Stratified Systems Theory Applied To Dream Teams

This week’s article is an excerpt from The Science of Dream Teams: How Talent Optimization Can Drive Engagement, Productivity, and Happiness by Mike Zani, CEO of The Predictive Index, a talent optimization platform that uses over 60 years of proven science and software to help businesses design high-performing teams and cultures.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled The Science of Dream Teams that aired on Tuesday, September 14th, 2021.

What do you have to do next week? What will be on your plate four months from now? How about in two years? If you pose these questions to different people in your organization, you’re sure to get very different answers. Some will provide full to-do lists for different scenarios, while others will shrug, wondering why you’re asking questions that seem irrelevant to their jobs.

People across an enterprise hold wildly different ideas about the future. During the Cold War, a psychologist named Elliott Jaques carried out research on this subject and called it the Stratified Systems Theory. The idea, which was especially useful for the military, is that different jobs require different time horizons. Certain people are comfortable projecting far into the future, while others limit their view to a single week, or even a day. So the trick for a large bureaucracy, Jaques wrote, was to layer the talent according to people’s time horizons.*

If that sounds a tad theoretical, consider concrete examples. An engineer is heading up a team building a manufacturing plant. Working on the construction might be a welder who handles assignments thrown his way. He doesn’t have to plan too much for tomorrow or the next day. His time horizon can be counted in hours.

But the engineer takes a longer view. He has to consider the supplies he’ll need next month and the month after. By that point, winter storms might be blowing through. How will that affect supply chains and construction? He’s dealing with a number of variables over a time frame of several months. Next year, he knows, he’ll have a different project. But he doesn’t have to plan for it.

His boss does. She’s a regional manager who has financial responsibilities, a profit and loss report due every quarter. She’s already prospecting for next year’s projects, some of them in Europe. She’s busy calculating how many workers she’ll need, considering currency hedges, and gauging the risk of banking on contract laborers, which hinges on the job market next spring. She has to think ahead, at least a year or two.

She reports to a chief executive, who might be plotting an Asian strategy, including a massive acquisition in Japan. This person has to weigh variables far into the future, perhaps a decade, even longer.

When Elliott Jaques was drawing up his Stratified Systems Theory for the military, the expanding time frames, Strata 1 through 5 (see Figure 4.1), fit neatly into a rigid hierarchy. Privates didn’t need to think about the future, only to follow orders hour by hour. Each ascending rank required a longer vision, until you got to five-star generals, who had to consider the geopolitical implications in 5 years, or 10, of nuclear weapons development or the containment strategy of the Soviet Union.

While few of us run companies as hierarchically rigid as the military, it’s still valuable to measure the time horizons that employees are comfortable with, and to use them in the deployment of talent.

There are tremendous advantages in a workforce marked by higher strata proficiency. We strive for it in our company. One big plus is that a person who envisions what’s ahead is more likely to figure out what to do—thinking through the steps that lead in the right direction. These people need less management, and are frequently self-starters. They’re more likely to generate ideas because they’re imagining the future and scenario planning. People who think far ahead also have potential to climb into management and executive roles.

Getting a grip on strata is fundamental for designing reporting relationships in an enterprise. Think of what happens, for example, if a chief executive has an administrative assistant who functions on a Strata 1 level. To manage this person, the CEO must drop down to Strata 2, allocating perhaps 15 minutes every morning to go over what the assistant is going to do and how to handle certain calls and emails and calendar items. This is not time well spent. And for this reason, many CEOs hire executive assistants who function at high strata levels. These elite assistants can see the entire operation, and anticipate what’s ahead and what needs to be done. Often, they shed the assistant moniker and become executives in their own right.

If you’re in a small startup, you don’t need to think much about reporting relationships. But as a company grows to 200 people, it develops new levels, with executive vice presidents and division leaders. It’s while managing talent in such an enterprise, with five or six levels, that the strata take on importance. Ideally, each level will have to drop only one strata to manage its reports. Big gaps waste time and lead to frustration.

How do you test for strata? Tom Foster, a management consultant and author, proposes a question, such as: “When you finish what you’re working on now, how do you get more work?” Some people say they wait for their next assignment. Others ask their manager. Others might start to enumerate everything they know that needs to get done. The answer often reveals a person’s time horizon.

I often test for strata during the hiring process. After all, if we want high-strata employees, the job interview is a great place to screen for it. I might ask candidates to tell me a story about the most complicated project they ever undertook in their youth or early in their career. I’m not looking for altruism or team play or any other virtues. I’m focused on comfort with complexity and long-span thinking.

Some people, eager to flash their entrepreneurial credentials, tell me about a business they started. But when you poke further, there’s little there. For example, someone designs a website in college. It’s pretty good. And a local business pays him $500 to make another one. Pretty soon, he has a small business of his own, which pays a chunk of his expenses through college. That’s great, but it doesn’t show a strategic vision.

One of the best strata stories I heard was from a former high school actor named Rich Weiss. He and his friend worked on sets for a high school play. That didn’t sound so complicated to me at first. But then he described the constraints. There wasn’t much money or space. They had to figure out how to make a set that fit into the gym, one the school used for all kinds of activities. So the set had to be compact, moveable, and affordable. They had to plan in September to build it over the winter holidays, without interfering with basketball and gymnastics, and then stage it in March. Rich was clearly a strategic thinker. He now uses those skills to run important processes at our company. He doesn’t have to wait around for someone to tell him what needs to be done.

Excerpt from The Science of Dream Teams: How Talent Optimization Can Drive Engagement, Productivity, and Happiness by Mike Zani, pp. 60-65 (McGraw Hill, July 2021).

 

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

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

 

About the Author
Mike Zani is the author of The Science of Dream Teams: How Talent Optimization Can Drive Engagement, Productivity, and Happiness and CEO of The Predictive Index, a talent optimization platform that uses over 60 years of proven science and software to help businesses design high-performing teams and cultures. Zani is also the co-founder and partner at Phoenix Strategy Investments, a private investment fund. An avid sailor, he was the coach of the 1996 US Olympic Team. He holds a BS from Brown University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

 

Photo by Leon on Unsplash

Getting to the Top: Five C-CRETS to be Sponsor-Ready

This week’s article is provided by Ricky Robinson, Keith Powell, and Jenelle Jack of C-Crets.  It is a companion to Ricky and Keith’s interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Career Sponsorship and Being Sponsor Ready that aired on Tuesday, August 17th.

