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

How to Keep Business Level During the Pandemic in the “New Normal”

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This blog is provided by Bill Higgs, speaker, author and expert authority on culture.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business that aired on Tuesday, October 13th, 2020.

 

The pandemic-fueled recession forced businesses to take a hard look at their expenses and make judgments about what is a necessary expense, what is a luxury, and what is an out-and-out waste.

As uncomfortable as that might be for many business leaders – especially if it means cutting someone’s job – it’s clearly critical to the organization’s survival to figure out ways to conserve cash whenever hard times descend on both a company and the economy at large.

At Mustang Engineering, the company I helped found, we used the phrase “plug all the holes in the bucket” as a metaphor for finding ways to conserve cash before it trickled out through the leaks. Those “holes in the bucket” could be labor costs, lease space, and all sorts of general expenses. Ultimately, anything that had the potential to kill profitability was a “hole in the bucket” that we were determined to plug.

Actually, we chose to be tight with money right from the beginning with our company, largely because we needed to be. For example, like many new businesses, we couldn’t really afford a dedicated sales team. And, in fact, Mustang didn’t hire its first full-time salesperson until we had been in business for seven years. We just did without. In the meantime, I did the selling myself.

We also were forced to gather a lot of experience making do with less because we went through four major downturns that were different in their details but similar in their economic impact to what we’ve experienced with the pandemic. Banks went under, there were foreclosures on every street, and hundreds of businesses disappeared in Texas.

In between there were nine other significant downturns, all related to the oil price that was whipsawed around by war, politics, tariffs, embargos, transportation restrictions and OPEC.

Despite those difficult times, we never went down in revenue when they hit because we were continuously preparing ourselves for the next downturn. We didn’t know where it would come from, or when, but we knew it would happen eventually, so we wanted to be ready.

Ever since the pandemic hit the U.S. and the recession quickly followed, businesses have had to make the same type of frugal and practical decisions we did.

So, whenever a crisis like this hits, you have to ask yourself: What do we absolutely need? What can we do without?

Take notes on everything you have done so far to “plug holes” and reduce cash outflow to insure you do not let any unnecessary expenses creep back in. Examine your profit-and-loss statement in detail and see if you can identify other cuts you can make.

Be ruthless.

At the moment, this is a matter of survival. But learning to practice frugality now will also make you much stronger in the long term. You want to make this a habit, not just something you do when dire circumstances arrive.

Imagine how much better shape you would have been in when this recession hit if you had been “plugging those holes” all along.

 

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

Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture, is former CEO and founder of Mustang Engineering, which he took from zero to $1 billion in annual revenues based on a people-first culture. He is also the ForbesBooks author of the just-released book Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business. His culture podcast and training modules are available through www.culturecodechampions.com.

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.

 

How to Become an Incredible Virtual Leader

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This blog is provided by Ashley Halsey, as a companion to the interview with Greg Moran and his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Evolving Leadership to Navigate Significant Disruption that aired on August 18th, 2020.

 

Working during these surreal times of COVID-19 has meant that many businesses have implemented remote working into their daily operations. This means holding virtual meetings, working from home, and trying to keep things going as straight as possible. However, when you’re leading a remote team virtually, there are a lot of difficulties you wouldn’t come across in the traditional way of working.

It can be a challenge to be a successful virtual leader, especially if it’s something you haven’t done before. To help you be as successful as possible; here are the tricks and tips every virtual leader needs to know.

 

Respect the Times

As a leader, you need to be aware that these are unprecedented times, and people are going through challenging circumstances. Balancing the work-home life while staying at home will be difficult for many and adjusting to these new ways of working will take time, even for months to come.

Being a successful leader means respecting and understanding and having patience for these difficulties, and then being proactive in helping your team through all the difficulties and hopefully make the best of this situation.

“You can do this by setting aside time to talk to staff as a group and individually so you can help them describe the obligations and challenges they’re facing, and then you’ll be able to address them and work with your team to provide solutions that work on an individual basis,” explains John Hammond, a leadership blogger at Draft Beyond and Researchpapersuk.

 

Making Sure People are Punctual

Timekeeping in remote working is still just as important as it is in the traditional working environment. Being punctual promotes a trusting culture within your team and helps to bring everyone together. If someone is late or people are casual when arriving to meetings, this can cause divides between people and your team dynamic will fall apart very quickly.

