Leadership: It’s a Matter of Trust

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This blog is provided by Deke Copenhaver, consultant, author and former mayor of Augusta, Georgia.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled The Art of Building Better Leaders that aired on Tuesday, October 6th, 2020.

 

During my adult life I’ve been blessed to serve in many leadership roles and to have been mentored by people I consider to be great leaders. Today I still consider myself a work in progress and an ongoing student of leadership. Through the years I’ve developed some definite ideas of what good leadership does and doesn’t look like. Foremost among these is that for anyone to be a great leader people must be willing to follow your lead without being coerced to do so. Simply put in any leadership position long-term success depends on having a servant’s mentality and developing fundamental bonds of trust with those you serve.

In 2005 at the age of 37 I made the lifechanging decision to run for mayor of Augusta, Georgia. Having no political experience, I was told early on by a group of local business leaders that I shouldn’t run because I hadn’t paid my dues. I reminded them that I had run a small business and a nonprofit as well as chaired several boards. When I told them I thought my experience in leadership positions made me the most qualified candidate this argument was simply brushed aside. Fortunately, I didn’t listen to conventional wisdom and, in a campaign primarily run by a group of energetic twenty and thirty somethings who were political novices as well, I ultimately won the election. I then went on to win two more which allowed me to help lead Augusta as a public servant for nine years.

I stress the words public servant because that was what I was focused on being. I was raised by a father who had served as a B-17 bomber pilot in World War II who instilled in me the values of duty, honor, integrity and service above self. These values remained at the forefront of my mind throughout my time in office. From the outset I set about winning the public trust by treating all of my elected colleagues and the citizens I served with dignity and respect. I made no promises I couldn’t keep and never viewed myself as being above those I served.

Through diligently pursuing this approach I was able to work with a governing body which had a reputation for being racially divided. My colleagues didn’t always like my decisions, but they trusted and respected me, so they were willing to work with me. Working together we were able to complete multiple major municipal building projects while at the same time creating thousands of new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in our local economy.  Although building trusting relationships took a great deal of time and effort it ultimately served the greater good to the benefit of our local citizenry as a whole.

My season in office taught me many more leadership lessons in the crucible of public life. I realized early on that no title makes you a leader.  Although winning an election or being promoted to the C Suite may confer on you a title with more individual power and prestige it doesn’t confer on you the mantle of leadership.  A title is given and fleeting while becoming a trusted leader is earned and has lasting impact.

I also came to understand it’s more important for a leader to know what they don’t know than what they do know and to surround yourself with good people who make up for your own shortcomings. Being elected mayor didn’t teach me to run a city of 200,000 people. In my decision-making process I had to learn to rely on the input of a team of talented professionals who I came to trust through the years. Listening to and trusting the team around me allowed me to make well informed decisions based on professional input and not political whim.

One final lesson I learned is perhaps the most important. Those in leadership positions who use fear and intimidation to achieve their desired outcomes significantly undermine trust in their leadership as opposed to building it. Realistically, this isn’t leadership at all but simply amounts to bullying. True leadership is about uniting those you serve around a common goal while making them feel secure, included and that their voices are being heard. In the end, leadership is not about seeking power but rather about seeking to empower those around you and for good leaders the only power that really matters is the power to inspire. You can trust me on that!

 

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

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

 

About the Author

Deke Copenhaver (www.deke-copenhaver.com) serves as principal of Copenhaver Consulting, LLC, and is the ForbesBooks author of the book The Changemaker: The Art Of Building Better Leaders. Copenhaver was elected mayor of Augusta, Ga., serving from 2005-14, and has spoken at national conferences on topics including city design, economic development, healthcare, veterans’ issues, and the nonprofit industry. A former radio show host, he authors a column on leadership published by the Georgia Municipal Association and has been recognized numerous times by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential Georgians.

How Different Leadership Styles Affect Organization Growth

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This blog is provided by Ashley Wilson, as a companion to the interview with Dr. Dale Meyerrose and his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Pandemic, Activism, Political Policies: Practical Actions for Leaders that aired on August 25th, 2020.

 

The leadership style that you implement when running your business can often have a significant impact on the success or failure of your company.

Excellent leadership isn’t about barking orders at a specific time or making sure that deadlines are met. You also need to consider the culture you’re creating in your company, and the inspiration you give to your employees.

There are many different styles of leadership when managing and running your team. Each comes with its pros and cons. Let’s inspect how specific leadership styles can affect the growth of your organization.

