Reflections on Creating My Vision – What Do We Believe?

Innovative Leadership Team ValuesDuring the months of December 2012 – January 2013, we will be posting a blog series focused on helping leaders define their personal vision. If you plan annual goals, this series of exercises may serve as a helpful foundation. Each week you will see another post designed to guide you in identifying what is most important to you. First, you will define your future, and from that vantage point, clarify your vision and values. You will then consider what you want to do professionally, as well as the type and extent of the impact you want to have on the world. We will also provide examples from Demetrius and Jonathan, both emerging leader during this blog series. This blog series is an excerpt from the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers and also part of our comprehensive leadership development program.

To help you develop your action plan, building on your vision from blog posts in December, it is time to further clarify your direction using the reflection questions, “What do I think/believe?” reflects your intentions. “What do I do?” questions reflect your actions. “What do we believe?” reflects the culture of your organization (i.e., work, school, community), and “How do we do this?” questions reflect systems and processes for your organization. This exercise is an opportunity to practice innovative leadership by considering your vision for yourself and how it will play out in the context of your life. You will define your intentions, actions, culture, and systems in a systematic manner. This week’s questions will focus entirely on What do we think/believe. In the coming weeks we will post questions from the two remaining categories.

  • How does my personal vision fit within the larger context of my family, my community, my industry or my job?
  • How do I create a shared belief that my vision will help the organization succeed within the larger community, and also help the community succeed?
  • What do we believe we stand for as an organization? How should we behave to accomplish what we stand for (guiding principles/values)? Do my values align with the organizational values?
  • How do I reconcile differences between my values and those of my organization? How will these differences impact my ability to develop toward my vision and goals?

Let’s look at how Demetrius answered two of the reflection questions. His answers served as input for his leadership development plan (see last weeks post for his vision statement). Check back next week for his answers to the two remaining categories.

  • How does my personal vision fit within the larger context—my family, my community, my industry, my job?  When I look at my industry, I begin to feel more and more confident that my personal vision is aligned with the visions of my industry. We have begun the transformation from managing people to leading people. The time has passed from command and control, to lead and learn. There is more power in thinking and working as a group, as opposed to any one person feeling as if he needs to have all the answers. This is the vision I have working for an organization and leading an organization into the future.   My wife and I also share a vision as we move forward with our careers and our lives. The sharing of the vision is an important concept. Of course we are two different individuals with different goals, but the vision we share is in the support that we show each other. It’s really important to each of us that we are each other’s biggest supporter. Therefore, we make it a point to help each other to grow and to help each other to achieve individual personal goals.

 

  •  What do we believe we stand for as an organization?  As an organization we stand for providing the best in value to our customer while maintaining integrity in the work that we produce. For me, there is a lot to be said about doing the “right thing.” As an organization of course we are concerned about the bottom line, but not at the expense of doing something that our customers would deem unethical or not in their best interests. This is a type of organization that I can stand behind and I believe that we are headed in the right direction. At this point, I believe my values are becoming more closely aligned with our organizational values and this is a positive sign.

Now that you have read Demetrius’ responses, how would you repsond to a few of these questions?

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.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com Ron Sombilon Art, Media and Photography

Reflections on Creating My Vision – What Do I Believe?

Reflection Questions - Innovative LeadershipDuring the month of December 2012, we will be posting a blog series focused on helping leaders define their personal vision. If you plan annual goals, this series of exercises may serve as a helpful foundation. Each week you will see another post designed to guide you in identifying what is most important to you. First, you will define your future, and from that vantage point, clarify your vision and values. You will then consider what you want to do professionally, as well as the type and extent of the impact you want to have on the world. We will also provide examples from Demetrius and Jonathan, both emerging leader during this blog series. This blog series is an excerpt from the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers and also part of our comprehensive leadership development program.

To help you develop your action plan, building on your vision from last week’s blog post, it is time to further clarify your direction using the reflection questions, “What do I think/believe?” reflects your intentions. “What do I do?” questions reflect your actions. “What do we believe?” reflects the culture of your organization (i.e., work, school, community), and “How do we do this?” questions reflect systems and processes for your organization. This exercise is an opportunity to practice innovative leadership by considering your vision for yourself and how it will play out in the context of your life. You will define your intentions, actions, culture, and systems in a systematic manner. This week’s questions will focus entirely on What do I think/believe. In the coming weeks we will post questions from the other three categories.

