6 Essential Leadership Lessons Learned from Experience

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This blog is provided by Ron Riggio, author and Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College, as part of the International Leadership Association’s interview series.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Becoming a Better Leader: Daily Leadership Development that aired on Tuesday, February 9th, 2021.  Ron recently published a new book called Daily Leadership Development: 365 Steps to Becoming a Better Leader.

 

How to turn experiences into valuable leadership lessons

What is Wisdom?

I found myself pondering this question the other day and I think I have an answer: Wisdom comes from a combination of learning from experience, reflecting deeply on those experiences, and applying the scientific method (that is, trying to find objective support for what you have learned, and/or testing whether what you have learned, or what you think you have learned, is valid).

Here are some leadership lessons that I have learned from the combination of experience, observation, and what we know from the research literature on leadership.

  1. Be Authentic. It is critically important to let others know where you stand on issues. Dealing straightforwardly with others is the key to authenticity. Indeed, authentic leadership is becoming a very popular theory of leadership. Learn more about this here.
  2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Arguably, the biggest mistake that leaders make is under-communicating. Many times leaders believe others know more than they actually do. Make sure to let others know what is going on – the direction the company is taking, any critical changes (particularly those that may affect them), and address any rumors that are going on with information that informs workers. It is nearly impossible to over-communicate.
  3. Don’t Be Stingy with Praise. Too many leaders dole out praise like it is money from their own pocket. Show appreciation for the accomplishments of others – and do it frequently. Research supports the idea that positive reinforcement is extremely effective, and under-used.
  4. The One Hour Rule. This is a more practical lesson and it comes from an informal policy at my previous institution. The “one hour rule” refers to a norm that typical department, committee, or team meetings should be scheduled for no more than one hour. If a longer meeting is needed, people are told in advance. What is the lesson for leaders from this rule? Use your time wisely. Don’t waste others’ time needlessly. If you can get it done in 15 minutes, get it done!
  5. Be Patient, But Not Too Patient. We all work at different paces, and sometimes people take longer to perform a task than we would, or complications arise that delay completion. Learn to be patient with others, but it is also important to not allow unnecessary procrastination. Leaders can cut followers some slack, but not too much.
  6. Be Kind, But Not Too Kind. Leaders need to be aware of the power dynamic and avoid being too overbearing. Kindness can go a long way toward building good leader-follower relationships. It is important, however, for a leader to not allow followers to take advantage of that kindness. More on this here.

What are some of your important leadership lessons learned from experience?

 

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.

This article was originally posted on Psychology Today.

 

About the Author

Ron Riggio is the Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College. He is the author of more than a dozen books and more than 100 research articles and book chapters in the areas of leadership, organizational psychology, and social psychology. Ron is the former Director of the Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College. He has served on the board of numerous journals and writes the Cutting-Edge Leadership blog at Psychology Today.  At the 2020 International Leadership Association’s annual conference, Ron was one of two people awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

·        And they put principles ahead of personal gain

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

·        Balance the competing commitments of multiple stakeholders regularly

·        Strong commitment to continuous personal learning and building learning systems

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

·        Surprisingly open to feedback and non-defensive

·        Seeks out discussions and feedback even in uncomfortable situations

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

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

·        Demonstrates emotional courage – willing to confront challenging situations

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

·        Use humor effectively to put people at ease

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

About the Author

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

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

What’s “The Arena” Performance 101?

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This week’s interview features Brian Ferguson, Founder and CEO of Arena Labs.  This  blog was previously published on the Arena Labs blog.  It is a companion to Brian’s interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled High Performance Medicine: Healthcare and Innovation that aired on Tuesday, December 8th, 2020.

 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

–THEODORE ROOSEVELT, CITIZENSHIP IN A REPUBLIC, 1910

 

If you want to be in the Arena, you don’t get there by way of drifting through life.

The Arena is a place of action, and yet it is consciousness that defines its nature: to have an Arena in the first place, you need to have intently decided: This. This is the thing I will show up for. The thing that puts my most cherished values into action. The thing around which I will design my life so that I will not only show up well but show up better and better each time.

The Arena is the space for that thing, for the body doing that thing. It’s a context for risk. People act differently in different contexts. Think of yourself in different spaces. What are the contexts in which you are raucous, loud? What are the contexts in which you are reserved, quiet? What are the contexts in which you have swagger? (Ok silly question, you always have swagger.) When it comes to developing excellence, context is an interesting thing. What happens in one context has everything to do with how far you can go in another, some of which is predictable, and a lot of which as unexpected as it is tied to the very best of our unique human nature.

The Arena is there so that you can ask, and test: how far can we go?

The rules of the Arena are established so you can accept and fully take the risk with and for others­–the only way to tap human potential­–and play all-out while holding the sanctity of safety.

Performance is the knowledge deployed in the Arena. As Kristen Holmes describes, “performance is the science of human thriving.” It has three key aspects:

  1. The identification of the internal and environmental conditions that catalyze individuals and teams to play at their best.
  2. The understanding of the physiology of stress and fear and anxiety, and of our interdependence with others.
  3. The disposition to apply this science in one’s own body and lifeworld so to catalyze growth.

Performance knowledge springs from across sectors concerned with bodies and the care for human life. In recent years, a revolution in this knowledge has been driven by research and applied science in athletics, the military, and the performing arts.

