Leveraging Generational Differences to Drive Success

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Today’s guest post is from Cam Marston, President and Owner of Generational Insights. He is an expert on the Demographic Trends and Generational Bias Impacting Work & Sales. This post is a companion to the Voice America interview with Cam to air on March 8, 2016.

How important is workplace atmosphere to a millennial? Apparently it was important enough to at least one of them to blow off one of the premier employers in her desired profession.

Hannah Gordon, a journalism student at St. Bonaventure University, recently shared her thoughts about a visit to the New York Times in a letter to TAPinto.net. The Times is considered by many journalists to be the pinnacle of the profession, a place to which the most ambitious reporters and editors aspire.

Gordon, however, saw it differently, noting her disappointment at finding a “near-silent newsroom” instead of “the bustling, comradery-filled (sic) newsroom I imagined.”

“My visit,” she concluded, “made me realize it was sterile journalism.”

Gordon did not give examples of work produced by the Times that she considers sterile, but seemed more concerned with the newsroom environment, saying she knew she “wouldn’t fit in with the culture” in a place where she couldn’t “fully express my creativity and quirkiness.”

She illustrated her point by noting that an internship coordinator at the Times may not have appreciated the “shooting stars and flying bats” on her portfolio.

While Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers will laugh this off as a millennial living down to the stereotype (and wonder what kind of journalism student would show up to the New York Times with stars and bats drawn on her clips), we also must assume that Gordon isn’t alone. Finding a collaborative atmosphere and an outlet for their creative passions is important to millennials – and finding talented millennials is important to employers.

So who should give? Should employers like the Times reconfigure their workplaces to cater to the desires of millennials like Gordon? Or should Gordon realize that not every office is going to feel like the campus newspaper?

There’s no one right answer here, but my hunch is: perhaps a little of both.

As more millennials flood the workforce, many workplaces are moving toward environments that foster the kind of collaborative atmosphere for which Gordon seems to be looking – and one day, even the Times may join them. It makes sense for companies that want to attract and retain the best and brightest to make sure their office environments are going to be seen as an asset.

But millennials like Gordon also need to understand that it isn’t the job of a workplace to fulfill their every desire. It’s to get work done. Very few of us, no matter the generation, are fortunate enough to find a job that feeds all our ambitions and interests. Many of us find other outlets for our creative and quirky sides that aren’t satisfied at work.

Perhaps Gordon will find a job that meets all her expectations. Or maybe she’ll have to temper those expectations to find a job.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

Authentic Leadership: Reflecting on Vision and Values

Innovative Leadership - ReflectionThis post ends the January four part blog series focusing on “begin with the end in mind” by defining vision, values, putting vision and values in action and now reflecting on the earlier exercises. These exercises offer a strong set of tools to cultivate a regular practice of aligning who we are with what we do.

The following exercise was pulled from the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Global Leaders.

To help you develop your action plan, it is time to further clarify your direction using the reflection questions below. “What do I think/believe?” reflects your intentions. “What do I do?” questions reflect your actions. “What do we believe?” reflects the culture of your organization (i.e., work, school, community), and “How do we do this?” questions reflect systems and processes for your organization. This exercise is an opportunity to practice innovative leadership by considering your vision for yourself and how it will play out in the context of your life.  You will define your intentions, actions, culture, and systems in a systematic manner.

The following table contains an exhaustive list of questions to appeal to a broad range of international leaders. You will likely find that a few of these questions best fit your own personal situation. Focus on the questions that seem the most relevant. We recommend you answer one to three questions from each category.

 Questions to Guide the Leader and Organization

·    What do I think/believe?

·    How do I see myself in the future? What trends do I see around me that impact this view? Have I considered how these trends impact the way I want to contribute?

·    How does my view of myself impact me? Am I inspired by my vision? Terrified?

·    How do I see myself within the larger environment? This can range from my family, the organization, to the international environment.

·    How do I gather input from key stakeholders to incorporate into my vision (family, business, self)?

·    After doing the exercises, what is my vision?

·    After doing the exercises, what are my values? What do I stand for? What do I stand against?

·    What are the connections between my business vision and my personal mission, passion, and economic goals?

What do I do?

·      How do I research trends that will impact my industry so I can understand my future placement and how to navigate potential transitions in my industry?

