Leading in Turbulent Times: What are International Leaders Saying?

As I write this article, I’m excited to reflect on the 2017 ILA global conference theme, Leadership in Turbulent Times, and share wisdom gleaned from 12 Voice America interviews I conducted in Brussels at the conference last October. This is the second year I have interviewed keynote presenters, top speakers, political leaders, board members, and organizers in the role of media partner. The interviews resulting from this collaboration began airing  January 9, 2018: Leaders Building on A Moral Purpose to Create A Just World with Jorrit Volkers, Dean Deloitte University EMEA and George Papandreou, Former Prime Minister of Greece. See full list of interviews with links at the end of this post.

With a necessary focus right now on terrorist attacks and geopolitical instability across continents, and with the increase of populism as well as the impact of the rapid pace of technological advances, the logical theme of the conference was “Leadership in Turbulent Times.” It sounds ominous, right? The word turbulence typically creates anxiety and fear because it is never associated with something promising or hopeful. It is defined as conflict, confusion, and unsteady movement. I’d like, however, to offer a new way to think about turbulence. Change is never a result of stagnation, and only by churning ideas and challenging old schemata can we evolve. Turbulence, therefore, offers new opportunities across a broad range of sectors. While the challenges are more complex, and the world feels less safe, we have greater opportunities to make positive change than at any other time in recent history.

Turbulence is an ongoing condition to be managed, not a problem to be solved. Here is a summary of my key take-aways from presentations, conversations, and twelve hours of interviews I conducted for VoiceAmerica.

  1. Leadership is an interplay between our individual purpose and values, our behaviors, organizational culture, and systems and processes. It requires continual adjustment to maintain alignment between all four elements, an adjustment that is akin to a finely choreographed dance. It is ongoing and requires continuous attention and expertise. All aspects of the dance start with leadership having a self-awareness of purpose and values. This self-awareness provides the inner compass from which the leader leads the organization.
  2. Purpose and self-awareness are the foundation of effective leadership. Self-awareness is not an activity to accomplish once. It is a practice to be done regularly and routinely. When asked, most people want to make the world better than they found it. Leaders who can translate this sense of purpose into their unique commitment to action in the world are more effective as leaders because they have a North Star to guide their actions. When they share this purpose with those they lead, they build trust and inspire commitment.
  3. Reflection takes time—and it is a requirement. Reflection and meditation provide a physiological advantage by impacting the neural network in your brain. One of the precepts of self-awareness is the “moment of awareness” when we take a deep breath, pause, and ask ourselves what outcome we want in a moment. This brief pause allows us to be fully present and clear before we take our next step. The ability to pause and reflect, for a moment or longer, allows leaders to stay centered and grounded in times of high pressure.
  4. Leaders have many roles, including chief culture officer. Culture leaders are akin to musical conductors. Through their actions and attitude, they set the tone of the organization and the underlying agreements supporting that tone. In doing so, leaders create the culture in organizations that supports the purpose and values they claim to hold. Organizations living their purpose do not show it in a poster on the wall but through the underlying rhythm and music of a strong dance performance. The conductor becomes the music that inspires, sets the tempo and tone, and informs action. If the rhythm changes, so do the movements of the dancers. A strong culture offers a competitive advantage and makes successful organizations hard or impossible to emulate. One recommendation I heard repeatedly is that leaders need to create a culture of openness and safety. Awareness of the culture provides leaders with multiple perspectives so that they can adjust quickly to changes in the environment.
  5. Leaders need to inspire followership and know when to follow. Leaders are those formally recognized for their leadership role, some of them have the title of leader and others do not. We rarely talk about leaders as followers. Most leaders report to someone including boards of directors. Leaders need to learn to both lead and follow. They also need to teach those who follow them how they would like to be followed. Back to the metaphor of the dance, each dancer is different, the interplay between different leaders and followers is unique even with the same music. Another topic generally not discussed, but highlighted at this conference, is the idea of ethical dissent — when we chose not to follow and how we courageously hold our leaders accountable.
  6. People want to perform effectively. Organizational systems need to support peoples’ positive intentions and skills. Spend less time creating systems to weed out shirkers and poor performers and more time creating a culture that enables people with purpose to do the work that fulfills them and that concurrently serves the organization’s mission and success.
  7. Teams have become far more important in the current environment. Effective teams are based on the members’ ability to communicate effectively, often across the globe. A key factor in effective team interactions is building relationships with individuals. This is best done in person and, then, can be sustained remotely. There is no substitute for strong relationships when navigating complex work.
  8. Effective communication and learning organizations have become more important with the complexity of the challenges and geographic dispersion of teams. Communication requires both strong listening skills and the ability to speak simply and concisely, including attending to conflict and complexity when necessary. It also means unflinching accountability. Leaders must be accountable for their role when problems arise, and look forward with vision of the future rather than looking back and fault finding. It is important to learn from challenges and mistakes and remain agile in the face of ongoing change. Vision forward and data analysis backward creates learning organizations.
  9. Organizations must align their purpose with that of the stakeholders within as well as with clients, and the local and global community. Making a profit is the fuel for company survival, but it is not the fuel to thrive. Companies must find the intersection between company success and social action in order to make a positive profit while, at the same time, making a positive social impact. John Heiser, the President & Chief Operating Officer of Magnetrol International, gave a beautiful example of hiring autistic adults to perform tasks for which they are best qualified. This approach allows the company to attract and retain people whose skills match their jobs as well as provide meaningful work for people in the community who often don’t find opportunities. He gave several examples of how companies could align their interests with those of the community.
  10. Global peace and security depend on recognizing our innate nature to be peaceful. When we follow our true nature, we are peaceful beings. Conference presenters and attendees I interacted with talked about the intersection of creating individual conditions in which people can express their inner goodness and, at the same time, create cultures and systems that promote peaceful work and lives.

I left the conversations feeling hopeful that compassionate, wise, and highly-successful academics, executives, politicians, and military leaders are sharing their best thinking with one another at the conference and beyond. They forge and renew relationships, and identify new opportunities to collaborate to make positive change. This forum is one in which leadership as an art and science evolves through people and their interactions.

9 Jan. 2018Leaders Building on Moral Purpose to Create a Just World

Interviewee: Jorrit Volkers, Dean, Deloitte University EMEA & George Papandreou, Former Prime Minister of Greece

16 Jan. 2018Maximizing Profit and Social Impact Concurrently – A Case Study

Interviewee: John Heiser, ILA Board Member; President & Chief Operating Officer, Magnetrol International, Incorporated

23 Jan. 2018 How Do We Work and Live with Purpose and Compassion?

Interviewee: Éliane Ubalijoro, ILA Board Member; Professor of Practice, Institute for the Study of International Development, McGill University, Canada; Member, Presidential Advisory Council for Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Rwanda

30 Jan. 2018Dialogical Leadership: Understanding How It Impacts Success

Interviewee: Rens van Loon, ILA Board Member; Professor & Consultant specialized in leadership and organizational change and transformation.

