Leadership Trends to Watch for 2019 and Beyond

With 2018 coming to a close, many of us are looking to 2019 and beyond. This article was originally published on Forbes.com in August 2018 summarizing the trends that emerged from the last 100 interviews conducted on Voice America Radio, Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations interview series.  It is the companion to an interview between Christopher Washington, PhD and Maureen Metcalf Top Leadership Trends in 2018 and beyond.

I host a weekly radio show that helps leaders update how they lead. The interviews are with key business leaders, global leaders, thought leaders, authors and academics. Each year, I publish the main themes we discuss on the show as well as in my consulting work with senior executives around the world.

I have now completed more than 150 interviews, and volatility was a recurring theme. This article is a synthesis of what we can take away as key factors for leaders and executives to focus on for the next four years.

1. Leaders must pay attention to trends and predictions.

As the rate of change accelerates, if you take a “wait and see” stance, you will be caught unprepared. The intersection of volatility, changes in technology and global interconnection means there are threats and opportunities on all fronts and a large pool of organizations poised to leverage both. Speed continues to matter.

2. Leaders and their organizations are becoming agiler.

A McKinsey survey of more than 2,500 organizations of different sizes, specialties and regions reported that “37 percent of respondents said their organizations are carrying out company-wide agile transformations, and another 4 percent said their companies have fully implemented such transformations. The shift is driven by proof that small, multidisciplinary teams of agile organizations can respond swiftly and promptly to rapidly changing market opportunities and customer demands.”

As leaders, it’s important to adopt a nimble mindset and culture. Being nimble means paying attention to trends and identifying small “experiments” you can run to keep up with or even ahead of the changes happening around you. Once you are clear about what will work for you and how it will work, pilot that change. Truly agile companies are always experimenting.

3. Organizations and their people must accelerate their pace of learning.

With an increase in agility, people and organizations will need to accelerate learning. In 1978, Harvard Business School Professor Emeritus Chris Argyris wrote Organizational Learning: A Theory of Action Perspective. This work continues to evolve and increase in importance, as learning provides a competitive advantage.

Take, for example, how organizations are automating more work. Employees who continue to learn and update their skills will be able to find new roles, while others who are not continually learning will be left unemployed or underemployed as their roles diminish.

4. Age range in the workforce will continue to expand.

As life expectancy continues to increase, many people will want to and need to work longer. Organizations will need to find ways to attract and engage older workers. They will also need to address the dynamics created when multiple generations of employees are working together on the same team.

With the decrease of age-based seniority, leadership will be taken by the best person for the role and will likely shift frequently in an agile environment. Organizations need to be creative in promoting engagement and teamwork across multiple generations.

5. Leaders need to identify and build talent at an increasing rate.

As technology evolves and organizations change more quickly, employees need to learn faster, and organizations need to identify workers to fill changing talent needs. Some of these needs will fall in the technology space, but not all.

We referenced older employees remaining in the workforce and returning. We also need to find ways to engage talent who have been previously overlooked. This could mean people leaving incarceration, people with disabilities who would, in fact, be great fits for certain roles, or adults who work from home because they are caregivers to their children or parents, to name a few.

6. Employee engagement will continue to be important in volatile times.

The importance of human interaction will continue to increase even as more of the workforce is working remotely – many rarely, if ever, meeting their colleagues. Leaders and organizations need to focus on soft skills such as emotional intelligence that have a strong impact on engagement and the effort employees put into communicating.

7. Communities must come together to solve quality-of-life and economic issues.

With the level of change, segments of the economy can easily be excluded from the workforce. The gap between economic haves (those with education, access and resources) and have-nots can increase, and the cost can be significant for the individuals, families and businesses impacted by a worker shortage.

Successful regions create organizations to tackle these challenges. This means organizations that traditionally compete for resources and clients also need to work together to solve challenges that impact them.

