The Path to Vertical Development – Excellence is Hard to Achieve

This week’s article is by Maureen Metcalf, CEO of Innovative Leadership Institute as a companion to her interview with Terri O’Fallon and Kim Barta from Stages International. In addition, it is a companion to their interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled  Bringing Clarity to Vertical Development Confusions that aired on Tuesday, May 17th, 2022.

Before moving into a conversation about confusion, I want to ensure we work with a shared language. I use the STAGES model in our work to support leadership development. This process is often called vertical development or moving one’s center of gravity from one level or stage to the next level or stage – each stage being progressively more complex and better able to lead in complex environments. This framework also helps leaders work across diverse groups of people more effectively. From the STAGES website, “STAGES is currently being widely used in many different areas of the world.

  • Individuals– Therapists, coaches, educators, teachers, and other motivated individuals wanting to harness the power and predictive capacities of STAGES are using this model and work to better serve their clients, students, and activities in the world.
  • Institutions– STAGES is helping senior leaders and founders to better assess their own organization so they can understand how to motivate, inspire, and satisfy the needs of those who bring the institution to life, no matter if that include students and teachers, non-profits and their clients, or think tanks and their principle partners.
  • Companies– CEOs and founders can better assess their company culture, leadership teams, and employees, and use those assessments to clarify how they are working and communicating to create the most harmonious culture, efficiency, shared outlook, and common values to motivate and inspire.
  • Academics– A wide range of issues are benefiting from the developmental understanding supported by STAGES, such as climate change, pedagogy, psychology, conflict resolution, economics, social justice, and many other fields and areas of interest and concern.”

About The Model: What Is STAGES?

STAGES is a model of ego development starting at infancy and moving into increasing levels of differentiation and integration through adulthood.

A stage is a coherent and internally consistent belief system that describes how someone is likely to think, feel, and behave in various life situations. A stage is a level from which we consistently make meaning of life’s experiences.

The STAGES model has 12 distinct stages and 6 different kinds of perspectives: from the first-person perspective of an infant to the third-person perspective of the scientist to the 6th-person perspective of the most advanced ego stage yet known to us. This model is based on Terri O’Fallon’s research and is put into context by using the theoretical frameworks of the philosopher Ken Wilber as well as other leading developmental psychologists such as Suzanne Cook-Greuter and Jane Loevinger.

This model is not a hierarchy like a ladder or a staircase. It is more like a balloon, where human perspectives evolve around and as our egos, not merely “on top” of an existing structure. One of the best ways to understand this model is that it allows us to see where and how we make meaning, and what is an “object” of our conscious versus an object that we are “subject” to.

For instance, while some adults are their relationships (meaning they are subject to them; or what therapists might call codependent), others are able to have relationships. In other words, they can have a relationship to their relationships. This means the relationship is an “object” they can see with their minds, not something that is part of their self-identity.

That is one example of hundreds that could be given to show how humans evolve in their capacity to develop an awareness of concrete objects like bicycles and toys; subtle objects such as thoughts and feelings, and relationships to relationships; and even met aware objects, like awareness of awareness itself.”

Now we shift to the Confusion people are likely to experience as they move between the most common levels we see in organizations. We tend to have confusion as we transition from one stage to the next. The confusion comes from: you’re not the person you used to be, but not sure what you are now or are becoming. By understanding the confusion, we can accelerate development and mitigate some of the challenges that naturally arise at each level. As we develop, no matter what level, we develop new capacities and with each new capacity or ability, we have a learning curve before we become highly effective. While we can’t avoid all naturally occurring growing pains we can ease them.

 

This interview also delves into the deeper shadows that arise as people develop. Shadow is the part of your awareness that is hidden from you. Understanding and reintegrating the shadow is an essential element in moving through the later stages of development. Kim offers a free assessment if you are interested in exploring your own shadow.

Confusions

Confusion is a normal and healthy part of development. When we take on new activities, we go through a natural learning process. For leaders, this process can feel disorienting because we are running businesses and we don’t have time to be confused. Unfortunately, growth comes with a learning curve that is unavoidable. My clients often say they feel like they should have overcome these challenges earlier in their careers. The reality is, for people who continually learn and grow, the challenges and confusions continue. Our goal is to find ways to navigate the inevitable challenges, learning curves, and confusions associated with excellence. Building excellence is messy.

We will start with the first leadership stage: explore and experiment called Expert, skill-centric, or STAGE 3.0. It’s the first adult stage we see extensively in the workplace and typically in young adults. A typical pattern at this level is perfectionism, getting it right every time. This focus can be paralyzing, motivated by a fear of being punished with failure. Experts see time but have trouble being timely; they don’t see timeliness. To help experts develop, challenge them in small doses; micromanage the time, but not the work!

At the Achiever Level, STAGES 3.5, people have a sense of the future; believe in that plan, and have benchmarks for a goal – but visualization usually doesn’t match the reality that unfolds. The confusion here is the difference between visualization and reality. While achievers are very clear about ownership of concrete items such as physical property, they don’t consistently make the same distinction at the subtle level. People don’t see the difference between what’s mine and yours which can result in plagiarism and copyright infringement. They can see all ideas as theirs. They don’t realize they’re stealing. They do have a tremendous capacity for imagination and reflection. Reflection can be essential to help Achievers develop,

The Pluralist Level, STAGES 4.0, is the first post-modern developmental level; 4th Person Perspective. At this level, awareness boosts, and people can be confused because they have trouble understanding the difference between awareness and metacognition. Deeper awareness flashes in and out and will eventually become more permanent. They also start realizing the social construction of reality – meaning people begin to see that their perception impacts their experiences.

The Strategist Level, STAGES 4.5, also takes a 4th person perspective. At this level, people can see systemic patterns and long-term trends. At this stage, the confusion involves understanding projections or seeing where they realize their judgment of others can intensify when they see the same issue in themselves. This doesn’t happen until the very end of this stage. People at this level can reflect and find projections or triggers.

