Being an Ally Against Racism

As we watch the Black Lives Matter movement unfold in the wake of George Floyd’s death and that of others, some in the press and others whose names will not be remembered by the masses, we want to offer a blog that provides actions we can each take to be an ally against racism. Each of us has a role to play to eliminate systemic racism. No step is too small when we are touching the lives of our neighbors, friends, and the precious people who are hurt and hurting. Again, no constructive action is too small. Maureen Metcalf, Founder of the Innovative Leadership Institute, is the author of this post. The Institute and all of its team members and partners are personally committed to making an impact.

Earlier this month, we joined many in the local community by signing a letter urging Columbus City Council to support a now-passed resolution declaring racism to be a public health crisis in our city.

As leaders, we play a pivotal role in many organizations. We are responsible for the culture and systems that define our companies and inform our employees’ actions.

Educate Yourself – Listen to podcasts and research systemic racism to learn more about bias and how successful leaders overcome the impact it causes.

  1. Understand key terminology and activities:
    1. The protests are not about looting and rioting; it’s a global movement to bring awareness to systemic racism, police brutality, disproportionate murders of ethnicities in handcuffs while in police custody, and societal discriminations that impact the mental and emotional health for people of color.
    2. Supporting the movement does not mean that a person condones violence against cops, it means that ‘someone’ has an awareness of societal issues that are meaningful for humanity and people within society.
    3. Defunding the Police does not mean eliminating all police forces, it supports divesting some funds from police departments and reallocating them to non-police forms of public safety, such as social services and other community resources. At its best, it will look at the issues our communities face through a holistic lens and determine which organizations are best able to address the issues and how to collaborate to improve outcomes for all members of the community such as providing mental health and rehabilitation support where this is a more effective approach than incarceration. These are complex issues that will not be solved quickly. The current protests are shining a light on the opportunity and a mandate to do better.
  2. Listen to the Voice America show – Implicit Bias – What You Don’t See Hurts You! (1-hour radio show) Dr. Rebecca Heiss discusses how Implicit bias creates a disadvantage for leaders and their organizations. We would like listeners to have a clearer understanding of what implicit bias is and how it impacts each of us. As leaders, we need to understand and manage implicit biases because it impacts our hiring choices, promotion and succession decisions, and our policies. To hire and retain top talent, we need to remove bias from the decision-making process as much as possible.
  3. Listen to Voice America show – Winning In The Face of Adversity: Overcoming Challenge with Grace. (1-hour radio show) In a time when people are sharing more of their struggles, we talk to Congress Woman Beatty and Doug McCollough about their struggle and, more importantly, how they navigated those struggles so that she could make their most significant impact on the world. Congresswoman Beatty not only overcame, but she also changed the people’s view of what it was to be a successful black woman, and she mentored women to make sure the pipeline behind her was strong. The country was better because of all facets of her service! She talks about how helping women succeed helps America succeed. She serves as a role model for inclusion globally by serving with grace and decorum! Doug shares how his focus on inclusion is expanding the field of employees working in technology in central Ohio. Through his board work as well as his work as CIO, he is creating a pipeline that allows unemployed people to get trained and find technology jobs. He is helping build the system that will close this gap long term!
  4. Listen to Increasing Inclusion To Drive Results and Build a Better World (1-hour radio show) Troy Mosley discussed his newly released book: Unwritten Truce: The Armed Forces and American Social Justice. Inclusion is an excellent organizational practice. The global market is diverse. Having a diverse workforce is a strategic advantage because it provides a greater ability to understand various segments of their consumer base and develop products and services that will better resonate with these segments, therefore, driving better results and higher impact. In for-profit businesses – it drives higher and more sustainable profits. Troy talks about his journey as a man of African American heritage and his recommendations to increase inclusion and results. In addition to his story, Troy and Maureen discuss the challenges and recommendations to increase inclusion and address the recent challenges surfacing as the “Me Too” movement and many others. Leaders must create an environment that promotes a healthy environment!
  5. Diversity Training Then and Now: What Has Changed? (1-hour radio show). Executive Order 9981 was issued on July 26, 1948, by President Harry S. Truman. This order abolished racial discrimination in the United States Armed Forces and led to the end of segregation in the services. In this session, Maureen is joined by Carrie Spell Hansson to discuss what we have learned about diversity and inclusion training in the 70 plus years since that Order.
  6. Systemic racism explained (4.53 min video)
  7. Gratefulness.org Resources for Unlearning and Transforming Racism
  8. McKinsey articles
    1. Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters
    2. For Priorities for Supporting Black Americans During and After Covid-19
    3. Inequity: A Persistent Challenge and Its Implications
    4. The Economic Impact of Closing The Racial Wealth Gap

Manage Yourself – once you listen to the interview about bias, ask yourself:

  1. Where am I bias?
  2. How is that bias hurting others?
  3. What can I change?
  4. Who will be my change accountability partner?

Discuss with colleagues – begin having the real discussion about your experience and the choices you would like to make going forward:

  1. How do I feel about my life experience?
  2. How have I participated in the current system?
  3. How do I feel about my involvement? (This is a complex question for many people who understand they have benefited from the current system of inequity)
  4. What is my commitment going forward to be part of the changes?
  5. Who will hold me to account for this commitment?

Support Others – take action that reduces the problem. We each have a role to play. While we certainly need policy changes and significant shifts, all of us also need to take small steps – we must do what is “ours to do”.