However, there are plenty of ways a virtual leader can incorporate and nurture this kind of culture. Firstly, make sure you’re laying down the rules quickly that people need to be attending meetings when the time is set. There shouldn’t be any kind of leeway on times.

Then, you need to make sure your meetings have agendas that can be followed to ensure that everyone knows what’s being spoken about, and you can stick to a time frame that works. If your company has back-to-back meetings, it may be worth booking 50-minute time slots for meetings, so people can get up and have a ten-minute break before heading into the next meeting of the day.

Remember, people will be late for some meetings. Life simply gets in the way, so think about how you’re going to deal with this. Communicate the problems that come with being consistently late, and the process of what will happen if the problem continues.

 

Spice Things Up Over the Long-Term

When you’re sitting in virtual meetings or in front of a computer screen all day, things can get boring very quickly, so as a leader, it’s up to you to get creative with how you can make meetings more interesting. For example, you might set up a small fun part of the meeting first that gets everyone to have some kind of input.

On a basic level, you might go around the group and get them to describe something they’ve been up too outside of work, or in the previous meeting, get them to prepare something for the start of the next meeting, such as a positive quote, or saying something they’re grateful for.

“Just like you would with team-building days or going to a bar after work, you may want to hold a virtual social meetup, where you could do something like have a fun quiz, or even asking a little question for everyone to give fun answers too. One of my favourites is Mug Monday, where everyone shows the coffee mug they’re drinking from,” shares Tina Harrison, a business writer at Writinity and Last Minute Writing.

 

Be Adaptable to Positive Change

Just because every other business in the world seems to be using Zoom to host their virtual meetings, that doesn’t mean you have too. From Microsoft Teams to Slack, you need to make sure you’re trialling different ways of working to see what approach works best for you and your team.

This doesn’t just stop at the video conferencing software you’re using. From cloud services to instant messaging apps, think about the solutions you’re using and how you can make things better for everyone involved. Of course, you don’t want to change things all the time, but rather have test sessions and then get feedback from your team so you can iron out the creases of virtual working.

 

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

Ashley Halsey is a business consultant and writer at Essay Writing Services and GumEssays who has been proactive in helping businesses adjust to the current COVID-19 climate. Mother of four children, she enjoys travelling, reading and attending virtual business training courses.

 

 

Nimbly Moving Through the Next Inflection Point

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This blog is provided by Lisa Gable, CEO of FARE, Food Allergy Research Education.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Managing Inflection Points that aired on August 11th, 2020.

 

Having worked through many times of significant global change, most notably the dot.com bust and 9/11, I quickly learned the importance of being agile in my professional and personal life. I had to “zig and zag” while maintaining a positive outward face in business, while building a home environment based on readiness and resilience.

For those of us who are not experiencing our first inflection point (aka the Covid-19 crisis), we have the advantage of a lifetime of managing and surviving stressful situations.  By your early 50s, there is a higher likelihood that you will have suffered a few life altering events and have managed through booms, busts, and heartbreaks.

I’ve seen probably more than my fair share of inflection points in history, including with my time at the Reagan Defense Department during the final days of the Cold War. And, when I joined FARE back in 2018, I inadvertently created an inflection point for the organization.  My remit was to restructure the organization and drive philanthropic and industry investment to help fund new therapies and diagnostics.

If Covid-19 is the first time you are confronting an inflection point, don’t worry – there is time to more fully develop very specific resilience and coping skills. In the meantime, here is some advice for budding and senior managers during this crisis and others that will inevitably follow:

  • Offer mentorship and coaching and consider what you can do to help alleviate the unique stressors of Covid-19.
  • Work to balance the needs of business against people’s fears. Be human and approachable. Share your own story in a manner that is comfortable for you so that you can take part in open dialogue.
  • Encourage co-workers not to hide their challenges, but to share them. Challenges may that remain tucked away can negatively impact the ability of peers to meet their goals, including thriving personally through the inflection point. Awareness of a unique situation become points of information for creating systems and tools.
  • Foster a culture of collaboration which transparently recognizes barriers and encourages teammates to work together to build a path forward which works for the team.
  • Realize that everyone will hit a mental wall at some point – even you. Even the strongest employee will eventually become overwhelmed. Be prepared for the moment and provide a safe environment for the individual to take a mental health break for a few hours, the afternoon, or a day.
  • Take your vacation and encourage others to schedule theirs, also. Burn out is real and renewal is required to meet the uncertainty that is still to come.

