There is a new generation in the workplace – one more focused on process over endgame, on people over paycheck, on personal development over company loyalty. The values of what we might refer to as the 'status generation' have yielded to those of the ‘awareness generation.'

- ConnectAbility, page xi

Drawing from the powerful lessons of emotional awareness and relationship dynamics, ConnectAbility promotes a sophisticated yet simple method for developing superior partnerships guaranteed to create quality results on a consistent basis. Even the best intentioned team players too often focus more on communicating their own ideas than hearing and understanding what others have to say. ConnectAbility changes all this using eight steps to foster optimum communication.

David Ryback Ph.D., along with Jim Cathcart and David Nour, share practical ways people and organizations are using to adapt to this workplace cultural shift.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Bottom Line Benefits of ConnectAbility

"…there seems to be a movement…in which the status-loving, jet-setting, deal-making celebrities of the 1990’s are being replaced by awareness-sensitive leaders who are more performance oriented and less egocentric."
- ConnectAbility, page 33

For over a decade, studies at organizations that adopted an awareness culture noticed an impact on results through:

  • Increased sales
  • Less turnover
  • Greater merit increases and job satisfaction
  • More effective leadership and management skills
  • Higher overall job success and team performance

Overall there seems to be a shift in the corporate mind-set from status-oriented, hard-driven, personality-cult, top-down leadership to more relationship-oriented, collaborative, communication-based types. The hierarchy-based Status Factor with its domineering leaders is giving way to the hierarchy-independent Awareness Factor with consensus building and a priority for grassroots sensibility.

Executive management mindsets and behaviors set the pace of whether it will be an awareness or status driven organization.

In the absence of ConnectAbility, the only apparent release for such frustration may be for those higher on the organizational chart to lord it over those in the lower ranks, creating the delusion that power is the ultimate reward rather than real contribution to the common goal. Such an organization promotes status as the manifestation of power, stifling each level of the hierarchy in turn, from top to bottom. Contribution to the common goal becomes a low priority, since each individual is now busier protecting his or her turf than being meaningfully productive.

There are many benefits to focusing on contribution. Most importantly it changes the way you see things and that in turn affects your choices and actions. During times of uncertainty, knowing the difference you are making helps you to sleep at night. Energy is invested in doing what is right for the business instead of pleasing certain leaders.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Increasing Your Team's Sense of Fulfillment at Work

"[Question:] How does a boss encourage his or her team to overcome what initially seems like a paradox: assuring good output while at the same time maintaining personal meaning and satisfaction on everyone’s part? [Answer:] By staying aware of what’s under the surface:  others’ feelings. Just as a ships’ use of radar avoids low-lying icebergs, your awareness can be used to pick out and avoid emotional turmoil."
- ConnectAbility, page 76-77

We’ve all heard stories of the doctor with or without a bedside manner. The authors’ point out that ConnectAbility is just as important in professional private practice as it is in corporate environments. Those medical doctors with ConnectAbility, for example, have much better relationships with their patients. Among medical specialists in the United States, the Awareness Factor benefits not only patients but doctors as well.

According to one study, medical doctors who lack the Awareness Factor are much more likely to get sued for malpractice. To determine what the difference was between surgeons who were sued for malpractice at least twice by those who hadn’t been sued at all, Wendy Levinson and her colleagues conducted a study. They found a small but remarkable difference. Those who weren’t sued, it turned out, spent somewhat more time with their patients and, even more important, were much more likely to be experienced as empathetic and understanding. They engaged in active listening and were more likely to share something humorous.

There was no indication of any difference between the two groups in terms of experience or skill in surgical practice, merely the difference in the skills of awareness-based listening.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Overcome Failure through Acceptance

"Accept when a situation or interaction has gone wrong and reframe it to discover the ‘silver lining.’ Instead of becoming overwhelmed by anxiety, permit yourself to experience the emotion in the moment by focusing on it and labeling it accurately, allowing yourself to return to a state of inner calm (or mindfulness). Only then will you regain your self-confidence, integrity, and ability to be more persuasive and generally effective with others–colleagues or customers–at work."
- ConnectAbility, page 125

Three ways of reframing bad outcomes are:

  1. Finding the “silver lining”
  2. Focusing on solving the problem
  3. Appreciating the moment, with what it has to teach us—even when bad things happen move ahead, creatively garnering support from your helpful associates

Mindfulness, or the ability to stay calm in the light of extreme challenge, is one aspect of agility skills. To use it you must focus intently on the present moment, particularly on the emotions you feel, but from a calm, detached perspective. We can control our emotions, but only if we learn to be highly aware of them and choose to adapt to changing circumstances quickly and decisively.

This is a process that can be used as a self coaching technique. It is easy to incorporate the authors’ three steps into a written reflection to quickly restore your clear thinking and know with certainty what your appropriate course of action needs to be.


I believe the authors have drilled deeply into what employees and leaders need to put into practice in today’s rapidly evolving work environments. Their advice is relevant in a world where employees are becoming managers much earlier in their careers and executives find themselves having to unlearn outdated behaviors and mindsets.

Whatever you pay attention to will transform. There are some great ideas that will help you and those you work with meet higher accountability expectations and expand your sphere of influence.

Have you worked in both a “status generation” and “awareness generation” culture?

If so, which do you prefer and briefly explain why?

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Judi Walsh

ABOUT Judi Walsh

I help leaders and high-potential leaders develop crucial next-generation thinking, behaviors, and skills.
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