8. Effective leaders are conscious of their impact across a broad range of factors and stakeholders.

As we talk about conscious capitalism, the main idea is that “conscious” organizations tend to the health of a broad range of stakeholders. It becomes increasingly important to pay attention to the needs of competing stakeholders and balance these demands. Conscious capitalism is one mechanism that helps leaders explore the broader range of stakeholders and understand their drivers.

Business is getting more complicated and requires leaders to continually update their skills as well as their mindset and focus. This article summarizes some of my key learnings.

As a leader, are you seeing similar trends? What’s missing? What are you doing to prepare yourself and your organization to succeed during the next four years?

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

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, 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.

Maureen Metcalf, CEO of Metcalf & Associates is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, coach and consultant.

The Position Success Indicator (PSI): Your Job Fit Solution for the Future of Work

This blog is a guest post by Mark Palmer as a companion to the November, 13 Voice America show interview with Mr. Palmer, Managing Partner, Hire-Directions and Principal, Innovative Leadership Institute. The interview focuses on the Position Success Indicator assessment to help hone find where they fit professionally. 


The future of work is already here: the gig economy, automation, and artificial intelligence. These trends are part of a growing narrative that suggest an increasingly complex and unpredictable workforce.

Studies indicate that by 2025, the global population will reach nearly 10 billion people, with only 15% of that population living and working in high-income economies. In fact, according to a recent Oxford Study, it’s predicted that 47% of jobs will disappear in the next 25 years.


Workforce disruptions already force you to make employment decisions faster, smarter, and more often than any previous generation of professionals. Consequently, the coming era of work will produce thrivers, strivers, and survivors.

To thrive in this future workforce—and to navigate new realities while staying authentic to your dreams and interests—you will need a better way to prepare, respond, and adapt to a constant stream of occupational change.


Two-thirds of your adult waking life will be spent creating and maintaining a livelihood. Your ability to make quality professional decisions, quickly and consistently, is more critical than ever.

This ability to adapt and intelligently respond to new professional situations will require occupational fitness: the capacity to quickly identify the right opportunities, communicate how you add value, and consistently choose ventures that align with your strengths and competencies.


“Quantified self”, or life-logging technology, has transformed the way we maximize physical fitness. If you’ve used an activity tracker or a DNA kit, you’re already familiar with how “quantified self” can be used to improve wellness goals.

Using a new breakthrough called “talent DNA” sequencing, this “quantified self” technology can now be applied to support professional wellness, too. It builds on current life-logging advancements to accelerate occupational fitness, and can be used to enhance job matching and career mapping.


Every person has a unique “talent DNA” code, or occupational talent signature made of [32] quantifiable performance markers. These markers correlate with specific job requirements used by organizations to build roles.

The Position Success Indicator (PSI) reveals key professional knowledge—based on your exclusive “talent DNA”—that can be used to match you to the right jobs, build resumes, setup interview strategies, uncover career advancement opportunities, and enhance your networking capability.

We encourage you to take the PSI assessment. You get free overview results and can purchase more detailed report. You can use the results of your report to take the actions recommended below and also use them when you listen to the interview with Mark.


PSI reveals how you ideally fit an organization’s goals, team projects, and job requirements. You get precise, custom language needed to communicate YOUR unique value in ways that will speak to executives, clients, and venture partners.

Once you take the free assessment, maximize your results—combined with the Professional and Interview Success Plans—in two (2) simple steps:


Use the plans to identify your operational strengths and fit with common organizational goals, projects, and job roles:

  1. Trace your universal job fit using the world’s only position requirements blueprint used to design ALL jobs (Professional Success Plan, Alignment Plan)
  2. Locate your operational impact points (Alignment Plan highlighted strengths)
  3. Identify your high level fit – best fit with organization needs (Professional Success Plan, Org Fit Map)
  4. Identify your detailed level fit – best fit with specific job functions (Professional Success Plan, Alignment Plan, Jobs Matrix, Requirements Insert)
  5. Pinpoint your “thrive zones” – fit with key performance objectives, where you will be most successful in jobs and career development (and understand where you WON’T)


Utilize the free results and plans to enhance your professional CV, resume, social media, and live interactions:

