Reimagining Leadership Together Globally

This week’s article, written by Maureen Metcalf, was originally published by the Forbes Coaches Council.  This article is a companion to the interview Cynthia Cherry, President and CEO and Mike Hardy, Board Chair of the International Leadership Association did with Maureen and is part of the International Leadership Association’s interview series.  This series features speakers from the Annual ILA Conference that occurred in October of 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland.  The interview titled ILA – Being the Living Model for Reimagining Leadership Together on the Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future podcast aired on Tuesday, April 12th, 2022.

Here is a short clip from the interview:

Here is the interview in its entirety:

As we continue to experience unprecedented change and anticipate the rate of change will continue to accelerate, I believe we as leaders, thought leaders and academics need to rethink what it means to be a highly effective leader and how to develop these leaders. I have been a Fellow with the International Leadership Association since 2019. As part of this Fellowship, I “work at the intersection of leadership research and practice” and “value rigor and relevance at the nexus of leadership theory and effective practices resulting in thoughtful action-based work.”

This year, I attended the 23rd Annual Global Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, focusing on Reimagining Leadership Together. Geneva is a worldwide center for diplomacy because of the number of international organizations, including the headquarters of many agencies of the United Nations, The Geneva Center for Security Policy and the Red Cross. Geneva hosts the highest number of international organizations in the world.

Geneva’s standing as a center for diplomacy and dialogue made it a productive location to host a conversation about reimagining leadership together. The conference was sponsored by The Geneva Center for Security Policy and Arizona State University. Both focused on developing leaders and leadership.

This year, I attended and participated in three presentations, one focusing on the future of work.

Several things stood out to me about the conference for leaders, coaches and scholars. First, the following speakers offered global insights that each of us can shift to ask how we reimagine our work as leaders across our sphere of influence.

1. One of my favorite conversations was with Kim Campbell, former prime minister of Canada. She talked about the responsibilities of leaders to act from the perspective of being a good ancestor. As a former head of state, she took a global view of trends she sees now and what she anticipates emerging during her life and beyond. She meets with the Council of Women World Leaders, giving her a unique perspective on the type of leadership required to navigate our global challenges, such as climate change and escalated tensions geopolitically. The question I took away from our conversation was: What do I need to do now to be considered a good ancestor to future generations? Will I contribute to solving or exacerbating the challenges we face?  (Here is the link to Kim’s interview: Reimagining Our Leadership to be a Good Ancestor.)

2. John, Lord Alderdice asked who we are loyal to when making decisions. This conversation struck me as crucial for leaders seeking a path forward that diverges from the past. We often make choices that pit our loyalty to those who went before us against our commitment to future generations. For example, if we stay true to our legacy views on diversity, we will perpetuate bias. On the other hand, if I stay true to my sincere commitment to treating everyone fairly, I need to look within myself and identify areas where I act with bias. Lord Alderdice talked specifically about populations that continue to advocate for positions that lock them in violent conflict — not resolved if they continue to fight for their history. These conflicts have waged for generations and won’t be easily solved by a short article, but we can each ask, “Where do my biases and loyalties reduce my ability to create the future I want to see?” (Here is the link to John’s interview: Finding Peace When in Conflict.)

3. Christopher Washington, Provost of Franklin University, facilitated a panel looking at the volume of change we will continue to see during our careers. His panel discussed the ethical questions about how we train our workforce and our leaders to ensure our communities and citizens have work that allows them to fulfill their purpose and support their families. How do universities, businesses, NGOs and government organizations come together to build bridges that enable people to navigate society-wide transitions? (Here is the link to Christopher’s interview: Post-Pandemic Approaches to Developing Future Fit Employees.)

4. Ambassador Thomas Greminger, Director of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, talked about the importance of leaders expanding how they define and carry out their leadership roles. During an era where we see a shift toward fundamentalism and polarization across the globe, we need to build the capacity to handle the current global challenges head-on through dialogue and soft power. To navigate the volume of change, it is essential that leaders learn, unlearn and relearn to keep up with the changes in our world. What views are you letting go of as a leader? Do you have a process to examine your opinions regularly? (Here is the link to Thomas’s interview: Facing a Global Leadership Crisis–Insights from GCSP.)

Each of these speakers, in their way, highlighted the importance of reexamining how we lead and how we make sense of what we see, reflecting on what we are learning, and unlearning. Then, we need to use that process of sense-making, reflection, unlearning and updating our thinking to shape our actions as leaders.

These annual conferences leave me feeling inspired by the brilliant people worldwide leading the changes we see. But they also remind me of the magnitude of the gap we have to fill to create a truly peaceful and prosperous world for all. So, as a reader of this article, what action is uniquely yours to do to build the world you want future generations to inherit?

 

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

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotifyAmazon MusicAudible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Maureen Metcalf, the CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute, is dedicated to elevating the quality of leaders globally.

Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

The Future, Through the Lens of Entrepreneurs

This week’s article is provided by Faris Alami, Founder and CEO of ISM.  It is a companion to the interview he and Dr. Christopher Washington did on the Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future.  Their interview titled Post-Pandemic Approaches to Developing Future Fit Employees, aired on Tuesday, March 1st, 2022.

Here’s a short clip of Faris Almi and Christopher Washington’s interview:

 

Here’s the full interview:

For the past few years we have faced the challenges of COVID-19, from the initial shutdowns to the reopening, to the next shutdown and reopening — each part of the “new reality.”

Many have found it devastating. They grieve for the loss of nearly a million lives in the U.S. alone, as well the loss of businesses and communities According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, “the pandemic resulted in the permanent closure of roughly 200,000 U.S. establishments above historical levels during the first year of the viral outbreak, according to a study released by economists at the Fed.” (Simon, 2021)

At the same time, the pandemic also provided opportunities for entrepreneurs to start or grow their businesses.

“The new numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday… found that a whopping 5.4 million new business applications were filed in 2021, surpassing the record set in 2020 of 4.4 million.”-Andrea Hsu, NPR.org

As with any other challenge, there will always be some who gain while others lose. As we continue to deal with the implications of COVID-19, there are opportunities to create new platforms and paths to explore to pursue the dream of starting a business.

The “New Reality” of the Corporate World

The reality of the pandemic has shifted the workforce in a variety of ways. The initial and most tangible shift is the transition and creation of remote jobs. According to the NCCI, only 6% of employed Americans worked from home before the pandemic. Initially, about 35% of the workforce worked remotely in the first four weeks of the pandemic. As of May 2021, about 24% of employed Americans still work remotely, with no plans to return to the office. 

Instead of being in person, working right there in the office, many people continue to work remotely — managing and tending to their business tasks, their personal lives, their kids, and sometimes their elders, all at once, and all in the same place.

The workforce has shifted. These times create new challenges, and also generate new problems to be solved — thus producing opportunities for innovative solutions to accommodate this new sect of employment.

Lifestyle and Purpose as a Priority

The second shift is in the mindset of workers and the realization of their top priorities truly are. The time with family and friends has allowed a reflection on the importance of finding purposeful work. They no longer look for a job just to have a job, they are looking for a job with a purpose — to have a better life, to have a better world, support the underserved, the underrepresented, go to the moon — whatever it is, their purpose is driving their job search.

After the pandemic shifted many Americans’ lifestyles, the flexibility and remote work made many not want to return to the office and maintain that level of flexibility they got to experience as a result of the pandemic.

They ask themselves: Will this job allow me to fulfill my purpose?

Purpose or Wage Ratio Increase?