The point about inflection points is – you just don’t know when they will arise. They just happen. To everyone. So, to be prepared means you are a better prepared manager, colleague, friend, and parent.

 

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

Lisa Gable is CEO of FARE, Food Allergy Research Education, the largest private funder of food allergy research advocating on behalf of the 32 million Americans living with potentially life-threatening food allergies. Lisa passion, expertise, and fearless workstyle have propelled her to achieve the titles of CEO, US Ambassador, UN Delegate, Chairman of the Board, and advisor to Presidents, Governors, and CEOs of Fortune 500 and CPG Companies worldwide.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Continued Innovation During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Experian DataLabs

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This blog is provided by Eric Haller, Executive Vice President of Experian DataLabs. Eric shares the programs and resources Experian is innovating to make a difference in the fight against the pandemic.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Disruption and Innovation in the Credit Industry that aired on July 7th, 2020.

 

At Experian, we’re dedicated to innovation and the COVID-19 pandemic has been an impetus for further innovation. Our driving force of successful innovation is our employees. We foster a culture of continuous innovation, from the way we work to the solutions we create.

Global Hackathon 

As part of our effort to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, we’re launching Experian’s first-ever Global Hackathon. Taking place between June 1 and 5, we’ve invited all our employees to get involved and connect, share knowledge and find new ways to help our clients and consumers on the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mitigating COVID-19 Crisis Through Our Innovations 

In addition to the Global Hackathon, we’ve committed vast resources to develop innovative technologies and new sources of data and analytics to drive solutions that help people, businesses and society at large.

For example, to aid in the United States re-opening efforts, Experian has made available a free interactive U.S. map showing populations at-risk of being most susceptible to developing severe cases of COVID-19. The Experian COVID-19 Outlook and Response Evaluator (CORE) tool is intended to help guide healthcare organizations and government agencies as they plan for COVID-19 recovery in the months ahead. The map leverages de-identified data such as pre-existing conditions and social determinants of health to form a comprehensive picture that predicts possible pandemic impact on communities.

To help essential organizations during the pandemic, Experian also created At-Risk Audiences, which leverage our data assets to identify groups of individuals that are most likely to be impacted. These new privacy-compliant segments, offered free of charge, are designed to help these organizations find and communicate with at-risk populations, enabling them to deliver essential services as quickly as possible.

In the UK, we’re working side–by–side with the government. As part of this, we’re building models to help predict how this disease will spread in local populations and predict the effectiveness of various treatment therapies.

In Brazil, we’ve organized a coalition of universities, data companies and technology leaders to launch Covid Radar with the purpose of working together to minimize the impacts generated by the COVID-19 pandemic and contribute to the recovery of Brazil’s economy. The Covid Radar integrates companies to the hospitals and communities that need donations of ventilators, personal protection equipment, or other supplies.  In addition to providing case monitoring and disease forecasting.

The COVID-19 crisis has forced innovation and change on a scale and pace we wouldn’t normally see. We remain relentlessly focused on helping vulnerable communities, strengthening the resilience of businesses, and playing an important role in helping consumers and the world economy get back to strength. As part of our global innovation program, we’re hosting a global hackathon to help our employees create new ways to help our clients and consumers on the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As one of the world’s most innovative companies, we’re doing everything at Experian we can to provide our unique insights back to key stakeholders so they can prioritize help those who need it most urgently.

 

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

Eric Haller is the Executive Vice President and Global Head of Experian DataLabs. Experian DataLabs is responsible for developing innovative products generated from break-through experimentation leveraging artificial intelligence and data assets from a variety of sources.  He led the creation of labs in the US, UK & Brazil that support research & development initiatives across the Experian enterprise.  Prior to Experian, Eric was responsible for new products with Sequoia Capital backed Green Dot.  Eric also co-founded identity fraud detection business iDawg which was later renamed ID Analytics.  ID Analytics was acquired by LifeLock which is now part of Symantec.  Other roles held by Eric includes Chief Marketing Officer of the first publicly traded machine learning company and executive roles with Visa & MasterCard.

Photo by Kaique Rocha

5 Tips for Effective Leadership During a Crisis

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This blog is provided by Lisa Michaels, as a companion to the interview with Melissa Lamson and her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Managing Effectively in a Complex Global Business Environment that aired on June 30, 2020.

 

When a crisis hits, some companies survive and thrive afterward, while some perish. Often, what distinguishes these two is good leadership.

As a leader, your role is critical during a crisis. Everyone will look to you to help them make sense of the situation and lead the way out.