Autocratic / Authoritarian Leadership

In a crisis, an autocratic or authoritarian leadership style can be beneficial. Sometimes, when employees are panicked, they need the guidance of a strong and confident leader. However, more often than not, autocratic leadership isn’t as beneficial as it seems.

This strategy allows you to run your organization from a top-down perspective, so all the power and authority in your company belongs to your senior management.

This also means that your employees can often feel as though their voices aren’t heard. Although this kind of leadership fosters an environment where working decisions are made quickly, allowing for enhanced efficiency, it also allows for less creativity and buy-in for employees.

Team members can see leaders in this style as uncompromising and controlling, which can lead to even more significant issues with morale.

Participative Leadership

The participative leadership or democratic leadership style is often a lot better for employee morale and creativity. Here, business leaders and managers seek and encourage input from their staff before making decisions.

Participative leaders act after soliciting opinions and ideas from the employees.

The biggest benefit of this leadership strategy is that employees feel more valued and as though their opinion matters. This also fosters a more aligned team, where employees feel more connected to managers, and generally have more commitment to their organization.

However, one downside of leadership style is that decisions can sometimes stall because leaders want to make a choice that can please everyone.

Delegative Leadership

Otherwise known as laissez-faire leadership, delegative leadership is at the other side of the spectrum to the autocratic style.

This strategy allows employees to make more of their own decisions and establish their guidelines for how to work. Leaders that choose this style rarely make major decisions on their own.

This method of leadership also means that team leaders generally only intervene with work in critical circumstances. Employees often prefer this form of leadership, but it can often lead to problems with a lack of direction.

Company leaders often need to find the right balance between giving guidance and letting employees know what they need and giving them the freedom to operate autonomously.

If your company is brimming with experts who know how to make the most out of their skills in your workplace, then you may find that it’s easier to run a business with a delegative leadership style.

Transformational Leadership

In a transformational leadership environment, there’s a heavy focus on change and improvement in the workplace.

A lot of companies in different industries have begun to focus more on transformational leadership to support an age of “digital transformation,” or switch to a more agile way of working.

Transformational leaders inspire their team and create visions that can help their team members to move towards a brighter future.

However, although transformational leaders can give their employees guidance toward reaching business goals, they also pay attention to what their team members need.

This kind of business leader collaborates with employees to determine what changes are needed in workplaces and how to implement these changes.

Transformational leaders are often seen as valuable assets within their organizations, as they help companies to grow and thrive in difficult times. Such leaders can also serve as critical role models, helpful for keeping subordinates motivated.

Transactional Leadership

Finally, transactional leaders give team members very specific tasks to complete and targets to work towards. They reward team members when they meet the set objectives. This leadership style focuses heavily on the results of employee performance.

An enormous benefit of transactional leadership is that it allows for frequent feedback from team leaders.

Employers and managers need to give their staff plenty of guidance for this strategy to work, and also highlight clear expectations that their team members know what to do next. Transformational leadership can promote a lot of improvement and growth within any organization.

This form of leadership is useful for achieving high levels of employee engagement, particularly for those who are motivated by receiving awards and bonuses. However, there is a risk in this kind of environment that employees will follow the status quo and lose their creativity.

Maintaining Best Leadership Practices

Ultimately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to finding the perfect leadership strategy for your team.

You’ll need to consider the demands of your business, how your employees work, and more when determining what kind of leader you need to be. The best leaders can adapt their style to the environment and the personalities that exist in their team.

Take some time to analyze your team and create a strategy based on what you think you know about how your people operate. Once you’ve implemented a leadership style that seems suitable for your company, monitor how your employees respond.

If something isn’t working, go back to the drawing board and ask yourself what you need to change.

Choosing Your Leadership Style

Different leadership styles have a significant impact on the performance of any organization.

How you choose to lead your team will affect employee morale, decision-making abilities, productivity, and more.

Because of this, successful leaders are scrutinizing problems in their environment and making informed choices on how to adapt.

Effective leaders don’t just set a direction and communicate a goal to their team members, they pay attention to what’s going on around them, and ensure that they’re ready to pivot their leadership style when necessary.

 

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

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

 

About the Author

Ashley Wilson is a content creator, writing about business and tech. She has been known to reference movies in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. You can get in touch with Ashley via Twitter.