 

What if connecting with just one person could turn your career around?

It’s more than possible. Corporate executives find success all the time, doing exactly that. A chance meeting or invitation for a drink can lead to a key introduction, or even an offer for a higher position.

Many people see finding a good mentor as critical to their professional advancement when perhaps they’d be better off establishing a relationship with a sponsor—a senior-level advocate who can provide the support needed to move your career forward.

A mentor gives you advice and encouragement on your professional journey, and is typically useful in terms of your technical growth. They typically work in the background, answer your questions and share their personal experiences to help guide you on.

Sponsors, however, have the real power to propel your career. In the corporate world, they speak and advocate on your behalf, and provide a link to the people on the path ahead. Having a sponsor in your corner is often the difference between slowly scaling the corporate ladder and grabbing a seat on the fast track to upper management. Effectively, the sponsor is in front helping to lead you forward.

Sponsorship can impact your wallet. According to a study by Payscale, there is a “sponsorship premium,” which boosts the salaries of their protégés. For example, Hispanic women with a sponsor earn 6.1% more than Hispanic women without one, while African-American women with a sponsor earn 5.1% more than their counterparts.

 

So, what are some key characteristics of a sponsor?

First, sponsors are willing to share valuable resources with their protégés. These are the same resources that they themselves use, whether it’s marketing collateral, network access, or the contact information of their executive coach.

Another important quality of sponsors is that they will put their professional credibility on the line by advocating for you even when you’re not in the room for stretch assignments, promotional opportunities, and/or inclusion on succession plans.

They will invite you to important meetings so that you can get a first-hand view of leadership and are positioned to gain insights from the discussion. You may also be invited to social outings that give you access to persons you wouldn’t connect with otherwise.

Further, sponsors have no problem giving you high visibility projects, along with the credit for their successful execution.

A sponsor might ask you to represent the company on public platforms, whether it’s at a function for a nonprofit organization, a conference, or a media event. The aim is to support your career advancement.

To benefit from the support they can give, you should first be able to identify a potentially good sponsor. Look at the leader’s willingness to share resources, whether they’re interested in connecting subordinates with others, assign tasks that enable professional growth, and publicly praise subordinates.

But before you can gain access to a sponsor who can liaise with others on your behalf, you’ll have to position yourself.

 

Five C-CRETS To Be Sponsor-Ready

Connect Intentionally

This may mean accepting the new team project that will require extra hours of work because you know a senior manager is overseeing it and your visibility will increase with the team’s success.

Taking on additional responsibility and participating in work-related projects can support your desire to connect directly with a potential sponsor. It’ll also allow you to showcase your leadership skills and demonstrate the value that you bring to the company.

Be a Thought Leader

Share your opinions, take action and encourage other colleagues to be proactive too. When you share your thoughts with others, they’re more likely to be interested in what you have to contribute. These are the types of employees who get invited to speaking events, participate in board meetings, and lead webinars and other work functions. Sponsors want to see that you can clearly articulate information.

Move Beyond Being Average

The employee who exceeds expectations and who puts points on the board that benefits the company will be seen by a potential protege. At the end of the day, a leader is risking his or her reputation by advocating on your behalf. Therefore, you must not only perform well in your role or simply do what’s expected, but you must also demonstrate excellence.

Advocate for Yourself

The high-value employee not only adds value to the company, but can articulate their specific skill sets and how they continue to contribute to the company. Having the ability to vocalize your value proposition is important and eliminates any doubts a potential sponsor may have about your abilities. Sometimes, especially in larger organizations, it’s harder to spot good work unless the employee speaks out. By sharing your wins, you can create more opportunities for yourself.

Get Comfortable with Discomfort

Many people only want to do what is expected of them at work, but it’s discomfort that’s often the catalyst for growth. For an employee this might mean working longer hours than usual to complete a task, being asked to prepare and present on a topic at an upcoming meeting, or being placed on a project you don’t quite feel qualified to take on. Any diversion from a comfortable routine is often seen as an obstacle, but discomfort will also give you an opportunity to expand your horizons. Be willing to endure temporary discomfort and you’ll stand out even more among your colleagues.

Part of finding a sponsor is being prepared for one when they show up.

You can increase your chances of finding a sponsor, as opposed to just a mentor, by implementing the five strategic tips outlined above. This will take additional effort on your part, but it’s worth every penny of the payoff you’ll earn in terms of professional growth, networking opportunities, and career advancement.

 

Recommended Resources:

Sponsors: Valuable Allies Not Everyone Has – Compensation Research (payscale.com)

C-CRETS Podcast: Season 3, Episode 1 – Are you Sponsor Ready?

C-CRETS Podcast: Season 1, Episode 6 – Over Mentored and Under Sponsored…Why Sponsorship is the C-CRET to Reaching the C-Suite

 

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

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

 

About the Authors
Ricky Robinson is a Vice President of Human Resources for a $35B leader in the Medical Device industry. His 20+ year career has afforded him leadership roles in Human Resources for some best in class global organizations spanning industries from commercial goods, retail, smart home industries and med tech. Ricky is extremely familiar with being the “Sole Brother” on the Executive Leadership Team quite often challenging diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias issues within Corporate America, as an advocate and sponsor for underrepresented groups. Having spent his career as a mentor and coach, he continues to share the tips and tricks that help underrepresented employees reach their full potential as a co-founder of C-CRETS (www.c-crets.com), which is a career advice platform offering career coaching services, online courses and topical content through blogs and a podcast.

Keith Powell is a Chief Operating Officer in private education with over 20 years corporate experience in the U.S. and Canada. Most of his career, Keith led global Finance and Operations functions for Fortune 1000 companies in the automotive, chemical, consumer and commercial goods, e-commerce, and smart home industries. Keith was the “first” or the “only” quite often climbing the corporate ladder. Having mentored and coached hundreds throughout his career, he continues to share practical, digestible advice to underrepresented employees as a co-founder of C-CRETS (www.c-crets.com), which is a career advice platform offering career coaching services, online courses and topical content through blogs and a podcast.

Jenelle Jack is a Trinidad-born, Maryland-raised content writer and book coach who supports business owners and professionals in building their business by creating relevant content that can stand the test of time. Jenelle is passionate about helping people create impact, grow their platform and maximize their message to reach more of their intended community.

