Managing for Meaning: How Managers and Executives Encourage the Discovery and Sustainability of Meaning in the Workplace

Our data gathered from working adult university students indicates that managers in many organizations are unprepared to encourage the discovery and sustainability of meaning in the workplace. This is critical because meaning cannot be pursued directly in the workplace but rather indirectly. Employees find meaning in the workplace when managers intentionally cultivate other components. Our data points to the reality that managers who continue to be steeped in the traditional practices of management (planning, leading, controlling, organizing, and staffing) are not prepared to address a generation of men and women entering the workforce who value the meaning of their work as a core component of their sense of purpose, motivation, and personal mission.

Leadership Styles of CEOs of Successful Startups in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and the larger Bay Area

This research focuses on the leadership theories, philosophies, and practices of CEOs of successful startups in the Bay Area region (specifically Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and the larger Bay Area). This study examines how leaders think about, practice, and strategize about leadership in their current organizational environment and within a larger national and global context. In particular, the study seeks to discover shared practices across CEOs as well as unique and cutting-edge approaches to leadership that might be consideed innovative and non-traditional.

Psychological Trauma and Involuntary Job Loss

The “Great Recession” has radically changed the landscape of employment as well as unemployment. Our research in this area remains focused on how unemployment is experienced as a psychological trauma. Though much of the literature addressing the impact of job loss describes the experience of involuntary job loss as a “trauma,” there is little information that actually explores the nature of this type of trauma.

The Labor Market and Structural Unemployment

The labor market has experienced significant structural changes resulting form the “Great Recession.”  These structural changes, as they reshape the labor market, negatively impact those who are unemployed. Additionally, the restructuring of the labor market is placing new demands on the existing job skills of those who are employed as well as those who are entering the labor market for the first time.

Cognitive Schemas and Leadership Development

Our research into psychological trauma and job loss has segued into conversations about how cognitive schemas influence leadership development. To be more precise, we are looking into how leadership training is informed by cognitive schemas. We are discovering that some of the reasons much of the leadership training and development taking place today often fail to actually yield sustainable concrete change subsequent to the training may be the result of insufficiently accessing the critical cognitive frameworks of those being trained.

Leveraging Diversity for Organizational Performance

We have found that many standard approaches to diversity training, while leading to organization compliance standards, often fail to create sustainable change that takes individuals beyond mere compliance behaviors. When diversity conversations begin with the language of compliance, tolerance, oughts, and shoulds, there can be immediate resistance and a contraction of learning. Our research and experience in the field has shown that this is the incorrect place to begin when discussing diversity in a training format.