  • Use the Professional Summary (your free professional brand statement):
    • as an opening for professional social media, CV, and resume descriptions
    • to create a 30-second networking “pitch” (don’t just network, FIT-work!)
    • as a companion to your custom interviewing strategy (Interview Success Plan)
  • Use the Requirements Insert in the Professional Success Plan to summarize your value (your strengths converted to an organizational grade “job description”):
    • submit this insert with your resume, and stand out in interviews and job fairs
    • use with recruiters and hiring managers to assess fit for new jobs or performance reviews
    • use in cover letter style emails used in conjunction with job applications
    • get the right wording to communicate with executives or project stakeholders to articulate where you fit and add value


Our talent coding technology gives you the opportunity to personally make a difference in improving the future workforce by participating in a new kind of research—online, from anywhere.

By taking PSI, you are contributing your unique “talent DNA”, thereby helping to build the world’s first generation talent genome library.

This global “talent DNA” data repository will be used to enhance future workforce readiness, and to improve job design, job matching and recruiting. It will also optimize merit-based diversity, and protect workers everywhere from displacements caused by increasing job and market disruptions.

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

Mark Palmer is co-creator of the Position Success Indicator; The Job Fit Calculator; and LaborGenome™ Talent Mapping technology.

He is co-author of the Innovative Leader Fieldbook, and senior editor for the Innovative Leadership Guide to Transforming Organizations. Mark is also a consultant, and Principal and Advisor with the Innovative Leadership Institute., a management consulting firm offering progressive leadership development, team building and organizational effectiveness. He was also a TEDx OSU Speaker in 2012.

The Difference Between Entitlement and Awareness

This post is written by guest Eric Termuende as a companion to his interview, Changing the Way We Think About Work on the Voice America Radio Show, “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” on July 3, 2018.

We’ve all heard the stereotypes around the Millennial generation. They’re narcissistic, job-hop, aren’t loyal, and most of all, entitled. They think they deserve more than they work for, and have unrealistic expectations. Right? Isn’t that what we’re lead to believe when we talk about a generation that populates such a large portion of the workplace? It seems like it, but doesn’t necessarily have to.

The Millennial demographic, as big as it is, is brought up in a technological world that didn’t exist for the generation the preceded it. This generation has better access to internet, cell phones, social media, and information that simply wasn’t nearly as accessible as it was 15-20 years ago. Job postings aren’t posted on a cork board and the resumé is only a small portion of what educating a potential employer looks like.

This means that the expectations are bigger because this next generation knows what can, and is being done.

Let’s take fairly recent news that came out of Sweden, for example. In Sweden, there is talk about moving to a 6 hour work day. Now, as someone in Canada who may not like their job, there are two options. The first is to apply for a job in Sweden with the hopes that the application will be accepted and I can work only six hours a day. The second is that I could ask my employer or government why it is that Sweden is the only country that is doing this, and why we can’t look at a similar practice here in our hometown.

Another example would be around office aesthetics. One office may have a beautiful open concept style and another may be stuck in the ‘70’s with cubicles that limit communication and interaction between employees. Because of the hyper-connected world we live in, information about these great places to work is spreading faster than it ever has before. As a result, people are asking ‘why not me too?’.

No, things haven’t changed around what people need to do to progress another step in the organization, or to work in a more efficient manner by changing the structure and aesthetics of the office, but the way we talk about it might. People need to know that the grass will always be greener, the story is always bigger than the one that is being told, and that there are always exceptions. It is too easy for a story to be posted and go viral, only to be the flavor of the hour and forgotten about shortly after, while still having impact on the people in the office and what they are aware could be taking place.

The world of work is ever changing and the ways we work and the environments we work in are changing just as quickly. Telling stories of the newest office space are nice, but rarely do they paint a full picture of what the office culture is, or what it is like to work there. The next generation is right to ask about the opportunity to advance the workplace they are in, but shouldn’t have expectations to do so. There needs to be open communication within the office from the top-down and from the bottom-up to ensure that the environment created is one the provides the tools necessary and the environment that allows people to naturally do the best work they possible can. This awareness and hyper connectivity, paired with curiosity and desire to change, adapt, and grow, shouldn’t be confused with entitlement, which is a completely different topic.

