Joy at Work!

Ed Cook, cofounder of The Change Decision LLC, a change and culture consultancy focused on growing Joy at Work! provided this article as a companion to his podcast with fellow cofounder Roxanne Brown Joy at Work!

The Connex Executive Insights Series provides this article and podcast, produced in collaboration with Connex Partners. This invitation-only executive network brings industry leaders from the worlds of HR and healthcare together. Connex Members are part of a cutting-edge community, finding actionable solutions to their most pressing business challenges via high-value peer exchanges and curated resources, including tools, platforms, partners, and c-suite networking opportunities. Executive Insights Series features highly respected and engaging guests who share novel ideas and practices related to the latest leadership topics.

 

It’s a fascinating exercise to pose the question, “Are you a great Change Leader?”  The personae that tend to emerge break in one of two directions,  Lawyer or Scientist.

The Lawyer will begin with a recitation of presumably amazing evidence underlying their Change Leadership prowess — the project that landed well and the difficult situation that got smoothed over;   the success in personal conflict resolution and the time something else “amazing” happened.  It is all true and valid, an airtight case!

In contrast, the Scientist will pose a question: “How do I know if I am a great Change Leader?”  Evidence will be collected. But, even if done well, it’s not about proving a case but understanding the situation as informed by outside evidence, not inside justification.  That means asking others for assessments of your Change Leader skills.  The Scientist knows that understanding your own success at something can be difficult to judge.  Biases in self-judgment are insidious and difficult to eliminate fully.  The most insidious part? How do you know you are biased?

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

Although the path of the Lawyer is tempting and potentially useful in some situations,  like a job interview.  The path of the Scientist will yield results that can be better applied to improving the capabilities of a Change Leader.  The Dunning-Kruger Effect bears this out.  In their 1999 paper, “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the authors showed that people often do a poor job of judging their own competence at a task, particularly at the extremes of competence.  Revealed in their experiments was that those who performed at the low end of the performance scale judged themselves to be better at a task than they really were.  Meanwhile, those at the top judged themselves to be worse.  In a New York Times interview published on March 11, 2011, Dunning described the effect: “If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent … The skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.”

The explanation was that the bias results from two different effects. For those at the low end of the performance scale, there existed an internal illusion of their ability.  For those at the high end, there was an external misperception of other’s ability.   In their original paper, they state that “the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others.”  The solution?  Get an outside perspective.

In addition to simply asking others how you are doing, Dunning and Kruger in later work demonstrate that training in a task can increase the ability of people to judge their competence at the task.  The skill of judging your skills can be learned!  The first condition is understanding the standard of performance for a task.   To know if you have built the competency, you must know what “good” looks like.  For a Change Leader, starting with the purpose of the role is essential to understanding the standard of performance.

The Change Leader’s role is to create the conditions to make it easier for people to do things in a new way that will achieve the value of the change.  –The Change Decision

This definition implies that the role of the Change Leader is about more than just getting the project done or the change completed.  Making it easier for people to do their work is about culture.  To be a better Change Leader is to be better at growing the culture that you want for your organization.  A way of thinking about culture that has benefited many organizations is to grow a culture of Joy at Work.

So how do you grow Joy at Work?  First, a leader needs to lead change…which brings us back to the core question: “Are you a great Change Leader?”

Be a  Scientist

Applying the scientific approach means gathering data.  Following the advice of Dunning and Kruger means assess yourself and also ask others to assess you as a Change Leader.  The following outlines a useful start toward self-assessment for Change Leaders, and also, when recast as a set of questions, others can use the outline to give a Change Leader feedback on how they are doing so that they can improve.

Leadership Skills Questions

Situation Awareness Questions

  • How would I rate my skills in:
    • listening
    • communicating
    • encouraging
    • influencing
    • building partnerships
  • How well am I managing my mood and reactions?
  • How good am I at reading and interpreting the reaction of others?
  • How open and adaptable am I?
  • How self-aware am I?
  • What exactly am I being asked to do?
  • What’s the risk to me personally?  To my team?
  • What’s the ripple effect of that?
  • How confident I am in the initiative?
  • How confident am I in the people I’m dependent on to succeed?
  • What’s the opportunity?

 

After a leader goes through this assessment and gets feedback,  the answer to “Are you a great Change Leader?” will be clearer.  From there, it is a matter of continuing to use the Change Leader strengths that are revealed, finding just one thing to focus on improving.

An important element in this discussion is the use of the term, Leader versus Manager.  There is a broader discussion of the topic here, but in the context of becoming a great Change Leader, the use of “leader” is important.  To be sure, there is a role in managing change.  In fact,  an entire profession is driven by organizations like the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) and the Change Management Institute (CMI)  that define the roles and responsibilities of a Change Practitioner.   A Change Leader is a person accountable for the success of an initiative.  Change Leaders define what success looks like,  and although they would be wise to rely on a highly competent Change Practitioner, they also need to contribute to the success of the change effort.  This is not something that can be outsourced or delegated.  Only the leader of the group can play the role of Change Leader.

One Thing

Being a Change Leader can be a daunting task but, with focus,  anyone can improve their competencies and become a great Change Leader.  To do that,  follow the advice that so many have given.  And focus.  Answer this question:

What is the one thing I can do to make my next change initiative easier?

The answer will lead to what you,  the aspiring great Change Leader, need to focus on next.  It might be valuable to find a Coach or Mentor to help guide you.  You can read more about the difference here.  Get regular feedback on how you are progressing and it will only be a matter of time before  you can readily answer  an emphatic, “Yes!” to the question, “Are you a great Change Leader?”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Edward L. Cook has over 20 years of leadership and analytical experience at Capital One and Corning as well as 10 years of experience as a navy pilot. Ed was mobilized by the US Navy and sent to Baghdad, Iraq where, as CDR Ed Cook, he worked in the Green Zone on the Commanding General’s Staff, at the time Gen. David Petraeus. Ed worked extensively on employment initiatives for the people of Iraq bridging across the US military, the US Embassy, and the Government of Iraq. For his efforts, Ed was awarded the Bronze Star. Ed has implemented large process and infrastructure changes. The culminating effort was in leading the program where Capital One built coffee houses (Capital One Cafés) across the country instead of traditional branches. Today, Ed is the cofounder of The Change Decision LLC, a change and culture consultancy focused on growing Joy at Work. Ed has a BS in Aerospace Engineering, an MBA, and holds a PhD in Systems Modeling and Analysis. He brings his expertise in Decision Analytics to the work of The Change Decision. Ed also employs his analytics expertise as a Visiting Professor at the University of Richmond in both the undergraduate and MBA programs.

