Leaders Need to Defeat Unconscious Bias

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This blog is provided by Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias that aired on Tuesday, November 10th, 2020.

 

How can leaders defeat unconscious bias? First, you need to know what unconscious bias is.

Unconscious bias (also known as implicit bias) refers to unconscious forms of discrimination and stereotyping based on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, age, and so on. It differs from cognitive bias, which is a predictable pattern of mental errors that result in us misperceiving reality and, as a result, deviating away from the most likely way of reaching our goals.

In other words, from the perspective of what is best for us as individuals, falling for a cognitive bias always harms us by lowering our probability of getting what we want. Despite cognitive biases sometimes leading to discriminatory thinking and feeling patterns, these are two separate and distinct concepts.

Cognitive biases are common across humankind and relate to the particular wiring of our brains, while unconscious bias relates to perceptions between different groups and are specific for the society in which we live. For example, I bet you don’t care or even think about whether someone is a noble or a commoner, yet that distinction was fundamentally important a few centuries ago across Europe. To take another example – a geographic instead of one across time – most people in the US don’t have strong feelings about Sunni vs. Shiite Muslims, yet this distinction is incredibly meaningful in many parts of the world.

As a frequent speaker and trainer on diversity and inclusion to address potential unconscious discriminatory behavior, I regularly share in speeches that unconscious bias in recruitment is quite common. Take for example an entrepreneurial start-up with just over 80 employees that provides businesses with video and email marketing services. The company’s senior leadership approached me a few months ago to coach their managerial and HR staff on recruitment practices to address implicit bias.

In the middle of our initial Zoom coaching session and as participants were describing their existing hiring process to me, I stumbled upon a common – but nonetheless counterproductive – pattern when they hire staff. Despite processes in place to ensure that discriminatory behavior will be avoided, the company’s recruitment and hiring managers often relied on gut instincts when making decisions.

This results in a workplace that isn’t diverse and inclusive. It eventually promotes people with the same profiles to leadership positions – who will then make the same kinds of hiring decisions, thereby instituting and fortifying a self-reinforcing loop.

It happens because most employers tend to decide with their guts over their heads and end up hiring people who they like and perceive as part of their in-group, instead of basing decisions on applicants’ qualifications. While there are certain situations where relying on gut instinct makes sense, it’s a bad idea when hiring staff or promoting employees.

In this common scenario, unconscious bias manifests when recruiters and hiring managers pick candidates who are similar to them in race, gender, and socioeconomic background. This can extend to minor things such as speaking and gesture styles, and even clothing choices. Our gut automatically differentiates the people who can be part of our in-group due to their similarity to us, and this raises their status in our eyes. Hiring managers who heed this instinct give in to unconscious bias, as I explained to the coaching participants.

However, I was careful to clarify that this discrimination is not necessarily intentional. Such cultures are perpetuated by internal norms, policies, and training procedures, and any company wishing to address unconscious bias needs to address internal culture first and foremost, rather than attributing discriminatory behavior to certain employees. In other words, instead of saying it’s a few bad apples in a barrel of overall good ones, the key is recognizing that implicit bias is a systemic issue, and the structure and joints of the barrel needs to be fixed. This is what I told the start-up’s leadership team when I gave my feedback before we buckled down and made plans to address the issue.

Taking Decisive Steps to Address Unconscious Bias

The crucial thing to highlight is that there is no shame or blame in implicit bias, as it’s not stemming from any fault in the individual. This no-shame approach decreases the fight, freeze, or flight defensive response among reluctant audiences and coaching participants, helping them hear and accept the issue.

Still, in the case of the start-up company, I received feedback that implicit bias was still affecting some of the hiring managers even after two coaching sessions. It was clear from this behavior that these particular participants didn’t immediately internalize the evidence presented to them. It was much more comforting for them to feel that their gut instinct is right, and they are reluctant to follow the processes in place to avoid discriminatory behavior.

The issue of unconscious bias doesn’t match their intuitions. Thus, they rejected this concept, despite extensive and strong evidence for how it negatively impacts the hiring process and workplace diversity and inclusivity.

It took a series of subsequent follow-up conversations and interventions to move the needle. A single training is almost never sufficient, both in my experience and according to research.

This example of how to fight unconscious bias illustrates broader patterns you need to follow to address such problems in order to address unconscious bias to make the best people decisions. After all, our gut reactions lead us to make poor judgment choices, when we simply follow our intuitions.

1) Instead, you need to start by learning about the kind of problems that result from unconscious bias yourself, so that you know what you’re trying to address.

2) Then, you need to convey to people who you want to influence, such as your employees or any other group or even yourself, that there should be no shame or guilt in acknowledging our instincts.

3) Next, you need to convey the dangers associated with following their intuitions, to build up an emotional investment into changing behaviors.

4) Then, you need to convey the right mental habits that will help them make the best choices.

Remember, a one-time training is insufficient for doing so. It takes a long-term commitment and constant discipline and efforts to overcome unconscious bias.

 

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

Gleb Tsipursky:  An internationally-recognized thought leader known as the Disaster Avoidance Expert, Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases by developing the most effective decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he is best known for Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019), The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (New Harbinger, 2020), and Resilience: Adapt and Plan for the New Abnormal of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic (Changemakers Books, 2020). He published over 550 articles and gave more than 450 interviews to prominent venues such as Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Fast Company, and elsewhere. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts. It also stems from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, LinkedIn, and register for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

 

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

 

 

Mentoring in Reverse

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This blog is provided by Bob Fisch, founder and former rue21 CEO.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled OK, Boomer, OK, Millennial; Time for Collaboration Instead of Combat that aired on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020.

 

What’s the best way to find out what others around you might know that will help you and your business? First, ask them. Then, listen to them, no matter Millennials or Baby Boomers, or position in the company.

The smartest people often don’t speak a lot, it was pointed out to me by a global industry analyst, Steve Richter, I met at a Columbia University retail conference.