As you move along your developmental journey, we invite you to learn more about the STAGES of development and the journey. The more you understand, the easier the journey. You may find the STAGES Roadmap interesting to help you learn more about this process.

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

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

The Latest Top 10 Interviews on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we strive to bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each Wednesday.

This week’s interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Mindset Training for Organizational Success is with David DeRam co-founder and CEO at Greenlight Gurus, who joins Maureen to discuss actionable insights on using autohypnosis and mindset to achieve elite performance. He wants to help other business leaders learn the less-than-conventional methods he’s used to achieving incredible results and how they can replicate them in their lives.

We at the Innovative Leadership Institute want to take a moment to recap what interviews have stood out to our listeners.

We also want to extend a big THANK YOU to every subscriber of this newsletter for trusting us with your time and helping to grow this newsletter to over 84,000 subscribers in less than 20 months.

Our passion is to bring you thought leaders in the area of leadership, to share an article written by those who have looked at a situation differently, solved a problem others face as well, researched and analyzed a facet of leadership, or gave us something to contemplate.  We strive to bring you timely interviews by these same people so you can hear their thoughts on leadership and provide you the opportunity to learn from others, implement new ideas, and upskill your leadership.

Today’s article is a countdown list of the top 10 most listened to shows in the past 12 months.  Links to each of the shows are included for ease in accessing this valuable content.  The links direct you to the Voice America platform but any of the shows can be accessed via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

10. Finding Meaning, Joy, and Purpose in What You Do (9/7/21) with Paul Gibbons, an academic advisor to Deloitte’s Human Capital practice.

Conversations about meaning and purpose at work are very old and very new. Spirituality proves a lens for those discussions. Workplace spirituality helps us understand issues such as fulfillment, engagement, purpose, leadership, and more. However, it also increases worries about values conflicts and how well organizations handle that. Paul Gibbons joins me today to discuss the spirituality of work and leadership for leaders and organizations.

9. Mental Toughness: How to Embrace Stress for Greater Success (7/6/2021) with Colonel Deb Lewis, a retired Army Colonel, a West Point graduate, and a Harvard MBA.

Women (and men) face unhealthy stress and anxiety daily – it’s a wonder they’re still standing. Too few of us have stress tools powerful enough to put stress to work for us so we can enjoy the journey. Once you’ve learned how to be mentally tough, you will use stress to your advantage. It becomes your superpower! Colonel Deb Lewis joins the show to share her experiences and how you can learn to effectively use stress to your advantage.

8. Sponsorship and Being Sponsored (8/17/2021)with Ricky Robinson and Keith Powell, both of C-Crets, a career advice platform offering career coaching services, online courses, and topical content through blogs and a podcast.

The leadership journey can be a challenging one with unseen challenges that ruin reputations. Skilled people can be left wondering what went wrong if they don’t have effective sponsorship. These challenges are even more pronounced for underrepresented people in leadership roles. Ricky Robinson and Keith Powell of C-Certs will talk about the importance of having a sponsor and of being sponsor-ready.

7. Management Vs. Leadership: How Coaching Skills Make a Difference (5/25/2021) with Jonathan Reitz, an executive coach and CoachNet FLUXIFY’s Director for Training/CEO.

Coaching skills are not just for the life coach or the executive coach, they are every leader’s secret weapon. Managers can become the leaders that are needed when they understand how to use coaching skills that put the development of their team as the top priority and multiply their impact. Want to move from managing your team to leading your team? Coaching skills are the key. Jonathan Reitz joins Maureen to share how managers can move toward leading by learning some simple coaching behaviors.

6. The Science Behind Our Yes! (9/28/21) with Jim Ritchie-Dunham, president of the Institute for Strategic Clarity, an adjunct professor of business economics at the ITAM Business School, an adjunct lecturer on sustainability leadership at Harvard, and president of the Academy for SelfDiscovery Leadership, a private operating foundation.

You have a Yes! that aligns your purpose and unique contributions with the impact you can generate and the experience you can have, which is yours to choose. Your Yes! always generates net-positive value and your No! always generates net-negative value—your choice. Jim Ritchie-Dunham joins Maureen to explain the science behind our Yes!

5. Essential Skills for Success No One Taught You (10/19/21) with Mark Herschberg, author and instructor at MIT.

Networking, negotiating, communicating, leading, career planning—all skills critical to your career success. But did anyone ever teach you these skills? Mark Herschberg, author and instructor at MIT, joins Maureen to discuss his book “The Career Toolkit: Essential Skills for Success That No One Taught You.” He will share practical ideas from his book and his thoughts on leadership that will help you master these vital skills.

4. Red Roof Revisioning the Future (12/21/21) with Red Roof President George Limbert.

Red Roof is evolving under the leadership of their new President, George Limbert. George and his team have updated their vision to reflect our post-covid era that embraces the community and employees and creates an exceptional customer experience across all Red Roof branded properties. George talks about the bold steps they are taking now to bring this vision into reality. This interview is the first in a series of Red Roof’s re-imagining and evolution.

3. The Science of Dream Teams (9/14/2021) with Mike Zani, author and CEO of The Predictive Index, a talent optimization platform that uses over 60 years of proven science and software to help businesses design high-performing teams and cultures.

Sophisticated assessments, data, and software are giving CEOs and managers within any organization or industry detailed insights into human behavior. As CEO of The Predictive Index, Mike Zani has witnessed firsthand how the application of data and science can impact, and completely change, the way we function in our professional lives. In his new book, THE SCIENCE OF DREAM TEAMS: How Talent Optimization Can Drive Engagement, Productivity, and Happiness, Zani details a data-driven approach to talent strategy that makes hiring, motivating, and managing people more efficient and effective than ever. Mike joins the show to share his research on how to build a dream team.

2. Flex: The Art and Science (9/21/2021) with Jeffrey Hull, author and CEO of Leadershift, Inc., a leadership development consultancy based in New York City.