6 Feb. 2018 Creating Mindful Organizations

Interviewee: Subhanu Saxena, Regional Director Life Science Partnerships, Europe at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation & Michelle Harrison, Global CEO, Kantar Public, the WPP Group public policy consulting and research business.

13 Feb. 2018 How Would We Lead If We Believed Humans Were a Peaceful Species?

Interviewee: Mike Hardy, ILA Board Member; Founding and Executive Director of the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University, UK.

20 Feb. 2018 Inner Peace Nurtures Global Impact

Interviewee: Kathryn Goldman Schuyler, Organizational Consultant, Leadership Coach, Public Speaker and Author; Editor of Creative Social Change: Leadership for a Healthy World

27 Feb. 2018 The Dance Between Leadership and Followership

Interviewee: Margaret Heffernan, Author of five books, Lead Faculty for the Forward Institute’s Responsible Leadership Program & Ira Chaleff, Founder and President of Executive Coaching and Consulting Associates

6 Mar. 2018 Values and Storytelling to Deliver Results

Interviewee: Sebastian Salicru, Director of PTS Consultants, an Associate of Melbourne Business School – Executive Education, and Fellow of the Institute of Coaching (McLean/Harvard Medical School) & Michelle Harrison, Global CEO, Kantar Public, the WPP Group public policy consulting and research business.

13 Mar. 2018 Leveraging Polarities in Complex and Turbulent Times

Interviewee: Barry Johnson, Creator of the first Polarity Map® and set of principles; author

27 Mar. 2018 The Nexis of Leadership and Practice – Royal Dutch Shell and ILA

Interviewee: Jeroen van der Veer, Former CEO of Royal Dutch Shell plc & Cynthia Cherry, President and CEO of the International Leadership Association

I hope this article inspires you to listen to select interviews or, even better, the entire interview series! Interviews from 2016 are being used in academic and professional leadership development programs around the world. I encourage you to share this information freely. This complimentary set of interviews are content rich, exposing listeners to the subtleties required to build leadership acumen, and give insight into those who have made a commitment to work and to live at the intersection between exceptional research and practice in leadership.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

About the Author

Maureen Metcalf, CEO and Founder of Metcalf & Associates, is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, and coach whose 30 years of business experience provides high-impact, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership development and organizational transformations. Maureen is recognized as an innovative, principled thought leader who combines intellectual rigor and discipline with an ability to translate theory into practice. Her operational skills are coupled with a strategic ability to analyze, develop, and implement successful strategies for profitability, growth, and sustainability.

Trends and Projections For Leaders in 2018

This post is a companion to the interview with Dr. Dale Meyerrose, Retired Air Force Major General. on  VoiceAmerica “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” on December 26, 2017, 2017 Retrospective and 2018 Projections with Dale Meyerrose.

Endings or beginnings? How do you choose to view the close of a year and the unfolding of a new one? Self-aware and strong leaders pause for reflection throughout the year, these dates, however, are great reminders to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going. As 2017 wraps up, I want to close by highlighting trends we saw this year and what they might mean as we look at 2018.

  1. Volatility continues to increase. We continue to see record-setting natural disasters whose recovery stretches government infrastructures. We are seeing technology raise questions about venerable institutions with the strengthening awareness of crypto-currencies and blockchain. On the human front, the #metoo trend is the latest to disrupt the existing power structure.
  2. Anticipate trends as much as possible. Highly effective leaders are looking at the trends across a range of categories to determine those that are likely to impact us. Because so many disruptions come from nontraditional sources, it is no longer sufficient to look at only industries in which we’re involved. How do you monitor trends within and outside of your industry?
  3. Resilience is more important than ever. As leaders, we need to respond to volatility with grace and instill confidence in those who follow us. We need to have the capacity—with clear thinking and energy—to process the challenges that we face as well as those that face our organizations. Do you have practices that allow you to remain focused in times of challenge such as reflection, mindfulness, meditation, or prayer?
  4. Continue to build skills. The most effective leaders continually learn and grow, building on their already solid foundation. With the pace of change, all of us need to make time in our increasingly demanding schedules to refine our skills and expand our base of knowledge.
  5. Reconnect with your core. It is no longer enough to just do an adequate job, it is important to have a sense of purpose and an inner compass. Before my holiday travels, I will take my car to my mechanic to ensure it is in top working order for travel through the snow and mountains. I try to do the same with my purpose and inner compass, I take time at the end of the year, which happens to correspond with my birthday, to reflect on the past year and think about the upcoming one and, most importantly, identify which of my beliefs no longer serve me. This is different than skill building, it is about mindset. If my inner “operating system” is out of date, I am likely to make decisions that don’t work at this juncture in history. Are you making time to look over the year and consider not only what actions you took but also what motivated you to take those action? Are your beliefs and motives still aligned with your goals?

Most cultures reward activity and doing more with less. What we are doing now is leaving most of us exhausted and often overwhelmed. These are not the main characteristics anyone puts on their LinkedIn profile “willing to overwork but often exhausted…” It’s important to consider and rethink how we respond. What I suggest is counter to most cultures: Sometimes the best action is inaction.

So, as we reflect on 2017 and plan 2018, how will you navigate the accelerating demands on your time and energy with the physiological constraints we all face? If you can make changes in your organization, what will you do for yourself to build time to recharge and refresh?

The team at Metcalf & Associates wishes all of you a happy holiday season spent with those you most value in your lives. We hope you take the time to recharge and refresh your body, emotions, and spirit. We are looking forward to doing exactly what we recommend: balancing spending time with family and making time alone for quiet reflection.

Maureen Metcalf, CEO and Founder of Metcalf & Associates, is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, and coach whose 30 years of business experience provides high-impact, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership development and organizational transformations. Maureen is recognized as an innovative, principled thought leader who combines intellectual rigor and discipline with an ability to translate theory into practice. Her operational skills are coupled with a strategic ability to analyze, develop, and implement successful strategies for profitability, growth, and sustainability.

The Best Advice for Leaders

This post is a companion to the interview with Skip Prichard, CEO OCLC on  VoiceAmerica “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” on December 19, 2017Nine Secrets to Creating a Successful Future. The blog was written by Skip. 

One of the best pieces of advice I have ever heard was from Jim Rohn. He said, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”

That struck me as particularly odd at first, but this simple wisdom stuck with me and became a part of my thinking.

“Self-development is a higher duty than self-sacrifice.” –Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to work hard on your job. It will help you stand out, get noticed, and advance your career.

But, if you stop there, you’ll miss out. Working on yourself pays far better than a salary. When you work on your own personal development, you start an almost magical process. Your capabilities expand with each new skill and that sets you up for new opportunities that you likely can’t even imagine.

