Evaluating Big Data Projects and Success Factors – Paper Published

Situational AnalysisJames Brenza and Maureen Metcalf recently published a paper Evaluating Big Data Projects – Success and Failure Using an Integral Lens in the Integral Leadership Review, a bridging publication that links authors and readers across cultures around the world. It serves leaders, professionals and academics engaged in the practice, development and theory of leadership. It bridges multiple perspectives by drawing on integral, transdisciplinary, complexity and developmental frameworks.

Excerpt from the paper: Big data projects are becoming more common in our technology based world and our ability to implement them effectively will provide organizations a competitive advantage. If they are done poorly, organizations lose valuable resources and in many cases lose credibility among their workforce and possibly within their markets. The stakes are high to get it right and these models provide insight to increase your probability of success.

Have you ever been part of a complex technology initiative that just can’t seem to get completed? Even worse, have you ever seen a complex technology initiative that can’t seem to even get started? If you answered “yes” to either question, chances are very high that you’re not alone.

With the increasing focus on information analytics and “big data,” the risks of lagging or failing projects are rising due to the complexity of the initiatives and the lack of available skilled resources. A recent blog post summarized the broad mix of skills and focus many enterprises expect of their analytic leaders (frequently called Data Scientists):

  • Analytic skill set (mathematics, domain knowledge, technology)
  • Communication
  • Curiosity
  • Collaboration
  • Commercial acumen
  • Customer-centric
  • Problem-solving
  • Proactive
  • Strategic
  • Willingness to spend lots of time justifying your existence

Even though the last one is a bit farcical, it actually highlights part of the problem organizations encounter. A domino effect is that without these skills, initiatives are very likely to fail causing vital resources to focus on self-preservation rather than information-driven transformation. As you review the list, you’ll also discover we expect these resources to be “renaissance leaders” (i.e., resources so broadly skilled that they can fulfill all roles). A direct conclusion is the expectation that a single person carry so many roles may be a leading cause of failing initiatives or constrained progress. Many organizations have realized this and are sharing these roles across many resources. While that mitigates the individual risk, that transference assumes the organization has the processes and capabilities in place to effectively integrate the contributors. With the mix of required skills and team members, transformational initiatives will benefit from a formal structure that decomposes the initiative to phases and to specific projects. These challenging initiatives require holistic leadership that we will refer to in this paper as Innovative) Leadership to drive both the analytic and transformational outcome. An Innovative Leader is a leader who influences by equally engaging personal intentions, personal actions, culture, and systems. For this discussion, we will focus on the combination of Innovative Leadership and Data Scientist.

We believe that Innovative Leadership is actually necessary because it uses this entire range of skills to transform organizations. Our article gives two examples of transformations, one successful and one unsuccessful.  We’ll use the integral model as the basis for evaluation since it offers an effective assessment framework to improve the leader’s effectiveness and the initiative outcome. The integral model, created by Ken Wilber, looks at the intersection of four key elements, that when aligned, promote successful transformation—and when not aligned contribute to transformation failure.

The key elements of the integral model are shown in the image above and include:

  • Individual self is the leader’s values, goals, and beliefs. The leader needs traits such as curiosity, proactivity, and a belief that collaboration is important to success. These reflect some of the Innovative Leader traits in the list above.
  • Action is where the Innovative Leader acts using the skills referenced above: Analytic skill set (mathematics, domain knowledge, technology), Communication skills, Collaboration, Commercial acumen, Customer-centric, Problem-solving and Strategic skills.
  • Culture reflects the organization’s culture and the leader’s understanding of it to create alignment between himself and the culture. This understanding becomes crucial particularly when making changes that are not fully aligned with the existing culture.
  • Systems include the organizational and technical systems and processes that dictate how the organization accomplishes its work. The leader needs to understand the current systems, especially those that reward and punish employees and leaders, and ensure these are updated to reflect the new actions required to be successful.