Photo by Lagos Techie on Unsplash

 

Why Strong Leaders Always Put a Focus on Promoting Business Transparency with Employees

To receive these weekly articles, subscribe here.

This article is a guest post provided by Jori Hamilton.  It is provided to supplement the interview with Laura Morgan Roberts and Courtney McCluney, as part of the International Leadership Association’s interview series.  Their interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled DEI: Needed Conversations and Understanding aired on Tuesday, April 27th, 2021.

 

In a leadership position, transparency isn’t likely one of the topics you think about first. Yet, for your employees, transparency is a key leadership trait. 64% of respondents ranked trust between employees and senior management in a survey regarding what matters most for job satisfaction and engagement.

Yet, many business leaders still undervalue transparency. Amidst the COVID-19 crisis and continued economic uncertainty, it is more important than ever before to adopt transparency as a key tenet of employee-facing business policies.

Effective leadership during and after a crisis like this requires clear and quality communication. Business transparency makes such communication possible. Strong leaders will use this to their advantage, but first, it helps to understand what business transparency looks like and how it helps workplaces.

Business Transparency Defined

Obviously, as a business, it doesn’t make sense for all employees to have access to all the company’s information. Interns, for example, don’t necessarily need the details on financial accounts. Business transparency, however, doesn’t mean a complete revelation of all trade secrets and financial details.

Instead, business transparency can be simply defined as openness in communication between employers and employees regarding policy and decision-making. This simple quality can have a huge impact on employee engagement and success.

In planning your transparent approach to business leadership, it is helpful to remember that transparency is a means to greater and more effective leadership potential. New company policies, especially on a corporate level, tend to get passed down the chain with little transparency or communication involved. As many as 52% of workers say their own company struggles in providing up-front and open communication with them.

But no one likes to follow rules they don’t understand. Lack of clear communication leads to distrust. In many cases, employees even quit because of frustrations with their superiors and the way they communicate. Sometimes all it takes to make a difference is a clear memo and accessible communication channels.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, we see the value of transparency in leadership even more closely. Since all kinds of businesses suddenly had to transition their processes, unclear communication has had negative effects on some businesses as employees struggled to effectively adapt.

At the same time, businesses that communicated a continuity plan with employees from the start and were receptive to ideas had the easiest time managing pandemic concerns. Even in instances where this meant layoffs, transparency and quality communication gave these workers more time to seek out the unemployment benefits they were often entitled to.

But this kind of transparency has more long-term benefits that will extend long past the pandemic.

The Benefits of Managerial Transparency

The management style you adopt can have a significant impact on the growth of your organization. Transparency can help ensure that that impact is a positive one.

The data is clear when it comes to clear and empathetic communication between employees and management. Employees in these circumstances have higher retention rates and levels of productivity. These factors can even mean all the difference when it comes to financially surviving crises like COVID-19.

Here are just some of the statistics regarding the importance of transparency in business management:

  • Transparency is the number-one factor in employee happiness.
  • 57% of employees left a job because of a manager.
  • 94% of customers are likely to be loyal to a company that offers complete transparency.
  • 39% of customers would switch to a brand that offers greater transparency.
  • 73% of customers will pay more for products from transparent brands.

With potentials like these, it is no wonder why strong leaders always put a focus on promoting business transparency. Clear and open communication with employees invites collaboration and innovation. At the same time, a willingness to explain thought processes behind decisions and policies is a huge factor in establishing employee trust.

Since trust and communication are so valuable to employee engagement and success, transparency should not be an overlooked aspect of leadership. But what exactly does business transparency look like, and how can leaders cultivate it?

Building Success Through Transparent Leadership

With so much potential available through transparent communication alone, it should be every leader’s priority to build transparency into their processes. There are several ways this can be achieved. From highly promoted value statements to open-door policies, transparent leadership is effective and achievable.

One radical example is the social media scheduling company Buffer’s approach to pay scales. Buffer keeps the salaries of all its employees on a public spreadsheet along with a formula that describes exactly why each worker makes what they do. The company claims this keeps employee frustrations low while also offering employees something to strive for, leading to greater productivity.

While you still might want to keep salary information private in your own business, you can still create a culture of transparency through a few simple actions. These include:

  • Clarify transparency as a core value of your business and promote these values in company culture.
  • Share all information about changes with employees upfront.
  • Engage in honest and open negotiations with employees.
  • Maintain an empathetic approach to leadership.
  • Explain decisions through data and clear communication.

By engaging in simple practices like these, you can demonstrate a greater commitment to your employees and customers. Doing so can also actively prevent many toxic behaviors from occurring. As demonstrated, this can offer business benefits like greater productivity and employee retention. These qualities matter even more as the world still reels from the coronavirus pandemic.

Final Thoughts

Facing a lack of certainty in the larger economy, employees deserve a transparent workplace and clear communication from their employers. This does not have to mean complete visibility of financial data; even revealing data analytics that points towards the reasoning of a specific change can be enough to generate trust and respect.

As business policies continue to shift in the course of a pandemic-stricken economy, negotiating employee needs like remote work accommodations will require a dedication to transparent communication. Businesses need transparency and empathy to thrive as they accommodate new standards of normal. As a result, strong leaders are promoting business transparency and reaping the rewards that follow.

 

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

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

 

About the Author

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. Her areas of expertise and topics she typically covers revolve around business leadership, ethics, and psychology. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter: @HamiltonJori

Image Source: Pexels

How to Improve Written Communication in Your Team and Increase Productivity

To receive these weekly articles, subscribe here.

This blog is a guest post from Jessica Fender, it coordinates with Ryan Gottfredson’s interview titled Success Mindsets: Your Keys to Unlocking Greater Success in Your Life that aired on December 15th, 2020.

 

As a leader, you have a lot of responsibilities. From keeping your team efficient to nurturing a positive work atmosphere, you need to handle it all. You must constantly work on improving your relationship with your team as well as their relationship with each other. While there are many ways to do it, effective and clear written communication is among the top ones.

To increase your team’s productivity, and keep everyone on the same page, you have to find a way to improve written communication in your team.  We’ve created this ultimate guide for improving written communication in the workplace that will help you boost team productivity and efficiency.

1.     Advocate Open Communication

Your team looks up to you and follows the rules that you set. They’re counting on you to make way for positive changes and help them reach their maximum potential.