His wise observation is in the “Listening” chapter of my book, Fisch Tales: The Making of a Millennial Baby Boomer (ForbesBooks 2019).

Mentoring in Reverse

In Fisch Tales, I advocate Mutual Mentoring to bring the generations together for the greater good. A variation of that, now catching fire in the corporate world, is Reverse Mentoring.

Just because I was in charge of 1200 stores and 20,000 employees at specialty apparel retailer rue21, I didn’t assume I had all the answers, or all the right answers. Knowing what you don’t know is a strength, not a weakness.

Ninety-percent of our people in the field were under 35, and 75% of the support center staff were 20-30 years old. I know first-hand that, given the right opportunity, Millennials can help accelerate success. Now, more than ever, they are the key to growth at both the top and bottom lines.

I didn’t assume that their age meant they had nothing to teach me. I enjoyed nothing more than walking around the office, or listening on a conference call, to find out what they thought, and learn something in the process. That was the only way our company could stay current and connect with our customer base, which was mostly the same age group.

Estee’s Esteemed CEO
Currently, the best example I’ve come across of Reverse Mentoring is what CEO Fabrizio Freda is doing at Estee Lauder. On his watch, the global beauty brand has been riding a phenomenal growth curve since he took the reins of its U.S. group a decade ago. The company’s market value today is more than $70 billion. When Mr. Freda joined the company, it was less than $7 billion. He also doubled sales volume during that period to $14 billion, double the sales when he came aboard. There’s no arguing with that kind of success.

Impressive as that is, the real story is how he did it. I suspect Mr. Freda, a Baby Boomer, would be the first to say he couldn’t have done it without the energy, enthusiasm, and brainpower of Millennials.

He explained his rationale to Harvard Business Review by saying that “the future could not be informed by the past.”

I love that attitude! I couldn’t agree more because that’s the way I always ran any company I headed. At rue21, I learned from experiences elsewhere that we’d be more successful by not following the industry’s conventional wisdom. There definitely will be those who doubt you, but I’ve found that they’ll be the ones stuck in the past as you discover new opportunities.

That’s also what Fabrizio Freda is doing with his Reverse Mentoring program at Este Lauder. It has proved to be so effective, it now numbers almost 500 reverse mentors working with 300 senior executives in more than 20 countries, according to WWD Beauty.

Teaching Up the Organization

Who knows better than Millennials how to manipulate social media for maximum impact in the marketplace? So, he has Millennials teaching senior executives at Estee Lauder all about how social media influencers work.

By deploying Millennials in the company on such a large scale today, Mr. Freda is future-proofing Estee Lauder’s business for its leadership tomorrow.

The bonus benefit is that the reverse mentoring Millennials feel more valued and respected. That stimulates them to up their game and their contributions. With this innovative dynamic that Fabrizio Freda has put in place, upper management stays abreast of cutting-edge thinking among the company’s younger ranks, and the Millennial employees groom themselves for bigger responsibilities as they ascend the corporate ladder. It’s a classic win-win for all concerned (another kind of Reverse Mentoring that any business leader already should be practicing is listening to their customers, who may be the best mentors of all).

We once were taught growing up to “respect your elders.” Nothing wrong with that. It’s sound advice, but it doesn’t stop there.

You see, Reverse Mentoring works only if the elders take it to heart, put their ego aside, and stay open to learning new things, by respecting their juniors.

 

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

Bob Fisch is the author of Fisch Tales: The Making of a Millennial Baby Boomer and is recognized as a pioneering merchant for his bold and successful innovations in value-priced, fast-fashion retailing, notably at rue21. As CEO, he took rue21 from bankruptcy to a fast-track winning streak that included a hot-stock IPO, building a national network of 1,200 stores, and a billion-dollar-plus valuation. Bob began his career at Abraham & Straus (A&S) New York and within a dozen or so years had risen to become president at Casual Corner, a division of U.S. Shoe.  The prestigious retail magazine Chain Store Age named Fisch one of “10 CEOs to Watch in 2010.” The criteria for making the very short list, wrote the magazine, was “the influence they wield in their respective categories—and because they are willing to shake things up a bit.”

Photo credit: Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

GREAT LEADERS PIVOT, DISRUPT, TRANSFORM

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This blog is provided by Marcia Daszko, speaker, author and strategic advisor.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Pivot, Disrupt, Transform: How Leaders Beat the Odds and Survive that aired on Tuesday, October 20th, 2020.

 

Is your job, business, or industry facing new challenges, opportunities, or threats?  What do WE do? Great leaders see the needs of customers or society, and they rapidly pivot their direction, disrupt the status quo, and transform to make a difference!

Why do some leaders struggle, flounder, and fail while others see possibilities and opportunities and passionately are inspired to create a new future?

Leaders (at home and at work) transform to make progress with new, different, bold ideas and actions. Leaders see new markets and opportunities to serve and make a difference. That’s transformation: thinking and adding value like never before!

When we face challenges in life and a crisis such as a pandemic, some people quickly discover their natural leadership and internal courage. Others shrink, hunker down, and take no accountability. There are varying degrees of leadership and various places where it shows up.

Some people can jump into action and accelerate their creativity and innovate because they have a great foundation of strategic thinking and can use a Strategic Compass tool.  They’ve invested in themselves and their colleagues and have been learning to lead. They quickly gather an action team, create a plan, and launch into action.

 

Do You Know How to Think Differently and What to DO?

In recent months, we have seen leaders emerging around the world.  They step up individually, in organizations, and in nations. They reach across communities, industries, and countries to collaborate, partner, and find rapid solutions.

Leaders see the challenges and what needs to be done to beat the obstacles. What will it take? Leaders Pivot and transform!

Here are key Pivot Points that leaders use:

 

  • BECOME AWARE. Leaders anticipate crises. When it hits, they quickly assess and grasp the situation. They strategically see its probable impact and step up to address it. They sense and respond.

The Question for You: What are you aware of and how will it impact you?