Take advantage of the magic of personal development, of working harder on yourself than on your job. You’ll be glad you did.

And, I must also mention that my upcoming book, The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future, will help you on the personal development journey. I share the nine personal development secrets that the most successful leaders employ.

About the author

Skip Prichard is an accomplished CEO, growth-oriented business leader, and keynote speaker. He is known for his track record of successful re-positioning companies and dramatically improving results while improving the corporate culture. He is a keynote speaker on topics ranging from leadership, personal development. growth strategies culture, corporate turnarounds, and the future of publishing. His views have been featured in print and broadcast media including the BBC, The New York Times, CNN, NPR, The Daily Beast, Harvard Business Review, Information Today, the Bookseller, Publishers Weekly, Christian Retailing, and the Library journal.

Click here to take advantage of pre-order bonuses, including 3 leadership e-books with every order.

At C-Level #11: Creating a Vision and Sense of Urgency

Mike Sayre is a highly experienced and successful software, e-commerce, and manufacturing services CEO, COO, CFO, and Board Director. He is also the president & COO of Metcalf & Associates, a trusted partner inspiring and enabling perpetual innovation, evolution, and growth in leaders and their businesses. Mike was featured in Maureen Metcalf’s May 2017 Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations interview on VoiceAmerica entitled “7 Characteristics of Leadership 2020 In Practice: A CEO Story.”

In At C-Level #10-18, I write about three of the most successful transformations I’ve had the opportunity to lead in my career so far, following a seven-step transformation model similar to the Metcalf & Associates Innovative Leadership Transformation Model below. This blog is about the first step in the process.

 

Create a Vision & Sense of Urgency

“Starting with the end in mind” is important when beginning any new transformation. However, having a vision of what is at the end of a transformation is not enough. The vision must be so compelling to those leading the transformation and those in the organization being transformed that all involved are impassioned and feel an intense sense of urgency to make it happen.

Do you and your team have a vision you are passionately working toward in your organization? How urgently is everyone working toward that vision? What drives that urgency, or lack thereof?

Here is how the visions were created and the sense of urgency developed in the three transformations I outlined in At C-Level #10:

  • Large Manufacturing Company. Early in my career as a new financial analyst at a $2B heavy manufacturer with over 60 operations worldwide, I wanted to learn all I could about the business and the people in it. I visited plants and met with plant controllers and general managers, I asked lots of questions to better understand their businesses and their needs. The controllers were still using antiquated accounting systems and spreadsheets to produce their monthly financials and had little time for much else. The general managers were anxious to better understand the financial aspects of their operations and the potential new investments they were proposing to Corporate. They wanted more resources, but didn’t understand that they had the right resources in their controllers—they just weren’t using them very efficiently.

The vision became clear to me and I began sharing it with everyone who would listen. The controllers spending most of their time in their offices working on accounting and financial reporting needed to be upgraded to financial business partners in their business units. That vision resonated with both controllers and general managers and catapulted me into leading a significant organizational transformation that affected a large part of the corporation and, up to that point, was the largest transformation project in my career.

What are the challenges in your organization that would have the greatest positive impact if things were changed? Do you have ideas on what those changes should be? Will people see the urgency in making those needed changes?

  • Mid-Size Electronics Manufacturing Services Company. As a new CFO in this company, I led a financial turnaround of an unprofitable $25M company to a $15M profitable one. Three years of significant revenue growth later, we had become a $75M company. However, we were making about the same profits as we did at $15M! I was then promoted to my first CEO job to “fix” it. I immediately jumped into talking with people across the company to get a sense of the challenges we were facing. We were still trying to run a $75M company like we ran the $15M company. Overall people liked the company, but they were lacking general direction, goals, motivation, processes—and more than a little structure. There was a lot of work to be done, but toward what? …and where should we start?

Having never been a CEO, I employed a leadership development coach who made me go deep into myself and define my personal purpose in life, as well as my own personal vision, that I could very closely link to a vision for the company. After much soul-searching, I also wrote draft missions and general operating philosophies for the whole leadership team to help me refine so that all could buy in. Knowing what we were doing was not working, and, with a downturn looming, we could be in serious trouble again, a very high sense of urgency drove us to a vision that was essentially “to be the best in the world at what we do.” As vague as that vision was, being the best in the world (not the biggest) mostly meant we needed to be a vastly different company than we were, in everything from leadership to strategy to execution. It opened people’s minds to substantial change.

The vision was a big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG) and it drew people in. Do you have a BHAG that could energize your organization?

  • Global Internet Payments Company. As a management consultant in this business, I could see that the company was vastly underperforming despite having some great talent and a significant global business opportunity. The business had grown to processing over $200M in payment transactions per year in 200+ countries and was still operating as startup with the same culture it started with for most of its ten years in existence. The organization was operating in silos and simply just tossing their problems over the wall for other departments to fix, which never seemed to happen. People were no longer as happy working there as they once were. A significant cultural transformation was needed to get the company back to higher levels of profitability and prepare it for a possible sale. But what would that look like? And where should we start?

After a few months, I was hired as COO. I immediately drafted missions, visions, and operating guidelines for the executive team to further develop and adopt. We eventually dropped the idea of a stated vision and adopted a mission of “We help our Sellers sell more!” That mission really helped the leadership team focus every day, week, and month. But frankly, it was the combination of the mission, improvement in leadership (we brought in a leadership development coach for the entire leadership team) and the operating guidelines that drove the entire organizational transformation. While not stated, the vision was of a company providing the highest value to its clients (the sellers using its payment services), growing in its financial value, with everyone working in harmony toward those reaching the first two goals. We talked about these three things all the time.

If your vision is not stated, what might be the “behind the scenes” vision for the company? Could it be stated to rally the troops and reach it faster together? Do you talk about your mission and goals on a regular basis?

Key takeaways from these transformations

The larger, more complex and/or faster-evolving an organization’s environment is, the higher the need for a stated vision that everyone can rally around and work toward in transforming the organization to get it to the next level. Does your organization need a stated vision?

To develop a great vision, you must know yourself, your organization, and what will stir deep passion and a sense of urgency within you, as well as the people you will be leading on this journey. Involve the leadership team in the process and get out and talk to others in the organization who have been, or will be, key to the success of the business. If you don’t know where you are going, what path do you follow? How will you know when you’ve arrived?

You don’t have to be a top leader of a large organization to start a transformation. If you can create a vision that…

  • you and others are passionate about,
  • is well thought out,
  • leverages your area(s) of expertise,
  • is widely recognized in the organization,
  • is supported by your leaders, and
  • is believed to be an urgent need with a real return on investment (in other words, a priority),

…and you have the confidence to step up, then you will have the opportunity to lead it. Is there a transformation in your organization waiting for someone to step forward and lead?