  • How do I see myself in the future? What trends do I see around me that impact this view? Have I considered how these trends impact the way I want to contribute?
  • How does my view of myself impact me? Am I inspired by my vision? Terrified?
  • How do I see myself within the larger environment? This can range from my family, the company, to the global environment.
  • After doing the exercises, what is my vision?
  • After doing the exercises, what are my values? What do I stand for? What do I stand against?
  • What are the connections between my business vision and my personal mission, passion, and economic goals?

Let’s look at how Demetrius answered two of the reflection questions. His answers served as input for his leadership development plan (see last weeks post for his vision statement). Check back next week for his answers to the three remaining categories.

What do I think/believe?

  • How do I see myself in the future? One thing I have always believed to be a constant in my life is that change is inevitable. As a leader, I believe it is my responsibility to my organization and to the teams that I lead to embrace and prepare for change. I see myself being the conduit to change that will enable growth for me, my family, and my peers, company, and community. I believe individuals are more willing to accept change if they have a road-map to guide them. If I understand the potential risks and rewards associated with any forthcoming change, I can plan a course of action that will enable me to capitalize on the rewards, while mitigating or eliminating the risks. I also understand that I will not have an answer for everything, and when a situation arises I still need to stay levelheaded and forward-thinking to help guide the aforementioned groups through the process of change.

 

  • How does my view of myself impact me? Am I inspired by my vision? Terrified? After completing my undergraduate degree in computer science engineering, I began reading a variety of books that I didn’t pick up while in school. One such book was Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. In his book I found a common theme that has become the basis for many aspects of my life: A made up mind is the most powerful thing a person can have. So, am I inspired by my vision? Absolutely! I envisioned myself walking across the stage as a graduate, I envisioned contributing at a high level within my organization, I envisioned leading—and not simply managing—teams. In each vision I could see the impact it would have on me and the people around me. With each vision, I made up my mind that it was the right thing for me to do and I let that vision guide me to reach my goals. At the same time, I am mindful that there is still a ton of growth and learning that I have to do in my career and in my personal life. I make it a point to learn from everyone around me and in each encounter that I have. Every individual has some knowledge that they can share—intentionally or not—if you take the time to 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 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.

Photo Credit: www.flickr.com Humphrey King

Building Innovative Leadership – Putting Vision Into Action

Innovative Leadership - Vision Based ActionDuring the month of December 2012, we will be posting a blog series focused on helping leaders define their personal vision. If you plan annual goals, this series of exercises may serve as a helpful foundation. Each week you will see another post designed to guide you in identifying what is most important to you. First, you will define your future, and from that vantage point, clarify your vision and values. You will then consider what you want to do professionally, as well as the type and extent of the impact you want to have on the world. We will also provide examples from Demetrius and Jonathan, both emerging leader during this blog series. This blog series is an excerpt from the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers and also part of our comprehensive leadership development program.

After defining and clarifying your vision and values (see prior blog posts), the next step is to reflect on how to put them into action. You will consider the things you care about most, as well as your innate talents and skills to determine what about your current life you would like to refine, or even change. You are probably passionate about specific interests or areas within your life; if you’re really fortunate, you will have opportunities to participate in one or more of those areas.

The purpose of this exercise is to consider how best to incorporate your passions into how you make a living. You likely have passions that will always remain in the realm of hobbies; the main point of the exercise is to move closer to identifying your passions and expressing them in as many areas of life as possible.

In our experience, part of figuring out what you want to do is paying attention to what you find profoundly interesting. Those interests simply reveal themselves in the course of your daily interaction with peers and colleagues, and quite frequently at business functions. They are reflected in whatever you find yourself reading; they even display themselves in the context of more casual occasions, and are often seen in activities shared among friends.

This is the type of exercise that appears very simple on the surface, and may be something you revisit annually in order to refresh what is genuinely important to you. We find that revisiting allows you to nurture a sense of continual clarity about your direction. Iteration provides a mechanism for clarifying your direction as you grow and develop. With everything you try (false starts and all) you will discover a deeper truth about yourself that moves you closer to your most authentic passions. Some of those passions will be incorporated into your career; other passions help shape your personal life.

Putting Vision Into Action Exercise

Step 1: Identify your foundation. Answer the three questions below by compiling a list of responses to each.

