Situational Mindsets Decoding Current Complexity

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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 mlippitt@enterprisemgt.com.

 

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

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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, 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

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 MitchRusso.com and PowerTribes.net.

To connect with Mitch Russo, email: mitch@mitchrusso.com

 

 

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, 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

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

Building a High Impact IT Leadership Development Program Leveraging Technology

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This blog shares the case study of the IT Leadership Development Program co-created by Innovative Leadership Institute and Expedient. More can be learned about this program on the Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future podcast with Steve Gruetter titled Building Aspiring CIOs and ‘C’ Level Leaders.

The Challenge/Vision: The Central Ohio CIO Forum identified a gap in the number of leaders ready to step into CIO roles for the projected regional growth. To address this opportunity, they partnered with Expedient and the Innovative Leadership Institute to build an IT Leadership program that meets 2.5 hours per month, including six in-class learning sessions with pre-defined topics, roundtable executive presentations, and discussion sessions, and two networking events.

According to the American Society of Training and Development, US businesses spend more than 170 Billion dollars on a leadership-based curriculum, with the majority of those dollars spent on “Leadership Training.” According to McKinsey, “there is no silver bullet for successfully developing leaders—more than 40 key actions must be taken to increase chances of success to 80 percent”. As a leader interested in developing or as an organizational leader interested in developing people working for you, it is essential to have useful information about how to select a leadership development program. There are plenty of opportunities to spend your money from one-day classes to online programs to comprehensive university programs. How do you make the best decision to ensure you are investing your time and money wisely and that you have a high probability of success from your investment?

Additional Challenge: during the fourth cohort, the US experienced a pandemic, and Ohio precluded in-person gatherings of more than ten people. Additionally, the university facility where we met was closed. The delivery team needed to identify an alternative approach to deliver that would be equally compelling for participants to ensure they continued to receive the value promised when they enrolled.

during the fourth cohort, the US experienced a pandemic, and Ohio used an order that precluded in-person meetings. Additionally, the university facility where we met was closed. The delivery team was compelled to identify an alternative approach to deliver that would be equally compelling for participants to ensure they continued to receive the value promised when they enrolled.

Goal: elevate the quality of IT Leadership in Central Ohio to support succession planning, economic development of the region, healthy business growth, and business financial success, improve employee engagement, and attract and retain top technology talent to the Central Ohio region.

Solution: The program is co-delivered by Innovative Leadership Institute and Expedient that leverages best leadership models and content, leadership assessments, learning technology, and learning methods and processes. The image below reflects the combination of tools and approaches. Listen to participant feedback 5-minute video to learn more about how participants describe their involvement and impact.

Program Design

ILI, in partnership with Expedient, designed the program to meet the outcomes and desired learning experience based on CIO Forum goals and designated topics. This section describes the details of the approach to designing and delivering the program.

  1. Identify the best leadership models and materials to meet the learning goals.
  2. Identify the best learning approach based on leading research focused on the most effective method for leadership development. The approach leverages
    1. In-Class Program content – In-class activities 2.5 hours/month (six content sessions and four expert round table discussions. Programs are updated regularly based on trends and leadership research. Programs are updated regularly based on trends and leadership research. The Ohio based team partnered with The Engagement Company to restructure the in-person sessions to offer a highly engaging online learning experience using Zoom and expert online facilitation.
    2. Round tables – Local CIOs provide insights from their professional experience to help IT Leaders build business understanding as well as perspective about the journey to becoming a senior leader. These sessions are very open and candid. Jeremiah Gracia, Economic Development, City of Dublin, Ohio, leads a roundtable talking about workforce development. The City of Dublin is a co-sponsor of the program.
    3. Networking events are a crucial element of the program. A strong community requires leaders to build a network to share information as well as support one another in navigating the challenges technology leaders face.
    4. Assessment – Participants take pre and post-session Innovative Leadership behavior assessment powered by SkillNet (some with Boss feedback). Participants incorporate this feedback into learning assignments. Read the blog by Mike Kritzman, founder of SkillNet A Proven 5 Step Approach to Solve Skill Gaps and listen to his podcast SkillNet: Personalized Learning Framework for Your Company. We invite you to take a free mini-ILI Competency assessment.
    5. Parallel path complete leadership workbook activities presented in six modules: leverage International Award Winning Innovative Leadership workbooks, podcasts, and videos delivered by the Kajabi Online Platform. Kajabi Online Platform podcast with founder Travis Rosser. Read the blog post based on Forbes article Leveraging Technology To Improve Leadership Development.
    6. Create accountability by submitting the leadership workbook activities as deliverables and receive feedback: track deliverables and attendance for certification.
    7. Strengthen network and support community by sharing assignments with learning partners (matched using Position Success Indicator to identify the best match) Position Success Indicator podcast with Founder Mark Palmer. Read the Blog by Mark Palmer The Position Success Indicator (PSI): Your Job Fit Solution for the Future of Work.
    8. Challenge previously held constraints by the class participants on how to be a leader and show leadership traits
    9. Build a network of like-minded peers in each cohort, a group of technology professionals whose opinion they can trust, based on class interaction
    10. Evaluate progress by soliciting participant and CIO feedback on participant’s development progress.
    11. Collaboration by Slack (Advanced Leadership Program Only).
    12. Certification for participants who complete all requirements successfully earn an Innovative Leadership Certification. Muskingum University recognizes this certification for its Master of Information Strategy and Systems Technology (MISST) program for three credit hour leadership class.

The basis of this learning approach is 15 years of experience teaching leadership development to MBA students. You can learn more by listening to a podcast with Steve Gruetter and Maureen Metcalf discussing the program in depth.

Results/Impact

  1. Participant success
    1. 200 participants in the first four cohorts, representing 104 Central Ohio organizations
    2. 45 of the first 150 participants (30%) have had a promotion since the first cohort started (per LinkedIn)
    3. 8 participants promoted to a C-Level role – CIO, CTO, CISO, Chief Strategy or Chief Transformation Officer
    4. 82 of the first 150 participants have earned a certification of completion
    5. 8 participants advanced to participate in the Advanced Leadership Development Program Pilot
    6. $44,000 raised so far for the Central Ohio CIO Forum Scholarship Fund from the first four cohorts
    7. The last three cohorts had 32%+ women participants
    8. The previous three cohorts have had 32%+ minority participants
    9. Participants are taking advantage of the Muskingum MISST program three credits course waived for course participants
    10. Attendance increased for online Zoom sessions during the pandemic by approximately 20%.
  2. Survey results:
    1. Results from IT Leaders Program as measured by CIOs they report to – answers provided reflect a 1-5 scale:
      1. How much have the participant(s) individual leadership skills and/or performance improved over the last year attributable to what they have learned by being in the program? 4.5
      2. If the participant(s) currently leads a group, how much has the culture and/or performance of their group improved over the last year attributable to the participant’s leadership? 4.5
      3. How much better prepared are the participant(s) for additional leadership responsibilities/promotion in the future? 5.0
  3. Approximately 50% of participants meet the rigorous requirements for certification.
  4. Community success
    1. Better prepared leaders for additional leadership responsibility (see survey results).
    2. Program enrollment remains substantial and increasing – companies continue to enroll the maximum number of participants in the class. Over 75 companies have registered their employees. Cohort five has the most significant number of participants well in advance of program kick-off. 25% enrolled six months in advance of program kick-off.
    3. Promotion of local leaders – companies fill senior roles with local talent.
    4. ILI continually updates content – content remains fresh to address community requirements. ILI adds refreshed content and value to each successive course.
    5. Diverse leaders – programs continue to attract increasing rates of women and minorities, thereby improving the quality of leadership because of a more diverse pool of candidates.
  5. Watch a 5-minute video of participants describing the impact in their own words.

Conclusion: The best leaders elevate their leadership quality because they actively participate in well designed and effectively delivered leadership development programs. The IT Leaders programs involve a range of activities that include participants learning key frameworks, building skills, practicing new behaviors, reflecting on new skills and self-awareness activities, and feedback. We created the program to leverage the latest research on leadership development for adult learners. One defining feature of this program is that it heavily leverages technology to support learning outcomes. When the State of Ohio was on work from home requirements, the IT Leaders program helped its participants in building the leadership skills they needed to navigate the complex and uncertain territory of leading during a pandemic. Future classes will continue to build on the success of the past four years.

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

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

About the Author

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

Photo by Christina Morillo

At C-Level #19 & #20: Crisis…Starting with People & Cash

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

The following is a blog written by Mike Sayre, President & COO of Innovative Leadership Institute.

 

PEOPLE always come first!

Businesses are built and run by people. As a C-level leader, losing the trust and confidence of your people during a crisis can create serious challenges and make your crisis worse!

How you treat your people, especially in times of crisis, will be remembered for a long time.

Having successfully led a number of companies through financial and/or operational crises, here are a couple of recommendations:

  • Transparency and timely communication are essential, whether the news is good or bad.
  • Deliver bad news with some kind of credible plan for how your organization will move forward with specifics on what you need from your people to make that happen.
  • If the plan will take more time to develop, don’t wait to communicate. Let your people know that and what they should be doing while the plan is being developed.
  • Hone and know your message so you can communicate it clearly, consistently and constantly.
  • Be visible, available, approachable, and open to the input of others, even if it needs to be through video conferencing, the telephone, text or email. Showing that you are available and open to input, shows respect. And, you may just get some better ideas than you currently have in mind.
  • You can’t lead others if you can’t lead yourself! Right now, during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, there are plenty of great posts, blogs, articles, and activities on the internet (and through other sources) that are focused on helping you get through this crisis by improving both your physical and mental health.

In addition to your people…the future of your business starts with CASH!

Do you know how much cash you have immediately available in the bank for the business? Do you have enough to cover your next payroll, the one after that, etc.? Do you have alternate sources of cash set up for temporary needs? If you use them, do you have any idea when you’ll have enough cash to pay them back?

Okay, so maybe this blog isn’t for you. However, there are lots of businesses owners out there who do not know the answers to those questions. I’ve seen them and I’ve helped them, so before it’s too late…please share this blog with others in your network who may not be able to answer these questions for their business!

If you can’t answer those questions, you are not the alone! Even if your business has been going really well over the past couple of years, the current pandemic may be creating new challenges that you really need to be preparing for now!

You would not believe the number and size of businesses that don’t have this relatively simple information to help keep their business running in the short term, especially during a crisis period.

Further below is a simple cash flow model in a spreadsheet. It is really no more than:

Cash in the bank today

plus      Cash coming in (customer receipts, loans, investor cash)

less        Cash going out (payroll, benefits, rent, and other expenses)

equals   Cash in the bank at the end of the period (week, month, etc.)

 

OMG…Duh…you say? Then go and ask your controller or accounting manager for the answers to those earlier questions. If they can easily give them to you, awesome! If not, read on.

Do not put this off and do not overthink it! Have your controller to put together a spreadsheet similar to this for your business, and tell them not to put this off and not to overthink it! Just make sure you are estimating to the best of your ability what the big and important numbers are and lump the rest into an average number for whatever period you use.

Here is the model:

Some things to note:

  • The company in this example is a software-as-a service (SaaS) provider…don’t get caught up in that, the model needs customized for your business!
  • Rounded numbers are close enough.
  • This company only pays its bills once per month (less expensive to do, easier to manage the cash flow, and most great partners will accept this…if not, pay twice per month).
  • Notice that if the company does not borrow on its line of credit, or provide the funding from somewhere else, it can’t make payroll in the week of 4/11/20. In this model, ABC borrowed $150,000 on its line of credit or from investors and is going to start paying it back by the end of the month, when the crisis is over.
  • This model is only for one month. You may want to do a couple of models so you can better plan what you will do if things don’t work out like you think they will over a longer period of time.
  • If you can’t make that next payroll, and you don’t have the ability to borrow from anyone or pull in additional investor cash, you have a major problem that would be better to figure out and address now, rather than when your payroll person tells you…which may not be until the day payroll is supposed to go out.

Some potential options?

  • Step up collection efforts from your biggest customers (be careful of setting off their alarm bells!)
  • Delay vendor payments (not a big impact in this model)
  • Delay payroll (I’d suggest being honest and transparent with your employees on how they get caught up on their pay based on your cash forecasting model)
  • Temporary layoff or shut down (if you are being transparent, your employees may be more willing to work with you than you think!)
  • Permanent layoff or shut down (what we are trying to avoid here!)
  • Others?

In any case, I hope you can see how this simple cash flow forecast is worth the effort, if you pay attention to it.

Once again, please do not overthink it and try to be any more precise than you really need to be! Getting a decent picture of where you are on a timely basis is of the essence right now.

The goal of this blog is to get business owners and C-level execs to be more proactive in managing their business through this and any other crisis. Don’t let your business crash because you did not pay attention to PEOPLE & CASH.

Next up…ADAPTING YOUR BUSINESS FOR POST-CRISIS SUCCESS!

 

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 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

Mike Sayre is a highly experienced and successful startup, turnaround & growth specialist in the software, e-commerce, and manufacturing service industries, leading organizations as CEO, COO, CFO, CIO, and/or Board Director over the past 20 years. He is currently the president & COO of the Innovative Leadership Institute, a trusted partner inspiring and enabling perpetual innovation, evolution, and growth in leaders and their organizations.

Thanks for following me! If you would like to learn more or get help, please email me at msayre@innovateleader.com .

 

 

Lunch Break Leisure: 10 Activities to Relieve Stress

For the next couple of weeks, we are doing a few extra blog posts as encouragement in these uncertain times.  This extra blog has some great ideas to give yourself a break as we face added pressures of working from home, having children home from school, and being all under the same roof all the time.  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 resilience that may give you encouragement as well: Five Lessons in Resilience: Overcoming Life’s Challenges with Kate Terrell.

If you’re like most Americans, you probably suffer from some level of work-related stress. According to The American Institute of Stress, 83 percent of workers report being stressed out from work, with 57 percent saying it’s so bad they feel paralyzed by it. The workplace tension is triggered by a number of factors, especially company culture, lack of work-life balance and strained relationships with bosses and co-workers. And it can have a detrimental effect, not only on your productivity during the day, but also on your overall health, well-being and mood.

Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to relieve some of the pressure during the workday. According to the experts, employees need short, periodic breaks to recharge their batteries, boost attention span and, ultimately, improve their job performance. Here are a few things you can do to tap into a state of leisure on your lunch break, even if you’re feeling totally zapped of motivation and energy.

  1. Watch a Funny Video—All those hilarious YouTube videos you saved for a rainy day may be just what you need for a midday destress. A 2015 study conducted by two psychological scientists at the University of New South Wales found that employees who watched an eight-minute video at work experienced an energizing effect that counteracted the effects of mental depletion. Yep, all those hilarious cat videos could actually be making you happier and healthier!
  2. Make Art—Creating something meaningful, whether it be a poem, a painting, a drawing or some gorgeous rhinestone art, can help you sink into a state of deep relaxation and focus on something other than work. At the same time, being creative serves as an act of self-expression, allowing you to offload some of the pressure or stress that tends to build up during the workday.
  3. Color—Studies show that adult coloring reduces stress and boosts creativity because it relaxes the brain, flows attention away from ourselves and provides a low-stakes activity that’s purely pleasurable. Another fun spin on adult coloring is the popular trend of making diamond art, which lets you color in complex designs with glimmering rhinestones, triggering the same calming effect. Grab a few diamond art kits to keep at your desk and work on each day during short breaks.
  4. Take a Walk—We probably don’t have to cite any sources here! We all know that exercise is one of the best and most well-proven stress relief activities ever, no matter if you take a cycling class, learn some hip-hop moves on YouTube or practice outdoor yoga. Taking a midday walk around the office is the perfect lunch break activity because it’s distracting and boosts your mood but doesn’t leave you feeling sweaty or too tired to go back to work.
  5. Stretch—Sitting for hours on end at a desk can cause you to store physical tension, tightness and pain in your upper back and shoulders. The physical effects of being stationary all day can lead to feelings of psychological stress, but you can counteract some of these challenges by taking two or three 15-minute breaks throughout the day to stretch and focus on something other than work.
  6. Knit—Knitting, crocheting, cross-stitching and other needlework activities are perfect for the workday because they’re fairly self-contained. You can keep all your tools and supplies in a small bag or container that you can either leave in your desk drawer for an anytime distraction or take to and from the office so you can also work on it at home. Needlework is similar to crafting and coloring in that it diverts attention away from the stress trigger and provides steady, calming focus in its place.
  7. Listen to Music—Music is the ultimate distractor, and it’s one of the few things in life that can instantly affect your mood in a million different ways. Keep some well-stocked playlists handy for those especially stressful days, with upbeat, energizing or relaxing tunes that take you to another place and help you unwind, even if only for 10 or 15 minutes while you eat lunch.
  8. Talk to Friends—Never underestimate the power of good conversation. Whether you meet an old friend for lunch or vent to your co-worker over a short walk, letting out your frustrations and listening to others can help you sort out your feelings and discover new ways to handle them. It also helps provide you with a different perspective, so you look at things differently and stress less.
  9. Write—There’s no denying it: Journaling, or even just jotting down your feelings, is good for the mind. In fact, a study from UCLA showed that putting your feelings into words actually produces therapeutic effects in the brain. Visualizing certain words on paper activates the prefrontal region of the brain and lowers its amygdala response, which tends to trip when your body is in danger. In other words, writing your feelings down literally calms the brain.
  10. Play a Game—Few things bring quite as enjoyable a distraction as playing a game. Whether on your phone, computer or tablet or even with a tabletop or board game, playing a game throws you into a totally different reality, effectively giving you some relief from the stressors of daily life. Consider looping in fellow gamers around the office so that you get both the benefits of gaming and the benefits of social interaction during a single lunch break.

Make Taking a Break a Priority

We’re all overworked, with tons of tasks, meetings and stressors to manage. The key to giving yourself some relief is to make taking frequent, short breaks a priority. You should be entitled to a certain amount of breaks each day depending on the laws where you live, so don’t be afraid to take them. It may be exactly what you need to be happier, healthier and more productive.

 

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

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

Vanessa Adams serves as the marketing coordinator for Diamond Art Club, which offers the highest quality diamond art kits on the market. She oversees all content creation from their West Hollywood, California Headquarters. In her spare time, she enjoys true-crime podcasts and pilates.

 

Leveraging Technology To Improve Leadership Development

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In the current Corona virus crisis, this interview may be useful to those looking to use online platforms in place of in-person instruction. The following blog is a republish of an article appearing in Forbes written by Maureen Metcalf. It is a companion to the interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future on titled Leveraging Online Kajabi Platform To Build Thriving Brands.

 

As a university adjunct faculty member, consultant and coach, I have been using the tagline of “Innovative Leadership” for many years. This sets the bar for how I commit to my work as well as the services I deliver. I recently started to explore how I could refresh my use of technology to teach leadership in conjunction with coaching and workshops. I am looking for options to accelerate the leader’s learning process and offer a broad range of tools for different learning styles. I want to share my experience of how I am leveraging this technology to support leaders in their development.

I researched the many robust online delivery options and selected a tool that was a solid fit for my work: Kajabi. I selected it because of the strong technology platform, strong start-up support, cost-effectiveness, integrated payment and affiliate tracking modules and the ability to communicate with participants by product.

With the support of the online platform, I am rethinking what is possible. Right now, I am using the online training for the following three applications initially and I will expand these as we use the platform.

  1. We recently launched a 10-month IT leadership development program. This program was designed to build skills in the IT community in order to build the talent pipeline for senior roles. It will be delivered through monthly in-person sessions in conjunction with our local CIO forum. The online platform allows us to deliver training that integrates structured exercises, case studies and audio interviews with local CIOs and executives. One of the key objectives of the in-person sessions is to learn content and build a network. We expect the online element to significantly accelerate the building of leadership skills for mid- to senior-level IT professionals.

The online platform allows us to track payment and engagement with the materials. As the facilitator, this lets me manage the finances easily and also identify who is highly engaged so we can offer additional resources to enrich their experience. It also tells me who is less engaged so I can reach out and troubleshoot.

  1. We often augment our leadership coaching programs with a series of exercises designed to help participants build self-awareness, knowledge and skills. Especially for emerging leaders, we deliver a hybrid of training and coaching to prepare them to step into larger roles. For this group, we created a standard curriculum with exercises, case studies, audio interviews and videos. I can monitor client progress through the platform, and in this case, they share their progress prior to coaching sessions and discuss how their learning can improve their leadership work.

The online platform offers the option to package the leadership development curriculum by leadership level. I can sell packaged offerings of coaching and online training. It also gives the option to support affiliates so the other coaches and consultants in our organization work from a single platform with consistent processes and offerings.

  1. We offer online development programs as standalone offerings for individuals and companies to provide effective (and cost-effective) training for their emerging and current leaders. These programs can be combined with other programs the companies are conducting. Because this program is comprehensive and participants work through it over time, it provides the opportunity to internalize the learning, not just attend and depart.

The online platform allows us to customize materials for specific groups and tweak other courses where appropriate to reinforce and build on the in-person development investments they are making.

Another element we will be building into the platform that we are very excited about is an assessment that will be used by those taking courses, and it is also offered as a standalone service. Because an online platform can support a range of services, we are able to create a clean and user-friendly purchasing experience.

I have struggled for years to present a simple path for clients. Our company website is highly complex and positions us as a thought leadership and executive advisory firm. While that works for some audiences, it is inappropriate for others. Using Kajabi as our online platform and linking it to our main site and our book website, we can tailor the user experience to the target audience in a manner that is cost-effective for us and easy for the user.

I talk about the most effective leaders acting like scientists. This endeavor is one of my experiments. I did my homework and selected this platform. We are implementing several modules and we will continue to test and refine our experiment as we go along. For other coaches and consultants looking to extend your offering, I encourage you to explore the broad range of options for technology to enable and even extend the strong impact you are already having on clients.

 

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

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

About the Author

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

Key Findings from a U.S. National Survey About Leadership

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This blog is provided by Lynn Shollen and Elizabeth Gagnon of Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. It is a description of the top line findings of a survey about leadership that they conducted last year. You can read much more about the project on their website. The blog is a companion to the interview with Sam Wilson and Lynn Shollen that aired as part of the 12-week International Leadership Association Interview Series on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future. The interview aired on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 titled Research Findings on Attitudes About Leadership.

  

A new, annual national survey of attitudes about leadership in the United States uncovered widespread and increasing dissatisfaction with U.S. leaders, along with skepticism about the preparedness of younger generations to lead into the future.

Key findings from our scientific online survey of more than 1,800 people include:

  • Only 28 percent of those surveyed believe leaders in the U.S. are effective
  • Leaders are seen as less effective now than compared to 20 years ago (60 percent)
  • Leaders are regarded as too removed from the experiences of ordinary people (74 percent)
  • Many believe it is too risky in today’s social climate to be a leader (46 percent)
  • Many believe that unless they are at the top of an organization, they may not be able to be influential even if they try to lead, because leaders at the top are so powerful (49 percent)
  • Younger generations are not widely seen as being equipped to lead (57 percent)

These results are discouraging because we know that effective leadership is crucial if we’re to thrive socially, politically and economically. We do detect a few reasons for optimism, but overall, our findings have to be worrisome for our country’s leaders, for leadership educators and for all who care about the quality of leadership now and into the future.

The 1,849 respondents comprise a nationally representative sample based on gender, ethnicity, age, income and other factors. They were asked to think broadly of leaders and leadership rather than focusing on specific leaders or situations. We are not seeking opinions about Donald Trump or Bill Gates. The survey isn’t intended to examine perceptions of how specific leaders are performing, rather how people view the effectiveness of leaders and leadership generally within the U.S.

The survey defined leadership as the process of influencing people toward achieving a common goal, and leaders were defined as people who achieve that goal. Regardless of whether you have a formal title, you can be a leader. Leadership happens everywhere, not just in the most obvious places, such as government or business.

But in many places that leadership happens, it is seen as lacking. Fewer than 25 percent of the respondents say leaders in education, religion, national politics or the environment are effective.

Even as they criticize current leaders, survey participants say they are reluctant to step forward. Only 15 percent of the respondents claim they are involved in leading their community (although they may indeed be leading and not identifying their contributions as leadership). Further, it appears they don’t have high hopes for future generations. Nearly 60 percent of the respondents say younger Americans are not ready to lead and only 33 percent voiced confidence that young people will be able to steer the nation through the challenges ahead.

There is another cause for concern. When the morality of the leader is considered, half (50 percent) claim it is more important that a leader works for major issues that align with those the respondent supports than whether the leader adheres to high moral standards. Thus, half of the sample does not value leaders upholding morality as much as leaders supporting particular issues and agendas.

In terms of what respondents are looking for in leaders, 74 percent believe that the best leaders understand the experiences of ordinary people. About two-thirds believe leaders at the national and local levels should create an environment that supports diversity, considers perspectives of diverse people when making decisions and seeks to take care of the natural environment.

About half also say they’re comfortable with a leader who is different than them in gender/sex (56 percent), race/ethnicity (56 percent), sexual orientation (49 percent) or income level (48 percent). Fewer say the same about religious beliefs (43 percent). Political differences are a bigger sticking point, as only 28 percent say they are comfortable with a leader who holds opposing views, and only 34 percent would follow such a leader.

Participants were also asked where they went for information about leaders and how reliable those sources are for evaluating leaders. Television is the number one source sought for information (55 percent), trailed by non-social media online sources (44 percent). Half (50 percent) of respondents claim that social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) does not provide them with adequate resources to make accurate evaluations of public leaders, whereas, just over half (53 percent) claim that traditional media (e.g., newspaper, television, radio) does provide them with adequate resources.

The results of the survey were first discussed at the 2019 annual conference of the International Leadership Association in Ottawa, Canada. The researchers received helpful feedback there and plan to delve into the nuances of the data by examining the results by demographics such as gender/sex, race/ethnicity, geographic location, religious beliefs, political affiliation, sexual orientation and income level. These results will be released as they become available. The survey will be conducted annually to track trends and to add questions relevant to contemporary issues.

 

For additional survey results and information, please visit or contact the researchers at ldsp-survey@cnu.edu

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 Authors

Dr. Lynn Shollen is Associate Professor of Leadership Studies and Department Chair in the Department of Leadership and American Studies at Christopher Newport University. She earned her Ph.D. in Higher Education Policy and Administration at the University of Minnesota. Her research interests include the faculty to administrator transition, identity and perceptions of leadership, leadership identities construction, and teaching about women and leadership. In addition to numerous journal articles, she co-authored the book Faculty Success Through Mentoring: A Guide for Mentors, Mentees, and Leaders.

Dr. Elizabeth Gagnon earned her PhD at Old Dominion University. She is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Leadership and American Studies at Christopher Newport University. She teaches courses in civic engagement, social entrepreneurship, leadership theory and ethics and values in leadership. Journals publishing her research articles include the International Journal of Leadership Studies and the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement.

 

 

The Australian Leadership Index: A New Measure of Leadership for the Greater Good in the Public, Private and Plural Sectors

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This blog is provided by Sam Wilson, co-creator of the Australian Leadership Index. It is a companion to the interview with him and Lynn Shollen that aired as part of the 12-week International Leadership Association Interview Series on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future. The interview aired on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 titled Research Findings on Attitudes About Leadership.

 

Against a backdrop of unethical conduct and irresponsible leadership in our organizations and distrust of institutions in the public, private and plural sectors, there is a pervasive sense in the community that we are not well served by authorities and the institutions that they lead. As a result, there is a yearning for leadership that serves, and is seen to serve, the greater good.

However, what is the greater good? What is leadership for the greater good? What are the collective responsibilities of those who collectively manage, govern and lead the organizations and institutions in the public, private and plural sectors, and what should they be, in order to show leadership for the greater good?

Obviously, these questions are not especially new to scholars of leadership, as evidenced by the attention given to the ideas of social responsibility and shared value, in the domain of business leadership, and integrative leadership and public value, in the domain of public leadership.

It is, however, less clear what the community thinks about the notions of the greater good and leadership for the greater good. It is not obvious whether community expectations of leadership for the greater good are invariant across the public, private and plural sectors, or whether public opinion is alive to and reflective of the different purposes, goals and functions of these sectors.

Notwithstanding the great difficulty of defining the greater good, in general, and leadership for the greater good, in particular, it behoves us to think and talk about these concepts and practices in the public domain as clearly as we possibly can if we are to imagine, practice and sustain the leadership and followership needed to ensure the long-term welfare and well-being of the general population.

How should we think about the greater good?

The concept of the ‘greater good’, and its synonyms the ‘public good’ and ‘common good’, as well as related ideas like ‘public value’, has the quality of being familiar and commonplace. And yet, these concepts are difficult to articulate in a precise or comprehensive way.

Moreover, as observed by the philosopher Hans Sluga, the diverse conceptions of the good—such as justice, happiness, security—and the variety of tribal, local, national and global communities for which the ‘good’ is sought militates against the identification of a single, determinate good.

However, a promising candidate for the greater good, apt in the context of our grand challenges of unsustainability and diminished human and nonhuman flourishing, is the well-being of the whole.

Understood in this way, the greater good is less about justice or happiness or security and more a gestalt or umbrella term for a number of interlocking concepts pertaining to the conditions that undergird and sustain the survival and flourishing of human and nonhuman life.

To render these ideas less abstract and more actionable, it is helpful to frame the greater good, as well as the conditions and social actions that sustain it, in terms of value creation—specifically, the types of value that are created, the ways in which value are created, and for whom value is created.

Understood in this way, the value-relevant outcomes of institutional behavior enable inferences to be made about their apparent concern for the greater good, as well as about the concern for and practice of leadership for the greater good by those collectively responsible for the management, governance and leadership of these institutions.

The Australian Leadership Index

This construal and operationalization of leadership for the greater good underpins the Australian Leadership Index, which is a new measure of community beliefs about leadership for the greater good in the public, private and plural sectors.

Grounded in community and expert conceptions of the greater good and leadership for the greater good, and drawing on scholarly research into ethical, responsible and integrative leadership, as well as research into public value, the ALI offers a new model of leadership for the greater good that is germane to institutions in the public, private and plural sectors.

From a community perspective, leadership for the greater good occurs when these institutions create social, environmental and economic value for the people they serve and the wider community in a manner that is transparent, accountable and ethical.

The purpose of the Australian Leadership Index is threefold. First, it is to measure community perceptions of the state of leadership for the greater good across different sectors and institutions. Second, it is to measure community expectations of the practice of leadership for the greater good by these sectors and institutions. Third, it is to provide insight into what different types of institutions should do in order to improve their practice of leadership for the greater good.

The Australian Leadership Index provides powerful new insights into community beliefs about leadership and reveals what leaders in the public, private and plural sector institutions can do to show leadership for the greater good.

By making all our results freely available via an innovative, highly interactive data portal (www.australianleadershipindex.org), the Australian Leadership Index makes an important contribution to community dialogue about the leadership we need for the future we want.

 

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

 

Sam Wilson is a social psychologist whose research spans studies of the nature and drivers of voluntary humanitarian behaviour to national studies of community beliefs about leadership for the greater good in the public, private and plural sectors. He is Co-Creator of the Australian Leadership Index, sectors, Co-Director of the Thriving in Society 4.0 research program of the Social Innovation Research Institute, and Deputy Director of the Social Psychology of Innovation Research Group at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia.

