Can You Cool the Heat on Climate Change?

One of the toughest aspects of leadership is inheriting the problems of your predecessors. Great leaders, though, always look at the bigger picture – so they take responsibility for these problems they didn’t create, and forge solutions for the organization’s greater good. Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun embodies this: he wasn’t at the company when the 737 went into production, but he takes accountability to fix its very public and dangerous issues, like a door popping off in flight.

This same leadership trait is even more important with climate change. Oil company C-suites learned of fossil fuel impacts on global warming as far back as the 1950s. Seven decades later, today’s C-suites will have to live with the consequences. And those economic consequences are billions of dollars worth of harshness that will drain bottom lines more and more.

So, what’s a business leader to do? Former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell shared some actions in this week’s podcast:

1. Watch insurance companies.

“Insurance is the lubricant of business,” Kim says. Their actuaries don’t mess around, making decisions on cold, hard facts and stats. When you see them pulling out of certain geographic areas or particular types of business lines, you’ll know they see long-term climate impacts. Steer your organization clear of those, too!

2. Dig underneath the headlines to see the deeper impacts on your company…and its people.

Media reporting on climate change spills the spectacular. Blazing forest fires and pop-up category-five hurricanes make the headlines, but your work team suffers from subtler effects that don’t hit the news. For example, our new record-setting summer heatwaves impair cognitive capacities, leading to more workplace accidents. In one study, that led to over $1 billion in extra costs in California alone. Excess heat exposure can also exacerbate heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and other health issues.

3. Help your company be the example, instead of the victim.

Unless you work for a very small business, your organization consumes a lot more energy and resources than your home. Spearheading climate-healing initiatives – whether it’s as simple as switching to all LED lighting or as large as powering the building with solar panels – sets an example for the community, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and (after the upfront investment costs) decreases your long-term operating expenses. Several of us at the Innovative Leadership Institute recently saw directly the green initiatives Amazon is implementing…initiatives that, because of Amazon’s scale, will have definite environmental impacts while also creating long-term savings. But you don’t have to be a giant operation to see these benefits; Andrew Lessman’s Procaps Laboratories has been all-solar for decades.

4. Help your board see their role.

Boards have an outsize ability to move the needle for both for- and non-profit organizations, yet many just rubber-stamp one or two C-level executives’ desires. (How that leads to many recent CEO controversies is the subject for another article!) As a stakeholder, urge your board to ask tough questions about the company’s strategic plans in general, but on energy use and sources in particular. Switching to renewable energy sources, for example, is a true investment: there may be up-front costs, but they result in long-term savings. In the bigger picture, reducing climate change means less risk to company property, infrastructure, and thus profitability.

5. Take the moral high ground.

While the bulk of this article focuses on the business side, there’s a moral aspect to climate inaction that we can’t responsibly ignore. We mentioned the health effects above; Kim Campbell points out we’re beginning to see these real-world climate impacts in our healthcare systems. Less obvious is the growing number of climate refugees: people forced to leave homes and jobs due to rising sea levels, droughts, floods, and more. And we’ve long known of the correlation between heat and boosts in violence. Your company’s decisions impact your community!

Directly and indirectly, extreme heat has chilling business consequences. But take hope: you can alter the course of climate change’s impact on your company. Just step up and take the lead.

 

This article was adapted by Dan Mushalko from the Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future podcast episode Climate Change: Leaders in the Hot Seat with guest Kim Campbell, which premiered January 30th, 2024. This episode was produced in partnership with the International Leadership Association as part of their 25th Annual Global Conference held in October 2023. 

Link to the entire interview:

Check out past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotifyAmazon MusicAudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

 

Thank you for reading the Innovative Leadership Newsletter, brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

The Innovative Leadership Institute strives to elevate the quality of leadership worldwide. If you are looking for help developing your leaders, explore our services.

 

ADDITIONAL 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.

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  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

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Humanizing Your Leadership

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

This week’s article is written by Dan Mushalko, VP of  Research & Media at the Innovative Leadership InstituteIt is a companion piece to an interview with Celina Caesar-Chavannes on Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future, titled Can You Hear Her Now?which premiered January 23rd, 2024. This episode was produced in partnership with the International Leadership Association as part of their 25th Annual Global Conference held in October 2023. 

Link to the entire interview:

Listen to the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future via Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotifyAmazon MusicAudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

 

“Oh, my God: look at all the baggage I’m carrying!”

With that realization, Celina Caesar-Chavannes began rediscovering her true self – an authenticity buried under layers of external expectations and stereotypes laid on by society, by culture…and by leaders. Even as a high-ranking member of the Canadian parliament (Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, no less!), the -isms continued.