  • What are you passionate about? This will come from the prior exercise and should now be relatively concise.
  • What meets your economic needs?
  • What can you be great at?
    Note: your answers to these questions should reflect your values from the Personal Values Checklist (see blog post from last week).

Step 2: Review and identify overlap. Review your answers and identify the overlaps.

Step 3: Harvest the ideas. Based on the overlaps, do you see anything that might be incorporated in what you do or how you work? This could mean adding an additional service line to an existing business or allocating a portion of your work time to a project that is aligned with your values.

Jonathan’s Response to Putting Vision into Action Exercise

Jonathan graduated from the University of Urbana in 2011. He is a graduate of the LeaderShape program where he initially clarified his personal vision. He is founder and president of Illini Prosthetic Technologies (IPT) technologies, which he started in 2008. IPT’s focus is to re-enable amputees around the world with simple, innovative, and affordable solutions. He now provides technical and business leadership to operations in Latin America, and interfaces IPT with hospitals, clinics, and NGOs.

Step 1: Identify your foundation. Answer the three questions below by compiling a list of responses to each.

  • What are you passionate about? I am passionate about global problems and solutions (especially in regards to health), socially-minded organizations, employing science and engineering to solve problems, teaching others to make an impact, writing and speaking in public, my family life, my faith life, working and visiting new parts of the world.
  • What meets your economic needs?  I can make a solid living from becoming an expert on global health problems and solutions.
  • What can you be great at? I can be really great at leading socially-minded organizations and efforts which are working to solve global health issues.

Step 2: Review and identify overlap. My answers to “what I can be great at,” “what meets my economic needs,” and “what am I passionate about” all line up very nicely with my revised vision statement. They all also implicitly involve the top three values I chose, as well as the original ten which I started with.

Step 3: Harvest the ideas.  For me, this analysis is really a reaffirmation of the work I am currently doing with the nonprofit organization that I founded and for which I now work fulltime. This does give me solid direction for my personal future following my current mission with this organization, as I begin to apply to graduate schools in the field of public health and think about where I am headed in the five to ten-year timeframe in my global health work. Looking at this is very important for me because it helps me to know what experiences I need to get prior to starting graduate school so that I can use that education to position myself in the niche of the global health community about which I am most passionate.

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.

What is Your Leadership Vision?

DDefine your personal visionuring the month of December 2012, we will be posting a blog series focused on helping leaders define their personal vision. If you plan annual goals, this series of exercises may serve as a helpful foundation. Each week you will see another post designed to guide you in identifying what is most important to you. First, you will define your future, and from that vantage point, clarify your vision and values. You will then consider what you want to do professionally, as well as the type and extent of the impact you want to have on the world. We will also provide examples from Demetrius and Jonathan, both emerging leader during this blog series. This blog series is an excerpt from the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers and also part of our comprehensive leadership development program.

It is important to note that many people will complete this exercise and still not have a clearly articulated vision—this is because defining personal vision requires a great deal of introspection for most people. While some people grow up knowing what they want to do for a living, others find that identifying a vision is a process of gradual exploration and will take more time and energy than completing a single workbook exercise. You will likely refine your vision as you progress through blog posts based on the information you learn about yourself. Because the visioning process is iterative in nature—a process of self-discovery—these exercises in this book will serve as the foundation for a longer process that may take considerably more time to complete. It will likely change as you gain experience and as your introspective process matures.

Define Personal Vision

Follow the steps defined below:

  • Step 1:  Create a picture of your future. Imagine yourself at the end of your life. You are looking back and imagining what you have done and the results you have created.
    • What is the thing of which you are most proud?
    • If you had a family, what would they say about you?
    • What did you accomplish professionally?
    • What would your friends say about you?

For the rest of this exercise, let that future person speak to you and help you set a path that will enable you to look back with pride and say things like, “I feel fulfilled and at peace. I lived my life well.”