This is why a change for improved communication needs to start with you.

You have to show your team that you want them to:

  • send you emails
  • communicate their problems
  • ask for advice, opinion, or feedback

To make sure they’re aware that they can write to you whenever they feel the need, all you have to do is let them know.

Tell them in person, or end your emails with notes such as:

  • Please, let me know if there are any questions/you have uncertainties/you need to further discuss this, etc.

Advocate open communication, and you’ll be making way for positive changes.

2.    Choose the Right Channels

For your team to be communicating properly, you need to help them find the right channels to do it. You can test out different versions and team collaboration tools and decide which channel suits the needs of your team best.

Here’s what we suggest you try:

  • LinkedIn
  • Trello
  • Slack
  • Teamwork
  • Microsoft Teams

Once you set up a proper channel, you’ll be happy to learn that your team members will be more willing to communicate, collaborate, and improve their relationship.

3.    Schedule Assessments

To make sure you’re nurturing written communication properly, you have to make sure you’re communicating regularly. This goes for all types of workplaces, especially remote ones.

And since so many of us are working remotely due to the COVID 19 pandemic, it’s essential that we schedule regular assessments.

Here’s what we have in mind:

  • once a week or month, you write an assessment of the previous period
  • review the goals, workflow, and results
  • ask for the whole team to join you
  • let them speak their mind, give suggestions, or share their thoughts

This way, you’ll show them how important it is for you to hear what they have to say. By scheduling written communication, you’re making it more important and meaningful for the entire team.

4.    Write Professionally

You and everyone on the team need to write like a professional. That means that everything has to be proofread and polished before you hit send, publish, or pin.

Here’s what to look out for:

  • grammar mistakes
  • spelling mistakes and typos

To make sure your writing is polished to perfection, and you’ve managed to proofread everything to the smallest detail, you can get some help online. For instance, check out TrustMyPaper review if you feel you need help improving your writing. They’ll provide writing help of any kind.

5.    Provide Valid Feedback

As a team leader, it’s your job to keep people engaged, motivated, and happy to be a part of your team. But, this doesn’t mean you should praise whatever they do or pretend to not see their mistakes.

On the contrary, it means you have to provide valid feedback.

Here’s what we have in mind:

  • critically analyze the work of all team members
  • give them both positive and negative feedback
  • make your feedback valuable, informative, and educational

If a team member sees you went through the trouble of writing a report on their results, they’ll see they matter to you and the rest of the team.

Your feedback will show them how to grow and improve, and that’s the biggest gift you can give them.

6.    Keep it Simple

You and all your team members need to keep the communication simple if you want it to make any positive effect. You all have a lot of work to do, and nobody has the time to read endless pages of reports or emails.

This is why you have to write following these simple rules:

  • keep it short
  • be concise
  • go straight to the point
  • write short but valuable sentences
  • remove everything that doesn’t bring value

This means that there’s no room for jokes, fluff words, repetition, or anything that isn’t directly connected to the topic of your written conversation.

If everyone follows these rules, nobody would skip reading the emails or ignore the messages you’re sending.

7.    Write Down The Expectations

While you may be communicating great in your live meetings, it’s always a great idea to write the most important points down. This goes especially for assigning tasks and roles to individual team members.

Here’s what to write down:

  • each person’s tasks
  • expectations on the project
  • deadlines
  • project stages

Put everything in writing and make sure all team members have access to this report. This way, you will be assured that everyone knows what they’re expected to do, how, and when.

Final Thoughts

Written communication is equally as important as oral communication. To increase your team’s productivity, you have to ensure you’re a role model, and that you initiate positive written communication habits.

Use the tips we’ve shared above to improve the productivity of your team and help them establish strong and healthy work communication.

 

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

Jessica Fender is an educational blogger and content specialist at GetGoodGrade, a resource for writing websites reviews. She enjoys sharing her knowledge with students of all ages and making learning easier for them.

Four Critical Functions of an Effective CEO

To receive these weekly articles, subscribe here.

This blog is a modified version of the Introduction to Robert Rosenberg’s new book Around The Corner To Around The World. Robert served as the CEO of Dunkin’ Donuts for 35 years. It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled A Dozen Lessons Learned Running Dunkin’ Donuts that aired on Tuesday, March 16th, 2021.

Every morning, five million people around the world start their day with a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Thirsty customers in search of their favorite pick-me-up can find their fix in more than eleven thousand stores and in more than forty countries. In the United States, the brand enjoys a 95 percent recognition rate among consumers. In head-to-head taste comparisons between Dunkin’s original brew and Starbucks blend, Dunkin’ was preferred 58 percent to 42 percent.1 In part due to these achievements, Wall Street has placed a market value of nearly $6.5 billion on the enterprise known as Dunkin’ Brands.2

This was not always the case. From humble beginnings—a single shop in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1950—Dunkin’ Donuts grew over the years into one of the world’s most beloved brands through sheer perseverance and grit, talent, and a little bit of luck. This memoir chronicles the trials and tribulations, the dizzying highs when we got it right and the heart-thumping near-death lows of when I got it wrong.

This is a story of a family business transforming from a small, regional diversified food service company into the worldwide, iconic brand it is today. More than anything else, it is a story of change. Sometimes it was a pivotal switch-up in management that affected all levels of the business, or merely a refinement in the menu that sent sales skyrocketing. Deceptively simple adjustments in the service delivery system transformed our retail concept in fundamental ways. A more sophisticated location and marketing strategy increased sales dramatically, while a new purchasing system saved our franchisees tens of millions of dollars. The fact is that our team— both franchise owners and management together—continually adapted to an ever-changing consumer and competitive landscape. This adaptability enabled us to build this world-renowned brand that I had the good fortune to shepherd for more than thirty-five years.

Since my time and exposure with this company parallels the mind-blowing growth of the fast-food business, as well as the franchise system of distribution, business readers are sure to find value in this tale as well.

Growing any business is not for the faint of heart; not in 1950 when Dunkin’ began, not during the years I was at the helm, 1963– 98, and certainly not today. So to all those entrepreneurs building their own businesses today or contemplating buying a franchise, I would hope our successes and failures would be a valuable springboard and provide important lessons and helpful insights—or cautionary tales—for your own ventures.