·      How do I synthesize competing goals and commitments to create a vision that works for me in the context of the communities I serve (family, friends, work, and international community)?

·      How do I develop my vision taking the greater economic conditions into account?

·      What do I tell others about my vision?  Do I have an “elevator speech”?  Is it something I think is inspirational?

·      When others observe me living my vision and values, what observable behaviors would they see?

What do we believe?

·    How does my personal vision fit within the larger context of my family, my community, my industry or my job?

·    How do I create a shared belief that my vision will help the organization succeed within the larger community and also help the community succeed?

·    What do we believe we stand for as an international organization? How should we behave to accomplish what we stand for (guiding principles/values)? Do my values align with the organizational values?

·    How do I reconcile differences between my values and those of my organization? How will these differences impact my ability to develop toward my vision and goals?

How do we do this?

·      How do I monitor the organization’s impact on my vision? How do I honor my vision when helping define/refine the organizational vision?

·      What is our process for defining/refining changes to our shared vision for the organization and other systems I function within? What is our process for clarifying and documenting our values? How do I ensure that my values are aligned with our guiding principles?

·      Who gives me feedback on their perspective of my progress? How often? What form would I like this feedback to take?

·      What measures help me determine progress toward my vision and values? How do I track and report progress toward these goals? Is my behavior supporting the organizational goals? Are the organizational goals supporting my goals?

Following are some answers provided by a leader we will call Steve. He tests as a “Level 5 Leader” as discussed in Good to Great. His answers will reflect that level of thinking and perspective taking.

Introduction to Steve

In his late 50’s Steve was promoted to a global management role for Sales Manager, Aluminum Extrusion Coatings for a large global corporation. He was recently promoted to this job so he is doing the workbook to help him identify the leadership changes he needs to make to succeed in his new role.

Vision

My vision is to grow myself personally and professionally by utilizing the scientific education and business experiences and to support the success of others.  I am a committed husband, father, and grandfather and live my values in all areas of my life.

Values

  • Achievement
  • Expertise
  • Work under pressure

Now Steve will answer at reflection questions from each category. He shares these answers with you because reflection is one of the more important skills that all leaders must develop. One important element of this workbook is that you as a developing leader get to read the thought process of a successful global leader. It is rare that many leaders share their inner thoughts and feelings and valuable to see how others approach these questions.

Reflection Questions: What do I think/believe?

How do I see myself in the future?

I see myself as a person who can significantly contribute to this organization thru my extensive technical experience in formulating as well as application dynamics.  While taking on a global role brings significant challenges it is very exciting.  This includes a level of management that is new to me but feel my years of global travel in other roles will serve me well.  Very few people have the opportunity to travel the world and experience many cultures as I have.  Although the time away from home can be difficult the rewards are many.  Even difficulties in logistics, language and simple things like meals can become an adventure and learning experience.

The trends I see around me that impacts this is the globalization of the business community.  We can no longer live as an island in today’s business world and I choose to embrace this new paradigm by taking a leadership role. By doing this I feel I can positively impact my company as well as the industry as a whole.

After doing the exercises, what are my values?  What do I stand for?  What do I stand against?

My top personal values are achievement, expertise, and work under pressure and they are very important to me. I also remain true to the same solid business principles expected in the USA despite tendencies for unethical dealings in some parts of the world.

This is a must to maintain a professional business relationship and keep all dealings legal and ethical.

What I stand for remains constant with good business practices by treating all suppliers, customers, employees and even competitors fairly and as I would like to be treated.  I will always remain loyal to the American standard but must respect all cultures where I travel and do business.

What I stand against is the unethical business practices and most importantly human rights violations.   Understanding different cultures have different beliefs and traditions but these still must meet the basic human rights all people deserve.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com Joe DeSousa

 

Authentic Leadership: Putting Vision & Values into Action

Authentic Leaders: Values in Action During the past two weeks we provided posts that spelled out exercises to Begin with the “End in Mind” by confirming/refine your vision then to confirm your values. Leaders who are already have a clear sense of their vision and values know that the real impact of this information is how it drives aligned action, builds trust among colleagues and teams, and accelerates outcomes because it reduces the amount of time team members spend trying to figure out who you are as the leader and what you will do.

