Leading in Emerging Industries

This week’s article was written by James Brenza.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Leading in Emerging Industries that aired on Tuesday, August 3rd.

 

I recently shifted my business and technology leadership skills to a new industry. It is an opportunity to help a burgeoning industry improve operational efficiency, improve patient outcomes and help operational leaders be more effective. My career focus has been technology, data, and analytics. My career took a tangential shift when I started Greenest Grow, a company that focuses on creating sensors and software to support efficient cannabis growth. After watching my brother and father suffer extreme pain during the end stages of cancer, I decided to shift my strong professional focus to an area that would help others have a better experience than my family had.

Leaders are frequently called on to step into new industry domains. Sometimes, we invite ourselves into those domains. While the reasons for the shift can be numerous (e.g., burgeoning market opportunities, industry transitions, or personal growth), there’s one constant you’ll encounter: change. While it may be obvious that you’re going to instill change in the new industry domain, you’ll also need to accept some changes yourself. For many people, that second change can be the harder one to anticipate and accept.

My shift required a great deal of soul searching and business research to ensure I was focusing on an area that would have a positive impact on the industry, be financially viable, make the impact I wanted to make for cancer patients and their families. It was also critical that I not provide a gateway drug that might exasperate our global drug addiction issues. This shift has been a bit easier by focusing on 3 key elements:

  1. Adapting and applying the lessons I’ve learned in other industries. When you step away from the details, there are nearly always parallels you can identify and solutions you can leverage.
  2. Applying domain knowledge in common areas (e.g., technology, marketing, and finance).
  3. Adjusting your interpersonal approach to adapt your knowledge to the new domain while garnering acceptance.

That last element, adjusting your interpersonal approach, may be difficult to navigate. “Leading” is getting in front and charging forward, right? While that may work for some, I’ve found it’s generally more effective to gain acceptance and facilitate change through others. While we may need to be “in the forefront”, we can also remain humble and gain perspective. One very effective method is leading with questions to facilitate mutual understanding. If you’re attempting to explain how a prior experience can help solve a challenge, you’ll likely find a very short story will help. That will help others see the parallel to their challenge, consider it differently, and adapt/adopt a new approach.

Throughout a cross-industry transition, it’s critical to remain true to yourself and your values. Consider this: if you can’t lead yourself, how can you lead others? If you can’t succinctly state your values, you may encounter unnecessary turbulence when you encounter new problems. By clarifying your values, it will be much easier to navigate the gray areas and avoid a potential abyss. More importantly, it will help you focus your value proposition and avoid conflicts with your “true north”. By being true to yourself and your values, your new team and industry peers will immediately perceive your sincerity.

The Innovative Leadership Mindset model from the Innovative Leadership Institute provides a robust perspective to help you lead more effectively. Here’s a summary of the mindsets and examples of how I applied them.

Leader 2050 Mindset Application
Be professionally humble You, your peers and your team know you have a lot of expertise. However, you’re stepping into a new domain. It’s important to remember that others have spent decades in that domain and possess a lot of industry wisdom.

 

I am a 50+ year old man who has never used drugs. I was trying to enter the cannabis industry, which is closed by necessity because of the legal challenges. I needed to observe, learn, build relationships before even stepping into a grow house. I went from being the industry expert to the new guy in this industry with extensive experience that would help solve significant challenges and improve operational efficiency. I found it helpful to spend 3-4x more time listening than speaking. I also try to introduce new approaches with a question that invites discussion rather than blunt statement or order.

Have an unwavering commitment to the right action I was an Eagle Scout growing up. I didn’t use illegal drugs. When my brother and father died from cancer, I began to explore the available options to help other cancer patients and their families. I looked at questions of ethics such as is cannabis a gateway drug. Each of us will find our own path. For me, my research made me confident that I could pursue this path and help many people by improving the growing efficiency, which will help produce consistent medicinal cannabis at a lower cost.
Be a 360-degree thinker This was certainly a new domain for me. The size of the puzzle I was facing increased dramatically. Prior to jumping into action, I had to invest time and effort into understanding the entire landscape, identify parallels I could leverage as well as blind spots I needed to question. I relied on Stephen Covey’s sage advice: “seek first to understand, then to be understood”.

 

I partnered with a broad range of people to help me solve significant business issues such as addressing the ability to retain a bank account as a business that supports the cannabis industry. I learned about running a manufacturing business and the contract manufacturing process, about all of the elements in the manufacturing value chain and the cannabis value chain. I sought a board with a range of experience and strategic partners to help in areas where they were experts.

Be intellectually versatile I was stepping into a new domain. It was disconcerting to not have all the answers immediately. I had to open my mind to new knowledge, new experiences, new information, new perspectives – before I could apply any existing mental constructs. I also realized I would never develop the skills that others have spent decades honing. I adapted my approach to ensure that I was building a team that could fill my voids while I applied my skills to help them reach a new level. Collectively, the intellectual capacity of the team increased dramatically.
Be highly authentic and reflective As I processed new information and perspectives, I needed to “double click” on my firmly held beliefs and values.  I knew that if I varied from my “true north”, I wouldn’t be able to work or lead effectively. I had to think deeply to understand my values, what they meant and how they are accomplished. I value both helping people mitigate pain AND I value laws and a focus on avoiding making illegal recreational drugs more accessible if they function as a gateway drug.  I also had to incorporate more research to validate accepted concepts. I grappled with my initial view of “drugs”, my values and the research and ultimately refined how I viewed cannabis. Lastly, it was important to ensure I was applying concise logic and not simply rationalizing to support a business model. This process was an important one. I use the word grappling because I needed to think deeply about what I support, what ventures I want to invest my energy and financial resources into. For many entrepreneurs, this is an important step to consider.
Be able to inspire followership Many individuals look to the “leaders” for the instant answer. However, many leaders know there isn’t always an easy or instant answer. I’ve found that it’s a very fine balance to be both collaborative (seeking input) as well as a visionary that can offer the team a new outcome. I’ve found it helpful to introduce a vision followed by a series of questions that invite conversation to help validate, refine and gain adoption. This “softer” approach helps me empower the team to expand the thinking, influence the adoption of new methods, and encourage collective ownership for sustainable change. We built a shared vision through a process that gave them a voice in the outcome. They also built trust in me and the leadership team through this process.
Be innately collaborative The delicate balance I mentioned above shows up in the tension between inspiring people to follow me and inviting them to collaborate. I’ve realized my first thought should always be to find a way to bring others into the thought process and solution development. Lasting change is only instilled if others are buying into the changes. I’ve observed many organizations rebounding to old behaviors due to the solution being incomplete or a lack of shared ownership. I’ve increased my focus on bringing the team together rather than trying to provide all the answers.

 

Leading through changes and transitions can be both frustrating and rewarding. As you see from the brief account of my experiences, this change in direction has been highly rewarding and also one of the more challenging endeavors I have taken on. At the end of the day, I will accomplish a goal that I am very proud of, improving the lives of people with cancer and the lives of their families. To do this, I needed to remain curious, facilitative and true to myself.

As you think about yourself as an entrepreneurial leader, what is your story? If you look at the seven mindsets, how would you describe your journey? Does this process reveal any gaps you would like to attend to?

 

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

 

About the Author

James Brenza is an entrepreneur, information technology and analytics leader with 30 years of diversified experience. He is a hands-on leader who carefully balances strategic planning, business communications, and technical delivery. He has extensive experience with motivating mixed-shore teams to deliver high-quality, flexible results. James’ academic foundation includes 3 degrees: Information Technology, Finance, and an MBA. He complemented his technical skills with a Six Sigma Black Belt, Lean Qualification, and PMP certifications. He applies that foundation to solving problems in agriculture, banking, insurance, retail, distribution, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and public service. He led analytic programs that have paid for themselves upon implementation and delivered first year ROI’s in excess of 10,000%.

 

 

The Ecosystem Decision-Making Radar

This week’s article was written by Christoph Hinske, associate professor at SAXION University of Applied Sciences with contributions from Tom Grote, Chief Catalyst at Edge Innovation Hub.   It is a companion to their interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Applying Innovative Leadership Concepts that aired on Tuesday, July 27th

 

Making high-quality decisions in complex situations requires more than just knowing the conducive or inhibitive factors defining the probabilities of our success. Instead, riding the complexity wave asks us to understand how these factors interrelate, form dynamics and how our fundamental emotions and belief systems influence our decisions.

Taking on this responsibility is challenging since few tools exist that combine strategic decision-making in complex situations with emotional intelligence, business ecosystem thinking, and system dynamics.

The Ecosystem Decision-Making Radar (the Radar) is about to change just that. It intends to help you and your organization build your emotional intelligence by mapping out the consequences (both good and bad) of how you choose to respond in complex situations. To map out and learn from our decisions strategically, we must know our individual and organizational values, superpower, and core identity. Unfortunately, many do not take this step as they lack the tools to correlate it to their performance. Yet, we believe this step to be essential, and without it, we are just fumbling in the dark.

Consequently, my colleagues and I tried to build a robust leadership tool that combines emotional intelligence with systems thinking, system dynamics, and strategy. It intends to increase the performance of you, your organization, and your stakeholder relationships alike.

 

An observation I did when activating entrepreneurial ecosystems

In 100% of my projects on activating entrepreneurial ecosystems, leadership struggles to see the consequences of individuals’ emotionally impaired responses individuals on their own, their organizations’, and stakeholders’ success.

  1. This phenomenon leads to an average of €140,000 extra costs, considering that the medium time spent solving the resulting frictions, redundancies, silo structures, and stress is about 40% per process step, essentially squeezing business models to death.
  2. Each actor in the Entrepreneurial ecosystem loses roundabout 40% of potential new revenues due to the vanishing of possibilities, thus, increasing the probability of becoming obsolete.
  3. These well-intended economic development measures lose approximately 60% of the highly engaged and loyal leaders, resulting in up to 100% of brand value destruction for the project owners.