Many aspects of business have been affected by the pandemic, including the cost and availability of labor. The entrepreneurial spirit of Americans was ignited during this period of reflection. With many Americans looking for purposeful work, they are also looking for purposeful pay.  According to the Pew Research center, “the wage ratio increased to 16% by the third quarter of 2020 and had ascended to 19% by the second quarter of 2021.” (Kochhar, Bennett 2021).

This created a new challenge for entrepreneurs — particularly small businesses or startups. Many don’t have the funds to create those jobs. Sometimes there is not enough revenue to justify the payment for that work.

This is why you see the shift today — some entrepreneurs are able to navigate this new reality by hiring and training new talent. They are facing the fact that they can no longer afford talented individuals with experience. Those folks, most of the time, have been able to launch their own businesses or find jobs that will pay them what they are worth.

The End of a 40 Hour Work Week?

That represents a new challenge for entrepreneurs accustomed to having people 40-50 hours a week. And there must be a mind shift, not just a physical shift. They need to find new ways to allocate and articulate their work in a 20- or 30-hour work schedule rather than a 40-hour schedule.

This may mean that looking for a team of people working part time as opposed to 1 full time employee may be the best way to find success. Some of the benefits of hiring a team are the opportunity for innovation with more minds collaborating, less opportunity for employees to feel overworked or burned out, increasing retention, and increased productivity within the time they do work instead of just fulfilling the 40 hours to ‘complete’ their schedule.

It took a few years for us to successfully shift from an in-person workplace to a virtual staff. It will probably take time to reverse that shift. We could be looking at 2023 or 2024 before whatever this “new normal” becomes apparent. Sometimes you are open, sometimes you are closed, sometimes someone’s not able to show up.

I encourage entrepreneurs who are starting or growing businesses — specifically small and medium businesses or startups —to rethink the way they view the workforce. It seems that we still can hire for attitude and train for skills!

Ask yourself two questions:

  1. Is this really a full-time position, or can these tasks be completed on a part-time basis?
  2. Can this job be divided amongst a team instead of just an individual?

Why does your business exist? What purpose are you fulfilling for the community or for the customers you serve? The answer might help you attract the talent to want to work with you toward your purpose.

With this article, my goal is not to tell you what or what not to do, but only to inspire conversation for us to think about these ideas.

Keep thinking about the future of work through the lens of entrepreneurs, as they face new challenges every day.

 

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

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

 

About the Author

As Founder and CEO of ISM, Faris Alami works with international leaders and entrepreneurs on strategies and implementations, to create an empowering environment for startups and existing businesses to prosper and grow. In the course of his career, Faris has been a special advisor and Entrepreneurial Ecosystem expert with the World Bank, a Business Advisor with Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, and a Mentor to MBA Students and Entrepreneurs globally.

 

Photo by Mikey Harris on Unsplash

Resolving Conflict or Conducting Conflict – The 21st Century Leadership Choice

This is another interview that is a part of the International Leadership Association Series.  These interviews feature guests from the 2021 Annual Conference that was held in Geneva, Switzerland in October of 2021. This week’s article is written by Lord John Alderdice, a sitting member of the House of Lords. It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Finding Peace When in Conflict that aired on Tuesday, February 8th, 2022.

 

Listen to a 2-minute clip of the interview here:

Listen to the entire interview here:

 

The unfolding of leadership over history brings us to a point in the arc of time where we as leaders have a fundamental choice about the role of leadership. First, leaders need to identify where their loyalty lies. Are they loyal to the past, in which case they will continue to recreate the conflicts of history well into the future? The second choice is loyalty to the future they want to create for their children. In the second option, leaders decide how to resolve conflicts of the past to create a future for their children that is more peaceful and equitable.

Let’s take a look at how leadership evolved.

Leadership has never been an entirely straightforward business, but arguably it is even more complex these days than in previous times. Until the advent of a degree of democracy, initially in the Christian Church through the Reformation and then more widely in society following from the Revolutions in America and France, leaders were recognized, appointed, or took power by physical force. The mass of people generally accepted that some people would be leaders, but most would be followers without much say in the matter. Even with the emergence of democracy, leadership was restricted and those who occupied the positions were accepted as meriting regard, if not affection. This seems to have changed as the nineteenth century wore on and then quite dramatically a century ago with the Great War. During the First World War there was widespread, serious, regular criticism of the military and political leadership on all sides. Many of the leaders were still in place through accident of birth rather than by popular demand or obvious skill and ability. The massive losses of life, the legacy of terrible injuries, and the sense that even the victors were diminished by the outcome, ensured that the traditional social and political leadership was damaged. The result was the collapse of the whole imperial order across Europe, with repercussions all around the world. This was followed by an unprecedented extension of democracy and, as the 20th century passed, an increasing and eventually almost universal rejection of the principle that foreign powers, or domestic leaders should legitimately take or hold power in a country by physical force.

After the Second World War, the process of decolonization gathered pace, and elections increasingly became the principal mechanism by which changes of government and power could take place without a violent revolution. The social structure also changed, with an increasingly widely expressed view that every individual should have the right to follow their own beliefs, ambitions, and way of life without restriction other than the avoidance of harm to others and should have the opportunity to express their view on the leadership of their community and country in democratic elections. There was also an increasing belief that anyone could achieve almost anything if they set their mind to it.   Such was the dramatically optimistic vista these changes appeared to open up that after the people pulled down the Berlin Wall with their own hands in 1989, Francis Fukuyama famously declared the triumph of western liberal democracy and the endpoint of humanity’s sociocultural evolution – ‘the end of history’ as he described it.

However, as is always the case, even the best-informed foresight cannot discern with certainty what is beyond the horizon of time. The decades since Fukuyama’s assertion have seen enormous changes resulting from the continuing loss of deference and even respect for traditional forms of leadership, the exponential development of information and communication technology, and a new social order characterized more by constantly evolving networks than by hierarchies and bureaucracies.

Where are we now?

However, the new millennium has also witnessed something even more unexpected. While there is continuing progress in areas like healthcare and technology, instead of more freedom, stability, and prosperity in society, we see a regression. As a result, we have more anxious, inward-looking communities of people, fearful that incomers will not enrich life but instead change their culture in ways that will be unwelcome.

Democratic structures have been replaced with domination by populists, authoritarians, and fundamentalists.   War itself is no longer something that happens on a battlefield somewhere else but is an unwelcome visitor in the cyberworld that I access through the computer in my own home. If that were not enough, our environment can not be depended upon to stay stable and is changing in ways that may threaten the continued welfare or even existence of some of our communities and even small countries.

We seem to be leaving behind an evolving democratic world where there was confidence that the community would make wise or at least relatively rational decisions about leadership. Instead, people are seeking out leaders who express powerful feelings of anger, resentment, and fear.

Now we face a choice.

Either we accept that there is no agreement on ‘the good’, as the liberal philosopher, Isaiah Berlin said, and therefore we must construct a pluralist approach to governance where we live in tolerance of the views of those who differ profoundly from us, or we polarize, fracture, and fight about those differences. To achieve the former, we will need leaders who believe that it is their task to resolve conflict and build a culture of pluralism. The alternative will be leaders who see it as their role to conduct conflict and condemn us to a degree of destruction of our people and our environment, and that has the potential to bring humanity itself to an end.