And lastly, if there is no sense of urgency, progress will be slow, at best. There is urgency as in a challenge that must be overcome, and urgency as in a destination everyone can’t wait to get too. What drives the urgency of your organization’s progress today? Can you combine the urgency of the challenges you face along the way with the urgency of getting to your destination to speed that progress up?

In “At C-Level #12: Building Transformation Teams,” we’ll look at how the teams were built in these same three organizations and what the key takeaways are that you may need to think about in building your transformation leadership team.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills. You can download the first three chapters of the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers for free.

Thanks for following us! To learn more about transforming organizations and/or get help, visit us at www.Metcalf-Associates.com.

At C-Level #10: Three Successful Transformations, Same Model

Mike Sayre is a highly experienced and successful software, e-commerce, and manufacturing services CEO, COO, CFO, and Board Director. He is also the president & COO of Metcalf & Associates, a trusted partner inspiring and enabling perpetual innovation, evolution, and growth in leaders and their businesses. Mike was featured in Maureen Metcalf’s May 2017 Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations interview on VoiceAmerica entitled “7 Characteristics of Leadership 2020 In Practice: A CEO Story.”

Technology, economics, geopolitics, generational thought processes, your customer’s needs and your competitors’ products and services are all evolving faster than ever:

  • Do you see foundational changes your organization needs to make to ensure the constant innovation and evolution required to keep up?
  • How sustainable is your company with its current business model and offerings? As importantly, how sustainable is its growth?
  • How can you lead, be a major driver, or at least participate and not get run over in a transformational change process?

The “At C-Level” blog series I write is designed to help you think through how you can create the leadership and organizational transformation capacity to ensure your company is positioned to thrive over the long term and well into the future.

In At C-Level #1–8, I wrote about one specific transformation I led and how my leadership skills were tested and developed in my first role as CEO.

In C-Level #10–18, I write about three of the most successful transformations I’ve had the opportunity to lead in my career so far, using a seven-step transformation model that I now know is closely aligned with the Metcalf & Associate’s Innovative Leadership Transformation Model below.

 

This #10 blog will briefly describe the transformations we’ll study and the basic seven-step process successfully employed in all three transformations chronicled below.

The three transformations were implemented in different size companies, in different industries, with vastly different challenges, and were started and led from various roles within these different organizations.

Summaries of the three transformations are as follows:

  • Large Manufacturing Company. Early in my career as a corporate financial analyst, then as a plant controller and the corporate controller in a Fortune 1000 publicly-held heavy manufacturing company, I started and led the transformation of basic accounting and financial reporting controllers into financial business partners for the leadership teams in business units across the corporation.
  • Mid-Size Electronics Manufacturing Services Company. In a $75M publicly-held electronics manufacturing services company, I led a cultural, operational, and financial transformation, and an international expansion as that company’s CEO.
  • Global Internet Payments Company. As a consultant and then the company’s President & COO, I led a cultural, operational, and financial transformation that resulted in a realized increase in the value of a privately-held $20M+ global internet payments processing company of 3X over a two-year period.

You may be asking yourself what lessons one can learn from these very different companies and situations. Actually – a lot. I share much of what I learned as we go along and will synthesize all the lessons learned at the end, but here is the first take away: Change is never going to stop happening. In fact, it is speeding up. Embrace that! Significant changes in the company, the company’s business environment and/or growth over time will eventually necessitate wholesale changes to move the organization forward. I’ve seen that happen over and over in these three companies as well as many others, and someone needs to step up and lead those transformational changes…why not you?

Here’s a little more on the seven-step transformation process I’ve used and some questions we recommend you answer for your company as you read the upcoming series:

1 – Create a Vision & Sense of Urgency: A major transformation must have a compelling vision that everyone wants/needs to be a part of. That alone creates a sense of urgency if there is not a crisis already. If there is already a crisis, the vision must provide a future that will keep everyone engaged to survive it and thrive thereafter (it’s called “hope”). Do you have a vision for your company that will drive your top change or transformation priorities and processes?

2 – Build Your Team: If it’s a major transformation, you won’t be able to lead it yourself. You need a team of subject matter experts and leaders who buy into the vision and will work with you to make it happen. Jim Collins calls it “getting the right people in the right seats on the bus” in his book, Good to Great. This is a thoughtful process. Do you know which people you need to implement your key change initiatives? Hint: They may be different than the people you rely on to run your current business. A recommendation: Don’t be too quick to dump the people who have the most history with the company thinking they won’t want or aren’t able to change.

3 – Analyze Situation & Strengths: Again, be thoughtful and engage and listen to your team. The fastest way to get between two points is a straight line. The fewer detours you take trying out new products, services, people, or processes that do not serve you well, the faster your progress will be. Focus on the game changers with your vision in mind. Have you evaluated your current strengths and weaknesses in the context of the changes you are trying to make?

4 – Plan Journey: Include metrics, milestones, and decision points, but also discuss and plan how you may have to deviate from the plan when your initial assumptions and/or execution don’t play out. Always keep the vision in sight! You may also want to experiment to prove out your concepts on small projects before making significant investments in changes. How will you go about planning your change?

5 – Communicate: Start with the vision and the plan. Regular and consistent communication around the vision, progress against the plan, what’s working or not, needed plan deviations, metrics, and milestone celebrations cannot be overdone—even when you feel you are talking about them way too much, you are not. Do you have a structured communication plan that looks at the information each stakeholder group needs and when they need it?

6 – Implementation and Measurement: See steps 4 and 5. These steps are not really sequential in nature. There is lots of overlap, parallel execution, and even order changing depending on how the transformation needs to be done and is progressing. The seven-step process is only a model! Do you have a process to track implementation progress, barriers and risks and correct course?

7 – Embed the Transformation: Think sustainability…a strong vision, great people, and an enduring culture are required to do this. It is not easy, and persistence and patience are required. How will you embed the changes you are making in each of your processes, training materials, performance management processes, hiring criteria, and any other element of your culture and structure that will make the change stick? Or will it just go back to status quo after some short period of time, especially after you and the organization have made such a significant investment?

In At C-Level #11–17, we’ll look more deeply at each step in the process and analyze how that step was implemented in the three different organizations I worked in. We’ll explore what worked well, what didn’t, how long that step took and, in some cases, why certain steps were not done in order, or were even skipped.

In At C-Level 18, we’ll look at the common themes that emerged from these transformations, then summarize and wrap up this part of the series. I’ll be very candid with my assessments of those transformations and, hopefully, you’ll pick up some ideas that will help you transform your own organization!

Thanks for following the series! Please look for At C-Level blogs #11-18 over the next several weeks!

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills. You can download the first three chapters of the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers for free.