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

Eric Termuende is on a mission to change the way we talk about work and get fulfillment from it. A bestselling author, speaker, and entrepreneur, Eric is co-founder of NoW Innovations, and Lead Content Strategist for True Calling Canada., Eric has been featured in Forbes, Inc., Thrive Global, the Huffington Post and many others. In 2015, Eric was recognized as a Top 100 Emerging Innovators under 35 globally by American Express. Eric sat as Community Integration Chair for Global Shapers Calgary, a community that functions under the World Economic Forum. He is a former Canadian G20 YEA Delegate, representing Canada in Sydney in 2014. Eric is currently signed by the National Speakers Bureau and travels the world talking about the future of work and multiple generations in the workplace. In 2016, Eric spoke at TEDxBCIT in Vancouver giving his presentation entitled ‘Bigger than Work.’ Eric has worked and spoken with clients across the world. His new book, Rethink Work is now available on Amazon.

Build Your Team & Communicate, Part One – Eric’s Story

Everyone teachesI’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. In this step, you will create a strong support group to provide insight and feedback as you pursue short-term and/or long-term goals. In this post (part of the overall step), we will review selection criteria for your support team and do a worksheet to help connect goals with potential support team members.

Support Team Selection Criteria

 When establishing selection criteria, consider that each goal may call for a different type of team member. You might use someone with lots of experience as a mentorship, or you might use someone with equal experience with whom you work together in a partnership role. Before getting into specific criteria, it is important to keep in mind that some seemingly great candidates are people who always tell you what you want to hear, and are afraid to offer constructive criticism because they think they might offend you somehow. Either avoid choosing them, or, if possible, tell them that you will need constructive criticism to grow, and that you will not be offended if they communicate feedback/criticism in a respectful way. Also consider this list of factors as a starting point to developing your support team:

  • Performance: Consider selecting people who have mastery in concepts, skills or behaviors that you would like to develop. These people may have expertise in your field or a field you would like to explore. On the other hand, these people may have strong internal abilities (EQ/resilience, motivation, etc.) or external abilities (“hard skills” such as health, fitness, productivity, time management skills, etc.). They may also be just overall good, caring and respected people.
  • Friends, Family and Roommates: People very close to you in your personal life are effective candidates because they already know about you and your past, and you have a firmly established sense of trust. You may see them on a fairly regular basis, so communication would not be an issue. They might also help you balance your goal with other commitments, such as academic, professional and family commitments, since they might already have an understanding of these aspects of your life.
  • Professors, Advisors, Consultants or Therapists: These people are independent experts in the processes of development and providing helpful feedback. They lack natural biases that some friends, family and roommates may have. These people exist in any personal and professional field that you can imagine.
  • Willingness and Ability to Commit Time to Your Development: It’s critical to understand the mutual needs of you and your support team members. Consider how a candidate can benefit from helping you and to make time for them to provide the feedback you desire. Prepare to be flexible when making plans with support team candidates. Consider volunteering in an organization that your candidate is in to establish the mutual benefit, or helping them with some task in order to expedite its completion, giving them time to provide the feedback you desire. A good example of this is an internship – you help an experienced professional with some work, and in return you get feedback and knowledge.

Support Team Worksheet

Considering the factors listed above, and your plans and goals from the previous innovative leadership steps, replicate the Support Team Worksheet in Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheet, and then fill in your answers. Save it on a cloud storage program for more convenience. My answers are in italics.

Eric Support Worksheet

Now you have an idea of what type of support you need based on your goals, and criteria to help you select the ideal support team. The next part in the Build Your Team & Communicate process is the communication part. Communication is vital to effective leadership. In the next post, you’ll learn how to effectively communicate with each support team member, no matter how diverse your support team is.

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.

