Leading as Influencers in Mergers and Acquisitions

Happy Smurf VillageImplementing a project when in a role other than leader presents a series of challenges, and yet, it is critical for organizations to leverage the skills of a broad range of people (not all in formal leadership roles) to successfully implement complex change. This post, co-authored by a team of successful Corporate Development mergers and acquisitions (M&A) leaders, is the first in a series that looks at the mindset of a high-influence leader during M&A. The primary thought leader on the competency model is Mike Morrow-Fox.

The series will focus on the influencers – leaders or team members – that create the highest probability of success in complex transactions. This is important because often, the person in the highest leadership role will function best when paired with an individual who demonstrates the mindsets described in these articles. An example is the partnership between George Bush and Colon Powell:  Powell demonstrated the mindset described by the six characteristics below. While he was a very senior leader, he also influenced others more senior to him in how they behaved and the decisions they made.

It is the role of influence we are writing about, achieved, in part, by seven critical characteristics of the leader’s mindset. Mindset impacts how leaders behave in every situation. Very few leaders, however, consistently demonstrate these characteristics. Our research shows that 1-5% of US leaders can – so this list is more aspirational than it is a shopping list.

  1. Professionally humble – Cares about getting it right ahead of being right
  2. Dogmatically committed to right action – Is unstoppable and unflappable when on a mission
  3. A 360-degree thinker – Has a “balcony view” of the business; is able to step back and observe the overall organization and the interconnected impacts
  4. Intellectually versatile – Has developed interests, expertise, and curiosity beyond the job and organization
  5. Highly authentic and reflective – Is not constrained by personal appearance but is highly focused on personal behavior
  6. Able to inspire followership – Has a special ability to connect with people at all levels of the organization to create a shared vision
  7. Innately Collaborative – Welcomes collaboration in a quest for novel solutions that serve the highest outcome for all involved 

In this series, we will explore these competencies related to M&A and connect them to specific examples of how they drove success, and how an organization struggled when they were not present.

One real-world example involves a recently closed transaction that left participants of the acquired institution feeling angry. Their dissatisfaction stems from the failure of the seller’s leadership team to attend to agreements they had with employees when financial difficulties threatened to close the firm. The organization operated with a shared governance model, where decisions were made jointly by the leadership team and staff representatives. The leadership team did not address the financial issues head on, nor did they involve staff representatives when deciding to sell the organization. Their inability to tackle the problem turned an otherwise reasonable transaction into a distressed sale that precluded the leadership team from performing any reverse diligence or negotiating details that would have put their employees on solid footing in the new organization. Though the acquiring firm appeared to be similar, it operated very differently on a day-to-day basis in ways that were material to the seller’s employees.

The situation degraded shortly after the announcement – which came out of the blue to people who should have known what was happening. Not only was the governance model not honored, the leaders’ actions caused many employees to face job loss and others to lose hard-earned “rank” when transitioning to the new organization.

Their sense of betrayal caused significant disruption beyond what would have been expected for a transaction of this type. The seller’s leadership team, who saw the move as strategic genius rather than a distressed sale resulting from poor financial decisions and lack of management wherewithal, was referred to as the “happy Smurf village.” Staff disengaged almost completely at the expense of their customers, and the acquiring organization had to scramble to stabilize the situation and prevent the value from further eroding.

The leadership team’s primary failure was their ability to be 360-degree thinkers. The three specific mindsets and skills associated with this trait are:

  1. Innately understands the systems, constraints, perceptions, near-term, long-term, and secondary impacts of business strategy and decisions, and how to transform them to achieve amazing results
  2. Balances competing commitments of multiple constituents on a regular basis
  3. Thinks in terms of systems, dialogues, and transformations when focusing on constraints and perceptions – considers the organizational context when making recommendations

The happy Smurf village/leadership team did not take the overall system into account because its members did not have a complete understanding of it. They did not comprehend the near-term consequences of their decisions, so could not – and did not – consider the long-term and secondary impacts of their decision to sell. Additionally, they did not attend to significant business issues with the urgency required. They did not aggressively cut costs when initially facing financial challenges, nor did they seek out an acquirer while they still had bargaining strength.