Thousands of executives, staff, and franchise owners past and present who have built this wonderful business. It was their adaptability, courage, and genius that made Dunkin’ Donuts a legendary and dominant global brand around the world.

In my experience, these are the four critical functions of an effective CEO.

  • The first is strategy. Strategy is the controlling plan that sets out what an enterprise wishes to be, what it wishes to achieve, and the most important action steps it needs to take to marshal scarce resources in the achievement of its mission and objectives.
  • The second lens is organization, which deals with the recruitment, retention, and motivation of the appropriate staff to achieve the strategy.
  • The third is communication, the aim of which is to align all constituents enthusiastically behind the achievement of the strategy.
  • The fourth and final category I call crisis management, where I parse the issues that posed either a threat or opportunity to the enterprise, requiring the attention of the CEO.

After due reflection on three-and-a-half decades at the helm of a dynamically growing business, six years teaching as an adjunct in the graduate program of a leading entrepreneurial college, and decades as a board member of several well-known food service companies, I’ve become convinced of the worth of this counsel.

Taken from Around the Corner to Around the World by Robert Rosenberg. Copyright © 2020 by Robert Rosenberg. Used by permission of HarperCollins Leadership.  www.harpercollinsleadership.com

 

 

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 and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Robert Rosenberg served as chief executive officer of Dunkin Donuts from 1963 until his retirement in 1998. Under his leadership, the company grew from a regional family business to one of America’s best-known and loved brands. Rosenberg received his MBA from Harvard Business School, and in just weeks after graduating at the age of 25, assumed the position of chief executive officer. After retiring from Dunkin, Rosenberg taught in the Graduate School at Babson College and served many years on the boards of directors of other leading foodservice companies, including Domino‘s Pizza and Sonic Restaurants

 

 

7 Must-have Qualities of Leaders to Get the Best Output from Their Teams

To receive these weekly articles, subscribe here.

This blog is a guest post from Valentina Wilson, it coordinates with Ron Riggio’s interview titled Becoming a Better Leader: Daily Leadership Development that aired on February 9, 2021.

 

“Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could.” — Steve Jobs

The responsibilities of leaders have quadrupled during an era when it has become a challenge to run a business. Covid-19 has brought fresh challenges for the companies. The onus is on leaders and remote workers to keep the business running amidst all uncertainties. But the key responsibility of helping a business thrive during the pandemic rests upon the shoulders of its leaders.

Great leaders can help to inspire teams to give their 100% at work.

Leaders need to instill a sense of courage and trust in their workers. Workers look up to leaders for direction and inspiration. If the leaders are incompetent or do not have adequate leadership skills, then it is hard to get 100% productivity from the teams.

Good leaders can get the best out of their teams during a crisis period. By keeping the teams motivated, inspired, efficient, productive, and focused on work, leaders can help a business to reach the pinnacle of success at any time. Teams look up to their leaders for direction and confidence. They walk on the path that their leaders show them. They watch and observe each movement of the leaders.

Also, leaders act as a bridge between the company and the employees. A great leader can inspire his or her teams to give their best effort during a crisis time and help to bring abundant growth to the company.

What are the great qualities of great leaders that can help to get the best output from their teams? 

  1. Give powerful and inspiring messages to your team.

Employees trust leaders more than the information they get from the media or the government. Great leaders always choose their words carefully at the time of communicating with their teams. They give clear and direct messages to make workers feel safe and protected.

During a period of crisis, leaders give moral support to workers even though they don’t feel confident about the situation. They solve the queries of the workers in the best possible manner to reduce their stress.

Great leaders are always there with their workers during ups and downs. They give powerful messages to instill hope and courage in the hearts of workers and help them shine in their full glory.

  1. Great leaders bond with the team by sharing personal stories and experiences.

Sharing personal experiences helps to strengthen the bond between leaders and team members. It helps the leaders to connect with team members and help to build healthy relationships. They speak about their personal experiences and victories to their team members.

They discuss Netflix web series, sports, personal interests, TV shows, politics, and so on to uplift team spirits. All work and no play make the team members feel bored. Personal chats and sharing of hearty laughs are also equally essential for the smooth functioning of a team.

If the bond between the leader and team members is not strong, then there cannot be 100 percent success. When leaders share their experiences and personal stories, workers feel inspired. They get the strength to collaborate with other members and get the work done as soon as possible.

  1. Great leaders act as a mentor rather than an authoritative person.

Great leaders don’t instruct workers about what to do like an authoritative boss. They act as a mentor toward the employees and guide them on how to finish a task. Leaders share helpful resources with the workers so that they can work on the project in the right direction. Leaders work with employees as a team.

They give genuine feedback about the progress of workers. They converse about the challenges that workers may face while doing the project in the weekly team meetings. Leaders ask how they can help workers overcome those obstacles and challenges. They share personal experiences to encourage workers to keep on fighting to overcome all the challenges and achieve ultimate victory.

  1. Great leaders take accountability for both success and failure.

Workers look down upon leaders who love to come to the limelight when there is a grand success and put all the blame on the workers when something goes wrong. Great leaders work as a team with workers.

They set clear objectives so that employees know what they must deliver. They work alongside the members until a project is delivered. They share both success and failures with the team members.

  1. Great leaders are fair and impartial to everyone.

Great leaders are fair and impartial to all workers so that they don’t feel deprived of anything. If the leaders are not neutral, then the team will not be motivated to give their 100% at work. The relationship between the team members and the leader will suffer, and so will the work in process.

  1. Great Leaders act as a bridge between the employers and the employees.

The outbreak of COVID-19 led to the introduction of work from home policy in many companies across the globe. Millions of workers have been working from home for the last year. Now, this has created a sense of confusion among employees. It has also created a sense of disconnect between employees and employers.

Leaders have a big responsibility here. They must act as a bridge between the employer and the employees. Great leaders communicate the new work from home policy clearly and decisively so that there is no confusion. They answer all the questions of the remote workers patiently and resolve their curiosity. After all, curiosity kills the cat.

Great leaders explain the benefits and risks of the new work from the home policy so that no one feels that others are getting an undue advantage. They work with employers to develop effective strategies to motivate workers who are coming to the office and working from home during the pandemic. They relay messages from employers from time to time so that remote workers get a sense of belonging to the company.