  1. Mentor – identify a person who is interested in being mentored and offer to provide that mentoring. Mentoring works both ways, as a mentor, you have the opportunity to learn about the life experience of people who have traveled a different journey than you. Use the opportunity to understand and advocate!
  2. Volunteer – identify needs that you can uniquely fill. The beauty of volunteering is you don’t need money or education, you can help a neighbor or a stranger. You can engage in a structured program like those advocated by Black Tech 614 or volunteer for Meals On Wheels or other programs that support people who need support (the point is to help others in times of need). Studies show that volunteering gives the volunteer a health boost and increases resilience.
  3. Research how you spend – support minority-owned businesses.  While most of us will continue to shop for staples from big box stores, we can also allocate some of our spending to local businesses, black-owned businesses, and minority businesses. We proudly partner with Hire-Direction and strongly recommend their services. HIRE DIRECTION is a data-driven career, talent, and workforce solutions provider dedicated to helping both organizations and aspiring professionals solve the job fit equation and optimize career development. The breakthrough map of the Talent Genome and next-generation talent DNA mapping technology connects people, talent, and careers to the right jobs in a brand-new way.  The Hire-Directions system helps individuals find, maintain, and advance along the best career path, while helping organizations acquire, develop, and retain the best talent with the least risk. Just as doing what is yours to do means making choices within your sphere of control, we at ILI are making partnering decisions with Mark Palmer because his assessment is the best we have seen in the market! I am not making a recommendation because it is politically correct, I have recommended this assessment for years. My recommendation is to know who does the best work and buy from minority and black-owned businesses when possible.
  4. Hire black employees. It can be harder to identify and hire black and minority employees. When people have been systematically overlooked, they do not show up in the standard search. Go the extra step to ensure you are identifying a diverse slate of interview candidates. I realize this takes additional effort. If you are not working with a diversity recruiter, check out Keene Advisory Group.
  5. Create support systems to allow you to retain candidates after you hire them. Support could mean data-driven appraisal systems to ensure everyone is rated fairly and bias is minimized. It could include creating employee resource groups. Each organization will differ as will each group of employees. There is no prescription. When in doubt, ask, communicate, demonstrate care for your team.

 

Here are more actionable items that were shared on LinkedIn by BlackTech614 – Columbus, Ohio:

A Call to Action

For organizations and individuals who are motivated to act in the interest of Black People and their communities through technology-based skills and opportunities, we offer these positive, peaceful, and proactive commitments.

Help Us Adopt a School

The gaps that slow economic progress show up in schools first. Greater access to high-quality teacher training, technology devices, broadband, mentors, and skill development activities will help our schools close the digital divide for students and their families. With your financial support and organizational partnership, we will work with TECH CORPS to bring much-needed resources into a school in Columbus.

Help Black Founders Get Access to Capital

Black founders are disproportionately creating employment and wealth opportunities in historically Black communities and with Black Men and Women. Many struggle to access traditional venture capital, private equity, and loans due to systemic barriers and biases. We will work with The Columbus Minority Business Assistance Center at the Columbus Urban League Huntington Empowerment Center as well as BLK hack, to connect innovators with capital.

Help Black Men and Women Get Second Chances to Build a Stable Income

A significant number of productive years are wasted from the lives of some Black Men and Women due to an inability to secure job opportunities after a misdemeanor or felony conviction. Increasing the number of adults with stable incomes raises community stability, lowers crime, and increases opportunities to build wealth. We will work with Honest Jobs to sponsor, promote, and participate in a series of events to aid Columbus companies in changing their hiring practices so that Black Men and Women, who are disproportionately affected by criminal justice inspired barriers to full employment, gain new opportunities to build stable incomes.

Help Adults From Underserved Communities Get Access to Marketable Tech Skills    

In the context of wealth creation and economic justice, the ability to acquire an accredited undergraduate college degree is not an indicator of hard work, discipline, or future performance. It is a reflection of privilege, opportunity, and luck. Some of the most tenacious, resilient, and productive adults are those with a nontraditional path. Yet, the college degree remains a career barrier to otherwise qualified and motivated people, that often divides our society along old lines of race and class. We will work with nonprofits like Per Scholas and Jewish Family Services, and for profit bootcamps, to extend training opportunities to members of deserving communities for in-demand tech skills and connect them to the jobs they become qualified to fill.

Help Deserving People Get Interim Opportunities to Gain Great New Careers Through Apprenticeships

You can’t get the job without experience. You can’t get the experience without the job. This used to be a problem that enterprising young people had to think their way through. However, in an age of rapidly shifting skill sets, the devastation of whole industries from automation, and the extraordinary economic opportunity presented to many companies if they can just find the skilled workforce, this is no laughing matter. We will work with Apprenti, and other facilitated apprenticeship organizations, to match candidates to paid apprenticeships in technology organizations to dramatically shift the workforce disruption equation in our region.

Since its founding, Black Tech Columbus has become a nexus of relationships in the Central Ohio technology community, especially among diverse technology interests. We are in a unique position to connect corporate resources to higher education to nonprofits to startups to government. We can make an impact in each of these areas with strong allies and your generous financial support. As our community eventually emerges from the pain of processing our collective anger over recent events that have laid bare the reality of the gaps we are experiencing, we will need to apply ourselves to building a better reality than the one we are rejecting.

Black Tech Columbus is seeking to lead and partner in these areas: coalescing around education, wealth creation, restoring income opportunity, accessing training, and bridging experience building.

For those organizations who are motivated to make an impact among Black Men, Women, their Families, and their Communities, this is our agenda.

We’re Here.

 

Beyond the Black Tech 614 call to action, The Innovative Leadership Institute would like to recommend resources to educate yourself as well as sharing the information about one of our ILI Team Members and his Business, Hire-Direction.

For all those people taking an active role in learning, discussing, peacefully protesting, and making changes, we applaud you. For those ready to act but unsure what to do, we invite you to take action on one or more of the recommendations in this blog. We encourage you to share what you are doing with us and we will post some of your comments.

 

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

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

About the Author

Maureen Metcalf, CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute, is a renowned executive advisor, coach, consultant, author and speaker.