When implementing change, the leader must attend to each of the four areas and ensure they are changing in ways that are well aligned and support one another. To further illustrate this point, the image above reflects key areas of alignment, and all actions in the system have the potential to impact all elements of the system. It is this interconnected nature of leadership and systems that makes this model so important when implementing change. Leaders must take a more comprehensive view of the environment to ensure successful change. It’s no longer sufficient to manage change only from the systems view while ignoring the other three quadrants. To help demonstrate the model’s applicability, let’s review two initiatives.

The first initiative is an example of a great opportunity that never “left the launch pad.”  Despite a very strong financial business case to save money and environmental resources, the available resources could not rally enough energy to reach critical mass (or escape velocity). The second initiative is an example of a very complex, very long business transformation to increase revenue and decrease cost. It required more resources for implementation and delivered incredibly positive results. The resources available to both initiatives were very similar, but the outcomes were startlingly different. We will explore both projects through the integral lens, considering how they performed against the four categories in the integral framework. After reviewing the two initiatives, we’ll explore the key differences and provide some insight on how the integral model can improve successful outcomes.

Click to read the full paper: Evaluating Big Data Projects – Success and Failure Using an Integral Lens

Notes from the Field –Building My Team As I Transition into a New Job

Team RolesWelcome to the Notes from the Field Series! In this series of posts, Alice will talk about how she used the five elements of innovative leadership and steps from the leadership development process to select a new job and effectively transition into her new role. She will explore each element and provide examples of how she applied them.

Onboarding to a new position in new field and new organization has inevitably demanded that I explore areas of personal growth. There are new processes, guidelines, time management hindrances, focuses to build organizational habits, and, of course, new people to communicate with. Such new challenges also bring the opportunity for much development and growth, both personal and professional.

Building a Professional Team

Selecting a support team or a team of trusted advisors is a great way to develop and navigate the onboarding process and support my ongoing growth goals. This team will encourage accountability and, ideally, will be mutually beneficial. Different strengths and resources on one side may bridge a gap to the other, and vice versa.

1. Define Vision and Measurable Objectives

Before beginning to assemble a professional support network that can function as an advisory board and building a well-balanced team, I must reflect on personal goals and values. Knowing which direction I’m headed helps define who will be beneficial in helping me succeed. A helpful guide through this reflection and selection of a support team can be found in the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook by Maureen Metcalf and Mark Palmer.

As a refresher – this is MY PERSONAL VISION link.

Onboarding to a new position has shed light on my knowledge-gap within my industry. I’m eagerly learning about our business drivers as well as the drivers for our partners and clients; however, there is still a great deal to learn. My focus has been to understand the business processes of each so that I can effectively communicate to the individuals I connect with, gain an understanding of what is important to them and what is motivating to them. To achieve this, my boss has invested in an industry expert to coach me on a weekly basis to bring me up to speed quickly.

Understanding where I want to go, and what I want to improve on, has been very beneficial and crucial in planning who I want to be part of my professional team.

In building a strong team for onboarding, I decided that I would like input from multiple levels within the organization:

  • boss to clarify my goals and direction and provide ongoing feedback
  • peers to help me understand how we interact and how my work impacts them
  • three junior staff members from other departments to give me valuable insight into the organization from their perspectives in exchange for mentoring

2. Carefully Select a Trustworthy Team

My team represents various individuals who have mastered an area that I am seeking to develop. It’s also important to have a symbiotic relationship with the team to increase the longevity of the agreement. In these examples, our relationship will be mutually beneficial and of value that, does not necessarily have to be a paid arrangement. Following is a summary of the value my support team will get from our arrangement: I

  • my coach is paid
  • my boss gets great results
  • my peers benefit from my understanding how we can most effectively work together
  • junior staff will benefit from having a strong mentor.

3. Plan a Communication Arrangement

Creating a structured and successful onboarding plan requires a defined agreement between me and my support team. This includes my plan and communication of what I am looking to change so they know how to help and encourage growth. This step has been very successful because, in addition to communicating what I am looking to do, it clarifies what I am asking of them. We also had to define how much and what form of communication is mutually beneficial for the relationship. I am meeting:

  • the industry coach weekly via video conference.
  • my boss bi-weekly during the first six months
  • my peers in bi-weekly staff meetings and monthly one-on-one meetings monthly for the first six months
  • the junior staff  meetings will be monthly with three female team members

Overall, my focus is to create a support team that is authentic and diverse, and will allow me to quickly get familiar with the company and build the working relationships as well as the business skills necessary to achieve initial success and continued growth. In return, I look forward to the opportunity to help others as I continue to grow, and to be able to impact further positive change in the organization and in the lives of my colleagues and clients.