Below are some critical steps you should take to reduce the impact of the crisis and emerge stronger.

#1 Communicate with Transparency and Immediacy

Once an incident happens, be quick to communicate and provide much-needed details. Be transparent, no matter how dire the situation is. Transparency allows you to reestablish trust, while immediacy ensures people hear the unbiased news from you, not from others.

This type of communication is important for both your employees and people outside your organization. You will need to repeatedly keep people informed about developments.

Communicating the bad news early to employees is important as people need to be aware of the gravity of the situation to act accordingly.

A good example of effective crisis communication is when one Virgin Group spacecraft crashed, leading to the death of one pilot and the injury of another. The founder and head of the company, Richard Branson, quickly went to the scene of the incident and posted ample updates.

The company showed true concern for the pilots’ families. They then continued to work towards successfully achieving its mission in honor of the pilot’s life. These steps prevented reputational damage to the company.

#2 Lead by Example

You will be the one who sets the tone during a crisis. Your employees will often respond in the same way as you do. If you respond calmly and responsibly, your employees will follow suit. If you live in denial, then others will not likely feel any sense of urgency.

A study conducted by the University of Georgia found that self-discipline, or lack thereof, is contagious. If you find that someone on your team is panicking, it is better to talk to them privately and ask them to stay away from others until they can contain themselves.

It is also essential to maintain a hopeful attitude and not show despair in front of your team. Your team morale is your responsibility, and your behavior has a significant impact on it.

#3 Provide Support to Employees

Crises are said to hit organizations, but in fact, they hit people. As a leader, you need to genuinely empathize with your employees and mitigate the damage.

One German company showed wisdom in its approach to cutting costs in the face of the global financial crisis in 2008 without hurting the wellbeing of its employees.

The company offered its employees to work half time or less based on the actual demand for their services, instead of being laid off. The employees took it well and trusted the management team more.

Once the economy recovered, the company rehired the employees on a full-time basis. The lesson is that you should think about the well-being of people, and people will take care of your company.

Moreover, good leaders show responsibility and concern even if the crisis is not their fault.

An example is Johnson and Johnson’s response to the death of seven people who consumed Tylenol. The company knew Tylenol was not the cause, but it chose to recall the capsules, communicate actively, and establish a hotline to answer queries from worried consumers.

While the recall cost the company a lot of money, it kept the company in good standing. As a leader, you should act responsibly and do what is good for the majority of people involved. It will reflect well on your organization.

#4 Think Ahead to Maintain Operations During the Crisis

A crisis subjects your company to a harsh test. When this happens, people wonder whether the company will still exist after the crisis is over. This is why it’s important to conduct a business continuity planning exercise in advance.

The scope of business continuity planning includes steps to improve business resiliency in case a potential threat is materialized to ensure that operations continue during a crisis.

This involves all major systems which should continue to run in case of a major disruption. In today’s environment, the most vital system in most organizations is the IT system. Therefore, response plans for disruptions to the IT system should be established, and you should be able to migrate your databases if needed.

A good business plan usually includes a disaster recovery plan, but the two should not be confused. A continuity plan ensures that operations continue (or endure), whereas a recovery plan is a plan to come back from a major disaster, such as recovering a large dataset after it is lost.

The high failure rates of business following disasters, such as a fire or major hacking, show that both plans are critical for the organization’s resilience. Proper execution of those plans ensures that companies survive and people maintain their jobs.

#5 Develop Other Leaders

Good leaders empower other people to become leaders themselves, rather than gather followers around them. Good leaders request honest feedback and hear criticism. They are humble and realize that they are imperfect and can benefit from people’s views and opinions.

Moreover, true leaders democratize their organizations. They make others feel valued and empower them to become leaders themselves.

Unfortunately, those qualities are rare, but you can stand out as a leader and build a flatter and more resilient organization.

Final Thoughts

Crises are there to test what you are made of as a leader. You need to rise to the occasion, come up with solutions quickly, and lead your team through implementing them while staying compassionate.

You will also need to pay attention to people’s morale. You can be honest with your employees about the situation, while still offering hope at the same time.

It is often this honesty and hope that will empower the team to endure, and possibly offer lessons to other teams in the future.

 

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

 

Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor, and a thriving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in business and tech. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.

 

Photo source: Pexels

Will Technology’s Next Big Innovation Be Your Company’s Downfall?

