Leading in Emerging Industries

This week’s article was written by James Brenza.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Leading in Emerging Industries that aired on Tuesday, August 3rd.

 

I recently shifted my business and technology leadership skills to a new industry. It is an opportunity to help a burgeoning industry improve operational efficiency, improve patient outcomes and help operational leaders be more effective. My career focus has been technology, data, and analytics. My career took a tangential shift when I started Greenest Grow, a company that focuses on creating sensors and software to support efficient cannabis growth. After watching my brother and father suffer extreme pain during the end stages of cancer, I decided to shift my strong professional focus to an area that would help others have a better experience than my family had.

Leaders are frequently called on to step into new industry domains. Sometimes, we invite ourselves into those domains. While the reasons for the shift can be numerous (e.g., burgeoning market opportunities, industry transitions, or personal growth), there’s one constant you’ll encounter: change. While it may be obvious that you’re going to instill change in the new industry domain, you’ll also need to accept some changes yourself. For many people, that second change can be the harder one to anticipate and accept.

My shift required a great deal of soul searching and business research to ensure I was focusing on an area that would have a positive impact on the industry, be financially viable, make the impact I wanted to make for cancer patients and their families. It was also critical that I not provide a gateway drug that might exasperate our global drug addiction issues. This shift has been a bit easier by focusing on 3 key elements:

  1. Adapting and applying the lessons I’ve learned in other industries. When you step away from the details, there are nearly always parallels you can identify and solutions you can leverage.
  2. Applying domain knowledge in common areas (e.g., technology, marketing, and finance).
  3. Adjusting your interpersonal approach to adapt your knowledge to the new domain while garnering acceptance.

That last element, adjusting your interpersonal approach, may be difficult to navigate. “Leading” is getting in front and charging forward, right? While that may work for some, I’ve found it’s generally more effective to gain acceptance and facilitate change through others. While we may need to be “in the forefront”, we can also remain humble and gain perspective. One very effective method is leading with questions to facilitate mutual understanding. If you’re attempting to explain how a prior experience can help solve a challenge, you’ll likely find a very short story will help. That will help others see the parallel to their challenge, consider it differently, and adapt/adopt a new approach.

Throughout a cross-industry transition, it’s critical to remain true to yourself and your values. Consider this: if you can’t lead yourself, how can you lead others? If you can’t succinctly state your values, you may encounter unnecessary turbulence when you encounter new problems. By clarifying your values, it will be much easier to navigate the gray areas and avoid a potential abyss. More importantly, it will help you focus your value proposition and avoid conflicts with your “true north”. By being true to yourself and your values, your new team and industry peers will immediately perceive your sincerity.

The Innovative Leadership Mindset model from the Innovative Leadership Institute provides a robust perspective to help you lead more effectively. Here’s a summary of the mindsets and examples of how I applied them.

Leader 2050 Mindset Application
Be professionally humble You, your peers and your team know you have a lot of expertise. However, you’re stepping into a new domain. It’s important to remember that others have spent decades in that domain and possess a lot of industry wisdom.

 

I am a 50+ year old man who has never used drugs. I was trying to enter the cannabis industry, which is closed by necessity because of the legal challenges. I needed to observe, learn, build relationships before even stepping into a grow house. I went from being the industry expert to the new guy in this industry with extensive experience that would help solve significant challenges and improve operational efficiency. I found it helpful to spend 3-4x more time listening than speaking. I also try to introduce new approaches with a question that invites discussion rather than blunt statement or order.

Have an unwavering commitment to the right action I was an Eagle Scout growing up. I didn’t use illegal drugs. When my brother and father died from cancer, I began to explore the available options to help other cancer patients and their families. I looked at questions of ethics such as is cannabis a gateway drug. Each of us will find our own path. For me, my research made me confident that I could pursue this path and help many people by improving the growing efficiency, which will help produce consistent medicinal cannabis at a lower cost.
Be a 360-degree thinker This was certainly a new domain for me. The size of the puzzle I was facing increased dramatically. Prior to jumping into action, I had to invest time and effort into understanding the entire landscape, identify parallels I could leverage as well as blind spots I needed to question. I relied on Stephen Covey’s sage advice: “seek first to understand, then to be understood”.

 

I partnered with a broad range of people to help me solve significant business issues such as addressing the ability to retain a bank account as a business that supports the cannabis industry. I learned about running a manufacturing business and the contract manufacturing process, about all of the elements in the manufacturing value chain and the cannabis value chain. I sought a board with a range of experience and strategic partners to help in areas where they were experts.

Be intellectually versatile I was stepping into a new domain. It was disconcerting to not have all the answers immediately. I had to open my mind to new knowledge, new experiences, new information, new perspectives – before I could apply any existing mental constructs. I also realized I would never develop the skills that others have spent decades honing. I adapted my approach to ensure that I was building a team that could fill my voids while I applied my skills to help them reach a new level. Collectively, the intellectual capacity of the team increased dramatically.
Be highly authentic and reflective As I processed new information and perspectives, I needed to “double click” on my firmly held beliefs and values.  I knew that if I varied from my “true north”, I wouldn’t be able to work or lead effectively. I had to think deeply to understand my values, what they meant and how they are accomplished. I value both helping people mitigate pain AND I value laws and a focus on avoiding making illegal recreational drugs more accessible if they function as a gateway drug.  I also had to incorporate more research to validate accepted concepts. I grappled with my initial view of “drugs”, my values and the research and ultimately refined how I viewed cannabis. Lastly, it was important to ensure I was applying concise logic and not simply rationalizing to support a business model. This process was an important one. I use the word grappling because I needed to think deeply about what I support, what ventures I want to invest my energy and financial resources into. For many entrepreneurs, this is an important step to consider.
Be able to inspire followership Many individuals look to the “leaders” for the instant answer. However, many leaders know there isn’t always an easy or instant answer. I’ve found that it’s a very fine balance to be both collaborative (seeking input) as well as a visionary that can offer the team a new outcome. I’ve found it helpful to introduce a vision followed by a series of questions that invite conversation to help validate, refine and gain adoption. This “softer” approach helps me empower the team to expand the thinking, influence the adoption of new methods, and encourage collective ownership for sustainable change. We built a shared vision through a process that gave them a voice in the outcome. They also built trust in me and the leadership team through this process.
Be innately collaborative The delicate balance I mentioned above shows up in the tension between inspiring people to follow me and inviting them to collaborate. I’ve realized my first thought should always be to find a way to bring others into the thought process and solution development. Lasting change is only instilled if others are buying into the changes. I’ve observed many organizations rebounding to old behaviors due to the solution being incomplete or a lack of shared ownership. I’ve increased my focus on bringing the team together rather than trying to provide all the answers.

 

Leading through changes and transitions can be both frustrating and rewarding. As you see from the brief account of my experiences, this change in direction has been highly rewarding and also one of the more challenging endeavors I have taken on. At the end of the day, I will accomplish a goal that I am very proud of, improving the lives of people with cancer and the lives of their families. To do this, I needed to remain curious, facilitative and true to myself.

As you think about yourself as an entrepreneurial leader, what is your story? If you look at the seven mindsets, how would you describe your journey? Does this process reveal any gaps you would like to attend to?

 

 

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

James Brenza is an entrepreneur, information technology and analytics leader with 30 years of diversified experience. He is a hands-on leader who carefully balances strategic planning, business communications, and technical delivery. He has extensive experience with motivating mixed-shore teams to deliver high-quality, flexible results. James’ academic foundation includes 3 degrees: Information Technology, Finance, and an MBA. He complemented his technical skills with a Six Sigma Black Belt, Lean Qualification, and PMP certifications. He applies that foundation to solving problems in agriculture, banking, insurance, retail, distribution, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and public service. He led analytic programs that have paid for themselves upon implementation and delivered first year ROI’s in excess of 10,000%.

 

 

The Ecosystem Decision-Making Radar

This week’s article was written by Christoph Hinske, associate professor at SAXION University of Applied Sciences with contributions from Tom Grote, Chief Catalyst at Edge Innovation Hub.   It is a companion to their interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Applying Innovative Leadership Concepts that aired on Tuesday, July 27th

 

Making high-quality decisions in complex situations requires more than just knowing the conducive or inhibitive factors defining the probabilities of our success. Instead, riding the complexity wave asks us to understand how these factors interrelate, form dynamics and how our fundamental emotions and belief systems influence our decisions.