Roxanne M. Brown has over 25 years of change experience with Capital One and other companies, focused on leader and team transformation coaching, large-scale change initiatives, culture strategy, communications and training. Roxanne has established a Change Leadership Community of Practice, helped implement the first change management practices, and set the program change management methodology and toolset for organizations. She teaches change management courses, leads discussion groups on the subject, and mentors practitioners. Her specialty is in creating high-performing teams by engaging the unique abilities of leaders and team members. As a result, Roxanne moves the organization beyond just implementation and into culture strengthening. Today, Roxanne is the cofounder of The Change Decision LLC, a change and culture consultancy focused on growing Joy at Work. Roxanne received her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts, with a focus in Leadership Studies, from the University of Richmond. She brings her unique combination of leadership insight and coaching abilities to guide leaders through not only completing the change by improving their organization’s culture. She is also the past President of the Board of Directors for the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP).

 

RESOURCES:

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Additional Resources offered by our trusted colleagues and partners

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

Curing Corporate Short-Termism

Greg Milano, Founder and CEO of Fortuna Advisors, provided this article as  It is a companion piece to his podcast Curing Corporate Short-Termism. 

 

Most companies are facing profitability headwinds as inflation drives up their operating costs and rising interest rates make financing more expensive.  Some have such strong brand differentiation that they are able to pass these cost increases along in the form of higher prices.  For example, Pepsico announced earnings on October 12 that exceeded analyst expectations for revenue and earnings per share (EPS).  Their revenues for the first 36 weeks of 2022 were up 14% and almost all of that was pricing, with a slight increase in aggregate volume.

Unfortunately, many companies don’t enjoy such strong product or service differentiation and would lose significant volume if they raised prices to fully offset the cost increases they face.  The managements of most of these companies feel they must resort to across-the-board cost cutting to have any hope for a decent profit result.  Many finance executives view this as a good opportunity to streamline work flows and eliminate excess waste.  As Winston Churchill (likely) said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

We should all be in favor of eliminating waste, but these broad slash-and-burn cost cuts often end up harming the long-term value of the organization. Back in the 1990s, a colleague and I were sitting off to the side of a life sciences client executive committee meeting, awaiting our turn to present, when the CEO called over to ask me my thoughts on his initiative to cut costs by five percent in every department. I’m sure he thought as the shareholder value guy I’d back him up. But instead I asked, “Why are you cutting R&D?”

Avoid Wasteful Spending

To be sure, there is often wasteful spending in R&D, sometimes to an even greater extent than other departments.  We worked with one life sciences client where almost 40%of their current R&D budget was devoted to projects that, over their full life-cycle, were projected to have a negative net present value—i.e., the present value of all cash outflows was higher than the present value of cash inflows.  Once we eliminate sunk costs, many of these projects appeared to add incremental value on a forward basis. Yet the fact that such a large proportion of current spending was concentrated in these projects indicated two big problems.

First, the company was not proficient at selecting and executing value-creating projects. Admittedly, life sciences is a tough business and, by default, many projects will not succeed.  Second, and of bigger concern, was that the company seemed to struggle with admitting failure. So they kept funding projects whose odds of success looked marginal at best, even when project managers were able to achieve their forward projection, which was a rare occurrence.

The company would have been better off “failing fast” on many of these projects, defunding them, and reallocating more financial and human resources to the more promising initiatives. The pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, asserts that roughly 80% of value comes from 20% of businesses’ activities.  And in every R&D organization I have worked with, the pareto principle seems to hold true, whether or not managements embrace its implications.

The smearing of capital, innovation and marketing resources evenly across business units and projects is often referred to as “peanut buttering,” as if we were smearing spread across a slice of bread.  Most executives know, at least intuitively, that they should concentrate the resources where they create the most value—the expected (value) benefit of placing fewer bigger bets is not lost on them.  But this rarely happens.  It seems as if management is unsure where their best opportunities lie, so they disperse resources across the portfolio to be sure they don’t mistakenly defund a winner.  Another obstacle can be the strength of office politics, which is often one of the most value-destructive attributes in an organization. Thus boards and other company leaders should also seek out objective frameworks for resource allocation to avoid this unfortunate drag on many corporate cultures.

Ownership Culture

Before considering how to protect innovation during a downturn, consider the culture of the organization and whether management’s actions are aligned with the long-term interests of shareholders. When this is the case, we observe what we at Fortuna Advisors refer to as an ownership culture.  In such corporate environments, leadership of the organization thinks and acts as if they owned the company.  There are five key traits of an ownership culture that are important, and leaders would do well to assess how well their organizations represent these traits:

  1. Act like the money is yours
  2. Extreme prioritization
  3. Willingness to experiment, and fail
  4. Less talking and more doing
  5. Focus on both short- and long-term

Leaders in innovation areas should embrace these principles, especially during tough times. When they act like an owner, they don’t tolerate wasteful spending because they act like the money is theirs.  By defunding marginal innovation projects, they free up resources to prioritize more important projects. They are willing to experiment and try new ideas, but when they don’t work out, they fail fast and avoid throwing good money after bad.  With a true bias for action, they avoid “analysis paralysis” via endless meetings without decisions. The drive to deliver results in the current year should be very strong, but thoughtful business owners would never get there by cutting vital investments that drive future success.

Still, when asked to slash an innovation budget, don’t blindly fight it.  Acknowledge there may be some wasteful endeavors that should be eliminated.  Try to reduce more than you need so you can increase investment in the best opportunities, at least somewhat, to achieve more with your real winners.  In one client, for every dollar we moved from marginal projects to the high-priority initiatives, the net present value of the company increased by three dollars!

Better Accounting for Value Creation

Another obstacle to innovation comes with standard conventions around financial accounting.  Traditional investments in assets such as property and equipment are capitalized and amortized over their useful lives. But according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), R&D and other important value drivers such as brand building, are typically expensed in the current year. The result is to discourage investing in these vital value drivers. And in tough times, it makes them the first areas most executives look to cut.

The problem has become especially pronounced in recent decades as the amount of investment in intangible assets has surpassed the investment in tangible, suggesting they have become a bigger source of value than traditional brick-and-mortar. And while thoughtful business owners (and managers) are fully capable of looking past accounting quirks to make the right decisions for the future of the business, the incentives of most public company executives decidedly discourages investment in innovation and future value creation. The first step in correcting this accounting problem is to examine how well your incentives align with share price and intrinsic value creation, and then to consider capitalizing investments like R&D and brand-building over the long term.