In the past, to move up the corporate ladder and succeed at the top, you simply had to set goals, motivate the troops, delegate to underlings, and groom a successor. Now, if they are leading a team, chances are that they are managing a kaleidoscope of people from a variety of cultures, across a range of ages, all of whom are wired together 24/7. These changing demographics and structures have led to a seismic shift in terms of the tools needed to successfully manage and grow within a company: charisma and strategic thinking abilities now matter less than qualities such as vulnerability and relatability. Jeffrey Hull joins the show to discuss the research he has done on the art and science of leadership in a changing world that is featured in his book, Flex.

1. The Power and Promise of Generation Z (10/5/2021) with Anne Marie Hayek, a cultural consultant, generational expert, and social agitator who deeply understands society’s evolutions. She founded and leads two companies, Global Mosaic and ZSpeak, with a passion for navigating the cultural movements shaping our world.

AnneMarie Hayek joins Maureen to share about her new book, Generation We. In this book, she joins forces with thousands of Zs to tell their powerful story—one that impacts all of us. From new ideas on capitalism, politics, and climate change to education, gender, race, and work, AnneMarie explains how Gen Z thinks, what they envision, and why we should be hopeful. Zs are not naïve idealists. They’re hardened realists with a bold vision for how we can transition, re-create, and progress. Generation We is your invitation to see the future they will create as it’s unfolding.

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 iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotifyAmazon MusicAudible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Photo by Jonathan Farber on Unsplash

 

Leadership in Times of Instability

This week’s article is by Greg Moran, a C-level digital, strategy, and change leadership executive with extensive global operations experience.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Adapting Your Leadership Skills for Uncertainty that aired on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022.

Here is a short clip of the interview:

 

Here is the full interview:

 

 

 

It’s always fun to start a blog by stating the obvious. We live in uncertain times. While this is always true, the number of variables on the move and the amplitude of that change can vary a lot and when there is enough change going on, the situation can become unstable. Instability has an insidious way of leading to more instability unless action is taken to re-stabilize the situation, or at least your place in it.

So why state the obvious? The context for the associated podcast was specifically looking at the role of leadership in times of instability. What changes and what does not change? The answers can appear counter-intuitive, but are essential and become more so as the volatility increases.

To begin, I’m reminded of a Native American teaching story (hard to prove, but fits my narrative well) that I first heard from David Whyte. The premise of the story is to teach a young person what to do when they are lost in the forest. The story opens thus: “Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here, and you must treat it as a powerful stranger…”. The story goes on to provide guidance as to how to recognize what is around you so that you can orient yourself and finishes with the following wonderful declarative: “The forest knows where you are. You must let it find you.”

The essence of our conversation was how to lead in high-change environments. While there is more to the story, we focused in on a couple of key elements:

  • Despite the pressure on your schedule as a leader, tumultuous times require an increased level of empathy for your team. I believe that to lead effectively, you have to sincerely love and wish to serve those you lead. They need your comfort, coaching and care when times are rough.
  • When the going gets tough, the temptation is to abandon discipline and act fast/go with your gut. While that may need to happen in extreme situations (think crisis), it rarely serves well when you are facing adversity (not a crisis). Rely on thoughtful tools that help you make great decisions and be more disciplined than ever – measure twice and cut once.
  • Rely on the principles of strategy and leadership that you already ascribe to. Rules of strategy are way more like physics than most people like to admit. As Porter outlines in his seminal piece “What is Strategy?”, multiple strategies can work, but you can’t mix and match them or you get mush.
  • Pay attention to team dynamics – how you work together is more critical than ever in bumpy times. Maximize team function vs. taking a scarcity mentality and trying to prove others wrong.
  • Make small adjustments frequently. When the game is changing fast, you need to adjust how you are playing the game much more frequently than you would otherwise. Perhaps a weekly cadence makes more sense than a monthly one.

The underlying assumption of this conversation is that the fundamental tenets of leadership do not change, but the mindset and practices of leadership may need to change to better meet the moment. This adaptation of technique doesn’t have to, nor should it, replace the principles that you’ve built your leadership identity around. What you must do to be effective will necessary change with the zeitgeist. There are many examples of this that we walk through in our dialogue, so if this topic piques your interest, take a listen!

 

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 iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotifyAmazon MusicAudible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Greg Moran is a C-level digital, strategy and change leadership executive with extensive global operations experience. He led corporate strategy for Ford and designed the plan that Alan Mullaly used to turn around the company. Greg held C-level IT positions in app dev, infrastructure and core banking applications at Ford, Nationwide Insurance and Bank One/JPMC, respectively. He began his career in consulting with Arthur Andersen Accenture, working across industries with 100 companies over the course of a decade. He is passionate about leadership and culture and teaches part-time on the topic at Ohio University.

Photo by Zach Lezniewicz on Unsplash

Bringing Your Full Self to Work

This week we continue 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.

This week’s article features the work of Dawn Foods to have an open and inclusive workplace culture.  It is a companion to Jason Lioy‘s interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Cultivating Empathy Through Authenticity that aired on Tuesday, April 26th, 2022.

Here a short clip of the interview:

Here is the entire interview:

It’s staggering to think about just how much time an average adult devotes to work, especially in recent years. Between labor shortages, business model changes, and the ever-present nagging emails so easily accessed by our mobile devices or in our home offices, the reality is that the 40-hour workweek is a pipe dream for most. It’s no wonder, then, why our collective consciousness has been pulled towards the importance of DE&I in the workplace – if we’re to give so much of ourselves to our jobs, then we (rightfully) expect it to be done in a welcoming, warm, and safe environment where we don’t feel the need to hide who we are or the unique perspectives we bring to the table. Maureen Metcalf had an opportunity to explore that concept with Jason Lioy – Chief People Officer at Dawn Foods – as part of the ongoing Connex Executive Insights Series to learn how they’re approaching employee engagement through a DE&I lens.