With that personal experience, she knows first-hand how much of our own potential we lose in trying to be people we’re not. For leaders, it means our teams can’t perform at their peak when our coworkers can’t bring their best selves to the office.

What can you do to uncover the potential of your “real” team? These steps will get you started:

1) Embrace your own authentic leadership.

Remember the proven maxim that your team watches you, copying your behavior as their real guide. Start by looking at yourself. Are you comfortable being and expressing yourself openly with your staff, or do you play a role or don a metaphorical mask when you’re in charge? Society and corporate cultures have various pressures for all of us; which do you have to deal with? Start looking inward, and you’ll be able to reach outward to appreciate the individuality of your team members, fostering even greater collaboration among them. You’re always a work in progress; so is your team. Grow together!

2) Navigate the inevitable power dynamics.

Power dynamics exist wherever humans gather. They’re not inherently bad; they can actually help us organize, problem-solve, and figure out who is genuinely best in which roles. They can also be leveraged to do great good! So, take a nice, hard look at your organization’s dynamics; knowing how to navigate them helps you create the inclusive, transformative environment that lets your team thrive.

3) Create inclusive practices.

Celina calls this the praxis of humanization – of moving from theory to the actual practice of humanizing your workplace. You’ve seen plenty written about inclusivity, including in this newsletter. The reality is that many businesses tout inclusivity and hold up its trappings but often have no meaningful metrics, follow-through, or buy-in from the C-suite. Yet, from morale to the innovation boosts diverse perspectives bring, the benefits are bountiful. The practical ROI question is: how much talent have you missed by excluding certain groups of people from your organization?

4) Cultivate emotional intelligence.

Re-read the very first line of this article. Then consider this: we ALL carry baggage. Developing your empathy and other forms of EQ allows you to see when people are dealing with a personal trauma, extra pressure, or just having a bad day. Shining EQ on yourself is important in developing your authentic leadership, too – when leaders don’t unpack their own baggage, they often cast it upon their teams. Those consequences are very real; last week’s podcast interview on law enforcement leadership pointed out that nearly all police chiefs bring major baggage to the job stemming from buried traumas experienced in their rookie days…which then contribute to some of the negative issues police departments are facing.

These are just a start. Celina has many more tips and personal examples in her book, Can You Hear Me Now? (available in hardback at https://amzn.to/494KzO9, paperback at https://amzn.to/49jrJmz, and audiobook at https://amzn.to/47QhWDm), and in our podcast with her.

The importance of humanization in leadership can’t be overstated. At work, an inclusive and transformative environment is essential in today’s professional and societal settings, especially if you want to attract and retain top talent. By implementing these practices, you can significantly enhance your leadership skills and bring about positive changes in both your personal and professional lives.

This article was adapted by Dan Mushalko from the Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future podcast episode Can You Hear Her Now? with guest Celina Caesar-Chavannes.

 

ADDITIONAL 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.

  1. Take the next step with this 30-minute course on Leading During Disruption.
  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

To-do list:

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotifyAmazon MusicAudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

Leading a High-Stress Team

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

This week’s article is written by Dan Mushalko, VP of  Research & Media at the Innovative Leadership InstituteIt is a companion piece to an interview with Rob Elkington and Les Sylven on Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future, titled Law & Order…& Leadershipwhich premiered January 17th, 2024. This episode was produced in partnership with the International Leadership Association as part of their 25th Annual Global Conference held in October 2023. 

Link to the entire interview:

Listen to the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future via Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotifyAmazon MusicAudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

 

Let’s face it: high-stress jobs aren’t disappearing anytime soon.

The tech industry painted a stereotype of a play-filled office with air hockey and ping pong, or calming communal workspaces with sleep pods and yoga mats. For most of us, that remains a dream. For police and other first responders, it can’t even be a fleeting thought: from “Karens” to crooks, it’s a high-stress day every day.

In reality, plenty of jobs still put people under high pressure. As their leader, you may not be the one putting the pressure on, but you can provide a little relief – and lead them more effectively. Our latest podcast guests – researcher Rob Elkington and retired police chief Les Sylven – have five tips to improve stress under police leadership…tips that you can adapt for your work environment, too!

1) Embrace Servant Leadership (and other new leadership approaches)

A leader’s job boils down to one critical element: providing the resources and guidance for the team to succeed. That’s really the crux of servant leadership. This principle obviously applies to any sector, but there’s an added irony for police leaders. Officers swear an oath “to serve and protect.” That oath doesn’t disappear when they’re promoted into leadership positions! From sergeant to chief, the job now is to serve the officers under their command. Add to that the copycat concept: just like kids watch their parents and imitate their behavior, so do teams watch their bosses. “Do as I say, and not as I do” doesn’t cut it anymore. Your team does as you do. In police leadership, if you want your officers to truly serve the community, model it by truly serving them.