  • Step 2:  Write a story.  Now that you have that image of what you will accomplish, write a brief story about your successful life. Include details about the questions above. Make it a story of what you went through to accomplish each of the results for the questions you answered. What you are trying to create is a roadmap for your journey that gives you more insight into what you would want if you had the option to design your perfect life.
    • Who helped you along the way?
    • What did you enjoy about your daily life?
    • Who was closest to you?
    • What feelings did you have as you accomplished each milestone along the way?
    • How did you mentor others and contribute to the success of others?
    • What did you do to maintain your health?
    • What role did spirituality or religion play in your journey?
    • What job did you have?
    • What role did material success play in your life?
    • What type of person were you (kind, caring, driven, gracious)
  • Step 3:  Describe your personal vision. Given the story you have written and the qualities you demonstrated as a person, write a two to five sentence life-purpose statement—a statement that talks about your highest priorities in life and your aspirations. This statement should capture the essence of how you want to live your life and project yourself.

An example – My vision is to develop myself to my greatest capacity and help others develop and thrive in all aspects of their lives. I will live consciously and courageously, relate to others with love and compassion, and leave this world better for my contribution.

  • Step 4:  Expand and clarify your vision. If you are like most people, the choices you wrote are a mixture of selfless and self-centered elements. People sometimes ask, “Is it all right to want to be covered in jewels, or to own a luxury car?” Part of the purpose of this exercise is to suspend your judgment about what is “worth” desiring, and to ask instead which aspect of these visions is closest to your deepest desire. To find out, ask yourself the following questions about each element before going on to the next one: If I could have it now, would I take it?

Some elements of your vision don’t make it past this question. Others pass the test conditionally: “Yes, I want it, but only if…”  Others pass, but are later clarified and distilled in the process. As you complete this exercise, refine your vision to reflect any changes you want to make.

Demetrius’ Vision Development Process Vision of the Future as an Example

When I look into the future I want to be proud of the person I have become and the life that I have lived. In particular, I want to ensure that my wife and I have raised a beautiful family in which our children think independently and are able to articulate their own personal visions. I would like for my children to be able to say I have been there for them every step of the way, and allowing them to experience life while guiding them away from danger when possible. For me, family and family interactions are highly valued, so the closest people to me are my wife and our children. However, I don’t discount the close friends I have known since high school and those I’ve met along the journey since college.

Professionally, I want to create an organization whose culture represents my personality: relaxed and laid back, yet focused and driven. I want to create a work environment in which people are excited about their work and where they can accomplish their professional goals.  Finally, my organization must take into account our community and to find ways to give back every chance we get.

My Vision

My vision is to develop myself to my greatest capacity and create a healthy and loving environment in which my family will thrive. I strive to be a friend who can be counted on in every way. I will create a business that delivers value to our clients and community and has a culture where people can thrive and grow personally.

After defining and clarifying your vision, it is time to consider your personal values – check back to see blog next week. The combination of these two exercises will help you create the foundation of what you want to accomplish and the core principles that guide your actions as you work toward your vision.

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.

Photocredit: flickr mind scratch

Innovative Leadership – What is Your Development Path?

This post was co-written with Jason Miller, contributing author of the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers.

We believe that leadership innovation is a process of improving leadership that allows already successful leaders to raise the bar on personal and organizational performance. By adopting this view of leadership as an improvement process, we can assume that there are various stages of maturity an individual will demonstrate at any given point in the journey to become an innovative leader as reflected in the table below. If you are an emerging leader, you may not see yourself as an already successful leader, but as a new leader. Irrespective of where you are along the path, by following a structured process, you will increase your effectiveness and the success of your organization.

Kelly is an emerging leader, managing a small staff of employees and in many cases working shoulder to shoulder with them to accomplish tasks as part of the team. Her approach was very effective until she had a team member pass away unexpectedly. This disruption required her to build her leadership and management skills quickly to respond to a very real set of challenges the team needed to face. While it seems an unlikely time to start focusing on developing leadership skills that is what Kelly needed to do. She realized she needed support during this challenging time. She began focusing on defining the processes clearly and identifying how work would be most effectively accomplished with a new team member. This crisis forced Kelly to quickly master some key skills for emerging leaders, she took responsibility for the team’s success, she clarified the work and roles and responsibilities, and she understood the impact of her decisions and took the time to perform a thorough analysis on some key issues to develop a plan to go forward. She also accelerated her plans to develop and cross train her team to provide greater flexibility for everyone. Her team emerged from this crisis strong.

This table walks you through some of the criteria we evaluate when determining the leadership stage. Work focus is the level of responsibility you take on during a normal work week; decision time horizon refers to the general time frame considered when you make decisions; and complexity is the level of your tasks—this could include the intricacy of a single task, or the fact that you are managing many tasks, projects, processes, and even systems or enterprises.