Their lack of understanding has had a heavy impact on integration, and the probability of either organization garnering the value it expected is very low. If success is measured based on ROI, the failure of the leadership team to employ solid 360-degree leadership has not only had a financial impact on the value realized, it has also affected many families who count on these institutions for their livelihoods. Having a leader on the team who effectively demonstrated 360-degree thinking and could talk the leadership team through the necessary steps to either stop the financial hemorrhaging or strategically position the organization for sale could have changed the entire transaction for the better.

We will continue to explore the six characteristics of leadership mindset in the next blog post.

We are conducting research to quantify specific characteristics of successful M&A leaders using the DEV:Q assessment. If you are interested in participating, check back as we will provide the link in the next few weeks.

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.

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Photo credit: www.flickr.com simon chirgwin

Building Individual and Organizational Resilience

Dominos of ResilienceIn leadership terms, we define resilience as the ability to adapt in the face of multiple changes while continuing to persevere toward strategic goals. In the current environment where change is the norm and time to bounce back between stressors is minimal at best, we, as leaders, need to think about how we manage our personal resilience and also how we support our organization in adapting to the changes it is facing.

We break resilience into four primary categories (link to resilience assessment):

  1. Maintain physical well-being
  2. Manage thinking
  3. Fulfill life purpose using emotional intelligence
  4. Harness the power of human connection

Each of these categories is interlinked with the others and has a domino effect. It’s hard to think clearly if you are physically exhausted and so on. Resilience is an essential element of leadership that becomes increasingly important during times of change when uncertainty can cause high-performing people to become distracted and uncertain.

I’m working with a client whose organization is navigating a major transition. Her boss has just taken a significant promotion and, as of this writing, the impact on her and her team is uncertain. It’s likely his promotion will mean a promotion for her. To support her personal transition into an even more stressful job than she already holds, she has been taking steps using a fitbittm to manage, track, and maintain her physical well-being. Her efforts are paying off; she’s moving toward consistently meeting her personal goals and finding that she has more energy and is more able to navigate with ease during highly stressful situations.

In addition to building her personal resilience, she also brought her direct reports together to discuss resilience and explore how they can become a more resilient team in advance of the next round of changes. This discussion focused not only on managing thinking and how individuals respond to challenges, but also on physical habits that support healthy sleep and exercise.

“What was most fascinating to me about this conversation,” wrote my client, “was the impact that it had on our entire team. We have a very open, supportive culture, but when one team member spoke up during our monthly leadership meeting with Maureen, and said that nighttime emails gave her a sense of pressure to respond immediately, several other people spoke up and said they felt the same way. Although I often say that there is no expectation of work outside of business hours – and I encourage the entire team to focus on self-care and work-life balance – my own nighttime emails were having the exact opposite effect. What I said and what I did were not in sync and this was creating unspoken tension on the team. As soon as one person brought it up, we all realized that few of us wanted to be on email regularly outside of work.”

“We are a diverse group with a wide range of interests and passions outside of work. I have seen again and again that the most creative and passionate employees on my team are also extremely creative and passionate in their lives outside of the office. By taking time outside of our regular work routines to check in, not just about what the work is that we do, but how we do it, and how we can work as a team to be successful, we were able to make a small but vital shift to our practices. Now the people who want to work through email at night or on weekends simply write messages and save them in draft form till morning. This lets each of us work at the time and in the ways that are most comfortable for us, but our inboxes have a chance to settle down outside of work, so we can too.”

“I was surprised to realize that just talking about a few ways to increase resilience has led to a very broad set of changes for our team and for all of us as individuals too. Once we started talking about the ways that we are already taking care of ourselves, and also articulated a personal goal for resilience that we’d like to move towards, the team’s culture started moving more towards practices that support resilience. I regularly hold walking meetings, in particular for one-on-ones or small group conversations. We have started bringing healthier snacks to our team meetings, people check in about opportunities to de-stress or support each other in our personal and collective goals to take better care of ourselves. What I love most is that this leads to healthier, happier individuals and healthier, happier (and more productive) professionals too.”

Many leaders struggle to find a balance in life, maintaining physical well-being, managing the stress of high impact jobs, finding the quality and quantity of time for family and meaningful supportive friendships, and even time to volunteer. As careers progress, the demands generally increase, so creating agreements that support fun work environments and group resilience become an important foundation for work groups to perform at their best.

To learn more about resilience, we encourage you to take the Resilience Assessment, watch a resilience webinar, or take our course: Building Resilience.

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.