At the end of the day, performance is a mindset: the humility of the expert learner. It is the trust in a collective’s ability to perform at its very best by nature of its diversity. It is deep curiosity about human nature, rigor in applying findings. It is a love of humans and what we might be able to do when we are working from the very best of our nature. And it is the wisdom to know that what you can control and what you can’t, with a big appetite for full ownership of what you truly can—a lot of it an inside job.

The Arena is the place for performance, for which we’ve relentlessly trained and practiced.

The place in which we activate, and then see what happens.

 

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 and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Alexa Miller is a visual artist, writer, and facilitator by training, she has worked with thought leaders engaged in human-centered paradigm shifts in healthcare for the last two decades. Most known for her arts-based teaching with doctors and study of the role of observation in the diagnostic process, Alexa is an original co-creator of Harvard Medical School’s “Training the Eye: Improving the Art of Physical Diagnosis,” and contributed to the touchstone 2008 Harvard study that measured the impact of visual arts interventions on medical learners. She currently teaches a course on medical uncertainty at Brandeis University and studies high performance mindset through her work at Arena Labs.

Photo credit: Joel Harper

Navigating Change

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This blog is provided by United States Navy Rear Admiral Deborah Haven, Retired.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Leading Through Change: A Military Perspective that aired on Tuesday, December 1st, 2020.

 

Here are my observations and takeaways from my experience navigating change in a wide variety of global logistics organizations supporting the US Military and our allies. Much of my experience has been leading change which ranged from crisis response establishing and maintaining a logistics hub to support the Haiti citizens from their devastating earthquake to contingency operations mobilizing Naval Reservists in support of expeditionary logistics missions in Iraq and Kuwait to operating system upgrade implementing a SAP system which replaced a legacy system.   These experiences shaped my approach to leading change in a dynamic environment and provide the foundation for the following article.

How a leader handles change will determine the team’s future.  A leader’s attitude toward change will be a key to success. I learned early on that I could spend energy resisting change, or I could embrace the change to keep moving forward.   A leader must look at change in a positive and realistic light. The leader needs to be the steady rudder to keep everyone on course.  This will require the leader to keep their “resiliency tank” full at all times to stay tough during the challenges ahead.  Figure out how to keep your “resiliency tank” full, whether it is meditating, exercising, or playing chess.  Your strength will be needed so a resiliency routine will have to be a priority.  Encourage your team members to establish a resiliency routine too.

The leader’s job is to clearly articulate the WHY …and repeat the message …over and over.  This gives time for the team to catch up.  In most cases, the leader has had time to absorb the new information before the idea is introduced to the entire team. When the change is introduced to the team, the team needs time to grasp and embrace the new idea. The leader is going 100 miles an hour down the highway with the new idea and team is just getting to the highway on ramp.  As the leader, you may need to slowdown so your team can speed up.  I did not say stop. Once the team absorbs the idea, understands the mission, and is empowered to execute, it will accelerate and exceed expectations. One key point is knowing that not everyone engages the change in the same manner.  Some individuals struggle with the new idea and may feel threaten by what they see taking place.  The employee’s role may change.  He or she may go from expert to novice in the new arrangement.  Resulting in an unsettling emotional reaction.  And will usually get better over time for most individuals. This is something to be aware of during the process. A leader needs to watch out for those struggling and engage through listening and understanding the challenges the workforce is undergoing.  Sometimes an empathetic ear from the leader can be the tonic to pull the team member through the rough waters of change.  Also, some individuals just take longer to adjust to the new environment, but others soar to the future state.

I have also noticed that the technique that makes teams more successful in new unknown areas is to create an open dialogue about the challenges and work through them collaboratively with the stakeholders. Easily said, not always so easy to do but rewarding in the end.  Continual communication about the compelling need for the change is a must do and must be repeated often.

Some best practices when dealing with change:

  • Set trust as the foundation for all relationships.
  • Identify the key stakeholders and communicate the compelling reason for the change …the WHY.
  • Uncover the blind spots as quick as possible through listening and learning.
  • Create collaborative teams to develop solutions for the blind spots identified.
  • Build coalitions that do not exist and shore up ones that need to be reinforced.
  • Stay strong throughout by listening and understanding the barriers or challenges anchoring others.
  • Be agile. Do not get defensive when new information is received, and adjustments must be made.
  • Establish a routine and regular check-in, set goals, and follow up on progress using accountability metrics.

Have a bias for action…keep moving forward.

The takeaway here is that during a significant period of change is when the leader really earns his or her money.  They need to be authentically enthusiastic and fully engaged to ensure the team members are making the transition.  This can be exhausting work but extremely rewarding.

 

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

United States Navy Rear Admiral Deborah Haven, Retired, has been a successful leader in a wide variety of global logistics organizations, both civilian and military for over 30 years.  She is particularly skilled at introducing change in large organizations.  She has a keen ability to understand the landscape, identify barriers and develop an actionable plan to improve organizational effectiveness.  Deborah is a graduate of the Naval War College, holds an MBA from the LaSalle University in Philadelphia, and a BS from the University of Maryland, College Park. She is an executive coach, independent consultant, and a member of the board of directors for the Flag and General Officer Network.

Seeking to Understand: Advice to Successfully Implement DEI Initiatives

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This blog is written by Maureen Metcalf and summarizes 5 recommendations Roger Madison shared about how leaders can improve the outcomes of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.  It is a companion to the interview with Roger on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Diversity and Inclusion Insights from IBM South Africa Experience that aired on Tuesday, November 24th, 2020.