If you are interested in receiving Eric’s ongoing blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com Celestine Chua

How Does Stakeholder Input Fit Into Strategic Planning?

Large group planning kitkat3756 ccWe often work with leaders who are looking for ways to integrate stakeholder input into the process of strategic planning in a way that is productive for all involved. This post looks at a planning process I co-facilitated that is designed to integrate multiple stakeholder groups.

Founded in 1850, Urbana University is a private university offering a liberal arts education that emphasizes student learning through individual attention, excellence in instruction, career-oriented programs, and critical thinking. The University has the feel of a small college environment that is small enough to foster close connections between faculty and students, and large enough to provide cutting-edge programs.

The planning committee determined that they wanted input from several stakeholder groups including: students, parents, faculty, administrators, the community, local employers, and board members. Each group was represented with total attendance being approximately 100 participants.

The first half of the session was designed to capture input from these groups broken into tables to promote conversation across constituent groups. Each table answered the following questions in 30- minute discussions:

  • Who do we serve?
  • What do they want from us?
  • What are we willing and able to do for them?
  • What is important?

Next, participants moved to new tables of their choice. They reviewed the answers from the prior conversations  and answered a second set of questions:

  • What are we doing well that we should continue to do?
  • What are we doing that we should either improve upon or discontinue?
  • What are we recognized for in the community?
  •  What community/student/parent perception of Urbana University is the most negative and damaging to our image?
  • What differentiates Urbana University from other universities in the local area?

During these discussions, participants wrote on large sheets of paper to be shared with the entire group. During break everyone was encouraged to walk around and read the comments from other groups.

The next exercise involved getting recommendations for change based on key topics. This activity was based on the “open space” idea where people stand up and invite conversation on a topic they find compelling. Each group discussed the topic in detail. We had twelve topics, including:

  •   Communications
  •   Academic Standards
  •   Liberal Arts Perspective
  •   Life and Career Planning
  •   Thriving in Global Society
  •   Air/Drone Technology of the Future
  •   Maximizing Use of Physical Facility
  •   Relationships with Industry
  •   Branding
  •   Retention
  •   Student Services
  •   What Differentiates the University?

Each participant then had five stick-on-dots with which they voted for the topics they thought were most important. After reading the recommendations from each group and voting, participants from each group gathered in a large circle and discussed their thoughts and reflections on what they learned from the process.

After the group discussions and voting, everyone joined in a larger group to discuss what they were taking away from the discussion. The observations were very insightful from all stakeholder groups and promoted a greater level of communication across the multiple groups—something that does not happen organically on a daily basis.

If you are conducting a planning session, or trying to gather information and promote engagement in an important process, you may want to consider large group activities to gather input from the many people who have a stake in your success. While stakeholder input is critical for many organizations, note that the job of the planning committee and leaders is to distill the many points of view into a single cohesive plan that will best serve the organization.

This input will be integrated into the second step of planning that involves crafting/refining the current mission, defining strategic goals,  and developing actionable plans to accomplish strategic goals. By understanding the stakeholder expectations, we can create a plan that is most effective in balancing the needs of a large group of stakeholders.

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 kittykat3756

Five Steps to Nonprofit Strategic Planning

StrategyThe following post was developed by Dani Robbins, our nonprofit expert and owner of Nonprofit Evolution. She is also the coauthor of the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Nonprofit Executives winner of the 2012 USA Book Award – Best Business Reference Book.

“Strategic  planning is a process in which the board, staff, and select constituents decide the future direction of an organization and allocate resources, including people, to ensure that target goals are reached. Having a board-approved, staff-involved strategic plan that includes effective measurements and the  allocation of resources aligns the organization, provides direction to all levels of staff and board, and defines the path for the future of the organization. It also allows leadership, both board and staff, to reject divergent paths that will not lead to the organization’s intended destination.” Innovative Leadership Workbook for Nonprofit Executives

All organizations should have a strategic plan.  Strategic plans get everyone on same page as to where you are as an organization and where you are going.  They allow the group to decide the goals moving forward; create measurements to determine if you met your goals and assign responsibility and due dates for specific goals. While we often hear that in changing times it no longer makes sense to invest time in strategic planning, we believe that it is even more important to have a plan with the expectation that it will be refined regularly based on changes internally and externally.