Those with questions or who are interested in learning more are encouraged to reach out to the author at gregory.milano@fortuna-advisors.com.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Gregory Milano is Founder and CEO of Fortuna Advisors, a thought leader and trusted advisor in helping clients transform their value creation potential through bold improvements to managerial insights, decisions, and behaviors. Greg is a recognized industry leader in financial performance measurement and valuation, capital allocation and incentive compensation. He is the author of Curing Corporate Short-Termism: Future Growth vs. Current Earnings. His work is regularly published in The Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, CFO Magazine, Fortune, and The Wall Street Journal, amongst others. He earned an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

 

RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

Additional Resources offered by our trusted colleagues and partners

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

Your Grit (Perseverance and Passion): 4 Levels

Jim Ritchie-Dunham, president of the Institute for Strategic Clarity and co-author of Ecosynomics:  The Science of Abundance shares this article as a companion to his podcast The Power of Passion & Perseverance:  Four Levels of Grit.

In this podcastFreakonomics UChicago economist Steven Levitt explores “grit” with Grit UPenn psychologist Angela Duckworth. Characterizing grit as perseverance and passion, they explore different ways people think of their own grit. Listening to this podcast, having reading Duckworth’s book, I realized that you could think of grit from an ecosynomic perspective from four different levels.

Noun level, where I focus on agreements based in what is already finished. At the noun level, grit (nGrit) is about my own node, the immediate space around my own self. I have an executable goal that I can achieve with my existing capacities. I have enough grit to read a book today, or climb that mountain this week.

Verb-noun level, where I pay attention to agreements based on what I am developing in relationships and capacities (verbs), as well as the outcomes (nouns). At the verb-noun level, grit (vnGrit) is about my own node and its links to other nodes. I have an intermediate-level, developmental goal, that I achieve as I grow. I have enough grit to strengthen my capacity to read more and more deeply, or climb that mountain, coming out stronger than I started.

Light-verb-noun level, where I focus on agreements based in my beingness, my potential, what I am becoming as I develop relationships and capacities, and the outcomes of that tangibilizing process. At the light-verb-noun level, grit (lvnGrit) is about my node, links to other nodes, and the centers of the circles of linked nodes. I have what Duckworth refers to as a top-level goal, often a deeper shared purpose to which I have the grit to contribute, that is in my potential to grow into being able to achieve. I can see that I will be able to read ever-more challenging books, and even begin to write books. I can see that I could climb ever-more challenging mountains, and maybe in different ways.

Ecosystems-of-sacred-hospitality level, where I focus on agreements based in the deeper purpose I feel called to serve. At the ecosystems-of-sacred-hospitality level, grit (eshGrit) is about the liminal space generated by the double pull of transcendence away from herenow and immanence completely in herenow. In my grit, I have an existential-master goal, which defines and guides every aspect of who I am and what I do. I am in service to reading or climbing, continuously in the process of cotangibilizing my service to that purpose, evolving what I understand is in my potential to realize along the way.

Grit. Perseverance and passion. What that means to me depends on what I see as my reality. Nouns only. Nouns and verbs. Nouns, verbs, and light. Ecosystems of sacred hospitality. Each level of reality engages orders of magnitude more grit, all which is inside of me to choose.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jim is president of the Institute for Strategic Clarity, affiliated with Boston College, Harvard, EGADE Business School, and UPMadrid, co-author of Ecosynomics (2014) & Managing from Clarity (2001). He blogs regularly at jlrd.me. He has a BSPE (UTulsa), MIM (Thunderbird), MBA (ESADE), and PhD Decision Sciences (UTAustin). Ecosynomics: The Science of Abundance shows (1) you prefer abundance-based agreements to scarcity-based ones, (2) lots of people have figured out how to live this way, for decades, with far better results and experiences, and (3) you can choose to shift your agreements, experiences, and outcomes to abundance-based. [Get the book at https://bit.ly/ecosynomicsbook.]

 

RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

Additional Resources offered by our trusted colleagues and partners

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

New to Foresight? Start Here.

Rebecca Ryan, a top 50 professional futurist, economist, best-selling author, and entrepreneur, shares this article as a companion to her podcast The Future Is Yours to Create. 

 

The most common question I’m asked is, “You’re a futurist? What is that?” Here’s my attempt to break it down in everyday terms.

What do futurists do?

Professional futurists think deeply about what’s coming to help clients prepare for multiple, plausible futures. Ultimately, we help clients shape the future they want. “Strategic foresight” is a formal term for this work, looking into the future and figuring out what’s coming, so you can be ready. Most of our clients think in 10-year horizons. Some more, some less.

Wait, you said futures with an ‘s’ as the end, plural?

Yes, professional futurists speak in terms of futures. There is no one single future, not for you and not for me. No one can predict the future. Anyone who tells you that is not, IMHO, a professional futurist.

Every person, organization, and system has multiple, plausible futures. Futures are a dynamic blend of “outside forces” (things you can’t control that happen to you, like a hurricane, an economic collapse, or a rare health diagnosis) and “inside forces” (things you can control that will also shape your future, like how well you take care of yourself and how you use your time.)

What’s more, strategic foresight is not a crystal ball or a woo-woo process. Done right, strategic foresight has guts. And data. (Lots of data). And heart. And meat. And creativity. And compelling calls to action.

Spoiler: when people learn how rigorous strategic foresight is, some freak out. “I don’t have the time do to this!” Let me push back and ask, “You don’t have the time to prepare for the future? You’d rather just do what you’ve always done, and hope for the best?”

Okay, so how does a futurist do what they do?

Many futurists use a set of tried-and-true tools (like sensemaking and scenarios). Some futurists specialize in one sector (my firm has a niche in the public sector), and some develop deep expertise in one or two foresight techniques.

My team structures our work around four phases (see image below). Each phase asks important questions to help clients see what’s coming (Sensing); how their organization might look in the future as a result of what’s coming (Imagining); what they can do to shape their preferred future (Defining); and how to develop momentum to work on their future in the midst of all the “regular work” (Doing). For an audiovisual deeper dive into these phases, check out this episode of Futures Friday here.

 

My organization does strategic planning. Is this the same thing?

Not quite. Strategic planning and strategic foresight are different in several important ways:

  • Strategic planning starts with today (usually a SWOT analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). Foresight starts with the future — what’s coming? My team generally uses a STEEP trend analysis: what social, technology, economic, environmental and political trends will shape your future? (Sensing)
  • Strategic planning focuses on near-term plans of three or five years. Foresight looks at 10-year and 20-year horizons (sometimes longer!) before developing plans. (Sensing, Imagining)
  • Strategic planning focuses on one hoped-for future. Foresight considers several plausible futures ranging from challenging to surprisingly successful. (Imagining)
  • Those in the C-suite generally do strategic planning with a trained facilitator. My team recommends using a blend of leaders plus Red Teamswho respectfully ask tough questions.