  1. Great Leaders work hard to lead by example and inspire others to work equally hard.

Workers will not be ready to put their 100% at work if their leaders give only 10% effort on projects. If leaders are sloths, workers will also be sloths. Great leaders prefer to lead by example. They put their 300% at work so that the workers are equally motivated to put at least their 200% on the current assignments. Strong leaders don’t believe in delivering speeches only. They believe in action. And that is because action speaks a thousand times more than words.

Final note

Leadership qualities help companies and workers in achieving financial freedom during dark times. The right behavioral attitude, empathy, and effective collaboration, and great leadership skills can help both companies and workers to get financial success in the long run.

 

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

Valentina Wilson is a writer. She loves to analyze personal financial matters and help others manage their finances in a better way. Traveling is also her passion. She follows more animals on Instagram than humans and her greatest achievement is her blog. She believes that transparency and conversations about money are essential in gaining control of finances.  To connect with her, go to her LinkedIn or visit her blog bestdebtconsolidation.org

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay  

 

 

 

The New Wave of Networking Online

This blog is a guest post from Gabrielle Gardiner, it coordinates with Jacob Morgan’s interview titled The Future Leader: Skills and Mindsets to Succeed in the Next Decade that aired on January 12, 2021.

 

Since networking digitally is the only way to connect with potential mentors, business partners, and peers these days, it needs to be a priority. To succeed in your online networking efforts, you need to be both tenacious and conscientious. Take a look at our seven tips to help you level up your networking game in the wake of the pandemic.

1) Update Your Online Presence

Especially in today’s tough job market, your networking skills are essential to finding the position that’s right for you. Make sure your LinkedIn and your professional references are updated. After all, your professional contacts are strategic partners in your job search. However, you don’t want to be caught asking for a reference without having talked to someone for a year or two. Your network will help you immensely, but only if you keep up your relationships.

2) Look Beyond Linked-In

Maybe LinkedIn is your go-to social network right now, but why not diversify the platforms you use? There are plenty of alternatives for professional networking that are merely a Google search away. Whether you’re a web developer or a fashion designer, you’ll find niche social networking platforms that you might not have realized existed. It’s worth your while to dedicate extra effort to find networking opportunities beyond the basics like LinkedIn.

3) Reconnect to Your Advantage

Now is the time to reconnect with your professional contacts and polish your personal brand so you can forge new connections. Digital networking’s lack of geographic barriers opens up a plethora of exciting opportunities. Take advantage of it! There has never been a more important time to participate in online conferences, webinars, digital workshops, and more. Check out the graphic below for actionable tips on how to thrive while networking online in the wake of the pandemic.

4) Attend Virtual Conferences + Other Events

Although you won’t be able to enjoy in-person connections at conferences any time soon, it’s just as effective to engage with speakers and fellow attendees through a virtual conference. These digital conferences usually have easy-to-use platforms or apps. There’s a level playing field for post-conference networking. There’s no pressure for in-person lunches or follow-up coffee dates because everyone is networking online. With clever communication strategies, you have just as much of a chance of getting noticed by an industry leader as anyone else.

5) Participate in Free Webinars

Regardless of your industry or stage of your career, participating in webinars is always worth it. You get the opportunity to network with fellow participants and industry leaders like you would at a conference, but usually in a smaller group. Be sure to introduce yourself in the chat channel. Participate in the corresponding webinar chat conversation. Also, there is almost always a Q&A portion of the webinar, which presents a great opportunity to stand out. Be sure to share what you learned from or appreciated about the webinar on LinkedIn or Twitter after the webinar, too.

6) Sign up for an Online Course

Most online courses involve a cost, but they’re a great way to both build skills and connect with like-minded peers in your field. Also, the accompanying Slack communities where fellow students or graduates of a program can connect and share ideas is a goldmine for networking. When you sign up for a workshop, coding bootcamp, or other course you’ll automatically join a cohort of people who are serious about learning and self-improvement. Who knows, you might even find yourself interested in a new career path.

7) Join Online Professional Associations 

Although there is usually a membership fee, the immediate networking opportunities with like-minded people and leaders in your field make the cost worth it. In a digital format, professional associations can offer access to exclusive online resources and notify you first about virtual conferences. Industry-specific organizations are a great way to meet leaders in your niche and possibly find a mentor.

Virtually conveying your expertise, personality, and soft-skills in an authentic way is easier said than done. Maintaining your current professional connections is not always a simple task while everyone is working remotely. Stay consistent with your networking efforts despite the challenge, and your work will definitely pay off in the end.

 

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

Gabrielle Gardiner is an NYC-based content creator who enjoys writing helpful articles about professional development for companies like LiveCareer. She’s passionate about sharing her insights to empower people to succeed in their careers.

 

Photo by Akson on Unsplash

5 Ways to Rewire Your Brain for Creativity

To receive these weekly articles, subscribe here.

This blog is provided by Albin Morgan, a guest writer.  It is a companion to the interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Becoming a Better Leader: Daily Leadership Development with Ron Riggio that aired on Tuesday, February 9th, 2021.

 

Did you know that you possess the power to rewire your brain and tune up your cognitive abilities? Well, you do. For the past decade, brain scientists have been releasing more and more proof that points to this possibility. The proof shows that the human brain is incredibly plastic, meaning that all you need to do is find the right habits and routines and you will successfully rewire yours. If you choose and commit to changing your behavior and becoming happier, more creative, and optimally productive, you sure can pull that off. Here are 5 hacks that will rewire your brain and give you significant gains in creativity and performance.

  1. Leveraging creative coaching

A life coach who specializes in creative coaching will help you to start thinking in new and different ways. Creative coaching involves teaching people who struggle with creativity issues the art of expressing their emotions, solving problems, and generating new ideas in a better way. If thinking outside the box isn’t your strongest suit, perhaps you need to book an appointment with a life coach.

The relevance of gaining creative skills in the corporate world can never be overemphasized. Creativity helps corporate leaders and business owners to work through any barriers that could be holding them back. A reputable creativity coach will go beyond training you on how to gain clarity and understand issues better, to training you on how to resolve conflicts and see things from the best possible perspectives. That is why investing in a creative life coach is never a waste of time or money.