10 Executive Leadership Insights from a CEO: Dwight Smith

This blog is a collaboration between guest Dwight Smith, experienced CEO and board member of several high-profile organizations, and Maureen Metcalf, CEO Metcalf & Associates, and is a companion to the Voice America Interview with Dwight discussing his executive experience, insights, and the “My Special Word” program.

At this juncture in time, we need great leaders and great leadership! Most of us, at one time or another, have been in the presence of a great leader and can recognize the characteristics of a great leader when we see them—and recognize when they are absent. Leadership development has become increasingly important. As the pace of change accelerates there is a call for a different sort of leadership than leadership of the past. The good news is that this transformational leadership can be found in all sectors. During difficult times, truly exceptional leaders rise to the occasion and take the reins.

According to the PwC CEO Survey for 2017, globalization has brought many benefits but also downsides. With greater convergence has come greater divergence in beliefs, values, and systems. CEOs are concerned about uncertain economic growth, over-regulation, and skills shortages. The focus in 2017 on CEO talent that can address these uncertainties reflects the continuation of a trend over the last several years.

As part of our discussion, Dwight described his top 10 list of beliefs and behaviors that great leadership requires. Although this blog began with referencing the current challenges we face today, these fundamental principles are timeless.

  1. Know your values and live by them—without exception. Values drive decisions and action, and ultimately your legacy. Servant leadership is unselfish, and aims at success for others and win-win situations in which everyone is uplifted. This is where leaders are about the greater good. When we think of the many leaders whose reputations went from positive to negative very quickly, it is often based on a values issue. These leaders sidestepped their values and used their positions of power to intimidate, harass, misappropriate an organizations research, and so on. It is hard to recover from a tarnished reputation because of a values violation.
  2. Find a mentor whose values match yours. We never succeed alone. Success is always a result of learning from those who were role models and who supported us. Some are formal mentors and others modeled who we want to become or avoid becoming. Find people who uplift you, care about you, and have passion for life. Think of the people who don’t see the glass as half full but completely full—it’s just that part of the contents include air.
  3. Find ways to respect and embrace differences. Being with people who are different—in beliefs, in ways of doing things, who have a different perspective—provides us with learning opportunities. Be personal learners. Acknowledge and accept and embrace differences and learn from others who see the world differently. Seek to understand why others see the world differently, but most importantly, respect the differences whether you understand them or not. Multiple perspectives generally create more “durable” solutions.
  4. Act with grace and kindness. Find the goodness in others especially when they are most frustrating to you. This is not to say we lack discernment; we must be both discerning and kind. We must show respect to get respect. When we agree to value differences, we will be stretched into areas that are uncomfortable and, in some cases, frustrating. It is important to be gracious with ourselves as well as others.
  5. Make time to reflect. Set aside time, optimally every day, to dial back electronic connections and replace these with personal reflection, human connection, and inspirational activities such as meditation and prayer. We need time to recharge and refresh our physical bodies and our spirits. We need to reconnect with our values every day—even if it is simply quiet time during a commute.
  6. Be forward thinking and strategic. We are facing dramatic change in our world. It is critical to stay abreast of trends that will impact you directly and tangentially. When you see trends, face them head on, try to understand the impact and identify the opportunities these changes may create for you and your organization. Change always creates opportunity for someone, will you find ways to leverage it?
  7. Find passion and follow it wisely. Whether as a vocation or as a hobby, passion recharges us and gives us purpose. We may find that passion in our full-time jobs or in other areas of life. Dwight is heavily involved in an organization called “My Special Word.” In addition to his demanding work, Dwight invests his time and energy in this program because he is passionate about children and the impact his program creates.
  8. Be personally responsible and accountable. Everyone faces adversity in life. It is unavoidable. How you respond defines who you become. You are responsible for your reactions to events and their impact on yourself and others. We chose how we respond. We have the choice to take responsibility or become victims. How can you develop the capacity to own your situations and make the best of them? Think how many small decisions in life impact your day. Are you responding based on your values and your best self?
  9. Align words and actions. Whether you are aware or not, people are always watching what you do and if your words align with your actions. If your words and deeds conflict, you lose credibility and the trust of others. This can be tricky sometimes because others may not see the nuances you see or understand why you changed course. Communication is a deciding factor. Because others don’t know or see what we see, it is our job to help them understand when they perceive a misalignment. If trust is gone, people are less likely to be engaged and perform at their best for the organization.
  10. Take the time to thank people. Success and the success of an organization are built on team efforts that are the engine driving success or failure, satisfy customers, and deliver value. Make sure that all the members of your team feel appreciated.

Leadership is an honor. We serve an organization’s mission, its employees, its clients, its financial stakeholders, and our communities. We balance many requirements while keeping pace with trends and adjusting our offerings. When done properly, it is as beautiful as a well-rehearsed symphony. How would you score your performance on this top 10 list?

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills. You can download the first three chapters of the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers for free.

About the Authors:

Dwight Smith is an experienced Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry. Skilled in Budgeting, Business Planning, Analytical Skills, Sales, and Entrepreneurship. Strong business development professional with a MBA focused in Finance from The Ohio State University. Dwight serves on several Boards including the Federal Reserve Board of Cleveland and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Dwight created the “My Special Word” program and organization. My Special Word is a not-for-profit program with the aspiration of inspiring our youth to think about the wonderful people they are and that they hope to become using positive words. Their vision is to encourage, inspire and excite our youth to become the amazing people that they are meant to become and to strive daily to reach their greatest potential and aspirations.

Maureen Metcalf, CEO and Founder of Metcalf & Associates, is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, and coach whose 30 years of business experience provides high-impact, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership development and organizational transformations. Maureen is recognized as an innovative, principled thought leader who combines intellectual rigor and discipline with an ability to translate theory into practice. Her operational skills are coupled with a strategic ability to analyze, develop, and implement successful strategies for profitability, growth, and sustainability.

Authenticity and Reflection are Keys to Leadership Success

This blog is a collaboration between guest blogger, BirchReports and Maureen Metcalf, CEO Metcalf & Associates. It is a companion to the Voice America Interview Building Leadership Self-Awareness using Leadership Type with Belinda Gore.

Abraham Lincoln is known for the emancipation of slaves and preserving the Union during the Civil Was. However, did you know that before he entered politics and was elected president, he experienced two business venture failures and lost eight different elections? If not for his persistence, humility, and ability to learn from his mistakes, he would not have managed to continue after multiple defeats, and the America we know today may be entirely different.

What does this story tell us? It’s that self-awareness and self-confidence demand that you learn from everything you do and are the drivers pushing you forward in pursuit of your dreams. Self-awareness and self-confidence allow you to build on successes as well as turn failures into future successes. Humility is a result of being aware of your own foibles. When you can look honestly at your strengths as well as your weaknesses, you’re able to focus on the organization’s greater good rather than personal gain. It is vital in business where change is rapid and ongoing, and where what worked in the past often doesn’t work in the same way it once did. Your future success requires authenticity and your ability to learn from every interaction, and it largely depends on your capacity to build relationships with a broad range of people—whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur. Authenticity and relationships evolve from a sense of self—from self-awareness, self-confidence—and a healthy dose of humility. While self-confidence and humility can seem in opposition, they need to be balanced with finesse because they show up as two sides of the image you project.