How do organizations use strategic foresight?

In my experience:

  • During disruptions, organizations use foresight to anticipate what changes may still be looming and adjust their strategic plans accordingly.
  • Communities use strategic foresight as a community-wide visioning process.
  • Cities use foresight before they start their 10-year comprehensive planning process.
  • Organizations use the foresight process to develop their 10-year or 20-year vision and then build their five-year plan based on the vision.
  • Organizations use strategic foresight and include different voices (or all employees) instead of traditional strategic planning to change things up.

Here are some characteristics of future-ready organizations and communities. Do you live or work in a place like this?

  • Their leaders are visionary and sometimes seen as “weird” or unusual because they don’t have a herd mentality. They’re willing to look farther into the horizon and ask tough questions (Is what we’re doing working?)
  • They can make adjustments. They’re not so attached to how things are, and they can roll with the punches.
  • They are constantly investing. In people. In training. In technology. There’s a certain “eustress” (positive stress) in future-ready places, a certain unease with the status quo. That’s because these people are restless about complacency. They know that “watch and wait” is not a viable strategy.
  • They are genuinely interested in different points of view, because they know that having multiple perspectives is valuable and “group think” stinks of complacency.

This sounds kind of exciting. How should I get started?

Woohoo! I’m glad you’re intrigued. Below are some of my favorite resources. I also recommend practicing some techniques to soften your mind and begin thinking like a futurist, by practicing noticing and setting up a signals and sensemaking practice.

Resources for the Foresight-Curious

  • Our blog offers ideas, techniques, and deep dives on foresight and leadership. Check it out here.
  • Institute for the Future’s “Ready, Set, Future” online coursevia Coursera. Learn more here.
  • Speaking of IFTF, their Executive Director (and my spirit animal), Marina Gorbis, wrote a great article, Five Principles for Thinking Like a Futuristhere.
  • If you are serious about using foresight with your team or organization, let’sfind a time to talk.
  • To find a professional futurist near you, check out theAPF Directory.
  • My newsletter is for those in the trenches trying to make the world better for future generations. Sign upor read one of the most popular recent issues.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rebecca Ryan is a noted top 50 professional futurist, economist, best-selling author and entrepreneur. She is the founder of NEXT Generation Consulting through which she partners with private and public sector leaders across the country. Looking a generation ahead, she outlines strategies in urban planning, economic development, and workforce development to ensure communities are well equipped for future trends and challenges. Rebecca is a graduate of Drake University with a certificate in Strategic Foresight from University of Houston; she is on the Executive Committee of the global Association of Professional Futurists. For more info: https://rebeccaryan.com

RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

Additional Resources offered by our trusted colleagues and partners

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

We’re at a Pivotal Time in Human History: Welcome to VUCA MAX

Chris Nolan is a multiple Emmy Award-winning director, creative director, marketing strategist, branding story expert, and author who provided this article as a companion to his podcast  Facing Uncertainty:  It’s VUCA

 

In the mockumentary/rockumentary “This Is Spinal Tap”, the lead guitarist character, Nigel Tufnel, tells the director of the film that he’s gone beyond the loudest setting on guitar amps. Instead of level 10 “these go to 11”.

This, of course, sounds a bit ridiculous. How do you go louder than the loudest setting? But it’s an apt analogy for the crazy world we now live in. A world we call VUCA MAX where the intensity of life has been boosted from 10 to 11. And it’s exponentially accelerating and increasing every day. Both the downside and the upside!

In our recent documentary, called IT’S VUCA: THE SECRET TO LIVING IN THE 21ST CENTURY, we went on a journey to discover the answers to “what you are going through” and to help the everyday person overcome the overwhelm and thrive today and tomorrow.

It features some of the world’s greatest VUCA experts: Generals, elite Navy SEALs, Delta Force commanders, Blue Angels, NY Times best-selling authors, neuroscience experts, leadership gurus, and world-renowned futurists.

VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. It was coined by the military in 1987 to explain the uncertainty of the 20th century and is a very apt way of explaining the conditions and environment of the early part of the 21st Century, in which we were witnessing Moore’s Law – every 18 months the power of technology was doubling –– and transforming the world.

It’s why the smartphone in your pocket is now a million times faster, a million times cheaper, and a thousand times smaller than a supercomputer on the 1970s.

Small wonder, VUCA provided a paradigm for the converging forces of technological disruption and quickly became an essential for leadership strategy in business and the military.

 

VUCA MAX vs. VUCA

When we started filming IT’S VUCA, right in the middle of Covid, we began to notice the speed of change pick up even more.

A phenomenon predicted by Ray Kurzweil of Google kicked in –– as technologies converge, we must factor in the extraordinary power of exponential growth.

AI, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, and devices across all industries are exponentially leaping ahead and disrupting society.

As New York Times multiple best-selling author Steven Kotler said in the film “The future is moving faster than you think”.

Way, way, way faster than yesterday’s VUCA.

A world that was already insanely Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous is now on steroids.  Today, the convergence, speed, and disruption are MASSIVE, ACCELERATING, and EXPONENTIAL. Hence, VUCA MAX.

This Hockey Stick graph below says it all:

As a result, and as Ray Kurzweil famously predicts, we will see 100 years of growth in the next 10 years. So, buckle your seatbelts.  And if you think that is warp speed, in the next 100, it’ll be more like 20,000 of growth. For those of you who doubt, Kurzweil has a documented 86% accuracy rate in his technological predictions. Even if he’s off a few thousand years that’s still head-spinning.

It means every major industry on earth is going to be reinvented over the next 10 years. It means there’s more opportunity for people who can master these VUCA MAX conditions than ever before. Which is why, we’re going to see more wealth created over the next decade than ever before in history.

Unfortunately, our evolutional brains have a problem with exponential thinking.  We think linearly, 30 steps = 30 steps. Exponential growth doubles each step. Two (2) becomes four (4), and eight is around the corner; then 16, 32, 64, 128, etc. –– Thirty (30) exponential steps take you to the moon.  In the blink of an eye. change will race ahead beyond our comprehension and imagination.

 

FORK IN THE ROAD MOMENT

We are now at a pivot point in human history when change will challenge and push the envelope of our linear biased minds to master this new world.

What does this mean for individuals and organizations?

Firstly, we all need AWARENESS that VUCA MAX is skyrocketing.

As recent stats from the World Economic Forum inform us, since COVID, the crises, uncertainty, and risks have only accelerated. It’s a huge list – from geopolitical, economic, social and climate upheaval, to threats to democracy and to mental health deterioration.