  • BELIEVE. Leaders believe that by working together a crisis can be addressed. They have no doubt that they will make progress to serve customers, brand new markets, and society. They don’t waste time. High speed is their modus operandi.

The Questions for You: Do you believe that you can succeed and serve fast enough? Do you believe you can deliver an AMAZING EXPERIENCE OF VALUE THAT IS NEEDED?

 IF WE BELIEVE IT, WE CAN ACHIEVE IT. 

  • CREATE. Creative people are full of ideas in a crisis. Their creativity is contagious as they engage other people to explore and discover new, different, possible solutions. The more creative people are, the easier and more fun their work and solutions flow.

The Questions for You: Are you constantly discussing and exploring new ideas and choosing which ones you will implement? Are you learning and acting fast enough?

  • CAN DO. Innovators make their ideas happen. They influence, leverage, and connect with others to achieve their goals.

The Questions for You: Do you rapidly make your Plan (it might take 10 minutes or 2 hours to discuss and agree on a Plan of Action (do not take a week or month to make an Action Plan to address a crisis!) and act on it? What works; what doesn’t? Revise your Plan; do it again. Faster! You’ll can implement the Plan-Do Study-Act (PDSA) Cycle. It’s just one tool to use to make a difference.

 

Where Do We See Pivots during the COVID19 Outbreak?

 Jobs. Thousands of restaurant and salon workers have lost their jobs. It’s uncertain if or when their employers will re-open. Workers who pivot immediately can find companies who are hiring and secure a new position.

Digital Education. Thousands of students, staff, administrators, and faculty pivoted into a digital learning platform. There has been wide variation with its success, and educators and families around the world are continually adapting to meet education needs. In the future, virtual and hybrid learning will continue to be adopted and integrated into the curriculum.

Telemedicine. Healthcare has transformed for thousands of patients who have been able to connect with their doctors via a Zoom platform to be diagnosed for minor illnesses and receive treatment or prescriptions without needing to go into the office. Telemedicine is a transformation that is widely welcomed and when possible, will not go back to the old way of medicine.

Hand sanitizers and ventilators. Small and large breweries and distilleries across the U.S pivoted from making beer, gin and vodka to making hand sanitizers.  Auto manufacturers pivoted to produce ventilators as seven ventilator producers increased their productivity on 24-hour shifts.

Mask sterilizers. Three Midwest companies transformed 100’s of toaster ovens into mask sterilizer units that can sterilize 150 masks per hour and donated them to hospitals low on mask inventory.

Virtual events. Consultants, trainers, and speakers shifted to virtual classes, events, and conferences to share significant intellectual property.

There is power in the pivots! Pivots in life are perpetual. If you face a challenge, rise up and pivot. The more you prepare yourself for continual transformation (let go of the status quo), the easier it is to embrace new futures.  Wherever there are needs for solutions or there are opportunities to seize, innovators are intrinsically inspired to create new organizations, products or services.

Your power is in your pivot!

 

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

Marcia Daszko has helped leaders at home and at work for 25+ years pivot to save or exponentially grow their organizations to navigate crises or embrace new opportunities.  A professional global keynote and workshop leadership speaker, she is a trusted strategic advisor, and facilitator for executive teams.  She is the bestselling author of the book “Pivot Disrupt Transform” and co-author of “Turning Ideas Into Impact: Insights from 16 Silicon Valley Consultants.” She has also taught MBA leadership classes at six universities across the U.S.  Contact her at md@mdaszko.com and access her resources at www.mdaszko.com

Leadership: It’s a Matter of Trust

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This blog is provided by Deke Copenhaver, consultant, author and former mayor of Augusta, Georgia.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled The Art of Building Better Leaders that aired on Tuesday, October 6th, 2020.

 

During my adult life I’ve been blessed to serve in many leadership roles and to have been mentored by people I consider to be great leaders. Today I still consider myself a work in progress and an ongoing student of leadership. Through the years I’ve developed some definite ideas of what good leadership does and doesn’t look like. Foremost among these is that for anyone to be a great leader people must be willing to follow your lead without being coerced to do so. Simply put in any leadership position long-term success depends on having a servant’s mentality and developing fundamental bonds of trust with those you serve.

In 2005 at the age of 37 I made the lifechanging decision to run for mayor of Augusta, Georgia. Having no political experience, I was told early on by a group of local business leaders that I shouldn’t run because I hadn’t paid my dues. I reminded them that I had run a small business and a nonprofit as well as chaired several boards. When I told them I thought my experience in leadership positions made me the most qualified candidate this argument was simply brushed aside. Fortunately, I didn’t listen to conventional wisdom and, in a campaign primarily run by a group of energetic twenty and thirty somethings who were political novices as well, I ultimately won the election. I then went on to win two more which allowed me to help lead Augusta as a public servant for nine years.

I stress the words public servant because that was what I was focused on being. I was raised by a father who had served as a B-17 bomber pilot in World War II who instilled in me the values of duty, honor, integrity and service above self. These values remained at the forefront of my mind throughout my time in office. From the outset I set about winning the public trust by treating all of my elected colleagues and the citizens I served with dignity and respect. I made no promises I couldn’t keep and never viewed myself as being above those I served.

Through diligently pursuing this approach I was able to work with a governing body which had a reputation for being racially divided. My colleagues didn’t always like my decisions, but they trusted and respected me, so they were willing to work with me. Working together we were able to complete multiple major municipal building projects while at the same time creating thousands of new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in our local economy.  Although building trusting relationships took a great deal of time and effort it ultimately served the greater good to the benefit of our local citizenry as a whole.

My season in office taught me many more leadership lessons in the crucible of public life. I realized early on that no title makes you a leader.  Although winning an election or being promoted to the C Suite may confer on you a title with more individual power and prestige it doesn’t confer on you the mantle of leadership.  A title is given and fleeting while becoming a trusted leader is earned and has lasting impact.