 

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

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

 

About the Author

John, Lord Alderdice, FRCPsych, is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords and was the Chairman of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords during the Liberal/Conservative Coalition Government. He also speaks for the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland in the House of Lords, and as Leader of Alliance he played a significant role in the negotiation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. When the Northern Ireland Assembly was elected, he became its first Speaker. In 2004 he retired as Speaker on being appointed by the British and Irish Governments to be one of the four members of the international Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), put in place to close down the operations of the paramilitary organizations and monitor security normalization.

 

Photo by Filip Andrejevic on Unsplash

Kim Campbell – Perspectives from a Prime Minister for ILI Insights

This week’s article, written by Maureen Metcalf, features some of the take-aways from her interview with former Prime Minister of Canada, Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell. This interview is part of the International Leadership Association’s interview series.  This series features speakers from the Annual ILA Conference that occurred in October of 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland.  It is a companion to Kim’s interview on the Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future podcast episode, Reimagining Our Leadership to be a Good Ancestor that aired on Tuesday, February 1st, 2022.


A 3-minute clip with the Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell

The full interview with the Right Honorable Kim Campbell

 


I was honored to interview the Right Honorable Kim Campbell in Geneva in October 2021 at the International Leadership Association Conference.

I want to start this post with a quote from our conversation that stood out to me:

“I have to be encouraged at the capacity of human beings to be wonderful. To be brave. To be imaginative. To be generous. To be kind…” – Kim Campbell

This conversation was a spirited exchange about what is working and not and the solid invitation to do better now so we create the future we want to leave for those who will bear the consequence of our actions. The following blog captures several ideas we discussed and reflects her perspectives.

We started with the topic of leading as an ancestor. It’s a concept our ancestors bequeathed to us. But, unfortunately, we may well be the ancestors that screw it all up for future generations. For example, climate change, the rise in authoritarianism, and threats to democracy are all tied together and impact the ability of future generations to flourish and achieve their potential. Kim’s quote was, “We will never have a more fair and just future until we have a more fair and just history.”

Many of the problems facing society now are grounded in ignorance. Many people don’t like narratives that challenge our position. In many cases, if a person or group isn’t prototypical (women, minority, disabled, etc.), their stories fall off the radar screen. As an example, let’s look at women. At least 60 have been presidents, prime ministers, etc., yet few people know. It is difficult for even the best to advance in their careers, /research, /and other areas. Yet many made foundational contributions to science. So what knowledge did we lose from the women who didn’t have that neighbor, or that person giving them a way onto the path? When we don’t see them on our radar, ignorance says they shouldn’t be there. They haven’t earned the right because they “don’t do that sort of thing.” Yet, typically, they’ve contributed to their field, but it’s unacknowledged or uncredited. This ignorance leads to a personal worldview that’s exclusionary. How much we’ve forgotten about Islam’s contributions to math, science, medicine, architecture – including our sheer numbers! These contributions have been undervalued because of the rise of European (Eurocentric) empires and the regression of Islamic culture resulting from religious fundamentalism.

Ignorance lets us feel superiority, hatred, disdain. It’s never a smooth ride for women. Women are the canaries in the mine when it comes to people wanting to erode liberties. Maybe things have to be disastrous to consolidate the will of good people. We can’t be complacent because it doesn’t always work out if people do nothing.

One difference now vs. the past: we’re now looking at issues where the impact on future generations is knowable, significant, and very real. Greta Thunberg: You are stealing my future and not dealing with this. , be turning their heads and saying, “Nah, can’t deal with it?”

The perversions wrought by ignorance are dangerous. They put lives at risk and undermine evidence-based decision-making. We, as leaders, can’t solve real problems with uninformed conspiracy theories. 700,000 Americans alone have died of Covid; that’s unconscionable by any measure, but the inevitable result of so many people (both leaders and rank-and-file Americans) don’t believe the science. Much ignorance results from disinformation, which is increased by social media.

Thoughts on the “Me Too” movement. Sexual harassment is still much more prevalent than many people realize. It’s not just that many men think that women’s bodies are the spoils of power (which has been the case for a long time – see the opening of The Odyssey, for example). Also, when women pushed back on sexual advances, the men sought to destroy them. This pressure still exists today –vindictiveness to destroy a woman’s career. It’s all about power: companies to pursue business irrespective of the effect on climate, politicians to destroy democratic norms, to control other people’s bodies.

With all of the discussion of the challenges, there is also hope. For example, it isn’t true that older people are less interested in climate change. Boomers are prepared to do more to deal with the issue. We can use our brains, imagination, and strength to improve lives & make the world a better place.

Podcasts may be one answer to address ignorance. They can be more civil, informative, and heard in the listeners’ time. But how do you get someone to listen, especially if it offers a different point of view? One of the values of some podcasts is they can provide a deeper exploration of specific topics as the time isn’t limited by the short form conversations in many other media outlets.

Women in politics are gaining traction. Women are not viewed the same as men – they are under more of a microscope. This view is improving slowly, but it is improving. Angela Merkel was tremendously successful in Germany. She doesn’t fit the stereotype of a powerful woman: she wears glasses, no skirts, a wide variety of colors in her jackets, etc. She has been so successful and long-running that she’s re-written expectations of a political leader.

I sincerely appreciate the Right Honorable Kim Campbell taking an hour to talk about what she is thinking and exploring and what she invites each of us to consider. I was left with the questions:

How can I be a better ancestor for future generations? How can my choices leave the world and the world of work a better place? What resonated with you from her conversation?

 

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

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

 

About the Author

Maureen Metcalf, the CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute, is dedicated to elevating the quality of leaders globally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Future-Ready Leader’s Look at Leadership Trends and Recommendations

This week’s article was originally published by Maureen Metcalf for Forbes Coaches Council on September 14, 2021.  It is a companion to the year-end trends discussion with Christopher Washington on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Leadership Trends for Future-Ready Leaders in 2022 and Beyond that aired on Tuesday, December 28th, 2021.

 

Uncertainty is the norm across all realms of our work and home lives. However, this uncertainty is different depending on professional roles and personal living conditions. This year’s trends report points out key trends we anticipate continuing and some recommendations to address these trends.

We keep reading that we face unprecedented change and live in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. We have been talking about this for a few years now, and people are looking for the new norm. The summary: VUCA is the new norm. We need to rethink how we lead and structure our businesses and lives for our people, organizations and communities to thrive. Most of us have mental models reflecting slower change and less complexity. It is time to update those models. Old models generate increasingly suboptimal decision-making and action.

We as leaders need to rethink who we are and how we lead, becoming future-ready. We need to reevaluate every facet of how we lead and conduct business. We need to celebrate what works and continually adjust what doesn’t work. Analysis and adjustment need to be part of our leadership habits. Many of us get personal annual health checks, but we may not have a similar schedule to update our thinking and behavior as leaders.

Trend 1: Business models need to focus not only on delivering results but also on building the capacity of the people and the organization and meeting the needs of a broad stakeholder group. This business model shift will include increased technology for some organizations, including robotic process automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning. For others, it will mean changes in buying policies, from procurement to increasing stock levels to managing supply chain uncertainty. Many companies, especially funders, focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards; more companies will adopt an ESG focus moving forward. In addition to ESG, we see an increased emphasis on engineering sustainability in all aspects of the enterprise and moving toward becoming a circular company with a zero-waste emphasis.

Trend 2: We are changing the nature of work with workplaces becoming more experimental and data-driven. To build the capacity to adapt, organizations will continue to take a mindset of experimentation in all facets of product development, process change, technology updates, culture change and people leadership and management to meet stakeholder needs better. Therefore, we need to continue to refine our mindsets and how we work so we can shift what we do and how we do it.