By Maureen Metcalf

Photo credit: www.flickr.com Louish Pixel

Transforming a Public Radio Station – Defining Vision and Creating Urgency

WCBEWe’re very excited to announce a new blog series that will chronicle the transformation of public radio station WCBE – 90.5 FM Columbus, Ohio. We’ll share the journey they are taking as a response to the Columbus City Schools reshaping. The Columbus Board of Education holds the license for the station (that’s why its call letters, WCBE, are an acronym for the board). The station’s journey will be co-written with Dan Mushalko, general manager of the station.

To give context, the Columbus City Schools employees—and perhaps others in schools throughout the state—are accused of falsifying students’ records to improve their schools’ standing on state report cards. The context matters because it helps to explain why WCBE is transforming now, and sets the sense of urgency the station faces. Why our story about WCBE is interesting is that the station is using this crisis as an opportunity to become more efficient, more effective, and a better partner with the school district.

Our series starts with a note Dan Mushalko sent to the radio station staff.

“First, a declaration: WCBE is changing. No matter whether we’re a department in the larger Columbus City Schools, or a standalone broadcaster, our old ways will continue to lose effectiveness as the rest of the world changes. Within the District, changes are coming. Dr. Dan Good is a visionary leader with a hard-driving will dedicated to the CCS (Columbus City Schools) mission. To make this District what it must be to serve the community, he’s instituting changes: some fast, some slow, some specific, some across the District. Some will be easy, some will hurt. Some will no doubt hurt me personally. But I’m behind them 100 percent because, like Dr. Good, I’m dedicated to the District’s mission of serving the greater community. In the final analysis, our mission at WCBE is just a permutation of the District’s own goals.”

WCBE will follow the transformation process illustrated below and described in the award winning book:  Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations.

Leading Organizational Transformation

The first step in the transformation process involves clearly defining the vision for the change, as well as why the change is now urgent. We’re including WCBE’s updated organizational mission so you gain a better understanding of the station and what it’s committed to creating in the community and beyond:

  • Support Columbus and neighboring areas in being a thriving and sustainable community through our operations as a radio station,  and as a responsible community member
  • Offer listeners the opportunity to connect with the broader community through local programming, creating opportunities for local musicians, and promoting local organizations
  • Providing the most reliable source for local, national, and international news—and producing engaging music programming featuring local, national and international talent
  • Create opportunities that promote a vibrant and engaged community by leveraging our role as a radio station, to facilitate bringing together local music talent, local businesses/NPOs, and community members
  • Partner with like-minded organizations to accomplish our vision

In his message, Mushalko clearly states that WCBE is changing—and we’ll continue to hear about the changes on a regular basis. Mushalko posted a change process flow in the hall at the station in the form of a wall chart and asked each staff member for their input on the process which will be incorporated into his final change process plan. He has also created a scorecard to establish clear goals and timelines for the change and is tracking progress with his coach, Maureen Metcalf, every other week.

Return soon to learn how the station overcomes the inevitable complications and obstacles of any change process to transform and forge its future.

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.

Embed Innovation Systematically – Notes From The Field

Innovative Leadership Embed ChangeThis post is the sixth in a six-part series of “Notes from the Field” in which Holly, an analyst in an HR department at a major university, shares a small part of her overall exploration and talks about her experience using the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers to plan her next career step.  Last week, Holly shared how she plans to identify barriers and respond to them accordingly.  During her final week, she will focus on how she will integrate these changes into her lifestyle moving forward.  (For a more complete case study, please either refer to the workbook or one of the online leadership development programs for emerging leaders or leaders).

As I am reaching the end of the workbook, I can honestly say I have a different perspective on how I plan to achieve my goals.  Throughout this process, I have put forth more thought in what it will take and what behaviors I need to change to be successful.  In the past, I thought I had SMART goals, but I can now see the impact I will have if I continue to communicate my goals and needs with others and actually have a detailed plan on how to achieve them.  A small example I can share is in the past, I planned to run a 5K and set a date I wanted to complete the race by.  Let’s just say it didn’t happen.  This time around, I have actually started a training program, communicated my goals with others, recruited my husband to run with me for support, and registered for an upcoming race in the spring.  That may seem like a long time frame for a goal, but through reflecting on my values, I realized there is no need to put more pressure on myself to have this accomplished right away.  I will already be busy and overwhelmed with traveling and upcoming holiday season; by delaying the date, I can still take steps towards reaching my goal, be held accountable and, enjoy everything else in-between.