  1. Diversify mind inputs

All human beings are creatures of habit. The only variation from one person to the other is the degree to which our habits and routines have affected our minds. Whereas this makes us happy and comfortable, it also limits our mind inputs and leaves little or no room for creativity. Speaking to the same group of people, sharing the same ideas, cooking using the same recipes, and visiting the same places makes you good at what you do but does not necessarily improve your creativity. That is why, if you want to diversify and improve your output, you must be ready to leave your comfort zone and start doing things differently. Take a vacation abroad, for example. Strike up conversations with random people, learn a new language, start playing new video games, read far and wide, and challenge yourself to do things that you ordinarily would not do. The more new interactions you make, the more diverse your thinking capacity will be.

  1. As much as possible, don’t multitask

Multitasking basically means asking your brain not to focus on anything specific and instead spin as many plates as possible, with the end game for any of the spins not being definitive. It is almost impossible for a normal human mind to focus on so many things and still manage to leave room for creativity. That is why when something serious bothers you, you drop everything, get in the moment, focus all your attention and energy on the problem at hand, and eventually find a creative solution. Now think of what would become of your life if you allowed your brain room to think all the time by quitting multitasking. It would be great, of course. Stop piling up issues or forcing things that probably don’t need to be pushed. Take everything in and start solving issues as they come. That will help with your creativity.

  1. Practice mindful observation

Improving your observation skills will set up your brain to a path of discovery and creative thinking. Mindful observation means taking note of your surroundings and being alive to everything that happens around you, no matter the time or place. It is time you started appreciating the environment in which you live and appreciating the creativity of the people around you. Start noticing problems everywhere you go and, instead of feeling overwhelmed by them, volunteer to find workable and innovative solutions. That will help you tap into your creative energy.

  1. Take time out and do absolutely nothing

Doing nothing isn’t easy especially with all the work deadlines waiting for you on your desk, but you should try it nonetheless. Just set aside an hour from your busy schedule, hit the brakes, and forget about work. Too much focus and attention to new information destroys your ability to process new information fast or even to analyze it effectively. Relaxing is critical to your cognitive capabilities.

Conclusion

Being creative is surely magical. It helps you to inspire new ideas and gain the admiration of people around you. Being able to create something from nothingness is also motivational in its own way. If you wish to get that ability, then, by all means, invest your time, energy, and money to getting the right tools for your creativity uptake.

 

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 and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Albin Morgan is a guest writer.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

The Magnolia Moonshot 2030 Movement

To receive these weekly articles, subscribe here.

This blog was collectively written by the Magnolia Moonshot 2030 Project Founders and is provided by Darcy Winslow, one of the founders.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Academy for Systems Change and the Magnolia Moonshot 2030 Project that aired on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021.

 

In order to meet the challenges of our time, we need to shift our thinking as individuals and as a society. The profound changes that are necessary today require a shift in our paradigm of thought and a shift in consciousness from an ego-system to an eco-system awareness. The deeper we move into the complex, volatile, and disruptive challenges of the twenty-first century, the more this hidden dimension of leadership moves to center stage. The blind spot in the 20th century toolkit of economics and management can be summarized in a single word: consciousness.

Consciousness is a thread that connects the 3 Divides (attribution to Otto Scharmer); a shift in consciousness will illuminate the interconnections among the Spiritual, Social, and Ecological Divides thus creating the conditions for current realities to transform into our desired common futures.

We are called to live with courage and collective integrity, for our survival and ability to thrive.

Spiritual Divide

Consciousness is our fluid basis for how to proceed with kindness, listening, learning, self-reflection, connection to self, and awareness of other. We have a human crisis resulting from people thinking of self in an egoistic way rather than as a higher Self who sees the bigger picture of us as community. Our aspiration is to support the inherent value of each person and create a flourishing world for all of us. We are warriors of love, calling all like-minded people to join us in changing the paradigm from “me, we, they” to a global and universal “us”.

The Spiritual divide manifests in rapidly growing figures on burnout and depression, which represent the growing gap between our actions and who we really are:

  • 1 person dies every 40 seconds from suicide (World Health Organization). There are 800,000 deaths per year from suicide, which is the leading cause of death in developing countries for people age 15-49. (Institute For Health Metrics And Evaluation, Global Burden Of Disease 2010)
  • Depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US $1 trillion per year and people with mental health conditions often experience severe human rights violations, discrimination, stigma (WHO)
  • Most disorders classified within mental health — that is depression, anxiety, bipolar and eating disorders  — are more common in women than men. This pattern appears to hold true across most (in some cases all) countries. (org).
  • The annual cost of burnout to the global economy has been estimated to be $323.4 billion. Such costs have led to the World Health Organization predicting a global pandemic within a decade (and now here we are with COVID!).

Social Divide

Empathy is when we can enter into another’s reality without judgement to radically listen, radically see, and radically imagine. This is how we earn the right to be heard. By being witness bearers and showing empathy towards our sisters and brothers we deepen our connectedness. People everywhere will collaborate to create a future where we can heal the social divide(s) and create a world where all people have enough. Our deep connectedness and shared consciousness will guide us to create physical, social, and economic well-being where all can flourish. This can only happen if we are in tune with nature, understanding of our inescapable interconnectedness, and design our ways of living to be in balance. Our deep connectedness and shared consciousness will guide us to find the way back to each other.

Current statistics reflecting the social divide include:

  • The necessary contribution of women is difficult in a world where, despite representing close to half of the world population, women are under-represented in decision-making bodies. This lack of representativeness is significant: in 2016, just 22.8% of the total of national members of parliament and 4% of CEOs of biggest Fortune 500 companies were women. And in 2011, women occupied only 7% of ministries of the environment, energy or natural resources and represented some 3% of those responsible for science and technology.
  • Racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia are global phenomena. Each regional context is different and victims differ in language and culture. But the experience of exclusion, subordination, violence and discrimination is remarkably similar.  Racism as a worldwide phenomenon requires a worldwide response. (The World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance)
  • Access to water and sanitation are recognized by the United Nations as human rights, reflecting the fundamental nature of these basics in every person’s life. Lack of access to safe, sufficient and affordable water, sanitation and hygiene facilities has a devastating effect on the health, dignity and prosperity of billions of people, and has significant consequences for the realization of other human rights.
  • There is enough food to feed 7+B people, but we have a distribution problem: over 1B people have too much food, and over 1B people have too little food.

The Ecological Divide.