2) Lean Into Emotional Intelligence

Simply put, lead with compassion. Heaping stress on top of someone who’s already stressed out clearly doesn’t help. Quite the opposite: it eventually leads to breakdown and failure. More than ever, people across industries are coming to work with stress and trauma on their shoulders. Realize that, show a little empathy, and you’ll figure out the best practices to motivate each individual to attain success. For first responders, in particular, the job means facing life-threatening trauma every time they clock in. As a leader, are you helping…or pushing your team closer to the edge?

3) Practice Mindfulness

Mental health issues have been rising at work across sectors. Is that really a surprise in high-stress environments? Mindfulness practices can significantly reduce the impact of stress on both mind and body. In fact, former chief Sylven is currently doing research on the benefits of mindfulness for law enforcement as part of his PhD studies, and the results are pretty clear. It enhances present-moment focus, self-awareness, and mental resilience in the face of trauma. From simple deep breathing to full-on meditation, mindfulness helps you and your team.

4) Mentor and Coach

This is another step that applies to leaders in any sector; ironically, old-school policing understood this: that’s why cop shows have the stereotype of the new rookie being assigned to the seasoned old veteran on the force! Whether it’s a mentor’s wisdom from experience or a coach’s objective perspective, getting guidance from others helps us better analyze ourselves – to build on our strengths and bridge our weaknesses. Stress creates a kind of tunnel vision, restricting your team’s view; solutions slip by unseen. Receiving that outside perspective helps broaden their view, encouraging reflection and, often, self-care. As a leader, you can be a mentor and coach yourself…but also look to other leaders, consultants, and professional programs who can resonate well as guides for your team’s members.

5) Make Debriefing Routine

As with the military, any major incident in policing is followed by a full debriefing – an analysis of what happened, why it happened, and what can be learned from it. It’s a wise route to take in any business sector, yet surprisingly few leaders take the time to do this. Without it, though, no wisdom is gained. To maximize wisdom, make debriefing routine: on a regular basis, meet with each person on your team to go over the events of the week, month, or quarter (Annual reviews, frankly, are nowhere near frequent enough to be of any real use in improving performance). You may be surprised at the gains you’ll see in both performance and morale over time!

Each of these steps is more about practice than price. They won’t require huge budget boosts – the big change rests in how you see your role as a leader. It takes personal effort, but the benefits begin to show rapidly, and their effects can last a lifetime.

 

This article was adapted by Dan Mushalko from the Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future podcast episode Law & Order…& Leadership with guests Rob Elkington and Les Sylven.

 

ADDITIONAL 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.

  1. Take the next step with this 30-minute course on Leading During Disruption.
  2. Review our Comprehensive Leadership Development programs and find your perfect fit!

To-do list:

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotifyAmazon MusicAudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute on LinkedIn.

Using Storytelling to Elevate Leadership With an Emmy Award Winning Director

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 Using Storytelling to Elevate Leadership.

This article is part two of a two part series. In a Chaos. There Is Creativity. Welcome to VUCA MAX… Part 1 was published on November 10, 2022.

Chris Nolan’s first podcast was Facing Uncertainty: It’s VUCA.

 

IN A CHAOS. THERE IS CREATIVITY. WELCOME TO VUCA MAX… PART 2.

In the last article, we discussed why we must reverse the normal business tendencies with innovation and creativity.  And why there is a great deal of frustration and failure that exists in organizations.

In this article, we attempt to bridge the gap between creative and non-creative universes, or those people who view themselves as more rational, left-brain non-creatives.

Many times, leaders who don’t know how mysterious and serendipitous and unpredictable the creative process is—and they can make too hasty a judgment about the value of ideas or who should contribute to ideation.

People in non-creative universes have exactly the opposite relationship to ideas—they immediately say “Is it relevant to what we’re doing?”  It’s as if you’re the head of Ivory soap: your job is to sell more soap bars and if you get distracted by someone saying “How about liquid soap?”—you say, “Can we stay on topic? How do we sell more bars?”

Below Malcolm Gladwell weights in on many of the arguments we discussed in the last article such as “embracing chaos” and “awkward strangers” on innovation teams.

I think that innovation and creativity flourish in environments that are messy, that permit mistakes that allow people to step outside of their roles that involve people who wouldn’t otherwise be thought of as natural teammates… Just when there is an acceptable level of chaos, I think that good things happen. The trick in encouraging creativity is being willing to tolerate chaos and that’s very difficult for us to do. It’s not first on our impulse.  – Malcolm Gladwell

In a world moving faster than we think, and disrupting business overnight, every new idea demands focus.  Not just marketing.  We must cultivate messiness and be comfortable with the unknown.