Taking on this responsibility is challenging since few tools exist that combine strategic decision-making in complex situations with emotional intelligence, business ecosystem thinking, and system dynamics.

The Ecosystem Decision-Making Radar (the Radar) is about to change just that. It intends to help you and your organization build your emotional intelligence by mapping out the consequences (both good and bad) of how you choose to respond in complex situations. To map out and learn from our decisions strategically, we must know our individual and organizational values, superpower, and core identity. Unfortunately, many do not take this step as they lack the tools to correlate it to their performance. Yet, we believe this step to be essential, and without it, we are just fumbling in the dark.

Consequently, my colleagues and I tried to build a robust leadership tool that combines emotional intelligence with systems thinking, system dynamics, and strategy. It intends to increase the performance of you, your organization, and your stakeholder relationships alike.

 

An observation I did when activating entrepreneurial ecosystems

In 100% of my projects on activating entrepreneurial ecosystems, leadership struggles to see the consequences of individuals’ emotionally impaired responses individuals on their own, their organizations’, and stakeholders’ success.

  1. This phenomenon leads to an average of €140,000 extra costs, considering that the medium time spent solving the resulting frictions, redundancies, silo structures, and stress is about 40% per process step, essentially squeezing business models to death.
  2. Each actor in the Entrepreneurial ecosystem loses roundabout 40% of potential new revenues due to the vanishing of possibilities, thus, increasing the probability of becoming obsolete.
  3. These well-intended economic development measures lose approximately 60% of the highly engaged and loyal leaders, resulting in up to 100% of brand value destruction for the project owners.

 

A decision I made, to stop contributing to the destruction of value I do not own

Being a passionate action researcher and “pracademic”, I decided not to accept these devastating outcomes anymore. Mainly, I stopped taking three fundamental beliefs for granted, helping me to develop the Ecosystem Decision-Making Radar:

  1. Wrong assumption #1: People can choose to be emotional or not, and emotions are threatening success in professional meetings; aka “He should stop being so emotional, he kills our performance!”
  2. Wrong assumption #2: The relation between primary emotional states and resource performance in complex entrepreneurial ecosystems is hard to map and measure.
  3. Wrong assumption #3: Decision-makers refuse to consider the behavioral impacts of unreflected emotional states on their processes and outcomes.

Helping leaders overcome these assumptions is even more critical as advances and access to technology imply that our context moves ever faster. Consequently, the opportunity costs of not using a systemic approach to decision-making are growing exponentially.

 

A tool I developed to support leaders to navigate their complexity

I started to study the effect of our primary emotional states and how these affect our behaviors and decisions. During several months of trial and error, I related my observations to insights offered in such articles as those referenced at the end of the post.

A tool started to emerge. I called it “The Ecosystem Decision-Making Radar” or just The Radar. This tool begins from a few basic assumptions:

  1. Humans are always in one of eight primary emotional states if we want or not.
  2. For a short moment, we are victims of this emotion, and that is fine!
  3. Our ability to identify our states and define their impact on our behaviors is a conscious choice.
  4. Naming, mapping, and reflecting our behaviors help us grow as leaders and positively contribute to our organizations’ and entrepreneurial ecosystem’s success.

One day during a coaching session, my client, a director of one of the largest, oldest, and most well-known nature conservation groups in Germany, helped me see the game changer!

We were mapping his behavioral response to an emotional state during a video conference with a minister of state. He suddenly stopped talking, looked at me in amazement, and held his coffee mug in front of the camera. On the cup, it stated: “There is a space between stimulus and reaction. In this space lies our power to choose our response. Our development and our freedom lie in our reactions.” — Viktor Emil Frankl.

Now, it is essential to know that Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author, and Holocaust survivor; * March 26, 1905; † September 2, 1997.

My coachee explained to me that the Radar helps him live the phrase. It empowers him to take responsibility for his intrinsic intentions (aka SuperPower or Core Identity) by acting out his core values. In later sessions with him and others, I figured out that the Radar creates awareness of the primary emotional states, enabling leaders to produce intended results by performing appropriate behaviors/actions rooted in their fundamental values. This transparency and heightened awareness of the impact their “inner systems” have on the world around them helps them act much more consciously in their stakeholder relationships, allowing them to co-create value with much more efficiency. We started to observe that he drastically reduced most of the costs stated at the beginning of the article just after a few sessions.

 

How the tool can help you become a better leader in complex entrepreneurial ecosystems

In the situation mapped out in the image below, the process helped my coachee identify patterns of behavior that benefit his and his organizations and stakeholders’ success.

Figure 1: The causal relationships between the elements in this Mental Model use the approach of Causal Loop Diagramming. For further information on more identified patterns and how to read and develop such simple yet powerful system models, please get in touch with c.hinske@saxion.nl

 

A simple rundown of how to read and build a model

  1. Core Values Flywheel: If activated, it nourishes our SuperPower and Core Identity, causing positive emotions. If hampered from turning, it causes negative emotions.
  2. Core Identity and Superpower: It is the emerging pattern happening when our core values flywheel is turning.
  3. Primary emotional states: There are 4 to 8 primary emotions. We map secondary emotions in the outer circles of the model. Primary emotions form a filter shaping our behaviors.
  4. Decision-Making Space: It is the moment shortly after an emotional response but before our behavioral response. In this instant, we have the power to choose. Before, it’s too early as our primary emotion directs us. Afterward, it’s too late since our behaviors already shaped the situation. See also the quote by Viktor Frankl.
  5. Behaviors/Activities: We execute conscious or unconscious behaviors and actions in a given situation after experiencing a primary emotion.
  6. Results: The contribution we make to our organizations and our stakeholder’s performance in a given situation. The quality of the results defines resource performance and opportunity costs.
  7. Factors: Aspects that happen or that one does, together with their causal relationships (arrows), form a system.
  8. Blue arrows: the more of A, the more of B, or the less of A, the less of B (S = same directional development)
  9. Red arrows: the more of A, the less of B, or the less of A, the more of B (O = opposite directional development)

 

In the case of my coachee, it showed him that responding to his primary emotion of anger with devaluating his opponent, leaving the video conference; he fled into a wrong belief of being authentic. He started to understand that a behavioral response, which he was initially proud of, undermined his long-term success of being a trusted, reliable leader since he increased political polarization.

Our next step aims to identify more systemic patterns and archetypal behaviors to develop hands-on tools for leaders acting in complex stakeholder systems. We want to understand how unreflected emotional states threaten the activation and stable functioning of entrepreneurial ecosystems mentioned at the beginning of my blog post. Solving this leadership challenge will make a major contribution in solving current and future transformation processes (e.g. energy systems, circular economy, digitalization).

 

My coachee’s outcomes and next steps

He is starting to use the Radar with all his teams, integrating the models to understand his organizations’ SuperPower, core values, opportunity spaces, and efficiency gains. His next step is to do the same for the stakeholder landscape of his organization, allowing him to identify growth and lobby strategies that serve them and the greater good at the same time.

He learned:

  1. He cannot choose to be emotional or not and that this is perfectly fine.
  2. Emotions only threaten his success as a system leader if he does not name them. Naming them increases the odds to respond appropriately, taking over responsibility for the outcomes he creates.
  3. He now actively manages the relationship between his primary emotional states and the resource performance in his complex actor ecosystem.