The ecological divide describes the fact that humans have organized our economic and social systems largely without regard to ecological limits on a global scale. We are supporting our needs (and in many cases our wants) through degradation of the very systems we need to sustain our species and other species on earth over the long-term.

Through innovations in technology and medicine over the past several centuries, (wo)mankind has successfully extended our natural lifespan and enhanced our quality of life (in developed countries), at the expense of the natural world. We have found ourselves in a ‘negative reinforcing cycle’ and are out of balance with the natural world.

Wealthier developed countries are thriving, while those in the least developed countries struggle to survive day to day while striving for the lifestyle of the (overly) developed countries. This is a moral dilemma as well; if all countries were to achieve our (on average in the US) lifestyle, the collapse of ecosystems would accelerate beyond all scenarios.

The ecological divide relates to the socio-economic divide because the organization of our social and economic systems has a great deal to do with our transgressing the boundaries of earth’s systems; we will have to consciously re-organize these systems if all humans are to have a good life on a sustainable planet. This also requires us to pay attention to equity, inter-generational and international harm, climate justice, and public participation–all socio-economic divide issues.

Ultimately, we need to bring humans back into a consciousness of earth’s limits and how we can have a good quality of life while respecting these limits. We, as individuals and society at large, need to regain congruence between our beliefs and values and how we live and work. This requires both science–to tell us where the limits are and to understand how ecological systems function–and spirit–to value the well-being of humanity and the planet more than our own excessive material consumption. This is where the ecological divide links to the spiritual divide; consciousness, care, and simplicity–all spiritual virtues–will have to be a part of bridging this divide.

There are many examples:

  • We are depleting and degrading our natural resources on a massive scale, using up more nonrenewable precious resources every year. Although we have only one planet earth, we leave an ecological footprint of 1.75 planets; that is, we are currently using 75% more resources than our planet can regenerate to meet our current consumption needs.
  • Burning fossil fuels to generate energy, clearing natural ecosystems for human uses such as development and agriculture, and generating waste that is difficult to dispose of without harming wildlife and ecosystems all contribute to climate change.

 

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 and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

The founders of the Magnolia Moonshot 2030 Project collectively wrote this article, which was provided by Darcy Winslow. Darcy is one of the founders of the Magnolia Moonshot 2030 Project and the President and co-founder of the Academy for Systems Change. The Academy advances the field of awareness-based systemic change to achieve economic, social, and ecological wellbeing. Darcy worked at Nike, Inc. for 21 years and held several senior management positions, most notably starting the Sustainable Business Strategies in 1999 and as Senior Advisor to the Nike Foundation. She serves on the board of The Carbon Underground and The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education.

 

What Does It Take to Be an Educational Leader in 2021?

We will be publishing some excellent guest writer blogs on Thursdays for the next few months.  This week the blog is provided by Jennifer Brown and is a companion to the interview with Mike Davis and Mark James, Junior Achievement — A Case Study in Disruption that aired on 11/12/2019.

 

The classroom offers no shortage of challenges for teachers, from navigating the different learning needs of a diverse group of students to keeping up with changing educational trends and policies. Plus, because of the 2020 pandemic, educators had to suddenly transition to remote-learning models, which was almost impossible to prepare for. And as many schools across the country re-open for full- or part-time classroom education, teachers have had to create structures that not only keep their students engaged but also adhere to COVID-19 health and safety standards.

While these types of obstacles are enough to keep some teachers engaged for a lifetime, others set their sights on even greater challenges within the educational system that will be in place long after the pandemic is over. However, transitioning out of the classroom into an educational leadership role isn’t as simple as throwing your hat in the ring. While classroom teachers are leaders in their own right, serving as an administrator requires a set of leadership skills all its own.

What it Takes to Be an Educational Leader

Becoming an educational leader is an opportunity to make an impact beyond the classroom. However, while teachers have ideas about the ways they’d lead differently given the opportunity, taking those ideas and turning them into actionable policies requires a unique set of skills.

When running a classroom, teachers have to make decisions moment by moment to keep their classrooms running smoothly and their students learning. Administrators, on the other hand, have to carefully consider the input of a variety of stakeholders before taking action.

In order to balance the demands of educational policies, district administrators, teachers, and parents, administrators must cultivate a culture of mutual respect and honest communication. That’s not easy to do when teachers often view administrators as a hindrance to their ability to teach, which is why an educational leadership role requires not only professional acumen but emotional intelligence as well.

The Demand for New Educational Leaders

For teachers who are up to the challenge of educational leadership, there’s no shortage of roles to fill. While teacher shortages draw the most attention, schools across the country are also facing a growing shortage of principals and other administrators. According to the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the demand for qualified principals in elementary, middle, and high schools is projected to grow 6 percent by 2022.

While some school districts struggle to attract candidates for leadership roles, most schools find that their problem isn’t the number of candidates, but the quality. One in three school principals stay in their role for less than two years and 18 percent leave the position within a year. Inadequate preparation is a leading reason for high principal turnover, which is why teachers are such attractive candidates for the job. When administrators have a background in education, they’re not only less likely to leave, they’re also more effective.

The Role of Educational Leaders in Student Achievement

What are the hallmarks of an effective educational leader? It’s not just an understanding of policy or a knack for juggling competing priorities. Experts agree that the most effective administrators are those who frame their decisions around what’s best for student learning — and that means creating a collaborative environment between teachers and administrators rather than taking a top-down approach to management. When administrators foster an environment that empowers educators, the sense of safety, support, and continuous learning that’s created trickles down to students as well. In fact, research has found that an emphasis on collaboration and communication is one of the key characteristics of high-performing schools.

Advancing your Career as an Educational Leader

While teachers are uniquely positioned to become educational leaders, taking that career leap requires additional qualifications. School principals require graduate-level degrees in educational leadership or administration in addition to state licensure, while educators who want to expand the opportunities available to them may opt to pursue a Doctorate in Education. With an EdD, educators can pursue a career as a K-12 principal, school superintendent, or an administrator in a post-secondary setting.

Pursuing a career as an educational leader isn’t a decision to make lightly. School administrators have a difficult job, and creating an environment that empowers students and teachers — both during and after the pandemic — requires professionals who understand the difference between leading and ruling. However, for teachers who appreciate the challenges facing their school system and want to make a difference, taking the step into an educational leadership role is the best way to do it.

 

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 and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 About the Author

Jennifer Brown is a guest writer.

Image via Pexels