Being an Ally Against Racism

As we watch the Black Lives Matter movement unfold in the wake of George Floyd’s death and that of others, some in the press and others whose names will not be remembered by the masses, we want to offer a blog that provides actions we can each take to be an ally against racism. Each of us has a role to play to eliminate systemic racism. No step is too small when we are touching the lives of our neighbors, friends, and the precious people who are hurt and hurting. Again, no constructive action is too small. Maureen Metcalf, Founder of the Innovative Leadership Institute, is the author of this post. The Institute and all of its team members and partners are personally committed to making an impact.

Earlier this month, we joined many in the local community by signing a letter urging Columbus City Council to support a now-passed resolution declaring racism to be a public health crisis in our city.

As leaders, we play a pivotal role in many organizations. We are responsible for the culture and systems that define our companies and inform our employees’ actions.

Educate Yourself – Listen to podcasts and research systemic racism to learn more about bias and how successful leaders overcome the impact it causes.

  1. Understand key terminology and activities:
    1. The protests are not about looting and rioting; it’s a global movement to bring awareness to systemic racism, police brutality, disproportionate murders of ethnicities in handcuffs while in police custody, and societal discriminations that impact the mental and emotional health for people of color.
    2. Supporting the movement does not mean that a person condones violence against cops, it means that ‘someone’ has an awareness of societal issues that are meaningful for humanity and people within society.
    3. Defunding the Police does not mean eliminating all police forces, it supports divesting some funds from police departments and reallocating them to non-police forms of public safety, such as social services and other community resources. At its best, it will look at the issues our communities face through a holistic lens and determine which organizations are best able to address the issues and how to collaborate to improve outcomes for all members of the community such as providing mental health and rehabilitation support where this is a more effective approach than incarceration. These are complex issues that will not be solved quickly. The current protests are shining a light on the opportunity and a mandate to do better.
  2. Listen to the Voice America show – Implicit Bias – What You Don’t See Hurts You! (1-hour radio show) Dr. Rebecca Heiss discusses how Implicit bias creates a disadvantage for leaders and their organizations. We would like listeners to have a clearer understanding of what implicit bias is and how it impacts each of us. As leaders, we need to understand and manage implicit biases because it impacts our hiring choices, promotion and succession decisions, and our policies. To hire and retain top talent, we need to remove bias from the decision-making process as much as possible.
  3. Listen to Voice America show – Winning In The Face of Adversity: Overcoming Challenge with Grace. (1-hour radio show) In a time when people are sharing more of their struggles, we talk to Congress Woman Beatty and Doug McCollough about their struggle and, more importantly, how they navigated those struggles so that she could make their most significant impact on the world. Congresswoman Beatty not only overcame, but she also changed the people’s view of what it was to be a successful black woman, and she mentored women to make sure the pipeline behind her was strong. The country was better because of all facets of her service! She talks about how helping women succeed helps America succeed. She serves as a role model for inclusion globally by serving with grace and decorum! Doug shares how his focus on inclusion is expanding the field of employees working in technology in central Ohio. Through his board work as well as his work as CIO, he is creating a pipeline that allows unemployed people to get trained and find technology jobs. He is helping build the system that will close this gap long term!
  4. Listen to Increasing Inclusion To Drive Results and Build a Better World (1-hour radio show) Troy Mosley discussed his newly released book: Unwritten Truce: The Armed Forces and American Social Justice. Inclusion is an excellent organizational practice. The global market is diverse. Having a diverse workforce is a strategic advantage because it provides a greater ability to understand various segments of their consumer base and develop products and services that will better resonate with these segments, therefore, driving better results and higher impact. In for-profit businesses – it drives higher and more sustainable profits. Troy talks about his journey as a man of African American heritage and his recommendations to increase inclusion and results. In addition to his story, Troy and Maureen discuss the challenges and recommendations to increase inclusion and address the recent challenges surfacing as the “Me Too” movement and many others. Leaders must create an environment that promotes a healthy environment!
  5. Diversity Training Then and Now: What Has Changed? (1-hour radio show). Executive Order 9981 was issued on July 26, 1948, by President Harry S. Truman. This order abolished racial discrimination in the United States Armed Forces and led to the end of segregation in the services. In this session, Maureen is joined by Carrie Spell Hansson to discuss what we have learned about diversity and inclusion training in the 70 plus years since that Order.
  6. Systemic racism explained (4.53 min video)
  7. Gratefulness.org Resources for Unlearning and Transforming Racism
  8. McKinsey articles
    1. Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters
    2. For Priorities for Supporting Black Americans During and After Covid-19
    3. Inequity: A Persistent Challenge and Its Implications
    4. The Economic Impact of Closing The Racial Wealth Gap

Manage Yourself – once you listen to the interview about bias, ask yourself:

  1. Where am I bias?
  2. How is that bias hurting others?
  3. What can I change?
  4. Who will be my change accountability partner?