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 airwolfhound

Notes From the Field: Aligning Myself With the Organization

Situational AnalysisWelcome to the Notes from the Field! In this series of posts, Alice will talk about how she used the five elements of innovative leadership to select a new job and transition into her new role effectively. She’ll explore each element in depth and provide examples of how she applied them in her own words.

Situational Analysis: Optimize Alignment With The Organization

A helpful tool for developing and increasing capacity for innovative leadership and transition into a new role is the use of Situational Analysis as outlined in the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook by Maureen Metcalf and Mark Palmer. Essentially, listed below, there are four dimensions of realities. The objective is to understand each, their interconnections and alignments, and create a balance between them:

  • Self
  • Action
  • Culture
  • System

Creating Balance through Practice:

Innovative and authentic leadership takes a great deal of practice and awareness. I am finding that a key element of innovative leadership is increasing my awareness of the four dimensions referenced in the bullets above. By being aware of examining the elements helps me look at how I fit within the organization and align myself in key areas in a way that is both authentic and effective.

For me, it’s unnatural to stop and consider awareness through all four dimensions. I may often reflect on how something will impact me, or my values, and how it will impact the culture of the organization, but I often miss the systems perspective. One way to minimize this exposure is to include someone responsible for the organizational systems in the discussion to be sure that an accurate point of view is being portrayed. So, I am learning that it may not be possible to gather all facts from one desk. This exercise can be a method of communication and transparency for teams across the organization.

Reflection – My personal responses:

1. Individual self/beliefs: What are my values and how do they impact my performance? How are my values aligned with this role?

I feel my values are currently aligned with the values of the organization and my new role. My highest value is integrity. This means I have an innate expectation that I act honestly in every situation and I expect those in my work environment to do the same.  I see integrity in the eyes of my employer and in the actions of the key staff, and value that I am working with people who consistently care about doing the right thing.

My second value is respect. To me, this means admiring strengths in others and myself, openness to a fresh and different point of view, and common courtesy of time and expectations of others, and treating myself with the same respect I treat others. Respect for coworkers and the organization also requires me to pause (think about what I want from the interaction before speaking) to consider the four elements referenced above.

While onboarding, I was challenged with an expectation to “drop-in” on other sales professionals during their day, with the objective to market and maintain “top of mind” as a vendor. I struggled with this for a couple of weeks because I felt that I was being disrespectful of their time, and I didn’t feel as I was being treated with respect in return. Simply put, I struggle to manage what seems like a conflict with my value of respect. I will continue to look for ways to accomplish my goals while demonstrating respect for others.

2. Action: How do my values impact my actions?

Actions are the physical demonstrations of values. It’s putting your vision and values into action. The impact of my decisions while interacting with clients and business prospects will be based on what the organization expects from me, but also on what I am comfortable doing.

In an effort to align myself with the marketing objective of staying top of mind, I have requested a slight change in my function to allow for calling in advance to schedule my visits in an effort to be respectful of others’ time, and increase the efficiency in the system for the organization. This in turn, has allowed me to feel freer in my role, and I am finding that the business prospects are showing respect for me and my organization.

I find as I get more familiar with the organization that other behaviors they expect are aligned with what is natural to me. I am very much customer service- and results- focused, and provide great support. My performance evaluation will be looking at these behaviors, so I anticipate not only an alignment between my values and my behaviors, but, also, an alignment of my behaviors and the performance management system.