 

A decision I made, to stop contributing to the destruction of value I do not own

Being a passionate action researcher and “pracademic”, I decided not to accept these devastating outcomes anymore. Mainly, I stopped taking three fundamental beliefs for granted, helping me to develop the Ecosystem Decision-Making Radar:

  1. Wrong assumption #1: People can choose to be emotional or not, and emotions are threatening success in professional meetings; aka “He should stop being so emotional, he kills our performance!”
  2. Wrong assumption #2: The relation between primary emotional states and resource performance in complex entrepreneurial ecosystems is hard to map and measure.
  3. Wrong assumption #3: Decision-makers refuse to consider the behavioral impacts of unreflected emotional states on their processes and outcomes.

Helping leaders overcome these assumptions is even more critical as advances and access to technology imply that our context moves ever faster. Consequently, the opportunity costs of not using a systemic approach to decision-making are growing exponentially.

 

A tool I developed to support leaders to navigate their complexity

I started to study the effect of our primary emotional states and how these affect our behaviors and decisions. During several months of trial and error, I related my observations to insights offered in such articles as those referenced at the end of the post.

A tool started to emerge. I called it “The Ecosystem Decision-Making Radar” or just The Radar. This tool begins from a few basic assumptions:

  1. Humans are always in one of eight primary emotional states if we want or not.
  2. For a short moment, we are victims of this emotion, and that is fine!
  3. Our ability to identify our states and define their impact on our behaviors is a conscious choice.
  4. Naming, mapping, and reflecting our behaviors help us grow as leaders and positively contribute to our organizations’ and entrepreneurial ecosystem’s success.

One day during a coaching session, my client, a director of one of the largest, oldest, and most well-known nature conservation groups in Germany, helped me see the game changer!

We were mapping his behavioral response to an emotional state during a video conference with a minister of state. He suddenly stopped talking, looked at me in amazement, and held his coffee mug in front of the camera. On the cup, it stated: “There is a space between stimulus and reaction. In this space lies our power to choose our response. Our development and our freedom lie in our reactions.” — Viktor Emil Frankl.

Now, it is essential to know that Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author, and Holocaust survivor; * March 26, 1905; † September 2, 1997.

My coachee explained to me that the Radar helps him live the phrase. It empowers him to take responsibility for his intrinsic intentions (aka SuperPower or Core Identity) by acting out his core values. In later sessions with him and others, I figured out that the Radar creates awareness of the primary emotional states, enabling leaders to produce intended results by performing appropriate behaviors/actions rooted in their fundamental values. This transparency and heightened awareness of the impact their “inner systems” have on the world around them helps them act much more consciously in their stakeholder relationships, allowing them to co-create value with much more efficiency. We started to observe that he drastically reduced most of the costs stated at the beginning of the article just after a few sessions.

 

How the tool can help you become a better leader in complex entrepreneurial ecosystems

In the situation mapped out in the image below, the process helped my coachee identify patterns of behavior that benefit his and his organizations and stakeholders’ success.

Figure 1: The causal relationships between the elements in this Mental Model use the approach of Causal Loop Diagramming. For further information on more identified patterns and how to read and develop such simple yet powerful system models, please get in touch with c.hinske@saxion.nl

 

A simple rundown of how to read and build a model

  1. Core Values Flywheel: If activated, it nourishes our SuperPower and Core Identity, causing positive emotions. If hampered from turning, it causes negative emotions.
  2. Core Identity and Superpower: It is the emerging pattern happening when our core values flywheel is turning.
  3. Primary emotional states: There are 4 to 8 primary emotions. We map secondary emotions in the outer circles of the model. Primary emotions form a filter shaping our behaviors.
  4. Decision-Making Space: It is the moment shortly after an emotional response but before our behavioral response. In this instant, we have the power to choose. Before, it’s too early as our primary emotion directs us. Afterward, it’s too late since our behaviors already shaped the situation. See also the quote by Viktor Frankl.
  5. Behaviors/Activities: We execute conscious or unconscious behaviors and actions in a given situation after experiencing a primary emotion.
  6. Results: The contribution we make to our organizations and our stakeholder’s performance in a given situation. The quality of the results defines resource performance and opportunity costs.
  7. Factors: Aspects that happen or that one does, together with their causal relationships (arrows), form a system.
  8. Blue arrows: the more of A, the more of B, or the less of A, the less of B (S = same directional development)
  9. Red arrows: the more of A, the less of B, or the less of A, the more of B (O = opposite directional development)

 

In the case of my coachee, it showed him that responding to his primary emotion of anger with devaluating his opponent, leaving the video conference; he fled into a wrong belief of being authentic. He started to understand that a behavioral response, which he was initially proud of, undermined his long-term success of being a trusted, reliable leader since he increased political polarization.

Our next step aims to identify more systemic patterns and archetypal behaviors to develop hands-on tools for leaders acting in complex stakeholder systems. We want to understand how unreflected emotional states threaten the activation and stable functioning of entrepreneurial ecosystems mentioned at the beginning of my blog post. Solving this leadership challenge will make a major contribution in solving current and future transformation processes (e.g. energy systems, circular economy, digitalization).

 

My coachee’s outcomes and next steps

He is starting to use the Radar with all his teams, integrating the models to understand his organizations’ SuperPower, core values, opportunity spaces, and efficiency gains. His next step is to do the same for the stakeholder landscape of his organization, allowing him to identify growth and lobby strategies that serve them and the greater good at the same time.

He learned:

  1. He cannot choose to be emotional or not and that this is perfectly fine.
  2. Emotions only threaten his success as a system leader if he does not name them. Naming them increases the odds to respond appropriately, taking over responsibility for the outcomes he creates.
  3. He now actively manages the relationship between his primary emotional states and the resource performance in his complex actor ecosystem.

Further reading:

  • Anuwa-Amarh, E., & Hinske, C. (2020, June 1). Thought Leaders – Compelling new writing about the Sustainable Development Goals by leading experts. Retrieved from https://www.taylorfrancis.com/sdgo/about/leading-thoughts?context=sdgo.
  • Beehner, C. G. (2019). System Leadership for Sustainability. Routledge.
  • Duhigg, C. (2014). The Power of Habit – Why we do what we do in life and business.
  • Fredin, S., & Lidén, A. (2020). Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: towards a systemic approach to entrepreneurship?. Danish Journal of Geography, 120(2), 87–97. Routledge | Taylor&Francis
  • Hawkins, P., & Turner, E. (2019). Systemic Coaching. Routledge.
  • Hüther, G. (2006). The Compassionate Brain – How empathy creates intelligence. Shambhala Publications.
  • Kegan, R., & Lahey, L. L. (2009). Immunity to Change – How to Overcome it and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization. Harvard Business Press.
  • Wheatley, M. J. (2017). Who Do We Choose To Be? – Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author and the Contributor

Christoph Hinske is an associate professor at the School of Finance and Accounting at SAXION University of Applied Sciences, covering Systems Leadership and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems. In his work, Christoph observed that our rapidly transforming economies force leaders to be systemic since they need to act in complex, ambiguous ecosystems. Consequently, his research focuses on empowering leaders to change their strategic and operational models from linear to circular to ecosystemic. He observed that 80% of organizations, intending to transform their models to be more systemic, continue doing the old stuff, using new fancy words. They still apply the same tools, mindsets, and frameworks developed to build linear success.

Thomas Grote is chief catalyst for the Edge Innovation Hub, an ecosystem dedicated to building principle-based businesses that lead with love and drive food innovation to the edge of possibility.   Thomas grew up working with his parents and siblings at the first Donatos Pizza.   As chief operating officer, he helped grow the family business from one restaurant to a regional chain which the family eventually sold and then later repurchased from McDonalds.   He opened Central Ohio’s first visible and welcoming LGBTQ+ themed restaurant and helped found a non-profit, Equality Ohio, to advocate for equity and inclusion in his home state.   Thomas also served as chief financial officer for a UK-based biotech company focused on commercializing plant-based chemicals.   Thomas graduated with a finance degree from Miami University and earned his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.  He resides in Columbus, Ohio with his husband and two daughters.

 

Photo by Jens Lelie on Unsplash

 

 

Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Innovative Health Care Leadership

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This week’s article is a sneak peak at an Appendix to recently released, Innovative Leadership in Health Care book that was authored by Maureen Metcalf of Innovative Leadership Institute and Erin S. Barry, M.S; Dukagjin M. Blajak, M.D., Ph.D.; Suzanna Fitzpatrick, DNP; Michael Morrow-Fox, M.B.A., Ed. S.; and Neil E. Grunberg, Ph. D.  This book provides health care workers with frameworks and tools based on the most current research in leadership, psychology, neuroscience, and physiology to help them update or innovate how they lead and build the practices necessary to continue to update their leadership skills. It is provided to supplement the interview with Eric Douglas Keene on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Diversity Recruiting: Changes and Retention that aired on Tuesday, June 8th, 2021.

 

I have strong memories of an eye-opening conversation I had with some friends when I began work in a suburban hospital.  I met my friend and his wife for a snack at the hospital cafeteria when they visited for his routine physical.  I teased him about how nice he was dressed.  He looked at his wife and then back at me.  He smiled as he replied, “We have to dress up when we go to this hospital,” he said.  “Otherwise, the security staff wants to escort us to our physician’s office.”  After that conversation, I noticed several instances of African American patients, families, and staff receiving ‘special help’ from the hospital security staff.  I was taken aback at both the hospital’s racist institutional behavior and my complete obliviousness to the racism.

This section is about innovative leadership for JEDI.  Innovative leadership for JEDI refers not to STAR WARS mind control techniques, but the other JEDI—[Social] Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.  Innovative leadership for JEDI is the ability to impact individuals, teams, and systems to create a fair and engaging health care organization. For patients.  For families.  For health care workers. Of all backgrounds, genders, colors, and beliefs. The Innovative Leadership JEDI section is divided into three subsections.  Bias and health care, the health care crisis resulting from bias, and a pathway for leaders to address the JEDI health care crisis in their organizations.