Trend 3: The uncertainty causes challenges across the business landscape. One of the most significant impacts is the mental health of our people. Depression and anxiety are high across all demographics and ages. According to the CDC in April 2021: “During August 2020–February 2021, the percentage of adults with recent symptoms of anxiety or a depressive disorder increased from 36.4% to 41.5%, and the percentage of those reporting unmet mental health care needs increased from 9.2% to 11.7%. Increases were largest among adults aged 18–29 years and those with less than a high school education.”

The mental and neurological health impacts of Covid-19 are far from over. Many people will navigate effectively during Covid-19 then struggle upon their return to their prior routines. They may have risen to the occasion to deal with the pandemic, but they may still feel the long-term implications for several years. Leaders and organizations need to create environments that support the mental and physical health of their people. They need to begin considering the neurological impacts and look at how to build neurological resilience.

Trend 4: Organizations will continue to experience a shortage of qualified employees. Organizations need to reskill and upskill their workforces and prepare for a more adaptive and team-based environment. As the nature of work changes, we need to help employees build additional hard and soft skills required to thrive.

The pandemic disproportionately impacted women’s participation in the workforce. We will see a structural impact for years to come unless leaders adopt policies and workforce practices that ease the social burden and help re-integrate women into the workforce. Additionally, young people face disruption to their education and, in many cases, a difficult entry into early career opportunities impacting their education, employability and retention. Additionally, many employees are unwilling to return to jobs that expose them to the public or do not align with their goals.

Companies and communities need to revisit their talent development and retention policies and amenities to match employee expectations. Creating paths for people who were not previously considered part of the workforce will be crucial to meet workforce needs and provide meaning and economic opportunities for people who need them, ranging from people with disabilities to people within the traditional retirement age. In addition, organizations must find avenues to retrain and upskill employees and create flexible working opportunities for more part-time and remote work for the broad employee base.

Trend 5: Climate change will cause geographic migration. The climate volatility will force businesses to reconsider their physical location over the next decade. This trend connects to ESG and circular business models. As leaders, we will also need to consider where we build new facilities and where we expand operations.

Trend 6: New technology and mindsets continue to mitigate our current challenges and create opportunities never before imagined. We see opportunities we never imagined. Science is curing diseases; technology addresses challenges from food insecurity to labor shortages; and leaders across the globe are collaborating to address social and climate issues. We need to ensure we can optimize the benefit of solutions as quickly as possible.

We are living in a time where we will make a significant impact on future generations. Our ability to lead through these challenges will change the course of history. What are you doing to mitigate the obstacles with emerging tools across a broad range of sectors to co-create a thriving world that is more equitable and just?

 

 

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

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

 

About the Author

Maureen Metcalf, CEO, the Innovative Leadership Institute, is dedicated to elevating the quality of leaders globally.

 

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

Pick up the Radio and Call for Help!

This week’s article is provided by Jeff Wald, founder of Work Market. It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled The End of Jobs: The Rise of On-Demand Workers & Agile Companies that aired on Tuesday, June 15th.

 

Some people lead with their heart, some with their head.  Some leaders are “my way or the highway”, some are “we all move forward together”.  Every leader has their own style and as long as people follow, they are leaders.

I tend to use vulnerability as a core part of my leadership style.  I do that as it’s authentic, I have a lot of vulnerabilities.  I learned to embrace this vulnerability from an unlikely source; the New York City Police Department.

I spent the better part of ten years as a volunteer officer in the NYPD.  It was here I learned that asking for help was not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of shared strength. But first, some background on volunteer officers of the NYPD.

The volunteers, or Auxiliary Officers, get about 100 hours of training at the Police Academy.  Training includes basic self-defense, arrest procedures, radio usage, first aid, and many other lessons one needs to serve.  The Auxiliary Units are designed to provide an extra set of eyes and ears out on the streets.  They are not supposed to respond to an active situation unless specifically instructed by a regular NYPD Officer.  They are not trained or authorized to use a firearm.  They carry a baton, a small stick about eighteen inches long.  They are told time and time again that their radio is the most important item on their person.

I reflect on the lessons I learned during my time as an Auxiliary Officer and how they apply to my leadership and my life.  There is always one that stands out: Never hesitate to pick up the radio and call for help.

I remember my first serious encounter as an officer.  There was an assault in progress right near where my partner and I were standing.  We knew we were not supposed to approach an active crime unless specifically asked.  However, being the invulnerable young men, we believed ourselves to be, we walked over anyway.

As we turned the corner on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, I saw two men kicking and one man hitting with a baseball bat, a prone figure on the ground.  Real police officers were less than a minute away.  My partner took out his baton and yelled “Stop! Police!” and ran in.  I actually panicked for a second and froze, but the sight of my partner running in spurred me to action.  My action, aside from beginning to run after my partner, was to grab my radio.  The bad guys had started to run away when my partner yelled, so I called into central dispatch (and thus was heard by the approaching real officers), “three male suspects running south on First Avenue”.

They were caught and arrested, the person being attacked was injured but would be ok.

While we were not in any danger (although there were three of them and two of us, they had a baseball bat and we had batons, and I knew we didn’t have a gun but they might have!), I reached for my radio.  The radio’s primary purpose in this encounter was to inform the other officer, but its primary purpose to me was to inform the rest of the 19th Precinct that two very scared Auxiliary Officers were encountering suspects.  Implicitly the call was, “Send some real cops here now and HELP!”.

Ask any police officer anywhere in the world what is their most powerful weapon and you will get one consistent answer, the radio.  Every officer has one, and at the other end of that device is help; serious help.  When they make that call other officers will immediately be on the way.  There is no officer that would hesitate for a moment to call for help, to call for backup.  Think about that for a second.  These are some of the bravest people in the world.  They put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe.  Yet, at the slightest inkling of trouble, they ask for help.

If police officers do that, why don’t the rest of us?

As leaders, we may sometimes fall into the dangerous and self-defeating trap of thinking we need to have all the answers.  Maybe it’s driven by insecurity, maybe by imposter syndrome, maybe by the need to prove our intellect and strength.  For some leaders that may work just fine, but not for me.

I ask for help when I need it and my team responds.

I do need help, we all do.  I cannot do it alone.  No one is that strong, or smart, or well-connected that they don’t need the talents of their team.

Far from being a sign of weakness, asking for help is a powerful sign of strength.  It tells everyone that you are confident enough to ask for help when you need it.  Smart enough to know you don’t have all the answers.  Brave enough to rely on the intellect, creativity, and networks of others.  To me, this is what leadership looks like and it’s worked well.

So be brave like police officers all over the world and pick up your radio when you need help.  For leaders, it can be your most powerful weapon.

 

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

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

 

About the Author

Jeff Wald is the Founder of Work Market, an enterprise software platform that enables companies to manage freelancers. It was acquired by ADP. Jeff began his career in finance, serving as Managing Director at activist hedge fund Barington Capital Group, a Vice President at venture capital firm GlenRock and various roles at JP Morgan.

Jeff is an active angel investor and startup advisor, as well as serving on numerous public and private Boards of Directors. He also formerly served as an officer in the Auxiliary Unit of the New York Police Department. Jeff holds an MBA from Harvard University and an MS and BS from Cornell University.

140 Top CEOs Say These are the Most Crucial Challenges for Future Leaders

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This blog is provided by Jacob Morgan and author of the book, “The Future Leader: 9 Skills and Mindsets to Succeed in the Next Decade.”  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled “The Future Leader: Skills and Mindsets to Succeed in the Next Decade” that aired on Tuesday, January 12th, 2021.