Further reading:

  • Anuwa-Amarh, E., & Hinske, C. (2020, June 1). Thought Leaders – Compelling new writing about the Sustainable Development Goals by leading experts. Retrieved from https://www.taylorfrancis.com/sdgo/about/leading-thoughts?context=sdgo.
  • Beehner, C. G. (2019). System Leadership for Sustainability. Routledge.
  • Duhigg, C. (2014). The Power of Habit – Why we do what we do in life and business.
  • Fredin, S., & Lidén, A. (2020). Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: towards a systemic approach to entrepreneurship?. Danish Journal of Geography, 120(2), 87–97. Routledge | Taylor&Francis
  • Hawkins, P., & Turner, E. (2019). Systemic Coaching. Routledge.
  • Hüther, G. (2006). The Compassionate Brain – How empathy creates intelligence. Shambhala Publications.
  • Kegan, R., & Lahey, L. L. (2009). Immunity to Change – How to Overcome it and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization. Harvard Business Press.
  • Wheatley, M. J. (2017). Who Do We Choose To Be? – Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

 

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 and the Contributor

Christoph Hinske is an associate professor at the School of Finance and Accounting at SAXION University of Applied Sciences, covering Systems Leadership and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems. In his work, Christoph observed that our rapidly transforming economies force leaders to be systemic since they need to act in complex, ambiguous ecosystems. Consequently, his research focuses on empowering leaders to change their strategic and operational models from linear to circular to ecosystemic. He observed that 80% of organizations, intending to transform their models to be more systemic, continue doing the old stuff, using new fancy words. They still apply the same tools, mindsets, and frameworks developed to build linear success.

Thomas Grote is chief catalyst for the Edge Innovation Hub, an ecosystem dedicated to building principle-based businesses that lead with love and drive food innovation to the edge of possibility.   Thomas grew up working with his parents and siblings at the first Donatos Pizza.   As chief operating officer, he helped grow the family business from one restaurant to a regional chain which the family eventually sold and then later repurchased from McDonalds.   He opened Central Ohio’s first visible and welcoming LGBTQ+ themed restaurant and helped found a non-profit, Equality Ohio, to advocate for equity and inclusion in his home state.   Thomas also served as chief financial officer for a UK-based biotech company focused on commercializing plant-based chemicals.   Thomas graduated with a finance degree from Miami University and earned his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.  He resides in Columbus, Ohio with his husband and two daughters.

 

Photo by Jens Lelie on Unsplash

 

 

Vibrant Agreements Supercharge Hybrid Work Environments

This week’s article was originally published by Maureen Metcalf for Forbes Coaches Council on June 8, 2021.  It is a companion to the interview with Greg Moran  titled The New Role of Leadership in a Hybrid Workplace on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future that aired on Tuesday, July 20th.

 

Companies are taking a range of approaches to return to work. A Harvard Business School study on remote workers “showed that many professionals miss their colleagues and other aspects of being in the office, and some want to go back. But, since they proved they were able to perform, and even excel, during the pandemic, they want more flexibility.” The study also found that:

  • 27% hope to work remotely full-time
  • 61% would like to work 2-3 days a week from home
  • Only 18% want to go back to the office full-time

This raises a question: How do we create a future-ready, post-pandemic environment that allows organizations to meet their missions and employees to thrive and manage the stress, mental health and engagement challenges?

To add to the challenge, many employees want to retain some flexibility. However, companies that don’t get their culture and work-from-home approach right risk struggling to attract and retain the talent required to succeed during a tight labor market.

Creating a vibrant culture that supports high productivity and engagement and accelerates change readiness is vital. Vibrant organizations have the cultural secret sauce. The authors of a McKinsey report, “Organizing for the future: Nine keys to becoming a future-ready company,” write “Among the most successful companies, culture forms the backbone of organizational health and fuels sustained outperformance over time: companies with strong cultures achieve up to three-times higher total returns to shareholders than companies without them.”

Vibrancy-based organizational agreements are crucial enablers to creating a culture that attracts and retains top talent to deliver results consistently. A vibrancy-based agreement is a shared understanding of how we interact with others. Vibrancy-based agreements differ from standard agreements because they explicitly look at what we can do to create a positive environment and achieve high-impact results. These agreements underpin the business operating models, processes, behaviors and culture and must be explicit to ensure they generate the desired outcomes.

Agreements often happen over time and somewhat unconsciously. They are the unwritten rules of “how we do things around here.” Like most things that evolve unconsciously, they are likely to become outdated, out of step with the organizational complexities and socio-eco-system.

Harvard adjunct researcher Dr. Jim Ritchie-Dunham conducted extensive research on the science of abundance-based (vibrancy-based) agreements that create engaged and highly productive organizations. His research started with the question, why are people continually attracted to some organizations above others? This question led him to look at organizational agreements at three different levels:

  1. Slow To Change

What are we delivering with our existing systems and processes? How can we be more efficient within our current systems and processes? Many organizational agreements fall primarily into this category. We make the best of our current situation, we have limited resources and we use them efficiently. The kinds of associated limiting statements might be things like “Don’t over-commit” and “That improvement would be nice, but we don’t have the budget to do it.”

  1. Development-Focused

How can we accomplish what is possible? What do we need to build, learn, grow and develop? Moving from level one to level two means organizations focus on delivering results and creating the growth mechanisms to grow, transform, learn and improve. Organizations at this level talk about what they are doing to grow their people, increase capacity and address shifting priorities. They are more agile and willing to experiment as they achieve results.

  1. Aspirational

What is possible? What do we want to accomplish? Organizations that evolve to the third level are “abundance-based.” They see opportunities and potential. They realize that if they can see the potential clearly, they can develop the capacity and deliver the results in a sustained and resilient way. At this level, they leverage the capacities they developed in level one and level two, continuously evolving their capacity to develop and deliver potential over time while simultaneously creating thriving dynamics within their organizations.

So now that you have read about the levels, where would you want to work? It seems like a simple question, yet getting there requires leaders to understand the transformation framework and methodology.

The transformation journey begins with examining the organization, viewed as a system with a flow of energy. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the organization’s current capacity to 1) engage their collaborators and their available resources, 2) envision, leverage and transform that capital in the organization’s unique way and 3) create, scale and transfer the value to the organization’s stakeholders. All three are key to avoid “leaks” in the system and tap into the potential to embody a future-ready company.

Most organizations start with the majority of their agreements somewhere between level one and level two. The most prominent wake-up call is looking at the cost of scarcity or missed opportunities. The cost of suboptimal agreements can be a 50% reduction in service levels and financial measures. This cost is the norm for organizations in level one. An organization can unlock its impact by engaging, transforming and transferring its creativity, each aligned within the next level of agreements.

As a rudimentary example, I worked with an organization whose staff was struggling with burnout. During a facilitated session focused on building resilience, the team defined how they wanted team members to feel at work and identified agreements about how and when they would communicate and what they expected of one another. These agreements allowed team members to clarify expectations and plan their work and personal lives to be and feel successful. One distinction with vibrancy-based agreements is that they consider people’s energy levels, impacting their health, engagement and commitment. They manage interactions to maximize recharge and minimize depletion.

As we build future-ready companies that continue to evolve and thrive in ever-changing situations, we need to look at the underlying agreements. These agreements allow us to grow our organizational impact and solve some of the world’s most significant problems; they allow us to generate far greater value for ourselves and all of our stakeholders. It is a choice.

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.

 

We Must Get Workers Ready for the Post-pandemic Economy

This week’s article is provided by William Bonvillian and Sanjay Sarma, authors of a new book from MIT Press, Workforce Education – A New Roadmap. It is a companion to their interview Workforce Education: A New Roadmap on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled that aired on Tuesday, July 13th

 

The pandemic has forced the American workforce into a massive resorting.  Significant numbers of workers were forced to leave sectors like hospitality, retail and travel, and those jobs will not be waiting for them when the pandemic fades. They will have to learn new skills for jobs in the post-pandemic economy. Workforce education must be part of our economic recovery.

The dimensions of the jobs lost during the pandemic are staggering. Restaurants lost 5.5 million jobs in April 2020, then re-openings that summer let the industry regain some jobs, only to lose jobs again with the fall spike in infections. They are picking up now with re-openings but many restaurants will stay closed. Similarly, in April, retail lost 2.3 million store jobs, rebounded by a million jobs by June 2020, but in-person retail will not go back to prior job levels. In travel and tourism, 35% of the jobs were lost after February 2020 and unemployment was at 15% in December, with recovery taking more time than hoped.  Manufacturing is still over a half million jobs short of where it was pre-pandemic.  These aren’t the only hard-hit sectors but they are big ones. Retail has been hit by massive store closings and mall shutdowns, and with the shift to online commerce, in-store jobs won’t be recovered. Bankruptcies in restaurants and tourism are pervasive—many of these firms won’t come back either.