Bias and Health Care

Our experiences are that most health care organizations and most health care leaders try to create a welcoming JEDI environment.  Most health care organizations and leaders truly value the principles of JEDI.  Research and experience, however, reveals too many health care organizations that are unwelcoming and un-inclusive.  In the absence of malice, how does a health care organization create an unwelcoming and un-inclusive environment? We submit the answer may lie in cognitive biases that allow organizations and leaders to believe a problem exists, but… “It’s not me and not us.”

Emily Pronin notes, “Human judgment and decision making is distorted by an array of cognitive, perceptual and motivational biases.” Most health care professionals receive training in statistical practices aimed at eliminating biases in clinical practice.  Pronin goes on to describe a phenomenon termed blindspot bias writing, “Recent evidence suggests that people tend to recognize (and even overestimate) the operation of bias in human judgment – except when that bias is their own.”

Banaji and Greenwald have further described the blindspot bias as a bias people can readily see in others but have great difficulty seeing in themselves.  Blindspot biases manifest in statements like, “I know there is a lot of racial prejudice in the world, but I don’t see color, only people,” or, “I know most people that don’t understand cultural norms can be offensive, but I understand respect, so I am never offensive in any culture.” When someone is aware that a phenomenon regularly exists in others but denies the possibility that it could exist in them, a blindspot bias may be the reason for their confidence. In the health care world, it is often misguided confidence that may dehumanize and disenfranchise others.

In addition to the blindspot bias, health care leaders can suffer from implicit biases. Harvard University’s Project Implicit describes implicit biases as, “attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report.”  Project Implicit provides the example of an implicit bias as, “You may believe that women and men should be equally associated with science, but your automatic associations could show that you (like many others) associate men with science more than you associate women with science.”

Mission statements and Diversity Departments in health care organizations echo a call to deliver the highest possible care and adherence to the value principles of JEDI.  This in contrast to the many patients, families, employees, and communities suffering consequences of social injustice, inequity, lack of diversity, and un-inclusiveness. The combination of blindspot and implicit biases create a JEDI crisis in our health care systems.  A crisis that hides in plain view through a cloak of “not me, not us” beliefs.

The Tale of a JEDI Health Care Crisis

The evidence on JEDI and health care delivery highlights systemic failures on almost every level.  Below are a few health care statistics illustrating the breakdown of principles of JEDI for our patients, their families, and our employees:

  • During the first ten months of the Covid-19 crisis, U.S. data from the COVID Racial Data Tracker showed mortality rates 150% higher for African Americans, 135% higher for Indigenous American People, and 125% for Hispanic Americans than for White Americans. Bassett and colleagues reported that African Americans between the ages of 35 and 44 had nine times higher mortality rates than their White American counterparts.
  • Marcella Nunez-Smith and colleagues found nearly one in three Black physicians, nearly one in four Asian physicians, and one in five Hispanic/Latino physicians have left at least one job due to discriminatory practices.
  • Dickman and colleagues note the top one percent of affluent males live on average 15 years longer than the lowest one percent of poor males. Low-income families are in poor health at rates 15 percent higher than their affluent American counterparts.
  • Using U.S. Census Data, The Center for American Progress reports women in the workforce earn $.77 for every dollar their male counterparts earn. Women are often pigeonholed into “pink-collar” jobs, which typically pay less. Forty-three percent of the women employed in the United States are clustered in just 20 occupational categories, of which the average annual median earnings is less than $29,000.
  • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reports that female physicians make up only 34 percent of all U. S. physicians.
  • More than 25 percent of African American women and nearly 25 percent of Hispanic American women live in poverty. Elderly women have poverty rates over double those of elderly men.
  • The Center for American Progress reports more than 10 percent of African Americans and more than 16 percent of Hispanic Americans are uninsured compared to 5.9 percent of White Americans.
  • African American adults over age 20 suffer from hypertension at the rate of 42 percent compared to 29 percent for White American adults.
  • In a survey of over 27,000 transgender respondents, Herman and colleagues reported, “In the year prior to completing the survey, one-third (33%) of those who saw a health care provider had at least one negative experience related to being transgender, such as being verbally harassed or refused treatment because of their gender identity.”
  • A survey of over 40,000 LGBTQ Americans aged 13 to 24 by The Trevor Project found almost half of the respondents engaged in self-harm. And 40 percent have “seriously considered” attempting suicide—in just the past year.
  • Ronald Wyatt reports, “The total cost of racial/ethnic disparities in 2009 was approximately $82 billion—$60 billion in excess healthcare costs and $22 billion in lost productivity. The economic burden of these health disparities in the US is projected to increase to $126 billion in 2020 and to $353 billion in 2050 if the disparities remain unchanged.”

JEDI Innovative Health Care Leadership Action

Reading the statistics above and the myriad of statics available, we find it hard to deny a systemic failure of the health care delivery system and our health care organizations.  How did it get this bad when we have so many well-intended and highly skilled leaders?  Blindspot and implicit biases can cause inaction in an otherwise effective leadership team.  Leaders with blindspot and implicit biases do not disregard problems; they render problems moot through the belief, “not me, not us.”  We hope the shortlist of statistics above brings some awareness that “me/we” are both the health care problem and the solution.

Innovative health care leaders can change the course of social injustice, inequity, lack of diversity, and un-inclusion.  Using their influence, leaders can take an evidence-based approach to JEDI, learn/teach cultural competence, practice cultural humility, create support for diverse populations, and grow communities to change the course of this systemic failure.  We elaborate with some definitions and examples below.

Pfeffer and Sutton wrote, “A bold new way of thinking has taken the medical establishment by storm in the past decade: the idea that decisions in medical care should be based on the latest and best knowledge of what actually works.”  Pfeffer and Sutton went on to write while the idea of evidence-based care is almost uncontested, physicians only make evidence-based decisions 15 percent of the time.  This is certainly of concern for clinical decision-making, and it is an equal concern for changing the tide of systemic JEDI failures.

As leaders, we must ask, “How would someone with a blindspot or implicit bias know if women, minorities, or people of non-traditional identities are experiencing injustice, inequity, or un-inclusion?”  The answer is evidence.  Do job applicants with the names Julio and Jamal have the same employment opportunities as applicants with the names John and James? Do our women and minority workers make comparable wages to our white male workers? Do immigrant patients feel respected when receiving care?  Are our employees reflective of the community in which we reside?  We are uncertain without evidence. Without evidence, our instincts and experiences guide us; instincts and experiences which can be skewed by biases.

Innovative JEDI leaders (like you) are actively pursuing evidence that their organizations are socially just, equitable, appropriately diverse, and inclusive.  Evidence—accurate data that is analyzed and understood; confirms or denies the existence of JEDI.  If a leader does not have JEDI evidence, the “not me and not us” biases may predominate the institutional consciousness.

Cultural learning opportunities should be readily available in your organization. Cultural competence, the ability to recognize, appreciate, and interact successfully with people from other cultures, is essential for any healthcare professional.  In addition, Tervalon and Murray-Garcia observed, “Cultural humility incorporates a lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and self-critique, to redressing the power imbalances in the patient-physician dynamic, and to developing mutually beneficial and nonpaternalistic clinical and advocacy partnerships with communities on behalf of individuals and defined populations.”  Innovative leaders teach, support, and model cultural humility within their organizations.

We have had many conversations with health care human resource professionals observing, “We get minority candidates hired, we just can’t get them to stay.”  When diverse employees walk into a room with people who do not look like them, do not believe like them, may have preconceived negative ideas about people like them, it can be overwhelming.  Patients, their families, and employees need to feel the organization’s support, receive mentoring on the navigation of differences, and understand that their differences are vital for the community and organization’s strength.  Innovative leaders forge pathways of support for inclusion, mentorship, and engagement in their health care organizations.  Support groups, mentoring programs, organizational messages, and evidence gathering serve to support and retain diverse populations.

Innovative leaders look at the gaps in their communities and think about how to close those gaps.  In an article entitled, Physicians for Social Justice, Diversity and Equity: Take Action and Lead, Lubowitz and colleagues note, “Few orthopedic surgeons are minorities or female, and orthopedic surgery is not perceived to be an inclusive specialty. This is an obstacle to equitable diverse hiring.”  Despite the lack of diverse candidates in the profession, Lubowitz and colleagues passionately express the need to advocate, inspire, and continuously improve as a profession.

We agree. If there are gaps in finding physicians and other health care employees that are reflective of the community, start programs to recruit, train, and inspire the community.  Programs from elementary school to advanced educational grants can all serve to change a community.  Lubowitz and colleagues recommend, “In terms of minorities and women making a choice to pursue medicine and then orthopedic surgery as a desired medical specialty, we wield enormous impact and a most direct influence. We must consciously change our behavior and demonstrate that we are an inclusive medical specialty.”  Every innovative health care leader can demonstrate support for inclusion.

Most of us have experienced the patient that demands, “I’m sorry, but I don’t want a [Female, Jewish, Muslim, Gay, Old, Younge, Black, Hispanic, Other] physician.  This is my health, and I cannot afford to be politically correct.”  As if unsubstantiated biases are merely politeness.  Prejudice can be malicious hate or blindspot and implicit biases.  In any form, a lack of JEDI weakens the health care delivery system causing pain and suffering for the community.  Effective innovative leaders replace, “Not me, not us” with, “It could be me; it might be us” to ensure health care teams, organizations, and communities are just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Author

Maureen Metcalf, Founder, CEO, and Board Chair of the Innovative Leadership Institute is a highly sought-after expert in anticipating and leveraging future business trends to transform organizations.  She has captured her thirty years of experience and success in an award-winning series of books that are used by public, private, and academic organizations to align company-wide strategy, systems, and culture with innovative leadership techniques.  As a preeminent change agent, Ms. Metcalf has set strategic direction and then transformed her client organizations to deliver significant business results such as increased profitability, cycle time reduction, improved quality, and increased employee effectiveness. She and the Innovative Leadership Institute have developed and certified hundreds of leaders who amplify their organizations’ impact across the world.