I can apply these techniques into a variety of areas of my professional and personal life as well.  Moving forward, I need to focus on the importance that this is an ongoing process.  Over time, I will need to re-evaluate and re-define my goals and continue to focus on my overall development.   This final week, the workbook provided a transformation activity/practice log that will help me prioritize my goals, record the performance, measure the progress, and record feedback.  This template will be a helpful ongoing tool that will help me stay on track and be held accountable for my behaviors.  There are also a variety of reflection questions that help gauge individual progress and pose several questions to help validate if I’m reaching my goals.

Overall, this process from start to finish has certainly made me reflect on my beliefs, behaviors, actions, and personal goals.  In many ways, it also helped me re-shape my vision and see how I could benefit by changing some of my actions.  It will be interesting to open up this book in the future to review the responses I’ve had these past several weeks and see if I reached my desired goals and if they changed.  The ending of the workbook, is really just the beginning of the work, but I have a great tool I can use along the way of my journey!

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

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

Taking Action – Notes From The Field

This post is the fifth in a six-part series of “Notes from the Field” in which Holly, an analyst in an HR department at a major university, shares a small part of her overall exploration and talks about her experience using the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers to plan her next career step.  Last week, Holly shared how she action plans for leadership development.  After putting together my development plan and forming my support team and needs, I have reached the point where it is time to take action.

At first, I could not help but think of the cliché, a task is easier said than done, but I am more optimistic at this point.  I have put forth effort in trying to envision my future, what actions I can take to get there, and what support will be needed along the way.  The next key step is trying to identify barriers to my success and trying to eliminate or modify my course of action.  (For a more complete case study, please either refer to the workbook or one of the online leadership development programs for emerging leaders or leaders).The workbook provides a helpful action tool to accomplish just that:

Innovative Leadership Barrier Table

I also completed several of the reflection questions to help clarify my direction.  There were several meaningful questions that made me analyze my behaviors and how I needed to align them with my overall vision.  One question I found:

How do I manage my transformation over time?  How do I focus on accomplishing my daily tasks while concurrently focusing sufficient time on my vision and goals?

One of my biggest barriers is focusing too much on my long-term goals.  In order to work on my transformation, I need to spend time appreciating what I have and what I am able to do now.  I look back and see how far I have come, and I am not able to recall as much the steps I took to get to this point.  Moving forward, I want to slow things down.  If I put forth greater effort to align my actions with my values, then over time, I will be more successful at reaching my goals.

This week’s exercise made me realize the significant challenge these barriers have caused in the past.  Reflecting on these past and ongoing challenges helped me recognize that my development plan is a starting point.  Things will happen along the way and in order to be successful I will need to find ways to respond positively or find workarounds.

Next week, I will focus on how to integrate these changes into my lifestyle moving forward.

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.

Build Your Team and Communicate – Notes From the Field

This post is the fourth in a six-part series of “Notes from the Field” in which Holly, an analyst in an HR department at a major university, shares a small part of her overall exploration and talks about her experience using the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers to plan her next career step.  Last week Holly started defining a development plan to connect her vision with her self-assessment results. This week she’ll focus on building a support team and a communication plan to support her development plan and desired changes. (For a more complete case study, please either refer to the workbook or one of the online leadership development programs for emerging leaders or leaders).

Over the past several weeks, I have learned of several actions and behaviors that I need to work on individually; but, as I think of the “big picture,” I need to determine who I want on my support team and how I’ll communicate the level of and what type of support I must have to help me reach my goals.

I feel very fortunate to have a supportive husband and a network of wonderful family, friends, colleagues, and mentors. Many of these people have helped me to recognize my personal strengths and values. I have to acknowledge that even with a great support team, the exercises in the interactive workbook made me grasp the importance of communicating my goals and what role they will play in my desired future. There is a distinct difference in having someone listen to my goals compared to knowing there is an expectation to keep me accountable and to receive ongoing feedback. I will be much more successful by defining the type of support that will be needed.

While deciding who I to be on my team I also had to ensure that I was choosing the right people to be on my team—those who have the right knowledge and expertise, availability, and who can give me honest feedback. Below are a few examples of who I determined I need:

Communication Goal Table

This next table looks at the communication plan for each member of my team to ensure that I stay on track by giving them the information they need to continue providing support to me.

Communication Plan

What is the best combination of approaches for me to meet my support needs? Does this include hiring a coach or scheduling regular lunches with a trusted colleague?