3. Culture: How do my values align with our culture and values?

The primary mission of the organization is to take care of the customer, do it profitably, and honor each other and God in all that is done. From an onboarding standpoint, it has been refreshing to know that the key employees of this organization have been trained with this mentality and are aligned with my values. If this first dimension were not aligned, I would have had a longer and more stressful onboarding process and I might have discovered I accepted a job that isn’t a right fit for me. Evaluating the organization’s beliefs creates awareness for me to build a foundation and understand the culture. This awareness will, in turn, be necessary when I am making decisions on behalf of the organization.

4.  System: Are my actions aligned with what is expected in the organization?

This dimension ties together the previous three realities and should be given deep consideration. In my role, I am still working on understanding the systems, network, processes, and dynamics of the group. It’s interesting to note how systems can greatly vary across different organizations, and understanding the various cultures and values points to different structures and beliefs. This will be an area in which I will focus and reflect more on as I mature in the role. What I have learned thus far is that I am comfortable with the overall culture and it appears I am performing in accordance with their expectations of me. I have not yet had any surprises. I will plan a three month and six month review with my new boss to ensure I am meeting the organization’s goals and identify any areas where I can make improvements.

Overall, it is important to keep in mind that I need to understand myself and the organization and make a conscious effort to be both authentic and true to myself while also aligning my behaviors with the culture and systems of the organization. In this way, I will be able to navigate effectively moving forward without compromising my values or those of others in the organization.

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.

Notes from the Field: Using Developmental Perspectives in Job Transition

Leadership Point of ViewWelcome to Notes from the Field! In the first set of posts in this series, Alice shows how she used the five elements of innovative leadership to onboard in a new job. In her posts she will explore the elements and provide examples of how she applied each one of them.

The second component (or layer) of innovative leadership highlights the importance of developmental perspective, as outlined in the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook by Maureen Metcalf and Mark Palmer. Essentially, this is the foundation for how leaders view their role in the workplace and how they interact with others in order to accomplish work. Otherwise stated, it is the “meaning making” or making sense of one’s experiences.

While leadership type sheds light on personality characteristics—and may not change dramatically throughout one’s career or lifetime—developmental perspective has the ability to expand capacity with increased growth. This is encouraging to me as I am focused on increasing my perspective taking and developmental level. It’s important to me to have a means to evaluate where I am in order to benchmark toward the level of leader I aim to be. It’s equally as important to have the ability to understand others’ perspectives when leading or participating in teams.

Most common developmental perspectives:

Most commonly, there are six developmental perspectives found in the setting of an organization. More information on the specifics of each perspective can be found in the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook. Recommendations on how to improve your developmental perspective capacity can also be found in the blog post, Using Developmental Perspective to Build Authentic Leadership. Essentially, the six most common developmental perspectives are listed below in order of increasing capacity:

  • Diplomat
  • Expert
  • Achiever
  • Individualist
  • Strategist
  • Magician

I would currently classify my perspective to be between the individualist and strategist. My goal is to break the barriers holding me back from becoming a strategist over the next five years. Some of these characteristics I most identify with include:

  • A beginning awareness that perception shapes reality
  • Understanding the mutual interdependence with others
  • Long term focus is on the next  15-20 years
  • Pursues actualizing personal convictions according to internal standards

Take time to assess those on your team:

This developmental level is helping me during the onboarding of my new position in that I am able to understand systematic patterns of our processes without being given much detail, and I am able to piece together an assumptive viewpoint of the members on my team and their strengths. From my assumptions, my team currently consists of an expert, two achievers, me (who is mostly an individualist), and our leader is likely a strategist.

Understanding my team’s objectives and what is important to them will make for more effective communication. For example, understanding that the expert has a tendency to be more critical and blame-oriented is important during interactions with him. I may feel that it is unnecessary to point out a small mistake that had little impact because in the big scheme of things it does not matter. However, for the expert, it is critical to clear his name and distance himself from the issue; so, he publicly identifies the mistake and the responsible party. To the “guilty” party, this can feel like an attack, but, in reality, the expert’s objective is to clear his name, not tear someone down.

The achievers on my team are important to recognize because their objective is to get things done. The day is not over until the objectives are accomplished even though, due to unexpected events, tasks may take longer to complete—which pushes for a longer than planned day. I must realize the achiever’s perspective when I am expected to stay later than planned even when it puts me in a state of crisis in order to get to class, or to my next planned function. These situations can easily become emotionally charged situation if I am not careful.