 

Recently, I was honored to interview Roger Madison, a successful person of color overcoming discrimination and bias.  Let me share a little bit about Roger.

Roger’s Background

Roger grew up in Farmville, Virginia, and went on to earn  his Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration from the George Washington University School of Business and Government Studies.   He is the Founder and CEO of iZania, LLC, which he established in 2003 after a successful career as a sales executive for IBM, some of that time was spent in South Africa.  iZania.com is an online community of Black entrepreneurs, professionals, and consumers, dedicated to economic and social empowerment. His goal is to help bridge the digital divide.

Roger’s passion is helping to prepare young people for the business of life. He is actively engaged in our community as a board member, volunteer, and mentor with Junior Achievement of Central Ohio, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio, and Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus.

He is married to his lovely his wife, Joyce, and they live in central Ohio.  They have been blessed with two adult children and two grandchildren.

 

Our Conversation

I believe part of the solution to diversity, equity, and inclusion involves understanding people’s experiences impacted by discrimination. During the interview, Roger shared the story of his struggles when his high school was closed because of the Brown vs. Board of Education legal battle. Roger also shared how bias impacted his ability to perform during his early college years and how his experience in the U.S. Air Force helped him develop the skills and confidence required to complete his college degree.

Roger was among the first and often only black person in a job or role. He found ways to thrive, even in overtly discriminatory environments. He is talented, able to self-advocate, and also fortunate to have had the opportunities he did. As described above to young people, he now gives back, helping them understand the business of life. He also serves as a role model and mentor for many others through his direct work at iZania and other community work.

I encourage you to listen to his full interview at the link here.

 

Roger’s Recommendations

Based on Roger’s unique experience, here are the five steps he recommends to improve outcomes from DEI initiatives.

  1. Undertake an honest assessment of the current status of your organization.  Understand the perceptions of DEI issues of existing employees.  Their perceptions represent the reality of your organization.  This has to be the starting point.
  2. Set measurable goals for change. Establish a vision of the inclusive environment you are working toward.  Commit to targets of inclusion, similar to the affirmative action programs of the 1970s.
  3. Create a pipeline to sustain the targets you establish.  Ensure meaningful representation at entry, middle, and senior levels of your organization.  This means providing opportunities for advancement with mentorships, special assignments, and broad exposure across all organizational areas.
  4. Be an advocate for the vision of an expanded culture of inclusion.  Leaders must lead.  This is not an assignment to delegate to the Chief Diversity Officer.  There may be a need for a Chief Diversity Officer to execute programs, but leadership must reside at the top.
  5. Follow through with the execution of plans to reach the goals established.  DEI must be a commitment, not an option.

We encourage you to look at how your organization is doing against your DEI goals, and if you don’t have DEI goals, how you are doing compared to where you think or wish you were. If you are not meeting your goals, take action. If you are in a formal leadership role, you can take significant action. If you are an individual contributor, you can be an advocate! All of us have a role to play in the evening the playing field. Thank you for playing your role well – to create a world where everyone has equal opportunities.

 

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

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, 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

Maureen Metcalf – Founder, CEO, and Board Chair of Innovative Leadership Institute – is a highly sought-after expert in anticipating and leveraging future business trends to transform organizations. She has captured her thirty years of experience and success in an award-winning series of books which are used by public, private and academic organizations to align company-wide strategy, systems and culture with innovative leadership techniques. As a preeminent change agent, Ms. Metcalf has set strategic direction and then transformed her client organizations to deliver significant business results such as increased profitability, cycle time reduction, improved quality, and increased employee engagement. For years, she has been willing to share her hard-won insights – through conference speaking opportunities, industry publications, radio talk-shows, and video presentations.

 

DEALING WITH PEOPLE YOU CAN’T STAND, HOW TO BRING OUT THE BEST IN PEOPLE AT THEIR WORST: The Lens of Understanding Why Do People Act the Way They Do

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The following blog is provided by Dr. Rick Brinkman. It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled How to Bring Out the Best In People at Their Worst that aired on April 28th, 2020.

 

Conflict can take many forms. It can be in your face, or passive aggressive behind the back. It can be caused by a specific context like meetings where typically assertive people talk too much while others drop out. The first step to successfully exiting a conflict or even better preventing it in the first place, is to understand why people act the way they do. In order to do that I would like to introduce you to the Lens of Understanding, from our book, “Dealing with People You Can’t Stand, How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst.”

When you understand why people act the way they do, then you will be empowered to transform and prevent conflict behaviors. Let’s examine behavior through the Lens of Understanding. We have a green Cooperation Zone and people have 4 intents operating within them: the intent to Get Things Done, to Get Things Right, to Get Along with People, and to Get Appreciated by people. Behaviorally speaking if a person is in a Get it Done mode they will be focused on the task at hand and become more assertive to make things happen. If things are not getting done and perceive others as wasting time, then they have a tendency to go into the yellow Caution Zone and will become more controlling because if they can take over they can make things happen. Sometimes the fact that they take charge and move things forward is not a problem but a solution. That really depends on how it is done. People can also go into what we call the red Danger Zone and their behavior is more destructive and can easily become a Tank. A Tank declares martial law and runs right over you. Life is really simple to them. You are part of the solution or you are eliminated. They may rip you apart personally, but the irony is, “it’s nothing personal”. You just happen to be in the way of an end result and so must be eliminated.