But, along with these mega issues we must keep in mind the mega opportunities.

As my friend, futurist Gerd Leonard explains, “This is a fork in the road moment”.

This uncharted territory calls for a new frontier of human evolution in order to develop our highest human faculties including Vertical Knowing superpowers that are beyond knowledge like creativity, imagination, intuition, empathy, purpose, higher values, beliefs, and greater global consciousness.

Think about it. Your smart phone’s operating system continuously updates while you also upgrade you phone at least every few years. But some people haven’t upgraded their mindsets for decades. We need to keep upgrading our human algorithms as often as we do our technological algorithms.

Since the IT’S VUCA movie, people have inundated us with requests about how to apply the revelations in the film to create new models and stories to keep up with change, gain anti-fragile resilience, higher performance capabilities, foresight, and courage in their lives and leadership endeavors.

People want to know what to do. How do they prepare, upgrade their mindsets and potential in order to succeed in this new human evolution?

As we experienced during COVID, chaos, complexity, and uncertainty can stop us in our tracks and send us into a passive default victim mode. But that’s the opposite of what you need in a VUCA MAX world.

You want to be in creative mode, on the offensive, and super conscious of the abundance and creative opportunities ahead. You want to be able to handle more and more complexity without anxiety and doubt and become anti-fragile as you embrace change and the unknown.

To empower you to thrive in these demanding times, we’ve created an entire VUCA MAX program with specific tools and practices especially designed to help you embrace change and adversity and evolve into the greatest version of yourself.

In a VUCA MAX world, all of humanity is counting on us. And on YOU.

Image from the documentary “It’s VUCA: The Secret to Living in the 21st Century”.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Chris Nolan is a multiple Emmy Award-winning director, creative director, marketing strategist, branding story expert and author. He brings 25 years of branding, writing, directing and production experience in both entertainment and marketing to his content production company, 90,000 Feet –– working for clients such Disney, Google and Toyota.

He recently directed and co-wrote with Mike Schindler, the documentary “It’s VUCA: The Secret to Living in the 21st Century”. Chris and Mike have followed up the film with a book and an extensive leadership and executive coaching program called VUCA MAX.

To preorder the book or for more information on the VUCA MAX program go to https://itsvuca.com or contact Chris at Chris@itsvuca.com.

 

RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

Additional Resources offered by our trusted colleagues and partners

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

The Future of Work In Four Words

Rod Lacey, Chief People Operations Officer at SimPRO, provided this article as a companion piece to his podcast Employees: Empowered! 

Welcome to another edition of the Connex Executive Insights Series, produced in collaboration with Connex Partners, an invitation-only executive network that brings industry leaders together from the worlds of HR and Healthcare. Connex Members are part of a cutting-edge community, finding actionable solutions to their most pressing business challenges via high-value peer exchanges and curated resources, including tools, platforms, partners, and c-suite networking opportunities. Executive Insights Series features highly respected and engaging guests who share novel ideas and practices related to the latest leadership topics.

 

“Character is not only doing the right thing when no one is looking, it’s doing the right thing when everyone is looking. It’s being willing to do the right thing even when it costs more than you want to pay.”– Michael Josephson

I’ve got five kids so you can only imagine how many lessons about doing the right thing fly around our family. Yes, I can see why you’d scream at your brother who has been taunting you for the last hour, but we shouldn’t scream at others. Screaming is not the right thing to do, walking away is. If I had a dollar for every time we’ve had this or a similar conversation… Sound familiar?

If you spend any time around young kids who are still learning how to operate within social constructs, you’ll hear things about what is and is not okay to do. Yet rare is the adult who goes around talking about doing the right thing. They may do it, but they don’t talk about it. Or they may not do the right thing and not talk about it. Just imagine someone walking into the office and saying, “I just cut someone off on the highway because I felt like it. That is NOT the right thing to do.”

If there’s one thing we’ve all learned over the past few years, it’s that change is inevitable. In the past year, I’ve met my colleagues barking dogs and screaming kids over zoom calls, and my team kept their PJ pants on while they gave presentations. We’ve adapted to virtual work, with plenty of humor and a bit of grace.

So maybe, just maybe, we’ll start talking a little bit more about what it means to do the right thing in the workplace.

 

How can we adapt to future work trends?

The changing work environment and relationship between employers and employees presents big challenges for both parties.

Employees still feel added pressure and worries far beyond their office desk. It comes home with them, grabbing an uninvited seat at the dinner table or the kid’s dance lessons as they navigate worries about how to keep themselves and their families healthy, happy and financially stable. It keeps them up at night.

Employers also face the challenge of meeting strategic goals with tighter resources, rising costs and growing inflation.

And while this change comes with challenges, it also presents an immense opportunity for growth and an opportunity to infuse our cultures with a do the right thing attitude.

To face these challenges and lead the future, we at simPRO choose to lean into our values. We turn to our greatest asset, our people, for new considerations on how they want remote work, pay, and their physical and mental health to shape the future of their employee experience and our long-term growth and success as a business.

From this, our new “Do the Right Thing” benefits program was born.

This package is built on our commitment to employee empowerment and values-based growth. Our values, “We Care” and “We Innovate,” drive our belief that our continued growth and future success as a business depends largely on our employees’ ability to thrive professionally and personally.

We believe that the future of work puts the employee at the forefront of strategic decisions by partnering with them to make decisions that affect the employee experience at simPRO.

For us, this means listening to our employees’ candid feedback and getting to know them and their challenges at an individual level. We do this through forums like Firesides, Town Hall meetings and a strong commitment to one-on-one meetings. Employees have the opportunity to submit questions ahead of time, but our leadership team also answers many questions on the spot, with no interest in meeting in secret rooms to deliberate how they’ll respond– even when the questions are tough. Our value, “We Own It”, guides these open discussions between employees and leadership, with transparency leading the way.

We also believe that we must continually strengthen the employee experience by validating, recognizing and uplifting our employees with benefits that support their total well-being– in the face of every triumph and every adversity.

As part of our “Do the Right Thing” program, our Executive team has chosen to take pay cuts so that we can provide an inflationary pay increase of up to 10% for every employee that earns less than $120,000 AUD ($80,000 USD) per year to help combat the impacts of inflation on our employees.

We also believe in the fundamental human right for a person to make decisions about their own health.  We established a $5,000 grant for any US employee who must travel more than 100 miles for any medical procedure, including abortion, for themselves or their immediate family.

These additions not only address the immediate needs of our team. They play a fundamental role in our long-term growth strategy as a business.

We believe that for the business to grow, culture has to grow. To do this, we step forward as one of the first international technology companies to model a human-centered approach to leadership. By pledging this level of support to our employees, we hope to create a paradigm shift in the way companies in every industry think about their employees and the future of work.