Photo by Piron Guillaume on Unsplash

Innovative Leadership for the Health Care Industry

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This article is from the new book Innovative Leadership for Health Care. The book was written by Maureen Metcalf of Innovative Leadership Institute and several other co-authors, to provide health care workers with frameworks and tools based on the most current research in leadership, psychology, neuroscience, and physiology to help them update or innovate how they lead and build the practices necessary to continue to update their leadership skills. It is a companion to the interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future between Dr. Neil Grunberg, one of the co-authors, and Maureen titled Innovative Leadership for the Health Care Industry that aired on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021.

 

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Urban Institute reports that on an average night in the United States, around 465,000 people will go to sleep in our hospital beds. They will wear our gowns, eat food prepared in our kitchens, have their faces washed with water from our sinks. Some will undergo lifesaving procedures; some will undergo preventative observation, all will be in a state of vulnerability, unlike almost any other experience. Many will receive the care they would term as “miraculous.” Whether it is inside one of our 6,100 hospitals or in a rural office 100 miles from the nearest metro emergency room, health care is a big responsibility. It is always intimate. It is always humbling. It is often urgent.

Advances in training, education, information, public policy, and technology account for many of these daily miracles. We assert these miracles are also the result of extraordinary leadership. Leadership leveraging the strength of the team to go beyond the limitations of the individual. Leadership creating resources when and where they are needed. Leadership reaching beyond what can be touched and extending to the health care delivery system.

Just as receiving health care is intimate, humbling, and often urgent, so is leadership development. This book provides the education and tools to help you grow personally and increase your knowledge and skills. If you are not touched as well as challenged, lost as well as enlightened, and reflective as well as affirmed, then we have failed you. Leadership growth is a contact sport. Changing who you are is the real leadership growth that you seek. Creating miracles for your patients, staff, and community is your reward for risking this personal leadership journey.

Health care professionals are highly respected and valued in society. They have essential, existential roles as healers of the sick and injured and promoters of physical and mental health. Effective health care professionals apply their knowledge and skills appropriately and ethically. They respect colleagues, patients, patients’ significant others, and the limits of their knowledge and skills. They are leaders in that they are aspirational and inspirational. They influence these stakeholders and the organization’s cultures and systems in which they have a formal leadership role. They lead themselves, their people, their teams, and their organizations.

Becoming a better health care leader and optimizing innovation hinge on your ability to authentically examine your inner makeup and diligently address some challenging limitations. Leadership innovation or elevating your leadership quality can be accelerated by a structured process involving self-exploration, allowing you to enhance your leadership beyond tactical execution. While we provide a process, we want to be clear that readers should use this process to be effective for them. We each face different challenges and relate to leadership development in different ways. Each of us will use this book slightly differently. With that in mind, we tried to create a framework that is actionable and easy to follow. The process of leadership growth can be challenging, especially when it requires exploration of implicit beliefs and assumptions and potential changes to your overall worldview. Combining health care leadership with innovation requires you to transform the way you perceive yourself, others, and your role as a health care leader.

Wiley W. Souba noted, “Unless one knows how to lead one’s self, it would be presumptuous for anyone to be able to lead others effectively… Leading one’s self implies cultivating the skills and processes to experience a higher level of self-identity beyond one’s ordinary, reactive ego level… To get beyond their ‘ordinary, reactive ego,’ effective leaders relentlessly work on ‘unconcealing‘ the prevailing mental maps that they carry around in their heads. This unveiling is critical because leaders are more effective when they are not limited by their hidden frames of reference and taken-for-granted worldviews. This new way of understanding leadership requires that leaders spend more time learning about and leading themselves.”

By earnestly looking at your own experience—including motivations, inclinations, interpersonal skills, proficiencies, and worldview, and aligning them with the context in which you operate—you can optimize your effectiveness in the current dynamic environment. Through reflection, you learn to balance the hard skills you have acquired through experience with the introspection attained through in-depth examination—all the while setting the stage for further growth. In essence, you discover how to strategically and tactically innovate and elevate leadership the same way you innovate in other aspects of your profession.

We define leadership using the following chart. Leaders must attend to and align all elements of the overall system continually to respond to changes within the system and external factors within your context, such as insurers and government regulations.

This table is foundational to depict how we talk about the facets of the leader’s self and organization. When one facet changes, the leader must realign other aspects to ensure efficient and effective operation. Many leadership programs focus on leadership behaviors; this book is different in that it addresses where the leader fits within the overall system and how they are responsible for leading.

  • The upper left quadrant reflects the inner meaning-making of each leader (the personal). It contains both innate and developed capacities. This quadrant provides the foundation of self-awareness and individual development. It serves as the basis for behavior, competence, and resilience. Leaders must be aware of their inner landscape to be truly effective.
  • The upper right quadrant reflects observable behaviors, actions, competencies, and communication. This quadrant is what we see in leaders. Leadership training often focuses on checklists of behaviors because they are easier to assess and discuss. This book is different; it suggests actions, but it is not prescriptive. We acknowledge that behaviors tie to your meaning-making, culture, systems, and processes.
  • The lower left quadrant is inside the groups (interpersonal/dyads, teams, and organizations). It includes the vision, values, agreements, guiding principles, and other factors that create health care cultures.
  • The lower right quadrant reflects the visible systems, processes, physical infrastructure and equipment, facilities, technology, and reward and recognition systems

Part of what is innovative about this approach is that it requires leaders to focus on all four areas concurrently. When one area changes, others are impacted. When leaders’ beliefs change, their behaviors often change. Behavior changes impact culture and systems. The same is true when the organization changes, such as shelter in place during a pandemic. Health care leaders need to change their behaviors and face new challenges, such as telemedicine’s increasing use. One essential leadership skill is to quickly realign across all four quadrants in response to changes in any single quadrant.

Innovative health care leaders influence by equally engaging their personal intention and action with the organization’s culture and systems to move the health care organization forward to improve the lives of the people it serves. These leaders also take into consideration the rightful interests of the organizational members. Depending on the role of leaders and sphere of influence, they impact individuals, teams, and the entire organization. Health care professionals who are innovative leaders adapt and develop themselves and their organizations to optimize effectiveness with changing environments or contexts (psychological, social, physical). This book guides health care professionals in becoming Innovative Health Care Leaders.

 

To find out more about this new book, Innovative Leadership for Health Care, click here. To find out how to implement this innovative book into your health system, contact Innovative Leadership Institute here

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Authors

Maureen Metcalf, M.B.A., founder and CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute, is a highly sought-after expert in anticipating and leveraging future business trends.

Erin S. Barry, M.S. is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Military and Emergency Medicine at the Uniformed Services University.

Dukagjin M. Blajak M.D., Ph. D. is an Associate Professor and H&N Division Director in the Radiation Oncology department at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

Suzanna Fitzpatrick, D.N.P., ACNP-BC, FNP-BC, is a senior nurse practitioner at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

Michael Morrow-Fox, M.B.A., ED.S., is a consultant with the Innovative Leadership Institute experienced in health care, education, banking, government, and non-profit management.

Neil Grunberg, Ph.D., is Professor of Military & Emergency Medicine, Medical & Clinical Psychology, and Neuroscience in the Uniformed Services University (USU) of the Health Sciences School of Medicine; Professor in the USU Graduate School of Nursing; and Director of Research and Development in the USU Leader and Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) program, Bethesda, Maryland.

 

 

Questions to Shape Your Leadership Decisions During Unrest – Who Do You Want To Be As A Leader?

In light of the recent events, Maureen is sharing an article with a competency model for leaders to work through their roles during this challenging time.

 

How do we, as leaders, frame our roles during the political unrest we see, the division on our political system, and our workforces? Recent research suggests that we are 66% less likely to follow leaders from differing political parties. As leaders of businesses, NGOs, and non-profits, we need to continue to serve our purpose for being, providing vital products and services to our stakeholders. We need to pay our employees, suppliers, and those whose money we use to run our organizations. How do we stay focused on meeting that mission while also engaging responsibly in our national political conversation? One key question for the most senior leaders of organizations is what role do we want to take in the political process? Is our part limited to meeting our mission? Does that role include attending to questions such as how are our political donations reflecting the values we hold as a company (if we donate)? We support free speech, but what about our employees participating in public statements that do not reflect our organization’s values? This is a tricky time, and how we navigate it will, for many leaders, define who they will be over the balance of their careers. They will likely see doors open and close based on their responses. Some leaders will create a new legacy, and some leaders will see a long-held legacy of service diminished in the eyes of many. Who do you want to be and become?

To explore these questions, I will first use the leadership mindset and behavioral competencies. You can best answer these questions after you take a clarifying look at your values. Given this disruption, are you seeing any shift in what you most value? Have the events of the past weeks or months clarified or shifted your foundational view of what you most value?

 

ILI Strategist Mindset Competency Model
Mindset and Behavioral Competency Explanation
Professionally Humble Cares more about the organization’s success than their success and image

 

·        They’re committed to their personal and organizational mission as a “north star.” It’s a focal point for where to invest their energy in service of making a positive impact and leaving a legacy

·        They care more about the organization and the results than their image

·        They freely, happily, and instinctively give credit to others

·        And they put principles ahead of personal gain

Reflection question: can you affirm your specific contribution to your organization’s success? You may answer this question for your company or professional organization. You may also want to think about your community organizations such as your church, synagogue, or mosque. Next, what about your family’s mission? I realize we are using business words for families; if raising strong, kind children is part of your legacy, how are you modeling those traits?

Unwavering Commitment to Right Action Is unstoppable and unflappable when on a mission

 

·        Commit fully, drive hard, and focus. At the same time, not overly-focused or stubborn.