Discuss with colleagues – begin having the real discussion about your experience and the choices you would like to make going forward:

  1. How do I feel about my life experience?
  2. How have I participated in the current system?
  3. How do I feel about my involvement? (This is a complex question for many people who understand they have benefited from the current system of inequity)
  4. What is my commitment going forward to be part of the changes?
  5. Who will hold me to account for this commitment?

Support Others – take action that reduces the problem. We each have a role to play. While we certainly need policy changes and significant shifts, all of us also need to take small steps – we must do what is “ours to do”.

  1. Mentor – identify a person who is interested in being mentored and offer to provide that mentoring. Mentoring works both ways, as a mentor, you have the opportunity to learn about the life experience of people who have traveled a different journey than you. Use the opportunity to understand and advocate!
  2. Volunteer – identify needs that you can uniquely fill. The beauty of volunteering is you don’t need money or education, you can help a neighbor or a stranger. You can engage in a structured program like those advocated by Black Tech 614 or volunteer for Meals On Wheels or other programs that support people who need support (the point is to help others in times of need). Studies show that volunteering gives the volunteer a health boost and increases resilience.
  3. Research how you spend – support minority-owned businesses.  While most of us will continue to shop for staples from big box stores, we can also allocate some of our spending to local businesses, black-owned businesses, and minority businesses. We proudly partner with Hire-Direction and strongly recommend their services. HIRE DIRECTION is a data-driven career, talent, and workforce solutions provider dedicated to helping both organizations and aspiring professionals solve the job fit equation and optimize career development. The breakthrough map of the Talent Genome and next-generation talent DNA mapping technology connects people, talent, and careers to the right jobs in a brand-new way.  The Hire-Directions system helps individuals find, maintain, and advance along the best career path, while helping organizations acquire, develop, and retain the best talent with the least risk. Just as doing what is yours to do means making choices within your sphere of control, we at ILI are making partnering decisions with Mark Palmer because his assessment is the best we have seen in the market! I am not making a recommendation because it is politically correct, I have recommended this assessment for years. My recommendation is to know who does the best work and buy from minority and black-owned businesses when possible.
  4. Hire black employees. It can be harder to identify and hire black and minority employees. When people have been systematically overlooked, they do not show up in the standard search. Go the extra step to ensure you are identifying a diverse slate of interview candidates. I realize this takes additional effort. If you are not working with a diversity recruiter, check out Keene Advisory Group.
  5. Create support systems to allow you to retain candidates after you hire them. Support could mean data-driven appraisal systems to ensure everyone is rated fairly and bias is minimized. It could include creating employee resource groups. Each organization will differ as will each group of employees. There is no prescription. When in doubt, ask, communicate, demonstrate care for your team.

 

Here are more actionable items that were shared on LinkedIn by BlackTech614 – Columbus, Ohio:

A Call to Action

For organizations and individuals who are motivated to act in the interest of Black People and their communities through technology-based skills and opportunities, we offer these positive, peaceful, and proactive commitments.

Help Us Adopt a School

The gaps that slow economic progress show up in schools first. Greater access to high-quality teacher training, technology devices, broadband, mentors, and skill development activities will help our schools close the digital divide for students and their families. With your financial support and organizational partnership, we will work with TECH CORPS to bring much-needed resources into a school in Columbus.

Help Black Founders Get Access to Capital

Black founders are disproportionately creating employment and wealth opportunities in historically Black communities and with Black Men and Women. Many struggle to access traditional venture capital, private equity, and loans due to systemic barriers and biases. We will work with The Columbus Minority Business Assistance Center at the Columbus Urban League Huntington Empowerment Center as well as BLK hack, to connect innovators with capital.

Help Black Men and Women Get Second Chances to Build a Stable Income

A significant number of productive years are wasted from the lives of some Black Men and Women due to an inability to secure job opportunities after a misdemeanor or felony conviction. Increasing the number of adults with stable incomes raises community stability, lowers crime, and increases opportunities to build wealth. We will work with Honest Jobs to sponsor, promote, and participate in a series of events to aid Columbus companies in changing their hiring practices so that Black Men and Women, who are disproportionately affected by criminal justice inspired barriers to full employment, gain new opportunities to build stable incomes.

