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

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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.

AND

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

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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.

 

Being an Ally Against Racism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

A Call to Action

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

Help Us Adopt a School

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

Help Black Founders Get Access to Capital

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

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

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

Help Adults From Underserved Communities Get Access to Marketable Tech Skills    

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re Here.

 

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

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

 

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

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

Six Tips to Navigating the COVID-19 Landscape from an Epidemiologist

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 Erica Fowler, an epidemiologist who studied Public Health specializing in social epidemiology at The Ohio State University and holds ten years’ experience melding industry experience with academic discipline.

 

As the pandemic progresses, more and more people are getting a glimpse into the world of public health. Epidemiology is one public health discipline that is getting a lot of attention and happens to be my chosen field of study.

Epidemiology is an applied field of biostatistics, and beyond the numbers is the study of humans. Social norms, individual behaviors, health, wealth, emotions – any facet of life with a discernible pattern. The combination of numbers and practical application allow us to understand current trends and predict future ones. We can identify points of interaction with individuals that will yield the highest probability of action and influence behavior using subtle human cues to elicit an action.

It’s important to remember that many factors influence both sides of the equation – human and mathematical. Social determinants of health, sociodemographic disparities, or differences that can only be explained by factors that would be irrelevant in a world that was fair. The numbers you see on the screen, the dots that make up every graph a human life. On the mathematical side, numbers are only as good as the quality of their measurement and data management.

As an epidemiologist and public health professional, I’d like to share answers to six common questions I’ve been asked during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m grateful that I can dissect the information bombarding me at every turn and hope to share useful information for others to do the same.

1) Should I wear a mask? 

Yes. I’ve been asked this question more than any other. If you are to be in public, it may help slow the spread of the virus by preventing you from spreading it to others. If you know you are infected or if you have been in contact with someone who may be infected, it is best to stay home.

2) What is flatten the curve? 

Most people are familiar with this one. It’s been used to describe the intended effects of social distancing, which appear to be working. With a flatter curve, the Area Under the Curve (AUC) is the same, but the duration of the outbreak is longer. In other words, the same number of people will be exposed to and get the virus – just stretched out so that the healthcare system isn’t overwhelmed.

3) What do all these numbers mean? 

We’ve all heard ‘flatten the curve’, but there are other common metrics that are useful for understanding the virus. These numbers won’t stay the same and will vary depending on the population studied – a key epidemiologic concept.

  • R0 or R-naught represents how many people one infected individual infects on average. Social distancing efforts can lower this number and slow the spread of the disease and prevent new incidence.
  • Incidence or number of new cases of a disease. This can aid in resource allocation, such as healthcare utilization. The number of new cases, duration of disease, and rate of spread taken together may predict what is needed two weeks from now.
  • Case Fatality Rate represents fatalities relative to confirmed cases. In the current climate, testing is limited and often flawed. People will contract the virus and have no symptoms. Similarly, patients die before they test positive.
  • All-Cause Fatality Rate is the fatality rate for all causes which can be monitored year-over-year to estimate the total fatalities related to the disease and account for gaps in incidence and prevalence monitoring.
  • Infection Mortality Rate represents fatalities relative to all people infected. This number is not known without universal or widespread testing.

4) How does COVID-19 compare to other well-known viruses? 

It’s twice as infectious as H1N1 or the typical seasonal flu. The mortality rate is 10-30x higher than the seasonal flu. The H1N1 mortality rate was much lower than either COVID-19 or the seasonal flu.

The H1N1 virus was deadlier to younger ages because many people over age 65 had been exposed to a similar strain of virus earlier in life. This immunity helped keep them from contracting not only cases but severe cases. Because this is a novel or new virus, no one has immunity. That is why social distancing may play an important role in containing the virus until a vaccine is available.

 

  R0 Mortality Rate
COVID-19 2.0 – 4.0 1.5 – 3%
H1N1 1.1 – 2.6 0.02%
Seasonal Flu 1.3 0.1%

Source: Healthline March 12, 2020

5) Why do the numbers keep changing?

The numbers listed above can change depending on the population of people you are examining. A few examples are shown below.

With #flattenthecurve, we take social distancing seriously, decrease new cases and decrease the rate of spread. The mortality rate could go either way depending on how it is calculated. If it is only confirmed cases, it may go up as more people are staying home if they have mild or asymptomatic cases and will not be tested. They survive but aren’t counted toward lowering the mortality rate.

 

6) Why is testing such a big deal? 

Testing is important because it gives us a fuller picture of the virus, how it behaves, who it affects and how intensely, what treatments are effective for easing symptoms and shortening duration of illness, and what points of intervention we can employ to prevent or stop the spread of the virus. Testing also allows us to understand who has the virus and has built up antibodies. It could determine whether people are safe to return to work and a more integrated form of society. Testing enables a more accurate measurement of metrics for informed decision-making.

If you are unsure of something you read or want more information, as a trusted friend or colleague to help decipher the information. Use your social media networks to find people you trust who share information from vetted sources. I’m happy to do this for my sources and know many others who do the same.

I’m not sure what the other side of COVID-19 looks like, but the news I read every day makes me hopeful for the ingenuity, intelligence, compassion, and humanity I’ve witnessed in-person and through social media in the past several weeks. I am grateful that my life has not much changed, yet I worry for the world, vulnerable populations, and those I love. Despite the uncertainty, I am sure of one thing – Epidemiologists around the world are at far lesser risk than ever before of being asked if they study the skin.

 

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

Erica N. Fowler, Ph.D., is a strategy and analytics professional with a profound interest in developing data-driven solutions to improve health and business outcomes. She studied Public Health specializing in social epidemiology at The Ohio State University and holds ten years’ experience melding industry experience with academic discipline. Her experience includes analytics product development, measurement strategy, database operations, business intelligence analytics, and statistical modeling.

Dr. Fowler’s passion is professional development consulting as a certified Birkman Method consultant. She uses the Birkman Method, enhanced by her analytic skillset, to develop individual and group programs that foster emotional intelligence to improve communication skills and productive teamwork.

Her day job is Product Manager for the Applied Data Science and Omnichannel Experience teams at Syneos Health, the first end-to-end integrated pharmaceutical solutions organization. She serves as a contributing faculty member to the Health Education & Promotion program at Walden University, where she oversees the dissertation process for doctoral students. In her spare time, Dr. Fowler enjoys traveling the world, yoga, reading, and spending time with her family.

Photo by Anna Shvets

Building a High Impact IT Leadership Development Program Leveraging Technology

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 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, 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 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, a highly experienced and successful software, e-commerce, and manufacturing services CEO, COO, CFO, and Board Director. He is an Executive Leadership Development Coach at the Innovative Leadership Institute, a trusted partner inspiring and enabling perpetual innovation, evolution, and growth in leaders and their businesses.

 

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 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

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 an Executive Leadership Development Coach at 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, 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

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.