·        Stay the course when under pressure and also dare to change course when a better approach emerges.

Reflection questions: How do you decide what is “right”? Do you continue to refine your direction based on new information and the changes you see in your environment? Are you acting in a way your grandchildren will look back and say they are proud to be part of your family? What emotions do your actions create in others? Are they proud of you? Are they embarrassed to be associated with you? Is their response due to naivete or an essential difference in perspective?  

A 360 Degree Thinker Take a systems view – understanding the context and interconnectedness of systems when making critical decisions

 

·        Innately understand the systems, constraints, perceptions, near term, long term, and secondary impacts of strategy and decisions and how to transform them to deliver significant results.

·        Balance the competing commitments of multiple stakeholders regularly

·        Strong commitment to continuous personal learning and building learning systems

·        Leaders understand cross-organizational impact and interconnections across multiple complex systems. They make highly informed decisions considering implications across broad contexts

·        Finally, leaders think in terms of systems, constraints, and perceptions when focusing on transformation. They consider context as a foundation for critical decisions

Reflection questions: Our actions ripple through the world in ways we don’t imagine. As you consider the many important questions you are acting on, such as how do we balance our people’s competing needs to freely express their point of view while also creating an environment that is productive and free from bias and ultimately brings out the best in all of our employees? Do you ask for input and test solutions across multiple stakeholder groups before making significant policy decisions?

Intellectually Versatile Develops interests, expertise, and curiosity beyond the job and organization. Life-long learners. 

 

·        Despite a devout commitment to the job and the organization, they are always interested and involved with areas beyond their comfort zones

·        Take a particular interest in their ecosystem, including industry-wide activities, political developments, and the international landscape.

·        Use external interest to make an impact, enhance their legacy and provide balance in life

 

Reflection questions: I imagine most of us are asking questions we find uncomfortable in the wake of the US Capital breech. What sources do we draw on to answer those questions? Do we look to our religious and spiritual texts to inform us? Do we revisit the Constitution and the words of Abraham Lincoln? Do we look at the Truth and Reconciliation process in South Africa or Martin Luther King and Gandhi’s work? Are you expanding your sources to consider a broader set of input or narrowing your focus to a single trusted source?

Highly Authentic and Reflective Not constrained by personal appearance but is highly focused on individual behavior

 

·        Highly committed to personal growth and development and growing and developing others

·        Surprisingly open to feedback and non-defensive

·        Seeks out discussions and feedback even in uncomfortable situations

·        Manage emotions in the most challenging situations. They understand the impact and contagious nature of emotions, so they develop skills to recognize them, manage them and relate to others productively

·        Maintain perspective in times of stress, taking a long-term view, and remaining vision focused. Difficult situations challenge them less than others

·        Demonstrates emotional courage – willing to confront challenging situations

·        Continually looking for ways to enable the organization to improve its ability to meet its mission more efficiently and effectively

 

Reflection Questions: Are you making time to read and reflect on your thoughts and values in the wake of this and other challenges? Are you seeking input, especially from people who see the world differently than you do? Are you finding ways to inspire those around you who are struggling? What do you do to maintain a healthy perspective? Do you have healthy practices and friends or colleagues who help you take a longer and more constructive view and see your opportunities to expand your impact during challenging times?

Inspires Followership Have a remarkable ability to connect with people at all levels of the organization to create and implement a shared vision

 

·        Intuitively understands change is necessary to sustain the organization’s ability to meet its mission. They know the steps to managing change and help the organization overcome its resistance.

·        Has an innate ability to diffuse conflict without avoiding or sidestepping the source of the conflict

·        Use humor effectively to put people at ease

·        Relate to a broad range of people and understand their motivators and stressors.

·        Innately connect projects to the individual goals while working to overcome barriers

·        Provide valuable feedback to others in a manner that is supportive of the recipient’s growth and development

Reflection questions: Do people trust you? Have you behaved in a way that puts the mission above personal gain? Do you admit mistakes or course corrections and help people understand why you are taking a position? Do you take the time to understand others whose opinions and life experiences differ from yours? Are you committed to the growth and success of others and the organization’s mission and success? Are you willing to share your struggles and questions during challenging times?

Innately Collaborative Welcomes collaboration in a quest for novel solutions that serve the highest outcome for all involved 

 

·        Seek input and value diverse points of view. Synthesize multiple perspectives into new solutions

·        Creates solutions to complex problems by developing new approaches that did not exist, pulling together constituents in novel ways, synthesizing broader and more creative alliances

·        Understands that in a time of extreme change, input from multiple stakeholders with diverse points of view is required to understand the complexities of the issues fully

Reflection questions: Whose opinion do I seek who sees the world differently than I do? How do I show my respect for their differences even if we hold significantly disparate views? How do I use collaboration to identify my own bias and blind spots that could be impairing our ability to accomplish our mission? What opportunity do we have not, during this challenging time that was not available to us before, and how can we use the power of collaboration to meet that opportunity?

 

Many of us are reeling from the range of emotions we faced during the past week’s events – irrespective of political party affiliation. With every crisis, we can find an opportunity to improve who we are and what we do. I invite you to reflect on your leadership through the lens of leadership mindsets and behaviors to see where you might refine how you lead.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Maureen Metcalf, CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute, is a renowned executive advisor, coach, consultant, author and speaker.

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

The 7 Transformations in Vertical Leadership Development

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This blog is provided by Antoinette Braks, Thought Leader in Vertical Leadership Development and Author of Executive Coaching in Strategic Holistic Leadership. It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Transformative Executive Coaching in Strategic Holistic Leadership on June 16th, 2020.

 

There are seven key transformations in executive leadership capacity in the world today. They form the progressive stages in adult maturity or Vertical Development, in contrast to horizontal learning that takes place within a stage. The seven transformations are:

  1. Opportunist
  2. Conformist (Diplomat)
  3. Specialist (Expert)
  4. Achievist (Achiever)
  5. Catalyst (Individualist)
  6. Synergist (Strategist)
  7. Alchemist (Constructivist – Alchemist)   

The stages of development form a holarchy where the strengths of each stage are incorporated in the following stage. As we progress through these stages of development we gradually release our shadow or personal reactive patterns based on the ego’s sense of insecurity and feeling “not good enough.”  As we develop our leadership capacity, we grow in terms of perception, consciousness and perspective, and gradually embrace all of who we are with awareness, understanding, kindness, compassion and wisdom.

The stages of vertical leadership development were successively developed by three pioneering scientists: Jane Loevinger, Susanne Cook-Greuter and Terri O’Fallon. The descriptions of the stages is based on my studies with Susanne and Terri and Bill Torbert, and my decade of coaching experience explicitly focused on later stage vertical development for strategic divisional leaders. Let’s look at each stage in turn.

The Opportunist

The Opportunist is concerned with survival and security, Maslow’s first two needs. They are self-interested, relatively isolated and will get away with whatever they can. They operate on a day-by-day or minute-by-minute basis without a care for consequences. Their view of the world is that it is unsafe and everyone else is assumed to be an enemy. They play only to their own advantage.

The Opportunist is deceptive and manipulative. They are the executives who steal your ideas without recognizing their source, who always blame others when things go wrong, and seem to be unavailable when immediate help is needed. They will also attack first in order to defend themselves when feeling threatened and are completely adverse to feedback.

The Opportunist lives in fear, trusts no one and operates largely in fight, flight or freeze mode. This view of the world is their Autopilot. In 1995 some 4% of the Executive population were anchored at Opportunist, although this proportion has since reduced to 0%. Whenever our safety and security is threatened in the succeeding stages, it is relatively easy to regress back to the level of the Opportunist and resolve our situation based on self-interest alone.

The Conformist

The Conformist decides to play it safe. While they still view the world as a very challenging place to be, they believe that if they abide by all the rules and do what people in higher authority ask or tell them to do, they will be safe. They conform. They are risk averse and will only take action if instructed to do so. Most will also need a step-by-step approach mapped out for them. Their level of voluntary participation is relatively low.

In complying, Conformists give away their personal authentic power to positional authority. This leads to a sense of personal ineptitude that moves them to complain. In other words, when we give our personal power away to comply with others, we address this imbalance by complaining about others. If you know anyone in your workplace who complains a lot, they will be operating from a Conformist mindset. Around 10% of the Executive population are anchored at Conformist although there are very few anchored at this stage in organisations that invest in leadership development. It is a common fallback position for succeeding levels when under stress.

Conformists use reactive emotional strategies to get what they want. The three key strategies are appeasing others by being nice and bending over backwards to fit in – usually towards more senior people; controlling others by criticising, berating and offending others – usually towards more junior people; or otherwise withdrawing from people altogether by avoiding all communication and even eye contact.

All are unconscious emotionally manipulative techniques that produce workplace drama in the form of passive-aggressive behaviour manifesting in bullies and victims. We subconsciously base our boss-subordinate and peer-based interpersonal strategies on those we employed to get what we wanted as a child within the comparable context of parent-child and sibling dynamics.

The Specialist

The Specialist devotes themselves to their work. They wish to develop their skills, perfect their craft and focus on the details to get everything absolutely right. They switch their primary focus from being compliant and fitting in, to standing out through the course of their work. They are experts in their field and strong contributors dotting i’s and crossing t’s for as long as it takes to get something perfect. They can make up some 38% of the Executive population (1995) but this proportion too has dropped to under 10% in deliberately developmental organisations.

Specialists largely work individually and are focused on the quality of their work and mastery of their craft. They will drill down to the detail and ensure complete accuracy taking a perfectionist rather than pragmatic approach. A micro-manager is typically operating at the Specialist mindset. Their personal identity merges with their work so they take feedback very personally. They tend to be emotionally reactive on the receiving end of constructive feedback and emotionally responsive to recognition and praise.