Photo by Albert Rafael

Tips to Succeed at America’s Toughest Interviews

To start or to continue receiving the weekly blogs via email, please sign-up using this link: subscribe to Innovative Leadership Institute weekly blog.

This blog is part of the extra blog series we are doing as encouragement in these uncertain times.  Unfortunately, many have seen jobs disappear or cutback. This post is guidance on potential job interview questions. It is a chance to hone your skills and be prepared when the right job opens up. A companion interview to listen to is Employee Confidence, the New Rule of Engagement with Karen J. Hewitt.

 

Spending time inside while quarantined gives you the opportunity to focus on professional development and self-improvement. It’s a chance to hone in on your long-term career goals and sharpen up your interview skills. If you ever must leave your current position and re-enter the competitive job market, you will want to be prepared.

Has it been years since you have practiced for an interview? By taking a look at the interview processes of America’s top tech companies, you can refresh your memory and learn key strategies. After all, it is not only the big tech companies that use these techniques during interviews. Nowadays, businesses across industries follow the same best practices for interviewing job candidates.

When you understand how to answer the types of questions asked by interviewers at Google, Facebook, and Twitter, you will feel ready for anything. Let’s outline some of these interview questions and tips on how to respond below. Plus, check out a helpful graphic from the experts at LiveCareer below, which nicely illustrates this interview advice.

Any company that dedicates itself to investing in quality talent will not have an easy interview process. There will never be a foolproof way to set yourself up for success in an interview.  Google probably would not have such a tough interview process if it was not a top company that receives millions of applications a year. Once you have already spent time and energy perfecting your resume and landing the interview, you want to maximize your chances of acing the interview. Let’s hope you can use these takeaways to aid in your job search.

 

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

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

About the Author

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

 

Women And Leadership – Reflections On My Leadership Journey

Introduction

This blog is a guest post by Parminder Vir and is the companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future on Voice America called FOCUS on Women and Leadership. It is based on a panel discussion at the International Leadership Association 4th Annual Women and Leadership Conference in June 2019 focusing on Building Solution, Harmony and the Greater Good.

 

Reflection On My Leadership Journey From A 40-Year Professional Career

In my keynote presentation, I shared my leadership journey and insights from a 40-year professional career dedicated to positively impacting and transforming lives through my work in philanthropy, entrepreneurship, film and television production, arts and culture, and investment funding. Throughout my multifaceted career, I have put my skills and expertise in the service of the work I care passionately about and the different voices and communities represented in my work.

The response from the audience gathered at the Women and Leadership conference was overwhelming to something I had taken for granted. People always remember how you made them feel and not what you said, and it was a privilege to be given the time to reflect and share my leadership journey learnt on the job with the gathering at the ILA conference.

  • The Early Years

Passion, vision, integrity, deliberate audacity, and enduring optimism are qualities that lie at the heart of my leadership style and achievements. My leadership character and qualities have been learnt through practice from my first job in 1979, at the age of 23—when I was sent to launch the Minority Arts Advisory Service regional office in the Midlands to support ethnic minority artists of Afro Caribbean and Asian descent.

The power of art as a force for political and social change ignited my passion and spurred me to spend the first decade of my professional career from 1979 to 1986, empowering Black and Asian creativity through funding, cultural programming, and policies to mainstream our creativity and our cultural contribution to Britain.

In 1982, as the Head the Race Equality Unit in the Arts and Recreation Department of the Greater London Council, I managed a grant aid program, funding a wide range of ethnic minority artists and organization, many of who are internationally renowned today. I established policy initiatives for the development of minority arts; created training schemes in arts administration for ethnic minorities; and ensured the representation of ethnic minorities on the bodies of the major arts organizations in the UK.

This period marked the start of my 40-year career of self-directed learning and defined my leadership style which is characterized by my willingness to take risks, initiative and self-discipline, embrace responsibility, persistence, learning from failure, intrinsic motivation to learn new skills, time management, and goal setting.

  • Storytelling – Film and Television

In 1986, I took all this learning as I pivoted into a career as film and television producer. The accepted wisdom in early 1980’s Britain was that it’s impossible for someone like me – a working class immigrant – to break into the film and television industry. The spark to make films was lit in 1982, when I organized a Festival of Black American Films in London. Watching these films and listening to the struggles of African American filmmakers to tell their stories fueled my imagination to do just that in the UK.

My desire to make films was born out of a passion for telling compelling untold stories from around the world. From 1986 to 2004, I generated a body of work that challenged the mainstream of film and broadcast media to open itself up to perspectives that emerge from the margins, where cultural innovation so often begins. As a storyteller, I believe there are many truths, just as there are many faiths and many voices. The role of film and media is to respond to these different voices. My work is to present the truth from places that are not recognized.

In addition to making films, I also led the campaign to reflect, represent, employ and develop ethnic talent on and behind the screen in British film and television. This led to the formation of the Cultural Diversity Network, an alliance of UK broadcasters and film industry committed to increasing the range and diversity of talent on and behind the screen.

As the founding Board Director of UK Film Council from 1999 to 2005, I contributed to the development and implementation of its international strategies which embraced the film industries of emerging markets through new co-production treaties with India, South Africa, Morocco, and China. I played a pivotal role in ensuring that equality and diversity commitments were fully integrated into every aspect of the organization’s activities.

Working in the Arts and UK film and television industry for over three decades, I was never interested in positional equity or formal authority. What drove my passion was the need to use my position to bring about institutional and mindset change which in turn would fuel the influx of marginalized talent into the mainstream.