In the absence of a plan, there are still moving parts, but they’re not aligned. The absence of a plan sets the stage for people to do what they feel is best, sometimes without enough information, which may or may not be right for the organization. It opens the door for one person’s vision to get implemented and others to feel unheard or unengaged.  The absence of a plan allows for major decisions to be made on the fly and for potentially mission driven decisions to be compromised.  As we all know, movement goes in other directions than forward.

Strategic Planning is a process that results in not only a document but also a shared understanding among key stakeholders.  The process – and the document – can be very long or very short.  (I have a new theory that the longer strategic plan is, the less likely it is to be used.)  It doesn’t have to be a huge, multi-level process that includes benchmarking and a community needs assessment, but it can be if you have the inclination and the resources. For some organizations, primarily larger ones or those just starting out, a community needs assessment may be critical.  I don’t generally recommend them for established social services agencies.  Most social service agencies are pretty clear on the need and there is ample documentation to support their assessment.  In those cases, an environmental scan, coupled with an issue exercise and/or a SWOT analysis may be sufficient.

Regardless of if you select to do benchmarking and have a needs assessment or not, Strategic Planning should include:

  1. Values, Mission and Vision setting or recommitment. I always start with values as I believe they set the tone for everything that follows.  What are your organizational values?  What words reflect the way your organization operates, and the way your team talks to and about your clients?  What words infuse and reflect your organizational culture? The mission statement answers why your organizations exist. A vision is a description of what the organization will look like at a specified time in the future. There are two minds in the field as to if a vision statements should be a utopian view such as “an end to hunger” or a more concrete view such as “to be the premier youth development organization.”  I lean toward the latter; I find it challenging to set goals to get to utopia.
  2. History  of the organization, its footprint and current services,  an environmental scan and additional information, as necessary. Planning should include some discussion of critical information regarding program and operations, organizational challenges, community landscape, technology, finances, budget, both human resource and resource development capacities and systems, and the processes and development of the Board of Directors.
  3. Set Strategies to meet the Vision. Strategies answer what we need to do to get where we want to go – to close the gap between the current reality and our vision.  Strategies are broad-based statements that define the path for the organization (rather than the ongoing work of the organization).
  4. Set Goals to meet Strategies. Discuss what has to happen to get you where you want to go.  What do you need to add, subtract or change to get there?  What has to happen to implement your strategies?
  5. Develop Goals into Work Plans with assignments and due dates. Create a plan to meet those goals by including who will do the work and by when.

Once the strategic plan is complete, create a reporting mechanism and discussion opportunities at future board meetings. Strategic planning is one of the five components of Board Governance. Board members should participate in the process and vote on the outcome.

The Board should also assign who will ensure the plan’s success. The options, in order of effectiveness, are the Strategic Planning Committee Chair, Board President, another board member or the Executive Director.  Executive Directors are traditionally tasked with implementing and stewarding the plan (and being evaluated as such) but they can’t always do it alone; it is helpful to have a board member also ensuring the plan’s implementation.

There are as many types of plan strategies, variations on those strategies and ranges of fees, as there are consultants offering the service.  You don’t have to hire a consultant, but I do recommend you have an outside objective facilitator to help you.

A strategic plan should be a living document that guides the organization and provides a point for ongoing programmatic and organizational evaluation.  It should not sit on a shelf.

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 Taylor Burnes

Innovative Leadership – What is Your Development Path?

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

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

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

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

Innovative Leadershp Development Continuum

Using the Continuum to Create a Development Plan

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

Reflection Questions:

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

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

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

Proactively Addressing Failures of Leadership

The following blog post was written by Dani Robbins, one of our associates. Dani Robbins is the founder and Principal of Non Profit Evolution, www.nonprofitevolution.com, a consulting firm providing board governance and operational assistance, including capacity building, to non-profit organizations.