Innovative Leadershp Development Continuum

Using the Continuum to Create a Development Plan

We created the continuum and workbooks to help leaders and managers understand the skills to master at their current level and also which ones to start practicing to move to the next level. The tool is part of an integrated leadership development program designed to help people move through the continuuum. By using the Innovative Leadership Development Continuum, you can create a development plan designed to help you develop to higher levels of responsibility.

Reflection Questions:

  • Where are you on the Innovative Leadership Development Continuum?
  • Do you have a development plan that will help you master key skills at your current level?
  • Are you building skills that will allow you to transition to the next level?

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.

Innovative Leadership Workbook for Nonprofit Executives Awarded 2012 Best Business Reference Book

USA Best Book Award WinnerMetcalf & Associates, Inc., today announced that Innovative Leadership Workbook for Nonprofit Executives, written by CEO Maureen  Metcalf and Dani A. Robbins, was named USA Books 2012 Best Business Reference Book. The book was also a finalist in Business: Management & Leadership.

“Leadership needs innovation the way   innovation demands leadership. By combining them, you improve your capacity to deliver results and your organization’s capacity to affect change,” says Metcalf. The Innovative Leadership Workbook for Nonprofit Executives, provides a six-step process for developing innovative leadership qualities through a combination of well-researched theory, a practical business case study, and corresponding tools and templates.

It is designed specifically for busy nonprofit executives, includes field-tested processes and worksheets for innovating how you lead, transforming your organization, and creating sustainability. The workbook takes readers on their own leadership journey through a series of development activities while providing insight into the   thought processes of a highly successful nonprofit executive whose unique challenges provide invaluable insight into how a leader develops and incorporates innovation both personally and professionally.

“The Innovative Leadership Workbook for Nonprofit Executives lays out a process for transformation, including a discussion of organizational culture, an exploration of, and tools for, improving personal and professional leadership style, and an in-depth description of the role of the nonprofit CEO. This is a must-read for senior leadership staff and the boards they serve.” —John Hrusovsky, former CEO, GroundWork group.

Robbins is the founder of Non Profit Evolution, a consulting firm providing board governance and operational assistance to nonprofit organizations.

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.

Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers will be Released November 2012

Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and ManagersThe Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers, written by CEO Maureen Metcalf, Founder and CEO of Metcalf & Associates will be released in November 2012. This workbook is a companion to the winner of Best Business Reference Book in the 2012 International Book Awards.

“Leadership needs innovation the way innovation demands leadership. By combining them, you improve your capacity to deliver results and your organization’s capacity to affect change,” says Metcalf. The Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders, designed specifically for busy people, includes field-tested processes and worksheets for innovating how you lead, transforming your organization, and creating sustainability. The workbook takes readers on their own leadership journey through a series of development activities while providing insight into the thought processes of a two different and highly successful emerging leaders whose unique challenges provide invaluable insight into how a leader develops and incorporates innovation both personally and professionally.

The Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders provides a six-step process for developing innovative leadership qualities through a combination of well-researched theory, two practical business case studies, and corresponding tools and templates.

“This workbook helps you ask key questions of yourself as you emerge into leadership roles. Be patient as you grow. Take notes and be grateful for both good and mediocre leaders. The good ones model the way. The bad ones remind us what not to do. This workbook will help shape you into an “excellent” leader.” — Carla Paonessa, Chair, LeaderShape Board of Directors and Retired Managing Partner, Accenture.

If you are an emerging leader or manager – this workbook will be one of the most valuable books in your library. It is meant to be used often to help you become more effective. Unlike other books that tell you about leadership, this workbook gives concrete activities and tools to guide you through a clearly defined and tested development process.

If you run a company that depends on talent as a differentiator, you will find the investment in this workbook will provide a great return. It gives your emerging leaders and managers a path to development that is comprehensive and proven to be successful.

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.

What are Top Innovation Thought Leaders Saying?