I also came to understand it’s more important for a leader to know what they don’t know than what they do know and to surround yourself with good people who make up for your own shortcomings. Being elected mayor didn’t teach me to run a city of 200,000 people. In my decision-making process I had to learn to rely on the input of a team of talented professionals who I came to trust through the years. Listening to and trusting the team around me allowed me to make well informed decisions based on professional input and not political whim.

One final lesson I learned is perhaps the most important. Those in leadership positions who use fear and intimidation to achieve their desired outcomes significantly undermine trust in their leadership as opposed to building it. Realistically, this isn’t leadership at all but simply amounts to bullying. True leadership is about uniting those you serve around a common goal while making them feel secure, included and that their voices are being heard. In the end, leadership is not about seeking power but rather about seeking to empower those around you and for good leaders the only power that really matters is the power to inspire. You can trust me on that!

 

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

Deke Copenhaver (www.deke-copenhaver.com) serves as principal of Copenhaver Consulting, LLC, and is the ForbesBooks author of the book The Changemaker: The Art Of Building Better Leaders. Copenhaver was elected mayor of Augusta, Ga., serving from 2005-14, and has spoken at national conferences on topics including city design, economic development, healthcare, veterans’ issues, and the nonprofit industry. A former radio show host, he authors a column on leadership published by the Georgia Municipal Association and has been recognized numerous times by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential Georgians.

How to Balance the Three Rings of Your Personal Market Value as an Innovative Leader

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This blog is provided by David Nour, CEO of The Nour Group.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Curve Benders: The Intersection of the Future of Work and Strategic Relationships that aired on Tuesday, September 29th, 2020.

 

During times of uncertainty, we begin to question ourselves. We wonder if we are on the right path, are we accelerating in our leadership, or do we have all the education and experiences we need to succeed as a leader? Instead of throwing this time to the wind, the global pandemic could be used to assess our value and emotional investment.

Just like Walmart or Apple, each of us should be thinking of our perceived market value. There are essential areas that you need to focus on to make sure you are at the highest value. At a time where global jobs are at risk for significant cutbacks or replacement by accelerated technology such as automation and AI, many leaders are in a global war against obsolescence. That’s why you need to attend to all three areas of your personal market value: people, personal, and professional.

 

Core Ring: People 

Your central ring is founded on people you can’t live without: your friends and family. The core of your social sphere needs to be composed of individuals who provide a loving home and a stable social life. If your home life is unstable and disruptive, it will show up in how you lead at work. It will stifle your creativity, innovative ideas, and problem-solving with and through your team. However, when your core group is a loving ecosystem of close friendships, deep partnerships, and rich family interactions, it will provide you with the foundational support to accomplish any stress in your leadership style.

Having a nurturing infrastructure builds our leadership resilience. Many top leaders we admire confess that their success is often credited to their nurturing family and spouse.

Choose wisely who you spend your downtime with. It’s better to be surrounded by fewer authentic friendships with equal emotional investment than to be surrounded by 100 acquaintances who, frankly, don’t care about what you’re doing. The world and our leadership obligations naturally put pressure on us, and if we don’t have a solid foundation to stand on, it is a struggle to get ahead. If this is an area you think you need to pay more attention to, actively elevate it.

 

Second Ring: Personal 

No pandemic, economic crisis, or war can take away your investments in your personal development as a leader. Crisis or not, we are at a time where we are living longer: the United Nations projects that the average life will be 95 for women and 90 for men. That means we don’t just have longer lives; we are working longer too. Every leader, regardless of their tenure should be investing in his/her life-long education, spiritual grounding, and unshakable values. These are developments that are immediately in your control. Industries will always develop and evolve; therefore, life-long learning will be mandatory.

When we continue our leadership education, it will show us how to adapt and upgrade to the ever-changing framework we live by. No one this time last year would have expected we would be predominately if not exclusively working from home. Many who have thrived during this time have prioritized upgrading their digital infrastructure and mastering new remote leadership tools such as digital whiteboards.

That openness also expands to our spiritual selves. Whether you prescribe to an organized religion or consider yourself curious, we need to have personal spiritual grounding to believe in something more than ourselves.

When you focus on these non-negotiable values, they become guardrails for future direction and keep you in your preferred lane.

 

Third Ring: Professional

The final ring of your personal market value is the professional sphere. This is seen as your acumen: how you blend your knowledge and skills in the manner which you lead. Your past actions and expertise will inform your future decisions and problem-solving accurately. You will be better at cutting and adjusting productivity, revenue, and costs. This business acumen allows you to see the bigger picture, evaluate available options, and confidently make high-grade options. This is also leadership by modeling the business behaviors you want to see in others.

Your ability to focus on a few, strategic priorities necessitates leading others toward a common mission, vision, or against a possible enemy. That’s where your leadership presence comes into play. You want to captivate a room or a person. When you have them on the edge of their seat, you have honed your gravitas. Aspire to be measured with your language, hold yourself confidently, and command the right kind of servant leader attention. These individuals don’t throw around SAT words and leave their audience confused; they are succinct and careful with their message, recognizing the incredible power of the verbal and written language.

Lastly, you must develop your emotional courage to lead. There will be situations where uncomfortable topics or feelings arise. You must be willing to experience feelings like discomfort, risk, and disappointment. But the true leaders are the ones who push through the discomfort and take charge of their emotional courage and compassionately have a conversation. If you’re not willing to examine any of those things, you won’t be able to handle anything.

Are you lacking in any of these three areas? Start from the core and work your way out. If you find yourself coming short in one spot, consider investing in your growth today.

 

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

David Nour, a senior leadership/board advisor, educator, executive coach, and bestselling author, is internationally recognized as the leading expert on applications of strategic relationships in profitable growth, sustained innovation, and lasting change. The author of eleven books, including bestsellers Relationship Economics® (Wiley), and Co-Create (St. Martin’s Press), as well as the forthcoming Curve Benders (Wiley, 2021), Nour serves as a trusted advisor to global clients and coaches corporate leaders. He is an adjunct professor at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University and Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management and was named to the Global Gurus Top 30 Leadership Professionals list. A Forbes Leadership contributor on the Future of Work, and an Inc. contributor on Relationship Economics, Nour’s unique insights have been featured in a variety of prominent publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fast Company, Huffington Post Business, Entrepreneur, and Knowledge@Wharton. He’s also the host of the popular Curve Benders podcast.