In order to achieve my goals, I need to have regular monthly meetings with my mentor to focus on my professional goals. I also need to communicate my personal health goals and behaviors to my husband and family members. Regular communication will help keep me on target.

Overall this question made me realize the importance of implementing a combination of approaches to support my needs. I have both professional and personal goals that will require different types of support for me to be successful.  If I’m able to accomplish my short-term goals, they will inevitably contribute to the success of my long-term needs and vision.

Next week I will focus on how I will take action, identifying barriers to my success and how I will plan to manage or remove them.

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.

Plan Your Journey

Plan Your FutureThis  is the third in a six-part series of “Notes from the Field” in which Holly, an analyst in an HR department at a major university, talks about her experience using the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers to plan her next career step. Last week Holly shared a personal self-assessment of her strength and opportunities.  This week she focuses on defining a development plan that helps connect her vision with her self-assessment results.  (For a more complete case study, please either refer to the workbook or one of the online leadership development programs for emerging leaders or leaders).

In order to create a development plan, it’s important for leaders to have both strong external capacity and internal capacity.  After completing my self-assessment and identifying my strengths and weaknesses, I feel I have a strong balance of both external capacity and internal capacity, but recognize there are areas that can be enhanced and improved.

To accomplish my vision and build further capacity, I have two development targets.  These two foci will help identify behaviors or skills I can enhance through planning and goal setting:

Build on your current strengths – This focuses on enhancing current strengths and helps provide clear indicators of what changes are required for continued growth and success.

I identified one of my greatest strengths as the combination of my ambition to succeed and a trusting nature personality trait. I have a goal to progress further in my career.  To accomplish this I need to enhance my visibility through greater committee involvement and expanded networking activities, in addition to completing my MBA program and surfacing ideas to enhance the organization.  I’d like to accomplish this goal within the next three years and will measure the success by a promotion or new employment opportunity.

Minimize your weaknesses – This focuses on identifying behaviors that may impede further growth, and understanding how a behavior may interfere with future success.

A weakness I identified is the need to put myself and overall well-being first. I have a goal to have improved mental-health (less stress) and physical health.  I plan to accomplish this goal through meditation, exercise, and taking more time for myself.  My goal is to accomplish this over the next six months.  I will be able to measure the success of the goal by lowering my blood pressure, running my first 5K race, and incorporating these action items into my lifestyle.

As a part of the workbook I was able to review additional reflection questions that helped create my development plan and create my action goals.  One of the reflection questions that stood out to me was:

What are my priorities for development?  Are they reflected in the plan I created?

My priorities for development are reflected in the plan I created. My personal values and future vision highlight the importance of maintaining a strong work-life balance.  In order to try to meet these expectations, I made it a priority to complete my education and develop my career at an early age—before planning to start a family with my husband.  After reflecting on these questions and actions, I also recognized that not putting myself and health first will directly interfere with my future vision.  In order to have a successful work-life balance, I need to implement action steps now to improve my health and well-being to help prepare me as I progress in my journey.

Next week I’ll focus on building a team and communication plan to help support the changes in my goals for personal and professional development.

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

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

Photo credit: www.flickr.com stargardner

Analyze Strengths for Job Change – Notes From The Field

Balancing ActThis post is the second in a six part series of Notes from the Field where Holly,  an analyst in an HR department at a major university, talks about her experience using the  Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers to plan her next career step.  Holly shares a small part of her overall exploration, for a more complete case study; please either refer to the workbook or the online leadership development program for either emerging leaders or leaders.  Last week, in her own words, Holly shared her vision and values. This week she will share part of her self-assessment information.

After developing my personal vision, one of the next steps was to analyze my situation and strengths. I learned of a variety of assessment tools to help me understand my current performance.

The first tool I used was the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator, a leader personality type assessment. I was not too surprised by the results, and was pleased to see that they closely aligned with my personal values. The results, listed from highest to the lowest score, indicated that I associate most closely with the following personality traits/characteristics as described by the Enneagram:

  • The Helper: Caring, empathetic, sincere, sentimental, people-pleasing.   Typically have problems acknowledging their own needs. At their best, they have unconditional love for others.
  • The Achiever: Success-oriented, competent, energetic, poised. Typically have problems with workaholism and competitiveness. At their best: self-accepting, role models who inspire others.
  • The Peacemaker: Easy-going, self-effacing, trusting, supportive. Typically have problems with inertia and stubbornness. At their best: indomitable and all-embracing, bring people together and heal conflicts

The results helped affirm that my personality traits are aligned with my values. The assessment allowed me to look more closely at other personality types and highlight the importance of understanding how to interact with other personality types.