While the reactive behaviours are still present, they are now more associated with their work than trapped within the power struggle of the endemic parent-child and sibling dynamics. They are driven by the need to perfect their work, which is a quantum step up the spiral from Conformist. Focusing on increasing the quality of our own work based on our own albeit critical view of self and others, leads to continuous improvement.

The Achiever

The Achiever is a pragmatist rather than a perfectionist. Their goal is “fit for purpose” rather than perfect. The Achiever begins to consider how their work meets the needs of colleagues, customers and clients. Their focus extends to the impact of their work rather than just the work itself. They are open to feedback on their work, can manage change, drive projects, meet deadlines, produce results and heed the customer.

Achievers also shift from working individually to working effectively with others as team players. They enjoy being in the driving seat and driving initiatives forward. They are competitive, strong performers, will do what it takes to win and enjoy the glow of success. Achievers can also be very black and white. This enables them to be decisive and proactive albeit somewhat shortsighted compared to more advanced stages of development when life becomes shades of grey.

Customer-centric organisations adopt an Achiever mindset by creating feedback loops and generating team accountability for customer interactions and the customer experience. The introduction of scorecards to drive results and address gaps in performance supports the Achiever’s competitive, capitalist worldview.

In the mind of the Achiever, the world is made up of winners and losers and their primary focus is to strive for more. This keeps them on the treadmill of doing more, wanting more and getting more. What they have is never enough. This vicious cycle is extremely stressful!

In 1995 they made up some 33% of the Executive population. The proportion peaked at 60% in organisations investing in stage development (2005) and is now dropping as more executives develop their leadership capacity at the later post-conventional level of Catalyst.

The Conventional World

Opportunists, Conformists, Specialists and Achievers are all mindsets in the conventional world. In 1995, 78% of a sample of 4,510 adults in the US held a conventional mindset (Cook-Greuter); in 2005 this was down to 70%, and in 2015, at 59% (Harthill Consulting, PwC) albeit their population sample is drawn from organisations actively investing in stage leadership development. Achievers work extremely well in the world.

However at these stages of leadership development or conscious awareness, we are not able to work on the world. We are not able to introduce and sustain transformational change that will create a better world. To do this we must make the shift to post-conventional later stages of leadership capacity. While this “new” world is uncertain and ambiguous, by developing our conscious capacity to navigate and transcend the chaos, we are able to redeem peace of mind, restore personal wellbeing and build the world anew.

The percentage of Catalysts is growing at the rate of approximately 10% in each of the last two decades. At this stage, we begin to navigate our world with a view to creating change but this novel capacity does not manifest fully until the following stage of Synergist. Only Synergists have been found to have the capacity to lead sustainable transformation in an organisation (Rooke and Torbert) and their numbers have only inched up slowly from 5% to 8% in the last 20 years.

It would seem that the container of the organisation can support the Catalyst mode of diverse open engagement, yet still inhibits the presence of Synergist leadership that can bring about real transformational and sustainable change. Thus a greater investment in leadership development that liberates Synergist capacity is essential to reinvent the organisation, the collective, at the corresponding evolutionary levels of green and teal (Laloux).

The Achiever tends to be very hesitant before they make the leap into what appears to them to be the great unknown. They must make the shift from the external world to their inner world. At this point the guidance and encouragement of a later stage Coach is invaluable to them. Indeed I would go as far as to say that Executive Coaching in Leadership Development with a Strategist or Alchemist Coach is essential to ease this shift and also a powerful investment by organisations that genuinely wish to foster global sustainable shared prosperity and community wellbeing.

The Catalyst

The Catalyst is the first post-conventional stage. It represents a leap into a new growth zone and an unfamiliar world. At the individuation phase of the Specialist we were focused on perfecting our work. At the individuation phase of the Catalyst we are focused on understanding ourselves: our thoughts and feelings, motives and fears, reactions and responses, and our deepest desires and aspirations. We ask existential questions: “Why?” “Why am I here?” and “What is the meaning of life?”

At Catalyst, we move into our personal growth zone where growing and evolving becomes our natural way of being. Even though the challenges we encounter along the way may be unfamiliar and disconcerting, for the participant, life is forever enriched. We shift from being satisfied with a life based on cause and effect to feeling our way forward in the world despite uncertainty in order to lead a more purposeful and fulfilling life based on conscious intention and committed action.

Catalysts are focused on engaging others, igniting change and working across boundaries. Their focus turns from the impact of their work on customers and clients to the input into the design and nature of the work itself through active early genuine engagement with all stakeholders. They are attuned to leveraging strengths, fueling personal growth and collaborating with others in order to exercise mutual power to co-create the best possible outcomes for the whole community.

The capacity to genuinely innovate and collaborate is initiated at Catalyst. At this mindset the inner world of the individual becomes more important than the external world within which they operate. In other words they heed their intuition and feelings to make decisions and generate new insights and ideas. They also listen from a much deeper place of inquiry and can therefore create a deeper connection with others and develop the ability to build real trust with others.

Many words beginning with “in” are associated with the Catalyst worldview: insight, innovation, intrinsic, innate, inquiry, introspection, intricate, inclusive, inquisitive, interest, intimacy, intuition and inspiration.

The Synergist

Executives anchored at Synergist still number just 8% today, even in organisations investing significantly in leadership development. At this point in their journey of increasing expanding consciousness, they have become self-aware and other-aware and have the ability to be discerning and self-validating. They do not seek approval or permission from others. They have developed strength of character and their integrity is evident.

Synergists have the vision, courage and presence to generate and sustain transformational change (Torbert, 1998). They have adopted the mantle of personal authentic power in the interests of serving their whole community and not just selected interest groups. This represents a shift from ‘not good enough’ at Conformist, looking good at Specialist, doing well at Achiever, doing good at Catalyst and onto focusing on the greater good for all concerned at Synergist, now and in the longer-term future.

When led by a Synergist, the organisation shifts from being customer-centric to community-centric. It succeeds in achieving medium-to-long term sustainable outcomes that make a real, significant and beneficial impact on the people they serve and affect now and in the future. They generate a new world through their convictions and intentions, living by their principles and in tune with their life purpose while embracing others with compassion and enthusiasm.

The mature Synergist is an authentic, inspiring and strategic leader. They lead confidently from the ‘inside-out’. They are able to consistently stand and hold their ground while holding a nurturing space for the emergence of a transformed world. They are extremely mindful, highly considered and passionately articulate in their advocacy for a better world and are able to take purposeful action in the moment to raise conscious awareness and liberate the emergence of latent potential across the organisation and amongst all stakeholders.

The Alchemist

The final stage that can be observed and calibrated in the post-conventional world is the Alchemist. They number 1%. The Alchemist can have a far-reaching impact on their world. They are the iconic leaders who ignite and generate social evolution as well as transform global industries. Illustrious figures such as Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson and Anita Roddick would appear to have realised their potential as Alchemists. However there are also Alchemists who are amazingly effective behind the scenes in niche markets and uniquely tailored roles such as executive coaching!

The Alchemist embodies their own intuitive guidance and employs mutually collaborative power to generate transformational shifts in the world that respect common humanity and all of life. They are able to hold and embrace wonderful future possibilities while standing firmly in the present and being cognisant of all that has preceded and led to the current situation. They look at events symbolically and value both the shadow and the light in the psychodynamics of common human interactions.

The Alchemist has released the shadow of the ego through grief and forgiveness, and surrendered their personal will to be an instrument in the divine orchestra on earth. They live to evolve in tune with the cosmos listening into the dark and the deep recesses of their soul’s voyage in life. They feel free to be uniquely themselves, liberated from any social or cultural conventions, and can feel both delighted and tormented as they perceive, attend to and process the vast cacophony of thought and emotion that swirls around them. They are able to be fully vulnerable yet vitally alive and vigorous as they give their conscious, compassionate attention to the dynamic interplay in each and every moment to exercise wisdom in action.

The Post-Conventional World

We need the perspective of the Synergist and Alchemist to navigate our way through the interconnected global crises we face today. Only at these levels can leaders transcend the turmoil, cut through complexity, trust in emergence and transform and evolve the economic, education, health and environmental foundations of society today. We are being invited to generate a more sustainable, healthy and equitable world.

Until recently we thought it took 5 years of focused development to shift to later stages. However, we now know that an executive coaching program explicitly focused on vertical development to Synergist can expedite this vertical growth in just one year.

In my recent PhD Research Study 100% of the participants surprisingly and inspiringly all shifted a full stage in leadership development in a single year, most from Achiever to Catalyst. Two shifted two full stages to Synergist, and five went on to land at Synergist a little later. This is in direct contrast to the commonly held view that it takes several years to make a vertical shift to later stages of development.

The participants were all engaged in an Executive Coaching Program focused on strategic and holistic leadership development. In other posts I explain how 8 key drivers reflecting a blend of “outside-in” and“inside-out” coaching transcending conventional organisational operating norms and cultivated their latent, emergent potential as authentic, inspiring, strategic transformational, quantum leaders (Zohar).

The implication is the extent to which conventional operating norms are stunting our leadership development. To my mind there is not a dearth of leadership potential in most organisations today, there is simply a very tight lid on the container for growth. Instead of providing the opportunity for executives to become more aware of their role in the interplay of life and the freedom to express themselves more fully and make conscious decisions that will create a more sustainable, healthy and equitable world, organisations have become pressure cookers.

Organisations and political parties can make substantial gains from later stage executive coaching from the Synergist/Alchemist perspective. It is essential for senior executives and aspiring future leaders to transform their perspective on life and become fluent co-creators in shaping their organisation and the communities they serve. Post-conventional vertical leadership development enables us to realize our potential to generate an economic and social transformation, redeem peace of mind, restore shared wellbeing and renew our world so that we all thrive and flourish.