Born in Iran, Nour immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager with $100, limited family ties and no fluency in English. He graduated from Georgia State University with a bachelor’s degree in business management and went on to earn an Executive MBA from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. He resides in Atlanta, GA, with his family. Learn more at www.NourGroup.com.

 

The Mindset Leaders Need to Grow with Customers Today

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This blog is provided by Todd Hockenberry.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Inbound Organization: How to Build and Strengthen Your Company’s Future Using Inbound Principles that aired on September 15th, 2020.  

 

To drive revenue growth in an uncertain environment, leaders need to change their thinking about how they view buyers.

The old formula of more: more marketing campaigns, more sales resources, more budget no longer assures leaders of a direct return.

Buyers, and the way they find information, evaluate options, consider vendor choices, and make decisions have changed. Yes, you say, of course the buyer has changed, and we have a better website, more content, and a social media presence.

But systemic shocks are accelerators of trends that were already underway. The rate of buyer behavior changes and buying process change is accelerating.

Has your thinking about buyers changed accordingly? What you knew about buyer behavior two years ago is probably obsolete at this point.

The companies that survive and thrive with predictable revenue engines in the new, new age of buyer control will be the ones that become inbound organizations – ones that are built for and solve for the customer, where everyone is aligned around the goals of the customer, and fully invested in the success of the customer.

“Many companies recognize the need to change marketing tactics, to use content, develop a digital marketing presence, and adapt to the ability of buyers to control the process. Few see it as fundamental to the operation, structure, and strategy of the entire organization.” *

People demand more from the companies they buy from. Companies, even those B2B companies in traditional industries, must realize that they are not just selling a product but delivering an entire customer experience from the first touch until the buyer no longer uses the product. Each step and each touch with the buyer either add to or detracts from the experience.

The goal is not the customer experience. The goal is to enable your customers to share their great experience and become your best advocates.

Customers that love the experience of working with your company will be your best marketers and best salespeople.

“The first and most important step is to shift the organization’s mindset to focus on solving for the customer. Make decisions based on what’s in their interest—because what is in the customer’s interest is in the organization’s interest too.” Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot.

But wait you say, we put the customer first. Maybe your sales team does, maybe your product team does. But does your back office? Does your accounting team? Does your service team, or do they just react when the phone rings? Do you ensure your customers are successful with your product or do you set it up, get them going, and then forget about them until they have a problem?

Look at your marketing. Is the content of your campaigns, the text on your website, or the content of your presentations about your products (features, specifications, technical info) or is it about your customers? Does your sales team act as change agents and business peers or are they product-focused order takers?

Do you really know why and how your customers buy, or do you just hope the order shows up?

 

How do you make your entire business attractive, not just your inbound marketing?

Building an inbound organization starts with a mission and culture that places the goals of the target customer as the top priority. Solving for the customer means that everyone in the organization is aligned around the mission of the company. Your mission is the agreement and expression in a brief statement of how your company’s people, resources, time, products, and services help your target customer solve their problems, do the jobs they need to be done, and achieve their goals.

Very few companies we work with have a mission framed in these terms. If they have one at all it is usually full of buzzwords like best in class, high quality, and outstanding service, none of which mean anything to your customers or to your employees.

Can you state your company’s mission statement as you read this article?

The mission is important because it serves as a guide to all employees as they make decisions every day about how to use their resources to solve for the customer.

A vision is where your company wants to go, the mission is how it is going to get there. And both involve putting the customer’s goals and outcomes at the core.

Creating a clear mission also serves to tell your customers why you exist and becomes an attractive signal that your business is focused on them and their needs. Buyers have abundant options, even for most complex purchases, and they will increasingly choose to work with businesses that state and share their values.

The same idea holds for employees – if you want the best people you need to attract them with a compelling mission that aligns with their personal goals and beliefs.

 

Building a mission and culture of helping customers first

If your business develops a clear mission, then your culture is the environment that either drives everyone towards the mission or stands in the way. Culture is the sum of the values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of leadership applied through the entire company.

Your culture drives alignment to the mission. A customer-focused culture aligns everyone with the goals of the customer.

“An inbound organization is guided by a philosophy, a set of core beliefs, and best practices that impact every person in every department to provide value and build trust with customers, partners, and anyone they touch.” *

Why does a customer-focused mission and culture drive revenue?

As Peter Drucker once said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” A culture of customer focus, solving for the customer, with everyone aligned around the needs of the customer, and making sure customers are successful is the way to grow your business in this age of buyer control.

When leaders understand that their organizations are not as customer-focused as they think they are, they can explore how to align their mission, strategies, action plans, and tools with the way their buyers think, learn, discover, and purchase.  These inbound organization ideas will help leaders focus their business on customers and succeed at attracting and keeping them at a rate that outpaces the competition.

* Inbound Organization: How to Build and Strengthen Your Company’s Future Using Inbound Principles, Wiley (2018)

 

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

Todd Hockenberry and Top Line Results specialize in leading top line revenue growth at small and medium-sized companies with a focus on Business-to-Business, manufacturing, technology, and capital equipment.

For over 11 years Top Line Results is a leader in educating and helping Business-to-Business companies adapt to the new realities of Internet-driven changes in buying behavior and to successfully grow their businesses.

Todd is the co-author of the book Inbound Organization: How to Build and Strengthen Your Company’s Future Using Inbound Principles.

 

Grow as a Leader with These 3 Essential Psychological Skills

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This blog is provided by Nashater Deu Solheim, Founder and CEO of Progressing Minds AS.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled The Leadership PIN Code: Unlocking the Key to Willing and Winning Relationships that aired on September 8th, 2020.