 

THE FUTURE IS MOVING FASTER THAN YOU THINK

According to Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler in their book, The Future Is Moving Faster Than You Think, every major industry on earth is going to be reinvented over the next 10 years.  Furthermore, we’re going to see more wealth created over the next decade than ever before in history.

In just a few years, all 8 billion of us on the planet will be connected. Just imagine the innovative potential of that mind meld.

Needless to say, it’s a critical time in business when we desperately need to energize our innovative assets and tap into our creative brilliance—right now!

Which is why the most important skillset, according to almost any study of the most important 21st century skillsets, is innovation.

In fact, an IBM study ranked it higher than global thinking and integrity.

A McKinsey & Company survey found that more than 70 percent of executives anticipate innovation will be a top driver of growth for their companies.

Yet, McKinsey also found most of these executives have been disappointed by their companies’ innovation efforts.

The reasons according to management consultants are: one, they aren’t utilizing the full power of collaboration within their whole enterprise, and two, as Gary Hamel says, leaders have ADD: Ambition Deficit Disorder. “They are too conservative, too risk adverse in their vision and innovation.”

Which brings us back to creative blocks. And the fact that a VUCA MAX world calls for counterintuitive, creative thinking. Which means doubling down on ideation even during downturns.  (For more information on VUCA MAX, refer to part one of this series).

After all, we need bigger thinking to overcome bigger challenges. That calls for what business expert Jim Collins calls BHAGS, Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Or what Google calls Moonshots.

 

BLESS THE MESS

I was fortunate enough to consult on several moonshot projects for Google, which is when I first heard of the concept of VUCA and learned about X, Google’s Moonshot Factory.

Astro Teller is the current CEO of X, Captain of Google Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory, and really the dominant thought leader in the field of moonshot breakthrough ideas.

He offers compelling reasons why we should both champion moonshots and celebrate the mess.

Teller says, “We spend most of our time breaking things and trying to prove that we’re wrong. We run at hardest parts of the problem first. Get excited and cheer. Hey, how are we going to mess-up our project today?”

Teller’s visionary leadership is also coupled with strategies to make them real. That’s why they are a called a Moonshot Factory.

A great book that delves into research from neuroscience and psychology on the benefits of messiness, disorder and even confusion to produce extraordinary creativity is Tim Hartford’s Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives.

 

EFFECTIVE SERENDIPITY

Additionally, the chaos of creativity calls for being aware of what AI and Neuro-evolution expert Ken Stanley calls Effective Serendipity.

In his AI research, Stanley determined that serendipity plays a much deeper role in innovation than we think, which has implications for human innovation over artificial intelligence.

This concept of evolutionary innovation is especially important during this age of machines and technology. Machines are tasked with a single run, based on past data and knowledge, that has a sole objective.

But true innovation is about creating things that don’t exist. In other words, you can’t really have an objective for something that doesn’t exist. And, in many cases, past data can’t predict foresight.

For example, some of the greatest human discoveries were serendipitous like penicillin, radioactivity, the telephone, plastic, anesthesia, rubber, and even rock & roll—the list goes on and on. Yes, there were stepping stones leading to these revelations, but in the end they were their own Blue Ocean.

Effective Serendipity is not quite controlled chaos, but a more intuitive view of the creative enigma. It’s an acknowledgement that happenstance, randomness, coincidence, accidents, and experimentation are part of the process. And like evolution, disruption helps you get there.

It’s also understanding of why exercising non-linear Human Agency in a technological world is so important. As the astronaut in 2001: A Space Odyssey found out when HAL, his ship’s main supercomputer, went bonkers: there are often times consequences and limitations to relying on technology to determine our future.

Like nature, creativity evolves and is messy. Recognizing how it works frees you up to experiment, to take risks, and overcome fear.

 

YES, AND

Another great example of chaos, adversity immersion, and messiness in action is improvisation.

“Yes, and…” is the first rule of improvisational comedy. The central idea being, regardless of what you may think about what someone states, you accept the idea and say “Yes, and…” and keep riffing on the idea, versus saying “No, but…” which would kill the collaborative jam.

This technique was used on Second City stages where some of the most inventive comedians (Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Tina Fey, Mike Nichols, and Amy Poehler to name just a few) honed their improv chops.

Eventually, innovation gurus began incorporating the formula into business in order to improve the brainstorming process. And when you think about it, improvisation is actually an intense version of the Adversity Immersion exercise.

Why? Because improve is a hot seat of chaos and messiness. First, you are thrust on stage while a random action, subject, or theme is thrown at you (by the awkward stranger in the audience) and then the troupe bats around discordant non-sequiturs that they try to make sense of by riding a roller coaster of “Yes, ands…”

The whole process is a fishy stew of messiness, chaos, and uncertainty that must be made into a tasty bouillabaisse.