However, control has other expressions. When people have suppressed anger or resentment, Sniping is often the result. At a meeting their attack is hidden in put down humor, snide remarks and sarcasm. This can be to your face or also behind your back. Sabotage and malicious gossip are also versions of this behavior. A third controlling behavior is Know-it-All. They control through knowledge because they really know a lot, but they are closed minded to everyone else’s possible contribution. In a meeting they can take the group down endless irrelevant tangents.

If we shift gears to the intent to Get it Right, we find people still focused on the task but less assertive because they must slow things down to make sure all the details are covered.   If the people around them are not paying attention to accuracy, then they can move into the yellow zone and become more perfectionist. The positive of that is all the details are covered but if they go too far into the red danger zone, they can get to a point where no one including themself can meet their high standard and then begin to feel helpless or hopeless. When people feel helpless, Whining is the result. When people feel hopeless, Negativity results. What they both have in common is they speak in generalizations that “everything is wrong, nothing is right, and it’s always that way.” It is these generalized problems that drive everyone around them crazy, because the first step to problem solving is specifics. You can’t solve a generalization.

Other people in the face of that unattainable perfection just get frustrated and give up. That’s when you hear, “Fine, do it your way. Don’t come crying to me when it doesn’t work out.” From that point they become the Nothing person and give up.

You also get Nothing behavior from a different area of the Lens. Out of the intent to Get Along with people you get people who are friendly and helpful. Here the yellow zone is all about get approval from others. And since if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say it at all, Nothing behavior is a common result. Agreeable Yes behavior also stems from this motivation. Out of the desire to please and get approval, people don’t consider their own needs but just say yes to whatever anyone else wants. Maybe behavior can also originate from this zone. We have all told a salesperson, “I’ll think about it.” Were you really planning on thinking about it? No, it was approval-oriented behavior. Passive aggressive behavior also originates out of this zone. They are nice to your face but become a Sniper behind the back.

Shifting mental gears to the intent to Get Appreciated by people, we find the focus is still on people but behavior tends to be more assertive because what goes hand in hand with appreciation is a desire to contribute to others. But if they are not getting the appreciation they feel they deserve, their behavior gets more attention seeking. The red zone version can be a temper tantrum or what we call the Grenade. It is different than a Tank attack in that the Tank is focused on a specific person and you know what the issue is. When a Grenade blows up they do so in 360 degrees, indiscriminately and everyone gets hit. You are more likely to hear things like, “It’s the government’s fault! That’s the problem with the world today.” and other statements that make no sense given the present circumstances. A Tank is demanding action. A Grenade is demanding attention.

What you also get out of a need for attention is another kind of Sniper; friendly fire. These are people who like you and use put down humor or teasing as a way of showing their affection. There is no ill intent, but it can still have painful consequences.

Last but not least another behavior with an extreme need for attention is Think-They-Know-it-All behavior. Here you have someone acting like they know what they are talking about, but they don’t. You get one-upmanship in this category. If you had a great vacation, they had a better one. If you were sick, they were sicker. If you had a big inauguration, they had a bigger inauguration.

Tank, Sniper, Know-it-all, Think-They-Know-it-All, Grenade, Yes person, Maybe person, Nothing person, No person, and Whiner are the top ten-problem behaviors people face. But the good news is communication is like a phone number and there is a “right number” behaviorally that you can dial that can pull people out of their stress response and back into the normal zone of behavior.

Detailed strategies for all the behaviors are beyond the scope of this article but are certainly available in the book, “Dealing With People You Can’t Stand”, published by McGraw-Hill.

Download a free Lens of Understanding and see a live presentation of the Lens of Understanding in Dr. Brinkman’s trademark Educating through Entertainment style 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

Dr. Rick Brinkman is best known for his Conscious Communication® expertise conveyed to millions of people via keynotes and trainings in his trademark Educating through Entertainment style. He has performed over 4000 programs in 18 countries.He is the coauthor of six McGraw Hill books including the 2,000,000 copy international bestseller: Dealing With People You Can’t Stand: How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst. Which has been translated into 25 languages. His latest book is: Dealing with Meetings You Can’t Stand, Meet Less and Do More.  His clients have included: the Astronauts at NASA, LucasFilm, Sony Pictures, the FBI, Defense Department, Lockheed Martin, Adobe and many more. He has been featured as a communication expert on CNN, the Wall St. Journal, the New York Times, and O Magazine.

Photo by Kaboompics .com

What Is Imposter Syndrome and How May It Be Affecting Your Leadership?

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

This guest blog is provided by Kayla Montgomery. It is a companion to the interview with Greg Moran on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, Bridging Millennial and Traditional Leadership, which aired on 4/7/20.

 

You’ve made it as a leader. A leader that most say is very successful. Yet, you still find your hands getting clammy every time you have to get up and talk about ideas or projects you have in the works even though your team knows they won’t fall short of a success.

If you feel this way, you may be experiencing the imposter syndrome. Turns out, even the highest of achievers, like Serena Williams and Tom Hanks, deal with the same extreme case of self-doubt.

The syndrome is reported to have, and continue, to affect 70 percent of millennials. This extreme self-doubt stops you from chasing after your goals and let you feel proud of those you’ve already nailed. But guess what? You aren’t crazy! You’re worthy of the achievements you have earned. You are worthy of your place no matter what stage of life, or your career, you are in.