The higher our self-expression and the deeper our self-awareness, the richer our life experience and the greater our soul evolution. ~ Antoinette Braks

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Antoinette Braks is a thought leader in Vertical Leadership Development and a Master Certified Executive Coach with greater than 3,500 coaching hours with over 250 strategic leaders from across the private and public sectors. She has a proven track record in expediting rapid shifts to later stages enabling strategic leaders and executive coaches to realise transformative outcomes. She is renowned for enabling executives to transcend the turmoil and cut through complexity, trust emergence and navigate uncertainty, and transform their world to spark ingenuity.

Antoinette’s expansive StageSHIFT coaching approach incorporates strategic systemic organisational leadership, evolution and transformation, and personal holistic leadership based on psychodynamics, reframing narrative and shadow resolution, while realising the highest aspirations in life, career and business.

Her corporate background includes C-suite leadership of People and Culture with Vector NZ during the merger integration of their gas and electricity businesses, Director of Strategic Culture Transformation at Businesslink NSW Australia and Regional Strategic HR Management with Shell International Latin America and Africa. Antoinette also led Leadership Capital Solutions for Korn Ferry Asia Pacific and consulted with Hudson Talent.

As well as a Master Executive Coach, Antoinette is a strategic facilitator, leadership consultant, coaching supervisor, and conference presenter. She presents at Coaching, Leadership and Integral Conferences to share her unique insights into the non-linear spiral nature of vertical leadership development to later stages e.g. the Spectrum Stage Shift, the 2-Step Square Dance and Vertical Development Theory based on her PhD research.

Her new book, Executive Coaching in Strategic Holistic Leadership: The Drivers and Dynamics in Vertical Development, will be published by McGraw Hill in May 2020.

Antoinette has an MBA from London Business School, has submitted her PhD thesis in Vertical Leadership Transformation, and studied the Oxford Brookes Professional Certificate of Advanced Study in Coaching Supervision.

Antoinette.Braks@Join-the-SHIFT.com

www.stageshift.coach

Photo by Markus Spiske

 

Using Language to Create a Generative Culture In a Dynamic Business Environment – Huntington and Sophisticated Systems

To start or to continue receiving the weekly blogs via email, please sign-up using this link: subscribe to Innovative Leadership Institute weekly blog.

This is a companion blog to the interview Words Drive Actions -Changing Culture With Value Based Words with Dwight Smith and Stephen D. Steinour that aired on December 17, 2019.

 

Words can be powerful. For anyone who has spoken a harsh word to a child, a loved one, or even a colleague, we can often feel the impact in our gut when we see their faces look back at us filled with hurt or sadness. We, as busy leaders, employees, and family members, often allow our stress to seep through in our language. “My Special Word,” corporate purpose statements and guiding principles can serve as an aspirational reminder setting the tone for the environment we are committed to creating.

Does this type of statement help? Is it just window dressing that sounds good in our recruiting videos?

I believe having an aspirational statement about who we want to be as individuals and organizations AND creating an environment of accountability to encourage us to act in alignment with our aspirations creates the conditions where we are more likely to act according to our aspirations. This doesn’t mean we hit the mark every day in every action. Aspirational means that is the standard we set, we measure ourselves against it, and we measure our colleagues and organization against it. Another key is we put structures in place to help one another hit that aspirational goal. We discuss our success stories and our challenges. This aspirational culture is created by both giving deep thought to the qualities we care about and creating systems and processes that underpin the culture.

In our leadership development programs at the Innovative Leadership Institute, we take participants through a process where they explore their purpose and values. For many busy leaders, while they are highly principled, they have not taken time to write down their deepest held values and evaluate their behavior against those values. The process can be instructive and an invitation to remember the values they were raised with or aspire to in their quiet moments. One of the challenges is how do we create the conditions to “operationalize” these deeper values in business?

In a conversation with Steve Steinour, Huntington Bank CEO and Dwight Smith, Founder, My Special Word, and CEO/Founder Sophisticated Systems, they explore approaches they have used to be explicit with their values personally and organizationally. This transparency is particularly important during a time when we, as citizens, are continually disappointed by the behaviors we see from those we were raised to trust. This behavior could emanate from our business leaders, civic leaders, and, occasionally, our religious leaders. In my view, we as leaders can’t completely stop the negative behavior, but we can be visible as the positive leaders that fill our communities. There are a few bad apples that get lots of press, and there are thousands or hundreds of thousands of good people who want to be great parents, employees, leaders, and family members. Steve and Dwight are highly visible and successful men in their community who are modeling their values through their words and their actions!

In this blog and the interview series, we have been talking about the trend that successful companies are focused on both profit AND being companies that serve the broader community. Huntington’s Purpose statement and Values model that trend. Huntington’s purpose is “to look out for people,” their Purpose statement is: “We make people’s lives better, help businesses thrive, and strengthen the communities we serve.” Huntington is committed to doing the right thing for its customers, colleagues, shareholders, and communities by seeking to “Do the right thing” with the following three Values…

  • Can-Do Attitude
    “Enthusiastically work and succeed together.”
  • Service Heart
    “Inclusive spirit to put yourself in each other’s shoes—then help.”
  • Forward Thinking
    “Always look ahead for ways to be the very best.”

These values help guide Huntington in all the company does in running an effective and successful enterprise where people are treated well, and where they treat their clients and communities well. Treating people well includes civility, which means looking out for people. One way Huntington looks out for colleagues it through its business resource groups. These groups come together with common interest to share their views, which then help guide and inform others around the company. These groups drive actions in the company such as the military Business Resource Group driving benefit change for Military employees and clients. To me, a major point is Huntington sets an aspirational vision and behaviors, then it acts and measures how effectively they meet that aspiration.

Dwight talks about kindness, respect, and the ability to listen to others. These words become the foundation of a culture where values show up on how people talk and interact with others. People’s diverse values are respected. People are encouraged to share their values and aspirations – creating a safe place to succeed and also a safe place to experiment and learn and make mistakes.

Moving culture from unconscious action to deliberate choice is a complicated process and unique to every organization. Here are a few steps to consider as you look at your own culture and words to see if you are saying and acting the way that aligns with your aspirations.

  • Define/refine/revisit your purpose
  • Clarify the words that most resonate with and enable your purpose
  • Identify the processes and people (like business resource groups) that turn aspiration into action
  • Measure and refine

In an environment that is changing quickly, leaders must create positive cultures that reinforce the aspirations we have as people and as organizations. This positive culture includes qualities such as respect, civility, and supporting others in accomplishing their goals and dreams.

What are your organization’s aspirational words?

 

This online course contains the companion tools and assessments for people getting to develop become Innovative Leaders. The course is based on a proven six-step process in an interactive format that includes audio interviews with top leaders and thought leaders, videos, worksheets, articles, and reflection questions designed to support you in enhancing your practical effectiveness as an Innovative Leader.

It contains links to the online measurement platform and leadership assessments you and your coach will use.

Follow the process, and you will become more effective as a leader!

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Author

Maureen Metcalf – Founder, CEO, and Board Chair of the Innovative Leadership Institute  is a highly sought-after expert in anticipating and leveraging future business trends to transform organizations.

Fighting a Lot of Fires? —– You may be the Arsonist.

To start or to continue receiving the weekly blogs via email, please sign-up using this link: subscribe to Innovative Leadership Institute weekly blog.

This is a guest blog provided by Dr. Michael Colburn. The interview of Aleksandra Scepanovic as well as this blog challenge us to reflect on our leadership skills, even in hard times, and what we can learn to be a become a better leader. The interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future with Aleksandra Scepanovic aired on 10/22/19.

Ever have one of those days?  Crises abound and it feels like you are spending most of your time putting out fires?  Action is taken to solve the crisis at hand.  At best, the cost of the crisis is minimized.  However, your time is taken away from the high value activities that you want to work on.  A crisis is an unexpected event that has a cost assigned to it if it is not resolved.  There are crises that are truly unexpected, and we just have to deal with them.  But there are others where we need to ask the question: What are some things that I do that may create or magnify crises?  Here are five tips you may find helpful in preventing the fires from happening in the first place.

Tip 1:  Communicate openly and honestly even when it hurts.
It is not just the issue that makes something important.  It is often the lack of time to respond to the issue.  When a red or yellow flag goes up, it is time to communicate.  The earlier you communicate about a possible crisis, the more time you will have to create alternatives (eg., get help from a colleague, negotiate a time extension).  Your boss or client may not be thrilled, but they will be informed.  The problem is not compounded.  At worst the impact is minimized.  At best the problem may be prevented.  You communicated and accepted responsibility.

Tip 2: Anticipate potential problems and take preventive actions.
When planning for any project, get in the habit of questions like: What could go wrong? What can I do to prevent it from happening? What corrections can I take when a red flag goes up?  Ask colleagues who have had similar projects the sane questions.  Accelerate your learning from yours and others’ experiences.  Build in preventive actions to reduce the risk of crises.  Plan contingent actions to respond quickly to the unexpected.

Tip 3: Make realistic commitments.
Some golfers’ optimism gets them in a lot of trouble.  If I can manage to hit the ball under the limb, curve around the tree and go over the water, I can reach the green.  Some people, like this optimistic golfer make “best case” estimates to the client to make the sale, to impress the boss or to relent to pressure.  The seeds of crises have been sown.  When commitments are not met, excuses are made, and credibility is damaged.  You need to be both realistic and courageous.

Tip 4: Establish regular communications with the boss and clients.
Take the initiative to schedule regular one-on-one meetings with the boss to review progress, agree on priorities and discuss resource needs.  Openness and candor do not often thrive in group settings.  These accountability meetings keep small problems from growing into crises.  Your initiative eases the need for the boss to check up on your projects.  Have similar meetings with your critical internal clients and teammates. One proactive meeting eliminates many reactive ones. 

Tip 5: Continually improve your processes.
Poor processes create crises. We know this at the organizational level, and it is also true at the individual level.  This may include personal planning, project management and communication methods with the boss, teammates and clients.  Look at your key value creating activities and take a step back and describe as if you were going to teach them to someone.  Identify ways to reduce wasted effort an increase the time you spend on the highest value activities.  Be your own lean consultant.