 

Leadership has always been challenging, but the future of work will bring fresh challenges to future leaders. Over the next decade, leaders will have to face obstacles and challenges not faced by current or past leaders. But what are those challenges?

As part of the research for my book, The Future Leader, I interviewed over 140 top CEOs from around the world and surveyed around 14,000 LinkedIn users. One of the questions I asked was about the challenges future leaders would face. From their varied and insightful responses, I broke the challenges down to two main areas: futurize and humanize.

Futurize

Future leaders can’t afford to lead their organizations by looking in the rearview mirror. They need to futurize, or bring their organizations into the future. But of course, it isn’t that simple. There are numerous challenges that fall into this category.

Short-Term Vs. Long-Term Thinking

Many leaders think quarter by quarter to please their shareholders and investors. We’ve been conditioned to think in the short term and expect fast results. Future leaders need to be focused on long-term success for both the organization and the people. This requires courage!

Adapting to Technology

New technology is coming incredibly quickly, and it often seems like once we’ve finally mastered something, it’s outdated and there’s a flashy new solution. Leaders need to pay attention to technology and be able to change their perspective to understand what new developments are most important and what else is coming down the pipeline. Technology is not just for IT professionals.

“Today’s leaders need to either decide to embrace new platforms and technology or be prepared to be left behind.” John Legere, Former CEO, T-Mobile

Keeping Up With the Pace of Change

The world is changing incredibly fast, and future leaders will be challenged to keep up. They need to embrace change, stay agile, and be open to new ideas. Whether we look at climate change, globalization, technology, demographics, cyber security, geopolitical issues, competition, or any of the other numerous trends shaping our lives and organizations, it’s clear that change happens quickly and happens all the time. We will experience more change in the coming decade than we have experienced in the past hundreds of years.

“The pace of change is faster and while you don’t have to know everything, you do have to know how to get it. The commitment to being a lifelong learner, I think the premium on that is much higher now for our leaders.” William Rogers, CEO, SunTrust Banks

Moving Away from the Status Quo

Just because something worked in the past doesn’t mean it will still work in the future. Leaders need to be confident and bold to take risks that move away from the status quo just because that’s how things have always been done. Leaders must move away from the mentality of “follow me to greener pastures because I’ve done it and I’ve been there,” to “follow me into uncertainty, I don’t know the path but I have a vision of what we can create and together we will make it happen!”

Humanize

We tend to put a lot of emphasis on technology, but a company can work without technology; it can’t work without people. The challenges of humanizing involve balancing humans with technology and ensuring your people are prepared to succeed in the future. We can’t forget that business still fundamentally operates and exists because of people. What we are seeing now with COVID-19 is a very clear example of that.

Leading Diverse Teams

Not everyone in the world looks and thinks the same, and your organization should reflect that. Diverse teams bring in new perspectives. Future leaders need to put together teams of people with different backgrounds, genders, races, sexual orientations, and belief systems to work together towards a common goal.

Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

People are an organization’s biggest asset, but many companies face the challenge of finding and keeping great employees. Instead of job candidates trying to convince organizations they are the best choice, now leaders and organizations must convince potential employees they are a great place to work.

“We’re moving from an era of lifetime employment to lifetime employee ability where if your people don’t feel that they learn and progress and they’re up to speed in their areas of expertise, they will leave you because they will become themselves obsolete.” – André Calantzopoulos, CEO, Philip Morris International

Reskilling and Upskilling Employees

How we work and the tools we have are changing rapidly, and many employees find themselves not having the right skills to do their jobs or thrive in the future. Leaders face the challenge of knowing how best to upskill employees and give them what they need for future success.

Doing Good

People want to be part of organizations that care about more than just making money. But in many cases, the leaders and shareholders are conditioned to think more about profits than doing good in the world. Future leaders need to make sure their work is improving the world and then share that message with others.

Making the Organization Human

With automation and a focus on efficiency, many organizations fall into the trap of focusing on results instead of people. Each individual matters, and future leaders need to understand their employees as people, not just cogs in the machine.

“A leader of the future will have to be astute enough to balance automation with the human touch. They have to decide what types of tasks to automate so that they can spend more time on high-value activities. But also decide which businesses will continue to benefit from human judgment.” – Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson, of Biocon

These challenges are widespread and require serious effort. Based on the survey I did with LinkedIn looking at 14,000 employees around the world, most leaders and organizations aren’t ready to face these challenges. The good news is that we still have time, but we need to start now to develop future-ready skills and mindsets.

 

You can purchase Jacob’s newest book 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, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

 Jacob Morgan is a four time bestselling author, keynote speaker, and futurist who explores leadership, employee experience, and the future of work. He is the founder of FutureofWorkUniversity.com, an online education and training platform that helps future proof individuals and organizations by teaching them the skills they need to succeed in the future of work. Jacob also hosts the Future of Work podcast, a weekly show where he speaks with senior executives, business leaders, and bestselling authors about how the world of work is changing.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

 

Better Leadership, Positive Peace and More Positive Cultures

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This blog is provided by Mike Hardy, Board Chair of the International Leadership Association and Professor at Coventry University, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Better Leadership to Promote the Positives in Peace and Culture that aired on Tuesday, October 27th, 2020.

 

Of all the consequences of effective and ethical leadership, a positive impact on peace and peacefulness for us all is the one that matters to me most. The quest for better leadership is a continuing one, and the needs and urgencies for positive impact grow with intensity each year.

As Board Chair of the International Leadership Association I have watched, this year, with humility and astonishment how teams of scholars, business leaders, practitioners and (some) policy makers have strained sinews to elaborate and articulate how those with influence can use it better, and how those with reach can reach more and further.

At the close of the ILA’s Ottawa Global Conference in 2019 I observed how this quest for improvement must be a movement and not a moment. This continuing work needs to be distracted by moments but never stopped by events. We could not have foreseen the unprecedented events of 2020, the challenges for communities and policy-makers alike. But we must remain true to our commitment that better leadership can push us all towards a better world. And we must not be too worried about precise and constraining definitions; better leadership must not just be about doing the right things…but it must also embrace doing things in the right way –a commitment to ethics as well as effectiveness. In the same way a better world must include conditions more likely to deliver both a positive peace and more positive cultures.

A positive peace is far more than the mere absence of violence and conflict. It is a way of being, a set of attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peacefulness in and between communities and societies. Like bad leadership it is often much easier to point out the negatives, the absence of peace. Similarly, positive culture is more than a description of characteristics and identities. It is a set of values, behaviours and attributes that enable and promote human flourishing, reinforce collaborative compassion and peaceful co-existence. We are still struggling to secure both. Both are critical factors for human flourishing –with peace and in peaceful times we can begin to address many of the sources of human insecurity- but often we remain more aware of its absence than its existence. And a positive culture is also elusive –a culture that promotes civic awareness, and participation, social equity and the well-being of a community, hence peacefulness for families and neighbourhoods, can often be more difficult to observe than a malevolent culture that strengthens some groups to initiate and perpetuate exclusion and at times violent conflict.

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare our vulnerabilities, divisions, falsehoods and brutal inequalities. Since this global human crisis took its toll on all of us – the forces of division and hate too have been placing the lives of vulnerable communities including religious and ethnic minorities, migrants, women, children and youth, in peril. Even old people and those with disabilities have not been spared. It is especially disheartening to witness a surge in hate speech, xenophobia, racism and many forms of discrimination. These deep fissures in the fabric of our societies weakens our resolve for peace and question what it is about our culture that creates so much room for insecurity.