Furthermore, by embracing chaos, disorder, and uncertainty, you not only become more creative, but you begin to develop antifragile resilience to change and the unknown.

 

FUTURE MINDSET MASTERY

All of which leads us to the ultimate creative goal: Future Mindset Mastery. The future demands that we embrace chaos, awkwardness, adversity immersion, and the uncomfortable, and celebrate the amazing opportunities in the disruptive process.

To get there, one of the things our VUCA MAX Future Mindset Mastery coaching program stresses is Future Back Storytelling. We want to get you from the possible to the impossible.

We do this through Future Scenario, Foresight Maps, and Story Ladders to create a mosaic of future ideas and actualize them into movie-like scenarios. The result is a portfolio of ideation from mutations to 10x moonshots.

In the age of machines, information knowledge will be the domain of computers and bots.  Now, data is tremendously valuable, but computers don’t “think” the way humans do. Machines generate knowledge which they cannot explain and work by eliminating choices until there is the best choice.

Human beings—like nature—evolve. We compound and converge concepts. We kluge choices and mutate ideas. That’s why it takes a chaotic process to discover the unexpected discovery and create impossible breakthroughs.

In his book Beyond Knowledge, George Washington University professor William Halel tells us technology is driving a new age of higher consciousness. This calls for a Future Mindset Mastery that accesses our higher faculties and human agency.

It requires fostering key value shifts that catalyze the next stage of human evolution: an expanded focus on creativity and imagination, bolder vision, intuition, wisdom and exponential empathy for all—not just humanity, but animals, plants and the whole planet.

Future Mindset Mastery is how we reach the upper limits of human potential in an increasingly accelerating, complex, uncertain, and chaotic world.

 

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 as 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 Apple PodcastsTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

Make An Epic Career Change Today (Without Sacrifice!)

Tammy Alvarez, CEO and founder of Career Winners Circle provided this article as. a companion to her podcast The Job I Love to Hate: It’s Never Too Late to Upgrade Your Career!

 

You’ve worked for years, maybe even decades, and you’ve found yourself stuck in a rut with no idea how to break the cycle and start doing something you love. But the minute you think about making an epic career change you get excited. The butterflies kick in, and you can almost see yourself in the center of all the action doing high-impact work that you love.

Pivoting careers is very different than getting the same job in the same industry. All the things you know about getting a new role won’t work when you want to make an epic career change. You’ve got to do things differently.

Fortunately, these things can be learned and perfected. Your sense of being overwhelmed can be replaced with a new approach so you keep those butterflies of excitement going. If you’re like most people, you believe that an epic career change will require you to take a step back. And nobody wants to do that. You’ve worked hard to get where you are and the thought of having to give anything up and ‘start over’ is soul-crushing. After all, the majority of people who try and make an epic career change do it wrong and end up making the ultimate sacrifice by having to move back a few spaces in the game of life.

You do not have to sacrifice your career happiness for progress.

You have spent a lifetime acquiring skills, perspectives, insights, and experiences that are amazing. Why do they suddenly ‘not count’ just because you start working in a new industry or new role? It sounds kind of ridiculous when you think about it – right?

Again, you can change careers the right way or you can do it the wrong way. When you learn how to leverage all your experiences and skills as an asset to your target career, the thought of taking a step back will be a distant memory.

Making that epic career change doesn’t need to whittle away everything you’ve worked so hard for. You can love your job, be excited about your career, and still have the income, influence, perks, and position you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Doing this isn’t hard, it’s just very different from what you’re used to.

 

Reinventing Your Career: 3 First Steps

When the time comes to re-invent your career, most people get stuck before they even get started, resulting in too many talented people sitting on the sidelines. If you fall in this category, you know that you’re missing out on your opportunity to make the impact you want and to have the career you’ve always dreamed of. And let’s face it: it gets extremely frustrating when this happens over and over again.

Here’s how the thought cycle goes: I want something different, and I am ready for a change! But…

What am I qualified for?

Who will want me?

Will my skills transfer?

Will I have to take a cut in pay or job title?

What will everyone think?

Do I have what it takes?

These doubts are how you get stuck before you even get started. It doesn’t have to be that way. The reason you’re not able to make that move you’ve always wanted is you’re asking the right questions at the wrong time. These are all excellent questions, but they should not come first. They actually come dead last.