Help Adults From Underserved Communities Get Access to Marketable Tech Skills    

In the context of wealth creation and economic justice, the ability to acquire an accredited undergraduate college degree is not an indicator of hard work, discipline, or future performance. It is a reflection of privilege, opportunity, and luck. Some of the most tenacious, resilient, and productive adults are those with a nontraditional path. Yet, the college degree remains a career barrier to otherwise qualified and motivated people, that often divides our society along old lines of race and class. We will work with nonprofits like Per Scholas and Jewish Family Services, and for profit bootcamps, to extend training opportunities to members of deserving communities for in-demand tech skills and connect them to the jobs they become qualified to fill.

Help Deserving People Get Interim Opportunities to Gain Great New Careers Through Apprenticeships

You can’t get the job without experience. You can’t get the experience without the job. This used to be a problem that enterprising young people had to think their way through. However, in an age of rapidly shifting skill sets, the devastation of whole industries from automation, and the extraordinary economic opportunity presented to many companies if they can just find the skilled workforce, this is no laughing matter. We will work with Apprenti, and other facilitated apprenticeship organizations, to match candidates to paid apprenticeships in technology organizations to dramatically shift the workforce disruption equation in our region.

Since its founding, Black Tech Columbus has become a nexus of relationships in the Central Ohio technology community, especially among diverse technology interests. We are in a unique position to connect corporate resources to higher education to nonprofits to startups to government. We can make an impact in each of these areas with strong allies and your generous financial support. As our community eventually emerges from the pain of processing our collective anger over recent events that have laid bare the reality of the gaps we are experiencing, we will need to apply ourselves to building a better reality than the one we are rejecting.

Black Tech Columbus is seeking to lead and partner in these areas: coalescing around education, wealth creation, restoring income opportunity, accessing training, and bridging experience building.

For those organizations who are motivated to make an impact among Black Men, Women, their Families, and their Communities, this is our agenda.

We’re Here.

 

Beyond the Black Tech 614 call to action, The Innovative Leadership Institute would like to recommend resources to educate yourself as well as sharing the information about one of our ILI Team Members and his Business, Hire-Direction.

For all those people taking an active role in learning, discussing, peacefully protesting, and making changes, we applaud you. For those ready to act but unsure what to do, we invite you to take action on one or more of the recommendations in this blog. We encourage you to share what you are doing with us and we will post some of your comments.

 

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

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

About the Author

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

Photo by Albert Rafael

Why Should Leaders Look After an Employee’s Financial Health?

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This blog is provided by Ashley Johnson, a business blogger, as a companion to the interview with Jack Modzelewski and his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Leadership, Communication and Credibility in a High-Stakes World that aired on April 14, 2020.

 

Your responsibilities to your staff go beyond simply signing their paychecks, granting their leave requests, and assigning work. It is also your duty to look after their financial health, especially in light of recent developments that have pushed America into an economic crisis. In these times, 15% or more of any given workforce is struggling financially. Part of this is due to flat-lining income levels that, when adjusted for inflation, are a mere $50,000 annually per household. In other words, there is a good chance that many of your employees are living paycheck-to-paycheck, and are possibly deep in debt. The question for today’s business leaders is what should they do about this?

Financial hardship equals poor performance

The above scenarios can lead to financial stress, which can be very debilitating for employees. In a Marcus feature on the link between physical and financial health, money coach Elisabeth Donati explains how money-related stress is almost as bad as health stress as it is directly tied to a person’s drive to survive. Failure to attain this drive, in turn, worsens stress, and can result in some serious health problems like depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and psychosomatic symptoms such as headache, fatigue, and even pain. In other words, financial stress can take not only a mental and emotional toll on your staff, but also a physical one that can affect how they work.

Indeed, a Reuters article on financial health by journalist Beth Pinsker describes money stress as being “as bad for workplace productivity as back pain.” In a 2018 survey of 1,600 working adults, some 15% admitted to missing work due to health problems caused and exacerbated by financial stress. Around 40%, on the other hand, admitted to being distracted due to thinking about their finances, leading to a reduction in workplace productivity. The situation today is likely the same as that of 2 years ago, if not worse, given the unsettling events of 2020 and their adverse impact on the American economy.

The physical, mental, and emotional toll of financial hardship underscores why you, as a leader, need to look after your employees’ financial health. Put simply, doing so is good for business, as financially healthy staff will be more productive, especially since they won’t be distracted by thinking about their financial issues. Crucially, making sure your employees have sound finances will help them avoid the health-related pitfalls of financial stress, and will cut down on missed work days due to health concerns involving money anxiety.