Dawn Foods is a global leader in bakery manufacturing and ingredients distribution and partners with bakers, retailers, and wholesalers to deliver the ingredients, expertise and inspiration to help them grow their business – a complex process that has more than 4,000 team members servicing 100 countries around the globe. . Despite that, they’ve never lost focus of their core values or rich company culture, both of which are heavily influenced by their family-owned status. They aim to provide that warm, familial atmosphere, cultivating a psychologically safe environment where team members feel they belong, are valued, and most importantly, are respected. That work recently was highlighted in a push for individuals to bring their whole selves to work through Dawn’s internal “I AM” campaign.

In 2021 for Global Diversity Awareness Month, Dawn wanted to celebrate the differences of its team and what makes the team who they are. The ‘I Am’ campaign was simple, it asked people to share something about themselves that might not have been known to the rest of the team. The campaign began with a handful of courageous pioneers, senior leaders, and C-suite executives posting self-made signs on Dawn’s internal social network, Workplace .,  All beginning with “I AM”, they shed light on those elements that strongly guided their behaviors, mindsets, and actions as they navigate the workplace: I AM “a single mother”, or “living with ADHD”, or “the first college grad in my family”.

The campaign connected team members around the world, opened up new conversations, and most of all, it was empowering. The campaign immediately received a wave of attention and engagement from team members, each broadcasting pieces of their own stories to their colleagues. The message from Dawn was loud and clear: you can be your authentic self at work and don’t have to code-switch, because it’s the uniquities underpinning who you are that drive the business. Doing so required immense trust, and by having leaders express their vulnerability first, Dawn was able to create the kind of powerful groundswell that helps define company culture.

A Better Employee Experience

The benefits of the campaign from a DE&I perspective were readily apparent, as it spoke directly to the chief barriers of inclusivity and belonging. However, it also assisted Dawn in their ongoing process of reimagining and strengthening their team member experience. The pandemic forced their corporate team members into home offices for the first time, and while communication and engagement were key foci for their frontline teams, those at-home team members were experiencing a unique and unprecedented kind of isolation. Dawn trusted team members to handle their tasks and do them well and made a point to increase the frequency and quality of personal check-ins and team-based connections. They had leaders stress the importance of personal wellbeing, living that ideology by reminding their reports that they’d be there to support and listen. Their work to develop and execute the “I AM” campaign was a valuable extension of that vulnerability, encouraging team members to be comfortable with one another and seek out all the benefits of psychologically safe, open dialogue with peers.

The same ethos of meeting team members where they have also been reflected in Dawn’s revamped talent practices. Difficulty in recruiting and the prevalence of remote – and now hybrid – work led to a widening of candidate pools into geographies that weren’t previously considered. Dawn also invested in robust virtual onboarding, brand videos, and collaboration tools. From day one, team members are supported, engaged with the business and its values, and connected with others while being accepted for who they really are.

Empowering Leadership

To maintain that environment, Dawn has also recalibrated their leadership skillsets. Soft skills have always been critical, but our “new normal” has put an outsized focus on empathy, and that’s doubly true for any organization trying to signal to employees that it’s okay to be themselves. Dawn is encouraging leaders to practice active listening and make a genuine attempt to understand the unique, individual contexts behind interactions with team members; requiring that they be authentic and honest themselves. In conjunction with resilience and courage, these skills form the core toolkit for meaningfully engaging their team members and actually executing on their promise of a welcoming atmosphere. That, in turn, feeds retention, giving teams the long-term stability needed to drive business performance and bring the full weight of their diverse perspectives to bear – the real goal of any DE&I program.

 

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 iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotifyAmazon MusicAudible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Brandon Hicke at Connex Partners brings nearly a decade of writing, consultative, and market analysis experience to the table. He plays a pivotal role in developing and enhancing the Connex Membership model through engaging content pieces and synthesized industry insights. In his free time, Brandon loves cooking, competitive gaming, pedantic philosophic discussions, and exploring his new hometown of St. Louis with his loved ones.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

To Combat Climate Despair, We Must Cultivate Resilient Collective Action

This week’s article features Leah Lizarondo, CEO and co-founder of 412 Food Rescue, a social enterprise with a technology, logistics and civic engagement model that aims to fight hunger and promote sustainability by preventing perfectly good food from entering the waste stream and directly distributing to organizations that benefit those who are food insecure.  Her interview is a part of the International Leadership Association Series.  These interviews feature guests from the 2021 Annual Conference that was held in Geneva, Switzerland in October of 2021.  The article is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Reimagining Leadership to Solve Food Insecurity that aired on Tuesday, April 19th, 2022.

Here is a short clip of the interview:

Here is the full interview:

Amidst the continuous flood of alarming climate change news, we are increasingly seeing stories about phenomena like “climate depression” and “climate anxiety.” The scale of the problem can be paralyzing, especially for ordinary citizens without wealth or political might to muster against it. But collectively, those regular people have the potential to make a huge difference – how do we help them overcome the inertia of climate despair and contribute to big solutions? The answer is to place effective and rewarding tools in their hands.

Designing the Right Tool for the Problem

Our organization, 412 Food Rescue, and its national tech platform, Food Rescue Hero, bridge the last mile between businesses with good surplus food and the people who need that food the most. I was inspired to start this work when I learned an alarming statistic: in the U.S., up to 40% of the food we produce is wasted, while one in seven households are food-insecure.

Almost a third of this waste occurs at grocery stores, restaurants, and other consumer-facing businesses. Every year, this sector finds itself with 23 million tons of surplus food that it can’t sell. Most of it ends up in landfills, where it releases methane, a greenhouse gas more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

Much of the food that is discarded at the retail level is still good to eat, but only a small percentage is ever donated. Retail food donation presents a number of logistical challenges: pick-up locations are dispersed; amounts and types of food are variable and unpredictable; and most surplus food is fresh and perishable and therefore needs to be consumed quickly.

The traditional spoke-and-hub model of retail food donation, based on trucks making regular pick-ups and delivering to a central food bank, misses too much food. We need a more flexible model to reach all available surplus and bring it to the nonprofits, community access points and homes where it can do the most good.