Here are three questions you need to ask yourself before starting to think about how to reinvent your career:

  1. How much resilience do I have to make a career change? Changing careers is absolutely achievable but it’s not as easy as simply going to work for a competitor or taking a related role in the same industry. Every time you step out to do something you’ve never done before, it requires a ton of resiliency to both get the role and to keep the role. You should check in with yourself and make sure that now is the right time for you based on how resilient you are able to be at this stage of your career.
  2. What are you most passionate about? Have you fallen into the trap of chasing jobs for money, title, status, social expectations, and the like? If you suddenly find every day to be soul crushing, then it’s time to step back and re-evaluate what is most important to you. Take your whole self into consideration and narrow in on the things that really matter to you. This will not only guide your future decisions: it will give you the fuel you need for the long haul.
  3. How far and fast do you want to grow? If you’re not growing, you’re not reaching your fullest potential. Regardless of how much you do or don’t like change, falling into the mundane rut of the status-quo is a mind-numbing experience. Nobody wants that. Take stock of your growth trajectory both personally and professionally. Get really clear on the pace of growth you can sustain at this point in your career, and put yourself in situations where you can grow at a comfortable pace all the time.

Answering these questions is the first step in climbing out of the darkness of an unsatisfying job, and into a renewed career that lights you up!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Meet Tammy Alvarez, CEO, and founder of Career Winners Circle. A comprehensive collection of coaching and training programs designed to strengthen leaders to grow their careers quickly and sustainably.

Her spirited “Break all the Rules” approach blends decades of C-Suite experience on Wall Street with a pragmatic, results-based coaching style. She helps business professionals like you create impact so you can love every Monday morning again!

She is an inspirational coach, trainer, and epic storyteller who delivers transformative learning experiences for her global client base. She believes the heart of every successful business is leaders who inspire courage.

 

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 Apple PodcastsTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

Expecting the Unexpected: VUCA in Action at Red Roof

George Limbert, President of Red Roof discusses Expecting the Unexpected: VUCA in Action at Red Roof in his podcast. Chris Nolan, multiple Emmy Award-winning director, creative director, marketing strategist, branding story expert, and author, shares part one of a two-part series focusing on VUCA – The Colatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, and Ambiguous environment leaders are now navigating.

 

IN A CHAOS. THERE IS CREATIVITY. WELCOME TO VUCA MAX… PART 1.

OBLIQUE STRATEGIES

Brian Eno is a brilliant musician and producer of some of the most seminal rock ‘n’ roll albums of the last 40 years, He worked with David Bowie on “Heroes,”. U2 on “Achtung Baby” and “The Joshua Tree,” His work spans rock genres from DEVO to Coldplay.

His secret to catalyzing the greatest musicians to expand themselves and reach creative heights is “creating chaos”.

He is also famous for his Oblique Strategies: Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas” that shake up the creative process.

It’s a deck of cards invented by Eno and painter Peter Schmidt. Each card offers a unique, disruptive strategy: “Honor thy error as a hidden intention.”, “Look closely at the most embarrassing details and amplify them.”, “Make a sudden, destructive, unpredictable action. Incorporate.” Even, “Change instrument roles.”  That’s right –– drummer on the piano.

Eno found the more chaos the greater the creative breakthrough and the greater the masterpiece.

 

INNOVATIVE LEADERSHIP

A McKinsey & Company survey of executives found that more than 70 percent anticipate innovation will be a top driver of growth for their companies.

Yes, McKinsey also found that most of these executives have been disappointed by their company’s innovation efforts.

Now granted creativity is an enigma, and innovation can be a dilemma, so maybe chaos can tell us more about how to get under the hood of creativity.

As a film director for over 25 years and a former Creative Director at the some of world’s most prestigious advertising agencies, I’ve been at the helm of a wide array of diverse extremely talented, creative teams.

Yes, some people are just innately innovative, but I agree Edward de Bono and Steven Kotler that creativity and innovation–– the ability to connect different ideas in a novel way –– is also a learnable skill.

But it is more oblique than obvious.

De bono, regarded by many as the world’s leading authority in the field of creative thinking, also tells is that problem solving is an indirect process involving ideas that may not be attainable using step-by-step logic.  This mean embracing chaos, disruption and the unknown in the creative process.  de Bono called this “Lateral Thinking”. It deliberately forgoes obvious approaches in favor of oblique, outside the box ones.

Lateral Thinking also calls for leaders to give people the permission to contribute and the freedom to explore alternatives to problems without criticism.

 

AWKWARD STRANGERS

Disney is one of the most innovative companies in the world. And when I worked with Disney on innovative initiatives, we’d always included people outside the project team as part of the innovation group, even some contrarians, disruptors or people at different levels.

In his Ted Talk. Tim Hartford talks about the need to disrupt in the creative process and role of what he calls “the awkward strangers”. Eno deck of cards plays this role.

So, one of the ways to jumpstart robust ideation is diversity and different perspectives You want awkward strangers to disrupt the process.

Which is why. the world’s top business experts from Peter Drucker to Marshall Goldsmith tell leaders to flatten the pyramid and get more bottom-up ideation.