Whether you’re slightly affected by the imposter syndrome or not, there are five different types you may just fall under. Learn about the types, how they may be affecting your finances, and what you’re able to do to counteract each thought process.

Five Different Types of Imposter Syndrome:

  1. The Perfectionist

As a perfectionist, you feel like you’re unstoppable. You think no matter what you have on your to-do list, or calendar, you will be able to fit everything in and master each activity no matter how tired you may get. Even though you think every week you’ll be able to master all trades, you’re constantly letting yourself down. Each week you look back at everything you weren’t able to complete, even though you thought you easily could.

To push past your perfectionist imposter tendencies, break your goals down into smaller micro-goals. Instead of wanting to save thousands of dollars this year for a house down payment, break down a small monthly value goal that will easily lead you up to your goal.

  1. The Super(wo)man

You may find yourself spending the majority of your time in the office or working countless jobs. When your friends and family ask if you’re able to make an event, you find yourself constantly turning them down because you have to “work.” No matter what, you grade your work on how much time you put into each rather than the output of each project you complete.

To hold back from working countless hours night after night, try different work methods like deep work and task batching. Invest in various apps that are able to block notifications during certain working hours, and value sound canceling earbuds that will allow a distraction free zone. Create boundaries in the workplace to ensure you don’t stay too long to wrap up a project in an unrealistic time frame.

  1. The Natural Genius

Luckily, you’re really smart. The downside is that you don’t like to get out of your comfort zone. You may avoid taking on new projects since they will take you a little more time and focus to get the job done right. This can prevent you from reaching the next step in your career or be there when your coworkers may need help on certain projects to deliver in time.

Even though you’re really good at what you do and are happy with that, get out of your comfort zone. Whether that be going to a new workout class on the weekend or asking to join meetings across different departments at your company, push yourself out of your bubble.

  1. The Soloist

As the soloist, you find yourself doing everything yourself. You insist on walking up and down every aisle at the grocery store to find that specific rice blend you like rather than asking the countless associates that walk right past you. You find yourself doing the same thing at work. You’d rather finish a project on your own in double the time it normally would just so you don’t have to ask your coworkers for a rundown.

Asking portrays your confidence in owning up to not knowing everything. Constantly tell yourself this when questions start to arise at your job. Even take baby steps by asking store associates to point you in the direction of a specific item that you know you’d be able to find on your own.

  1. The Expert

You’re the jack of all trades. You’re good at everything that’s put on your plate, but you may not be good at strutting your stuff when asked. During meetings you may feel like you blacked out when having to stand up and talk in front of everyone, or consistently feel like the information you have doesn’t amount to anything. Your coworkers look up to you, but you still feel like a fraud when they pay attention to you.

To act like the expert you are, exercise your communication skills and remind yourself you have earned your spot in whatever meeting or opportunity you were presented with. To be confident, you have to act confident.

This common syndrome may deter you from reaching your biggest career goals. If you think you may be dealing with imposter syndrome, Mint created an infographic explaining the different types, how each type may affect your finances, and tips to overcoming it. Push past your self-doubt and push past to conquer anything you put your mind to!

 

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

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, 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

Kayla Montgomery is a digital content marketer who helps Mint create helpful and compelling stories worth sharing. Her background in digital marketing and creative writing has led her to cover unique topics ranging from business to lifestyle. In her spare time, she enjoys working out, writing for her own blog, traveling, and exploring all the in’s and out’s Austin, TX has to offer. To learn more, connect with Kayla on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kayla-s-montgomery/

Can Resilience Differentiate You as a Leader?

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

The following blog is a republish of an article appearing in Forbes written by Maureen Metcalf about resilience during difficult times. A great interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future to listen to as a leader in our current climate/crisis is How Does the Brain Impact Leadership Resilience? with Jon Wortmann. Take our free online resilience assessment.

In times of uncertainty, resilience is one of the most important skills for us. I define it as “the ability to remain flexible and focused when facing change.” As leaders, we are facing a higher level of volatility across the business environment than we previously faced. In the U.S., we are looking at a major political change as Republicans gain control after eight years. This upcoming transition is exposing division that was not previously evident on the surface in families, offices and communities. Such division can be healthy if addressed with a spirit of curiosity and grace. Yet, how can that happen when we view our previously trusted colleagues and even family members as “the other,” or worse?

While the political environment is the most obvious example right now, we are also seeing unprecedented volatility in financial markets and uncertainty in many sectors such as health care. Some of this is caused by politics, some by technology, and some caused by the fact that we live in a world that is much more interconnected than it used to be. We are dealing with situations we’ve never seen before. There is no return to the prior level of control so as leaders, we need to learn to be more agile.

Take Bill, a university director, responsible for physical and technology security. He came into work on a normal Monday morning, got his coffee, and started to plan his week. At 9:10 his world was interrupted. A young student drove off the road and onto a sidewalk trying to hit students. The student emerged from his car and began attacking others. It was the job of the director, campus security and many others to move very quickly in this situation. For Bill, resilience was critical in this moment and in the moments following the event. He needed to respond with his full attention, as people’s lives and the well-being were at great risk.