Ensuring employees’ financial health

So, the question is: How can business leaders ensure the financial wellbeing of their employees? Amway chief HR Shantanu Das recommends three financial wellness strategies you can implement, beginning with giving competitive compensation, which should ideally be above market standards. Staff must be compensated based on merit, so as to encourage a high standard of work and to keep them motivated. You can also offer a variety of financial assistance programs, like emergency loans, educational sponsorships, and even car payment subsidies. Make sure that you also give everyone all the benefits — 401(K), medical insurance, etc. — they are entitled to, and more if possible.

Finally, it would be a good idea to connect your team with financial planners, who can give them expert advice on how to attain financial independence. These can range from one-on-one meetings to group seminars on everything from retirement savings to cultivating healthy money habits. While a business cannot be directly responsible for how an employee spends their money, having these services in place shows them that you are prepared to go beyond the usual parameters of most companies. Such advice, along with your financial programs and support, will help ensure your staff’s financial wellbeing, and keep them productive and happy at work in the process.

Leaders Lead

Your job as a leader isn’t just about running the business and counting the numbers. It is all about stepping up and being someone who your employees can count on for a wide range of issues. Marie Miguel notes in ‘Why Mental Health Awareness is Important for Leadership’ that good leaders lead, and that means taking care of your people so you can motivate them to be productive and efficient. In this context, taking care of your employees means keeping them happy, which you can do by looking after their financial health as well as their physical and mental health. This is what it means to create a healthy work culture that will inspire those who work for you and encourage future top talent to seek out your company. We hope the above points will help you have a better understanding of how and why you should look after your employees’ financial health.

 

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ashley Johnson is a business blogger who specializes in following the latest leadership trends. She hopes her articles will inspire new and veteran business leaders alike, and help them establish a better company culture. In her free time she loves to hike with her family.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

About the Author

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

Photo by Kaboompics .com

Six Tips to Navigating the COVID-19 Landscape from an Epidemiologist

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This blog is provided by Erica Fowler, an epidemiologist who studied Public Health specializing in social epidemiology at The Ohio State University and holds ten years’ experience melding industry experience with academic discipline.

 

As the pandemic progresses, more and more people are getting a glimpse into the world of public health. Epidemiology is one public health discipline that is getting a lot of attention and happens to be my chosen field of study.

Epidemiology is an applied field of biostatistics, and beyond the numbers is the study of humans. Social norms, individual behaviors, health, wealth, emotions – any facet of life with a discernible pattern. The combination of numbers and practical application allow us to understand current trends and predict future ones. We can identify points of interaction with individuals that will yield the highest probability of action and influence behavior using subtle human cues to elicit an action.

It’s important to remember that many factors influence both sides of the equation – human and mathematical. Social determinants of health, sociodemographic disparities, or differences that can only be explained by factors that would be irrelevant in a world that was fair. The numbers you see on the screen, the dots that make up every graph a human life. On the mathematical side, numbers are only as good as the quality of their measurement and data management.

As an epidemiologist and public health professional, I’d like to share answers to six common questions I’ve been asked during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m grateful that I can dissect the information bombarding me at every turn and hope to share useful information for others to do the same.

1) Should I wear a mask? 

Yes. I’ve been asked this question more than any other. If you are to be in public, it may help slow the spread of the virus by preventing you from spreading it to others. If you know you are infected or if you have been in contact with someone who may be infected, it is best to stay home.

2) What is flatten the curve? 

Most people are familiar with this one. It’s been used to describe the intended effects of social distancing, which appear to be working. With a flatter curve, the Area Under the Curve (AUC) is the same, but the duration of the outbreak is longer. In other words, the same number of people will be exposed to and get the virus – just stretched out so that the healthcare system isn’t overwhelmed.

3) What do all these numbers mean? 

We’ve all heard ‘flatten the curve’, but there are other common metrics that are useful for understanding the virus. These numbers won’t stay the same and will vary depending on the population studied – a key epidemiologic concept.