When we were creating Food Rescue Hero, we recognized that there was already an existing model for transport from a broad array of pick-up locations to a broad array of drop-off locations: ridesharing and food delivery apps like Uber and DoorDash. While those platforms are based on the work of paid drivers, we made Food Rescue Hero for volunteers. We believed that most people were looking to technology not only for ways to earn money, smooth over inconveniences, and get instant gratification, but also for ways to do good.

Our Food Rescue Heroes have vindicated that belief abundantly. We have recruited the world’s largest network of on-demand volunteer drivers, 27,000+ strong and growing, and they deliver on 99% of all available rescues from our hundreds of donor businesses. They are not only reliable but also, often, prolific. Many have performed hundreds of rescues. One particular septuagenarian in Pittsburgh has completed over 1,500 rescues.

Thanks to all of the volunteers across the 15 cities with active Food Rescue Hero networks, we have reached over 80 million pounds of good food saved to feed people instead of landfills. That’s equivalent to almost 67 million meals, carried to their destinations in our volunteers’ cars or trucks, in their minivans next to children excited to help, on their bikes, or even on their shoulders as they make deliveries on foot. And all sorts of people have stepped up to do this work: artists, activists, teachers, musicians, small business owners, parents, teenagers, retirees, and many more.

What is it that keeps these volunteers so engaged?

Centering the Human in the Design

Research indicates that one of the main barriers to volunteering is that people feel they don’t have enough time, or that volunteer schedules are too inflexible. The same ridesharing-style model that resolves the logistical barriers of food donation can also resolve these personal barriers.

Like a driver for Uber, a user of the Food Rescue Hero app gets notifications on their phone when a nearby rescue is available. They can also go on the app and search for local rescues any time they want. In this way, the app regularly presents users with opportunities to engage, on their terms. Once they accept a rescue, the app guides them through the process of pick-up and drop-off, for an easy, seamless experience. Most rescues take under an hour, and users can pick one up whenever they have time. There is no obligation to commit to a regular rescue – though many end up doing so.

A problem like food waste can feel both daunting and distant. If you are not a grocery store employee tasked with dumping pounds and pounds of nutritious food into the dumpster every night because it will not be sold before its “best by” date, you may not be able to wrap your mind around the problem.

But if you show up to the grocery store and load boxes of that good food into your car instead, the problem becomes tangible. And if you then deliver that food to a community center or a public housing complex where people are excited to see you and find out what you’ve brought to help them through the week, you vividly experience just how much power that simple act has. A carload of food that could be rotting in a landfill is instead ensuring that a community will not go hungry.

Our app delivers donated food, but it also, crucially, delivers that pay-off to volunteers: the incomparable, indescribable feeling of fulfillment at your core after you know you have made a difference. It’s a million times better than seeing a “like” on your social media post. It’s life-changing. It keeps people coming back.

 

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 iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotifyAmazon MusicAudible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Leah Lizarondo is the founder of Food Rescue Hero®, a technology, logistics and civic engagement model that fights food waste and hunger in 16 cities. Her work has been featured in NPR, Fast Company, and The Washington Post, among others. Leah is originally from the Philippines and currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Reimagining Leadership Together Globally

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

Here is a short clip from the interview:

Here is the interview in its entirety:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

About the Author

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

Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

The Heart and Soul of Leadership

This week’s article features Jonathan Reams, Director at the Center for Transformative Leadership and the European Center for Leadership Practice.  His interview is a part of the International Leadership Association Series.  These interviews feature guests from the 2021 Annual Conference that was held in Geneva, Switzerland in October of 2021.  The article is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Getting Lost in the Language of Leadership that aired on Tuesday, April 5th, 2022.

Here is a short clip from Jonathan’s interview:

Here is a link to the entire interview:

Leadership is a phenomenon well studied, yet in short supply. There is a gap between knowing and doing.

While there are many good ideas about what leadership is, how to develop and practice it, the gap remains. To close this gap, I want to look beyond ideas, to the heart and soul of leadership.

To get there, I frame the topic in terms of two conceptualizations of leadership, then look at the heart and its role in these concepts. Finally, I offer a fundamental reframing to get to the soul of leadership.

In my Ph.D., I conceptualized leadership as opening space. Opening space brings images of creating something more, making room to maneuver, taking time to think things through. All of these can be leadership. They help us make progress on challenges and achieve goals.

Another conceptualization comes from a friend who defined leadership as self-deployed in circumstance. How we show up and act in each situation shapes the possibilities for making progress or reaching a goal. It is how we open space.

One powerful lens for understanding the self comes from research on adult development.  This research shows how more mature structures and expressions of self can enable more effective leadership.

This self-development shows in how we deploy ourselves, which is essentially an act of communication. What we say makes an impact. Yet we are also aware that the content of our words is only 7% of what we are communicating. A famous study showed that 38% of what we communicate is in how we communicate, in our tone of voice, pointing to the importance of attitude, emotion and the underlying energy we speak from.

The study went even further, saying that 55% of what we communicate is through our body language. We are giving off signals all the time, powerful clues to others on what we expect. These expectations shape the space we create. If what we are communicating at this fundamental embodied level is closing the space, then we are not leading, but widening the gap between knowing and doing.

Let’s take a step back to explore further.

Recent research in neuroscience shows us a new picture of how our brains work. It gives a more holistic conception, where we see that thinking and feeling are inseparable and further, hardwired into our body. Our nervous system is constantly anticipating, actively using our senses to probe for signals of danger (read change) to keep our body surviving.

Within this field, the more specialized study of neurocardiology focuses on the brain in our heart. This cluster of neurons has a powerful impact on the body and brain, or our psychophysiological system. The HeartMath Institute has been doing pioneering research in this field for decades. Central to this is their understanding of several distinct psychophysiological states related to different patterns of heart rate variability (HRV).

Their research shows that emotions such as frustration and anger create a state they characterize as incoherence. This state leads to a host of problematic symptoms, such as depletion of energy, lack of emotional regulation and lowered cognitive functioning. In contrast, emotions of love and appreciation create a state of coherence.

Coherence has far-reaching implications. It positively supports vagal nerve functioning, improves cognitive performance and enables heart-brain synchronization. The rising popularity of tracking HRV as a biofeedback measure is one way of cultivating coherence.