  • Philanthropy & The African Entrepreneurship Ecosystem

In April 2014, I made the move from film to philanthropy when I accepted the invitation from Tony O. Elumelu to join the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Africa’s leading philanthropic organization based in Lagos, Nigeria. As the CEO, I brought my unique mix of skills, talent and imagination to design, develop, and launch one of the most ambitious entrepreneurship programs on the continent – the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, a 10-year, $100 million commitment to identify, train, mentor, and fund 10,000 entrepreneurs from across the continent.

Since 2015, the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme has empowered 4470 African entrepreneurs, across 54 countries to institutionalize luck and democratize opportunity. In 2019, the program scaled to select 3050 African entrepreneurs!

To support them on their entrepreneurial journey, the Foundation has given them the tools, the networks, the mentors, and the funding to transform Africa. Today the Tony Elumelu Foundation is at the forefront of technology innovation and recognized as a thought leader on African Entrepreneurship around the world. Over the five years that I lived in Nigeria and travelled across 50 of the 54 African countries; I met Africa’s exceptional talent, pursuing incredible dreams, re-imagining history, entrepreneurial pursuits, and humanitarian work across the continent.

Under my five-year leadership, the Foundation cemented its role as the principal advocate for African entrepreneurship, empowering thousands on their path to economic and social transformation. In retrospect, I feel Africa was my destiny and everything I had learnt and achieved before in arts and culture, film and television production, film finance and business consulting was leading me to this.

In Conclusion

I believe leadership begins with one’s self, at home. My most precious assets are my two amazing daughters. I have wanted nothing but the best for them; education, opportunities, experiences, challenges, to give them wings so they can fly. As a leader, I want to be judged by the quality and values of my children.

Over my 40-year professional career, I have endeavored to do the same in my working life. My business and personal values are transparent to the organizations and the people I work with, devoid of separation or duplicity.

Leadership is a choice. It is not a rank, role or a title; it is a responsibility. Leadership is about building trust with shared common values and beliefs. Great leaders work for the greater good. They are transformational. They shape and change cultures of the organizations they work with. They take risks, break rules, constantly tread new roads and meet new challenges. They embrace conflict as an asset because they recognize there is no movement without friction. They build trust with teams and give credit to those who made it happen. They sell the vision because they live the vision.

To the aspiring women leaders, I say always stay focused on the “why” and not the “what” of your chosen field. When you lose sight of the why, your passion for what you are doing will be diminished and it is impossible to inspire or to lead. Always remember the why, because it is the light that will be your energy and your guide to achieving the impossible. Leadership is a journey of life, just make sure you are making this journey with integrity.

 About ILA

 For twenty years ILA’s mission has been to advance leadership knowledge and practice for a better world. Through this platform, they organize events and conferences assembling talent across sectors, cultures, disciplines and generations.

For the 4th Women and Leadership conference, over 200 participants including teachers, scholars, researchers, students, consultants and coaches, gathered from over 14 countries and seven US states. A community of like-minded women and some men, young and old, spent three days discussing, debating, and reflecting on ways in which women’s leadership potential can be developed, energized and liberated for the ‘greater good’. It was a platform for sharing depth of knowledge, perspectives, ideas and good practices, building professional and academic connections with common values and a unifying belief that women in leadership positions matter.

About the Author

 Parminder Vir OBE has dedicated herself to positively impact and transform lives through her work in philanthropy, entrepreneurship, film and television production, arts and culture, and investment funding. She served as the CEO of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Africa’s leading philanthropic organization based in Lagos, Nigeria from April 2014 to April 2019. She designed and launched one of the most ambitious entrepreneurship programs on the continent – the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, a 10-year, $100 million commitment to identify, train, mentor, and fund 10,000 entrepreneurs from across the continent. Under her five-year leadership, the Foundation has cemented its role as the principal advocate for African entrepreneurship, empowering thousands on their path to economic and social transformation.

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 this and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the ILI LinkedIn.

 

Career Pivots are Driven by Values

Values drive the pivotThis blog is an excerpt from the International Award winning book,  Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers. The post is a companion to the Voice America show that aired on April 2, 2019 Making the Pivot, Leveraging Opportunities talking with two very successful leader,Greg Moran and Nicholas Papanicolaou, about the evolution of their careers.

First, you will define your future, and from that vantage point, clarify your vision and values. Values are deeply held views of what we find worthwhile. They come from many sources:  parents, religion, schools, peers, people we admire, and culture. Many go back to childhood; others are taken on as adults. Values help us define how we live our lives and accomplish our purpose.

  • Step 1: Define what you value most: From the list of values (both work and personal), select the ten that are most important to you—as guides for how to behave, or as components of a valued way of life. Feel free to add any values of your own to this list.

Innovative Leadership Personal Values Checklist

 

Step 2: Elimination: Now that you have identified ten values, imagine that you are only permitted to have five. Which five would you give up? Cross them off. Now cross off another two to bring your list down to three.

Step 3: Integration:Take a look at the top three values on your list.

      • How would your life be different if those values were prominent and practiced?
      • What does each value mean, exactly? What do you expect from yourself, even in difficult times?
      • Does the personal vision you’ve outlined reflect those values? If not, should your personal vision be expanded? Again, if not, are you prepared and willing to reconsider those values?
      • Are you willing to create a life in which these values are paramount, and help an organization put those values into action?

Which one item on the list do you care most about?

In our recent post, Demetrius told us his vision, now he indicates his values.

Top three values in rank order:

  1. Family
  2. Integrity
  3. Humility

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 and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

Leadership Lessons from Star Wars

You don’t need to be a Star Wars devotee to recognize the franchise’s most iconic characters and moments. They’re so well-known that they became memes long before the internet was a thing. Talk about staying power!

While intergalactic adventures might not be for everyone, the themes and messages that creator and director George Lucas instilled in every leap to hyperdrive are. They’re particularly important for leaders of all stripes to take to heart, even if they’re more Team Trekkie than gaga over one Leia Organa.