So, our agenda for better leadership is more vital than ever as a part of a change agenda that promotes the positives in both peace and culture. I have been drawn to a powerful thought from this moment for our movement; a thought captured in a big question:  When this is all over –how do we want the world to be different?

As we battle the COVID-19 pandemic, and the many associated challenges of rising job-losses, deepening economic inequalities, the alarming increase in hate crimes across the world, we need to look beyond the moment and look to how culture and its development can help create a better world of tomorrow.   We need to face up to the real and gloomy conclusion that the distrust and fractured relationships in our neighbourhoods that feel so current in our culture have a common core: a real and hostile divide between people who are regarded as different; a dehumanisation of the “other”.  We seem to have a culture that looks to hold someone else responsible for the moment in which we find ourselves. Despite the crises that we face, we are nowhere near being able to answer this question about how we want the world to be. We know where we do not want to go and be: our social capital –relationships and networks in our communities that encourage calm and harmony, must help rebuild the confidence that the generations that follow will have more not fewer opportunities. And we must restore the beliefs that we once had by default that our created health, education and even financial systems, cherished institutions and welfare state are more than illusions. We must actively banish the dark forces than breed exclusion and divide.

Positive peace and positive cultures matter: a more equal, inclusive culture supports a safer, kinder and more prosperous society. Specific policies to meet the urgent needs of less advantaged groups can deliver a fairer world and lay the foundations for economic recovery and build resilience to future crises.

This is a moment when the convergence of energies towards better leadership and those towards positive peace can create provoke some positive change for the lives of people worldwide. This is not a small agenda -and it is quite a backdrop for our work in growing knowledge and understanding of leadership for a better world. A future world with positive peace and positive culture will help us to re-emphasise our belief in the importance of hope, and it will be through hope we can see evidence of a better future. But even hope will not bring the different world we wish for… that needs direct actions and a new direction and these require more effective and strongly ethical leadership.

Better leadership has two important roles to play: it must help us all to make sense of the turbulences and uncertainties, help shine a clarifying light on our challenges, and it must help us manage the changes that we need and that are taking place.

No small job then! And a compelling reason to make sure that you attend the ILA’s 2020 Global Conference –“Leading at the Edge”

Leading at the Edge
22nd Annual Global Conference
5-8 November 2020 | A Live Online Virtual Event
http://www.ila-net.org/2020Global

 

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

Professor Mike Hardy is the Founding Director of the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University, in the UK. After a distinguished career, he returned to the academic world in 2011 as Professor of Intercultural Relations at Coventry University. Mike is active with UNESCO and the UN Alliance of Civilizations; he is currently lead advisor to the World Forum for Intercultural Dialogue in Baku, the World Peace Forum in Indonesia and directs the RISING Global Peace Forum at Coventry. Professor Hardy has been twice honoured, awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2001 for his peace-building work in the Middle East, and appointed a Companion of Honour of St Michael and St George in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, in June 2010, for his work internationally in Intercultural Dialogue. Mike is a trustee of The Faith and Belief Forum the leading interfaith charity in the UK and Board Chair of the US-based International Leadership Association.

 

Learning to Be Human – Taking Steps to Remove Racism from My Thinking

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This blog is provided by April Blaine and is a reflection on a past experience and how it shaped her.  It is a companion to the interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future with Joyce Beatty, Congresswoman, and Doug McCollough titled Winning in the Face of Adversity: Overcoming Challenge with Grace which aired on 10/13/18.

One of the first steps to remove racism in the world is to remove it from our thinking. It is essential to take a critical look at our lives and see where we can update our own story about who we are and how we have benefited from systemic racism. This critical view of our stories is an integral part of our healing and allows us to make sense of what we experience now through a lens that is less biased, fairer, and more just. April Blaine, one of the ILI certified facilitators shares her experience with this process.

 

I’m Sorry Mrs. Scull…

I began the first grade at Fulbright Elementary School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1983.  More than twenty-five years after the city’s infamous and violent path toward desegregation at Central High School, the district continued to struggle with integration, particularly in the elementary schools. While I lived less than a mile from the school, most of my classmates were bused from across town.  All of them were African-American except myself and one other girl.  The remaining children on my block,  who swam with me at the pool went to local private schools.

My teacher, Mrs. Scull, made it clear on day one that she meant business.  She was tall, thin, dignified, and serious.  One of only a handful of black teachers in the school, she always dressed smartly, her hair pulled back in a bun, accentuating her beautifully defined cheekbones and smooth, clear complexion. My six-year-old memories would place her anywhere between the ages of 25 and 55… something about her felt ageless.

As adults, we can reflect on these moments in our childhood and how we made sense of what was happening around us.  We can review the stories that we were told with a more critical lens… examining them with an ability to ask – was that really true?

But back in 1983, in my all-white neighborhood and nearly all-black school – with the only black teacher I would ever have in my public school experience…  I didn’t have the gift yet of perspective.

My mother had started reading with me from a very young age.  She is an educator by vocation, and I took to reading quickly… spending my preschool and kindergarten years never far from a book.   I’m not sure who was more excited on my first day of school.  My mother dressed me in a hand made purple smocked dress, both of us filled with high expectations for all that I would learn and discover in this new season of life.

In the early part of the year, Mrs. Scull began placing us into reading groups.  I remember reading the book she gave me and thinking to myself, “This is easy.  This is too easy.”  As I looked around the room at other groups, I recognized that others were reading books that were harder.  I wanted to read those.  I was told no.

I don’t remember feeling angry about this… just confused.  Why wasn’t I able to read the books the other children were reading?  At some point, I vocalized this concern to my mother.

There are lots of words you could use to describe my mother.  Strong, intelligent, generous, and loyal would be some of the first to come to mind. But close behind them would be pushy, aggressive, convinced she is right and unwilling to take no for an answer.

I can only imagine how the conversation went with Mrs. Scull.

All I know is that a battle ensued between my mother and this teacher.  I wasn’t privy to all the details, but I could hear the muttering at home on my mother’s end.  Mrs. Scull was not appreciative of a parent questioning her judgment.  She refused to change the reading groups based on my mother’s demands.

More phone calls and visits to the principal’s office ensued.  The saga ended with me being removed from Mrs. Scull’s class and placed in a 3rd-grade classroom for most of the instruction for the remainder of the year.

And so the triumphant story was told throughout my childhood of our victory over prejudice and hate.  In my version of the story, my mother was the hero standing up against racially motivated discrimination directed at her daughter.    I was, of course, the victim in the story.  Mrs. Scull was the black teacher who gave preferential treatment to her black students and discriminatory treatment to the white student. And in this story, my departure from the classroom was a picture of poetic justice.

Woven into the narrative were all the cultural stereotypes of angry black females. My serious and dignified teacher became a stern, cold, and hateful woman in the story we were writing. Even her name seemed to connect to a more primitive, dark, and negative side of the human race.  Mrs. SCULL…

This story left its marks on the identity I built for myself over time, one in which, as a “victim of racism,” I could not possibly be racist or prejudiced.  I even went so far as to align myself with people on the margins in solidarity.  After all, I had been one of the only white girls in the class.  I “clearly knew” what it was like to be discriminated against.

This story gave me a lot of permission. It gave me permission to excuse myself from anti-racism work, permission to claim the status as someone who understood racism and discrimination. Still, most of all, it permitted me never to ask any questions about the real truth of the story itself.