  • R0 or R-naught represents how many people one infected individual infects on average. Social distancing efforts can lower this number and slow the spread of the disease and prevent new incidence.
  • Incidence or number of new cases of a disease. This can aid in resource allocation, such as healthcare utilization. The number of new cases, duration of disease, and rate of spread taken together may predict what is needed two weeks from now.
  • Case Fatality Rate represents fatalities relative to confirmed cases. In the current climate, testing is limited and often flawed. People will contract the virus and have no symptoms. Similarly, patients die before they test positive.
  • All-Cause Fatality Rate is the fatality rate for all causes which can be monitored year-over-year to estimate the total fatalities related to the disease and account for gaps in incidence and prevalence monitoring.
  • Infection Mortality Rate represents fatalities relative to all people infected. This number is not known without universal or widespread testing.

4) How does COVID-19 compare to other well-known viruses? 

It’s twice as infectious as H1N1 or the typical seasonal flu. The mortality rate is 10-30x higher than the seasonal flu. The H1N1 mortality rate was much lower than either COVID-19 or the seasonal flu.

The H1N1 virus was deadlier to younger ages because many people over age 65 had been exposed to a similar strain of virus earlier in life. This immunity helped keep them from contracting not only cases but severe cases. Because this is a novel or new virus, no one has immunity. That is why social distancing may play an important role in containing the virus until a vaccine is available.

 

  R0 Mortality Rate
COVID-19 2.0 – 4.0 1.5 – 3%
H1N1 1.1 – 2.6 0.02%
Seasonal Flu 1.3 0.1%

Source: Healthline March 12, 2020

5) Why do the numbers keep changing?

The numbers listed above can change depending on the population of people you are examining. A few examples are shown below.

With #flattenthecurve, we take social distancing seriously, decrease new cases and decrease the rate of spread. The mortality rate could go either way depending on how it is calculated. If it is only confirmed cases, it may go up as more people are staying home if they have mild or asymptomatic cases and will not be tested. They survive but aren’t counted toward lowering the mortality rate.

 

6) Why is testing such a big deal? 

Testing is important because it gives us a fuller picture of the virus, how it behaves, who it affects and how intensely, what treatments are effective for easing symptoms and shortening duration of illness, and what points of intervention we can employ to prevent or stop the spread of the virus. Testing also allows us to understand who has the virus and has built up antibodies. It could determine whether people are safe to return to work and a more integrated form of society. Testing enables a more accurate measurement of metrics for informed decision-making.

If you are unsure of something you read or want more information, as a trusted friend or colleague to help decipher the information. Use your social media networks to find people you trust who share information from vetted sources. I’m happy to do this for my sources and know many others who do the same.

I’m not sure what the other side of COVID-19 looks like, but the news I read every day makes me hopeful for the ingenuity, intelligence, compassion, and humanity I’ve witnessed in-person and through social media in the past several weeks. I am grateful that my life has not much changed, yet I worry for the world, vulnerable populations, and those I love. Despite the uncertainty, I am sure of one thing – Epidemiologists around the world are at far lesser risk than ever before of being asked if they study the skin.

 

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

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

 

About the Author

Erica N. Fowler, Ph.D., is a strategy and analytics professional with a profound interest in developing data-driven solutions to improve health and business outcomes. She studied Public Health specializing in social epidemiology at The Ohio State University and holds ten years’ experience melding industry experience with academic discipline. Her experience includes analytics product development, measurement strategy, database operations, business intelligence analytics, and statistical modeling.

Dr. Fowler’s passion is professional development consulting as a certified Birkman Method consultant. She uses the Birkman Method, enhanced by her analytic skillset, to develop individual and group programs that foster emotional intelligence to improve communication skills and productive teamwork.

Her day job is Product Manager for the Applied Data Science and Omnichannel Experience teams at Syneos Health, the first end-to-end integrated pharmaceutical solutions organization. She serves as a contributing faculty member to the Health Education & Promotion program at Walden University, where she oversees the dissertation process for doctoral students. In her spare time, Dr. Fowler enjoys traveling the world, yoga, reading, and spending time with her family.

Photo by Anna Shvets

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Five Different Types of Imposter Syndrome:

  1. The Perfectionist

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

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

  1. The Super(wo)man

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

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

  1. The Natural Genius

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

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

  1. The Soloist

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

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

  1. The Expert

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

About the Author

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

Can Resilience Differentiate You as a Leader?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Maintain physical well-being.

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

  1. Manage thinking. 

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

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

  1. Fulfill purpose and emotional intelligence.

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

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

  1. Harness the power of connection.

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

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

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

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

About the Author

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

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Leaders Must Now Think Like Scientists

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

The following blog is a republish of an article appearing in Forbes written by Maureen Metcalf. It is a companion to the interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future on Tuesday, November 26, 2019, titled Sustainable Disruption.