Yet this impressive list of the benefits of coherence is not, in my view, its most important aspect. Research has also shown that the heart generates electrical voltage 60 times stronger than the brain. The magnetic component of this is 5000 times stronger and can be measured several feet from the body. This electromagnetic field can help us understand how the 55% of communication coming from our body language is creating space. Our hearts are sensors for this field. We sense others’ fields and experience it as self-being deployed in circumstances.

This takes us upstream from our usual focus on language and behaviors. It gives us clues about closing the gap between knowing and doing, by shifting attention to the impact of our being.

Cultivating our quality of being has the highest leverage impact on our leadership.

I propose two simple ways to cultivate our quality of being.

The first is something we have easily in reach, a combination of behavioral and attitudinal interventions. Two things contribute the most to generating the psychophysiological state of coherence; holding an emotion of love or appreciation combined with deep breathing. So, remember to breathe – 5 seconds in, 5 seconds out, and hold a heart full of love and appreciation.

The second is to take a step back and reconceptualize being.

Being is commonly associated with the self. Yet our sense of a separate self is actually a mental construct of the psychophysiological system. This has inherent limitations and creates a blind spot in being. Reality is more than our minds conceive.

What we need is a space to regulate the self, our emotions, thoughts and actions; a balcony that is not part of the psychophysiological system.

For this, I propose a simple reconceptualization of being from self to soul. When we talk about heart and soul, we are implying an essence greater than mental constructs like self. In line with the phrase attributed to Teilhard de Chardin, we are spiritual beings having human experiences. We are soul, and have a mind, emotions and body.

What do I mean by soul? I describe it as a creative unit of pure awareness, where awareness is the experiential realization of the virtuality of self. What do I mean by the virtuality of self? We can still experience the self as real; we just don’t take that experience to be all there is. We keep it in context. We open a space to be more.

Closing the gap between what we know about leadership and what we do involves more than just ideas and words. It requires realizing the essence of our being as soul, to open space for how we deploy self in circumstances. We create coherence between soul and self-in-the-world, our conceptions, psychophysiological state and the space we create.

Leading with heart and soul, we close the gap between knowing and doing.

 

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 iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotifyAmazon MusicAudible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Jonathan practices the cultivation of leadership through awareness-based consulting, coaching and action research on leadership development program design and delivery in a variety of settings. He has a position at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), serves as Editor-in Chief of Integral Review, and is a co-founder of the Center for Transformative Leadership and of the European Center for Leadership Practice. He brings awareness-based leadership development practices to his work, focusing on how the inner workings of human nature can develop leadership capacities for today’s complex challenges.

You can learn more about Jonathan at www.jonathanreams.com

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

Overhauling the Traditional Work Model

This week we continue 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.

This week’s article features the work of Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina, and Fara Palumbo, their Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer.  It is a companion to her interview on the Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future podcast episode, titled How HR Drives New Beginnings which aired on Tuesday, March 29th, 2022. 

 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) mobilized quickly to transition our workforce to remote work, an open-ended solution with no fixed date on returning to “normal.” Now, we know that “normal” doesn’t necessarily refer to the way things were. We have a rare opportunity to define what normal is.

For Blue Cross NC, normal means giving our employees a chance to determine working arrangements that work best for them and their families. To that end, we’ve implemented new policies that are intended to achieve three important aims:

  • Overhaul the traditional working model to meet today’s needs
  • Continue to deliver excellent service to our customers
  • Draw and retain the most talented professionals

A New Model for Working 

For more than 80 years, most Blue Cross NC employees gathered daily at a central work location, working side-by-side with colleagues, then heading home to their family and personal responsibilities at the end of the workday. As we’ve seen over the past 18 months, that model was due for a refresh.

After our company’s shift to remote work in early 2020, Blue Cross NC leaders looked at how the change might be affecting productivity. We found very quickly that the shift to telework wasn’t having a negative effect on productivity at all. Our employees embraced working remotely with collaborative enthusiasm.

Together, we confirmed there is a vast difference between a workplace and a workforce. There is no magic that happens when employees gather on a campus or in a building, sitting in department groups, eating in a cafeteria. We found that many of the traditional trappings of office life are no longer relevant.

Blue Cross NC is implementing a hybrid model, with employees – those whose roles allow them to work from anywhere – given the power to choose where they will work. Rather than prescribe working arrangements for employees, we asked staff to decide where they want to work; over 73% have chosen to remain full-time remote, while the remainder wishes to either split their time between home and office or work full-time in the office when it’s safe to do so. It’s also not just about where we work, either. Giving employees more flexibility over when they work is an equally important component of our hybrid strategy, too. We believe our employees know what arrangement will allow them to be most productive.

Committed to Excellence

Working remotely isn’t a new concept for Blue Cross NC. For years, we’ve had employees working full-time from home, and our workforce has always had the flexibility to work at home on days when life requires that. Technology has allowed employees to access email, collaborate and share digital files remotely when necessary.

But when working remotely becomes routine, there is a potential impact on corporate culture and working relationships. Our Human Resources team devised some creative ways for all of us to stay connected virtually and maintain morale during what has been a stressful period for everyone.

Virtual meetings and lunches with leaders have allowed employees to talk directly with executives about what’s going on in their lives and ask questions about developments at the company. Our annual Spirit Week – a chance for employees to have some fun while sharing their pride in our collective work and celebrating our successes – was shifted to a virtual experience, complete with the company’s first-ever pep rally, themed dress-up days and an employee talent competition.

To pursue our mission with passion, our employees need to feel connected to each other and to the customers we serve. This means maintaining the culture that unites us in our work. Together, Blue Cross NC employees have shown themselves to be the model of resilience over the last 18 months.

Finding the Right People  

Pandemic or not, a company has goals to meet. Blue Cross NC is in the business of health; we can’t put the pursuit of our goals on hold for any reason.