A McKinsey study suggests that perhaps 17 million U.S. workers—28% more than pre-pandemic research had forecast—may need to change occupations by 2030. This means not just changing jobs but changing occupations, which takes longer, is more disruptive, and requires more reskilling. This shift means that the share of employment in low-wage occupations may decline by 2030, while higher-wage occupations in healthcare and STEM professions expand.

Many workers in these hard-hit sectors are going to be stranded.  This will make American economic inequality problems even worse than they were before the pandemic. Workers from these sectors will need quality jobs. Healthcare is embracing suites of new technologies that will require skilled technologists at good pay. Manufacturing and utilities have aging workforces and will require millions of new workers in coming years, but for increasingly skilled jobs.  How can our worker pool reskill?

Unlike many European nations, the U.S. never built a real workforce education system. Americans know what our high school and college systems look like, but if you ask what our workforce education system looks like you will get a blank stare. Although there are parts of a system here and there, we need a robust system now.

Employers, high schools and universities will all have new roles. But we already have a cornerstone of the new system: community colleges.  These colleges, in turn, will need new building blocks:

  • Form Short programs – people who have been in the workforce won’t be able to take time off for two- and four-year degrees; they have families to support and obligations to meet. They need short programs of 10 to 20 weeks with focused programs for technical skills.
  • Embrace credentialing – we need certificates for these programs for specific groups of related skills, based on demonstrated competencies. Since college degrees and credits remain the most recognized credentials, these should be stacked toward degrees. Certificate programs can provide workforce education opportunities for students with limited time availability, as well as meet specific skill requirements for particular employers.
  • Support competency-based education – today’s education is based on an agricultural calendar and pre-determined seat times (time to complete) for credentials. Instead, organize workforce education around demonstrated skills are broken down into particular competencies. If students show skill competency they get the certificate, regardless of how long they have spent in the program. This can cut time in school, student costs and reward practical experience.
  • Bring on online education – online education can’t replace effective instructors or hands-on work with actual equipment, but it can be quite good in conveying and assessing the foundational information behind the skills. Bring blended learning into the system—let online do what it does best, and let instructors do what they do best. Online modules will be critical if workforce education is going to scale up to meet the post-pandemic need.
  • Break down the work/learn barrier – schools have been too disconnected from the workplace; they too need to be deeply linked. Link-programs—apprenticeships, internships, coops—are needed to get students into the workplace earning money while they build skills. This lets them see very directly the link between the competencies they must learn in school programs and job opportunities.
  • Improve completion rates – at too many community colleges only a third of students complete their programs. Workforce education would significantly improve if we make that completion 70%. One of the biggest problems is that many students never get to college courses because they get frustrated with required remedial prep courses. Instead, integrate the remedial course work into students’ study program for career skills so they can clearly see how the remedial work is relevant to their career opportunities.
  • Embed industry-recognized credentials into educational programs – Academic credentials are not enough. Many employers want the assurance of skill knowledge that an industry-approved and accepted credential provides. It creates an additional and parallel pathway to help students toward employment. It also ensures that academic programs are relevant to actual industry needs.

Is creating a workforce education system that follows these new models a mission impossible? We have many studies that tell us what we need to do. States, with backing from federal education funds, need to step up their game and get on board with implementation; fortunately, some states and their community colleges have begun to embrace these steps. After World War II, 16 million veterans returned from overseas while we were shutting down our defense economy.  Congress passed the GI Bill and sent them to school to build their skills. It was perhaps the most successful social legislation our government passed and laid the foundation for a postwar boom.  Recently, researchers and companies created new vaccines in eight months that will save countless lives around the world.  We can create a workforce education system that reskills 17 million. This should be a critical goal.

 

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

Sanjay Sarma is a professor and vice president of MIT Open Learning, leading online education development.  William Bonvillian is an MIT lecturer leading research projects on workforce education. They are authors of a new book from MIT Press, Workforce Education – A New Roadmap, that sets out the new policies needed for a true workforce system.

 

How to Use Your Stress for Good

This week’s article is provided by Deb Lewis, founder of Mentally Tough Women (MTW). It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Mental Toughness: How to Embrace Stress for Greater Success that aired on Tuesday, July 6th.

 

Have you ever felt that SPECIAL SATISFACTION when you achieve what others thought impossible?

I graduated from West Point in the first class to EVER accept women.  174 years of them saying NO to all the women who wanted to attend and now our 62 women graduates from that first class have grown to over 5000 today.

It wasn’t easy. Important lessons rarely are. Those early days taught me a LOT.

Some years later, I was hand-picked to lead a $2.1 billion engineer construction program IN COMBAT!  Today, I’m very involved with non-profits, businesses, schools, and government offices to make it possible to work closely together to succeed under the toughest conditions. I lead a couple of non-profits, which include one with 4,200 members as Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars for Hawaii, and as Hawaii’s ambassador for the Military Women’s Memorial, encouraging women to sign up and share HERstory.

What’s been my KEY TO SUCCESS… that’s helped 1000s of women and men do AMAZING things EVERY day against the odds?

Answer: STRESS

It can break you, making your life miserable…or…

With the right training, YOU face whatever the future holds and enjoy what’s truly possible.

What better time to learn how to use stress to your advantage than today?

Think about the huge challenges we face -from climate change (drought, floods, melting ice caps & sea rise), to aggressive nations or combative groups to COVID and deadly variants.

Consider what’s happening to our businesses.

  • A Harvard Study found that in a recent recession only 9-10% of companies use adversity to their advantage. (Gulati – HBS)
  • A Harvard Business Review report found that 70-90% of business mergers and acquisitions fail. (HBR, 2019)
  • Gallup studies for 2020 indicate a workforce struggling to live up to its potential. Only 1 or 2 employees in 5 are engaged at work (highly involved), 43% are stressed out daily, and 15-20% are actively DISENGAGED (actively discouraging others to perform).

What employees in the US face at home:

  • 70% of adults have experienced a traumatic event – that’s Pre-COVID. (thenationalcouncil.org)
  • 50% of marriages end in divorce, and up to 73% for subsequent marriages. (worldpopulationreview.com)
  • 66% of people are seeking a real relationship, a meaningful partnership that is built on commitment and love (eHarmony)

When important issues at work and at home are wrapped in toxic and divisive perspectives, we magnify problems and solutions become elusive.

It’s natural to mistakenly view stress as a threat. In fact, we’re hard-wired and conditioned/soft-wired to do so. Threats trigger most people into survival-mode thinking.

In survival mode, unmet expectations are judged harshly and quickly. In this mode, a large range of options dramatically narrow to three strategies:  Fight, Flight (run away), or Shut Down (disengage).

It’s a lot like walking into a pie shop that normally offers 50 mouth-watering options. In survival mode, you narrow your options to three ordinary-looking pies…which you don’t realize until later. And those limited choices all make you sick.

A lack of stress skills can be easy to spot. Have you ever sat in a restaurant when someone you’re with has an issue with an order? How do they treat the server? Shouting or getting upset may get movement and lots of unintended consequences. Outcomes that exceed my expectations – never happen when I’m in survival mode!

In one case, a client enthusiastically signed up for both of my Extreme Stress and Stress Basics courses. Two weeks later, I noted she had not started either one. Upon questioning, she stated, “I’m in such a dark place. I really don’t think I have the energy or desire to even start because I won’t finish.”

Rather than be disappointed, I became excited and challenged her to watch just one of my 5 minutes videos. I promised she’d have more energy and feel better right away. Two weeks later, I checked back. and she shared, “I watched the video and finished both courses by the next day.”

I knew the toxic environment she worked in and asked if she wanted to talk more. She said, “I’m great now… really!” We did talk later. Her situation was even worse than I imagined. Today, she’s in a dream job.

With a better perspective and a few stress tools, you can walk through fire. And won’t waste time in survival mode whenever your emotions are triggered. Without that training and discipline to handle stress, it’s easy to forget the wisdom that’s available to us.