There is no better/worse developmental perspective:

Also from the blog post, Using Developmental Perspective to Build Authentic Leadership,” it is important to remember there are no better or worse developmental perspectives—all are necessary to make an organization function optimally; there are, however, better and worse ways to interact based on the perspectives of those involved. All perspectives play a unique and important role, with distinct strengths if managed properly. Additionally, each perspective/level has a place within the organization where it is most effective.

Insert a pause:

For me, it’s not always easy or natural to communicate with someone who has a different developmental perspective. Typically, in the heat of the moment, or in an intense, fast-paced environment is where I struggle. I’m learning its necessary discipline for me to pause before communicating or responding to ground myself emotionally, and to evaluate the other person’s perspective on the situation. It will also allow for further information gathering, by picking up on body language, or other signals I may have missed. This discipline is especially important as I am learning to communicate with my new team. Building authentic relationships with my team the right way will pay dividends down the road, and is great practice for difficult situations that are inevitable in the 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.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com sigma

Notes from the Field: Using Type to Onboard in a New Job

Enneagram Score sampleWelcome to Notes from the Field! In this set of post in the five part series, Alice shows how she used the five elements of innovative leadership to onboard in a new job. Her exploration is a five-blog series where she will explore the elements and provide examples of how she applied each one of them. The first component of innovative leadership is using type to become more self-aware and effective.

From the blog post Using Leader Type to Build Authentic Leadership: “First, understand your leadership type by taking an assessment to understand yourself; then, learn about your colleagues’ types. By knowing who you are and who they are, you can create an environment in which people are able to comfortably be themselves and create a common language where they understand one another. An environment in which people are given tacit permission to be themselves allows them to focus their energy on their skills—rather than using it to fit into an expectation—and aligns individuals with the culture of the overall group.

I took the Enneagram Personality Type Indicator (RHETI Version 2.0) to determine my type which turned out to be a combination of “The Helper” (Type 2) and “The Enthusiast” (Type 7). I identify with both descriptions as I am certainly an extroverted optimist with an empathetic and people-pleasing spirit. I have a tendency to be busy and productive, but can also find myself overexerted and disorganized due to my many commitments.

My new job is with a local disaster restoration franchise focusing on water mitigation and fire restoration. My role there is to develop agent relations while enhancing customer satisfaction during the claims process. In other words, I am responsible for building relationships with insurance agents so they are comfortable recommending our franchise when a claim is made for either water or fire damage. Once the claim is issued to our franchise, I become the liaison between the insurance agent, the adjustor, and our mutual customer. I am responsible for keeping open the lines of communication between the three parties while the claim is open, and then ensuring satisfaction of all three parties moving forward.

I appreciate this role because it allows me to exercise my strengths in many new and different situations. I have the opportunity to build relationships with professional agents, as my target agent holds an established book of business built through many respectable years of hard work and courteous customer relations. The optimist associated with Type 7 is a necessary trait as I have found it can be quite difficult to break into the insurance agents with the local competition in disaster restoration. I have the chance to build sincere, long lasting relationships, but this will take time and I understand that I will have opportunities, challenges, and threats to work with and overcome.

My Type 2 characteristic of helper is illustrated during the claims process. For example, I am responsible for going out along with our crew to a house fire in order to communicate the process and what to expect to the homeowner, as well as to be supportive and empathetic while they are dealing with a significant loss. I am able to identify with their situation and offer them sincere confidence that their home can be rebuilt and that we will do everything to help get them back to a state of normalcy.

How I am using my understanding of my Type to identify and address my concerns about how well I perform in this job:

Concern 1:  Juggling a managed portfolio of 150 insurance agents and keeping up with emergency claims. Since a claim is never a scheduled event, it is challenging to execute efficiencies in my schedule while maintaining effective relationships along with all the necessary documentation. I am nervous that I will be frustrated with myself when being pulled into different claims and have set the bar high with my communication milestones to the adjustor, agent and homeowner.