The current economy is very much a job seekers’ market. Employees of all experience and skill levels have plenty of options. For Blue Cross NC, that means we need to keep the outstanding employees who are already part of our team and attract talented candidates who are looking for new opportunities.

For current employees, we’ve redesigned our career framework with the goal of creating a more streamlined, transparent structure to promote internal talent mobility while strengthening our company’s competitiveness in the job market. An important part of this redesign is to provide employees greater visibility into career opportunities within our company, offering more chances for internal mobility.

To truly reinforce a culture of professional development, we’ve launched a new process that asks employees to formally declare their interest in internal mobility. This expressed interest, when paired with the increased visibility of an employee’s skills and abilities, will open the door to greater collaboration between our Talent Management team and those employees seeking to take on new opportunities.

With flexible work options and opportunities to explore different roles within our company, we hope to not only retain our great team members but also to attract talented applicants for our positions – collaborative team members who want to invest their time in a career, not just a job.

The new business landscape is different. In my mind, it’s better. It’s a working world of flexibility, fairness, transparency, mobility, and professional growth. This is an exciting time and I’m proud to be part of a company that is giving employees the power to take greater control of their work 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 iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotifyAmazon MusicAudible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

 About the Author

Fara Palumbo is Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services, and information to 3.8 million members. Throughout her career, she has focused on transforming the talent and culture of teams through a focus on innovation, diversity, and change leadership. During her tenure at Blue Cross NC, Fara has led the transformation of the company’s talent strategy, delivering a compelling and credible employment value proposition and leading cultural change in order to enable and sustain long-term business growth. Under her leadership, the company has achieved and maintained its certification as a Great Place to Work© and has earned numerous recognitions as an employer of choice, including the Working Mother Top 100, Best Companies in Healthcare & BioPharma, Forbes Best Mid-sized Companies for Diversity, and NAFE Top Company for Women Executives. Previously, Fara held Human Resources leadership positions at Citibank in both the retail and investment banks. During her tenure, she led teams engaged in a variety of transformational efforts impacting the workforce. Her last assignment, prior to leaving, was head of HR for the Global Securities Division.

 

Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash

Who is More Charismatic–Putin or Zelensky? Does It Matter?

This week’s article, written by Maureen Metcalf, analyzes research data provided by John Antonakis, Professor of Organizational Behavior and editor-in-chief of The Leadership Quarterly.  This article is a companion to the interview John did with Maureen and is part of the International Leadership Association’s interview series.  This series features speakers from the Annual ILA Conference that occurred in October of 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland.  The interview titled The Importance of Studying Leadership Scientifically on the Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future podcast aired on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022.

 

Here is a short clip from the interview:

Here is a link to the entire interview:

 

Leadership researchers have debated the impact of charisma on leadership effectiveness. What leaders say and how they say it can have a strong motivational effect and help coordinate followers’ actions. It impacts their belief about what others will do, thereby helping align people when taking on a costly and challenging set of activities such as we see as we watch the Ukrainians defend their country. Leadership is the social glue that helps pull a group together and hold it together as people strain to accomplish a challenging goal. Leaders also serve as role models. They signal what actions are appropriate. Additionally, leaders’ symbolic actions can serve as rallying cries for others – direct followers and stakeholders.

To illustrate charisma using, we look at the Russian invasion of Ukraine and evaluate the impact the charisma of these world leaders is likely to have on the war.

Before analyzing Presidents Zelensky and Putin, we want to ground the conversation in some data,  according to a paper published in December 2021 in Management Science, “Just Words? Just Speeches?” On the Economic Value of Charismatic Leadership by John Antonakis, Giovanna d’Adda, Roberto A. Weber, Christian Zehnder, “In the field experiment, we find that workers who are given a charismatic speech increase their output by about 17% relative to workers who listen to a standard speech. This effect is statistically significant and comparable in size to the positive effect of high-powered financial incentives. We then investigate the effect of charisma in a series of laboratory experiments in which subjects are exposed to motivational speeches before playing a repeated public goods game. Our results reveal that a higher number of charismatic elements in the speech can increase public good contributions by up to 19%. However, we also find that the effectiveness of charisma varies and appears to depend on the social context in which the speech is delivered.”

With this research as the foundation for our blog, we explore Professor John Antonakis’ evaluation of Presidents Zelensky and Putin. John evaluated both leaders’ charism by considering the words they used in recent speeches and their behavior and visual images during the speeches. President Zelensky scored as a significantly more charismatic leader when looking at the language he selected.

To evaluate charisma in further detail, John looked at the nine charismatic leadership tactics he uses to compare the two leaders. The chart below reflects the collective difference between the two leaders.

In Antonakis’ analysis, Zelensky scored higher in these seven categories: While Putin scored higher in these two categories:
  1. Collective sentiment
  2. Contrast
  3. Confidence in goals
  4. Lists/repetitiveness
  5. Metaphor
  6. Moral conviction
  7. Rhetorical question
  1. Ambitious goal
  2. Stories

This analysis tells us that President Zelensky will have more success motivating his troops and gaining support from International Leaders than will President Putin. To add to the analysis, Zelensky is also better at engaging in symbolic acts that close the status gap between himself, his soldiers, and citizens. He dresses and acts like a regular soldier and eats with his troops. He isn’t using props and technology. We often see Putin distanced from his soldiers and people.

Zelensky is a better role model and a symbol of emulation – giving an edge to the Ukrainians when looking through the lens of leadership and charisma. Leadership works not only in motivating followers. It also helps motivate stakeholders to take action that will help bring a collective together, such as the European Union, to reach a collective goal of winning the war against Russia. Both of these leaders are role models that set the tone for others.

Because Zelensky is such a charismatic leader, his skills will help steel the hearts of the Ukrainians. They have a cause to fight for, their country and homes, and a collective identity to defend. While the Ukrainians have more to lose in this war, the leadership of President Zelensky provides additional motivation and collective identity, and President Putin provides the Russian troops and other countries he is trying to unite around his cause.

 

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

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

 

About the Author

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

 

 

Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

Women are Problem Solvers! Investing in Them is the Key to Inclusive Growth.