I had the opportunity to participate in part of the planning process for “Creating a Marketplace for Ideas,” the 4th Annual Innovate Columbus forum aimed at preparing local companies for growth, while addressing the issues of risk-taking in a creative culture. It was a collaboration of TechColumbus and Innovate Fischer and because creativity is essential, we assembled an All-Star team of keynote speakers and nationally-known thinkers to address creativity and innovation. Highlights were:

  • Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D., a leader in the development of education, creativity and innovation
  • Jeff Dyer, Ph.D., a teacher and researcher who focuses on innovation, organizational change and strategic alliances
  • Richard Florida, Ph.D., author of The Rise of The Creative Class and The Rise of The Creative Class Revisited

It was a powerful half day of dynamic speakers. Each of the speakers talked about creativity from slightly different—but all well researched—perspectives.

Sir Ken Robinson’s main points about individual creativity were that:

  • Creativity is a learned skill
  • We can cultivate this skill
  • Organizations can encourage creativity by creating the conditions for it to thrive

As children we were creative. As adults we have the latent potential, but it’s not expressed unless it is developed. The condition in our lives and companies can either encourage or discourage creativity. The question for us is: what can we do to create and modify conditions in our lives and our organizations that encourage creativity?

He defined creativity as a process of having original ideas that have value.

We start by imagining what is possible, or defining the unmet need. We engage the creative process to meet that need. Then, we take action.

Jeff Dyer focused on the Innovators DNA from an individual and organizational perspective. He provided four key skills that are essential for innovation:

  • Determining the right questions to ask
  • Observing and noticing with curiosity – people who put themselves in new places and situations are more likely to innovate
  • Designing and executing effective experiments and learning from them (this can be formal experiments or just exploring new ideas)
  • Networking – diverse ideas feed innovation

As an author on Innovative Leadership, one of the key elements we discuss is moving from traditional leadership to the mind of the scientist. Jeff’s list of questions is a really nice summary of what we mean when we talk about this. I personally found his description of this to be very helpful.

Richard Florida focused heavily on cities and what makes them vibrant. He talked about three main criteria:

  • Talent development (Columbus ranked 17 in the top 50 cities)
  • Tolerance (we ranked 30 in the top 50 cities)
  • Technology (we ranked 33 in the top 50 cities)

Florida’s talk focused on the economic divide and, also, characteristics that allow a creative core to thrive. Here are a few points:

  • Creativity is happening in the core or center of cities that are rebuilding
  • Creative people gravitate toward and interact around ideas and need places to meet and share
  • Cities need to bring a broad range of people together – accessibility is fundamental with regard to public transportation, walkability, bike ability, etc.
  • The economic divide is damaging our society and can be addressed  – how do we engage service workers and leaders to recreate the service industry like what happened with the manufacturing industry a century ago (moving from low wage jobs to sustainable wage jobs)?

If your business requires innovation to succeed, what are you doing as an individual and as a leader to ensure that you are building your own innovation skills? Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Do you believe you can nurture your own creativity?
  • What are you willing to do personally to build your creative “muscles”?
  • What are you doing to create a culture of creativity in your organization?
  • Do your organizational systems encourage creativity and reward it? Punish it?
  • What are you doing to contribute to the City of Columbus as a creative city?

Possibilities are endless when we allow creativity. As Albert Einstein said: Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

Where do you want to go?

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.

Are you an Innovative Nonprofit Leader?

Innovative Leadership Workbook for Nonprofit ExecutivesThis is a guest post by Dani Robbins, co-author of the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Nonprofit Executives.  The innovative leadership model (developed by Maureen Metcalf) can be used to transform your leadership and, by extension, the nonprofit you lead. Building innovative leadership involves influencing others by engaging your intentions and actions, and aligning them with the organization’s culture and systems.

What does it take to be an innovative nonprofit leader? Is it enough to:

  • name and uphold values that are apparent throughout all aspects of your organization?
  • have a vision and craft plans to meet that vision?
  • create programs that meet the needs of your community?
  • move the needle on the issues your organization was created to address?
  • create and continue human resource processes that ensure that people are not only good at their jobs, but also committed to the team and are helping to move the organization forward?
  • match those systems to the agency’s values?
  • build a great board that governs effectively?
  • build a team that is excited about the work they do—and is appropriate, effective, and efficient in the way they do it?
  • raise money in a way that honors the donor’s intent and meets the need of the agency?
  • manage that money in a transparent, appropriate, and effective manner?
  • inspire, motivate and enable those around you to be successful?

Are these activities enough? They are not. While success in these areas is a great start, it is also critical to continue to improve your leadership skills just as you improve your organization in this dynamic world.