Next Steps
Review the five tips and choose one that resonates with you.  Identify one thing you can do in the next 24 hours to apply this tip to your professional or personal life.  Success breeds success.  Each step you take will enable you to take control of the seemingly uncontrollable.  Let me know how it works at dr.mjcolburn@gmail.com.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Dr. Michael Colburn has built his career on performance improvement at the organization, team and individual levels for a broad range of clients in the private and public sectors for more than 30 years.  He recently retired as an Associate Professor of Management at Ashland University where he taught Organization Development, Operations Management, Strategic Management and Self-Management & Accountability.   Michael has authored numerous papers in academic, professional and trade publications.  His first book, Own Your Job: Five Tools for Self-management and Accountability in the Workplace will help you think more entrepreneurial and teach you self-management skills and increase your performance and influence. Check out more of Michael’s blogs on his website.

 

How Leaders Can Prepare Themselves For A Digital Transformation

The following blog is a republish of an article appearing in Forbes written by Maureen Metcalf. It is the companion to an interview conducted with Mark Kvamme, co-founder and Partner at Drive Capital on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future on Tuesday, August 6th titled Business Disruptions: Are You Disrupting or Being Disrupted?

Many leaders have likely been hearing about the “rate of change” in a variety of ways. The World Economic Forum, for instance, published its 2018 report on global risks and trends to analyze where the world could be heading. This past year, the Harvard Business Review also published a piece about the importance of digital transformation. Both suggest that the rate of change is accelerating, and we need to be aware of the changes so we can take action. I’ve seen many companies adopt new technologies to automate tasks. For many, this is no longer a change of the future; it is happening now.

To be prepared for a transformation, I believe leaders must update their mindsets and behaviors. Below are my suggestions for getting started:

  1. Focus on what’s best for your organization.

As change accelerates, focus on getting the best outcome for your organization above being right. When facing challenges you have not previously mastered (and, in some cases, have never faced), evaluate, gather data and input from others, and plot a course of action you can experiment with. You likely won’t have the perfect plan, but this way, you can have a rough direction of where to move, which can, in turn, help you correct your course when necessary.

  1. Be prepared to make tough decisions.

Sometimes, leaders have to make tough calls to ensure the organization thrives. Implementing innovative tools can help keep your company competitive, but they will also impact your workforce. This is why it is critical that leaders balance the organization’s values with mission and profit.

Ask yourself the following questions if you’re feeling stuck when facing tough decisions:

  • Is my decision aligned with my values?
  • Am I willing and able to take the action required by this decision?
  • Does this decision align with our cultural values?
  • What system and process changes will be required to implement this decision?

I often see that leaders put forward proposals that meet one or more of these criteria, but when they look holistically at the implications of that proposal, they see flaws in the plan. An example was a restaurant I worked with that proposed limiting the amount of food employees consumed during a break. When examined further, this policy change made eating too much became grounds for termination. Managers were unwilling to terminate employees for eating too much during a shift because it conflicted with their values as a company.

  1. Think critically.

Complex thinking is also an important skill. As a leader, it’s critical that you understand any extended systems in your organization and how your decisions will ripple through the entire system. But I’ve observed that sometimes, this information is limited, which requires you to make quick decisions while thinking critically.

When this happens, determine the smallest decision you can make, given the information you have. What are the first, second and third level impacts this decision will have? By shifting the decision process to small decisions during times of uncertainty, a leader can break the inertia caused by uncertainty and gather important information from the small action. This approach reduces the risk of making incorrect large decisions.

  1. Stay curious.

From my perspective, leaders are now impacted by tangential forces; they need to be intellectually curious to ensure they are sufficiently informed to make strong decisions. Leaders must be open to the fact that they don’t always know everything. Ask yourself:

  1. What do I need to do to stay informed as a leader?
  2. What do I need to do to get more comfortable within myself being a continual learner?

Once you ask yourself these questions, remember to be open as you’re learning. Seek input from others and consume different forms of media to keep learning.

  1. Develop yourself and others.

As business ecosystems change, new tools and technologies emerge, and the competitive landscape can morph as well. This is why developing yourself and others is key. What are you doing to build your own skills and abilities, based on your current and emerging landscape? How are you developing your team? Building on the recommendation to stay curious, leaders should stay informed in order to continue their development, such as through reading publications outside your foundational content toward tangentially or loosely connected publications.

  1. Inspire others.

During times of uncertainty and change, I’ve found having the ability to inspire others is extremely valuable. In my experience, people often look to leaders they trust during times of change to ensure their safety and security. It is important for you to be keenly aware and sensitive to this need. Assess how well you relate to your team, and try to understand their goals and stressors. To build this strong rapport, communicate openly and honestly with your team and follow through on your commitments. I believe being trustworthy is now more important than ever.

  1. Learn from other perspectives.

When facing new situations and opportunities, it is critical to gather input from a diverse group of people. Encourage others to share candid input, which you can then utilize to craft solutions that accomplish the collective objectives of your organization and align with the company’s mission and values. Four important questions to ask yourself include:

  1. Have I included all critical perspectives to work through this issue?
  2. Have I created an environment where people feel encouraged to give open and honest input?
  3. Do people feel valued for their differing points of view?
  4. Do they see how their involvement created a more robust solution?

Leaders must ask for input, act on it, give feedback and recognize contributors in order for their team members and employees to feel confident in voicing their opinions.

While there is no magic solution to the challenges leaders face, I believe we are also at a point in time where leaders can make a huge impact on the world. From my perspective, your impact is possible when you are willing to develop yourself and learn how to navigate the personal discomfort of changing yourself and your organization to better navigate new opportunities.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the author

Ms. Metcalf – Founder, CEO, and Board Chair of the Innovative Leadership Institute (formerly Metcalf & Associates) is a highly sought-after expert in anticipating and leveraging future business trends to transform organizations.

 

 

Influence Is All About PEOPLE

This blog is provided by Brian Ahearn, the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC, as a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future. This interview Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade aired on 9/3/19.

When it comes to influence I believe it’s all about PEOPLE. I write that because we don’t try to persuade things. Dale Carnegie had it right when he wrote, “Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face, especially if you’re in business.” The more you know how to ethically influence people the better your chances are for success at the office and happiness at home.

When it comes to PEOPLE I encourage you to think about the about the Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical. Let’s take a quick look at each component of PEOPLE.

Powerful

Who says influence is powerful? Here are what a few well known people from history had to say about persuasion:

“Persuasion is often more effective than force.” Aesop, Greek Fabulist

“If I can persuade, I can move the universe.” Frederick Douglass, American social reformer, abolitionist, writer, and statesman

“The only real power available to the leader is the power of persuasion.” Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the United States.

In addition to those intelligent people, we have more than 70 years of research from social psychology, behavioral economics and more recently neuroscience, to tangibly prove how powerful persuasion can be.

Everyday

Unless you’re Tom Hanks in Castaway you interact with people every single day. Quite often in your communication with others you make requests hoping to hear “Yes!” Nobody goes it alone, especially the highly successful. Jack Welch, former General Electric CEO said, “Nearly everything I’ve done in my life has been accomplished through other people.”

Here’s something I love about persuasion; it applies at work and home, a 24x7x365 skill. At work you try to persuade your boss, direct reports, coworkers, vendors and customers. At home influence helps with your parents, significant other, children, neighbors and anyone else you come in contact with.

Opportunities

In virtually every communication you have there will be opportunities for you to do seemingly little things just a bit different to potentially reap big rewards. For example, wouldn’t you be interested to find out what the Cancer Society did to increase their volunteer rate 700% in one area of town or how Easter Seals doubled the number of donors? Both were accomplished by doing a few, nearly costless things differently to employ a little psychology.

The problem is, all too often people miss the opportunities that are right in front of them. However, once you begin to learn the language of persuasion you’ll be amazed at how often you spot the opportunities to engage psychology to leverage better results.

Persuade

What exactly is persuasion? The definitions I hear most often are “to change someone’s mind” or “to convince someone of something.” Those might be good starts but they’re not enough. In the end you want to see people change their behavior.

With a focus on behavior change I think Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher, put it best when he said, “Persuasion is the art of getting people to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do if you didn’t ask.”

Lasting

Sometimes your interaction with another person is “one and done” but quite often it’s an ongoing relationship. In those relationships you don’t want to go back to the drawing board time after time. No, you want to have communications that change people’s thinking and behavior for the long haul.

Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower understood the power of persuasion to create a lasting effect when he said, “I would rather persuade a man to go along, because once I have persuaded him, he will stick. If I scare him, he will stay just as long as he is scared, and then he is gone.” Done right, persuasion can have a lasting impact on others.

Ethical

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, manipulation is, “to treat or operate with or as if with the hands or by mechanical means especially in a skillful manner.” That’s not so bad but another definition for manipulation is, “to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage.”

Manipulation makes most of us bristle because it connotes taking advantage of someone. I’m confident in writing this next statement – no one likes to be manipulated. I’m reasonably certain the vast majority of people don’t want to be known as manipulators either.

When it comes to the difference between ethical influence and manipulation I like the following quote from The Art of WOO (Richard Shell & Mario Moussa), “An earnest and sincere lover buys flowers and candy for the object of his affections. So does the cad who succeeds to take advantage of another’s heart. But when the cad succeeds, we don’t blame the flowers and candy. We rightly question his character.”

Conclusion

Your ability to ethically influence others will be a big determinant when it comes to your professional success and personal happiness. Knowing that, and knowing how much you use this one skill each day, doesn’t it make sense to get better at it?

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Author

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An international speaker, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the topic of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical – is available online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and most other online sites.

His LinkedIn Learning courses Persuasive SellingPersuasive Coaching and Building a Coaching Culture: Improving Performance through Timely Feedback, have been viewed by more than 70,000 people! Keep an eye out for Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalities this fall.