We recommend using assessments to help leaders build self-awareness. Metcalf + Associates offers an Innovative Leadership assessment and a Resilience assessment. In addition, the Sofia Wellness Clinic offers a wide range of self-scoring tools to promote self-awareness and wellbeing.

In the Leader 2050 blog, we talked about competency model for leaders of the future, the details about specific behaviors associated with humility, authenticity, and self-awareness, and the importance of collaboration.

To initiate contact with like-minded individuals, you need to put yourself forward, out there—and this requires self-confidence.

So, the next question might be, how do you build your confidence? As with other skills, it does not develop overnight. Instead, you need to build it over time. Below are some things to remember in building self-confidence.

Confidence starts from within and with self-awareness. Confidence is anchored in how you see yourself. In many instances, lack of confidence is rooted in self-doubt. Inc magazine says that having a negative mindset may lead to self-sabotage because you are effectively telling yourself that you cannot accomplish a goal even before you start working toward it. To put it simply, you’re setting yourself up for failure. By developing a practice such as mindfulness, you will be able to increase your self-awareness and increase your capacity to replace self-sabotage with confident self-perception. The video, “Building Resilience: Six Steps to Managing Negative Thinking” is a tool to help you identify and effectively navigate self-destructive thinking when it occurs.

Another option to build self-awareness is a self-evaluation in which you explore the areas in which you lack confidence—and the reasons for your lack of self-assurance. Once you recognize the reasons, determine which ones you can address through mindfulness and managing your thinking. One of the recommendations in the video includes shifting from negative thinking to gratitude. By focusing on what is working and what you’re grateful for—a solid intellect, a well-prepared presentation, the love you feel from friends, family, and colleagues who support you—you will have a more positive outlook. Every time you start to have negative thoughts, use the process in this video to minimize the impact of negative thinking and to increase your self-confidence. This shift requires constant self-awareness and management of your thought process. It is astounding how a small change in mindset and thinking can contribute significantly to your ability to learn from every interaction rather than getting discouraged and losing confidence.

What is often perceived as confidence has to do with how other people perceive you. Networking Times published an anecdote about a woman who gained self-confidence by acting like a confident person. Eventually, she managed to be the same person inside as she appeared on the outside. Being able to act with confidence and manage inner conversations that undermine your image starts with self-awareness and self-management. The concept is not a new one. For years we’re heard about the value of role-playing. It is a process that can take a significant amount of inner work, particularly during those times when self-doubt ebbs and flows.

How can someone’s perception make another more confident? A great portion of what people consider confidence has to do with how you project yourself to others around you. Your appearance, body language, and tone of voice already give others an idea of how you are feeling and what you are thinking, even without listening to the words you are saying. If all three do not inspire trust, then it’s less likely that the person you are conversing with will not hear what you have to say—because you may be giving the message that you are not confident with an idea, service, or product that you are trying to get others to buy in to. In a nutshell, we project to each other. If I present myself as confident and capable, and you perceive me as such, it is mirrored back to me and gives me greater confidence.

As a leader, exhibiting low confidence may also decrease your employees’ self-assurance in their performance of tasks as well. In contrast, if you demonstrate appropriate self-confidence—holding your head high, sitting or standing straight, and speaking assertively instead of haltingly—you are more likely to catch the attention of other people, and you are also more likely to be heard. Self-confidence is an interesting topic when combined with professional humility. In the blog focusing on the Leadership 2050 competencies, we talk about the first competency being professional humility. Like many facets of leadership, it is imperative for leaders to find the best balance between appropriate humility and self-confidence. As we prove ourselves over the course of our careers, it is easier to be humble and self-confident because we already have a strong reputation—and because we have a better understanding of the mistakes we’ve made and can measure our growth over time. Entrepreneur provides some tips that you can follow to help you present yourself with confidence to other people.

Confidence requires preparation. Think about public speakers you hold in high regard. Chances are, you admire them for their confidence and for being knowledgeable about the topics they discuss. The thing is, these speakers did a lot of preparation, including intensive studying, to become well-informed about the subject they approach. It is hard to manage how we are going to feel (self-confident) in a stressful situation, and preparation is a great countermeasure to reduce the number of things that could potentially go wrong. It is tough to be confident when you are running late, get lost, spill coffee on yourself, or realize you don’t know as much about your topic or the audience as you should. Allowing appropriate time to prepare pays great dividends in bolstering confidence. Investing time in preparation will allow you to become more knowledgeable about the topics and people with whom you are talking.
Get Feedback. Lincoln was a man of integrity who used a journal for self-reflection and sought the opinions of others. If there are areas where you believe you may need to build skills to feel confident and perform well, seek feedback from your mentors or colleagues. Often, we build our skills before we feel confident. It takes skill to see ourselves the way others see us, so getting ongoing feedback allows us to calibrate our sense of self with how others see us. Accurate self-awareness is one of the most important skills in leadership because if we are unaware of how others see us, we miss important cues. Self-awareness, self-confidence, and humility are intertwined. As leaders, we need to continually practice and evolve these skills.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

Leveraging Multigenerational Leadership – Navigating the Graying Demographic in the Workplace and Marketplace

This blog is a companion to the interview with Karen Sands on VoiceAmerica “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” on October 24, 2017 Navigating the Graying Demographic: Rock Your Age and Manage Inter-generationally. It was co-written by Karen Sands and Maureen Metcalf. It is the companion to the Voice America Interview with Karen Sands.

According to Steve Vernon in MoneyWatch June 2016, “The bottom line is that we’re living much longer than prior generations, but we can’t afford to keep adding years at the end of our lives when we’re fully retired and no longer working. Therefore, it only makes sense to work longer, but we’ll want to take steps to make these additional working years enjoyable and productive.”

Whether you are excited about the prospect of working until you are into your 80’s or 90’s or terrified, as leaders we all need to think about how the longevity economy will impact our workforce and our customers. As people live longer and work longer, their work habits and buying habits will change.

The intersection of people living and working longer, combined with the rapid acceleration of changes in how organizations conduct work, will lead us to a new Triple Bottom Line—people, planet, profits. s. But, only if organizations can overcome the immense challenges coming our way in the Longevity Economy- – representing an increase of the sum of economic activity of services and goods serving the 50+ demographic from $7.1 Trillion today to over $13.5 Trillion by 2032. Businesses that choose to leverage the largest pool of multigenerational skilled and knowledge workers to engage and capture the new ageless consumers as clients will beat the competition hands down. This big shift will foster creative processes to leverage the business acumen and skills of seasoned workers, along with the adaptability and tech finesse of younger workers will create a strategic advantage.

