral, skill and tool-based approach to increasing the Leader's effectiveness is what is required from their advisors and coaches.
Over the course of hundreds of client engagements, we have found that this approach is fundamentally flawed. The work of the Advisor certainly includes the development of skills and the introduction of tools, but the true value extends far beyond this. Engaging with one of our practitioners in a Trusted Advisor role provides you with personal, one-on-one space in which you will transform your understanding of what you are capable of. Our promise is not that you will 'change' but rather that you will 'emerge' even more powerfully and with greater presence than you currently do. These engagements are grounded in deep trust between Client and Advisor and are rarely shorter than 1 year in duration. In every case, business outcomes are defined that, when achieved, will provide the organization with a return that far exceeds Advisory fees.
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