I have been thinking about failures of leadership as of late, and not just failures but if and how leaders are trained to respond to potential liabilities (and thereby avoid the failures!).  Since I am guest blogging I will share that I own a non-profit management consulting firm which I started after have spent my career leading non-profits.  My leadership style has evolved and greatly benefited from the brilliant and strategic minds at Boys & Girls Clubs of America.  My lens has also been impacted by my prior work with victims of violence.  The combination has taught me to be mindful of potential liabilities and have a plan to deal with them.  In fact, I have two general theories, and have encouraged my team and my clients over the years to plan accordingly:

  1. Risk management is easier that damage control.
  2. Having a plan will reduce the need for a plan, and allow you to immediately implement the plan rather than figure out a plan in the middle of a crisis.

So with that, I have been wondering about the absence of reaction, follow through and planning from a wide variety of leaders as of late. Here are a few:

  • The Sherriff of Muskingum County, Ohio, who showed tremendous leadership and did everything in his power to protect people and property when the wild animal crisis happened but had no obvious plan to avert its happening, or even to reduce the damage once it happened, which he and other clearly knew it would.
  • Coach Paterno and Coach Tressel who both went down for different things (Yes, Tressel’s failure pales in comparison) yet had either lived up to their formidable reputations, the failures would not have happened at all or for the length of time they happened.  In Paterno’s case, several children were traumatized, and he could have protected them, but didn’t – either because he wasn’t trained to react and follow thru appropriately, or didn’t know he was responsible to protect children, as we all are.

Those are the most well publicized incidences of leadership failure in recent memory, politics aside.   I also have one incidence of leadership success. The Trustees of the Board of Penn State did what was right, instead of what was popular:  They fired the President.  They fired the Coach. They didn’t let him finish the season. They didn’t let him finish the week.  He went home that day, and to his credit, Coach Paterno left in a way that reminded everyone how he earned his reputation in the first place, by acting with class.

I write crisis management and crisis communication plans for my clients, and encourage all companies, for profit or not for profit, to have one.  But a plan is not enough, especially if that plan sits on a shelf.  A plan, coupled with regular training, discussion of scenarios at staff meetings, feedback loops to address issues that had crisis potential, and accountability for action and inaction, all need to be combined to create the kind of leadership that avoids failure by creating plans to manage risk, so they do not have to control damage.

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

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

Innovative Leadership –Evolve your Ability to Innovate

How often have you seen organizations launch an innovative product with minimal impact because the leader running the initiative is stuck in an outdated mindset?  The goal of Innovative Leadership is to help leaders develop innovative thinking and practices that align all areas of the business and are at least as forward thinking as the products and processes they are trying to implement.

As you think about the opposite of innovative leadership and consider why it might be useful for your organizaiton, think about an improvement or change you were excited about and the organization’s leadership thinking and behavior slowed the progress.

How, I would like to give an example of innovative leadership.  A group of executives left a mid-size traditional business to start a technology company.  They are now on plan to deliver the technology services and just landed their first international client.  The leaders, who started the company, demonstrated innovative leadership qualities over the next year by launching an offering they believed in, hiring innovative people, and creating a culture and systems that supported the new offering.  The new company, Haladon Technologies, Inc is successful on all traditional business measures from financial, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and being a socially conscious business partner.

What did they do that the parent company did not?  They practiced innovative leadership.  Successful, sustainable innovation starts with the leaders taking an innovative approach to leadership as well as services, products and business processes.

We define innovative leadership as:

  • Strategic leadership that inspires individual goals and organizations vision and cultures;
  • Tactical leadership that influences an individual’s actions and the organizations systems.
  • Holistic Leadership that aligns all key dimensions:  Individual, cultural, behavioral and systematic.