This more diverse workplace comes with great opportunities and significant challenges. Organizations will need to find ways to overcome the “generational gap” associated with the perception that older employees are “taking jobs” from younger employees and are not keeping current with technology, therefore less productive. Or from the mature employees point of view, the Millennials are “lazy” and don’t have work ethics of yesteryear. Here are some recommendations Karen suggests:

First, we need to communicate with each other about it. This seems obvious, but how often do the generations really talk about this situation with each other? It tends to get talked about through politicians and the media, rather than in collaborative, hands-on, deliberately multigenerational conversations.

These conversations are crucial not only to get our fears and perceptions out in the open, but also to clear up the misconceptions that can lead us all to make decisions based on incorrect information or assumptions.

Second, we need to explore alternative solutions together based on the probable future, not the past. Yes, social security was an effective solution to many problems that stemmed from the Great Depression, and it continues to be a necessary element in our economy, but pursuing ways to once again push millions of post-65/70 people out of the workforce is not going to work. Being 65/70 today is not even close to what it was in prior eras.

Third, we should look at generational partnerships, such as job sharing/mentorship arrangements that enable two people to be employed instead of one, enable training costs and salary to combine, stretching a company’s dollar and quickening the pace at which younger employees can gain the skills, knowledge, and some of the experience they need to be more valuable to that company and in the marketplace. These could work with a shifting percentage of time, starting with the mentor working 3/4 of the job, then gradually decreasing to 1/2, then 1/4, with an ultimate shift into mentoring another employee or into a consultant arrangement.

Fourth, we need to encourage people over 60 (in fact over 40) to remain employed by starting their own businesses as entrepreneurs or by creating new profit centers within their current companies and organizations. These could range from simple solopreneurs to larger operations that will both remove the competition for the same job between two generations, while it generates additional employment.

People, organizations, and governments need to focus on encouraging experienced professionals and executives, especially women, to start businesses with a strong focus on the Triple Bottom Line In this way, we can solve or at least ameliorate multiple societal problems simultaneously through the specific social missions of these companies as well as their effect on the job market, offering a way for all generations to make a living and a difference, and to secure their future and that of the world for generations to come. This means many leaders will need to expand their perspective about how jobs get accomplished and by whom.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills. You can download the first three chapters of the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers for free.

About the Authors:

Karen Sands, MCC, BCC is a Visionary Game Changer and Leading GeroFuturist™ on the Longevity Economy, the Business of Aging, and Ageless Aging. An advocate for The New Story of Our Age, she is a “visionary with wrinkles” who empowers people to rock their AGE. High-impact Certified Master & Mentor Coach for visionary world shakers, conscious entrepreneurs, sacred activists and change makers 40+ who are ready to shape the world and their role in it. A Trusted Advisor and expert authority on careers post 40, midlife reinvention, Boomers and women 40+ in the new business of aging for go-getters who want to stay in sync with the people who keep them in business. #1 Amazon Best Selling Author, Firecracker Speaker and All-Around Trailblazing Game Changer.

Maureen Metcalf, CEO and Founder of Metcalf & Associates, is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, and coach whose 30 years of business experience provides high-impact, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership development and organizational transformations. Maureen is recognized as an innovative, principled thought leader who combines intellectual rigor and discipline with an ability to translate theory into practice. Her operational skills are coupled with a strategic ability to analyze, develop, and implement successful strategies for profitability, growth, and sustainability.

Proven Path to Leadership Maturity and Effectiveness

This post is a companion to the Voice America interview featuring Mike Morrow-Fox talking about leadership maturity and vertical development to build the leadership qualities required to lead large complex organizations and those that aspire to make the greatest impact.

The following article was first published by Forbes Coaches Council in August 2016.

Future trends indicate complexity, accelerated change, and near-constant uncertainty in the coming years. These conditions will require significantly different leadership skills.

With these new demands for evolving leadership, is there a predictable path to develop leadership? If so, what does that path look like?

Leaders develop both “horizontally,” increasing their ability at their current level of operation, and “vertically,” increasing their level of complexity, emotional maturity, and opening to new awareness. Many researchers are now saying that “vertical development” is required to navigate the complexities leaders and their organizations face.

To answer what the vertical evolutionary path looks like, I reference the research of Dr. Cook-Greuter, who developed a Leadership Maturity Framework (LMF) and measurement of adult development as part of her doctoral dissertation at Harvard University. Dr. Cook-Greuter is now the Co-Founder with Beena Sharma of The Center for Leadership Maturity, a firm that facilitates vertical development in individuals, teams and organizations. The LMF is the basis of my work with vertical leadership development because it provides a model that is both grounded in research and practical to use in coaching and leadership development.

Vertical development does not mean that more developed people are “better” people, but rather, in many cases, are likely to be more effective in key leadership roles within large complex organizations. The following is a brief summary of the LMF describing the predictable developmental trajectory people navigate as they grow:

The Group-Centric Level

This level is about conforming and belonging. People at this level follow rules, norms and observe hierarchy. They conform to social expectations, work to group standards, seek membership and approval, and appreciate outward signs of status as a sign of approval. They attend to the welfare of their own group; those who are not like them are the “other,” and therefore outside their circle of concern. They avoid conflict, think in simple terms, and often speak in generalities. Feedback is taken as disapproval since their driving value is to gain approval and be included.

Example: This is the employee who looks to what the group is doing to determine his actions. He looks to meet the “expectations” set by the organization, fit into the culture, and do what everyone does. Belonging is his key to success; standing out or having a different opinion feels risky

The Skill-Centric Level

This focuses on comparing self to others and perfecting skills. Individuals at this level focus on being competent in their own area of interest and improving techniques and efficiency. They aspire to quality standards and are often heavily invested in their way as the only way of doing things. Decisions are made based on incontrovertible “facts.” Given their focus on problem-solving and detail, they can get caught in the weeds and not see the big picture necessary to effectively prioritize among competing demands. All consuming attention on being right can lead them to be critical of and competitive with others. They hear feedback about their work as criticism of them as a whole person.

Example: This is the employee who points out when others make mistakes and tries to correct them so they can meet the standards. Her development efforts focus on building expertise. She usually has a “better” opinion unless she is in the presence of a subject-matter expert.

The Self-Determining Level

This focuses on analyzing and achieving to effectively deliver results. Leaders at this level look toward longer-term goals and initiate rather than follow expectations. They value objectivity and scientific knowledge, seeking rational, proactive ways around problems. They often seek consensus — “agree to disagree” — and value mutuality and equality in relationships. They accept feedback to promote learning and success.