 

We’ve all had the experience of watching someone from the sidelines and admiring their leadership ability. Their skills are not always concrete, tangible, or observable from the surface. In fact, it is the subtle arts and nuances of what leaders do that makes it look so natural.

Some, of course, are natural-born leaders who are great with people. But great persuasion, influence, and negotiation can also be learned, and there is opportunity for you to learn the nuance of effective leadership as well. How do you, in a moment of leadership, translate all your expertise and knowledge towards positive engagement with your stakeholders or employees?

In a word, PIN: Persuasion, Influence, and Negotiation. Here’s why those three psychological skills are essential to your growth as a leader.

Persuasion

Persuasion is the process by which one person achieves their goal to change another person’s viewpoint or position on a matter. Persuasion is an everyday necessity for leaders. Persuasion is about closing the gap between you and your position and the other person and his position, which makes up a good deal of leaders’ time.

An engaged leader is curious in everyday interactions, asking the other party questions to establish their interest. Armed with answers, he can then start to challenge facts. Persuasion is often about guiding others to identify the gap between what they believe to be true and actual facts or likelihoods.

Parents do it with children. For example, when a child says, “I don’t want to jump off the diving board at the swimming pool.” The parent asks what he thinks will happen. “Well, I think I’m going to bang my chin on the board,” the child responds. The parent, in turn, explores the facts in the gap, pointing out that by standing at the end of the diving board, banging his chin is nearly physically impossible. The child is persuaded to change his perspective by drilling down into facts.

The psychologist Robert Cialdini has shown that humans are persuaded to another person’s point of view not by luck but by the manner and methods by which the persuader captures our motivations, interests, and what is valuable to us, thereby either motivating us or drawing us in towards the choices they would like us to make.

Effective persuasion is at the core of good business. Focusing on the needs, interests, and feelings of the other people in the room make it much easier to create a collaborative, energetic mindset. Reaching people isn’t necessarily about changing their mind. It’s about showing them that you understand theirs.

Influence

Influence is the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways. Influence may seem ineffable, but it can often be traced to specific kinds of practices. In many cases, it’s the result of a person’s mindset, behavior, and conversation skills.

Influential people know how to ask effective questions, give clear responses, and steer conversation in a productive way. They know the power of body language and make an effort to put people at ease with their gestures and tone of voice. They also take the time to prepare, research the people they’re going to interact with, and take the time to learn about others’ cultures, interests, and goals.

Influential leaders have high-performing teams and respectful, cooperative, and collegiate rules of engagement. They have also built trust so deeply within their teams that they can challenge, handle conflict and differences of opinion, and use them to renew their agenda, goals and targets in a positive way.

There are some common errors that leaders make when it comes to cultivating influence. These errors can lead to dysfunctional work environments and can harm their relationships with clients. For example, positive influence comes from collaboration, not competition, but often, leaders focus on their own gains at the expense of others’ needs.

Another common influence error comes when leaders are reactive, not proactive. When they jump into tasks or make changes without ensuring that their key stakeholders or team members are committed, it can lead to conflict. Impulsive and unpredictable leaders will find it hard to establish trust among their employees.

Finally, rigid ways of thinking are bad for business. When leaders have a “know-it-all” attitude, adopt an “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” mantra, and hold a hierarchy-obsessed mindset, they often aren’t flexible enough to satisfy their clients and employees.

Negotiation

According to the Harvard Negotiation Project, negotiation is back-and-forth communication designed to reach an agreement, even though each party sometimes has conflicting interests. Negotiation is far more relevant to leadership than you might believe and not just in relation to contract, financial or commercial negotiations where there are rules to follow and margins to maintain.

In today’s world, negotiations between countries and political parties have huge business negotiations behind them with multiple aspects often related to defence, trade or access. Leaders negotiate with other people all the time.

Often, powerful leaders don’t think they should have to negotiate with their employees because people are employed to do what the leader asks. Yet negotiating is about creating the win-win in which the opportunity is framed. Yes, the employee may be obliged by virtue of their role to do the task, but creating a culture of willing collaboration rather than coerced delivery is the difference between an effective negotiating leader and an entitled one.

When looking at projects or negotiations, plan and strategize beyond reaching your goal. What potential scenarios could take place? What are the success factors versus failure factors? As in a one-minute leadership approach, make sure there’s no gap between what you want to communicate and what you’re actually doing. Much of this is anticipation and planning ahead for various scenarios.

Leaders fail at negotiating when they neglect the momentary check and balance of thinking before they speak and preparing before they act. On the fly is rarely a successful strategy unless you’ve over-rehearsed.

Great Leaders Rely on PIN Skills

As a leader, have you ever wondered why sometimes you get the traction you want with people and other times you don’t? It’s not luck—you must be able to persuade and influence those you lead to get results in a positive way.

PIN is the power of using psychology in business in order to have the positive impact and influence you need to motivate your team and peers. It also allows you to continuously negotiate with managers, stakeholders or adversaries to make real progress. Great leaders infuse PIN skills in everything they do to move their organizations forward with the willing participation of their teams, peers, and stakeholders to create the wins they need.

For more advice on persuasion, influence, and negotiation, you can find The Leadership PIN Code on Amazon.

 

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

Dr. Nashater Deu Solheim brings a new toolkit to leadership development that is backed by decades of integrated experience in the areas of business and psychology. As a former forensic psychologist with clinical research in the neuropsychology of criminal minds, she developed a deep interest in effective learning strategies for lasting success. Now, as an expert negotiator who studied at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, Dr. Solheim has combined her experience as an executive leader in international private companies and government ministries to present The Leadership PIN Code, the definitive guide for helping business leaders secure influence and impactful results.

 

A Learning Mindset is the One “Killer App” We All Need

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This blog is provided by Steve Terrell, President of Aspire Consulting.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Learning Mindset for Leaders: Leveraging Experience to Accelerate Development that aired on September 1st, 2020.