Ready to soak up some knowledge straight from the stars? Read on for our favorite leadership lessons from Star Wars.

Know When to Ask for Help

One of the hallmarks of a great leader isn’t that they have all the answers; it’s that they know what they don’t know and they’re not afraid to ask for help. Case in point: Leia, princess of Alderaan and general in the Resistance.

Our introduction to Leia as a character is through her holographic SOS call to Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. While she seems like a damsel in distress, that illusion is quickly destroyed. Instead, Leia is revealed to be a fierce leader who can and does join the fight. Still, she knows she won’t win without assistance—and neither will you. Go ahead, raise your hand and make the ask, already!

Put Your Plans into Action – Remember, Real Leadership is More Experimentation than Certainty

The most effective Leaders know that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. Sound familiar? It’s Murphy’s Law, and 99 percent of the time, it’s right on the money. Just because you’re worried about your next great idea taking a nosedive, though, it doesn’t mean you should stay in perpetual planning mode. At some point, you need to leap. You need to do.

When leaders take the on the “mindset of a scientist” they don’t expect to be right. They will be directionally correct and take action that is scaled appropriately for an experiment or proof of concept before they take big action that could increase the organizational risk profile.

Leadership is about the right balance between thinking, preparing and. This iconic Yoda moment says it all: Do or do not. There is no try.

A leader doesn’t pussyfoot around an issue. Leaders minimize risk—that’s where the preparation comes in. When they’re reasonably sure they have a handle on a situation (good at developing experiments), they go for it, knowing that the results won’t be perfect. There will be course corrections. There will be mistakes. There will be starts and stops and learning along the way. But if you don’t start—if you don’t push that big red button—you’re never going to move forward. And, as a leader, that’s your job.

Trust Your Instincts and Verify

Our instincts have evolved over 200,000 years to become highly accurate sensors for risky situations. That gut instinct we talk about is valuable because it tells you instantly when something is a no-go and when you should proceed with caution. Whether you live in the Star Wars universe or your feet are firmly planted on planet Earth, this sort of heads-up system is essential to making good choices for the future.

Of the original trio of Star Wars characters, Luke is the most emotional. He’s the most in touch with his feelings and his instincts, which makes sense, given his natural talent for channeling the Force. And, goodness knows, he needs it! From the moment Luke Skywalker encounters R2D2 and C3PO, his life is a wild ride packed with death traps, rescue missions, and daredevil stunts. He relies on his instincts the way any leader or future leader should: to let him know when he should proceed and to decide if he needs more preparation. The best leaders balance the ability to trust their instincts with a highly developed ability to analyze situations and get input from others. Luke looked to Yoda and others as he honed this ability. By balancing inner wisdom (the force) with strong reliance on data and trusted others who will see your blind spots, you will be well prepared to act and learn.

Give Prompt Feedback

Saving up all your dos and don’ts for an end-of-year review isn’t an effective management strategy. To get the most out of your team, you should offer in-the-moment feedback when it’s most useful—and when they can apply your corrections and make changes on the fly. Sitting on your complaints and stewing over pet peeves isn’t good for anyone, and it won’t result in a top-notch project.

Feedback can and should take the form of learning from your action/experiments in the form of “after action analysis” for the team and project. It should also include personal learning – what was each individual’s role in the success and contribution to the short falls? Having the courage as a leader and as a participant to build on strengths and correct mistakes and short falls is necessary. This also assumes you as the leader have created a culture where mistakes are the fuel of learning not torture. Think of the many hours Jedi’s trained with Yoda. With each success and each failure, they took the feedback as an opportunity to build skills. If Yoda was not brutally honest, the Jedi would die in battle. Withholding honest feedback reflects weakness in the leader. Yes, it is hard and required to create a world class organization.

To be clear: Do not Force-choke or otherwise torture, assault, or threaten your employees. Whether you have thousands of followers awaiting your command or not, it’s better to lead by respect rather than fear like Darth Vader. Still, we appreciate that he … ahem … nips problems in the bud instead of lets them fester.

Always Look for Silver Linings – Positivity is Contagious

Cynicism and snark might be popular, but they won’t do you any good when you’re leading a group of people. Hope inspires. Optimism motivates. Purpose inspires. Results inspire. Opportunities for growth inspire.

You don’t have to go around like a modern-day Pollyanna but do try to keep one eye on the good in every situation, even while you take stock of the bad. As we build a culture of action and experimentation, each action will have successes and failures. It is the leader and the organization that can honestly learn and grow that will win. This is only possible by finding the success along with the course correction. Everyone’s favorite bad boy does it, so can you!

It always seems a little incongruous that someone so rough-around-the-edges and practical as Han is also so positive when the Rebels, and, later, the Resistance, are fighting a seemingly unwinnable war against the Dark Side. The hope he has is what keeps him pushing forward, and that’s something we could all do with a little more of.

At the end of every Star Wars movie, the prevailing lesson is that a win doesn’t come straight from the top. While leadership is essential, it’s a team exercise—and that’s a lesson George Lucas and his cast of characters never let us forget.

As you apply these Star Wars leadership lessons to real-world situations, we have one more tidbit to share: May the Force be with you.

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 and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

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, 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 and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

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

Winning in the Face of Adversity

This is a guest post by Patt Hardie, Leadership and Talent Management Expert. It is the companion to the October 23, 2018, Voice of America interview with Joyce Beatty and Doug McCollough, Congresswoman for Ohio’s 3rd District and CIO for the city of Dublin, Ohio, respectively; aired on VoiceAmerica, “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations”: Winning in the Face of Adversity: Overcoming Challenge with Grace.