 

How do we create a culture of employee empowerment?

The future of work will be led by companies that take care of employees, treat employees well and value their employees. For starters, we treat people as adults.

Our Flex4 32-hour work week allows employees to build a flexible work environment that suits their personal needs without compromising our commitment to our customers or our productivity. Whether this means leaving work a bit early to pick up the kids from school, heading to a therapy appointment mid-day or enjoying a three-day weekend every week of the year, we’ve seen our team produce better work more efficiently when they have the time and work-life balance fewer working hours each week provides.

We encourage employees to constantly look for opportunities to be the best version of themselves, both at work and personally.

If this includes starting a family, we support them with 24 weeks of 100% paid leave for the primary caregiver and eight weeks of paid parental leave for the secondary caregiver as part of our industry-leading parental leave policy.

We’ve had the opportunity to employ incredible people, with a large proportion of our staff employed with us for many years. Many individuals on our team have developed and excelled in their chosen field over the years and step into new roles within the company that push them to grow personally and professionally. This leads to high levels of accountability and pride in the work we do, and also helps with retention. We are able to show employees that we are committed to them and their wellbeing beyond just their role at simPRO. In turn, our employees feel more committed to do great work for us.

It is through this, and with the support of “Do the Right Thing” that our employees can be the most productive, authentic, and healthy version of themselves when they come to work. And when our employees are the best version of themselves, our business thrives.

This is where the name of our program comes from. The underlying philosophy for everything we do is simple: it’s simply the right thing to do.

We hope that you will join us on our journey to lead the future of work, and continue building a world where every field service business is free to build, repair and power their company’s future.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

As simPRO’s Chief People Operations Officer, Rod Lacey leads all aspects of simPRO’s global human resources, aligning the people strategy with the company’s aggressive business and customer goals. Rod has nearly three decades of HR experience, having led and transformed the human resource experience with highly successful companies in the technology and online ordering industries.

 

RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

Additional Resources offered by our trusted colleagues and partners

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

Growing a Powerhouse City: Leading Together

Kenny McDonald, President and CEO of the Columbus Partnership, a civic organization of Columbus’ top business leaders, shares his experience growing Columbus, Ohio. This podcast, Growing a Powerhouse City:  Leading Together, was conducted at the CIO Tomorrow Conference, where Kenny was a keynote speaker.

This article was written by Maureen Metcalf, CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute. The article was first published on Forbes.com.

Across the globe, leaders are grappling with the future of work across a broad spectrum of considerations — ranging from mandating vaccines to what hybrid work looks like — to attract and engage employees to run operations.

I have seen lots of articles on the future of work. This article addresses the future of leadership. As work changes, leadership must also change. Helping leaders become future-ready has been an important topic for me for over a decade. I started a company focusing on helping leaders “innovate how they lead” to keep pace with their industries and stakeholders. Post-Covid-19, the leadership required to succeed has changed. Leaders must rethink their mindset (also known as their leadership algorithm) and their actions. Here are some of the changes that will be needed.

Organizational Impact In Place Of Personal Recognition

Many traditional leaders are guided by the desire for personal success and peripherally by organizational success. The future-ready leader’s vision of success provides humble guidance based on performance and the value of the organization’s positive impact. This leader seeks to maximize organizational success over personal recognition. This shift is significant as employees are increasingly making job choices based on the company’s alignment with making an impact. According to a January 2021 McKinsey article, “Future-ready companies recognize that purpose helps attract people to join an organization, remain there, and thrive. Investors understand why this is valuable and factor purpose into their decision making: the rise of environmental, social, and governance (ESG)–related funds is just one of the ways they acknowledge that purpose links to value creation in tangible ways.”

Collaboration In Place Of Command And Control

Traditional leaders relied heavily on a “command and control” style, where they had most of the answers. Now, the future leader leverages the team for answers as part of the decision-making process. An example is companies surveying their employees to ask them how they want to work post-Covid-19 rather than leaders dictating policy. Leaders who ask and respond by balancing business requirements and employee preferences find more success than companies that dictate policies. According to a report by Monster.com, in what’s being called the “Great Resignation,” 95% of workers are considering changing jobs. With this level of workforce pressure, the stakes are high to get the return-to-work policies right because employees are more mobile, and attracting talent is increasingly challenging.

Experimentation Over Simple Solutions

Leaders who pick a direction in a “black/white” manner often tend to stay the course dogmatically. Future leaders perceive and behave like scientists: continually experimenting, measuring and testing for improvement and exploring new models and approaches. These leaders understand they need to make quick decisions and move into action before they have sufficient information. However, this fast action leaves them at risk if they cannot refine their direction based on what they learn from their initial steps. Therefore, they take the smallest decision and action possible so they can learn and refine their approach. Agility becomes foundational.

Growth Mindset In Place Of Fixed Mindset

Leaders who focus on being technically correct and in charge put themselves at a disadvantage compared to the future-friendly leader who continually learns and develops themselves and others. With the volume of change, leaders need to continue to learn about their industries, businesses, and leadership craft. They need a growth mindset and need to help their organizations become learning organizations.

Engagement Focus In Place Of Autocracy

Leaders who managed people by being autocratic and controlling must shift to focus on motivating and engaging people through strategic focus, mentoring and coaching, emotional and social intelligence and empowerment. With a tight labor market, companies struggle to attract and retain employees required to meet customer expectations. Employee engagement is higher when leaders use a range of engagement modes and tools to drive success.

There’s a strong connection between employee engagement and company profitability. In a Gallup study of nearly 200 organizations, companies with the highest levels of employee engagement were 22% more profitable and 21% more productive than those with low levels of engagement. In addition, 94% of the companies on Hay Group’s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies believe that their efforts to engage employees create a competitive advantage.

Multi-Stakeholder Model In Place Of Profit Only

Traditional leaders who tend to the numbers and primarily use quantitative measures that drive those numbers need to expand how they define and manage performance and broaden their focus. The future-focused leader continually balances customer satisfaction, employee engagement, community impact, cultural cohesion, social responsibility, environmental impact and profit. This leader is balancing a broader range of stakeholders with nuanced expectations.

Movements like conscious capitalism expand the definition of capitalism and encourage leaders to be more aware of the impact their decisions have on the broader stakeholder community they serve. Similarly, the increasingly popular ESG movement requires that leaders consider the environmental, social, and governance impacts of their decisions. Increasingly, large institutional investors are focusing on companies with healthy ESG performance records. From Citi’s 2020 ESG report, “The events of 2020 are a stark reminder that companies like ours have a role to play in helping tackle the world’s toughest problems — and this sense of responsibility drives our ESG agenda,” said Jane Fraser, Citi CEO. “We don’t see ESG as a separate effort. Instead, it is embedded in our daily efforts to support our clients, colleagues, and communities, and our work as a bank. We take great pride in our work and are delighted to share it with all our stakeholders in this report.”