A more inclusive “leave no one behind” mindset that includes front line people.

it creates what we call Hero-Archies versus Hierarchies. And deliver Great Loyalty instead of Great Resignation by giving people more purpose and investment in the future.

After all, C-Suite does not stand for crystal ball. No leader can predict the future alone. To innovate for a future moving faster than we can think, we need all the help we can get,

 

ADVERSITY IMMERSION

Brian Eno made creative magic happen by busting comfort zones, flipping familiar habits and taking people to strange, unknown, chaotic places.

He immersed the rockers in adversity.

Now you may think that Adversity Immersion causes stress and stress thwarts creativity when in actuality –– it’s feeling out of control in a situation and not having creative choices causes stress. The key to avoiding stress is to accept that the creative process is chaotic, but you always have choices.

The stories of the greatest accomplishments always great conflict, obstacles and adversity, and they challenge us to make decisions.

In Star Wars, after the introduction of Old Ben Kenobi (the awkward strange), Obi Wan challenges Luke Skywalker to make a choice –– between the complacency of his dull planet and the call to help the intergalactic rebellion.

In innovation like stories, an unexpected inciting incident always disrupts the status quo and upends the familiar, leading to new challenges, problems and bursts of opportunity.

Understanding that chaos and adversity are essential catalysts for breakthrough innovative is important for leaders to understand as we enter the most disruptive era that humanity has ever experienced.

An era we call VUCA MAX.

 

WELCOME TO VUCA MAX

In the documentary IT’S VUCA: THE SECRET TO LIVING IN THE 21ST CENTURY, we set out to explain this critical inflection point in human history.

It’s a pivotal time when we literally face the possibility of two futures: A negative one with colossal consequences or a positive one with transformative opportunities. VUCA is also negative and positive.

The film 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 is an acronym 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.

When we started filming IT’S VUCA in 2020, a phenomenon predicted by Ray Kurzweil, Google’s head on engineering started to kick in –– creating Massive. Accelerating. Exponential change.

To give you an idea just how fast the future is moving:  In the next 10 years, we will see 100 years of change. In the next 80, we’ll see 20,000 years.

VUCA is now on steroids. It’s VUCA MAX.

As futurist Jane McGonigal at the Institute for the Future, the world’s leading futures organization, tell us: This is a time for both urgent optimism and urgent innovation.

 

CHAOTIC INNOVATION IS NOT CREATIVE

On the flip side, when leadership pursues innovation in a haphazard, piecemeal, one-off fashion it is detrimental to creative efficiency. It has no plan and distracts from innovative momentum.

As Gary Hamel and Nancy Tennant said in their Harvard Business Review article, “IIt takes a systematic approach to build a systemic capability — whether that is Amazon’s logistics prowess or the near-flawless service you receive as a guest at a Four Seasons hotel. So, it is with innovation.”

Systematizing innovation means embracing chaotic principals, which beings a method to madness and the outcomes.

Companies cut their R&D and innovation budgets during the last great recession missed key opportunities. Companies that embraced VUCA and continued to invest in innovation 10xed their businesses and took a front seat in the post-recession economy.

Again, investing in innovation calls for leadership that thinks beyond genetic creativity and playful workspaces. It calls for a deep bench of innovators across your entire organization.

Yes, some people are innately more creative, but a surprising amount of people get more creative when they have intrinsic motivation.

When they think their ideas matter and they have permission to be creative. What’s most important is –– Purpose.  Purpose skyrockets innovation. It calls for strong leadership seeking transformative ideas with greater meaning for humanity and for the planet.

Stay tuned for part two of “In Chaos, there is Creativity”, we’ll explore “Messiness” and “Effective Serendipity”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, CHRIS NOLAN:

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.

 

ABOUT THE INTERVIEWEE, GEORGE LIMBERT:

George Limbert is the President of Red Roof, an award-winning leader in the lodging industry with over 670 properties in the United States, Brazil and Japan. George joined Red Roof in 2013 as the company’s in-house counsel. Recently, he led a financial and strategic transformation of the business and was appointed President in 2021. George guides an organization that serves millions of guests each year, delivering enhanced experiences and unmatched value. He is the cornerstone in driving long-term strategic planning, improved operational and financial performance, and greater value for Red Roof stakeholders, business partners and guests. George fosters collaboration in communicating brand values, driving business growth and profitability.

George is an Ohio native. He received a degree in business from The Ohio State University and earned his law degree at the University of Dayton. George is also an adjunct professor of Franchise Law at Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Hotel and Lodging Association and the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association, as well as a member of the Ohio Bar Association. In 2021, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine appointed him to the TourismOhio Advisory Board. He lives in Lewis Center, Ohio, with his wife and daughter.

 

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.