At least, until now.

It’s pretty embarrassing how long it took me to realize that this story had some real problems.

At 42, I’m starting to come to terms with ways that white supremacy was and is woven into my life. I’m a real beginner at this, and most days, all I’m learning is how much I don’t understand and how complicit I have been for so long.

But the work has finally helped me to start asking new questions. I’ve started to wonder about how this story might have played out from the perspective of my 1st-grade teacher.

As a child, I was bossy, outspoken, and slipped quickly into roles of leadership… whether I was invited to or not.  I wonder what Mrs. Scull thought as she assessed her class and tried to create the right learning environment for each one of us.

  • Did she see my early reading skills and place me in the reading group with other students so that I could be helpful to the others?
  • Did she recognize that experience in a group that wasn’t the highest achieving would turn out to be valuable for me?
  • Did I somehow misunderstand the nature of the reading assessment and test at a lower level than I actually was?

As a black woman of color, Mrs. Scull had probably worked twice as hard as her white colleagues to prove her worth and aptitude in the profession. She hadn’t crossed enormous racial boundaries and systemic hurdles to secure a position in the suburbs by accident.

  • What must it have been like to come all this way to have your integrity challenged so directly?
  • What was she thinking when this white mother was relentlessly demanding that she submit to her expectations?

I’m sure it wasn’t the first time she had encountered this kind of treatment by a white parent.  I’m certain it wasn’t the last.

What did it take for her to walk into school every day with her head held high and keep doing what she intended to do… teach these children with dignity?

The stories we tell ourselves matter.  They shape a reality for us that we then live in, often far into adulthood.

This is normal, human stuff.  We all do it.

AND

We need to examine our stories.  They need to be taken out and explored and reconfigured and understood with the new information that we have as adults who are waking up and beginning to see things more clearly.

I don’t know exactly what happened at this moment in 1983.  I don’t know what motivated Mrs. Scull’s actions.

But I do know that if there was a victim in this story, it wasn’t me.

The system of white supremacy that supported my mother’s demands and moved me to an advanced class was operating as it always had… in the interest of white people.

And in the process, a hardworking, intelligent, dignified black teacher, who might have had the opportunity to make a real impact on my life, and teach me things from a new perspective, perhaps throw a wrench into some of the ideals that would be further cemented in my mind when I moved 2 years later to an all-white community… was disgraced, disrespected, and overruled by her white superiors.

And I participated in it.  I participated in it at the age of 6.

Unknowingly.  Unintentionally, yes.

And yet, I participated in powerful ways that made an impact on the life of my teacher.

I’m sorry, Mrs. Scull.

I’m sorry for making you the villain all these years.

I’m so sorry for not doing the work I needed to see the truth.

I’m sorry I couldn’t see you as a human being…

I’m sorry I took my power and privilege for granted.

And I’m so sorry that you had to suffer because of it.

It’s not OK.

And it’s time to start telling the truth.

The real stories.

Thank you for being my teacher…  36 years later, I’m just beginning to learn.

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

Rev. April Blaine is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.  She currently serves as the Lead Pastor at Hilliard UMC in Columbus, OH.  April and her partner Martin have 2 children, Eugene and Marcus.  April is passionate about helping others to make their home in a sense of love and acceptance so they can discover within a spiritual depth, honesty, and courage previously unseen.  She teaches prayer and meditation courses online at Hilliard UMC and is working with the Innovative Leadership Institute to develop a course on the importance of Spirituality and Inner Depth as an Innovative Leader.

 

 

Being an Ally Against Racism

As we watch the Black Lives Matter movement unfold in the wake of George Floyd’s death and that of others, some in the press and others whose names will not be remembered by the masses, we want to offer a blog that provides actions we can each take to be an ally against racism. Each of us has a role to play to eliminate systemic racism. No step is too small when we are touching the lives of our neighbors, friends, and the precious people who are hurt and hurting. Again, no constructive action is too small. Maureen Metcalf, Founder of the Innovative Leadership Institute, is the author of this post. The Institute and all of its team members and partners are personally committed to making an impact.

Earlier this month, we joined many in the local community by signing a letter urging Columbus City Council to support a now-passed resolution declaring racism to be a public health crisis in our city.

As leaders, we play a pivotal role in many organizations. We are responsible for the culture and systems that define our companies and inform our employees’ actions.

Educate Yourself – Listen to podcasts and research systemic racism to learn more about bias and how successful leaders overcome the impact it causes.

  1. Understand key terminology and activities:
    1. The protests are not about looting and rioting; it’s a global movement to bring awareness to systemic racism, police brutality, disproportionate murders of ethnicities in handcuffs while in police custody, and societal discriminations that impact the mental and emotional health for people of color.
    2. Supporting the movement does not mean that a person condones violence against cops, it means that ‘someone’ has an awareness of societal issues that are meaningful for humanity and people within society.
    3. Defunding the Police does not mean eliminating all police forces, it supports divesting some funds from police departments and reallocating them to non-police forms of public safety, such as social services and other community resources. At its best, it will look at the issues our communities face through a holistic lens and determine which organizations are best able to address the issues and how to collaborate to improve outcomes for all members of the community such as providing mental health and rehabilitation support where this is a more effective approach than incarceration. These are complex issues that will not be solved quickly. The current protests are shining a light on the opportunity and a mandate to do better.
  2. Listen to the Voice America show – Implicit Bias – What You Don’t See Hurts You! (1-hour radio show) Dr. Rebecca Heiss discusses how Implicit bias creates a disadvantage for leaders and their organizations. We would like listeners to have a clearer understanding of what implicit bias is and how it impacts each of us. As leaders, we need to understand and manage implicit biases because it impacts our hiring choices, promotion and succession decisions, and our policies. To hire and retain top talent, we need to remove bias from the decision-making process as much as possible.
  3. Listen to Voice America show – Winning In The Face of Adversity: Overcoming Challenge with Grace. (1-hour radio show) In a time when people are sharing more of their struggles, we talk to Congress Woman Beatty and Doug McCollough about their struggle and, more importantly, how they navigated those struggles so that she could make their most significant impact on the world. Congresswoman Beatty not only overcame, but she also changed the people’s view of what it was to be a successful black woman, and she mentored women to make sure the pipeline behind her was strong. The country was better because of all facets of her service! She talks about how helping women succeed helps America succeed. She serves as a role model for inclusion globally by serving with grace and decorum! Doug shares how his focus on inclusion is expanding the field of employees working in technology in central Ohio. Through his board work as well as his work as CIO, he is creating a pipeline that allows unemployed people to get trained and find technology jobs. He is helping build the system that will close this gap long term!
  4. Listen to Increasing Inclusion To Drive Results and Build a Better World (1-hour radio show) Troy Mosley discussed his newly released book: Unwritten Truce: The Armed Forces and American Social Justice. Inclusion is an excellent organizational practice. The global market is diverse. Having a diverse workforce is a strategic advantage because it provides a greater ability to understand various segments of their consumer base and develop products and services that will better resonate with these segments, therefore, driving better results and higher impact. In for-profit businesses – it drives higher and more sustainable profits. Troy talks about his journey as a man of African American heritage and his recommendations to increase inclusion and results. In addition to his story, Troy and Maureen discuss the challenges and recommendations to increase inclusion and address the recent challenges surfacing as the “Me Too” movement and many others. Leaders must create an environment that promotes a healthy environment!
  5. Diversity Training Then and Now: What Has Changed? (1-hour radio show). Executive Order 9981 was issued on July 26, 1948, by President Harry S. Truman. This order abolished racial discrimination in the United States Armed Forces and led to the end of segregation in the services. In this session, Maureen is joined by Carrie Spell Hansson to discuss what we have learned about diversity and inclusion training in the 70 plus years since that Order.
  6. Systemic racism explained (4.53 min video)
  7. Gratefulness.org Resources for Unlearning and Transforming Racism
  8. McKinsey articles
    1. Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters
    2. For Priorities for Supporting Black Americans During and After Covid-19
    3. Inequity: A Persistent Challenge and Its Implications
    4. The Economic Impact of Closing The Racial Wealth Gap

Manage Yourself – once you listen to the interview about bias, ask yourself:

  1. Where am I bias?
  2. How is that bias hurting others?
  3. What can I change?
  4. Who will be my change accountability partner?