We’ve all enjoyed times in our professional lives when we’ve had a major success, knocked it out of the ballpark, and know how amazing it feels to bask in the glow of well-deserved kudos and celebratory pats on the back. It would be awesome if we could ride that wave of good feelings all the time, yet we know that life isn’t always that way. We know that reality at times, is going to make life interesting, more challenging (maybe even more controversial), and in some cases, provide opportunities to change the world.

Congresswoman Beatty and Doug McCollough both exemplify leadership at its best through continually focusing on purpose-driven change for the future; finding opportunities to advocate and influence for diversity and inclusion at the top; and impacting young talent through role modeling and bringing others along with them through mentoring and standing with them.

How might you describe their leadership style? Agile, respectful, civil, tactful, decent, poised, leading with courteous goodwill and with finesse, maybe even simple elegance. All words found in the definition of GRACE. They are both others-focused, being driven from family values deep from within, well-honed from navigating many challenges and, in some cases, controversies over time. It is these life lessons they’ve carried forward to maneuver through obstacles today: know who you are and build on who you are; life isn’t always easy… expect challenges and know how to respond with courage, grace, and perseverance; be positive, be better, move forward, focus on solutions; expect to win, and bring others with you.

Facing obstacles is a normal part of life and learning how to deal with and overcoming them is what builds character and resilience. It’s so easy in our toxic world to get caught up in playing victim, or ‘poor me’ since we are human, and forget that it is often at these opportunities that we grow and learn the most if we’re open to it. Every difficulty we’re able to confront serves to strengthen our self-confidence, our motivation, and our skills for future challenges. The Greek philosopher, Herodotus, said, “Adversity has the effect of drawing out strengths and qualities of a man that would have lain dormant in its absence.”

So, while we don’t expect ourselves to look forward to obstacles, what can we do to be ready for them and manage them when they do occur so we can approach these times more gracefully and with less stress? Z. Hereford offers a few good thoughts on how to get started in his article Tips for Overcoming Adversity.:

  1. Be aware of and accept that adversity is inevitable in life. Adversity is everywhere in the world, much of which is out of your control.
  2. Build your internal resources. Before adversity hits, work on cultivating emotional strength, courage, and discipline.
  3. Build your external resources. Build a support system of family and friends.
  4. That which does not kill you doesn’t always make you stronger. Not necessarily true!
  5. Take inspiration and learn from others who have dealt successfully with adversity. There are many inspiring stories of those who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds.

When we think of conquering adversity we also think of courage. We heard it referenced often in the rich storytelling referenced in the podcast as well in simple ways as speaking an opinion clearly with conviction when others were silent. Courage is a mental and emotional preparedness and ability to deal with difficult, challenging, and sometimes seemingly impossible circumstances. It is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, intimidation, and other threats. And it can be cultivated and honed.

When we work to develop courage, we acquire skills to manage life’s challenges and empower ourselves to confront issues head on. In the article Live a Life of Courage, there are several ways to become more courageous:

  • Acknowledge and understand that it’s not the absence of fear.
  • Muster up the willingness to do so.
  • Read literature, the latest news, and watch movies about tales of courage.
  • Start small but start somewhere.
  • Develop faith and confidence.

Congresswoman Beatty and Doug McCollough were able to take everyday injustices and obstacles and transform them to gain momentum and make a difference for themselves and others. You can do the same yourself by taking one step at a time. How about it. Are you willing to make a difference for yourself, perhaps others, and possibly the world?

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 and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

About the Author

Patt Hardie, Principal and Founder of The Hardie Group LLC, and works with Metcalf & Associates. She has 30 years of business experience across healthcare, chemical, utility, contract research and retail industries as an expert leadership consultant, coach, and advisor. Patt delivers impactful, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership / team development and organizational challenges. She is recognized as a collaborative partner and progressive thought-leader who can connect with the business and synthesize needs into successful strategies for sustainable results.

Doing Well by Doing Good: A Case Study For Technology Solutions

This blog post is the companion to the Voice America interview with Dale Meyerrose, Doing Well by Doing Good.  We have been hearing about the topic of doing well by doing good for a few years and the concept sounds good in theory. Many people have asked, how do you put it into practice?

According to Dale Meyerrose, in our interview, his belief that it is time to change how technology leaders think about how they introduce products and think about their work. He proposes that they should start with identifying the greatest need and moving from need to technology solution.

He illustrates his views by discussing the company whose board he serves as Chairman, Imcon International, Inc. On September 27, 2018, Imcon International, Inc., Syracuse University and Republic of Liberia Partner to launch a project known as 40 in 2021, A $150 million Blueprint to Digitally Transform Liberia Through Dramatic Expansion of Internet Connectivity.

The following two minute video provides more information about the project.

Imcon International Inc., the developer of the Internet Backpack, a remote connectivity solution that allows users to be able to communicate from almost every location on the planet, the School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Syracuse University and the Republic of Liberia will collaborate on a far reaching project that will digitally transform Liberia by increasing the nation’s current internet penetration of about 7% to 40% by 2021.

High ranking Liberia government officials acknowledged “the potential significant value to the country, especially the benefits to be gained by Liberia’s ailing Education and Health Sectors”.

As an integral part of the project, Imcon International will provide Internet backpacks for 6000 schools as well as edgeware, through its partner VMware, to the Republic of Liberia for education, healthcare, rural community and government use, connecting the internet to all schools and hospitals throughout the country. The project includes a project-based learning curriculum through Imcon’s education partner One Planet Education Network (OPEN). Through its partnerships with Humanity.co and OrbHealth, Imcon will also implement a nationwide broadband network dedicated to the nation’s Education and Healthcare system and deploy and maintain Liberia’s first Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system. The newly established non-profit Imcon Liberia Foundation will drive the goals of 40 in 2021. Syracuse University iSchool will lead research, education, cyberphysical network design, and implementation for the Liberia project.