Today’s leaders must update their leadership thinking and behavior to keep pace with the challenges they face. In this sense, leadership is always self-renewing, and I believe resilience is the foundation of it, because, as we face accelerating change, we also face an increasing occurrence of people who respond to these changes with different perspectives. If we can integrate these differing perspectives in every area of our lives — work, politics, in our communities and at home — to create more comprehensive and durable solutions, we are all served by the process. If, however, we discount others because they have perspectives we disagree with, or, even worse, see them as “wrong,” we lose the value of learning and risk the relationships required to thrive in times of challenge.

Back to our example, if Bill had only considered one facet of security, his team would have been ill-equipped to deal with a complex attack.

So, as a leader, how can you build resilience to navigate the challenges you face in work and life?

Using innovative leadership as the foundation for this discussion, we can parse resilience into four categories:

  1. Maintain physical well-being.

This is the category most of us understand and often ignore. We need to get enough sleep, we need to eat healthy food and manage caffeine and alcohol. It is also important to find a practice to rejuvenate ourselves physically. I recommend a combination of physical exercise and relaxing to include meditation and mindfulness. It is hard to respond to challenge when you are exhausted, caffeinated or hung over.

  1. Manage thinking. 

This category is the one I think we most often miss and is a skill that can be learned even in the busiest of times. It involves paying attention to what you are thinking and stopping the negative “self-talk” as soon as you notice it. Self-talk is that inner conversation most of us have that serves as the inner critic, giving negative feedback even when no one else is around to do it for us. Think of this as adopting the most critical person in your life and inviting them to live with you. What would life be like if instead you adopted the most adoring person in your life and invited that person to live in your head?

Managing thinking shifts the self-talk and the tendency to dwell on the negative or risky. I am not suggesting we become unreasonably positive or dismiss risk, but rather, understand the risk and put plans in place. Then, trust ourselves and others to navigate whatever difficulties arise.

  1. Fulfill purpose and emotional intelligence.

If you have a clear sense of purpose, it is much easier to keep life’s challenges in perspective. This would be summarized by the adage, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it is all small stuff.” I would modify that to say, “Understand what is small and don’t sweat it.”

The second half of this recommendation is about being emotionally intelligent. There are books written on emotional intelligence, but for the sake of brevity here, I would say be aware of your thinking and emotions (see above) and manage them intentionally. Secondly, be aware of others, and manage those relationships intentionally as well.

  1. Harness the power of connection.

Have people in your life who support you. I recommend having people at work who can serve as sounding boards and thought partners. I also suggest having connections outside of work who can give you good counsel. Then, have at least one person in your life who just thinks you walk on water no matter what.

While Bill’s story is more extreme than most of us face on a Monday morning, we all face situations that are unexpected and highly stressful, where something bad could happen to our organizations and possibly risk our well-being or job security. Personal resilience boosts our ability to navigate these situations and instill confidence in the people who follow us and expect us to lead during the most difficult moments of our lives.

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

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

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Building a High Impact IT Leadership Development Program Leveraging Technology

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This blog shares the case study of the IT Leadership Development Program co-created by Innovative Leadership Institute and Expedient. More can be learned about this program on the Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future podcast with Steve Gruetter titled Building Aspiring CIOs and ‘C’ Level Leaders.

The Challenge/Vision: The Central Ohio CIO Forum identified a gap in the number of leaders ready to step into CIO roles for the projected regional growth. To address this opportunity, they partnered with Expedient and the Innovative Leadership Institute to build an IT Leadership program that meets 2.5 hours per month, including six in-class learning sessions with pre-defined topics, roundtable executive presentations, and discussion sessions, and two networking events.

According to the American Society of Training and Development, US businesses spend more than 170 Billion dollars on a leadership-based curriculum, with the majority of those dollars spent on “Leadership Training.” According to McKinsey, “there is no silver bullet for successfully developing leaders—more than 40 key actions must be taken to increase chances of success to 80 percent”. As a leader interested in developing or as an organizational leader interested in developing people working for you, it is essential to have useful information about how to select a leadership development program. There are plenty of opportunities to spend your money from one-day classes to online programs to comprehensive university programs. How do you make the best decision to ensure you are investing your time and money wisely and that you have a high probability of success from your investment?

Additional Challenge: during the fourth cohort, the US experienced a pandemic, and Ohio precluded in-person gatherings of more than ten people. Additionally, the university facility where we met was closed. The delivery team needed to identify an alternative approach to deliver that would be equally compelling for participants to ensure they continued to receive the value promised when they enrolled.

during the fourth cohort, the US experienced a pandemic, and Ohio used an order that precluded in-person meetings. Additionally, the university facility where we met was closed. The delivery team was compelled to identify an alternative approach to deliver that would be equally compelling for participants to ensure they continued to receive the value promised when they enrolled.

Goal: elevate the quality of IT Leadership in Central Ohio to support succession planning, economic development of the region, healthy business growth, and business financial success, improve employee engagement, and attract and retain top technology talent to the Central Ohio region.

Solution: The program is co-delivered by Innovative Leadership Institute and Expedient that leverages best leadership models and content, leadership assessments, learning technology, and learning methods and processes. The image below reflects the combination of tools and approaches. Listen to participant feedback 5-minute video to learn more about how participants describe their involvement and impact.

Program Design

ILI, in partnership with Expedient, designed the program to meet the outcomes and desired learning experience based on CIO Forum goals and designated topics. This section describes the details of the approach to designing and delivering the program.