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This blog is provided by Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity.com and founding chairman of Kayak.com. It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Can Your Business Survive the Rapid Advance of Technology? that aired on June 9th, 2020.

 

It’s a scenario that gets played over and over in the corporate world.

One moment a company is riding high, the next it’s struggling to exist, its business model disrupted by new technology and a failure to keep up with an ever-changing competitive landscape.

Take as just one example Nokia, which at one time ruled the roost in the mobile-phone market, able to boast in the late 1990s that it was the world’s largest cellphone maker.

But when Apple introduced its iPhone in 2007, Nokia proved too slow to adapt as the market, the technology and the competition began to evolve all around it. Over the next several years, Nokia became an also-ran in an industry it previously dominated.

History is replete with similar stories, and you can expect more in the future as technology continues to advance at a head-spinning rate, says Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity.com, co-founder of Kayak.com, and author of the new book Disruption OFF: The Technological Disruption Coming for Your Company and What to Do About It (www.tbjones.com).

“Our constantly changing world is disrupting what many businesses do, whether it’s photography, the book industry, the music industry or many others,” Jones says. “In the business world, change is inevitable, but success is optional.”

“Technological change can come quickly. For example, 90% of hearing aids are now produced by 3D printing and that change happened in just four years. Companies that didn’t make the change are no longer with us.”

That doesn’t mean any particular company is necessarily doomed, though.

“There are a surprising number of 100-year-old companies out there,” he says. “Most of the ones I’ve talked to have mastered the ability to shed their old skin and renew themselves when required.”

Jones says a few ways businesses can avoid becoming a disruption casualty include:

  • Be willing to take risks. “Your company was probably founded on risk, but you don’t take risks anymore,” Jones says. “But you have to take risks to move forward.” He says he speaks with many corporations that are envious of the speed with which Silicon Valley startups make decisions. “These nimble companies are constantly trying, failing, changing and moving on,” Jones says. “Disruption is in their DNA. Most larger corporations are not like that. They generally are deliberative, risk averse and ponderously slow. They focus on delivery more than discovery. That approach might have worked in a time of limited disruption, but not today.”
  • Create a culture open to new ideas. “Many businesses are stuck in corporate pinball,” Jones says. By that he means this: Each time someone dreams up a new idea, that idea gets bounced from department to department, as if its hitting the bumpers of a giant pinball machine. Each department finds a reason to say “no” to the idea, which eventually ends up in the gutter. “You have to stop closing the door and saying, ‘No,’ ” Jones says. “Your job is to get the idea to the finish line. To get it over, to say, ‘Yes.’ ”
  • Become a disrupter yourself. In this world of disruption, it’s unlikely your largest competitor will be your undoing, Jones says. The problem is those 5,000 to 6,000 new startups per year that are attacking the traditional world. “You need to put their ideas to work and become a disruptor yourself,” he says. “Disruption and innovation really are two sides of the same coin. You just call it a disruption because you didn’t do it.”

“A company may currently be strong and it may be run by intelligent executives, but the question is whether it’s adaptable enough to change,” Jones says. “Even more important, is the company proactively preparing for change? If so, it’s more likely to survive and maybe even thrive.”

 

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

Terry Jones (www.tbjones.com), founder of Travelocity.com and founding chairman of Kayak.com, is author of the new book Disruption OFF: The Technological Disruption Coming for Your Company and What to Do About It. For the last 15 years he’s been speaking and consulting with companies on innovation and disruption. Jones began his career as a travel agent, jumped to two startups and then spent 20 years at American Airlines, serving in a variety of management positions including Chief Information Officer. While at American he led the team that created Travelocity.com, served as CEO for six years, and took the company public. After Travelocity he served as Chairman of Kayak for seven years until it was sold to Priceline for $1.8 billion.

 

 

 

Revive Your Business — Shed Overhead, Thrill Your Clients and Boost Productivity

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This blog is provided by Mitch Russo. It is the first half of Chapter 1 from his book Invisible Organization: How Ingenious CEOs Are Creating Thriving Virtual Companies ©2015 and used with permission. In his book, Mitch shares how leaders can begin the process and enjoy the benefits of a successful Invisible Organization, which is one that embraces the work from home atmosphere. If you would like to find out more, you can purchase his book here. This blog is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, Building a Community Around Products and Services which aired on May 5th, 2020.