Discuss with colleagues – begin having the real discussion about your experience and the choices you would like to make going forward:

  1. How do I feel about my life experience?
  2. How have I participated in the current system?
  3. How do I feel about my involvement? (This is a complex question for many people who understand they have benefited from the current system of inequity)
  4. What is my commitment going forward to be part of the changes?
  5. Who will hold me to account for this commitment?

Support Others – take action that reduces the problem. We each have a role to play. While we certainly need policy changes and significant shifts, all of us also need to take small steps – we must do what is “ours to do”.

  1. Mentor – identify a person who is interested in being mentored and offer to provide that mentoring. Mentoring works both ways, as a mentor, you have the opportunity to learn about the life experience of people who have traveled a different journey than you. Use the opportunity to understand and advocate!
  2. Volunteer – identify needs that you can uniquely fill. The beauty of volunteering is you don’t need money or education, you can help a neighbor or a stranger. You can engage in a structured program like those advocated by Black Tech 614 or volunteer for Meals On Wheels or other programs that support people who need support (the point is to help others in times of need). Studies show that volunteering gives the volunteer a health boost and increases resilience.
  3. Research how you spend – support minority-owned businesses.  While most of us will continue to shop for staples from big box stores, we can also allocate some of our spending to local businesses, black-owned businesses, and minority businesses. We proudly partner with Hire-Direction and strongly recommend their services. HIRE DIRECTION is a data-driven career, talent, and workforce solutions provider dedicated to helping both organizations and aspiring professionals solve the job fit equation and optimize career development. The breakthrough map of the Talent Genome and next-generation talent DNA mapping technology connects people, talent, and careers to the right jobs in a brand-new way.  The Hire-Directions system helps individuals find, maintain, and advance along the best career path, while helping organizations acquire, develop, and retain the best talent with the least risk. Just as doing what is yours to do means making choices within your sphere of control, we at ILI are making partnering decisions with Mark Palmer because his assessment is the best we have seen in the market! I am not making a recommendation because it is politically correct, I have recommended this assessment for years. My recommendation is to know who does the best work and buy from minority and black-owned businesses when possible.
  4. Hire black employees. It can be harder to identify and hire black and minority employees. When people have been systematically overlooked, they do not show up in the standard search. Go the extra step to ensure you are identifying a diverse slate of interview candidates. I realize this takes additional effort. If you are not working with a diversity recruiter, check out Keene Advisory Group.
  5. Create support systems to allow you to retain candidates after you hire them. Support could mean data-driven appraisal systems to ensure everyone is rated fairly and bias is minimized. It could include creating employee resource groups. Each organization will differ as will each group of employees. There is no prescription. When in doubt, ask, communicate, demonstrate care for your team.

 

Here are more actionable items that were shared on LinkedIn by BlackTech614 – Columbus, Ohio:

A Call to Action

For organizations and individuals who are motivated to act in the interest of Black People and their communities through technology-based skills and opportunities, we offer these positive, peaceful, and proactive commitments.

Help Us Adopt a School

The gaps that slow economic progress show up in schools first. Greater access to high-quality teacher training, technology devices, broadband, mentors, and skill development activities will help our schools close the digital divide for students and their families. With your financial support and organizational partnership, we will work with TECH CORPS to bring much-needed resources into a school in Columbus.

Help Black Founders Get Access to Capital

Black founders are disproportionately creating employment and wealth opportunities in historically Black communities and with Black Men and Women. Many struggle to access traditional venture capital, private equity, and loans due to systemic barriers and biases. We will work with The Columbus Minority Business Assistance Center at the Columbus Urban League Huntington Empowerment Center as well as BLK hack, to connect innovators with capital.

Help Black Men and Women Get Second Chances to Build a Stable Income

A significant number of productive years are wasted from the lives of some Black Men and Women due to an inability to secure job opportunities after a misdemeanor or felony conviction. Increasing the number of adults with stable incomes raises community stability, lowers crime, and increases opportunities to build wealth. We will work with Honest Jobs to sponsor, promote, and participate in a series of events to aid Columbus companies in changing their hiring practices so that Black Men and Women, who are disproportionately affected by criminal justice inspired barriers to full employment, gain new opportunities to build stable incomes.

Help Adults From Underserved Communities Get Access to Marketable Tech Skills    

In the context of wealth creation and economic justice, the ability to acquire an accredited undergraduate college degree is not an indicator of hard work, discipline, or future performance. It is a reflection of privilege, opportunity, and luck. Some of the most tenacious, resilient, and productive adults are those with a nontraditional path. Yet, the college degree remains a career barrier to otherwise qualified and motivated people, that often divides our society along old lines of race and class. We will work with nonprofits like Per Scholas and Jewish Family Services, and for profit bootcamps, to extend training opportunities to members of deserving communities for in-demand tech skills and connect them to the jobs they become qualified to fill.

Help Deserving People Get Interim Opportunities to Gain Great New Careers Through Apprenticeships

You can’t get the job without experience. You can’t get the experience without the job. This used to be a problem that enterprising young people had to think their way through. However, in an age of rapidly shifting skill sets, the devastation of whole industries from automation, and the extraordinary economic opportunity presented to many companies if they can just find the skilled workforce, this is no laughing matter. We will work with Apprenti, and other facilitated apprenticeship organizations, to match candidates to paid apprenticeships in technology organizations to dramatically shift the workforce disruption equation in our region.

Since its founding, Black Tech Columbus has become a nexus of relationships in the Central Ohio technology community, especially among diverse technology interests. We are in a unique position to connect corporate resources to higher education to nonprofits to startups to government. We can make an impact in each of these areas with strong allies and your generous financial support. As our community eventually emerges from the pain of processing our collective anger over recent events that have laid bare the reality of the gaps we are experiencing, we will need to apply ourselves to building a better reality than the one we are rejecting.

Black Tech Columbus is seeking to lead and partner in these areas: coalescing around education, wealth creation, restoring income opportunity, accessing training, and bridging experience building.

For those organizations who are motivated to make an impact among Black Men, Women, their Families, and their Communities, this is our agenda.

We’re Here.

 

Beyond the Black Tech 614 call to action, The Innovative Leadership Institute would like to recommend resources to educate yourself as well as sharing the information about one of our ILI Team Members and his Business, Hire-Direction.

For all those people taking an active role in learning, discussing, peacefully protesting, and making changes, we applaud you. For those ready to act but unsure what to do, we invite you to take action on one or more of the recommendations in this blog. We encourage you to share what you are doing with us and we will post some of your comments.

 

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

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

About the Author

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

Photo by Albert Rafael