  1. Identify the best leadership models and materials to meet the learning goals.
  2. Identify the best learning approach based on leading research focused on the most effective method for leadership development. The approach leverages
    1. In-Class Program content – In-class activities 2.5 hours/month (six content sessions and four expert round table discussions. Programs are updated regularly based on trends and leadership research. Programs are updated regularly based on trends and leadership research. The Ohio based team partnered with The Engagement Company to restructure the in-person sessions to offer a highly engaging online learning experience using Zoom and expert online facilitation.
    2. Round tables – Local CIOs provide insights from their professional experience to help IT Leaders build business understanding as well as perspective about the journey to becoming a senior leader. These sessions are very open and candid. Jeremiah Gracia, Economic Development, City of Dublin, Ohio, leads a roundtable talking about workforce development. The City of Dublin is a co-sponsor of the program.
    3. Networking events are a crucial element of the program. A strong community requires leaders to build a network to share information as well as support one another in navigating the challenges technology leaders face.
    4. Assessment – Participants take pre and post-session Innovative Leadership behavior assessment powered by SkillNet (some with Boss feedback). Participants incorporate this feedback into learning assignments. Read the blog by Mike Kritzman, founder of SkillNet A Proven 5 Step Approach to Solve Skill Gaps and listen to his podcast SkillNet: Personalized Learning Framework for Your Company. We invite you to take a free mini-ILI Competency assessment.
    5. Parallel path complete leadership workbook activities presented in six modules: leverage International Award Winning Innovative Leadership workbooks, podcasts, and videos delivered by the Kajabi Online Platform. Kajabi Online Platform podcast with founder Travis Rosser. Read the blog post based on Forbes article Leveraging Technology To Improve Leadership Development.
    6. Create accountability by submitting the leadership workbook activities as deliverables and receive feedback: track deliverables and attendance for certification.
    7. Strengthen network and support community by sharing assignments with learning partners (matched using Position Success Indicator to identify the best match) Position Success Indicator podcast with Founder Mark Palmer. Read the Blog by Mark Palmer The Position Success Indicator (PSI): Your Job Fit Solution for the Future of Work.
    8. Challenge previously held constraints by the class participants on how to be a leader and show leadership traits
    9. Build a network of like-minded peers in each cohort, a group of technology professionals whose opinion they can trust, based on class interaction
    10. Evaluate progress by soliciting participant and CIO feedback on participant’s development progress.
    11. Collaboration by Slack (Advanced Leadership Program Only).
    12. Certification for participants who complete all requirements successfully earn an Innovative Leadership Certification. Muskingum University recognizes this certification for its Master of Information Strategy and Systems Technology (MISST) program for three credit hour leadership class.

The basis of this learning approach is 15 years of experience teaching leadership development to MBA students. You can learn more by listening to a podcast with Steve Gruetter and Maureen Metcalf discussing the program in depth.

Results/Impact

  1. Participant success
    1. 200 participants in the first four cohorts, representing 104 Central Ohio organizations
    2. 45 of the first 150 participants (30%) have had a promotion since the first cohort started (per LinkedIn)
    3. 8 participants promoted to a C-Level role – CIO, CTO, CISO, Chief Strategy or Chief Transformation Officer
    4. 82 of the first 150 participants have earned a certification of completion
    5. 8 participants advanced to participate in the Advanced Leadership Development Program Pilot
    6. $44,000 raised so far for the Central Ohio CIO Forum Scholarship Fund from the first four cohorts
    7. The last three cohorts had 32%+ women participants
    8. The previous three cohorts have had 32%+ minority participants
    9. Participants are taking advantage of the Muskingum MISST program three credits course waived for course participants
    10. Attendance increased for online Zoom sessions during the pandemic by approximately 20%.
  2. Survey results:
    1. Results from IT Leaders Program as measured by CIOs they report to – answers provided reflect a 1-5 scale:
      1. How much have the participant(s) individual leadership skills and/or performance improved over the last year attributable to what they have learned by being in the program? 4.5
      2. If the participant(s) currently leads a group, how much has the culture and/or performance of their group improved over the last year attributable to the participant’s leadership? 4.5
      3. How much better prepared are the participant(s) for additional leadership responsibilities/promotion in the future? 5.0
  3. Approximately 50% of participants meet the rigorous requirements for certification.
  4. Community success
    1. Better prepared leaders for additional leadership responsibility (see survey results).
    2. Program enrollment remains substantial and increasing – companies continue to enroll the maximum number of participants in the class. Over 75 companies have registered their employees. Cohort five has the most significant number of participants well in advance of program kick-off. 25% enrolled six months in advance of program kick-off.
    3. Promotion of local leaders – companies fill senior roles with local talent.
    4. ILI continually updates content – content remains fresh to address community requirements. ILI adds refreshed content and value to each successive course.
    5. Diverse leaders – programs continue to attract increasing rates of women and minorities, thereby improving the quality of leadership because of a more diverse pool of candidates.
  5. Watch a 5-minute video of participants describing the impact in their own words.

Conclusion: The best leaders elevate their leadership quality because they actively participate in well designed and effectively delivered leadership development programs. The IT Leaders programs involve a range of activities that include participants learning key frameworks, building skills, practicing new behaviors, reflecting on new skills and self-awareness activities, and feedback. We created the program to leverage the latest research on leadership development for adult learners. One defining feature of this program is that it heavily leverages technology to support learning outcomes. When the State of Ohio was on work from home requirements, the IT Leaders program helped its participants in building the leadership skills they needed to navigate the complex and uncertain territory of leading during a pandemic. Future classes will continue to build on the success of the past four years.