 

In Learning Mindset for Leaders, I have attempted to distil some of the knowledge and insights I have gained over my 30+ year career in leadership development, including the deep research into global leadership development I undertook while earning my doctorate in the field. Through this research, I sought to understand how global leaders learned and developed the important competencies and skills they needed to become effective global leaders. The essence of the research results is what I now call Learning Mindset.

Learning Mindset is the “Killer App” of learning, growth, and development through experience. It is the master competency, the one competency to “rule them all.” It is especially important that global leaders have a Learning Mindset during challenging or difficult situations because those are the very experiences that offer significant risks of failure as well as opportunities for personal and organizational development.

Leaders with a Learning Mindset who encounter difficult challenges have a strong tendency to create value from the crucible of negative experiences. As a result, they create their own virtuous cycle of learning and performance, enabling them to learn more from their experiences, which in turn results in

their being more resilient and performing better in VUCA conditions. This leads to achievement of better results and reinforces the importance and value of the Learning Mindset.

A Learning Mindset is an attitude that predisposes you to be open to new experiences, to believe you can and will learn, and to intentionally grow and develop from your experience. The dimensions of a Learning Mindset form essential capabilities for global leadership and bear directly on global leaders’ efficacy in a crisis. Believing in one’s own learning and growth potential enables global leaders to face new challenges with confidence, tempered with humility. Openness to experience allows them to take in a wide variety of information and to process it with an appreciation of its potential value. Being motivated, willing, and desiring to learn focuses global leaders’ energies and attention on grasping new problems and sensing new possibilities. Curiosity about others urges global leaders to wonder how people in other cultures approach the pandemic, what they can learn from different points of view, and make new connections based on new insights. An attitude of discovery and exploration energizes global leaders to investigate the challenges presented by the coronavirus dilemma. Perhaps most important of all, global leaders with a Learning Mindset engage in experiences with an intention and willingness to gain something positive from every experience, including – and sometimes, especially – extremely difficult, thorny, and dangerous experiences.

When global leaders enact a Learning Mindset they are better able to envision and reach for stability beyond the volatility; create space to reduce uncertainty; understand and simplify the complexity; and eventually find clarity for their organizations amidst the ambiguity.

If you’d like to learn more about Learning Mindset, you can order the book Learning Mindset for Leaders: Leveraging Experience to Accelerate Development from Amazon here.

 

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

 

Steve Terrell, EdD, is the President of Aspire Consulting, a management-consulting firm that specializes in developing leadership capabilities needed for success. Aspire helps clients Turn Vision into Reality, by defining the leadership capabilities needed to successfully execute the strategy, and by designing and implementing development solutions that build the required capabilities. Steve is a leading expert on global leadership, learning from experience, and Learning Mindset. His book Learning Mindset for Leaders: Leveraging Experience to Accelerate Development is a widely-used resource for leaders and practitioners who want to expand their ability to learn from experience.

 

Photo by Abby Chung from Pexels

Ethics Violation: A Practical Example on Gathering All the Facts

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This blog is provided by Rob Chesnut and is an excerpt adapted from his latest book, Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution (St. Martin’s Press, 2020) and used with permission.  You can purchase his book here.  This blog is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution which aired on 7/28/20.

 

The primary guidance I have for those who find themselves in a position of having to work out appropriate consequences is: put on your ethics goggles and be intentional. At every stage of this process, every leader involved should strive for fairness and honesty and be able to understand how decisions come across not just to those involved but to other employees.

Let’s work through a fictional example that will ground some of these ideas. Milo has spent the last year working as a logistics manager for a family-owned furniture company with 150 employees. The company has a code of ethics that includes a $100 limit on gifts. Milo’s administrative assistant, who is the nephew of the owner, mentioned to his uncle that Milo accepted a pair of Stanley Cup playoff tickets worth $500 from a shipping partner.

Clearly, Milo broke a rule.

The owner calls Milo’s manager and learns that Milo is an excellent employee who has never had any other complaint lodged against him. Next, the owner talks to Milo, who says he realizes that he was supposed to read the ethics statement but he never got around to it. He relates that at his last company, there was no policy about gift limits, so he did not think to check when the tickets arrived. He apologizes and appears genuinely upset to learn that he violated this rule. Not only was Milo contrite, he offered to call the vendor who gave him the tickets and reimburse the value.

Milo screwed up here, no question. He was careless . . . but, far as I can tell, not devious. Based on these facts, I’d probably advise the owner to give Milo a stern verbal warning. I’d be sure to say if he did this again, there would be serious consequences. I’d reinforce that he must read the code of ethics. I would remind Milo that he should not retaliate in any way against his admin, who had every right and arguably a duty to report his violation. If he’s already used the tickets, Milo probably should reimburse the shipper and explain that he made a mistake, in part so that the furniture company is not seen as a partner where high-value gifts are expected or appropriate.

This may seem lenient. The company has every right to “throw the book” at Milo . . . but he seems like a very good employee who made a mistake. Demonstrating compassion and thoughtfulness in this case might create an opportunity for the owner to remind everyone to reread the code of ethics, and thus prevent more problems. There is no mandated confidentiality involved in a verbal warning, and so Milo and his admin can talk about what happened, and others who might have questions can raise them as well.

So, let’s call that scenario one. Now, let’s alter the facts a bit.

What if Milo gets angry and defensive when asked about the tickets? What if Milo’s admin says that this is the third or fourth time the shipper has sent Milo tickets for a sporting event or a concert and that he has warned him several times that accepting the tickets is a violation of company policy? What if Milo’s manager says that Milo suggested the company shift more business to this shipper . . . just a few days after the shipper sent him the tickets?

In the second scenario, the results of the investigation suggest that Milo has engineered a relationship with the shipping partner that is a conflict of interest. So here we have two identical offense reports, but the details elevate the second scenario to a much more serious level. They may suggest a deliberate bribe by an employee of the shipper, and they may be significant enough to warrant terminating Milo immediately.

