Applying the ARIES Practices and Tools



Mindful Leadership in Action™ is a highly interactive, practically-oriented workshop-based program in which participants gain proficiency in bringing about change and improvement through handling contentious issues more productively. Such issues may be characterized by, for example: apparent resistance to change; teamwork or partnering-related problems; silo behaviors; difficulty in engaging with those up the line; and group or individual performance problems.

The program is designed for senior and middle managers who are endeavoring to bring about change and/or performance improvement - in virtually any type of organization. It can be run in versions from a half-day introduction to a 3-day intensive.

Aries Framework

When we are mindful, we are able to just notice and observe rather than rush to judgment. We set about viewing an issue from a variety of standpoints, instead of locking-in quickly to a single interpretation. Mindful leadership implies an ability to ask questions that reach down into the issue’s underlying dimensions without unduly creating threat and anxiety. Another key element is being able to speak in ways that allow a more encompassing truth to emerge, as distinct from regarding our own view as “the” truth.  Mindful leadership also implies framing shared understandings of current realities and a preferred future for the problem at hand, in ways that can be held out for response by others. The prospect in building such shared understandings is in unlocking a great deal of energy for change.

In the program, participants learn how to apply the ARIES practices and tools from Don Dunoon’s book In the Leadership Mode. ARIES – Attending, Reflecting, Inquiring, Expressing, and Synthesizing – supports mindful leadership action to delve into and better understand the hidden aspects of a problem, and to identify, and assess possible interventions. Participants gain practice and skills in applying the ARIES tools to bring about desired changes with issues that matter to them.

What Participants Gain

  • Skills in being able to open-up sensitive issues for constructive exploration and resolution, while reducing threat and anxiety
  • Strengthened ability to tap the potentially available intelligence for working through an issue
  • Improved capability in identifying possible intervention strategies and choices in dealing with particular issues
  • A framework for making sense of virtually any leadership- and change-related issue
  • Opportunities to practice interventions and gain feedback.


Customizing the Program

The program can be tailored to ensure relevance and maximum added value for your participants. Typically, this centers on Don Dunoon working with your organization to develop realistic scenarios representing the kinds of issues and challenges your managers typically face. The scenarios are then built into skills development and practice sessions utilizing the ARIES framework.

Program Format

Don Dunoon can present the program for your company/organization in a variety of formats:

  • Face-to-face workshop program
  • Online “web-workshop” program – or via teleconference – with 6-10 sessions of 90 minutes to 2 hours spread over several weeks
  • Hybrid program – a combination of face-to-face workshop sessions and online or teleconference sessions.

Don can work with your organization to ensure that the program integrates seamlessly with your other leadership development and change offerings.

Features of the Program

  • Interactive, practical focus. ARIES practices and tools are applied to actual workplace-change issues brought to the group by participants (as well as to scenarios developed with the client and/or introduced by the presenter)
  • Participants are provided with a workbook and exercises, to assist in transferring learning to on-the-job applications. (Rather than being “extra work”, the exercises are designed to help participants achieve faster and better progress with actual workplace issues.)
  • Optional one-hour individual consultation with each participant, to assist the individual in integrating and applying their learning.


Particular features of the web-workshop version of Mindful Leadership in Action ™:

  • Connections involve easy-to-use web-conferencing software. For audio, participants can connect via headset and speakers (VoIP), or through a standard telephone connection
  • Maximum 10 participants per program to ensure high-quality interaction.

Program Content

Rather than being a content-heavy program, Mindful Leadership in Action ™ focuses mainly on participants gaining insights into workplace issues and challenges facing group members and on identifying, assessing and rehearsing possible intervention strategies. Typical content includes:

  • The characteristics of contentious issues
  • Tapping “hidden” intelligence (what people think and feel but have not stated)
  • Understanding mindful leadership
  • Leadership-mode interventions with contentious issues
  • Using both leadership and management-oriented interventions
  • Containing threat and fostering safety in working through contentious issues
  • Introduction to the ARIES framework
  • Putting the quality of perceiving ahead of task accomplishment in particular moments
  • Differentiating what we observe directly from inferences and conclusions
  • Making sense of different perspectives with the Reflection Matrix tool
  • Asking deep-reaching questions while minimizing the prospect of defensive reactions
  • Using the inquiring tools (5-type question framework) to frame powerful questions
  • Speaking up in ways that are both persuasive and reflective – and which also maintain safety
  • Disclosing some of what has been unspoken for us
  • Finding common ground from diverse perspectives
  • Assessing the opportunities and challenges for intervention
  • Moving forward when change seems stuck or blocked
  • Developing an intervention action plan.

For more information on the Mindful Leadership in Action ™ program, or to discuss running the program in your organization, contact Don using the form below.

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