“The Internet Backpack is a revolutionary technology and a groundbreaking solution with multiple applications for use across the planet,” said Mr. Loud of Imcon. “This alliance will dramatically jumpstart our ability to extend our proprietary technology and effectuate positive change for underserved people as well as for those in remote areas without access to standard connectivity. The Liberia project is the first of many projects we envision rolling out on a global scale over the coming months and years.”

“We are pleased to take part in this project with Imcon and lend our technical and research expertise to this important endeavor to increase Internet connectivity across Liberia and other locations around the globe,” said Dean Liddy. “The iSchool is deeply committed to leveraging our academic and scholarly resources to improve the world around us.”

This project is a shining example of cross sector and cross-country alliances to address challenges facing the country of Liberia. It is also an example of how a technology company evaluated their product compared to the applications it could address. They selected education for Liberian children because this application would provide the greatest good to the highest number of people. By looking at the greater good, this company is creating an organization where many employees and partners will engage because they make a real impact on the world. They will not need to offer the artifacts other companies do to motivate employees whose primary role is to make stockholders more money with limited regard for the social impact.

We are certainly not opposed to companies paying dividends and creating value that provides stock appreciation (that is how many of us fund our personal retirements). We do submit that there is an opportunity for more companies to expand or even shift their focus to add doing good to the equation and still delivering strong business results.

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 and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

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.

Organizational Issues Have Developmental Levels

This is a guest post written by Terri O’Fallon and Kim Barta. It is the companion to Voice America interview between Maureen Metcalf, Terri O’Fallon and Kim Barta – How Organizational Maturity Aligns with Developmental Maturity.

All collectives, including families, corporations, and businesses of all kinds have issues that need to be faced. Usually the way we work with this is to take a shotgun approach—that is, we try the intervention that seems most likely to work given our experience and understanding of the concern. However, there is a much more effective and efficient way to approach any troubling process that we encounter in our collectives.

All collectives have a center of gravity world view. This means that collectives have a structure that is built on a particular belief system, and this is concretized in the mission statement, the policies and procedures and norms of the organization, and the kind of systems that they use to organize their work together.

For example, a common belief system is what we call a 3.5 /Modern/Achiever perspective. The predominant basis of this kind of collective is looking to the future, with a creative imagination of what that future can hold for the collective. Goals and outcomes are set by a CEO with input from others, and a plan is put into place with timelines and data points and benchmarks along the way to achieve the goals of the organization. The organization has a hierarchical structure with the CEO at the top and a series of managers (of managers of managers, etc.) who supervise the part of the organization they are responsible for and who organize their areas to support the goal orientation and the outcomes of the organization as a whole.

Another belief system is the 4.0 Post-modern/Pluralist belief system.  An organization that is formed around this belief will be relatively flat, because the 4.0 belief system doesn’t include much hierarchy—everyone has a voice. Leaders may set a direction for the organization without a lot of specificity and steer the organization in the moment based on what comes up, being very responsive to the complex adaptation that may be needed.

Regardless of the belief system that an organization is based upon, any and all collectives run into struggles of some type. These struggles (issues) are also organized around a belief system. It is very helpful to know the belief system that these issues are organized around. There are three kinds of issues.

  1. An existential, or leading-edge issue. The organization or collective may be growing into a later level belief system. For example, a 3.5 Modern collective may begin pressing into the working with more complex adaptive systems (a 4.0 Post-Modern, Pluralist complex adaptive systems belief) while it is organized structurally around a 3.5 Modernist system. This can cause quite a bit of confusion! If you handle this from a breadth issue of 3.5, you will not solve the problem. The solution lies in moving the 3.5 culture to a 4.0 culture.

 

  1. There may be issues around robustness and breadth—that is, everyone is working well together at a 3.5 Modernist level, but some of, or the whole of the organization is missing some critical skills that will keep it intact. This often has to do with technological advances, and we see businesses lose their cutting edge because they aren’t on the cutting edge of the next level of technological skills. Their organizational belief structure may be the same, but they may have an issue of not being able to reformat their business related to these new discoveries. For example, the business of processing films into pictures (slides, negatives, etc.) has all but gone by the wayside because of the technologies of cameras on cell phones and immediate access to photos online. Failing to build skills around the new technology can cause problems in the business as a whole. Not all breadth issues are large. There are many smaller issues that fit in this category that may not be noticed. Even though failing to notice them won’t put you out of business, the effect of these kinds of issues are real and have an effect. These effects will materialize even if you remain faithful to your 3.5 mission, values, and structural beliefs organizationally. The solution does not require a new structure at 4.0 to adapt, but it does require you to utilize your 3.5 structure in a new, expanded way.

 

  1. The third area is related to the darker issues in a collective. Regardless of whether the structure you have is at the 3.5 Modern level or the 4.0 Post-modern level, these issues relate to the underlying hidden beliefs that cause harm in part of or all of the collective. For example, there may be a very negative story about the organization that the employees believe and impart into any new employee that comes into the organization. “We have a bad reputation here.” “The powers that be don’t care about us.” “This is not a good place to work.” If these rumors are true it is imperative that they are cleared up if an effective, efficient organization is to flourish. This is a positive thing. However, it is not uncommon for these kinds of beliefs about the collective to remain even if everything has been improved. Perhaps changes have been made, but the past, negative, belief systems and stories within the organization haven’t changed. This kind of issue is a ‘shadow’ issue and usually falls into the category of negative gossip which can be handed from participant to participant. The negative gossip issue often comes from an earlier developmental level (2.5 Traditional belief system). This requires us to go back into the history of our collective culture and address it overtly and create a new story of healing and robustness.

When an issue arises in your collective/business/organization, it can be very helpful to look to see what kind of issue has arisen. Each level of issue demands an entirely different intervention. If you apply the wrong type of intervention to the issue (i.e. a leading-edge issue when the issue is a breadth or robust issue) the intervention can actually make the problem worse and create a new unnecessary issue that you will have to contend with in addition to the original one you are trying to solve.

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 and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

About the Authors

Terri O’Fallon’s Ph.D. has focused the last 13 years on “Learning and change in Human Systems” as an applied researcher. She has worked with hundreds of leaders studying the interventions that most effectively result in developing leaders who can effectively implement change. She has her PhD in Integral Studies California Institute of Integral Studies. She is the co-founder of two organizations. She and Kim Barta have created STAGES International, an organization that focuses on how the STAGES (developmental) model can support insights into our own growth as people, leaders, guides, coaches, and the kind of impact these insights can have on our influence in human collectives.

Kim Barta MA is an internationally recognized licensed professional psychotherapist, coach, spiritual guide, and speaker. His work and insights spring from grounded experiential practice with self and others in his cross cultural and lifelong experiences. Currently, Kim has teamed up with Dr Terri O’Fallon to present workshops and trainings internationally in a new model of human development designed and researched by Dr. O’Fallon.

Terri and Kim run Stages International’s mission is to offer programs and services to individuals and organizations based a unique developmental model. www.STAGESinternational.com

3 Leadership Lessons from Hiking the Camino Trail Across Spain

This post is a guest post by Victor Prince.  The best way to become a better leader is to better yourself. Sometimes taking on a big adventure on your vacation is a great way to do that. Pilgrims from all over the world have walked the Camino de Santiago trails across Europe for centuries, making their way to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, North-West of Spain. Today, more than a pilgrimage, the Camino is an unforgettable experience and unique journey. The pilgrimage to Santiago has never ceased from the time of the discovery of St. James’s remains in 812 AD, though there have been years of fewer pilgrims, particularly during European wars. This post is the companion to Voice America interview between Maureen Metcalf and Victor – The Camino Way: Lessons in Leadership from a Walk Across Spain.

Last month, I hiked 200 miles (320 kilometers) over two weeks on the ancient Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail in Spain. It was my third Camino in five years. I go back because I have found the Camino to be more than just a fantastic trail. The Camino provides a unique social learning opportunity as I meet and share an intense experience with fellow hikers from around the world. It also provides me alone-time to reflect on my own life and career. After my first Camino, that combination inspired me to post a blog here on LinkedIn about the lessons I learned. That blog snowballed into a book deal with HarperCollins. This third Camino taught me three different, but equally powerful lessons.

1 – Find a Train to Jump On – During a stop on my book tour in June, I met a couple of readers who were interested in walking the Camino but had not yet made it happen. When they asked me if I was going again, I told them about my August trip, which was timed to celebrate the release of the Spanish-language version of my book. They were nice folks, and in the spirit of the Camino, I told them they would be welcome to join me. I didn’t think anything would come of it, but three weeks later I got an email. They had decided to do it and had gotten the time off work. About six weeks later, we all met for the second time on a morning in St. Jean Pied de Port, France and climbed over the Pyrenees Mountains together into Spain (see picture). Many miles later, we parted at the end of the trail in Santiago de Compostela as fellow Camino pilgrims – and new friends.

Leadership Lesson – If you have a big, difficult goal and you find someone else with that same goal who has a plan to achieve it, jump on that train with them!

2 – Test Your Boundaries – Before Columbus discovered the Americas in 1492, many Europeans believed that Cape Finesterre in Spain (pictured) was the western-most point in Europe, and thus represented the end of the world. After reaching the end of the Camino trail, many of these medieval pilgrims continued on for a few more days of walking to see for themselves. These pilgrims must have felt a surge of confidence after walking across Spain – something that may have seemed impossible to them before they did it. They wanted to see for themselves if other supposed limits were really true as well.

Leadership Lesson – When you have some belief that is limiting your potential, test it. Sometimes you will realize a big wall in front of you is just a bubble waiting to be burst if you just poke it.

3 – Seize Safe Moments to Try Crazy Things – After I walked to Finesterre, I was tired and not looking forward to retracing my steps on the 40 minute walk back to my hostel. I didn’t see many other options. Then I decided to try something I had never done before – hitch-hiking. While I never recommend getting into a car with complete strangers on the roadside, I knew this would be the safest place I would ever try it. Because the road went to the “end of the world,” everyone driving back were tourists like me headed back to town. It was a busy road in broad daylight and I had my phone on me, so I stuck out my thumb. Just before the five minutes I had given myself to try it ended, a nice couple of French women pulled over. We chatted a bit in English before I took up their offer to jump in their back seat. Five minutes later I was back in town with a couple of new friends – and a new story.

Leadership Lesson – Take advantage of very low risk situations to try out constructive new things. For example, on one solo business trip early in my career, I popped into a karaoke bar I walked by to sing a song. I hadn’t had many chances to do public speaking before, and that helped me fight stage fright in a low risk environment since I knew nobody in that town.

Sometimes a vacation can be a great way to do something that helps you in life after the vacation is over. If you are looking for an adventure that can help you long after the vacation is over, it is hard to beat the Camino – a trail people have been walking for over 1,000 years.

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 and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

About the Author: Victor Prince is a Corporate Trainer and Certified Executive Coach who teaches strategy, communication and leadership skills to clients around the world. His latest book, The Camino Way: Lessons in Leadership from a Walk Across Spain (HarperCollins Leadership, 2017)has been a Top 100 Amazon bestseller in 8 categories and was listed as a top business book of 2017 by Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper. Earlier in his career, Victor was a consultant at Bain & Company, a marketing executive at Capital One, and the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He has an MBA in Finance from Wharton. Learn more at www.victorprince.com.