 

The whole world is moving in this direction. Your competitors may already be working virtually at some level. Some companies have tried and failed, others are succeeding and winning. You may already have a few people who work from home. That’s great, but it’s just a start. Transitioning to an Invisible Organization requires much more, and the rewards are much greater than you are aware of.

Why is it worth the effort to build an Invisible Organization? You can create more free time, higher profits, greater business success, and probably best of all, greater fulfillment for you and your staff. You might not realize it, yet the future of your very business may depend on it.

It’s not hard, but it does take determination and the willingness to rethink the way your company operates. The steps I provide are simple and direct regardless of what type of company you have or what industry you are in. I’ve done it myself, and I’ve helped others do it—with tremendous results. Now it’s your turn.

The goal of this book:

To get you into action quickly so that you can begin the process and enjoy the benefits of a successful Invisible Organization sooner rather than later.

The process will require you to master several new skills and strategies which will be the keys to unlimited business success. You’ll be challenged to find ways to become “invisible” in all areas of your company.

You’re going to evaluate every department, each staff member and every system you’re using now from a different perspective. You’ll discover ways to work more efficiently, and as a direct result, expand your business.

This process will take some time, but the cumulative results will be undeniable. You will create maximum results with minimum effort and cost.

Inevitably, this will enable you to increase your income.

When asked how they run their sales organization, some business owners might say, “We just pick up the phone, call a prospect and ask for the order.” That answer is no longer good enough. You need to break down exactly what it is you do into a series of steps that you follow with every single client or customer.

When you know exactly what it is your company is doing, you can tell a person exactly what it is you do with confidence. This leads to more business because people like systems. If they’re looking for someone to help them with a specific problem or service, they feel comfortable knowing that there’s a tried-and-tested series of techniques in place to get that job done.

Besides selling with confidence, good systems will make expansion easier and training more precise. They will let you build in and repeat successful processes. You can set up the training for your staff and track their results and improve them. You’ll know how long it takes to accomplish each action.

Once clearly defined systems are in place, you’ll then be able to easily discover ways to maximize your exposure with more effective marketing.

Your marketing system is a crucial piece of your business that will ultimately be generating income for you on its own. It will become a major component of your Invisible Organization.

The following chapters will share marketing techniques that go beyond the now-common Facebook and Google ads. These techniques will become huge profit generation systems when used in an Invisible Organization. If you already have great marketing systems in place and want to expand sales while cutting expenses, you are in the right place, too. I’ll show you how you can increase productivity and profits while improving the lifestyle of the CEO, the management team, and your staff.

How do I know this for sure? I did it myself. Now I want to help you do it as well.

As the CEO of Business Breakthroughs International, I built a multi-hundred-person organization spanning seven countries and with over 10,000 clients. We doubled our business three years in a row and managed twelve divisions, seven of which had their own Profit and Loss Statement and were profitable. At its peak we generated over $25 million in revenue per year with over five hundred clients every month. On average we had more than fifty working coaches and nearly 100 salespeople, all of them working from the comfort of their own homes. We didn’t own a single copy machine, and yet anyone who dealt with us thought we occupied a huge facility with a lot of parking spaces.

The company started as Chet Holmes International and evolved into Business Breakthroughs when Tony Robbins became our joint venture partner.

We collectively assisted thousands of companies with high-level consulting services, coaching and education. I created several new divisions, all profitable almost from day one.

I ran the entire organization as President and CEO from a home office, my spare bedroom converted to a workspace. It was comfortable, easy to work from, and it saved me countless hours and dollars I would have spent maintaining a professional, outside facility. Even though my personal assistant was 2,000 miles away, we functioned as a great team.

Before that, I was a CEO consultant and a venture investor. In that role, I saw hundreds of business models and directly participated in several as an operating executive.

Back in 1985, I built, ran, and sold the most popular time accounting software company ever built called Timeslips Corporation. At one point, Timeslips Corp had over 250,000 clients. We sold that business for over $10M.

With an Invisible Organization you won’t need the physical infrastructure you are currently using. Just imagine how much money you could save if you no longer had to pay for rent and utilities. Your first response may be, “That won’t work for our company.” But think about it. Wouldn’t it be a great way to boost profits and create leverage for your business if it were possible?

How much money could you really save? Let’s take a look.