Final Thoughts

As leaders, we are the stewards of our organizations, employees, and stakeholders’ expectations. Therefore, we need to build future-ready leadership mindsets and skills required to lead in a manner that promotes success short- and long-term for our broad range of stakeholders.

 

RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

Additional Resources offered by our trusted colleagues and partners

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

Hiring for Keeps:  The Rise of Recruiter.com

Evan Sohn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Recruiter.com provided this article as a companion to his podcast,  Hiring for Keeps:  The Rise of Recruiter.com

 

In 2019 the average cost to hire an employee was $4,129. In 2021 it was $4,425. Based on the BLS data the total cost to hire employees in 2019 was on average $24B per month. Given increased employee churn from the great resignation and the job hopper economy (which we are now calling “job mobility”), the May 2022 cost to hire was $4.6B more than the 2019 avg cost to hire. So far, the US Economy has spent over $25B more than in 2019 on hiring. We predicted in December 2021 that it would exceed $50B (over 2019 spend) and so far, we are tracking. (Note the avg cost to hire an executive is $14,936 so it is an even higher cost).

I saw this article about a survey from PwC and I could not believe it as it reported that despite a looming recession that 20% of their surveyed folks were planning to quit in 2022. Now keep in mind that the annual voluntary churn in the US was already around 20% but it ranges pre-pandemic from 12% in financial services to 80% in hospitality and retail. So 20% doesn’t really sound off any alarms to those who know the numbers but, it does show that job mobility might not be a deterrent with a recession.

We also keep hearing about “tech layoffs” almost on a daily basis. The Recruiter Index does show recruiting in the IT Sector to be as strong as May but flat in terms of Month over Month tracking.

It was our opinion that many of these layoffs were in fact a result of the over-hiring of employees that we reported on CNBC earlier in the year. The high-quality developers are still in demand and are fetching very high salaries.

We actually launched a new initiative to help companies build their OWN development teams outside of the US (mostly in LATAM). We are seeing a desire for US companies to invest in their own teams (as opposed to outsourced development organizations) but locate these folks (remote) in near-shore regions like LATAM. We are doing this without any placement fees. This is ideal for startups and high-growth companies seeking to hire awesome developer talent without the higher cost of today’s US software engineers or the markup of outsourced development companies.

So assuming there is a recession and it does not impact the job mobility of today’s employees what could you do about it? Here is a great article on the ways to retain your talent during these “interesting” times…and it is not just paying more money.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Evan is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Recruiter.com, an on-demand recruiting platform that combines AI and video job-matching technology with the world’s largest network of small and independent recruiters.

RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Here is a free assessment provided by the Innovative Leadership Institute that will measure the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation. Click HERE

If you completed the Leadership Mindset Assessment and want to explore additional resources to develop your leadership, we recommend you:

  1. Read the Forbes article Are You A Future-Ready Leader– free
  2. Purchase a comprehensive online course ILI Leadership Mindset Program for $174.99

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

Innovative Leadership: Moving Beyond Resilience To Antifragility

Greg Moran, a C-level digital, strategy, and change leadership executive with extensive global operations experience, shares his experience in this podcast, Recession Prep 101:  Planning Is Everything.

This article is written by Christoper Washington, a learning ecosystem designer who serves as Executive Vice President and Provost of Franklin University

Over the past two years, the destabilizing effects of the pandemic and other socio-economic, geopolitical and technological headwinds have made it difficult to harmonize plans, infrastructure, resources and programs with the changing needs of stakeholders. Changing stakeholder needs and differences in leaders’ responses to disruptive forces in higher education resulted in an uneven recovery from the pandemic, with some colleges struggling or even shutting their doors, others resiliently bouncing back to pre-pandemic operating levels, and some even growing stronger in achieving their mission. With regard to the destabilizing effects of change, it was the 20th-century pugilist Mike Tyson who said, “Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.” For many nonprofit and educational leaders, the pandemic was a sucker punch.

According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2022 Global Risks Report, the pandemic is much more than a temporary and single bump in the road. Researchers at the WEF suggest that organizations will increasingly encounter, and be challenged by a “volatile, fractured, and increasingly catastrophic” outlook that includes social cohesion erosion, geo-economic confrontations, cybersecurity failures, misinformation and digital inequality, among other factors.

I think it’s time for leaders to move beyond their initial reaction to the pandemic’s sucker punch and begin to plan for the next rounds of disruption to come. In a recent article, Maureen Metcalf, my fellow Forbes Councils member and a colleague I work with on podcasts, articulates an innovative leadership framework that explains how leaders can develop more complex perspectives as a way to manage complex challenges. One such lens that enables leaders to conduct situational analysis and realign elements of the system to achieve growth during periods of disruption is put forth by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. This lens accounts for the impact of stress on organizations over time and articulates an action logic that can result in strengthened systems. In relation to stressors, Taleb classifies organizational systems in one of three ways:

Fragile: Systems that break under pressure, where the results of the organization decrease in value due to the negative asymmetry with the operating environment.

Robust: Systems that stay the same under pressure, or are resilient and have the ability to return to a state of symmetry and balance with the operating environment.

Antifragile: Systems that get stronger under pressure (up to a point), where the results of the system increase in value due to positive asymmetry with the operating environment.

Taleb suggests that these three states are relative to a given situation, and not an absolute property of a system. For example, a glass may be robust enough to hold hot water, but fragile enough to break if it is dropped. One can also determine if an object or system feature is more fragile than another and predict which one will last longer in a given situation. For Taleb, antifragile systems are strengthened by introducing them to a modicum of harm, challenge or stress. Think weightlifting for muscle strength or vaccinations for disease immunity.

The action logic and related decisions leaders make in response to disruption can either make organizations more fragile, resilient or antifragile. Taleb calls professionals who cause systems to be more fragile over time the “fragilista.” I think this type of thinking is reflected in responses to change for many non-profit and educational organizations that have experienced a loss in value during the pandemic. These fragilista organizations:

  • Are unwilling to consider competitive forces and to respond accordingly.
  • Define all disorder as “bad” or as roadblocks to goals.
  • Refuse to look objectively at low-performing programs and to take appropriate action.
  • Maintain and defend the “status quo” rather than experiment with alternative approaches that may be more effective
  • Choose not to keep pace with emerging risks such as digital security and cyber-threats
  • Have inadequate cash reserves or resources to invest in more promising options.
  • Restrict the use of staff and resources rather than engage all resources and the collective intelligence of people in resolving problems and pursuing new opportunities.