An example of putting values into action is a client who, based on significant reflection, learned he valued giving back to the community in a way that he was not doing at the time. He was the CEO of a technology firm. His passion was offering computer training for returning veterans in the US even though he was born and raised in India; he maintained the job of CEO and added a community support function into his business. His passion for service to the community and professional skills afforded him the ability to follow his passion and still run a successful business. In the process of following his passion, he is building the workforce in his community and building his reputation as a civic leader and successful entrepreneur. He has now helped many returning veterans gain solid jobs and his company has been acknowledged for this significant contribution.

Exercise: Putting Vision into Action

 Step 1: Identify your foundation. Answer the three questions below by compiling a list of responses to each.

  • What are you passionate about? This will come from the prior exercise and should now be relatively concise.
  • What meets your economic needs?
  • What can you be great at?

*Note: your answers to these questions should reflect your values from the Personal Values Checklist.

Step 2: Review and identify overlap. Review your answers and identify the overlaps.

Step 3: Harvest the ideas. Based on the overlaps, do you see anything that might be incorporated in what you do or how you work? This could mean adding an additional service line to an existing business or allocating a portion of your work time to a project that is aligned with your values.

Step 4: Live your values. Finally, identify opportunities to share your values and live what you committed to. If you say you value community service, find ways to do something community related. If you value spiritual growth, take action to develop. Our ability as leaders to live our values has a huge impact on our organizations. People tend to respect and trust leaders who share their values and live them. 

A colleague, Mike, talked about sharing his personal vision and values with employees when he took over a company as a turn around leader. Quickly he had an opportunity to “live those values”. A customer who had a reputation for abusing his staff showed up at his office. He quickly met the customer and clearly indicated that behavior was not allowed and he was willing to give up the client business to live his values. This leader has a strong financial background. He knew that the financial impact of taking a stand could be significant and yet the longer term impact of allowing actions that violated his values would be even higher in the form of morale and employee engagement. He took the tough stand and won the trust of his entire organization as rumor of his quiet and respectful response to the customers yelling spread throughout the organization.

Putting our vision and values in action is a test of courage and integrity. The cost of not putting them in action is lost of trust.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com BLg3

Values: Foundation for Ethical Action

Leadership ValuesLast week’s post focused on creating a clear vision as foundation for aligned action. This week we focus on the companion to vision: values. Values are deeply held views of what we find worthwhile. They come from many sources:  parents, religion, schools, peers, people we admire, and culture. Many go back to childhood; others are taken on as adults. Values help us define how we live our lives and accomplish our purpose.

The following exercise is drawn from the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Global Leaders.

Step 1: Define what you value most. From the list of values (both work and personal), select the ten that are most important to you—as guides for how to behave, or as components of a valued way of life. Feel free to add any values of your own to this list.

Personal Values Checklist

Innovative Leadership Values

Step 2: Elimination. Now that you have identified ten values, imagine that you are only permitted to have five. Which five would you give up? Cross them off. Now cross off another two to bring your list down to three. Finally take the list down to one. What is your top value?

Step 3: Integration. Take a look at the top three values on your list.

  • How would your life be different if those values were prominent and practiced?
  • What does each value mean, exactly? What do you expect from yourself, even in bad times?
  • Does the personal vision you’ve outlined reflect those values? If not, should your personal vision be expanded? Again, if not, are you prepared and willing to reconsider those values?
  • Are you willing to create a life in which these values are paramount, and help an organization put those values into action?

Which one item on the list do you care most about?

In the next blog post, we will explore putting vision and values in action. I encourage you to enjoy exploring the process of clarifying your values.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

What Do Authentic Leaders Do?

Authentic LeadershipThis blog is number six and the final in a series focused on building authentic leadership. In this post we will explore how understanding to be an authentic leader working within a culture and systems you likely don’t have complete control over.

No one is authentic by imitating others. You must know yourself and develop your own authentic style. As authentic leaders, it seems we should be able to do what comes naturally; yet, authenticity is not as effective as responding to what your team needs from you. So, we return to an earlier question: Can I be authentic if I am tailoring my behavior to what others want or need from me? We submit you have a broad range of authentic behaviors, and it is possible to be both true to yourself while meeting your constituents’ needs.

While imitation doesn’t work – this statement is incomplete – you may still want to know what behaviors you could use as a starting point. For this I would like to return to a prior post such as Leadership 2050?