A small architect’s office in Ashland Massachusetts has 12 employees. One is the CEO, another the bookkeeper, another is receptionist, and there is one tech to support the infrastructure. The remaining eight are engineers and draftsman. They have a 4,000-square-foot office space with a conference room, a reception area, and ten individual offices. After understanding their concerns about maintaining their “presence” in the area, I recommended the following, as their lease was up for renewal:

Current Monthly Costs:

Rent at $32/SqFt:                                 $10,666

Electricity                                               $816

Gas for Heat                                           $437

Leased Servers Onsite                          $2,850

Custodial                                                 $300

Coffee Service                                         $195

Snacks                                                      $150

Phone System Lease                             $532

Internet                                                    $450

Phone Service                                         $295

Property and Facilities Insurance       $310

 

Total:                                                        $17,001 per month

 

After the CEO decided it was time to become “invisible,” most of these costs were eliminated. The company downsized to an 850-sqare-foot office, which allowed the CEO to maintain his presence with the receptionist. This included a full conference room and two guest workstations with the equipment the company already owned.

The CEO returned his leased server to the leasing company and signed a contract for a cloud-based server, eliminating 3/4 of the company’s monthly expenses (and that included new equipment at his hosting company every two years with 24/7 tech support and backup). He sent his entire engineering staff home and gave them each $75 a month to pay for their Internet fees. They were delighted to save money on fuel and lunches, plus they were happy that they didn’t have to commute an average of 80 minutes anymore.

After going invisible, the company’s monthly costs were:

Rent at $36/SqFt                            $2,550

Electricity                                          $327

Gas for Heat                                      $196

Coffee Service                                   $48

Snacks                                                $54

Internet                                             $250

Phone Service                                   $96

Property Insurance                         $144

Remote Server Lease                      $650

Added Internet for Staff                 $750

Total:                                                 $5,065 per month

That’s an $11,936-per-month savings—about $143,232 per year— because they converted from a physical location to a virtual organization. Besides the savings, everyone loved working from home, except one engineer who didn’t have the self-discipline and had to be let go. As a result productivity soared, the quality of work increased dramatically, and people were logged into their servers from home at all hours of the day and night, willing to work extra if needed without complaint.

Just imagine how much you would save on office furniture, partitions, phone sets, phone systems, and in most cases, even the cost of computers. Since you won’t maintain any of your own hardware anymore, you will no longer need a tech support person. Instead you’ll rely on your cloud system’s provider for help.

In the above example, profits soared and staff became more productive even before we started implementing the really cool stuff: interconnecting all their systems, building their document vault, and creating their automated training environment. That’s the next step, and that’s where your world will change when it comes to scalability.

Today’s cutting-edge systems will open doors you didn’t even know existed. Even if you own a manufacturing plant, or operate a medical center, or need manual labor, there are still certain departments that could operate virtually. When you have the proper training systems in place with clear policies and procedures, you can send your sales and administrative team home while watching their productivity increase. They will be happier and will keep more of their net pay.

It’s best to transition gradually. Start with just a few people to get used to how it works. Then begin to migrate, and watch the magic happen. Everything I’ve discussed in this book can be done without physical infrastructure.

The Invisible Organization by Mitch Russo © 2015

 

To purchase The Invisible Organization, click 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

Mitch is the author of the bestseller The Invisible Organization: How Ingenious CEOs are Creating Thriving, Virtual Companies, which is the CEOs guide to transitioning a traditional brick and mortar company into a fully virtual organization. It became an instant bestseller on Amazon across several categories. He cofounded Timeslips Corp, which grew to become the largest time tracking software company in the world before it was sold in 1998. Then, Mitch went on to join longtime friend Chet Holmes as President, later to join forces with Tony Robbins and together created Business Breakthroughs, International with nearly 300 people and about 25 million in sales. Mitch says, Make it Happen and he’s doing that with yet another great company he founded, called PowerTribes. His websites are MitchRusso.com and PowerTribes.net.

To connect with Mitch Russo, email: mitch@mitchrusso.com

 

 

Practical Advice for Businesses in Crisis – Emerging

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The following is a guest blog written by Mike Sayre.  It is a companion to the interview with Paul Gibbons titled Impact-Leading Change in the Digital Age that aired April 21st, 2020 on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future.

 

What to start pushing forward on as you think about emerging from this crisis. You do need to push forward!

In the a previous two article, you learned about communicating openly and honestly with your team and understanding your cash and credit resources to push forward. But what do you push forward on?

Because this blog series is meant to be both practical and tactical, I am assuming that you and your company already have a mission, vision and values that are all in alignment and are the basis for the culture of your business. If not, please check out my At C-Level blogs 2, 3 and 4 at the Innovative Leadership Institute website.