Solution: Seek advice from others in the field who have been in my role. No reason to re-invent the wheel, but it is necessary to seek advice and then make the process my own. Building relationships with people who have walked in my shoes is humbling and will spur growth.

Concern 2: Often, I find myself spread thin on resources for taking on many responsibilities, and I imagine once the unexpected claims begin to pile up, I will become disorganized with staying on top of every project, in addition to networking with new agents. This will especially be the case after a large storm when many claims come in at once.

Solution: Consciously increase internal communication, so that I am reminded to speak up when I need help. Typically, it’s against my grain to reach out and ask for help because I do not like putting a burden on my co-workers when my plate is full. Usually, when I am busy, everyone else is just as busy and asking for help does not come naturally. My focus, however, needs to be on our multiple customers during the claim and ensure that they are all being taken care of.

Concern 3: Agent relations. Type 2 (helper) personalities like to build close relationships, but I also need to recognize that agents may, from time to time, recommend my competitor to ensure that they’re not showing favoritism. I can foresee that if I take someone golfing and build a relationship with them over time, I may find it hard to accept that they chose to recommend another ServiceMaster franchise or another local competitor.

Solution: Keeping a realistic frame of mind that the relationships I build are not inextricably linked to their recommendations; the relationship is what it is, and my company is simply one of the few that they recommend, not the only.

Being aware of my personality characteristic/type, both strengths and cautions, has helped me to identify areas of this job in which I will excel, and areas in which I need to focus attention to build a stronger foundation. For example, I look forward to the opportunity to help people in a time of need, yet I also recognize that being quickly scattered means that I need to implement an on-the-go tracking system to record meetings, events, and necessary documentation. Slowing down to build the proper processes in this position will reap many benefits later and will minimize what could be a tremendous amount of stress when trying to remember details of an event that happened weeks ago. In many cases, this is the first step in deciding how I will excel and what areas I should implement accountability in order to be successful.

New job or tenured in your role,how can you use an understanding of your type to increase your effectiveness?

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 Buster Benson

Notes from the Field: Using Vision and Values to Define Job Search

Setting VisionWelcome Notes from the Field Series! This series provides people using the Innovative Leadership tools to talk about what they have accomplished. In this first set of posts, Alice will talk about how she used the five elements of innovative leadership as the foundation for her job search, then to onboard in a new job. Her exploration is a six-part blog in which she’ll explore each element and provide examples of how she applied them. Alice writes these posts in her own words after working with Metcalf & Associates on her development. The first component of innovative leadership is using vision to set a personal direction and make the decision to change jobs.

The Impact of Creating a Personal Vision

The first step in developing innovative leadership is the process of creating a compelling vision. As outlined in the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook by Maureen Metcalf and Mark Palmer, the purpose behind this is to gain clarity about personal vision and aspirations. For many, this clarity can ignite change in behavior through definition of who you are, and how you spend time and energy. Outlining a personal and professional vision creates an authentic roadmap of where you are and the goals you are passionate about. It is also a great time to evaluate personal and professional vision against your current role within an organization and the overall vision of the organization. Such evaluation has the potential to spur life-changing events.

For me, creating a personal vision did just that. It forced me to stop and think about what I really wanted to achieve in my life. I evaluated the details of my ideal personal and professional life. It forced me to take the time to consider my personal values and expose what was honestly most important to me. I began to explore thoughts of family, spirituality, and desire for wisdom, integrity, and the freedom dividends of discipline.