So, what are the steps to demonstrate authentic leadership behaviors?

  1. Know what you stand for and understand your values, as well as your leadership type and developmental perspective. By understanding your true values as well as your innate strengths and weaknesses you begin to set the baseline for what you hold true. For requests that do not impact your core values or your strengths, you have flexibility in how you respond. You may build skills or look to a teammate to augment you in specific areas.
  2. Understand the individual members of your teams’ values and type. We have talked about type and developmental perspective in prior posts as two good tools to better understand your team. If you are working closely with someone, it will be helpful to understand their values. You can often gain a basic understanding by listening, observing things and knowing what someone does outside of work. Do they volunteer in the community outside your agency? Do they spend weekends with family? Do they take vacations that involve adventure? What do they read?
  3. Practice tailoring conversations and behaviors to others in a way that will be authentic to your values and at the same time be effective given the culture and organizational goals. You may even want to practice a few scenarios in preparation for tough negotiations or difficult discussions. By knowing your values and your innate type, you have a foundation that guides you on where to adjust and where to stay true to yourself.

Authentic leaders are true to themselves, they honor their personal values and commitments, and they also adapt to situations so they can provide the leadership needed by their staff. Their staffs are likely to have a broad range of expectations of the leader—and having a one-size-fits-all “authentic” approach to all situations is suboptimal. The best leaders are able to honor their own style and still meet others where they are (which can sound paradoxical at times).

As with all changes in the way we process, perceive, and behave, there is no magic wand. You already know the value of persistence and commitment—it’s what has brought you this far already. Using the five elements of innovative leadership can support you in becoming an authentic and dynamic leader, and will support your ongoing leadership success.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com Davld Clow

Balancing Authenticity with Organizational Expectations

Situational Analysis BalancingThis blog is number five in a series focused on building authentic leadership. In this post we will explore how understanding the culture and systems along with your own self awareness supports your ability to lead authentically and how it can inhibit your success if it is not attended to.

Situational analysis is the process by which you use self-awareness and organizational understanding to determine how to behave authentically and effectively. You analyze with the intent of creating alignment between self and the organization—which can often be quite a balancing act. In some cases you may not have a clear sense of yourself, and in other situations the your preference are not aligned with the organization’s culture or expectations.

I recently conducted a workshop with a client who used the situational analysis framework to address a very complex issue in a large family owned business. The organization, like many, is trying to balance cutting an employee benefit in an effort to retain service levels while minimizing the impact on employee morale, engagement, and organizational culture. This is a company has a very strong commitment to service, which includes caring for its employees. In a highly respected organization with a goal of maintaining low overhead, these benefits impact overall organizational performance and—if not managed carefully—can have a negative financial impact on the organization.

During the workshop, the entire leadership team answered a set of eight questions in four categories to encourage an open discussion to help them align their personal beliefs, personal behaviors, organizational culture, and organizational systems in addressing these issues and make a sound decision.

Presentation1

Using these questions as the foundation, the leadership team explored the pros and cons of their cost-cutting decision. In addition to addressing this specific complex issue, they also adopted this approach to addressing other issues.

So, what does this have to do with authentic leadership? Leaders must be self-aware and genuine. The first two sets of questions in the table help you discuss your personal values in an organizational setting and explore how those values impact tough decisions. You they talk about how your values align with the behavior required to adopt the change. This approach is very valuable when balancing personal values and organizational requirements. Leaders often find their values in conflict with organizational expectations and they are compelled to choose between two undesirable options: violating their values, or making decisions that are opposed to the organization’s goals.

While there is no easy solution to the complex problems organizations are facing, we believe this approach to exploring challenges candidly and discussing personal beliefs and values, individual actions, organizational culture, and organizational systems creates shared support for decisions and provides a powerful platform for open dialogue about complex issues. Because it takes into account values along with fiscal accountability, it builds trust among leaders that the process is ethical. It also allows you an open forum to discuss differing points of view and, at the same time, develop a better understanding of others.

As authentic leaders in a complex environment, we are continually making difficult decisions. This approach to decision making can help think through the challenges and ask the questions that allow us to remain authentic and ethical, and still make the tough decisions required for the organization to survive and thrive. As the broader organization begins to understand and trust this process, they will also build the skills to be authentic in their leadership and build a culture of authenticity.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com pink sherbet photography

Is Your Resilience Impacting Your Ability to Lead Authentically?