As I write this, much of the world is in some kind of lockdown status for “non-essential” businesses. A major indicator that your business is not as essential as you might like it to be, is that during the pandemic, your business was either designated as “non-essential” or your sales dropped like a rock and will take months, if not years, to recover. Whenever your sales are falling off significantly, most of the following applies as well. You always want your business to be “essential” to fulfilling the needs of your customers!

Of course, there are varying degrees of “essential” and some businesses will rebound more quickly than others. What degree of “essential” is your business?

To get a gauge on that, ask yourself, “What are people doing or buying right now instead of what we provide and, more importantly, why?

Then ask yourself,

  1. If the pandemic ends tomorrow, will they immediately come back to us as customers?
  2. If not immediately, is there something we can start doing now to incentivize them to come back sooner?
  3. Is it possible they will continue on with what they are doing now and not need us at all, or nearly as much, going forward?

In any of these three cases, it’s time to engage with your customers and your team to come up with appropriate incentives to insure they come back and as soon as possible, or come up with new directions to keep them from splintering off to those new-found alternatives…which, actually, you and your team should be doing on a regular basis anyway!

If that all sounds like Marketing 101, it is. But it is amazing how much we forget and how far away we can get from our customers in a pandemic, or when things have just been going really well for a while! Your owners, customers, employees, suppliers and communities are all depending on you and your team to be thoughtful and committed in this process!

What does the business and/or its offering need to look like to not only keep current customers, but also to attract new customers as your business emerges from your crisis? Fact is, you will need new customers to fill in for current customers who just won’t come back no matter what you do, and to grow the business and thrive again going forward. What are your competitors doing? Is that what your customers want? Is your new offering really a compelling proposition for your customer and for your business?

Sales in our profitable electronics repair business (something like $12M-$15M at the time) with customers like Oracle, HP, Xerox and IBM were in decline…a crisis for us. Our customers told us we were being excluded from new bidding processes because we only had one location, which made the shipping cost of doing business with us too expensive. To be added back to the bidder lists, we needed to add our own repair locations in Europe and Asia like our much larger global competitors. Our vision had to be “adjusted” from being “the best in the business at what we do” to being “the best in the world at what we do!” We already had an international salesperson selling our customized electronic solutions who had made some nice partnership connections for us in The Netherlands and Hong Kong. So, we cultivated those connections into relationships, raised money from investors, bought a small well-run repair business in The Netherlands, and partnered with our repair contact in Hong Kong to create a small joint venture operation there. We were then put back on the bidding lists, the repair business started growing again, and we eventually achieved our vision to be “the best in the world,” according to our largest customer! Yes, this is a much bigger story, but I think it illustrates the point.

Now that you have some ideas on how you want to emerge from this crisis, you need to focus on what will have the biggest impact for your customers and business, based on what you can actually do considering your resource availability and/or constraints.

I sometimes use a quick model to evaluate such ideas/alternatives with my team:

“Impact” can be short term or long term. So you have to consider your time horizons on each alternative.

“Resources” can be financial, expertise, people, equipment, facilities, etc. Considering all of these, how would you rate it in terms of being possible for your business to do it?

“Score” is just multiplying your two ratings. This is where your risk analysis comes in.

Idea #1 is a slam dunk for an okay impact at best.

Idea #2 would have a huge impact, but is really beyond your resources in a big way.

Idea #3 would have a sizable impact, and you have the majority of what you need…do you have the money or other less obvious resources to fill in what’s missing?

This is just one way to look at it and a place to start. The larger the potential investment, the more analysis you really need to do. If you have the resources to do more than one of the alternatives, and they all make sense strategically, redo the model by taking out the best alternative and assume those resources no longer exist. Re-rate, score, and decide.

Please don’t let any model substitute for your common sense! Your results should mirror your intuition. If not, I’d think it through again.

Now, it’s time to think about the people and capabilities in-house that can be redirected to build up new business capabilities without causing major disruption in the current business, depending on how large the challenges are in the current business.

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

Mike Sayre has successfully piloted businesses through difficult times of crisis for over 20 years – as a CEO, COO, CFO, and/or Board Director. He is currently an independent executive leadership consultant working through Civilis Consulting and the Innovative Leadership institute, trusted partners inspiring and enabling perpetual innovation, evolution, and growth in leaders and their businesses.  If you would like to learn more or get help, please contact Mike through LinkedIn.