Despite their collective importance, conventional applications of leadership and innovation have often proved elusive and even problematic in real-world scenarios.  For example: if the leadership team of a struggling organization drives initiatives that focus solely on innovative changes to incentives, products, and services—without also advancing  strategic purpose and team effectiveness—they will still miss the vast potential to create meaningful growth. Productivity and system improvements are undoubtedly critical, but how employees engage with their work experience is equally vital.  Implementing innovation in the areas of products and services   without also addressing the team environment and support of company culture can often result in lop-sided decision making and short-sighted leadership.

Knowing that the future of organizations is irreversibly tied to a world of erratic change, you can no longer afford to improve your systems and offerings without equally advancing your capacity for leadership. Qualities such as empathy and the ability to inspire cultural alignment offer your organization significant merit, and need to be implemented as shrewdly as strategic planning.

Innovative leadership requires you to transform the way you perceive others, your businesses and yourself as a leader. By vigorously looking into your own experience—including motivations, inclinations, interpersonal skills and proficiencies—you can optimize your effectiveness in ways that are deeply resonate with your work.  It is important to balance the technical and functional skills you have acquired with meaningful introspection, all the while setting the stage for further growth.  In essence, you discover how to strategically and tactically innovate the way you perform every part of your business.

Innovative leadership is inspiring strategy and influencing implementation through an explicit balancing of four core dimensions: Individual, cultural, behavioral and systematic.

Are you considering improving your ability to be an innovative leader?  If so, take this free on-line Innovative Leadership assessment to determine where you fall on the innovative leadership scale.  If you are looking for tools to help develop you ability to be an innovative leader, check out the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook.  Metcalf & Associates offers assessments, coaching and workshops to help you and your leadership team become more innovative.

By Maureen Metcalf & Mark Palmer

Photocredit:  mikeblogs

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.

Changing Landscape of Work Requires Changing Your Mindset

An important element of being an innovative leader is the ability to look out on the horizon, spot trends and integrate those trends into his/her personal understanding of the world, behavior, the culture of the company and the company systems and processes.

I have been working on an IT Attract and Retain Talent study for TechColumbus in Central Ohio.  While unemployment is still relative high in our region, there are many jobs open in IT and the rate is growing.  During this study, one trend that emerged as interesting to me is the change in what work looks like for many people.  While we have read about the trend of more people being self-employed or freelancers, this recent recession is making this trend an increasing reality very quickly.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, June 13, 2011:  “Freelance jobs: Half of all new jobs in recovery?  Freelance jobs are up 52 percent at Elance. The number of entrepreneurs are at a 15-year high. But the growth in freelance jobs means less security for the workforce.

As America’s jobs recovery begins to take hold, one sector is growing faster than ever: freelancing.  There’s reason to celebrate. Many Americans are bypassing the corporate ladder to strike out on their own – doing everything from graphic design to iPhone programming. But there’s also reason to worry. Others are becoming entrepreneurs by necessity, forced to take freelance jobs because they cannot find regular jobs.  Desperation, rather than inspiration, seems to be the major force behind the trend. And the surge isn’t over.”

What is a response of an innovative leader to this trend?  I suggest the first response is to think about what it means in four different basic dimensions that impact our personal and professional success:

  1. What does the high level of freelance workers mean for me?  Do I have a secure job?  For how long?  What do I believe about this trend?
  2. Given what I am seeing in the marketplace, what should I do personally to respond?  Am I taking all of the appropriate steps to manage my career proactively?
  3. How does the change in workforce align with our company culture?  Do we hire freelance workers?  Do we create an environment that supports them adding optimal value to the company?
  4. Are the company systems set up to leverage this freelance workforce to improve our market position?  Are we easy for the most talented or hard to find workers to work with?

To address #1 and 2 above, I want to reference a wonderful book by Janine Moon, a friend and the author of: Career Ownership – Creating Job Security in Any Economy.  She provides a discreet set of tools available that will help you:

  • Define your best work direction
  • Examine your mindset for sabotage
  • Map and create your own job security
  • Approach potential mentors and make it easy for them to say yes
  • Gain the confidence to move from “renting” to “owning” your career

What are you doing to look across the horizon at the trends and create your own personal security?

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.