Resilient LeadershipThis blog is number four in a series focused on building authentic leadership. In this post we will explore how resilience supports your ability to lead authentically and how it can inhibit your success if it is not attended to. We define resilience as the ability to remain flexible and focused in the face of ongoing change. To be an authentic leader, we need to attend to four key elements: our physical wellbeing, our thinking, our emotional intelligence and sense of purpose, and our connection to people who support us. We must be honest with ourselves and others about what allows us to be resilient. The other day I met with a client who, for the first time in her life, is struggling with health challenges. Michelle works for a large national nonprofit where leaders pride themselves on their stamina, persistence, and always achieving results beyond what others could deliver—which may be part of the root of the problem. At forty-one years old, she had been blessed with great health until back problems forced her to take a leave of absence from work. She was given surgical and non-surgical treatment options to address her back condition. The non-surgical choices involved managing her stress and lifestyle as well as a daily routine of exercise and stretching. While the non-surgical option may sound easier than the surgical option, her underlying dilemma is facing the fact that she cannot live up to her own expectations of herself. She is young and suffering stress-related physical problems that, if she does not get under control, will likely result in chronic pain for years to come. Now she must rethink who she can authentically be and face the reality of her physical limitations. Although most of us will face this at some point in our lives and careers, most of us never really think about it until a dramatic event forces us to reassess the choices we make and how we’re living. When we read about authentic leadership it seems so simple: be true to yourself. For Michelle, a primary condition of her authenticity is facing her physical limitations and being authentic with others about what she can and is willing to do to balance her work schedule with her personal health needs. In coming to terms with her humanness, she needs to figure out what it even means to be true to herself. Does she retain her stressful job in a field she loves, implementing a mission which she believes is her life’s work? What other avenue does she have to pursue her passion and make an impact on the world? How you can put resilience to work for you to become more authentic? Here are six questions to consider as indicators of your resilience as a leader:

  1. Am I taking the actions I need to take to remain physically healthy over the longer term?
  2. Do I manage my thinking throughout the day, every day (minimize negative self-talk; be gentle and kind in how I think about myself; express gratitude regularly; have reasonable expectations of myself and others, etc.)?
  3. Do I demonstrate strong emotional self-awareness and self-management?
  4. Do I have a sense of life purpose that inspires me daily and helps keep the less important annoyances in perspective?
  5. Do I have a spiritual practice that supports my well-being?
  6. Do I have a support system that supports and encourages me during good times and bad?

If you’ve answered no to any of the six questions on the list consider: what changes you can you make in the short term to authentically and honestly commit to and move toward greater resilience? As a resilient leader, you are more able to respond to the ongoing challenges of your role with clear thinking and presence. This, in turn, allows you to continue to be authentic with yourself and others around you. It also allows you to promote resilience in your workgroup so you can ensure others are also able to perform at their highest capacity. Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet—thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing—consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust. — Lance Secretan To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills. If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Building Authentic Leadership – 6 Steps to Leverage Developmental Perspective

Innovative Leadership - Developmental perspectiveThis blog is number three in a series focused on building authentic leadership. In this post we will explore how we can leverage our understanding of developmental perspective to become more authentic in our leadership. Let’s start with an example of how a manager applied her understanding of developmental perspectives to a difficult work situation. I recently had a conversation with a client, Colleen, about the question of authenticity—specifically, “If I’m not transparent, am I authentic?” The basis for the question rose from Colleen’s dilemma that the more transparent she was with one of her colleagues, the greater the tension was between them. She found that with some people, less is more and with others more is appropriate. Colleen’s questions became: “Can I be authentic and yet edit how much I share? If I edit what I say or do, how much of my authenticity is lost? Are there models to help me determine what and how much to share and in which settings?”