This week’s article is provided by Pauline Koelbl, AfriProspect GmbH’s Founder and CEO as well as ShEquity’s Founder and Managing Partner.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled ShEquity: A Refugee’s Path to Empowering Women & Their Businesses that aired on Tuesday, March 8th, 2022.

 

Closing the gender gap can add $12 trillion to global growth. In Africa, there is a $42 billion gender funding gap that could add roughly $316 billion to Africa’s combined GDP if bridged. But economics is only half the story.

Globally, women are not fully included in economic activities and female entrepreneurs continue to receive less funding than their male counterparts. COVID19 has exacerbated the existing inequity despite the fact that women have been at the frontlines of addressing different challenges linked to the pandemic.  According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth. Thus, closing the existing gender gap is not a charity but a smart thing to do!

Accessing funding is even harder for dark and brown-looking women. In Africa, there is a $42 billion gender funding gap that could add roughly $316 billion to Africa’s combined GDP if bridged.  This, despite the fact that Africa has the highest number of female entrepreneurs globally, and 40% of Small and Medium Businesses (SMEs) are led and owned by women. I established ShEquity to address the existing gender funding gap in Africa by providing smart investment to African female founders who are creating impactful, innovative and scalable solutions to many challenges faced by many Africans.

The challenges that African female founders face are widespread and in many ways endemic, but when we discover innovative solutions that many female entrepreneurs are creating, we unearth new ways of accelerating the achievement of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and catalyzing inclusive economic growth.

The most enduring hurdle for African female entrepreneurs is financing. The scale of the gender financing gap for Africa’s early-stage ventures is nothing short of breathtaking, as indicated by the World Bank’s Africa Gender Innovation Lab. It produces rigorous research on what works and what does not work for women’s economic empowerment, and its analysis shows that between 2013 and 2021, only three percent (3%) of start-up funding on the African continent went to all-female founding teams. This gap is not improving: the Big Deal Substack reports that only 0.95% of the funding raised by African startups in 2021 went to startups founded or led by a woman or female-only team, compared to 82% for male counterparts.

If we drill down, there are complex issues at play here, including the fact that there are very few African female Fund Managers and gender-lens Funds as well as the differences in how men and women think about their enterprise financing. Female founders are less likely to pitch for equity investments but are more likely to apply for bank loans. Often, they are also unable to access loans due to the existing collateral biases. This points to the reality that the world of Venture Capital (VC) and Private Equity (PE) is male-dominated and geared towards male entrepreneurs and self-confidence issues.

Being a female-led gender-lens investor, ShEquity brings diversity to the world of investors. Additionally, the matter of self-confidence is addressed head-on at ShEquity. We very pointedly offer more than just financing – we combine cash investment with technical support, and access to high-value networks. We are unapologetic in stepping up and giving the women we work with this kind of practical and operational support – because where inequity exists, action is needed.

But it is not only for the benefit of the woman entrepreneur. Since we launched in 2020, we have already built a strong pipeline of de-risked deals, which allows investors to have access to the fertile African startup market. Investors want to know that the start-ups they entrust their money with are gearing up for success, which is why at ShEquity, we created an accelerator called SHEBA (ShEquity Business Accelerator). SHEBA serves as a Technical Assistance (TA) facility, providing pre-investment support, including a 16-week acceleration program focusing on de-risking qualifying businesses as well as post-investment value addition focusing on the development of growth strategies, networking, and soft skills including leadership.  Our ecosystem strategy allows our investors to have a multifarious return: fiscal, social, and environmental.

The social impact also has multiplier effects, touching upon the lives of so many people in so many ways. When leveraged together, two of the SDGs – gender equality and climate action – can impact nearly all the other SDGs, such as eliminating hunger and ensuring health and well-being. Together, gender and climate alone can unlock opportunities across societal goals. I have seen first-hand how, by leveraging the talents, skills and innovation of female entrepreneurs, we can bring needed actions to global challenges such as climate change and SDG priorities like equitable access to healthcare and food security.

 

At ShEquity, our investees address a vast array of environmental, social and economic issues. Examples include Ecodudu, a circular economy company feeding the future with insect-based protein, and a bus ride-sharing platform called Shuttlers, which sets out to reduce car use and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Widenergy is dedicated to the last-mile distribution of clean, reliable, and affordable energy solutions. It sets out to realize a world where every African woman and girl has access to clean, affordable and sustainable energy for better life chances, health, education and household income.

This all amounts to the creation of a gender-lens investment model – a brand new ecosystem that provides much-needed support to early-stage female-led and owned businesses. Crucially, it is an approach that reassures potential investors that they are investing in de-risked, scalable and impactful companies. Such companies have the capacity to generate a triple-bottom-line return while addressing different challenges, creating decent jobs and contributing to meeting the SDGs. In the end, ShEquity’s ultimate goal is to be ‘Doing Well While Doing Good’ – and we are proud to bring so many investors with us on such a crucial journey.

 

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

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

 

 

About the Author

Pauline Koelbl is AfriProspect GmbH’s Founder and CEO as well as ShEquity’s Founder and Managing Partner, Pauline is a leading innovation expert in developing & emerging economies, impact investor and seasoned impact-driven team leader with over 20 years experience in international affairs and venture philanthropy.

AfriProspect focuses on connecting African innovators with global markets, and ShEquity provides smart investment to impactful and scalable African female-led and owned businesses. Pauline also has 10+ years’ experience catalyzing innovation and entrepreneurship across Africa and her passion lies in innovation, entrepreneurship, youth, and women’s economic empowerment.

A double Fulbright -Scholar and Fellow-, Pauline is currently serving on a variety of Boards of companies/organizations connected to business, entrepreneurship and innovation in Africa. Pauline holds an Executive Education in Innovation for Economic Development from Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government; a Master’s Degree (MA) in Poverty and Development, Institute of Development Studies (IDS) from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in International Studies (Honors) from the University of Arizona (UoA), USA.

You can reach Pauline at p.koelbl@shequity.com