A few examples of leadership skills to continue building include strengthening your resilience, improving your ability to build coalitions, and enhancing your ability to maintain focus during challenging times. The challenge for most of us is that we’re not great at executing all of the above. Most of us are great at some of the above, try to understand how to implement a few of the above, and haven’t previously considered the remainder of the above. How do we improve our organizations, and also who we are as leaders?

We start where we are, with what we have, and figure out a plan to get us where we want to be. The Innovative Leadership Workbook for Nonprofit Executives is a great place to start your journey, and not just because I co-wrote it, but because it’s what I needed—but couldn’t find— when I became an executive.

The workbook provides leaders with field-tested processes and worksheets to innovate how they lead to keep pace in a dynamic environment, and includes a diverse discussion of the scope of responsibilities for which a CEO is responsible to successfully lead a community-based nonprofit. Let us lead you on a comprehensive development process, including worksheets, tools, and reflection questions, and a case study detailing one CEO’s experience.

In the article 3 Things that Separate Leaders from Managers by Vivian Giang (originally posted on Open Forum), the number one thing was: The leader innovates whereas the manager administers.” How do you learn to innovate not only what your organization does, but who you are and how you lead? Start here!

Are you considering improving your ability to be an innovative and effective leader? If so, take this free online Innovative Leadership assessment to determine where you fall on the innovative leadership scale. If you are looking for tools to help develop your ability to be an innovative leader, check out the 2012 International Book Award winning Innovative Leadership Fieldbook. Metcalf & Associates, Inc., offers assessments, coaching, and workshops to help you and your leadership team become more innovative and effective leaders and improve your organizational success.

How Marzetti is Raising the Bar on Products through Leadership

Two of the most compelling topics in business today are leadership and innovation. We know that leadership plays a critical role in an organization’s long-term success, and that innovation has become a strategic necessity in today’s business environment. In short, both leadership and innovation have a greater impact today than ever before. Technology and an increased access to information continue to escalate, yet organizations are often too overrun with continuous transition to handle the torrent of emerging demands. Exponentially accelerated innovation has shortened the product lifecycle and customers are consolidating—both of which creates an increased demand for leaders to change not only products at a faster rate, but also the way they approach leadership. At Marzetti, they are doing just that.

The T. Marzetti Company is committed to bringing delicious food to the table, superior service to customers, and value to its consumers through product innovation and differentiation. To do this, Marzetti is investing in innovating how it leads, and delivering innovative products, extending channels, and identifying new distribution options for existing products.

An example of a recent Marzetti’s success is its extension of an existing relationship with Darden Restaurants, the parent company of The Olive Garden. Darden Restaurants and Marzetti are now working together to package the highly acclaimed Olive Garden House salad dressing for sale in Sam’s Club stores to reach a much broader audience. The benefit to the companies is significant, and provides better service to customers by making a sought-after product readily available. It serves stockholders by increasing sales and profits in a sustainable manner.

So what does any of this have to do with innovating how we lead?

First, leaders must be willing to think beyond a conventional framework of how businesses operate by testing new approaches and solutions. This plan was launched as an experiment and is being evaluated and refined as it proceeds. One of the key concepts of innovative leadership is moving from command and control to the “mind of the scientist.” Leaders need to proceed with certainty in this rapidly changing world or they will be left behind by more nimble competition. This is where the mind of the scientist comes in. Leaders are now retooling their way of thinking and acting to work with extended groups of people to identify possible opportunities. Then, with the same rigor as a scientist would design and implement an experiment—ensuring that all key elements are addressed— leaders are designing pilots to proactively meet market opportunities. The Marzetti and Darden leadership teams did just this is their recent launch.

Now, Marzetti’s is expanding the innovative leadership focus from pockets of excellence to its entire leadership team. Marzetti’s is meeting its commitment to its customers by ensuring that its leaders have the necessary tools to deliver not only now, but looking toward the future.

Are you considering improving your ability to be an innovative and effective leader? If so, take this free online Innovative Leadership assessment to determine where you fall on the innovative leadership scale. If you are looking for tools to help develop your ability to be an innovative leader, check out the 2012 International Book Award winning Innovative Leadership Fieldbook. Metcalf & Associates, Inc., offers assessments, coaching, and workshops to help you and your leadership team become more innovative and effective leaders and improve your organizational success.