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.

Understanding Employee Experience in Real-Time with Aware

Greg Moran, a C-level digital, strategy, and change leadership executive with extensive global operations experience provided this article as a companion piece to his podcast What Your Team REALLY Thinks…in Real Time!  

 

Current Challenge

Most companies have no way of understanding how topics, messaging, internal/external events are truly impacting our employees and culture. According to Gartner, 82% of employees agree it is important that their organization sees them as a person, not just an employee.  In order to illuminate this topic, ILI has asked me to provide an overview of Aware’s approach to addressing the challenge of listening and giving a voice to employees.

Why This Matters, Now.

Gartner recently stated that human-centered work design can increase employee performance by as much as 54%. The market is quickly shifting to leverage human analytics to inform practices like performance management, building engagement, enhancing culture and experience, and improving retention.

Current Gaps

Traditional engagement questionnaires and pulse surveys only provide point-in-time insight on specific questions or topics. Without additional solutions, companies will continue to fall short in their ability to understand employee experience in a fully comprehensive and real-time manner. In order to drive faster response and more proactive change, companies require new solutions to close these gaps:

The challenges with a survey-based approach:

  • No comprehensive understanding of what employees are currently talking about and how they talk about specific topics.
  • No ability to look at toxic or disgruntled behavior separately from sentiment (negative sentiment is not always a cause for concern in the enterprise).
  • Lack of data to inform an approach to employee experience
  • Inability to capture a silent majority or know if an issue is brewing before it turns into a larger distraction.

How Innovative Companies are Closing the Gap

Forward-thinking, global companies go beyond pulse surveys, performance reviews, and focus groups. They augment the information derived from traditional sources with a real-time, continuous understanding of employee voice and experience. These companies use technologies that derive authentic insights from conversations already happening naturally within platforms like Slack, Workplace from Meta, Teams, and others.  In the words of one of Aware’s customers “The ability to understand and listen to our partners, and look at sentiment differently, be clear on where we’ve missed something and where we need to lean back in has been incredibly important this last year.  Giving this glimpse into how [employees] are humanly responding to things … has been really supportive of a broader enterprise goal of ‘it’s not an us and them’ piece.’ This is a way we can help them see each other as people.”

The Aware Solution

Your company needs a system in place to understand real-time employee engagement, so you can authentically say, ‘We hear you’. Innovative companies who do this well are adopting platforms such as Aware, which offers best-in-class technology to understand and make sense of employee signals:

  • Derives continuous, authentic insights from conversations, without relying on surveys
  • Understands and treats sentiment and toxic behavior independently
  • Offers automated reporting and alerts that fit within your existing business review framework
  • Provides controls to align with existing data privacy and compliance frameworks
  • Does not require IT resources for implementation and can integrate within minutes

What’s in the Box?

Aware offers a robust platform that solves additional challenges you may face across your business, including eDiscovery, retention, legal holds and compliance monitoring. Aware is committed to providing leading security, compliance, and analytics for collaboration, no matter which tool you use to get work done, now or in the future.

Intelligent Data Fabric

Aware’s data fabric is built to capture unique collaboration characteristics. Securely “listening” to all posts, messages, and shared files, and preserve revision and deletion histories.

Data Retention and Destruction

Reduce the liability of litigation by systematically purging stored conversation data.  Apply records retention policies and automatically purge select content from both the collaboration platform and the data fabric.

Data Holds and Search & Discover

Preserve and protect data from spoliation. Create legal holds, quickly search held data by custodian, date range, and/or keyword.

Privacy and Compliance Monitoring

Confirm that employees remain compliant with industry regulations when communicating on your collaboration platform. Easily fulfill data subject access requests and the right to be forgotten.

To learn more, please visit www.awarehq.com

 

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.

 

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.

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.

Reimagining Leadership to Solve Food Insecurity

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 provided the article as a companion to her podcast, Reimagining Leadership to Solve Food Insecurity.  Her interview is a part of the International Leadership Association Series from the conference in Geneva, Switzerland, in October of 2021.

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.

 

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

Maureen Metcalf initially published this article on the Forbes Coaches Council. It is a companion to a podcast that Cynthia Cherry, President and CEO, and Mike Hardy, Board Chair of the International Leadership Association, recorded with Maureen, ILA, as the Living Model for Reimagining Leadership Together. It is part of the International Leadership Association’s interview series.

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?

 

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

Jonathan Reams, Director at the Center for Transformative Leadership and the European Center for Leadership Practice, shared this article as a companion to his podcast Getting Lost in the Language of Leadership from the International Leadership Association Series.  These interviews feature guests from the 2021 Annual Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

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.

 

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.

Books to look out for: Maturing Leadership: How Adult Development Impacts Leadership

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

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash