How To Build Your Personal Brand

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we strive to bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

This week’s article is written by Raj Subrameyer, a tech career strategist who focuses on helping people land their dream job and become successful leaders.  It is a companion piece to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled A Cure for Toxic Leadership that airs on June 28, 2022. 

Short clip from the interview:

Link to the entire interview:

There is ONE THING that will set you apart from your competition in 2022

There are millions of jobs that have already been lost.

Thousand of businesses have already closed down.

So, a lot of people are looking for opportunities to start their next chapter.

That being said…

When there are thousands of people applying for the same job as you are,

-What is going to make you get that job?
-What will make you stand out from the rest of the crowd?
-What is going to make the company CHOOSE YOU over others?


It is different facets of you, that will eventually make the difference.

So, how do you build your personal brand in this highly competitive market?

Here are five things you want to do to build your personal brand and stand out from the crowd and 2022.

  1. The first thing is to grow your network, start following people engage in posts, attend meetups conferences.
  2. The second thing is continuous learning, read books, articles take courses.
  3. The third thing you want to do is be more visible. Start writing for publication, write blog posts, write articles, bit yourself for podcasts. That’s how you’re going to be more visible.
  4. The fourth thing you want to remember is to have clear vision goals and tasks. Because a goal without a plan is just rubbish.
  5. The final thing you want to do is invest in yourself. Hire coaches, get mentors, get a degree, because you have to be prepared to spend some money on your growth because you are worth it. You deserve it. And that’s how you’re going to stand out from the crowd.



Raj Subrameyer is a tech career strategist focusing on helping people to land their dream job and become successful leaders. He is passionate about guiding professionals to maximize their opportunities and discover their zone of genius. He has given multiple TEDx talks and is a sought-after speaker at various conferences and has been featured in numerous TV news segments, podcasts, and publications, including CBS, FOX, NPR, NBC, Entrepreneur, CIO Magazine, CEOWorld Magazine, Authority Magazine, Career Addict, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success and The Good Men Project. His areas of expertise include career advancement, leadership, motivation, productivity, and entrepreneurship. In his spare time, he loves traveling and enjoying craft beer. You can find more info about how he serves people through his website –



Ready to measure your leadership skills? Here is a free assessment provided by the Innovative Leadership Institute that will measure the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation. Click HERE

If you completed the Leadership Mindset Assessment and want to explore additional resources to develop your leadership, we recommend you:

  1. Read the Forbes article Are You A Future-Ready Leader– free
  2. Purchase the short video course, Leading during Disruption, for $29
  3. Purchase a comprehensive online course ILI Leadership Mindset Program for $174.99
  4. Purchase a comprehensive leadership development program – see options in the Innovative Leadership Course Library

Join The 12th Annual WBECS Summit by today! There’s still time to register if you haven’t already done so. Make 2022 Your Year with the WBECS Summit

Are you ready to shift your career into high gear? Check out the Career Winners Circle’s epic free challenge:  Affiliate Challenge link 

Innovative Leadership: Leading Post-Pandemic & Beyond

To navigate the Great Resignation, focus on employee experience

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

How To Make the Most of Every Word You Say In Your Next Meeting…WITHOUT Being Abrupt

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we strive to bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

This week’s article is written by Jonathan Reitz, CoachNet’s FLUXIFY’s Director for Training/CEO.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled The SHORT List of Communication Skills EVERY Leader Needs that airs on June 21, 2022. 

We’ve all been in a meeting with someone who talks too much. You know the person who doesn’t believe in using 100 words when they have 10,000 to say. There’s nothing more annoying or counter-productive.

During my first career in the radio and television news, we worked hard to say a LOT in just a few words. Time constraints were part of the reason, but so was the short attention span of the listener or viewer. “Say it shorter” was our mantra.

In my coach training business, I work with many coaches and leaders who have difficulty keeping their conversational contributions to a minimum. It’s a direct result of the coaching relationship but not necessarily a direct result of the coach’s contributions. One of the cornerstones of coaching is that we show up in such a way that the client connects the dots and comes up with new ideas on their own.

To remedy this, follow this nine-step plan:

  1. Record a meeting or a conversation that’s important to you. It works best when something is at stake because you’ll be motivated to make the most of your communication.
  2. Let a little time pass. You have to be objective about what you hear on the recording. Forgetting the details of the conversation makes this easier. I know after thousands of recordings of my coaching that I have difficulty being objective if the memory is too fresh. I think everything I say is either mind-blowing or uninteresting. So I let 4-6 weeks go by before I review the conversation. You might need that long or a little less.
  3. Take a first pass at editing what you said. Now comes the hard part. Get a pad of paper and a pen. (Remember paper and pen?) You must use paper and pen for the step in the process, as your brain engages more thoroughly when using multiple physical systems while writing with a pen/pencil compared to typing on a keyboard. Writing by hand multiplies the impact of the work we’re about to do.
  4. Listen to the recording. With paper and pen in hand, review the recording of your meeting, and write down every word you say. Allow plenty of time for this, but don’t overanalyze what you’re capturing. Don’t worry about what the other people say because we’re working on your communication. The work in this step is hard, agony; you’ll probably hate it. You might curse my name a few times. But the results will take you places you’ve never expected.
  5. Once you finish transcribing your contributions to the meeting, go back and look at what you say. Read it out loud if you can. Notice the times when you say more words than necessary. After a few minutes, rewrite everything your comments in half as many words while preserving the substance of your words. This first edit begins to point out different conversational choices and where you might be able to say the same things using fewer words. The most important thing is to keep the message intact but more efficient. Painful might describe this experience. It can be downright awful. But it is worth it. And we’re just getting started!
  6. By now, you see a tremendous opportunity for different communication. But don’t stop after one edit. Go back and take a second pass. Work to make it half as long as the first time while maintaining the content of your messages.
  7. Take a moment or two at the end of this second edit to reflect on how you could structure your sentences differently in your next meeting. Begin a draft of some communication guidelines you can use as a reference.
  8. Now the difficulty ramps up again. Take the second edit and pare it down a third time. Your transcript is now 1/2 as long as the second edit while still communicating the vital information. Now your communication becomes tremendously efficient, and your meetings will change! You might even find a few more slots on your calendar because your meetings shorten.
  9. For the last step, bullet out some ways your communication needs to change. Write your list by hand on a clean sheet of paper, trusting that using those muscles combined with the tactile sensation of holding a pen and writing on paper reinforces the learning and helps you retain what you discover.

Doing this exercise once or twice changes how you choose your words. Marrying this strategy with clear agendas and measurable outcomes ensures that your people will want to follow you because you respect their time and deliver meaningful messages. Your meetings will improve, and your people with thank you!


Jonathan Reitz, MCC is CoachNet FLUXIFY’s Director for Training/CEO. Jonathan holds the Master Certified Coach (MCC) credential in the International Coaching Federation.   He’s also the co-founder of the Team Coaching Global Alliance, and a top-rated speaker at the World Business and Executive Coaches Summit (WBECS).

He wrote Coaching Hacks:  Simple Strategies to Make Every Conversation More Effective.  Jonathan is a member of the faculty in the Weatherhead School of Management Coaching Program at Case Western Reserve University.  Jonathan Reitz lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife Joy and daughter Julia.



Ready to measure your leadership skills? Here is a free assessment provided by the Innovative Leadership Institute that will measure the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation. Click HERE

If you completed the Leadership Mindset Assessment and want to explore additional resources to develop your leadership, we recommend you:

  1. Read the Forbes article Are You A Future-Ready Leader– free
  2. Purchase the short video course, Leading during Disruption, for $29
  3. Purchase a comprehensive online course ILI Leadership Mindset Program for $174.99
  4. Purchase a comprehensive leadership development program – see options in the Innovative Leadership Course Library

Join The 12th Annual WBECS Summit by today! There’s still time to register if you haven’t already done so. Make 2022 Your Year with the WBECS Summit

Are you ready to shift your career into high gear? Check out the Career Winners Circle’s epic free challenge:  Affiliate Challenge link 

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Effective Leadership in Turbulent Times

Welcome to the Innovative Leadership Newsletter brought to you by the Innovative Leadership Institute, where we strive to bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.

This week’s article is written by Ruchira Chaudhary, a leading executive coach and adjunct faculty at several top tier business schools  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Coaching, the Secret Code to Uncommon Leadership that airs on June 14, 2022. 

In June 1966, Robert F. Kennedy said in a speech in Cape Town, ‘Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history.’ You may be familiar with this apocryphal Chinese curse that sounds like a blessing or a warm wish but is used ironically to indicate a period of chaos or disorder. I cannot think of a better analogy to describe the uncertainty of mammoth proportions we face today, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. On the work front, virtually overnight, the economic shock gave rise to a new reality that caused much stress and anxiety, leaving everyone bewildered. The work from home (WFH) phenomenon is now becoming our new normal; we may have settled into a routine of sorts, but the underlying duress, angst and the occasional panic attack is not going away. Today, more than ever, leaders must discern, adapt to and shape this shifting terrain. It is about balancing many fronts: A leader needs to focus on employee well-being yet drive business results; he needs to provide clarity despite not knowing enough and, above all, he needs to project confidence despite knowing harsh business realities. It’s also a time for displaying resilience, bouncing back and building agility that will help weather this storm professionally and personally.

A Time for Uncommon Leadership

Bouncing Back and Leaping Forward

First, leaders need to build higher levels of resilience in themselves and their teams by taking charge of how they think about misfortune, crisis and adversity. Defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, or the ability to deal with a crisis situation or to quickly attain the pre-crisis status, resilience is perhaps the most essential ingredient in this leadership mix today. Resilient managers need to be nimble and show swiftness in taking decisions (even when they do not know the answers) and move from analysis to a plan of action (and reaction). It’s about shifting your thinking gears from what caused this crisis to how we fix it. Essentially, it is about moving from cause-oriented thinking to response-oriented thinking where the focus is strictly forward-looking.

Defining the end goal or destination first and working backwards to execute the plan will help employees envision the future and is emotionally stabilizing, suggests Punit Renjen, global chief executive officer, Deloitte. He adds, ‘Throughout the pandemic, organizations around the globe have demonstrated remarkable agility, changing business models literally overnight: setting up remote-work arrangements; offshoring entire business processes to less-affected geographies; initiating multi-company cooperation to redeploy furloughed employees across sectors. In each situation, the urgency for results prevailed over traditional bureaucratic responses. These organizations managed to do this because of the resilience of their leaders.’

Building Reservoirs of Trust

Second, leaders have to strengthen the trust equation. Trust, a seemingly abstract, ethereal concept, is critical for you to forge genuine bonds with the teams you lead. In times of crisis, as you lead through uncertainty, you need people to follow, and that can happen only if they believe in you, are inspired by you and are nurtured by trust. Research demonstrates that trust yields real results in terms of economic growth, increased shareholder value and innovation, greater community stability and better health outcomes. ‘From an employee perspective, consider that more than 60 per cent of workers say senior management–employee trust is paramount to their satisfaction. That’s because high-trust environments allow people to be their true selves, and when people can bring their whole selves to work, they are not only more creative, but more productive as well.’ Many leaders have done a phenomenal job of gaining this trust by deftly navigating the pandemic, despite the chaos, the unknown variables and the conflicting guidance at the start of the outbreak. They can continue to earn this trust by thinking of how they can rebuild a safe space for their people when they return to work (literally and metaphorically), how they stretch themselves to find the time to coach and guide in these uncertain times, and how they do their best to preserve jobs rather than cutting organization costs in the face of imminent losses. Therefore, trust is as important in a professional relationship as it is in a personal one. When leaders, despite their crazy schedules, find the time to check in on their people, they create with them a personal equation, based on trust.

Topics like grief are seldom discussed at work. In fact, more often than not, we don’t even know if we should discuss such topics. Leaders, mental health experts and coaches are now all telling us that it is okay to say you are not okay. Feelings of grief, loneliness and disconnection are real. It’s okay to respond by saying, ‘Actually, I am going completely crazy handling work, household chores, a young child and caring for the elderly.’ Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this pandemic is the open-endedness of it. If it were a temporary state, we could say aloud, ‘This too shall pass, hang in there.’ If we knew that there was light at the end of the tunnel, and we would eventually emerge from the long dark tunnel and soon there would be bright sunshine, things would have been very different. As a leader, it is a testing time for you. It is about maintaining the right balance and remaining focused on moving forward amid destabilizing uncertainty. That means helping your employees navigate complex emotions—grief, stress, loneliness—that most of us simply are not accustomed to in the workplace, at least at the scale we are experiencing now.

Extracted from Coaching: The Secret Code to Uncommon Leadership (authored by Ruchira Chaudhary) with permission from Penguin Random House India


An alumna of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Ruchira Chaudhary straddles the corporate and academic worlds – she is a leading executive coach, adjunct faculty at several top tier business schools and runs a boutique consulting firm focused on organizational strategy solutions.

Ruchira has a diverse and eclectic functional background in mergers and acquisitions, organization design, culture and leadership, coupled with two decades of experience in emerging markets in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. During her corporate career, Ruchira held leadership roles in Medtronic and AIG in Singapore, Qatar Telecom (now Oredoo) in Qatar and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in India. 

Ruchira teaches and frequently coaches MBA students and senior executives as affiliate faculty at several top business schools. 

Her book Coaching: The Secret Code to Uncommon Leadership (PRH) has been critically acclaimed by so many luminaries – corporate leaders, sports captains and academics.



Ready to measure your leadership skills? Here is a free assessment provided by the Innovative Leadership Institute that will measure the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation. Click HERE

If you completed the Leadership Mindset Assessment and want to explore additional resources to develop your leadership, we recommend you:

  1. Read the Forbes article Are You A Future-Ready Leader– free
  2. Purchase the short video course, Leading during Disruption,for $29
  3. Purchase a comprehensive online course ILI Leadership Mindset Programfor $174.99
  4. Purchase a comprehensive leadership development program – see options in the Innovative Leadership Course Library

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.


Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

An Inclusive Culture in the Workforce

This week’s articles are provided by two authors who came together in Geneva, Switzerland during the International Leadership Association Conference to talk about diversity, equity and inclusion from different perspectives. 

The first article was published in the October 2021 edition of Manage HR, Diversity’s Age-Old Blindspot­ Unarmed in the True Battle for Talent, written by Paul Rupert and Nadia Younes.

The second article first published in the January 22 edition of Corporate Investments is called The Strategist Creating a culture of Inclusion – Being a Good Leader of People by Gamiel Yafai.

Their interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled  Workforce Demographics and an Inclusive Culture featuring Nadia Younes, Louise Carvalho, and Gamiel Yafai aired on Tuesday, March 15th, 2022.


Diversity’s Age-Old Blindspot Unarmed in the True Battle for Talent

By Paul Rupert, Founder & CEO, Rupert Organizational Design, and Nadia Younes, Board Member, Board of Advisors, The Rejuvi Venture, Inc.

Many organisations tout and publicize their diversity commitment to generational diversity. In most cases, this is code for a myopic focus on Millennials and Gen Z with little to no emphasis on the millions of workers 50 plus working alongside their younger colleagues and still ready to work, learn and grow in their professional lives.

The recent and ongoing pandemic has laid bare the plight of the aging workforce – and pointed out a unique set of problems and opportunities for those DE&I leaders who are far-sighted enough to acknowledge them and build the skills of a truly inclusive and intergenerational workforce.

The 20th century model of childhood/education/ work/ early retirement or death has been disrupted by the longevity of the 21st century. Even with modest fluctuations, today’s workers are outliving yesterday’s assumptions.  Even as more people need money for longer retirements, traditional pensions are inadequate and non-existent in the US and many parts of the world. Modest Social Security + random 401ks are no substitute. Where a variety of pension schemes do exist across Europe and in some other parts of the world, they are increasingly dependent on policies in urgent need of updating to meet the current life expectancy and labour market realities.

The antiquated ” human capital” framework – hire a 20-year­ old, use them for a thirty-year period and replace them – no longer works. In a time where companies are increasingly talking about their commitment to sustainability, ensuring all labour pools can be developed and maximized is the more sustainable approach. Traditional sources of essential labour, including large-scale immigration and replacement level childbirth, are falling short of historical norms across much of the world. This offers a tremendous opportunity to make aging workers less “disposable.” In fact, in the EU, the median age in the workforce is already nearly 45 and rising and across the pond in the US, the Department of Labour projects that 25percent of future new hires will be aging workers.

During the pandemic, a record level of aging workers was laid off. McKinsey estimates that 59 million jobs­ or 26 percent of total employment-are at risk of reductions in hours, pay, furloughs and permanent layoffs. Disproportionately impacted across the EU were both younger and older workers but younger workers are expected to re-enter the workforce quicker. Older workers are likely to face longer-term under or unemployment significantly impacting retirement savings, health and wellbeing. In the US alone, over a million people took “early retirement” – 90 percent of them involuntarily. Headlines scream of the “labour shortages” that threaten the recovery, but there is little effort to recognize, recruit, retrain and retain this pool of experienced and talented aging workers.

Just as millions of veterans of the recent work from home experience are reconsidering the conditions under which they choose to return to work, so it will take some rethinking and redesign to secure and make the best use of these skilled employees.

Now is the time for diversity and inclusion to reflect a commitment to the very diverse or different ways in which people can work and be most productive. Full time at home, home a few days and in the office a few, 4-day weeks, and phased and partial retirement should be on the table for a more personalized and optimal employee experience. As the old “buyer’s market” – with employers setting the terms — saying here’s the job, take it or leave it – ·yields more power to the sellers, the opportunity and necessity of driving changes in employer behaviour is business-critical.

Unfortunately, the diversity field’s forays into questions of an age in the workplace have largely been somewhat shallow dives into so-called intergenerational awareness and often faulty “traits” stereotyping. These are often found not to be entirely accurate within any of the three to four generations currently working together in the workplace. Although aging workers want many of the same things as their younger counterparts –to be appreciated, rewarded, have flexibility and some level of autonomy — they have been seen as the means to advancing younger workers through mentoring and sponsorships – not as a diverse group needing its own special attention or offering its own valuable contributions.

In the era of greater longevity, it is critical to abolish the outdated “sell-by date” of 50+ and in the time of extended work, to strengthen ongoing training and development for all workers –  both young and old. With many organizations investing in retraining and upskilling the talent, the over 50 are the least likely, according to the Centre for Ageing Better research, to receive any off-the­ job investment in their professional development. A truly diverse and disruption-ready workforce will include enhanced contributors from employees in their twenties into their sixties and seventies. They will work all sorts of schedules over their work-life, with reduced schedules for caregiving responsibilities or to pursue higher education and periods of full-time work with the option of reducing as part of a phasing to retirement. In the post-pandemic world, truly listening to the way people want to work matters especially if companies want their employees to stay engaged and continue to drive the business results they need for a full recovery and future growth. In this virtuous cycle, diversity drives greater flexibility and flexibility drives greater diversity.

Considering the recent re-examination of flexible work driven by the massive – and largely successful – work from home experiment, the time is ripe for finally tackling one of the most promising and under-utilized flexible arrangements: phased retirement. The old full-time-in-the-office model of employment may be losing its luster to the younger workforce, but it does not serve to attract and retain older workers who have been shown to trade valuable knowledge sharing and mentoring for the opportunity to work longer and ease into retirement.

Although there are limited examples of successful phased retirement programs and their many benefits, many myths exist about the challenges of designing and implementing such initiatives. As practitioners who have developed long­ lasting programs in this space, we are well aware that there are real and rare challenges that do not arise with flextime or work from home efforts. Like any worthwhile project, they benefit from the expertise and experience of others. Given the coming labour market scarcities and the need to maximize the talent of all age groups, the question is not whether to pursue phased retirement – but when. We think the far-sighted DE&! leader will seize this opportunity now.

“In the era of greater longevity, it is critical to abolish the outdated sell-by dateof SO+ and in the time of next ended work, to strengthen ongoing training and development for all workers – both young and old”


About the Authors

Nadia Younes has extensive cross-industry and geographical experience leading efforts in DEI. Employee Experience and Work-Life/Wellbeing in global multinational companies headquartered in Switzerland, the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. Global organizations where she has led these efforts include, Wells Fargo, Amgen, Novartis, Rio Tinto, International Monetary Fund and Zurich Insurance. She has also consulted with over 100 other multinational and non-profit organizations and helped introduce the next generation of measurement of gender equality that includes intersectionality with race and other dimensions of diversity.

Paul Rupert is the Founder and CEO of Rupert Organizational Design. His firm has pioneered flexible and mutually beneficial ways of working for over four decades. With more than 100 major clients we have created solutions ranging from superior employee attraction and engagement, key staff retention, knowledge transfer through phased retirements, flexible supports over the employee life cycle and inclusion strategies that move beyond bias awareness to building mutually respectful environments.


Here is Gamiel Yafai’s article, The Strategist Creating a culture of Inclusion – Being a good leader of people.

For decades, leaders have said that their people are their greatest asset, yet recent history shows us that we do not value these assets as much as we say or think we do! We only have to look at the inequalities that still exist in workplaces due to a person’s gender, race, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation, caste or social mobility, to see that we not only still have a long way to go.

But that we are missing out on huge amounts of human potential and productivity due to the inequalities that still exist that stifle people’s diversity of creativity, thinking and innovation.

Over the last couple of years, we have seen so much enforced global change due to Brexit, Covid and the Black Lives Matter campaign: all of which will have long-lasting effects in the global workplace. Probably the most significant development in terms of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within my experience, is seeing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion move up the strategic agenda. I am having more conversations with senior leaders /CEOs and can feel a shift from explaining why Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is a global imperative for any business, to explaining how to ‘do’ it.

So, in other words, out of my 21 years in this business, I feel I as if I spent 19 of those years spending most of my time explaining to senior leaders why Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is important.

This has changed in the last 2 years as I am now spending most of my time supporting clients with what they should be doing and how they should be doing it in terms of best practice. I often heard that their businesses are performing well and my response was is always: but how much better can you be when you tap into the potential that exists in each one of your people?

Even though there is now a greater understanding of the terms Diversity and Inclusion, it is less so when it comes to Equity. In fact, we welcome that there is a global shift in terminology from Diversity, Equality and Inclusion to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Equality means treating people the same or giving everyone the same level of support or opportunities; Equity means recognising that each person has different circumstances and allocating the appropriate resources and opportunities needed to create an equal playing field. Equity is the more appropriate and ambitious goal.

Over the years I have watched with great interest and sometimes disbelief at how we as business leaders are oblivious to the needs of our people: whilst we consider our employees to be our biggest assets, yet we know very little about them.

Over the last 21 years we have conducted research for 36 national and international clients into the reality of working for their organisations from a minority perspective i.e., gender, disability, ethnicity and sexual orientation. A defining similarity of each client organisation is that despite multiple cultures existing within the workforce.

All these organisations have an explicit over-arching culture experienced by the homogenous group of senior management. Through the prism of this over-arching culture senior management see things very positively and is often shielded from the experience of those different to them. There is a hidden or shadow culture that exists which defines the way individuals in the minority experience the culture of the organisation, which disempowers them from bringing their best selves to work.

What do we mean by their best selves or authentic selves? It is the understanding that everyone should be able to be fully themselves at work. Furthermore, it is important that managers and senior management understand that it is not just those people who are in the minority who experience many unseen barriers to bringing their authentic/best selves to work.

We are all different. We come from different cultural backgrounds and have different faiths, traditions, and values. We have different life and work experiences, different levels of education, knowledge and skills that we have gathered throughout our lifetimes. Yet when we get into the workplace there is an expectation that we leave a great deal of that knowledge and experience at the door of our organisation.

We are expected to conform to a culture where career, progression and development are in the hands of a manager who may not have the knowledge, skills or experience to maximise your potential. We are either held back because of our diversity or because our way of thinking is different from that of our managers or leaders. We may have to mask who we really are in order to survive in the workplace.

We have seen evidence that employees are increasingly more aware and able to challenge, and this will grow. We have seen the rise of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Councils in schools, where children and young people discuss the lack of equality in the curriculum and what they can expect from their future employers.

We are also seeing signs of a revolution in employment where employees are challenging their employers: a global client recently received 200 letters from disgruntled female staff members for not addressing gender equality. Much research shows that people leave managers not organisations. In the following LinkedIn article employees-dont-leave-companiesmanagers-brigette-hyacinth/ Brigette Hyacith quotes Gallup research that shows that “75% of workers who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of their bosses and not the position itself”. Last year we conducted 55 interactive webinars for 30 different national and global organisations, speaking to around 3500 participants. One of the questions we asked was ‘how much of your authentic self are you able to bring to work’. In some cases less than 30% of participants felt that they were able to bring more than 70% of their authentic selves to the workplace. So, what does this mean for businesses? It means that your employees are unable to maximise their full potential and reach new levels of productivity and which impacts on profitability and brand identity. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are no longer just a good thing to do. The drive for organisations to be more diverse and inclusive is driven by the business, the moral and the social case.

The outcomes of being more diverse and inclusive include the following: healthy employee turnover; strong employer brand; high creativity and innovation; high adaptability/agility; high trust and morale; high engagement and positive employee wellbeing. There is another growing trend that says that businesses need to prioritise the three Ps of PLANET, PEOPLE Then PROFIT.

Human assets are fundamental to our whole business. We need to have a systemic approach to creating a workplace that is conducive to the needs of every employee. I hear businesses talk about introducing Diversity initiatives such as training programme, reverse mentoring or unconscious bias training with the hope of delivering major change through one or two interventions. However, these are just plasters that cover up some of the cracks. My advice is always not to focus on what others are doing but to find out where they are at on their own Diversity, Equity and Inclusion journey. Once you know where you are, you can start to create an action plan to move you from where you are to where you want to be on a good Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Maturity Matrix. The Global Centre for Inclusion which is a great place to start as they provide a FREE Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Benchmark (GDEIB) Tool and a Maturity Matrix that can be accessed from the following website https:// which you can use locally, nationally or globally.

To extract maximum value for a company in terms of its employee value proposition, productivity and profitability you need excellent leaders who champion Equity, Diversity and inclusivity from the top. In the past leaders were expected to have all the answers but now we know that putting inclusion at the forefront allows leaders to gain the full benefit from the diversity of their workforce. Inclusive leaders focus on culture, relationships and decision making at each level of the organisation and counteract any negative effects of unconscious bias as much as possible, therefore increasing capability and capacity. Inclusive leadership is not so much a destination but rather a continuous journey that is demonstrated by behaviour.

We should encourage accountability and responsibility in all as we champion Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. It is not what we do for ourselves, but what we do for others that makes us a good leader of people.

About the Author

Gamiel Yafai based in England, more than an engaging, passionate, seasoned Diversity & Inclusion Strategist and CEO of Diversity Marketplace a Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultancy. He is the proud recipient of the Global Diversity Leadership Award presented by the Global HRD Congress 2017 and the author of ‘Demystifying Diversity’ and ‘Yemen Proud’. Gamiel works with some of the world’s largest employers to design and implement Diversity and Inclusion Culture Change strategies and action plans, to both, attract new talent from diverse backgrounds and to support existing talent reach their potential through focusing on positive action and Inclusivity.

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 iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotifyAmazon MusicAudible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.



A Future-Ready Leader’s Look at Leadership Trends and Recommendations

This week’s article was originally published by Maureen Metcalf for Forbes Coaches Council on September 14, 2021.  It is a companion to the year-end trends discussion with Christopher Washington on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Leadership Trends for Future-Ready Leaders in 2022 and Beyond that aired on Tuesday, December 28th, 2021.


Uncertainty is the norm across all realms of our work and home lives. However, this uncertainty is different depending on professional roles and personal living conditions. This year’s trends report points out key trends we anticipate continuing and some recommendations to address these trends.

We keep reading that we face unprecedented change and live in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. We have been talking about this for a few years now, and people are looking for the new norm. The summary: VUCA is the new norm. We need to rethink how we lead and structure our businesses and lives for our people, organizations and communities to thrive. Most of us have mental models reflecting slower change and less complexity. It is time to update those models. Old models generate increasingly suboptimal decision-making and action.

We as leaders need to rethink who we are and how we lead, becoming future-ready. We need to reevaluate every facet of how we lead and conduct business. We need to celebrate what works and continually adjust what doesn’t work. Analysis and adjustment need to be part of our leadership habits. Many of us get personal annual health checks, but we may not have a similar schedule to update our thinking and behavior as leaders.

Trend 1: Business models need to focus not only on delivering results but also on building the capacity of the people and the organization and meeting the needs of a broad stakeholder group. This business model shift will include increased technology for some organizations, including robotic process automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning. For others, it will mean changes in buying policies, from procurement to increasing stock levels to managing supply chain uncertainty. Many companies, especially funders, focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards; more companies will adopt an ESG focus moving forward. In addition to ESG, we see an increased emphasis on engineering sustainability in all aspects of the enterprise and moving toward becoming a circular company with a zero-waste emphasis.

Trend 2: We are changing the nature of work with workplaces becoming more experimental and data-driven. To build the capacity to adapt, organizations will continue to take a mindset of experimentation in all facets of product development, process change, technology updates, culture change and people leadership and management to meet stakeholder needs better. Therefore, we need to continue to refine our mindsets and how we work so we can shift what we do and how we do it.

Trend 3: The uncertainty causes challenges across the business landscape. One of the most significant impacts is the mental health of our people. Depression and anxiety are high across all demographics and ages. According to the CDC in April 2021: “During August 2020–February 2021, the percentage of adults with recent symptoms of anxiety or a depressive disorder increased from 36.4% to 41.5%, and the percentage of those reporting unmet mental health care needs increased from 9.2% to 11.7%. Increases were largest among adults aged 18–29 years and those with less than a high school education.”

The mental and neurological health impacts of Covid-19 are far from over. Many people will navigate effectively during Covid-19 then struggle upon their return to their prior routines. They may have risen to the occasion to deal with the pandemic, but they may still feel the long-term implications for several years. Leaders and organizations need to create environments that support the mental and physical health of their people. They need to begin considering the neurological impacts and look at how to build neurological resilience.

Trend 4: Organizations will continue to experience a shortage of qualified employees. Organizations need to reskill and upskill their workforces and prepare for a more adaptive and team-based environment. As the nature of work changes, we need to help employees build additional hard and soft skills required to thrive.

The pandemic disproportionately impacted women’s participation in the workforce. We will see a structural impact for years to come unless leaders adopt policies and workforce practices that ease the social burden and help re-integrate women into the workforce. Additionally, young people face disruption to their education and, in many cases, a difficult entry into early career opportunities impacting their education, employability and retention. Additionally, many employees are unwilling to return to jobs that expose them to the public or do not align with their goals.

Companies and communities need to revisit their talent development and retention policies and amenities to match employee expectations. Creating paths for people who were not previously considered part of the workforce will be crucial to meet workforce needs and provide meaning and economic opportunities for people who need them, ranging from people with disabilities to people within the traditional retirement age. In addition, organizations must find avenues to retrain and upskill employees and create flexible working opportunities for more part-time and remote work for the broad employee base.

Trend 5: Climate change will cause geographic migration. The climate volatility will force businesses to reconsider their physical location over the next decade. This trend connects to ESG and circular business models. As leaders, we will also need to consider where we build new facilities and where we expand operations.

Trend 6: New technology and mindsets continue to mitigate our current challenges and create opportunities never before imagined. We see opportunities we never imagined. Science is curing diseases; technology addresses challenges from food insecurity to labor shortages; and leaders across the globe are collaborating to address social and climate issues. We need to ensure we can optimize the benefit of solutions as quickly as possible.

We are living in a time where we will make a significant impact on future generations. Our ability to lead through these challenges will change the course of history. What are you doing to mitigate the obstacles with emerging tools across a broad range of sectors to co-create a thriving world that is more equitable and just?



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

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


About the Author

Maureen Metcalf, CEO, the Innovative Leadership Institute, is dedicated to elevating the quality of leaders globally.


Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

Learning to Be Human – Taking Steps to Remove Racism from My Thinking

To receive the weekly blogs via email, please sign-up here.

This blog is provided by April Blaine and is a reflection on a past experience and how it shaped her.  It is a companion to the interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future with Joyce Beatty, Congresswoman, and Doug McCollough titled Winning in the Face of Adversity: Overcoming Challenge with Grace which aired on 10/13/18.

One of the first steps to remove racism in the world is to remove it from our thinking. It is essential to take a critical look at our lives and see where we can update our own story about who we are and how we have benefited from systemic racism. This critical view of our stories is an integral part of our healing and allows us to make sense of what we experience now through a lens that is less biased, fairer, and more just. April Blaine, one of the ILI certified facilitators shares her experience with this process.


I’m Sorry Mrs. Scull…

I began the first grade at Fulbright Elementary School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1983.  More than twenty-five years after the city’s infamous and violent path toward desegregation at Central High School, the district continued to struggle with integration, particularly in the elementary schools. While I lived less than a mile from the school, most of my classmates were bused from across town.  All of them were African-American except myself and one other girl.  The remaining children on my block,  who swam with me at the pool went to local private schools.

My teacher, Mrs. Scull, made it clear on day one that she meant business.  She was tall, thin, dignified, and serious.  One of only a handful of black teachers in the school, she always dressed smartly, her hair pulled back in a bun, accentuating her beautifully defined cheekbones and smooth, clear complexion. My six-year-old memories would place her anywhere between the ages of 25 and 55… something about her felt ageless.

As adults, we can reflect on these moments in our childhood and how we made sense of what was happening around us.  We can review the stories that we were told with a more critical lens… examining them with an ability to ask – was that really true?

But back in 1983, in my all-white neighborhood and nearly all-black school – with the only black teacher I would ever have in my public school experience…  I didn’t have the gift yet of perspective.

My mother had started reading with me from a very young age.  She is an educator by vocation, and I took to reading quickly… spending my preschool and kindergarten years never far from a book.   I’m not sure who was more excited on my first day of school.  My mother dressed me in a hand made purple smocked dress, both of us filled with high expectations for all that I would learn and discover in this new season of life.

In the early part of the year, Mrs. Scull began placing us into reading groups.  I remember reading the book she gave me and thinking to myself, “This is easy.  This is too easy.”  As I looked around the room at other groups, I recognized that others were reading books that were harder.  I wanted to read those.  I was told no.

I don’t remember feeling angry about this… just confused.  Why wasn’t I able to read the books the other children were reading?  At some point, I vocalized this concern to my mother.

There are lots of words you could use to describe my mother.  Strong, intelligent, generous, and loyal would be some of the first to come to mind. But close behind them would be pushy, aggressive, convinced she is right and unwilling to take no for an answer.

I can only imagine how the conversation went with Mrs. Scull.

All I know is that a battle ensued between my mother and this teacher.  I wasn’t privy to all the details, but I could hear the muttering at home on my mother’s end.  Mrs. Scull was not appreciative of a parent questioning her judgment.  She refused to change the reading groups based on my mother’s demands.

More phone calls and visits to the principal’s office ensued.  The saga ended with me being removed from Mrs. Scull’s class and placed in a 3rd-grade classroom for most of the instruction for the remainder of the year.

And so the triumphant story was told throughout my childhood of our victory over prejudice and hate.  In my version of the story, my mother was the hero standing up against racially motivated discrimination directed at her daughter.    I was, of course, the victim in the story.  Mrs. Scull was the black teacher who gave preferential treatment to her black students and discriminatory treatment to the white student. And in this story, my departure from the classroom was a picture of poetic justice.

Woven into the narrative were all the cultural stereotypes of angry black females. My serious and dignified teacher became a stern, cold, and hateful woman in the story we were writing. Even her name seemed to connect to a more primitive, dark, and negative side of the human race.  Mrs. SCULL…

This story left its marks on the identity I built for myself over time, one in which, as a “victim of racism,” I could not possibly be racist or prejudiced.  I even went so far as to align myself with people on the margins in solidarity.  After all, I had been one of the only white girls in the class.  I “clearly knew” what it was like to be discriminated against.

This story gave me a lot of permission. It gave me permission to excuse myself from anti-racism work, permission to claim the status as someone who understood racism and discrimination. Still, most of all, it permitted me never to ask any questions about the real truth of the story itself.

At least, until now.

It’s pretty embarrassing how long it took me to realize that this story had some real problems.

At 42, I’m starting to come to terms with ways that white supremacy was and is woven into my life. I’m a real beginner at this, and most days, all I’m learning is how much I don’t understand and how complicit I have been for so long.

But the work has finally helped me to start asking new questions. I’ve started to wonder about how this story might have played out from the perspective of my 1st-grade teacher.

As a child, I was bossy, outspoken, and slipped quickly into roles of leadership… whether I was invited to or not.  I wonder what Mrs. Scull thought as she assessed her class and tried to create the right learning environment for each one of us.

  • Did she see my early reading skills and place me in the reading group with other students so that I could be helpful to the others?
  • Did she recognize that experience in a group that wasn’t the highest achieving would turn out to be valuable for me?
  • Did I somehow misunderstand the nature of the reading assessment and test at a lower level than I actually was?

As a black woman of color, Mrs. Scull had probably worked twice as hard as her white colleagues to prove her worth and aptitude in the profession. She hadn’t crossed enormous racial boundaries and systemic hurdles to secure a position in the suburbs by accident.

  • What must it have been like to come all this way to have your integrity challenged so directly?
  • What was she thinking when this white mother was relentlessly demanding that she submit to her expectations?

I’m sure it wasn’t the first time she had encountered this kind of treatment by a white parent.  I’m certain it wasn’t the last.

What did it take for her to walk into school every day with her head held high and keep doing what she intended to do… teach these children with dignity?

The stories we tell ourselves matter.  They shape a reality for us that we then live in, often far into adulthood.

This is normal, human stuff.  We all do it.


We need to examine our stories.  They need to be taken out and explored and reconfigured and understood with the new information that we have as adults who are waking up and beginning to see things more clearly.

I don’t know exactly what happened at this moment in 1983.  I don’t know what motivated Mrs. Scull’s actions.

But I do know that if there was a victim in this story, it wasn’t me.

The system of white supremacy that supported my mother’s demands and moved me to an advanced class was operating as it always had… in the interest of white people.

And in the process, a hardworking, intelligent, dignified black teacher, who might have had the opportunity to make a real impact on my life, and teach me things from a new perspective, perhaps throw a wrench into some of the ideals that would be further cemented in my mind when I moved 2 years later to an all-white community… was disgraced, disrespected, and overruled by her white superiors.

And I participated in it.  I participated in it at the age of 6.

Unknowingly.  Unintentionally, yes.

And yet, I participated in powerful ways that made an impact on the life of my teacher.

I’m sorry, Mrs. Scull.

I’m sorry for making you the villain all these years.

I’m so sorry for not doing the work I needed to see the truth.

I’m sorry I couldn’t see you as a human being…

I’m sorry I took my power and privilege for granted.

And I’m so sorry that you had to suffer because of it.

It’s not OK.

And it’s time to start telling the truth.

The real stories.

Thank you for being my teacher…  36 years later, I’m just beginning to learn.

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

Rev. April Blaine is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.  She currently serves as the Lead Pastor at Hilliard UMC in Columbus, OH.  April and her partner Martin have 2 children, Eugene and Marcus.  April is passionate about helping others to make their home in a sense of love and acceptance so they can discover within a spiritual depth, honesty, and courage previously unseen.  She teaches prayer and meditation courses online at Hilliard UMC and is working with the Innovative Leadership Institute to develop a course on the importance of Spirituality and Inner Depth as an Innovative Leader.



Situational Mindsets Decoding Current Complexity

To receive the weekly blogs via email, please sign-up here.

This blog is provided by Mary Lippitt, author of Situational Mindsets: Targeting What Matters When It Matters. It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Situational Mindsets: Targeting What Matters When It Matters that aired on July 21st, 2020.


In our multifaceted and dynamic world, doing the right thing at the right time is difficult.  We cannot rely on our experiences to cope with new facts, realities, and challenges.  To fully understand all aspects of our situation we must practice mental agility and situational awareness.

Our extraordinary time mandates a systemic, disciplined, and rigorous analysis of current realities.  What we do not know can derail us.  Facts matter and point the way to successfully leverage change.

Situational Mindsets provide a foundation for wise decision making.  As we expand our point of view, we discover new solutions, spot potential barriers, and earn support.  Using this framework, leaders discover alternatives, weigh options, and set priorities.  The six mindsets examine all organizational drivers and prevent us from recklessly rushing into action in the name of being decisive.

As Obi-Wan Kenobi told us in Return of the Jedi, “You’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”  Grappling with every aspect, prevents us from capitulating to superficial analysis and out dated assumptions.  Employing Mindsets yield creative and strategic insights essential to cope with precedent setting threats.  Each Mindset explores a key organizational aspect, including:

  • The Inventing Mindset examines opportunities for new products/services, creative designs, and new synergies.
  • The Catalyzing Mindset targets the customer, customer base, and building the organization’s brand.
  • The Developing Mindset supports seamless infrastructure, integrated systems, and effective policies.
  • The Performing Mindset improves processes, quality, workflow efficiencies, and profitability.
  • The Protecting Mindset develops talent, collaboration, agility, trust, and bench strength.
  • The Challenging Mindset evaluates challenges, trends, risks, and opportunities for sustained success.

Examining these mindsets counter our natural tendency to rely on past practice, register only confirming information, and accept limited alternatives.  While “keeping things simple” is tempting, easy answers spawn problems.  Addressing complex, interdependencies, and systemic challenges does not require an advanced degree, membership in Mensa, or a C suite title.  It merely entails adopting a proactive disciplined practice of inquiry to reveal solutions and potentially unpleasant surprises.  Consider our missteps with COVID.

The pandemic requires granular  and long term analysis.  Consider the unintended consequence of the $600 federal unemployment benefit.  The need was clear, but the problem of re-hiring furloughed lower wage workers who earned more on unemployment was unnoticed. Overlooking a mindset invites dangerous blind spots.

A Mindset approach to COVID would address:

  • Developing new treatments, medications, and vaccines. This Inventing Mindset offers innovation synergies to leverage existing resources and practices.
  • Targeting the needs of first responders and essential workers and rapidly responding to hot spots. This Catalyzing Mindset also focuses on enlisting resources, including volunteers and organizational support.
  • Improving hospital capacity, distributing PPE, preparing guidelines for government, and the public, sharing information, and setting goals. The Developing Mindset also clarifies goals, roles, and responsibilities.
  • Evaluating patient data, conducting testing, and measuring treatment effectiveness, and reallocating resources to address gaps. The Performing Mindset also examines impact, fine tunes staffing, budgetary impact, and quality.
  • Educating the public on compliance, providing for basic needs created by the virus, training contact tracers, and recognizing our essential workers. The Protecting Mindset also fosters trust, confidence, and community support.
  • Identifying emerging trends, testing assumptions, re-evaluating off-shoring of our medical equipment, and forecasting future episodes. The Challenging Mindset also examines the impact of demographic, economic, regulatory, and security challenges.

What we see on the surface is not all that counts.  We must go beyond our initial response to study complex realities, surface diverse viewpoints, and define implementable solutions. Effective leaders have shifted from thinking they have all the right answers to knowing that their role is to ask all the right questions.  Inquiry increases engagement and improves bottom-line results.

The founder of IBM, Thomas Watson, kept a sign on his desk that said: “Think.” He felt that analysis was crucial to the firm’s success and actually trademarked the word “THINK.” The connection between thinking and success continues. However, our approach to thinking must expand with a new emphasis on critical, creative, and strategic thinking.

Success is never final.  We must continually adjust to new realities.  Situational Mindsets clears the fog produced by complexity.  Mindsets reveal what has happened, what is happening, and what should happen.  It enables us to effectively leverage unprecedented change.


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

Dr. Mary Lippitt founded Enterprise Management Ltd. thirty years ago to help leaders navigate today’s challenges, increase collaboration, and boost critical thinking.  Her new book is Situational Mindsets: Targeting What Matters When It Matters.  You can contact her at


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. 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, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Author

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

Photo by Albert Rafael

Revive Your Business — Shed Overhead, Thrill Your Clients and Boost Productivity

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 provided by Mitch Russo. It is the first half of Chapter 1 from his book Invisible Organization: How Ingenious CEOs Are Creating Thriving Virtual Companies ©2015 and used with permission. In his book, Mitch shares how leaders can begin the process and enjoy the benefits of a successful Invisible Organization, which is one that embraces the work from home atmosphere. If you would like to find out more, you can purchase his book here. This blog is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, Building a Community Around Products and Services which aired on May 5th, 2020.


The whole world is moving in this direction. Your competitors may already be working virtually at some level. Some companies have tried and failed, others are succeeding and winning. You may already have a few people who work from home. That’s great, but it’s just a start. Transitioning to an Invisible Organization requires much more, and the rewards are much greater than you are aware of.

Why is it worth the effort to build an Invisible Organization? You can create more free time, higher profits, greater business success, and probably best of all, greater fulfillment for you and your staff. You might not realize it, yet the future of your very business may depend on it.

It’s not hard, but it does take determination and the willingness to rethink the way your company operates. The steps I provide are simple and direct regardless of what type of company you have or what industry you are in. I’ve done it myself, and I’ve helped others do it—with tremendous results. Now it’s your turn.

The goal of this book:

To get you into action quickly so that you can begin the process and enjoy the benefits of a successful Invisible Organization sooner rather than later.

The process will require you to master several new skills and strategies which will be the keys to unlimited business success. You’ll be challenged to find ways to become “invisible” in all areas of your company.

You’re going to evaluate every department, each staff member and every system you’re using now from a different perspective. You’ll discover ways to work more efficiently, and as a direct result, expand your business.

This process will take some time, but the cumulative results will be undeniable. You will create maximum results with minimum effort and cost.

Inevitably, this will enable you to increase your income.

When asked how they run their sales organization, some business owners might say, “We just pick up the phone, call a prospect and ask for the order.” That answer is no longer good enough. You need to break down exactly what it is you do into a series of steps that you follow with every single client or customer.

When you know exactly what it is your company is doing, you can tell a person exactly what it is you do with confidence. This leads to more business because people like systems. If they’re looking for someone to help them with a specific problem or service, they feel comfortable knowing that there’s a tried-and-tested series of techniques in place to get that job done.

Besides selling with confidence, good systems will make expansion easier and training more precise. They will let you build in and repeat successful processes. You can set up the training for your staff and track their results and improve them. You’ll know how long it takes to accomplish each action.

Once clearly defined systems are in place, you’ll then be able to easily discover ways to maximize your exposure with more effective marketing.

Your marketing system is a crucial piece of your business that will ultimately be generating income for you on its own. It will become a major component of your Invisible Organization.

The following chapters will share marketing techniques that go beyond the now-common Facebook and Google ads. These techniques will become huge profit generation systems when used in an Invisible Organization. If you already have great marketing systems in place and want to expand sales while cutting expenses, you are in the right place, too. I’ll show you how you can increase productivity and profits while improving the lifestyle of the CEO, the management team, and your staff.

How do I know this for sure? I did it myself. Now I want to help you do it as well.

As the CEO of Business Breakthroughs International, I built a multi-hundred-person organization spanning seven countries and with over 10,000 clients. We doubled our business three years in a row and managed twelve divisions, seven of which had their own Profit and Loss Statement and were profitable. At its peak we generated over $25 million in revenue per year with over five hundred clients every month. On average we had more than fifty working coaches and nearly 100 salespeople, all of them working from the comfort of their own homes. We didn’t own a single copy machine, and yet anyone who dealt with us thought we occupied a huge facility with a lot of parking spaces.

The company started as Chet Holmes International and evolved into Business Breakthroughs when Tony Robbins became our joint venture partner.

We collectively assisted thousands of companies with high-level consulting services, coaching and education. I created several new divisions, all profitable almost from day one.

I ran the entire organization as President and CEO from a home office, my spare bedroom converted to a workspace. It was comfortable, easy to work from, and it saved me countless hours and dollars I would have spent maintaining a professional, outside facility. Even though my personal assistant was 2,000 miles away, we functioned as a great team.

Before that, I was a CEO consultant and a venture investor. In that role, I saw hundreds of business models and directly participated in several as an operating executive.

Back in 1985, I built, ran, and sold the most popular time accounting software company ever built called Timeslips Corporation. At one point, Timeslips Corp had over 250,000 clients. We sold that business for over $10M.

With an Invisible Organization you won’t need the physical infrastructure you are currently using. Just imagine how much money you could save if you no longer had to pay for rent and utilities. Your first response may be, “That won’t work for our company.” But think about it. Wouldn’t it be a great way to boost profits and create leverage for your business if it were possible?

How much money could you really save? Let’s take a look.

A small architect’s office in Ashland Massachusetts has 12 employees. One is the CEO, another the bookkeeper, another is receptionist, and there is one tech to support the infrastructure. The remaining eight are engineers and draftsman. They have a 4,000-square-foot office space with a conference room, a reception area, and ten individual offices. After understanding their concerns about maintaining their “presence” in the area, I recommended the following, as their lease was up for renewal:

Current Monthly Costs:

Rent at $32/SqFt:                                 $10,666

Electricity                                               $816

Gas for Heat                                           $437

Leased Servers Onsite                          $2,850

Custodial                                                 $300

Coffee Service                                         $195

Snacks                                                      $150

Phone System Lease                             $532

Internet                                                    $450

Phone Service                                         $295

Property and Facilities Insurance       $310


Total:                                                        $17,001 per month


After the CEO decided it was time to become “invisible,” most of these costs were eliminated. The company downsized to an 850-sqare-foot office, which allowed the CEO to maintain his presence with the receptionist. This included a full conference room and two guest workstations with the equipment the company already owned.

The CEO returned his leased server to the leasing company and signed a contract for a cloud-based server, eliminating 3/4 of the company’s monthly expenses (and that included new equipment at his hosting company every two years with 24/7 tech support and backup). He sent his entire engineering staff home and gave them each $75 a month to pay for their Internet fees. They were delighted to save money on fuel and lunches, plus they were happy that they didn’t have to commute an average of 80 minutes anymore.

After going invisible, the company’s monthly costs were:

Rent at $36/SqFt                            $2,550

Electricity                                          $327

Gas for Heat                                      $196

Coffee Service                                   $48

Snacks                                                $54

Internet                                             $250

Phone Service                                   $96

Property Insurance                         $144

Remote Server Lease                      $650

Added Internet for Staff                 $750

Total:                                                 $5,065 per month

That’s an $11,936-per-month savings—about $143,232 per year— because they converted from a physical location to a virtual organization. Besides the savings, everyone loved working from home, except one engineer who didn’t have the self-discipline and had to be let go. As a result productivity soared, the quality of work increased dramatically, and people were logged into their servers from home at all hours of the day and night, willing to work extra if needed without complaint.

Just imagine how much you would save on office furniture, partitions, phone sets, phone systems, and in most cases, even the cost of computers. Since you won’t maintain any of your own hardware anymore, you will no longer need a tech support person. Instead you’ll rely on your cloud system’s provider for help.

In the above example, profits soared and staff became more productive even before we started implementing the really cool stuff: interconnecting all their systems, building their document vault, and creating their automated training environment. That’s the next step, and that’s where your world will change when it comes to scalability.

Today’s cutting-edge systems will open doors you didn’t even know existed. Even if you own a manufacturing plant, or operate a medical center, or need manual labor, there are still certain departments that could operate virtually. When you have the proper training systems in place with clear policies and procedures, you can send your sales and administrative team home while watching their productivity increase. They will be happier and will keep more of their net pay.

It’s best to transition gradually. Start with just a few people to get used to how it works. Then begin to migrate, and watch the magic happen. Everything I’ve discussed in this book can be done without physical infrastructure.

The Invisible Organization by Mitch Russo © 2015


To purchase The Invisible Organization, click here.

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

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


About the Author

Mitch is the author of the bestseller The Invisible Organization: How Ingenious CEOs are Creating Thriving, Virtual Companies, which is the CEOs guide to transitioning a traditional brick and mortar company into a fully virtual organization. It became an instant bestseller on Amazon across several categories. He cofounded Timeslips Corp, which grew to become the largest time tracking software company in the world before it was sold in 1998. Then, Mitch went on to join longtime friend Chet Holmes as President, later to join forces with Tony Robbins and together created Business Breakthroughs, International with nearly 300 people and about 25 million in sales. Mitch says, Make it Happen and he’s doing that with yet another great company he founded, called PowerTribes. His websites are and

To connect with Mitch Russo, email:



Improve Your Sleep for Increased Productivity

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.  As we face added pressures of working from home, having children home from school, and being all under the same roof all the time we hope you find some tips for sleeping well.  Be sure to do some self-care so you can do your best for your family and your job.  Here is also a link to an interview on leadership fitness that may give you encouragement as well: Peak Leadership Fitness: Elevating your Leadership Game with Timothy J. Tobin.


In stressful times, it can be easy to try to burn the candle at both ends. You will want to work harder to make up for failings in your company, the economy, or at home and this can often lead to sleeping less in hopes that you’ll be more productive.

While there are ways that you can sleep less to improve your productivity, it is still important to get quality sleep because that will allow you to be more productive during your day. There are many ways that sleep, which can often feel like a luxury you don’t have time for, helps you to be more productive.

Recover from Distractions Sooner

Every working day has its distractions, from the random question of a co-worker to that urgent email that needs attention. Often what happens when these distractions come through is that you immediately forget what it was that you were working on beforehand and it takes an inordinate amount of time to return to your pressing task.

When you get the sleep that you need it will make it easier for you to get back to the important task that you were working on sooner. This helps by increasing your productivity because you can easily return to your tasks after working on a distraction.

Helps Prevent Burnout

If you’ve ever had a day where you are fed up with your job, your life, and all the little things in between, it’s probably because you are suffering from burnout. Burnout can make us all hate the things that we once loved. To reduce your chances of burnout, you need to get more effective sleep.

Sleep can help you to feel more rested and grateful for the things that you have in your life. It can help you to want to do more and feel like your work is appreciated in a way that you never knew was possible. It can also help you to feel more effective at your job.

Improves Decision Making

When you’re sleep-deprived, it can affect your decision-making skills. It can be hard to decide between what task to do, or what decision is the most effective. Decision-making becomes harder the less sleep that you get because your brain is tired and hasn’t had the time that it needs to recover from being worked tirelessly the day before.

By getting the quality sleep you need, you become able to make decisions easily. Being able to make decisions in an easier manner allows you to be more productive as these determinations are put into place sooner.  Quicker decisions allow for tasks to be completed faster making your day more productive.

Increases Memory Function

Being tired means that your brain isn’t functioning at its peak performance capabilities. To become more efficient in your day you will need to get the sleep that your mind needs to function properly. While it can be easy to try and stay awake later and wake up earlier to get more done, it’s not always the most efficient use of your time.

Taking the time to get a good night’s sleep will help your memory function faster, giving your brain the power to remember tasks quicker allowing you better performance during your day. This increases your productivity ten-fold because it allows you to rely more on your memory than in times when you didn’t get enough sleep.

Reduces Mistakes

Reducing your sleep will often increase the number of mistakes that you make during your day. Mistakes are common among people who are sleep deprived and it’s often the people that need to make fewer mistakes that choose to reduce their sleep to become more productive.

The time that you use fixing mistakes due to poor sleep habits can be easily used to enact innovative plans that create less work for you and your team. We’ve all had the unfortunate experience of having to redo a project or proposal because we read the instructions wrong or made a simple mistake that might not have occurred had we gotten better sleep.

So, what can you do to improve your sleep and be more productive?

The infographic below by SleePare helps to give ideas of things that you can try to improve your sleep routine to help you be more productive during the day.

For example, if you really want to sleep less, they offer the idea of trying to harness your natural sleep-wake clock to help you sleep less while feeling just as refreshed as you normally would. To do this you need to understand the sleep cycle and structure your sleep time to ensure that you only wake up after you’ve been through all the different cycles of sleep.

You may have experienced this by having woken up for no particular reason at 5 o’clock in the morning and feeling very refreshed. This means that you were able to sleep effectively and get all the rest that your brain and body needed without sleeping until your normal wake time. They suggest that in order to fully harness this sleep cycle you focus on going to sleep and waking up at the same time that this occurred. It will help you add hours to your day.


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

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

About the Author

Jennifer Chonillo is a longtime sleep enthusiast and Content Marketing Specialist for Sleepare home of the mattress compare tool. In her free time she plays magic the gathering and goes on long walks with her dog.

Photo by Polina Zimmerman