With Colleen’s example in mind, let’s explore the “developmental perspective”. It can be defined as “meaning making,” or how you make sense of experiences. This is important because the algorithm you use to make sense of the world influences your thoughts and actions. We believe that people proceed through different developmental perspectives as they mature in life. Incorporating an understanding of these perspectives as part of your interactions will inform your decisions about the blend of authentic and useful. One of the primary uses of this model of developmental perspectives is guiding you in shaping your conversations with others in a way that allows you to be true to yourself yet frame them in a way that is helpful to others. When working with developmental perspective, it is important to remember there are not better or worse developmental perspectives—all are necessary to make an organization function optimally. There are, however, better and worse ways to interact based on the perspectives of those involved.

As an analogy, throughout our personal lives, as we speak to our children or young adults, we adjust our conversations to make them age appropriate and we feel authentic when we adjust our language and complexity. So, can and should we adjust our conversations in the workplace with our colleagues in the same way to match their level of development (developmental perspective) or type preferences? Adjusting conversation to match our listener’s preferences is as appropriate and authentic as adjusting conversations to match the level of development of younger or less experienced people. Not only is it appropriate, it is required to optimize our effectiveness and theirs.

As leaders, we must be authentic with ourselves. It’s not helpful to hold secrets, or be unconscious about our own inner “algorithms” or the way we make sense of the world in how we make decisions, set our ground rules, determine our goals and values, and so on. This is the lead-self component which means knowing your type and the importance of introspection in getting to know yourself more fully.

The guiding principle is communication must be both authentic and useful. We must be authentic and true to ourselves and communicate what is useful to the other person in order for us to collectively accomplish our desired goals. Anything we communicate that pulls us away from our goals may be authentic, but it is not useful. A note of caution, we’re not suggesting withholding anything that may violate ethics; rather, we’re advocating the sharing of information that is helpful, not distracting or detrimental. In many cases, leaders find people struggle to understand them. In most of these cases, the leaders are experts in their fields and those around them do not share this expertise. What is most useful in these communications is to respectfully communicate to the listener at the level of detail they can understand.

The developmental perspective model is a complex model that allows you to augment your instincts within a structured framework, and get close enough to understand the communication that would be most effective. This model is quite robust and can be used in many different ways. Here are some recommendations to improve your ability to communicate authentically using the focus on developmental perspectives:

  1. Read an article on developmental perspectives to gain a general understanding of the framework and your level;
  2. Evaluate yourself based on what you read in the article to see where you believe you score (please note that we really score across a range of levels with a center of gravity at one specific level). Even better take the Maturity Assessment Profile (MAP) assessment created by Susanne Cook-Greuter to determine your developmental perspective profile;
  3. Evaluate those around you and create a chart of the primary developmental perspective of your key stakeholders;
  4. Create your own guidelines for how to best communicate with people at different developmental perspectives based on your reading and experience;
  5. Experiment with tailoring communications to perspectives that are appropriate for your audience;
  6. Get feedback from others on the impact these experiments to gauge if you are communicating effectively.

As an authentic leader, you must also have an ability to understand others through the developmental lens and relate to them using developmental perspective as an important filter for interactions. The best and most authentic leaders understand the role they play—and how effective they are in that role—is linked to everyone with whom they interact and work.

Maureen will be a presenting Building Authentic Leadership by Innovating how You Lead at the WELD Leadership conference on June 4, 2015 at Otterbein University in Columbus Ohio. Click for more information.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

10 Steps for Using Leader Types to Become A More Authentic Leader

Innovative Leadership Leader TypeThis post is part 2 of a six part series on using Innovative Leadership approach to building authentic leadership. Last week’s post provided an overview.

Susan, a social service executive, tests as a loyalist using the Enneagram personality typing system. She is committed, reliable, hard-working, responsible, trustworthy, and security-oriented. Though she is cautious and has problems with self-doubt, she’s quite methodical and also passionate about the value her work provides to our community. She evaluates how her projects will impact the organization’s clients, her own children and future generations, and is focused on building the Board, infrastructure, systems and program required to promote a better future. These qualities make her an exceptional Executive Director. She’s an excellent “troubleshooter” and can foresee problems and foster cooperation, but Susan—often running on stress—can also become defensive, evasive, and anxious.

She focuses heavily on process and has sense of urgency issues which limit her ability to be an exceptional leader of people and projects. After taking the Enneagram assessment, she was able to identify her strengths and deficiencies. By understanding her authentic type and building on her strengths, she has improved her leadership ability. To augment her strengths, she also needed to build the capacities where she showed limitations—one of which was the capacity to be patient under stress. She started by trying small experiments in leading with patience that were appropriate for her work environment. She documented these experiments in a journal that allowed her to reflect on what was blocking his success as well as what was working well.