Example: This employee continually drives to meet organizational goals. He works both efficiently and effectively and is continually competing with himself and others to drive the best results. He has a five-year plan, is open to new learning, and is beginning to be more reflective.

The Self-Questioning Level

This level focuses on self in relationship and contextualizing his/her experience. Leaders at this level are concerned with the difference between reality and appearance and have an increased understanding of complexity and unintended effects of actions. They begin to question their own assumptions and views and realize the subjectivity of beliefs; and talk of interpretations rather than facts. They can play different roles in different contexts and begin to seek out and value feedback.

Example: This employee is continually inquiring, challenging assumptions, and aware of the limitations of conventional thinking. She focuses on creating an environment where everyone feels valued. She is committed to appreciating value in different perspectives.

The Self-Actualizing Level

This level is about integrating and transforming self and systems, and recognizing higher principles, complexity and interrelationships. People at this level are aware of the social construction of reality — not just rules and customs. They are problem finding, not just doing creative problem solving. They are aware of paradox and contradiction in self and systems and learn to have a deep appreciation of others. They demonstrate a sensitivity to systemic change and create “positive-sum” games.

Example: This person is continually evaluating the organization’s strategy against long-term industry trends as well as global economic conditions while embodying her values and using herself as an instrument of transformation. She is self-aware and firmly anchored in principles while having the ability to adapt based on context.

As we look to the changes leaders are facing in the near and long term, it is helpful to have a robust model for development that allows them to focus their development energy effectively. This framework, along with it, measurement instrument — the maturity assessment for professionals (MAP) — is the most robust I have seen, and I find it highly effective in supporting leaders.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills. You can download the first three chapters of the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers for free.

About the author Maureen Metcalf, CEO and Founder of Metcalf & Associates, is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, and coach whose 30 years of business experience provides high-impact, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership development and organizational transformations. Maureen is recognized as an innovative, principled thought leader who combines intellectual rigor and discipline with an ability to translate theory into practice. Her operational skills are coupled with a strategic ability to analyze, develop, and implement successful strategies for profitability, growth, and sustainability.

Strengthening Thinking as a Mechanism to Building Resilience

This blog post is the companion to a VoiceAmerica interview with Mark Palmer and Belinda Gore, Building Resilience, A Key Foundation For Change aired August 22, 2017. We encourage you to take our free online resilience assessment.

As the person who curates this blog, I try to balance sharing the work of our radio show guests and other thought leaders with my own opinions. This is one of the weeks where I am sharing my own opinion as it relates to current affairs and the need for resilience.

During the past week, the United States has seen the escalation of threats with North Korea about the use of nuclear weapons and civil unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, associated with race and hate. Many of us are trying to find a balanced path to respond to what is happening on the global stage, national stage, local stage, and in our own personal lives. Who we are at our core can really shine through during times of challenge when we take care of ourselves first.

I realize this message is a bit counter to cultural beliefs. Most of us were cautioned against selfishness. We were taught to believe that it connotes self-centeredness, and that anything “selfish” is wrong. Yet, having a sense of self and knowing when and how to care for yourself is the antithesis of being selfish. If we don’t care for our-selves, there is no way that we can care for others. I think of the inflight announcements on planes: In the event of an emergency, please put your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” As leaders, we need to attend to our own resilience foundation so we can respond to our environment on a consistent basis in a manner that is consistent with our values.

Let’s do a small exercise, think about a time you pushed yourself to meet a deadline. It may have meant you didn’t get sufficient sleep. You may have been caffeine powered, or maybe augmented by your favorite sugar source (chocolate for me). Can you recall a time you did this and responded to someone more harshly than usual? Did you need to do damage control later? I have an example of one of these incidents early in my career. I wrote an apology note to my boss for harsh words delivered at 3 a.m. while trying to get a project completed and out the door. I left that company and was hired back two years later. My new boss handed me my personnel file and my former boss had saved the note. That event lived on in my “file.” While I think it was more a source of banter, it was not my best professional moment.

We all have these moments of stress-related responses. The challenge for all of us, especially in an environment where civility seems to be in short supply in some circles, is to find our own path to sustain our own sense of balance so that we can be the source of civility when it is lacking in our environment. It is during these times that leadership is most critical.

  1. Take care of your physical well-being. We know insufficient sleep and a poor diet take a toll on us. Do your best to draw boundaries that will allow you to recharge. I do walking meetings when possible so that I can get some physical activity and sunlight during the work day.
  2. Manage your thinking. This one is critical. Research tells us five minutes of negative thinking causes six hours of negative physiological impact on our bodies. I am a strong proponent of mindfulness, just staying aware of what I am thinking and reframing so I can see the positive in challenging situations. I also do scenario planning in which I look at the worst case and plan accordingly; then I feel free to move back to the positive opportunities I want to create in the world. I use the recordings of Gary Weber and Maryanna Klatt as a strong foundation for how I manage my thinking. I have a daily reflection practice that helps me regroup when life feels challenging.
  3. Develop emotional intelligence and a sense of purpose. Emotional intelligence is grounded in our ability to manage our own emotions and respond appropriately to others. For me one of the biggest keys to managing my emotions is to build a routine that allows me to be aware of my emotions and the impact they are having on me. This was one of my weaknesses. I was happy to avoid feeling things and, yet, those feelings still impacted my behavior. When I was unaware of them, the impact could be a negative one (see the earlier reference of the need to apologize to my boss). If we can maintain awareness and metabolize emotions appropriately, we can return our focus to the activities of leading. I don’t mean find better ways to ignore them, I mean working through emotions in a healthy way. For people who will dismiss this as “touchy feely” – don’t discount the impact this skill can have on your ability to stay focused in a positive manner. The other part of this step is to have a sense of purpose that is bigger than yourself and take daily steps toward that purpose—most of them will be small but significant steps.
  4. Build a strong support system. Having a network of caring relationships is invaluable. For some people, the network may be one or two. For others, relationships really do look like a web. There is no formula—what is important is that we have at least one honest and authentic relationship and an outlet to support us. Just knowing and feeling the support of others on the days when everything seems wrong is invaluable. Pets are also a great connection and really are a source of unconditional love.

I would like to close this post with a quote that I got by e-mail today from www.gratefulness.org. Part of my resilience practice is to have a regular “diet” of positive information in my life.

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” —Barack Obama

So, my invitation to everyone reading this is to do something today that supports your resilience. Doing good for others helps build our own sense of well-being and counterbalances the negativity that we all occasionally and circumstantially face.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

About the author Maureen Metcalf, CEO and Founder of Metcalf & Associates, is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, and coach whose 30 years of business experience provides high-impact, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership development and organizational transformations. Maureen is recognized as an innovative, principled thought leader who combines intellectual rigor and discipline with an ability to translate theory into practice. Her operational skills are coupled with a strategic ability to analyze, develop, and implement successful strategies for profitability, growth, and sustainability.