Remember when Wonder Woman took on the world after her early years of intense training? My own mental toughness journey in and out of the military continues to give me the power to transform incredibly difficult situations into opportunities and to help others do the same. It hasn’t gotten easier. I’ve gotten better!

TV, newspapers, magazines, books, radio, social media, and daily conversations bombard our beliefs, conversations, and choices we make every day. Recognize that a growing number of people refuse to listen to or restrict the “News” they receive or have even sworn off social media entirely. It comes down to how well you handle life’s challenges, no matter how tough things get. Stress isn’t bad. It’s how you deal with stress that matters.

 Do YOU want to stand out as a better leader? If so, your real test won’t happen when things go as planned. It’s those moments when a turn of events tests you – disappoints, frustrates or potentially angers you and those around you. With survival-mode thinking, keep in mind that:

Once you go negative, you break the trust and shake the foundation of your relationships.

What you do matters. When you’re lucky enough to be placed in leadership roles, use them to make a difference. The more challenging the job, the bigger your potential impact.

Go to our website Mentallytoughwomen.com to find out more about MTW’s Powerful Stress Tools. You’ll enjoy being tested to your limits!

Use stress to fuel your 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

Colonel Deb Lewis is a West Point graduate from its first class with women. A retired Army Colonel and Harvard MBA, Deb commanded three US Army Corps of Engineer Districts, including a $2.1B reconstruction program in combat. She survived the 9/11 Pentagon attack while serving on the Joint Staff antiterrorism team. Colonel Deb’s experiences leading while under fire inspired her unique ‘Mentally Tough Women’ (MTW) program. MTW prepares women (and enlightened men) to handle more stress – not de-stress – in good times and times of crisis. Once you ‘Armor Up’ with mental toughness, your daily battles turn into sweet victories.

Photo by Diego González on Unsplash

Today’s Deep Tech Solutions are Tomorrow’s Household Names

This week’s article is provided by Eric Redmond, a twenty-year veteran technologist and author. It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Deep Tech: Demystifying the Breakthrough Technologies that aired on Tuesday, June 29th. The following article has been adapted from the Deep Tech book.

 

If you’ve seen 2008’s Iron Man, a movie that reinvigorated the superhero genre, you can probably picture the high-tech laboratory of main character Tony Stark. Over a decade ago, much of the technology featured in his lab—augmented reality, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, autonomous robotics, Internet of Things—was largely confined to the realm of science fiction and academia.

A few years later, these emerging technologies are past the research and development phase, just on the cusp of scale, but not quite yet available for prime time. They’re deep tech: technology that is barely feasible today but will become pervasive and hugely impactful in day-to-day life tomorrow. Why does this matter to you as a business leader?

Deep tech offers the potential for enormous growth to businesses that adopt or invest in it at the right time. If you get in early—but not too early—you can leverage tech that will soon be so ubiquitous, they’re household names as recognizable as the iPhone.

When to Get Involved in Deep Tech?

Successful adoption of deep tech is all about timing. By its definition, deep tech practically begs to be undervalued in its early days, but those who seize on the opportunity at the right time almost always end up the winners. The trick is answering the question: when is the right time to get involved?

If you grab on too early, you may find yourself as Yahoo or Friendster. Jump on too late, and you’re Bing or App.net. But right on time?

You’re Google or Facebook.

The goal should be to not merely adopt emerging technologies but invest in and drive their adoption, forcing everyone else to catch up—that’s how you get ahead of the competition.

There are seven technologies poised to drive somewhere between 50 and 200 trillion dollars in new economic impact in the decade between 2020 and 2030: artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, blockchain, and cryptocurrencies, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, and quantum computing.

The right time to get involved in these technologies? Now.

Deep Tech Matters in Business

You might be thinking if the deep tech hasn’t hit the mainstream yet, does it matter to my business? The answer is yes. Whether you’re in finance, sales, design, logistics, or any number of fields and industries, we live in a world increasingly dominated by technology.

Over a hundred years ago, factories were the cutting edge, powered by the assembly line, and the world was dominated by those who used them. Then came electricity. Then business structures like the firm. Then supply chain optimization. Then the world belonged to those who cleverly leveraged financial instruments.

Today, we live in a fully digital age, and the major division is between those companies that respond to that change and those that are left behind. As corporate tech expert Patrick Fisher said in Reuters, “all companies are technology companies now.”

Leveraging emerging technology is an effective way to get ahead, and on the flip side, ignoring it can cost you significantly. Recent history is littered with corporations refusing to make the transition into leveraging technology appropriately, from the loss of a century of Sears dominance to the upstart of Amazon to Hertz bankruptcy due to a billion ride-share cuts.

The biggest danger in being ignorant of the current docket of deep tech’s coming of age is apathy, which in other words is a recipe for irrelevance. Whether you’re beginning a startup, or you’re a CEO or a thought leader, don’t allow yourself to flirt with the lines of Luddite groupthink and be drawn into ignoring what you don’t want to believe.

Deep Tech is a Pathway to New Lines of Business

If you want a concrete example of the benefits of understanding deep tech, consider the Winklevoss twins. You may be familiar with these brothers, Cameron and Tyler, as popular foils in the Facebook creation myth. But what’s more interesting is how the Winklevosses made their billions after Facebook: by keeping a keen eye on deep tech.

In 2013, they saw the Bitcoin revolution coming and chose to act on it. They bought in on Bitcoin (BTC) early, starting when the going rate was around $10 per BTC. Then they bought more and more, finally amassing a 1 percent stake of the total number of Bitcoin. To support the technology and community, they worked as ambassadors for the power of the decentralized digital currency. All the while, their investment grew. Once Bitcoin hit $10,000 per BTC in 2017, they both became the world’s first Bitcoin billionaires. What a difference a decade makes.

Like the Winklevosses, deep tech can be a pathway to new lines of business for you and your company. Whether you’re looking for new revenue streams, process effectiveness, or other cost savings, deep tech is the most important avenue to investigate. You’ll get the most value by adopting early and implementing the technology before your competitors.

Act Before Deep Tech Turns into Popular Tech

In 2008, Tony Stark’s lab tech was still science fiction, but today, we’re living with much of it, and the next level of advancement is right around the corner. Remember, deep tech refers to the stage the technology is in: impossible yesterday, barely feasible today, and soon to be so pervasive it’s hard to remember life without it.

The key to leveraging deep tech to your maximum advantage is timing your involvement right. Adopt and invest early, just before the technology is ready for mass market. Moves to adopt deep tech at the right moment are what turned Amazon, Google, and Facebook into the juggernauts they are today.

Technologies considered deep tech now—artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, blockchain and cryptocurrencies, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, and quantum computing—will be household fixtures tomorrow, so lean into the opportunity and get involved.

For more advice on emerging technologies, you can find Deep Tech on Amazon.

 

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

Eric Redmond is the Forrest Gump of technology: a twenty-year veteran technologist who always happens to show up wherever deep tech history is being made, from the first iPhone apps to big data to Bitcoin. He has advised state and national governments, Fortune 100 companies, and groups as varied as the World Economic Forum and MIT Media Lab. He has also authored half a dozen technology books (including two tech books for babies) and spoken on every continent except Antarctica. Today, he’s a husband, a dad, and the leader of a global tech innovation team.

Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

Most Searched for Leader’s Quotes in the World

In the Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future interview this week, Maureen was joined by Sean Castrina, entrepreneur, podcast host, and author.   In his interview, which airs Tuesday, June 22nd and is titled Mindset Is Only One Piece of the Puzzle, he and Maureen discuss Sean’s story and how he overcame setbacks, leadership lessons, and making the big change.  This article is a guest post from Matthew Channell of TSE and is a companion to Sean’s interview as we look at the most quoted leaders in all the world, the UK and the USA.

 

TSW (Training Services Wales) has conducted a study to find out which leaders and inspirational people are the most influential for helping us find that extra motivation to achieve greatness, whether it be leading a brand-new team or finishing a difficult task, by analyzing Google search data.

The leadership development training provider analyzed over 100 of the most influential leaders in history to reveal the most sought-after leadership quotes of all time.