Over time she began to receive very positive feedback that these experiments were working, and her ability to be empathetic evolved into an authentic skill. While this may never be her strongest skill, she has made great progress in understanding what others need from her and developing the skills to relate more effectively. Her success is attributed to both hers willingness to learn about herself and also to take corrective action to address a gap in her skills and comfort level.

Susan is hardly alone in needing to expand her leadership capacities. All leaders must adapt and expand the way they lead, whether it’s to accommodate growth in their organization, a new position or a change in the community’s expectations, increasing leadership capacities is a critical need for leaders.

Part of the challenge in building authentic leadership is learning to leverage the clarity of your introspection. You can only be authentic if you understand who you truly are. Looking inside yourself and examining the makeup of your inner being enables you to function in a highly-grounded way, rather than operating from the innate biases of uninformed decision-making.

First and foremost, start by simply considering your disposition, tendencies, inclinations, and ways of being. Authentic leadership hinges on understanding the simple, native manner in which you show up in your life. One way to observe this is by examining key aspects of your inner being, often called Leader Type, which reflect a leader’s personality type. The leader personality type is an essential foundation of your personal makeup, critically influencing who you are as a leader and greatly shaping the effectiveness of your leadership. The ancient adage “know thyself” holds true as a crucial underpinning in leadership performance and a key tool to learn about your leadership type is through an assessment. We work with the Enneagram and recognize there are many very effective tools. We encourage leaders to create an environment in which people are given tacit permission to be themselves, allowing them to focus energy on their skills, rather than using that energy to fit into an alternate expectation. It also has the added benefit of aligning individuals with the culture of the overall group.

The focus of higher education, historically, have been on the value of hard skills and technical know-how, yet our experience shows the most important thing business, nonprofit management and public administration graduates need to learn as new leaders is self-awareness and the resulting ability to accept feedback and reduce denial in their perceptions of themselves and their actions.

This speaks to the emerging deep recognition that leaders who are unable to manage their authentic personality quirks and biases, can derail the most progressive initiatives toward an organization’s sustainable success. The real goal is to understand who you are at your core, build on your strengths, and manage prejudice and idiosyncrasies.

Recommendations to improve your leadership authenticity using the focus on leader type:

  1. Take a personality type assessment;
  2. Learn about your type;
  3. Get input from others on what they think is most effective and least effective about your leadership style relative to your professional goals;
  4. Do a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) assessment to evaluate how your type maps to your work;
  5. Identify the strengths on which you can build, and the weaknesses and threats may interfere with your success;
  6. Create a development plan that includes defining daily practices to support development, including introspective routines;
  7. Seek assistance in accomplishing your plan and getting feedback from trusted others;
  8. Make the change you defined in your plan.

Your ability to use deep introspection relies on your development of, and a capacity for, self-understanding and self-awareness. Employing a deeper understanding of Leader Type for both yourself and others is a powerful tool to promote authentic leadership.

Next week’s blog post will focus on Developmental Perspective.

Maureen will be a presenting Building Authentic Leadership by Innovating how You Lead at the WELD Leadership conference on June 4, 2015 at Otterbein University in Columbus Ohio. Click for more information.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Five Steps to Building Authentic Leadership

CEOs biking to workLeadership guru, Warren Bennis, says: “letting the self emerge is the essential task of leaders. Indeed, leadership is, first and foremost, all about you. People often have a misguided notion that leadership is about everyone else. But if a leader hasn’t journeyed inside first to get clear on his or her values, strengths, passion and vision, their lack of authentic grounding will cause them to behave in inconsistent ways, eroding trust and undermining their leadership effectiveness.”