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

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

Photo by Christina Morillo

At C-Level #19 & #20: Crisis…Starting with People & Cash

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

The following is a blog written by Mike Sayre, President & COO of Innovative Leadership Institute.

 

PEOPLE always come first!

Businesses are built and run by people. As a C-level leader, losing the trust and confidence of your people during a crisis can create serious challenges and make your crisis worse!

How you treat your people, especially in times of crisis, will be remembered for a long time.

Having successfully led a number of companies through financial and/or operational crises, here are a couple of recommendations:

  • Transparency and timely communication are essential, whether the news is good or bad.
  • Deliver bad news with some kind of credible plan for how your organization will move forward with specifics on what you need from your people to make that happen.
  • If the plan will take more time to develop, don’t wait to communicate. Let your people know that and what they should be doing while the plan is being developed.
  • Hone and know your message so you can communicate it clearly, consistently and constantly.
  • Be visible, available, approachable, and open to the input of others, even if it needs to be through video conferencing, the telephone, text or email. Showing that you are available and open to input, shows respect. And, you may just get some better ideas than you currently have in mind.
  • You can’t lead others if you can’t lead yourself! Right now, during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, there are plenty of great posts, blogs, articles, and activities on the internet (and through other sources) that are focused on helping you get through this crisis by improving both your physical and mental health.

In addition to your people…the future of your business starts with CASH!

Do you know how much cash you have immediately available in the bank for the business? Do you have enough to cover your next payroll, the one after that, etc.? Do you have alternate sources of cash set up for temporary needs? If you use them, do you have any idea when you’ll have enough cash to pay them back?

Okay, so maybe this blog isn’t for you. However, there are lots of businesses owners out there who do not know the answers to those questions. I’ve seen them and I’ve helped them, so before it’s too late…please share this blog with others in your network who may not be able to answer these questions for their business!

If you can’t answer those questions, you are not the alone! Even if your business has been going really well over the past couple of years, the current pandemic may be creating new challenges that you really need to be preparing for now!

You would not believe the number and size of businesses that don’t have this relatively simple information to help keep their business running in the short term, especially during a crisis period.

Further below is a simple cash flow model in a spreadsheet. It is really no more than:

Cash in the bank today

plus      Cash coming in (customer receipts, loans, investor cash)

less        Cash going out (payroll, benefits, rent, and other expenses)

equals   Cash in the bank at the end of the period (week, month, etc.)

 

OMG…Duh…you say? Then go and ask your controller or accounting manager for the answers to those earlier questions. If they can easily give them to you, awesome! If not, read on.

Do not put this off and do not overthink it! Have your controller to put together a spreadsheet similar to this for your business, and tell them not to put this off and not to overthink it! Just make sure you are estimating to the best of your ability what the big and important numbers are and lump the rest into an average number for whatever period you use.

Here is the model:

Some things to note:

  • The company in this example is a software-as-a service (SaaS) provider…don’t get caught up in that, the model needs customized for your business!
  • Rounded numbers are close enough.
  • This company only pays its bills once per month (less expensive to do, easier to manage the cash flow, and most great partners will accept this…if not, pay twice per month).
  • Notice that if the company does not borrow on its line of credit, or provide the funding from somewhere else, it can’t make payroll in the week of 4/11/20. In this model, ABC borrowed $150,000 on its line of credit or from investors and is going to start paying it back by the end of the month, when the crisis is over.
  • This model is only for one month. You may want to do a couple of models so you can better plan what you will do if things don’t work out like you think they will over a longer period of time.
  • If you can’t make that next payroll, and you don’t have the ability to borrow from anyone or pull in additional investor cash, you have a major problem that would be better to figure out and address now, rather than when your payroll person tells you…which may not be until the day payroll is supposed to go out.

Some potential options?

  • Step up collection efforts from your biggest customers (be careful of setting off their alarm bells!)
  • Delay vendor payments (not a big impact in this model)
  • Delay payroll (I’d suggest being honest and transparent with your employees on how they get caught up on their pay based on your cash forecasting model)
  • Temporary layoff or shut down (if you are being transparent, your employees may be more willing to work with you than you think!)
  • Permanent layoff or shut down (what we are trying to avoid here!)
  • Others?

In any case, I hope you can see how this simple cash flow forecast is worth the effort, if you pay attention to it.

Once again, please do not overthink it and try to be any more precise than you really need to be! Getting a decent picture of where you are on a timely basis is of the essence right now.

The goal of this blog is to get business owners and C-level execs to be more proactive in managing their business through this and any other crisis. Don’t let your business crash because you did not pay attention to PEOPLE & CASH.

Next up…ADAPTING YOUR BUSINESS FOR POST-CRISIS SUCCESS!

 

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 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 is a highly experienced and successful startup, turnaround & growth specialist in the software, e-commerce, and manufacturing service industries, leading organizations as CEO, COO, CFO, CIO, and/or Board Director over the past 20 years. He is currently the president & COO of the Innovative Leadership Institute, a trusted partner inspiring and enabling perpetual innovation, evolution, and growth in leaders and their organizations.

Thanks for following me! If you would like to learn more or get help, please email me at msayre@innovateleader.com .