 

Top Names Featured Overall Score Amount of World Countries in Top 3 Points for the Number of Times Appeared in the Top 3 Global Google Search Volume Points for Global Search Volume
Albert Einstein 322 31 200 65000 122
Nelson Mandela 279 25 165 43000 114
Buddha 263.5 19 137.5 154000 126
Rumi 251.5 18 127.5 102000 124
Steve Jobs 218.5 15 112.5 34000 106
Abraham Lincoln 214 17 105 36000 109
Bob Marley 202.5 14 87.5 44000 115
Oscar Wilde 191.5 11 77.5 43000 114
William Shakespeare 188 17 100 17000 88
Martin Luther King 187 12 70 48000 117

 

#1 Universally recognized as the greatest physician of all time, Albert Einstein developed the theory of relatively. His ground-breaking discoveries and theories have not just widely influenced modern physics and cosmology, but the born leaders in us all.

Albert Einstein’s leadership quotes are the most searched for above all others in the world. Regardless of your background, culture, knowledge or values, Einstein’s influence has no limits. His leadership quote below is one in particular that we can take great inspiration from when faced with a complex challenge:

“The leader is one who, out of the clutter, brings simplicity… Out of discord, harmony… And out of difficult, opportunity.”

 

#2. In second place is former South African president Nelson Mandela.

He achieved many great things during his life, but his most well-known is successfully leading the resistance to South Africa’s policy of apartheid in the 20th century, during which he was infamously imprisoned at Robben Island. One quote that truly inspires us when talking about leading teams is:

“If you want the cooperation of humans around you, you must make them feel they are important – and you do that by being genuine and humble.”

 

#3. In third we find Guatama Buddha, revered as the founder of the religion Buddhism. As a philosopher, meditator and spiritual teacher who lived in ancient India, he still inspires millions of people around the globe, regardless of creed, culture, or religion.

Perhaps this quote is one in which we can find true value, harmony, mindfulness and peace – necessary factors in becoming a better leader:

“Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”

 

The UK’s Most Searched for Leaders

# Inspirational Leader Total
1 Winston Churchill 15,030
2 William Shakespeare 11,260
3 Albert Einstein 9,210
4 Martin Luther King 8,410
5 Maya Angelou 7,110
6 Buddha 6,610
7 Nelson Mandela 5,790
8 Malcolm X 5,610
9 Joker 5,500
10 Yoda 5,405

In the UK, Brits use Winston Churchill’s quotes as the most inspiring when looking for good leadership and motivation.

The former Prime Minister who led us to victory in World War 2 is one of the most well-known and influential leaders in history, and it’s clear that us Brits still hold him in the highest regard. Just some of his best leadership traits included bravery, courageousness and perseverance.

His quote on courage can relate to us all:

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

 

Matthew Channell, Director at TSW says: “During these difficult times, quotes can be especially helpful for finding inspiration or motivation to tackle a challenge head on and develop into a great leader. They are generally short, sharp and straight to the point, which helps keep us maintain focus in times of crisis or times of need. They are also one of the most shared items online, which proves how much we love them!”

“Quotes help us understand, inspire, motivate, clarify and show our approach to things around, this is why people and I love quotes.” — Takyou Allah Cheikh Malaynine

 

The USA’s Most Searched for Leaders

# Inspirational Leader Total
1 Maya Angelou 48,060
2 Albert Einstein 43,030
3 Malcolm X 37,000
4 Winston Churchill 31,150
5 Mark Twain 29,020
6 Ruth Bader Ginsburg 29,000
7 Donald Trump 28,300
8 Dr. Seuss 28,040
9 William Shakespeare 27,030
10 Yoda 27,010

Methodology

We started by sourcing a list of the most inspirational leaders from analyzing the number of monthly Google searches for “leadership quotes” firstly, and “quotes” second in each country in the world, using data from ahrefs keyword planner.

We then ranked the top 126 most searched “leaders + quotes” based on the number of searches and the number of times they appeared in 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each country, using a unique scoring index to give each a combined total score.

When looking at UK and US lists, we sourced the most inspirational leaders using ahrefs keyword planner and combined search volumes of {name/surname} + {“leadership quotes”/”quotes”}

 

*Some keywords/leaders were removed or not considered as they were deemed inappropriate or inaccurate to the intent of the research.

*Not all countries were included, due to null data.

You can view the full research here: https://www.tsw.co.uk/blog/leadership-and-management/most-searched-for-leader-quotes/

 

 

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

Matthew Channell, Director at TSW Training and Non-Executive Director helping businesses to grow through their people.

 

Photo by Taton Moïse on Unsplash

Pick up the Radio and Call for Help!

This week’s article is provided by Jeff Wald, founder of Work Market. It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled The End of Jobs: The Rise of On-Demand Workers & Agile Companies that aired on Tuesday, June 15th.

 

Some people lead with their heart, some with their head.  Some leaders are “my way or the highway”, some are “we all move forward together”.  Every leader has their own style and as long as people follow, they are leaders.

I tend to use vulnerability as a core part of my leadership style.  I do that as it’s authentic, I have a lot of vulnerabilities.  I learned to embrace this vulnerability from an unlikely source; the New York City Police Department.

I spent the better part of ten years as a volunteer officer in the NYPD.  It was here I learned that asking for help was not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of shared strength. But first, some background on volunteer officers of the NYPD.

The volunteers, or Auxiliary Officers, get about 100 hours of training at the Police Academy.  Training includes basic self-defense, arrest procedures, radio usage, first aid, and many other lessons one needs to serve.  The Auxiliary Units are designed to provide an extra set of eyes and ears out on the streets.  They are not supposed to respond to an active situation unless specifically instructed by a regular NYPD Officer.  They are not trained or authorized to use a firearm.  They carry a baton, a small stick about eighteen inches long.  They are told time and time again that their radio is the most important item on their person.

I reflect on the lessons I learned during my time as an Auxiliary Officer and how they apply to my leadership and my life.  There is always one that stands out: Never hesitate to pick up the radio and call for help.

I remember my first serious encounter as an officer.  There was an assault in progress right near where my partner and I were standing.  We knew we were not supposed to approach an active crime unless specifically asked.  However, being the invulnerable young men, we believed ourselves to be, we walked over anyway.

As we turned the corner on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, I saw two men kicking and one man hitting with a baseball bat, a prone figure on the ground.  Real police officers were less than a minute away.  My partner took out his baton and yelled “Stop! Police!” and ran in.  I actually panicked for a second and froze, but the sight of my partner running in spurred me to action.  My action, aside from beginning to run after my partner, was to grab my radio.  The bad guys had started to run away when my partner yelled, so I called into central dispatch (and thus was heard by the approaching real officers), “three male suspects running south on First Avenue”.

They were caught and arrested, the person being attacked was injured but would be ok.

While we were not in any danger (although there were three of them and two of us, they had a baseball bat and we had batons, and I knew we didn’t have a gun but they might have!), I reached for my radio.  The radio’s primary purpose in this encounter was to inform the other officer, but its primary purpose to me was to inform the rest of the 19th Precinct that two very scared Auxiliary Officers were encountering suspects.  Implicitly the call was, “Send some real cops here now and HELP!”.

Ask any police officer anywhere in the world what is their most powerful weapon and you will get one consistent answer, the radio.  Every officer has one, and at the other end of that device is help; serious help.  When they make that call other officers will immediately be on the way.  There is no officer that would hesitate for a moment to call for help, to call for backup.  Think about that for a second.  These are some of the bravest people in the world.  They put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe.  Yet, at the slightest inkling of trouble, they ask for help.

If police officers do that, why don’t the rest of us?

As leaders, we may sometimes fall into the dangerous and self-defeating trap of thinking we need to have all the answers.  Maybe it’s driven by insecurity, maybe by imposter syndrome, maybe by the need to prove our intellect and strength.  For some leaders that may work just fine, but not for me.

I ask for help when I need it and my team responds.

I do need help, we all do.  I cannot do it alone.  No one is that strong, or smart, or well-connected that they don’t need the talents of their team.