 

Building Leader Character

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This blog was written by Maureen Metcalf, based on the article, Developing Leadership Character by Mary Crossan, Gerard Seijts, Jeffrey Gandz, published in the Ivey Business Journal Issues: January / February 2012. It is a companion to the International Leadership Association Interview Series on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future that aired on Tuesday, February 4, 2020, titled Leader Character.

 

In our rapidly changing world, that is filled with disruption and ethical challenges, leadership character is critical.  According to the article, Developing Leadership Character, “When it comes to leadership, competencies determine what a person can do. Commitment determines what they want to do, and character determines what they will do.”

“Character fundamentally shapes how we engage the world around us, what we notice, what we reinforce, who we engage in conversation, what we value, what we choose to act on, how we decide…and the list goes on.” While there is no generally accepted definition of character, Mary Crossan and her co-authors focus on personality traits, values, and virtues as the focus of virtue-based character in their article, Developing Leader Character. They also highlight the importance of Judgment which is at the centre of their leader character framework shown in Figure 1.”

 

All of the behaviors associated with character are virtuous, meaning that they have been vetted by research as being desirable by cultures throughout history. And because only a few of the behaviors are trait based, character can be developed. Some of the behaviors can be viewed as values, but it is important to recognize that they are not just any values, but only ones that satisfy the criteria of being virtuous. The Developing Leadership Character article provides an in-depth analysis of eleven leadership virtues and what happens when they are either lacking or over weighted. Aristotle noted any virtue will operate like a vice when not supported by the other virtues. Thus, Courage becomes recklessness when not supported by Temperance. Integrity that is not supported by Humanity and Humility runs the risk of a person being dogmatic and egotistic. The aim is for individuals to develop strength in all dimensions of character. The following example from their article describes how a virtue can strengthen an individual’s performance and, when not supported by other dimensions of character, becomes a vice.

  • Accountability ensures that leaders own and commit to the decisions they make and encourages the same in others
  • Without Accountability, leaders don’t commit to or own the decisions they make and cannot get others to do so. They blame others for poor outcomes and, in doing so, create a culture of fear and disengagement.  People stop caring, with potentially disastrous consequences.

How do we develop character?

Because character is habit, the question to ask is “who am I becoming while I am busy doing?” advises Crossan. We are always becoming something – more courageous, or less courageous, more humble or less humble. Developing character requires understanding what it is, and in particular, how virtues could operate like a vice. Many people are proud of their candor, their modesty, their calm, etc. but if these behaviors and the dimensions of character they support are not part of a strong network of behaviors, there is every possibility that they are counterproductive – operating like a vice. Consider, something like “grit,” which has been widely touted as important. There are many behaviors within Courage and Drive that are grit-like, but research around grit has shown that it can lead to burnout. Why? Because you need the other dimensions of character, and in particular Judgment, to know when to exercise grit and when not to.

Developing character flies in the face of many approaches to leadership that suggest we should focus on our strengths and rely on other people to complement our weaknesses. Complementarity makes sense for personality traits like introversion or extroversion, but when it comes to character, weaknesses compromise individual judgment.

From another article co-authored by Mary Crossan, Elevating Leader Character Alongside Competence in Selection, “Character is constantly evolving, both personally and professionally. Thus, a person’s work and life experiences fundamentally shape character, and the story about who someone is and why they have become the person they are is unique to each person.” It will be important for the individual and the organization to attend to the virtues they want to see and understand how different virtues complement one another and how they complement one another.

For each of the items referenced above, if we are not conscious and motivated, we are unlikely to change elements of character. Self-awareness, conscious choice, rewarding context, aligning complementary virtues, practicing virtuous behaviors, and motivation all impact the choice and outcome of the work to build character.

As we wrap up the discussion, I would like to return to the article written by Mary Crossan and her colleagues, “Character is not something that you have or don’t have.  All of us have character, but the key is the depth of development of each facet of character that enables us to lead holistically.  Character is not a light switch that can be turned on and off.  There are degrees, and every situation presents a different experience and opportunity to learn and deepen character.  In particular, and for better or for worse, character comes to the fore when managing a crisis.  No one is perfect when it comes to character, and given that its development is a lifelong journey, we will rise to the occasion in some situations and disappoint ourselves and those around us in others.”

In our current, fast-changing environment, we need leaders who demonstrate character, informed by leadership virtues. Organizations must understand how to build character and also the contexts that inhibit character development.

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About the Author

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