My Personal Vision: (Five to seven years from today)

  • Who I am: I value relationships more than material possessions around me. Positive thoughts are what drive my actions and negative thoughts are dealt with from a realistic perspective—but are not dwelled upon. My words are carefully chosen and I am conscious of not letting unhealthy words flow into the environment around me. I manage my time with priority given for my family and myself. I continue to grow by taking necessary reflection time in retreating and journaling about who I am and where I want to be. I am disciplined, empathetic, generous, and humble.
  • My relationships: My family has always been, and will continue to be, one of the strongest relationships in my life. Other relationships that are flourishing around me include a broad range of acquaintances and a small blessing of deep friendships. The deep friendships come from people I am inspired by and those whom I’m able to help grow.
  • My setting: My ideal setting is twofold. I own property in Ohio, which is where my career is, where I raise my children, and where I am surrounded by family. My home is modest, yet comfortable. The yard is large enough to fence for our beloved family dog, to plant vegetables and teach our children how to work in the garden. The second ideal setting is a vacation home in southern Florida. The amenities in the Florida condo are also modest, but in a location that is accessible to a major airport and less than twenty miles to a beach. It has become a wonderful vacation home for my immediate and extended family. Close friends are also able to use this space as a retreat for personal reflection and for long weekends. We use this to de-stress from the world around us and are able to enjoy nature, sunrises and sunsets, palm trees, and beach walks.
  •  My health and physical well-being: As I have continued to discipline other aspects of my life, I have also matured in the recognition of diet and necessary moderate exercise. My lifestyle will include fresh vegetables, grilled protein, and will be focused on moderation. The value of being healthy will also be taught to my children so that as they grow they appreciate what is “good” and important for a healthy and active lifestyle.
  •  My spirituality: My personal relationship with God has continued to grow and will always be a journey. I have grown in areas of wisdom because I am making love-driven decisions directed by my spiritual guide. These actions encourage those around me to do the same because they see the joy that I am reaping.
  • My career: I am continuously evolving as an authentic leader. I have grown in my professional verbal and written skills so that I am now a clear, more direct communicator. I’m excited about the potential to grow my team to be successful and to reach the goals they set for themselves. I have improved my self-awareness and my social-awareness in order to effectively communicate and manage the different personality styles around me.

Mapping Personal Vision to the Organization

I identified my personal top three values to be relationships, wisdom, and truth. I then mapped these values over the values of the small consulting firm I was working for as the sales and marketing manager . I considered the integrity of the way employees were treated (including myself), and I spent time reflecting on how the values and vision compared to mine.

The Innovative Leadership Fieldbook was my guide in evaluating several questions under the following categories:

  1. What do I think/believe?
  2. What do I do?
  3. What do we (the organization) believe?
  4. How do we do this?

Evaluating these four areas prompted my decision that my current role was not meeting my beliefs in how an organization should carry integrity and was not operating in a financial manner that I consider wise or disciplined. I realized how the financial decisions of the organization were impacting my life in unpredictable ways and considered what this meant for my colleagues. I began to explore the concept that the organization’s values were going against my grain.

Completing the exercise allowed me to acknowledge the feelings I was subconsciously suppressing and name the issues that I had concerns about. I realized that I was ready to discover the next step chapter in my career.

Movin’ on up!

Once my personal vision and values were defined, I set out on a mission to find an organization that had similar focuses. My criterion was straightforward.

  • I wanted to find an organization that allowed me the freedom in the evenings and on weekends to spend time with my family without feeling guilty.
  • I wanted to find an organization that practiced integrity for their customers, vendors, and employees.
  • I also wanted to find an organization that had a reputable name that I could be proud of representing.
  • I wanted to find an organization focused on growth, both with the business model and with growth of the already invested employees.
  • I wanted to work for a leader that I could learn from and who understood my values.

Fortunately, I was blessed and to have a few opportunities from which to choose. However, it was quite challenging to determine the best fit from two offered positions.

Choosing Destiny

The most difficult choice was making a decision based on my personal values, rather than society enforced values. I battled with myself and wrote out what I was competing with. I needed the process of airing my thoughts so that I could gain perspective and make decisions.

Essentially, I followed a process to:

  1. Identify each barrier that was holding me back;
  2. Write about it and why I felt this was a barrier;
  3. Write about ways to overcome the barrier;
  4. Obtain different perspectives from designated support groups;
  5. Make a decision and create change.

My current role

My current role is customer relations manager and I am able to pull together what I learned about myself by type and leadership perspective capacity.  I’m excited to see how I can better serve our clients and the members of my current team, and I look forward to learning from each of them.

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Photo credit: www.flickr.com robert ball