Far from being a sign of weakness, asking for help is a powerful sign of strength.  It tells everyone that you are confident enough to ask for help when you need it.  Smart enough to know you don’t have all the answers.  Brave enough to rely on the intellect, creativity, and networks of others.  To me, this is what leadership looks like and it’s worked well.

So be brave like police officers all over the world and pick up your radio when you need help.  For leaders, it can be your most powerful weapon.

 

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

Jeff Wald is the Founder of Work Market, an enterprise software platform that enables companies to manage freelancers. It was acquired by ADP. Jeff began his career in finance, serving as Managing Director at activist hedge fund Barington Capital Group, a Vice President at venture capital firm GlenRock and various roles at JP Morgan.

Jeff is an active angel investor and startup advisor, as well as serving on numerous public and private Boards of Directors. He also formerly served as an officer in the Auxiliary Unit of the New York Police Department. Jeff holds an MBA from Harvard University and an MS and BS from Cornell University.

Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Innovative Health Care Leadership

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This week’s article is a sneak peak at an Appendix to recently released, Innovative Leadership in Health Care book that was authored by Maureen Metcalf of Innovative Leadership Institute and Erin S. Barry, M.S; Dukagjin M. Blajak, M.D., Ph.D.; Suzanna Fitzpatrick, DNP; Michael Morrow-Fox, M.B.A., Ed. S.; and Neil E. Grunberg, Ph. D.  This book provides health care workers with frameworks and tools based on the most current research in leadership, psychology, neuroscience, and physiology to help them update or innovate how they lead and build the practices necessary to continue to update their leadership skills. It is provided to supplement the interview with Eric Douglas Keene on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Diversity Recruiting: Changes and Retention that aired on Tuesday, June 8th, 2021.

 

I have strong memories of an eye-opening conversation I had with some friends when I began work in a suburban hospital.  I met my friend and his wife for a snack at the hospital cafeteria when they visited for his routine physical.  I teased him about how nice he was dressed.  He looked at his wife and then back at me.  He smiled as he replied, “We have to dress up when we go to this hospital,” he said.  “Otherwise, the security staff wants to escort us to our physician’s office.”  After that conversation, I noticed several instances of African American patients, families, and staff receiving ‘special help’ from the hospital security staff.  I was taken aback at both the hospital’s racist institutional behavior and my complete obliviousness to the racism.

This section is about innovative leadership for JEDI.  Innovative leadership for JEDI refers not to STAR WARS mind control techniques, but the other JEDI—[Social] Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.  Innovative leadership for JEDI is the ability to impact individuals, teams, and systems to create a fair and engaging health care organization. For patients.  For families.  For health care workers. Of all backgrounds, genders, colors, and beliefs. The Innovative Leadership JEDI section is divided into three subsections.  Bias and health care, the health care crisis resulting from bias, and a pathway for leaders to address the JEDI health care crisis in their organizations.

Bias and Health Care

Our experiences are that most health care organizations and most health care leaders try to create a welcoming JEDI environment.  Most health care organizations and leaders truly value the principles of JEDI.  Research and experience, however, reveals too many health care organizations that are unwelcoming and un-inclusive.  In the absence of malice, how does a health care organization create an unwelcoming and un-inclusive environment? We submit the answer may lie in cognitive biases that allow organizations and leaders to believe a problem exists, but… “It’s not me and not us.”

Emily Pronin notes, “Human judgment and decision making is distorted by an array of cognitive, perceptual and motivational biases.” Most health care professionals receive training in statistical practices aimed at eliminating biases in clinical practice.  Pronin goes on to describe a phenomenon termed blindspot bias writing, “Recent evidence suggests that people tend to recognize (and even overestimate) the operation of bias in human judgment – except when that bias is their own.”

Banaji and Greenwald have further described the blindspot bias as a bias people can readily see in others but have great difficulty seeing in themselves.  Blindspot biases manifest in statements like, “I know there is a lot of racial prejudice in the world, but I don’t see color, only people,” or, “I know most people that don’t understand cultural norms can be offensive, but I understand respect, so I am never offensive in any culture.” When someone is aware that a phenomenon regularly exists in others but denies the possibility that it could exist in them, a blindspot bias may be the reason for their confidence. In the health care world, it is often misguided confidence that may dehumanize and disenfranchise others.

In addition to the blindspot bias, health care leaders can suffer from implicit biases. Harvard University’s Project Implicit describes implicit biases as, “attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report.”  Project Implicit provides the example of an implicit bias as, “You may believe that women and men should be equally associated with science, but your automatic associations could show that you (like many others) associate men with science more than you associate women with science.”

Mission statements and Diversity Departments in health care organizations echo a call to deliver the highest possible care and adherence to the value principles of JEDI.  This in contrast to the many patients, families, employees, and communities suffering consequences of social injustice, inequity, lack of diversity, and un-inclusiveness. The combination of blindspot and implicit biases create a JEDI crisis in our health care systems.  A crisis that hides in plain view through a cloak of “not me, not us” beliefs.

The Tale of a JEDI Health Care Crisis

The evidence on JEDI and health care delivery highlights systemic failures on almost every level.  Below are a few health care statistics illustrating the breakdown of principles of JEDI for our patients, their families, and our employees:

  • During the first ten months of the Covid-19 crisis, U.S. data from the COVID Racial Data Tracker showed mortality rates 150% higher for African Americans, 135% higher for Indigenous American People, and 125% for Hispanic Americans than for White Americans. Bassett and colleagues reported that African Americans between the ages of 35 and 44 had nine times higher mortality rates than their White American counterparts.
  • Marcella Nunez-Smith and colleagues found nearly one in three Black physicians, nearly one in four Asian physicians, and one in five Hispanic/Latino physicians have left at least one job due to discriminatory practices.
  • Dickman and colleagues note the top one percent of affluent males live on average 15 years longer than the lowest one percent of poor males. Low-income families are in poor health at rates 15 percent higher than their affluent American counterparts.
  • Using U.S. Census Data, The Center for American Progress reports women in the workforce earn $.77 for every dollar their male counterparts earn. Women are often pigeonholed into “pink-collar” jobs, which typically pay less. Forty-three percent of the women employed in the United States are clustered in just 20 occupational categories, of which the average annual median earnings is less than $29,000.
  • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reports that female physicians make up only 34 percent of all U. S. physicians.
  • More than 25 percent of African American women and nearly 25 percent of Hispanic American women live in poverty. Elderly women have poverty rates over double those of elderly men.
  • The Center for American Progress reports more than 10 percent of African Americans and more than 16 percent of Hispanic Americans are uninsured compared to 5.9 percent of White Americans.
  • African American adults over age 20 suffer from hypertension at the rate of 42 percent compared to 29 percent for White American adults.
  • In a survey of over 27,000 transgender respondents, Herman and colleagues reported, “In the year prior to completing the survey, one-third (33%) of those who saw a health care provider had at least one negative experience related to being transgender, such as being verbally harassed or refused treatment because of their gender identity.”
  • A survey of over 40,000 LGBTQ Americans aged 13 to 24 by The Trevor Project found almost half of the respondents engaged in self-harm. And 40 percent have “seriously considered” attempting suicide—in just the past year.
  • Ronald Wyatt reports, “The total cost of racial/ethnic disparities in 2009 was approximately $82 billion—$60 billion in excess healthcare costs and $22 billion in lost productivity. The economic burden of these health disparities in the US is projected to increase to $126 billion in 2020 and to $353 billion in 2050 if the disparities remain unchanged.”

JEDI Innovative Health Care Leadership Action

Reading the statistics above and the myriad of statics available, we find it hard to deny a systemic failure of the health care delivery system and our health care organizations.  How did it get this bad when we have so many well-intended and highly skilled leaders?  Blindspot and implicit biases can cause inaction in an otherwise effective leadership team.  Leaders with blindspot and implicit biases do not disregard problems; they render problems moot through the belief, “not me, not us.”  We hope the shortlist of statistics above brings some awareness that “me/we” are both the health care problem and the solution.

Innovative health care leaders can change the course of social injustice, inequity, lack of diversity, and un-inclusion.  Using their influence, leaders can take an evidence-based approach to JEDI, learn/teach cultural competence, practice cultural humility, create support for diverse populations, and grow communities to change the course of this systemic failure.  We elaborate with some definitions and examples below.

