There is an exercise I run regularly with executives and it always comes out the same. Yesterday it came out the same but outcome was particularly memorable.
In introducing the exercise I explained that they would be in groups. The exercise would have three rounds. In each round each of them should tell a two minute core story. I explained that a core story is a story that shaped their identity. I then modeled the process by telling three very intimate stories. I told them that at the end they should collectively answer three questions: What do we all have in common? In the last hour, how have we changed as a group? What are the implications of this experience?
Yesterday the group consisted of men from Brazil, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore, and Japan. They each spoke English with a different accent and I wondered if they would even understand each others words. As the exercise unfolded they shared their stories, and, as usual, the space became sacred. As they later discussed the three questions they expressed awe about the transformation that had occurred. After a short hour these five men from very different places, languages and industries felt like a highly functional family. Five casual, professional associates were transformed into five bonded human beings.
I thought about a world that is filled with conflict and little hope of ever being a planet of peace. Yet in one hour I watched highly differentiated human beings become integrated and unified. Facilitating the transformation that took place in that room makes it easy for me to believe that positive leadership can bring transformations in any group. The principles and processes are universal. They apply everywhere.