Developing A Fresh Mindset

Alternatively, more innovative leaders can think beyond resilient approaches to antifragile approaches that respond to disruption in ways that increase the performance value of their organization. Presented below are eight ideas for leaders who are interested in developing a more antifragile mindset.

  1. Heighten awareness of changing situations by regularly reading reports such as the WEF’s Global Risks Report mentioned earlier.
  2. Set financial growth goals, develop plans to achieve them and work to assure that the value of intended accomplishments exceeds the cost of pursuing them.
  3. Seek to detect fragilities in organizational systems and minimize them, rather than avoid addressing the necessary cuts that can potentially drain critical resources away from more valued initiatives.
  4. Encourage creativity and risk-taking that supports growth strategies. This can include entrepreneurship activity, running pilot projects and conducting program experiments.
  5. Collaborate with partners who are willing to grow with you and to put “skin in the game,” as suggested by Taleb. In this way, partners are invested in the outcomes, more likely to think long-term and less likely to be affected by disruption.
  6. Consider what Gervase Bushe and Jacob Storch call “generative images” when communicating about changes to your team. Metaphors of organizational transformation can offer fresh insights and change one’s ideas about what is possible and desirable to achieve.
  7. Pursue interdisciplinary learning by tackling problems that don’t fit neatly into a disciplinary area, connecting ideas across disciplines, learning from experts in different fields and taking field trips to learn about other complex organizational systems.
  8. Participate in innovative leadership development programs. Across industries, there are plenty of such programs designed for leaders.

Leaders can expect to face multiple sources of disruption in the foreseeable future. It is reasonable to think that disharmony and disruption on the horizon will penalize more rigid and inflexible leaders and their organizations. Alternatively, those leaders willing to develop an antifragile mindset can be well positioned to adapt their plans and approaches to emerging realities and grow through the stress and disorder.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Christopher L. Washington, Ph.D. serves as Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs at Franklin University. He is a Fellow of the Innovative Leadership Institute, and serves on the America250 International Advisory Council.

 

RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Here is a free assessment provided by the Innovative Leadership Institute that will measure the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation. Click HERE

If you completed the Leadership Mindset Assessment and want to explore additional resources to develop your leadership, we recommend you:

  1. Read the Forbes article Are You A Future-Ready Leader– free
  2. Purchase a comprehensive online course ILI Leadership Mindset Program for $174.99

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

Humbitious: The Power of Low-Ego, High-Drive Leadership

Amer Kaissi, a professional speaker and certified executive coach, shares content from his most recent book, from which this article is taken, “Humbitious: The Power of low-ego, high-drive Leadership.” in this article and his podcast, Humbitious: How to be Ambitious Without the Ego. 

 

Based on the extensive research published in the last 10 years, humility in leadership can be thought of in terms of three main building blocks:

  • how you understand yourself (self-awareness, self-reflection, and vulnerability);
  • how you understand your relationships with others (open-mindedness, appreciation of others, and generosity); and
  • how you understand your place in the universe (transcendence).

The first block: How you understand yourself

Humility is first and foremost about having an accurate view of yourself. Although some people—and even some dictionaries— view humility as synonymous with low self-esteem, psychology and leadership experts describe humility as understanding one’s talents and accomplishments while accepting one’s imperfections and shortcomings.

When you have a talent or special skill and you don’t acknowledge it, you are not displaying humility. Rather, you are engaging in self-disparagement and possibly ingratitude. As a humble, smart leader, you should recognize that you are smart but you should also know that you are not smarter than everyone else—or smarter than the collective intelligence of the group that you lead. You can appreciate that you have expertise in strategy, for example, but you should also acknowledge that you don’t know everything about the subject and that you still have a lot to learn.

The second block: How you understand your relationships with others

Once you are aware of your personal limitations, you can be open to new ideas and ways of thinking, and you become willing to learn from others. The clever organizational theorist Karl Weick perfectly captured this when he encouraged leaders to admit the shortcomings of their knowledge: “When a leader is able to humbly admit ‘I don’t know,’ that admission forces the leader to drop the pretense, drop omniscience, drop expert authority, drop a macho posture, and drop monologues . . . listening and exploring is the consequence.”

You then ask for advice, you seek and listen to honest feedback from others, and you even solicit contradictory views. Brad Owens, professor of business ethics at Brigham Young University and one of the leading researchers in the field of humble leadership, describes this quality as “teachability”: the willingness to admit ignorance, appreciate others’ contributions, and learn from them. Teachability entails having an open mind, a curiosity towards others, and an interest in understanding them and their views.

The third block: How you understand your place in the universe

As a humble leader, you aren’t just aware that you need others’ help and ideas; you are also aware of your insignificance in the universe. You may have worked incessantly with your team to develop a new product line that will significantly increase revenue for your organization for years to come, but in the grand scheme of things, your impact is insignificant, and you need to be aware of that.

This nothingness can be appreciated in terms of how powerful God is or how large the universe is, but it can also be realized by simply observing nature or contemplating history. Arrogance can sometimes make you feel like you are the center of the universe, but when you realize how connected everything is and how small and insignificant you are, you can truly develop your humility—and, in so doing, perhaps paradoxically, you become a fuller person.

Please note, though, that transcendence is not a call for surrender, laziness, or relinquishing action. It is about understanding your small role but still doing it to the best of your abilities in a humble and ambitious way. You may not matter much in the grand scheme of things, but you have an important role to play in your small corner of the universe.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Amer Kaissi is a professional speaker and a certified executive coach. His most recent book, from which this article is taken, is “Humbitious: the power of low-ego, high-drive leadership.” Amer is an award-winning Professor of Healthcare Administration at Trinity University, a Top-15 program. He is also the author of the book “Intangibles: The Unexpected Traits of High-Performing Healthcare Leaders,” which has won the 2019 American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) Book of the Year award. He is an avid soccer fan and he lives in San Antonio, Texas with his wife and two teenagers.

He can be reached at www.amerkaissi.com or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/amer-kaissi-ph-d-38258919/

 

RESOURCES:

Ready to measure your leadership skills? Here is a free assessment provided by the Innovative Leadership Institute that will measure the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation. Click HERE

If you completed the Leadership Mindset Assessment and want to explore additional resources to develop your leadership, we recommend you:

  1. Read the Forbes article Are You A Future-Ready Leader– free
  2. Purchase a comprehensive online course ILI Leadership Mindset Program for $174.99

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.