The second tool I used was the Resilience Assessment —available free online through Metcalf & Associates—that highlighted the importance of increasing internal capacity for high performance. This assessment measured my physical, mental, and emotional well-being as well as the strength of supportive relationships.  Resilience is critical for everyone in order to be able to adapt to changes and move toward strategic goals. I was able to identify my score in each of the areas and identify those areas that need improvement.  During my vision process, I mentioned the importance of creating a work-life balance, and realize how critical it is that I maintain my strengths in these areas as I continue on my career path and goals.

After reviewing both assessments, I identified the following Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT):

Holly Innovative Leader SWOT

I also reviewed and analyzed a variety of reflection questions:

  • What do I think/believe? Am I able to balance professional and personal commitments?
  • What do I do? How do you play to your strengths?
  • What do we believe? Notice the various people and groups in your life (family, colleagues, boss, community, friends, etc.) and what they report as “urgent.”
  • How do we do this?  What systems and processes will impact my development?

Overall, after reflecting on these series of assessment and tools, I have better clarity of my current state as well as what is needed to fulfill my vision.

Next week I’ll focus on defining a development plan that helps connect my vision and assessment results. The plan will allow me to close the gaps I identified in the SWOT analysis and also build on my opportunities.

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

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

Photo credit: www.flickr.com Richardstep.com

 

Create a Compelling Vision For Career Development – Notes From The Field

Link to the future This post is the first of a six part series of Notes from the Field where Holly,  an analyst in an HR department at a major university, talks about her experience using the  Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers to plan her next career step.  Holly will share a small part of her overall exploration, for a more complete case study, please either refer to the workbook or the online leadership development program for either emerging leaders or leaders.

I have always been a driven person, striving to reach goals and interested in progressing. Although my passion for improvement has continuously pushed me forward, I had never attempted to define my personal vision. The steps outlined in the Innovative Leadership Workbook forced me to fast-forward through my life and imagine looking back at I accomplished. I had to hypothetically examine what I would have been most proud of, what others would have said about me, who would have helped me along the way, and more. This process helped me to put my personal values into perspective in order to ensure I am doing all that I can to successfully create my personal vision.

Personally, I found this exercise gratifying and, to an extent, emotional. It is usually only in hindsight that we consider changes or make an effort do things differently in the future, but this process really helped me evaluate my values and align them my expectations, and gave me the insight  about what I need to do differently to more accurately align my values with my personal vision as I move forward.

Throughout the exercise my vision continued to be refined as I put forth more thought in exploring what is most important to me. It was also important for me to realize that my vision will continue to evolve over time, but will provide me with some navigation tools to keep me on track.

After writing a story about my life and identifying my top personal values, I was able to form a personal vision.

Holly’s Overall Life Vision: To always see the goodness in people and support their life goals.

Additional thoughts supporting my life vision are that I will be understanding of the needs of others and do my best to help provide support through listening, opening my heart, volunteering, mentoring, and treating others with compassion. I hope to lead by example.

I was able to determine an overall vision, but I found that there was a slight overlap as well as a void when combining my professional vision with my individual vision and my family. The earlier steps in the process of defining my personal vision helped craft an overall vision and, also, to further evaluate it based on what is most important to me.

My family is the most important feature of my life. The relationships are strong and have helped shape me into the person I am today. Many of my successes are a result of the guidance—and qualities of the influence—from family members and close friends. I continue to embrace my family and hope to carry on their values.

Personal Values: My top three personal values are family, compassion, and helping other people and animals. There are several other close categories that are important to me not reflected in the top three. To meet my overall vision while also succeeding with my family and work, I will have to strive to maintain a work-life balance my family’s needs and practice taking the time to reflect on my individual needs. Currently, much of my time is devoted to my education, work, and family. In the future, I plan to find dedicated time to volunteer and mentor others. I find helping others and influencing others to be closely intertwined and critically important. If those who are passionate about this cannot find the time, how can we continue to pass it forward?

