+00:00 GMT

Compassionate accountability & accepting conflict

with Marc Lesser

July 26, 2023


Marc Lesser (@marclesser) is a CEO, executive coach, and Zen teacher. He founded and was CEO of 3 companies, and helped develop a mindfulness program inside of Google's headquarters. Marc was a resident of the San Francisco Zen Center for 10 years, and director of Tassajara, Zen Mountain Center, the first Zen monastery in the western world. He is the author of Finding Clarity.

"So to me it's really maybe about high standards and aligning around those standards. Avoiding those conversations is the problem and this is where I think the whole realm of emotions and emotional intelligence and self-awareness comes into play. Five emotionally intelligent engineers working together will produce much, much greater outcomes than people who are not really aligned, not really having those real conversations.”

- Marc Lesser   

Join us at ELC Annual 2023!

ELC Annual is our flagship conference for engineering leaders. You’ll learn from experts in engineering and leadership, gain mentorship and support from like-minded professionals, expand your perspectives, build relationships across the tech industry, and leave with practical prove strategies.

Join us this August 30-31 at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco

For tickets, head to https://sfelc.com/annual2023


  • Marc’s experience working / living in a zen monastery for 10 years (3:30)
  • Leadership lessons learned from the monastery’s kitchen (6:09)
  • Exploring accountability & confronting conflict (8:37)
  • Frameworks for conversations around high standards / accountability (10:26)
  • How to incorporate compassionate accountability (13:53)
  • Practices that help teams develop greater alignment (17:04)
  • When leaders practice accountability w/ kindness (19:53)
  • Model for correcting negative self-talk & how it impacts team alignment (21:23)
  • Closing the gap between speed vs. quality, or other combative standards (24:22)
  • Curiosity & flexibility as core values (26:49)
  • Best practices for forming agreements (27:50)
  • How to move from avoiding difficulties / conflicts to accepting them (29:57)
  • Rapid fire questions (32:28)
  • Marc’s three-minute closing meditation (35:27)


  • Finding Clarity - Marc Lesser’s book that shows how, together, compassion and accountability play an absolutely critical role in transforming how we communicate in our work and family relationships.
  • Think Again - Adam Grant, the bestselling author of Give and Take and Originals examines the critical art of rethinking: learning to question your opinions and open other people’s minds, which can position you for excellence at work and wisdom in life.
  • Peace Is Every Step - In this book Thich Nhat Hanh shows us how to make positive use of the very situations in our daily life that usually pressure and antagonise us. The most profound satisfactions, the deepest feelings of joy and completeness lie as close at hand as our next conscious breath and the smile we can form right now.
  • These Truths: A History of the United States - Widely hailed for its “sweeping, sobering account of the American past” (New York Times Book Review), Jill Lepore’s one-volume history of America places truth itself—a devotion to facts, proof, and evidence—at the center of the nation’s history.

This episode wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our incredible production team:

Patrick Gallagher - Producer & Co-Host

Jerry Li - Co-Host

Noah Olberding - Associate Producer, Audio & Video Editor https://www.linkedin.com/in/noah-olberding/

Dan Overheim - Audio Engineer, Dan’s also an avid 3D printer - https://www.bnd3d.com/

Ellie Coggins Angus - Copywriter, Check out her other work at https://elliecoggins.com/about/

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