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Clear Leadership

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Clear Leadership

Sustaining Real Collaboration and Partnership at Work

Nicholas Brealey Publishing,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Want to eliminate any paranoia, resentment and fear that exist in your office? Here’s your chance.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


A chapter in Something Happened, the 1974 novel by Joseph Heller, starts: “In the office in which I work there are five people of whom I am afraid. Each of these five people is afraid of four people (excluding overlaps) for a total of 20, and each of these 20 people is afraid of six people, making a total of 120 people who are feared by at least one person...[Everyone is] afraid of the 12 men at the top who helped found and build the company.” That’s a lot of fear. Does this environment sound familiar? Distrust, depression and anxiety are endemic in many organizations. According to professor and consultant Gervase R. Bushe, such negative emotions often result from the “interpersonal mush” that plagues offices. He details a program you can use to help eliminate the mush and create a workplace that fosters partnership and collaboration. getAbstract recommends Bushe’s intelligent, well-researched book to all executives, as well as to anyone who wants to learn how to relate to others honestly, openly and straightforwardly.


Clearing a Path for Collaboration

Companies used to revolve around executives’ orders, but that is no longer the case. In the modern workplace, collaboration is the default setting. Employees are empowered to make their own decisions. However, collaboration inside an organization is difficult to maintain. Why? “Interpersonal mush,” or interactions that evolve from “sense-making stories” co-workers invent about one another, gets in the way. People explain puzzling behavior by creating narratives that lend significance and consistency to what they observe. However, their stories are often negative and disconnected from reality.

Usually, no one tries to prove or disprove sense-making stories, so they take on a life of their own. They become the faulty lenses through which everyone in the organization views one another. People often generate explanations for other people’s behaviors that align with stories they’ve devised or previously constructed. They notice actions and attitudes that support their stories and overlook those that don’t. As a result, their misperceptions – and the distrust, depression and burnout they cause – endure and strengthen.

To foster a positive...

About the Author

Gervase R. Bushe, Ph.D., is a leadership development consultant. He teaches leadership at the Segal Graduate School of Business at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.

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