Bill is a highly-skilled leader. Self-aware, he makes a concerted effort to create an environment in which each of his team members can be their most effective at work. He has assembled a diverse staff with unique skills and a lot of idiosyncrasies, and he has worked hard to help this staff of stars come together as a cohesive team.
One morning he arrives to find an obviously upset employee, Michelle, sitting in his office. Michelle, who is clearly concerned about the condescending behavior of another colleague, suggests that the work environment Bill created is hostile and not supportive enough for her to do her best work. She feels belittled by her colleague and is seeking Bill’s support to ensure the office in which they work is conducive to delivering top quality service to their clients. As she leaves, Bill thinks about his leadership style. He asks himself if his style has created an environment that promotes a positive work environment for all employees. Is he allowing some people to treat others in a negative or unsupportive way? Is there anything he could do differently to promote a more productive and supportive environment? How can he create an environment that allows unique people to be themselves and, at the same time, work as a cohesive team? Bill’s instincts say he has created a positive environment but now he hears from a valued employee that he may not be doing as well as he thought. Fundamentally, the question becomes: Is Bill’s authentic leadership style supportive of organizational success? Does he need to refine his style or develop as a leader to be both authentic and create a positive environment?

These questions beg a new one: How can leaders be authentic and encourage others to do the same while concurrently meeting the needs of the overall team and organization?
Let’s start with a definition of authenticity from a recent Forbes article by Henry Doss: “Learning about yourself is perhaps the single most important outcome of a powerful educational experience. Self-awareness can lead to an ever-increasing authenticity, which in turn leads to powerful leadership abilities. Authenticity is not about ’accept me for what I am‘; authentic leaders are self-aware, willing to adapt and change and ’be who they are in service to others.’ Education should be a powerful process of increasing self-awareness, of coming to know yourself and of learning the intrinsic value of who you are as a human being. . . and then understanding the need for constant change, personal growth and learning for the rest of your life.” 

Innovative Leadership Model

Innovative Leadership Model

Let’s explore how the five elements of innovative leadership can help leaders become more authentic. By using the five key elements of the innovative leadership pyramid as described below, you become a more authentic and effective leader:

  1. Build your self-awareness by understanding your Leader Type.  Take an assessment to understand yourself; then, learn about your colleagues’ types. By knowing who you are and who they are, you can create an environment in which people are able to comfortably be themselves and create a common language where they understand one another. The balance of self-awareness and understanding others allows colleagues to be authentically who they and also aligned with the culture of the overall group.
  2. Understand your own Developmental Perspective (complexity of thinking, emotional intelligence, and behavior) and the perspectives of others allows you to take the perspective of many different people. By understanding the primary perspective of your colleagues and meeting them where they are, you are showing the highest degree of respect and appreciation. The golden rule of authentic leadership could be “treat people as they need to be treated to perform at their best.” Since we are all unique, and have different expectations, treating others as you want to be treated may create some significant problems for leaders.
  3. Enhancing Resilience includes developing a strong sense of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence includes self-awareness, and knowing your strengths and preferences. It also includes understanding others’ strengths and preferences, and demonstrating the flexibility to respond to another’s level appropriately. Developing emotional intelligence skills increases your leadership success.
  4. Applying Situational Analysis is the combination of understanding yourself and the organization. By using situational analysis, you are able to understand the balance between your values and the needs of the organization and act in a manner that attends to your authenticity while balancing the organization’s expectations and norms. This means you can read the situation quickly and respond accordingly. This does not mean you change your innate preference or act in a way that is not genuine, but rather in many cases learn to expand your repertoire of skills and behaviors. It is a bit like learning to swing forehand and backhand in tennis. You’ll continue to have preferences, but, by expanding your abilities, you can be both authentic and agile.
  5. Aligning Leadership Behaviors means behaving in a manner that is authentic to you, and appropriate to the organization and situations in which you find yourself. To do this well it means you need access to a broad range of behaviors and have the skills referenced in situational analysis to diagnose the organization’s requirements and your authentic style, and have the skills to balance both.

How can leaders be authentic and encourage others to do the same while concurrently meeting the needs of the overall team and organization? The innovative leadership model offers some support in identifying who you are so you understand what authentic is for you. From there, you will have a strong foundation to determine how to navigate the questions of authenticity and being a good organizational steward. This navigation is the art of leadership.

I will be a presenting Building Authentic Leadership by Innovating how You Lead at the WELD Leadership conference on June 4, 2015 at Otterbein University in Columbus Ohio. Click for more information.

To read more about Authentic Leadership, read the full paper published in Integral Leadership Review.

If you wonder about the image, it is from CEO bike to work day in Columbus, Ohio. This represents for me leaders who model their authentic values through their actions.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.