After evaluating my top three values, I believe I have chosen the correct career path. I was fortunate throughout my education to have had strong mentors who helped guide me toward a career in Human Resources. I cannot say that it has always been “easy-breezy,” but, ultimately, I think they helped me identify my values and strengths early on. I have been able to use my compassion to succeed and desire to help others mitigate difficult situations. In many cases, I have brought a “reality-check” that views both sides of a situation: the business side and personal side.

As part of the workbook, I also answered several reflection questions. These helped me clarify my initial vision and values, and how they play out in my life. I expect to revisit and refine my vision during this process as I learn more about myself and what is realistic.

Next week I will share my personal analysis of my strengths and opportunities for growth based on my vision.

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

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

Photo credit: www.flickr.com BLMOregon

 

Is My Company Vibrant? A Case Study

Metcalf Survey ResultsI met Jim Ritchie-Dunham and learned about Harmonic Vibrancy research when a highly regarded colleague, Terri O’Fallon, asked me to participate in a study that evaluated the vibrancy of my company. Terri is one of those people who is always involved in something interesting so I responded quickly. Additionally, the request came as part of a research study Jim was doing on vibrancy and I personally love to participate in leading research to contribute to and learn about the latest thinking in organizational effectiveness. Jim is the President of the Institute for Strategic Clarity and an Adjunct Researcher at Harvard University.

Taking the Assessment

I took an individual assessment with Metcalf & Associates as the company I was evaluating. I found the assessment and results interesting, and because of our scores I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Jim, the lead researcher. After our conversation, I was committed to learning more—and support his research— as it seemed as if he was making a unique and important contribution to the field of organizational effectiveness and organizational leadership.

Creating a Vibrant MBA Class

My next step was to require that my graduate students take the assessment for multiple organizations to both build the database and to help them begin to get a feel for which organizations are most effective and which are least. We also tried an experiment in which students evaluated the class environment at the end of the semester (after grades were finalized). My personal research question was: Could we create a vibrant organization in an MBA class in the relatively limited length of a semester? Interestingly, the answer was yes. While we needed to refine a few of the questions, overall, we could all participate in a process to build a vibrant organization in a short period of time. I love the idea that the class could not learn only the theory; they could also have the actual experience of being in a vibrant organization during the class. Then the question was what they could do to create this for themselves. We asked some students with particularly high scores to participate in the research.

Improving Our Organizational Vibrancy

My next challenge was to see if I had created a vibrant organization within my own company. I certainly thought it was vibrant—but what did others think? Again, we were a company that did not perfectly fit the profile, but I decided to test us before going out to our clients. I have committed us to being a learning lab, a company that tests new ideas on ourselves, and proves them valid and useful before going to our clients. As the owner of the company this was intriguing because while the feedback was about the company it was also very personal—it was about the company I had created and about me as a leader.

So, the moment of truth; I selected my key team members and invited them to complete the survey. Like those in most organizations, some people responded immediately and others required several reminders. The end result was seven responses from our core team.

Our scores were high in six of the seven categories. In the seventh, “process of innovation” we scored a four on a scale of one to five. This would not seem terrible except that our company tagline is Inspiring Leadership Innovation. What were we doing wrong? What was I doing wrong? I thought we were very innovative. We had published a very well-received book about innovative leadership that won an International Book Award in 2012 for Best Business Reference Book and we were in the process of writing several workbooks that also won multiple awards. How could we possibly be lacking innovation? What I learned was that we balanced innovation with meeting client goals. We are both innovative and focused on client results. As a company with limited resources, we were balancing the very real limitations of our resources including the time we had to commit to innovating versus the time we had to deliver impeccable results every day to our clients.

This helped me see that we were on the right track—and while I will still strive for a higher score, I understand our results and envision our opportunities to grow. One of the best outcomes of this assessment was the very candid conversation I had with this group. I learned that I held some assumptions about how we were working that were not true; specifically, I assumed people did not want to get together regularly because of their busy schedules. I learned that they did want to spend more time together as a group (which we have now done). Some of our gatherings are social in nature and allow for people to informally incubate ideas that will move us forward. Additionally, the team is deepening their relationships with one another.

I have appreciated the insight from this assessment. We have implemented changes and in other areas, it validated that we are on the right track. Each participant had the opportunity to express an individual perspective as well as hear perspectives from others, building our shared sense of what we want from our organization. Round two of the assessment is in the plan for 2014. For now, we are using this assessment with our clients and getting great results. In an upcoming blog, I’ll share the results of working with a client.

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.