 

During the industrial revolution, leaders managed effectively using command and control and leveraging best practices to solve problems that were common across multiple industries.

Now, however, the most effective leaders work more like scientists. They scan best practices, but also create competitive advantage by creating new and innovative solutions in the face of chaos.

Take Bill, a recent client who runs a mortgage firm in the U.K. June’s vote to exit the EU has thrown the British economy into uncertainty. Rates are dropping and the forecast is uncertain. Bill doesn’t know which direction the market will go, how fast, and what actions will be most effective. He looked to thought leaders before the vote and learned that a true Brexit was unlikely. Well, it happened, and now he needs to move forward and make the best of the uncertainty. The change might even be good for him if he makes the right calls

Many leaders, like Bill, are facing unprecedented challenges. In the past, they could look to best practices and study what others in their industry were doing. Now, in many situations, leaders need to respond immediately, but there is little time to study and no prior model with the same level of complexity that provides a low-risk solution. As leaders, we weren’t trained for this. We were trained to set a vision, build a plan, and work the plan.

With the advent of such changes, companies are responding with strategies like “cross-functional” teams, “early delivery,” and “continuous improvement.” Terms such as “fail fast” — which tell us we need to experiment and learn faster than our competition — have become popular. Learning fast differentiates us from our competitors who are still looking for the best practices. In reality, we are the ones creating the next round of best practices.

But many of us are still stuck between the old ways and new ways of leadership. We haven’t fully embraced what it means to be a leader today and now. First and foremost, we need to rethink our role. We need to change our mindset and behavior from directing to experimenting while realizing that as leaders in complex times, we are creating new solutions rather than drawing from the past. In many situations, history will determine what was right, but if we expect to know it before we take action, we will be paralyzed.

So, what do we do?

One of the most difficult challenges for leaders isn’t changing behavior (that’s the easy part) — it’s changing how we think of ourselves. It is easy to say, “I will act like a scientist,” but when someone comes in with a challenge and the leader has no idea how to proceed, this is a moment of truth. The leader without an answer will likely feel embarrassed and frustrated. The scientist, on the other hand, might actually be excited about the challenge.

As we begin to change our mindset, we begin to approach our leadership as a scientist. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Get the best people together for specific opportunities.The members will be dictated by the challenge. It is critical to have people with differing points of view. The people who disagree are often the most important to help identify blind spots and unanticipated challenges. The size of the group and the duration of discussions and evaluation will depend on the time required to respond. The participants should be from multiple geographies, functional departments and organizations.
  2. Formulate a hypothesis. The group pulls together all of the perspectives and crafts a clear hypothesis of how to proceed to generate the best overall outcome given the resources, goals and constraints.
  3. Formulate experiments. Using the hypothesis as the foundation, it is time to craft experiments that test the hypothesis. Experiments should be designed to prove or disprove the initial hypothesis and give enough information to support taking informed action going forward. The goal is to position the organization to take timely action, minimize risk, and maximize positive impact and learning and scale intelligently based on learning.
  4. Conduct the experiment. Once the experiment is crafted, it is time to execute. This usually looks like implementing a well-defined pilot with clearly articulated metrics designed to prove or disprove the initial hypothesis. This is also the opportunity to identify barriers to proper execution.
  5. Evaluate, learn and refine. One of the keys to experimentation is to learn as much as possible from each experiment to build success. This is where you will harvest your learnings form the measures as well as barriers or challenges that arose.

I work with a client who formerly worked as a physicist for NASA and now runs an organization heavily impacted by technology change. The culture of his organization is one of experimentation because it is natural to him. When I walk into his office, I see remnants of physical experiments, like a part of a drone, and the tone of the entire organization is open and excited. The physical space is one of the worst I have seen, so it isn’t the architecture but rather the tone of the leader. The leader’s mindset permeates the culture and the organizational systems. People are rewarded for launching new programs and eliminating those that are less effective.

Moving toward this mindset of experimentation allows us to master transformation and build the capacity for ongoing “renovation” of our organization. If this ability to respond quickly becomes a core competency of the organization, because of the mindset of the leader and the resulting culture, organizations are positioned to thrive. For leaders who take on the mindset of the scientist, experimentation becomes fun, they drive interesting innovation, and they inspire others to do the same.

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

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

About the Author

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

Photo by ThisIsEngineering

Building a High Impact IT Leadership Development Program Leveraging Technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Program Design

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

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

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

Results/Impact

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

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

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

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

About the Author

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

Photo by Christina Morillo