Wow, harsh. Terminating an employee can be catastrophic for that individual, and it can hobble a work team. It should never be done lightly, but some offenses, like sexual harassment or fraud or bribery, are so serious that once you have established that they occurred, you must act decisively and signal that this is unacceptable behavior.

As Milo’s example shows, the facts and details always matter. Intentions are important. Mistakes are different from premeditated acts. Investigations must be fair and full, approached objectively.

In the corporate world, disciplining an employee for a code violation is a necessary part of the integrity process. And I’ll be honest: it’s my least favorite part. While it’s fun and energizing to write a code of ethics and feel like you are shaping a great company where everyone will be proud to work, it can be infuriating, frustrating, and sad when someone violates that code. Sometimes people, for a wide variety of reasons, can make consequential mistakes that cost them their jobs, put their families’ financial stability in jeopardy, and create a permanent stain on their reputations—and the company’s as well. But you have to respond, or your code will have no credibility. You’ll fail as a leader, and the people who follow the rules will suffer.

Adapted from Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution by Rob Chesnut (St. Martin’s Press, 2020).

 

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

Rob Chesnut is the Chief Ethics Officer at Airbnb, a role he took on in late 2019 after nearly four years as the company’s General Counsel. He previously led eBay’s North America legal team, where he founded the Internet’s first ecommerce person to person platform Trust and Safety team. He was the general counsel at Chegg, Inc. for nearly 6 years, and he served 14 years with the U.S. Justice Department.

Situational Mindsets Decoding Current Complexity

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This blog is provided by Mary Lippitt, author of Situational Mindsets: Targeting What Matters When It Matters. It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Situational Mindsets: Targeting What Matters When It Matters that aired on July 21st, 2020.

 

In our multifaceted and dynamic world, doing the right thing at the right time is difficult.  We cannot rely on our experiences to cope with new facts, realities, and challenges.  To fully understand all aspects of our situation we must practice mental agility and situational awareness.

Our extraordinary time mandates a systemic, disciplined, and rigorous analysis of current realities.  What we do not know can derail us.  Facts matter and point the way to successfully leverage change.

Situational Mindsets provide a foundation for wise decision making.  As we expand our point of view, we discover new solutions, spot potential barriers, and earn support.  Using this framework, leaders discover alternatives, weigh options, and set priorities.  The six mindsets examine all organizational drivers and prevent us from recklessly rushing into action in the name of being decisive.

As Obi-Wan Kenobi told us in Return of the Jedi, “You’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”  Grappling with every aspect, prevents us from capitulating to superficial analysis and out dated assumptions.  Employing Mindsets yield creative and strategic insights essential to cope with precedent setting threats.  Each Mindset explores a key organizational aspect, including:

  • The Inventing Mindset examines opportunities for new products/services, creative designs, and new synergies.
  • The Catalyzing Mindset targets the customer, customer base, and building the organization’s brand.
  • The Developing Mindset supports seamless infrastructure, integrated systems, and effective policies.
  • The Performing Mindset improves processes, quality, workflow efficiencies, and profitability.
  • The Protecting Mindset develops talent, collaboration, agility, trust, and bench strength.
  • The Challenging Mindset evaluates challenges, trends, risks, and opportunities for sustained success.

Examining these mindsets counter our natural tendency to rely on past practice, register only confirming information, and accept limited alternatives.  While “keeping things simple” is tempting, easy answers spawn problems.  Addressing complex, interdependencies, and systemic challenges does not require an advanced degree, membership in Mensa, or a C suite title.  It merely entails adopting a proactive disciplined practice of inquiry to reveal solutions and potentially unpleasant surprises.  Consider our missteps with COVID.

The pandemic requires granular  and long term analysis.  Consider the unintended consequence of the $600 federal unemployment benefit.  The need was clear, but the problem of re-hiring furloughed lower wage workers who earned more on unemployment was unnoticed. Overlooking a mindset invites dangerous blind spots.

A Mindset approach to COVID would address:

  • Developing new treatments, medications, and vaccines. This Inventing Mindset offers innovation synergies to leverage existing resources and practices.
  • Targeting the needs of first responders and essential workers and rapidly responding to hot spots. This Catalyzing Mindset also focuses on enlisting resources, including volunteers and organizational support.
  • Improving hospital capacity, distributing PPE, preparing guidelines for government, and the public, sharing information, and setting goals. The Developing Mindset also clarifies goals, roles, and responsibilities.
  • Evaluating patient data, conducting testing, and measuring treatment effectiveness, and reallocating resources to address gaps. The Performing Mindset also examines impact, fine tunes staffing, budgetary impact, and quality.
  • Educating the public on compliance, providing for basic needs created by the virus, training contact tracers, and recognizing our essential workers. The Protecting Mindset also fosters trust, confidence, and community support.
  • Identifying emerging trends, testing assumptions, re-evaluating off-shoring of our medical equipment, and forecasting future episodes. The Challenging Mindset also examines the impact of demographic, economic, regulatory, and security challenges.

What we see on the surface is not all that counts.  We must go beyond our initial response to study complex realities, surface diverse viewpoints, and define implementable solutions. Effective leaders have shifted from thinking they have all the right answers to knowing that their role is to ask all the right questions.  Inquiry increases engagement and improves bottom-line results.

The founder of IBM, Thomas Watson, kept a sign on his desk that said: “Think.” He felt that analysis was crucial to the firm’s success and actually trademarked the word “THINK.” The connection between thinking and success continues. However, our approach to thinking must expand with a new emphasis on critical, creative, and strategic thinking.

Success is never final.  We must continually adjust to new realities.  Situational Mindsets clears the fog produced by complexity.  Mindsets reveal what has happened, what is happening, and what should happen.  It enables us to effectively leverage unprecedented change.

 

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

Dr. Mary Lippitt founded Enterprise Management Ltd. thirty years ago to help leaders navigate today’s challenges, increase collaboration, and boost critical thinking.  Her new book is Situational Mindsets: Targeting What Matters When It Matters.  You can contact her at mlippitt@enterprisemgt.com.