Pfeffer and Sutton wrote, “A bold new way of thinking has taken the medical establishment by storm in the past decade: the idea that decisions in medical care should be based on the latest and best knowledge of what actually works.”  Pfeffer and Sutton went on to write while the idea of evidence-based care is almost uncontested, physicians only make evidence-based decisions 15 percent of the time.  This is certainly of concern for clinical decision-making, and it is an equal concern for changing the tide of systemic JEDI failures.

As leaders, we must ask, “How would someone with a blindspot or implicit bias know if women, minorities, or people of non-traditional identities are experiencing injustice, inequity, or un-inclusion?”  The answer is evidence.  Do job applicants with the names Julio and Jamal have the same employment opportunities as applicants with the names John and James? Do our women and minority workers make comparable wages to our white male workers? Do immigrant patients feel respected when receiving care?  Are our employees reflective of the community in which we reside?  We are uncertain without evidence. Without evidence, our instincts and experiences guide us; instincts and experiences which can be skewed by biases.

Innovative JEDI leaders (like you) are actively pursuing evidence that their organizations are socially just, equitable, appropriately diverse, and inclusive.  Evidence—accurate data that is analyzed and understood; confirms or denies the existence of JEDI.  If a leader does not have JEDI evidence, the “not me and not us” biases may predominate the institutional consciousness.

Cultural learning opportunities should be readily available in your organization. Cultural competence, the ability to recognize, appreciate, and interact successfully with people from other cultures, is essential for any healthcare professional.  In addition, Tervalon and Murray-Garcia observed, “Cultural humility incorporates a lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and self-critique, to redressing the power imbalances in the patient-physician dynamic, and to developing mutually beneficial and nonpaternalistic clinical and advocacy partnerships with communities on behalf of individuals and defined populations.”  Innovative leaders teach, support, and model cultural humility within their organizations.

We have had many conversations with health care human resource professionals observing, “We get minority candidates hired, we just can’t get them to stay.”  When diverse employees walk into a room with people who do not look like them, do not believe like them, may have preconceived negative ideas about people like them, it can be overwhelming.  Patients, their families, and employees need to feel the organization’s support, receive mentoring on the navigation of differences, and understand that their differences are vital for the community and organization’s strength.  Innovative leaders forge pathways of support for inclusion, mentorship, and engagement in their health care organizations.  Support groups, mentoring programs, organizational messages, and evidence gathering serve to support and retain diverse populations.

Innovative leaders look at the gaps in their communities and think about how to close those gaps.  In an article entitled, Physicians for Social Justice, Diversity and Equity: Take Action and Lead, Lubowitz and colleagues note, “Few orthopedic surgeons are minorities or female, and orthopedic surgery is not perceived to be an inclusive specialty. This is an obstacle to equitable diverse hiring.”  Despite the lack of diverse candidates in the profession, Lubowitz and colleagues passionately express the need to advocate, inspire, and continuously improve as a profession.

We agree. If there are gaps in finding physicians and other health care employees that are reflective of the community, start programs to recruit, train, and inspire the community.  Programs from elementary school to advanced educational grants can all serve to change a community.  Lubowitz and colleagues recommend, “In terms of minorities and women making a choice to pursue medicine and then orthopedic surgery as a desired medical specialty, we wield enormous impact and a most direct influence. We must consciously change our behavior and demonstrate that we are an inclusive medical specialty.”  Every innovative health care leader can demonstrate support for inclusion.

Most of us have experienced the patient that demands, “I’m sorry, but I don’t want a [Female, Jewish, Muslim, Gay, Old, Younge, Black, Hispanic, Other] physician.  This is my health, and I cannot afford to be politically correct.”  As if unsubstantiated biases are merely politeness.  Prejudice can be malicious hate or blindspot and implicit biases.  In any form, a lack of JEDI weakens the health care delivery system causing pain and suffering for the community.  Effective innovative leaders replace, “Not me, not us” with, “It could be me; it might be us” to ensure health care teams, organizations, and communities are just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive.

 

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, Founder, CEO, and Board Chair of the Innovative Leadership Institute is a highly sought-after expert in anticipating and leveraging future business trends to transform organizations.  She has captured her thirty years of experience and success in an award-winning series of books that are used by public, private, and academic organizations to align company-wide strategy, systems, and culture with innovative leadership techniques.  As a preeminent change agent, Ms. Metcalf has set strategic direction and then transformed her client organizations to deliver significant business results such as increased profitability, cycle time reduction, improved quality, and increased employee effectiveness. She and the Innovative Leadership Institute have developed and certified hundreds of leaders who amplify their organizations’ impact across the world.

Photo by Piron Guillaume on Unsplash

Spotting Opportunities for Creativity and Innovation

This week’s article is provided by Jeff DeGraff, author of The Creative Mindset: Mastering the Six Skills that Power Innovation. This is an edited excerpt from his book and a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled The Creative Mindset: Mastering Skills that Empower Innovation that aired on Tuesday, June 1st.

 

Regrettably, swaggering catchphrases like “go big or go home” are commonly associated with creative thinking. Accordingly, most of these braggarts end up doing the latter. The next big thing most likely will be small. Instead of trying to develop the next breakthrough technology, you might find an unfilled niche that a current technology could fill if it were used differently. Maybe a solution could be creative simply by applying it in a new way.

For example, super glue was developed for industrial, and household uses, but is now commonly used to close wounds. Alternatively, an old problem may be solved with a new approach. Consider how the repair of highway embankments was greatly expedited by adding cement to industrial canvas. Drape the cement-infused fabric like a carpet and just add water. Voilà, instant infrastructure. The solution doesn’t have to be revolutionary for the effect to be. Better, cheaper, and faster might also work.

When you’re searching for an opportunity for creative thinking, here are three things to look for:

  • Find Unmet Needs and Fill Them 
    • Examine where clients and consumers are dissatisfied with a solution. For example, the poor patient satisfaction score of a medical practice might suggest an opportunity to connect physicians with a ridesharing service. Think of it as a return to house calls. Perhaps you notice that there are no decent restaurants in a number of rural areas near your house. There aren’t enough people in any one location to make a restaurant viable. You might repurpose an old delivery van as a gourmet food truck like the ones that line the streets of New York and Los Angeles. Each week you could bring a different cuisine. The key insight here is to uncover a shortcoming or void and to fill it.
  • Find Inefficiencies and Fix Them 
    • Observing when and where services are untimely is a great way to locate a high-potential opportunity. Parking in any big city is a prime example. Municipalities generate an enormous amount of their revenue by writing parking tickets. Even though the technology exists to digitally connect the driver with the parking space, few cities adopt the solution because it is expensive and cuts into their profits. But, in reality, one does not need substantial financial support from the cities to produce such a product. By examining the traffic pattern data available to the public, based on probabilities, a software developer can develop an app that would serve the same purpose at a fraction of the cost and directly market it to drivers. The challenge isn’t to improve the technology. Instead, it’s to make parking more efficient. This type of challenge can be met without a massive amount of money. It just takes looking at it with a creative mindset.
  • Find Complexity and Get Rid of It 
    • Identify systems that are unnecessarily complicated or that rely too heavily on bureaucratic procedures, and make them simpler. Suppose you are a college freshman at a large institution. You are directed to a website to select your first courses. There is a counselor you can see, but only for a few minutes, and you will have to wait almost until the deadline to register for courses. The complexity of the situation is anxiety-producing and counterproductive to get you set up for success at the start of your education.

Suppose that an enterprising librarian created a call-in service, something akin to what software companies do. The service representatives would have segmented different groups of students based on several variables such as interest, aptitude, and so on. They would have collaborated with the counselors beforehand and created several effective pathways for those student segments. They might be fluent in the registration system of a few universities. Students can use the call-in service to get help and advice on how to select courses based on their interests and walk through the process with the service representatives. The challenge of complexity might be better solved by working against technology trends.

This example is about not creating a new, more advanced technology but reverting to the old-fashion way of talking on the phone to someone who can answer all your questions and walk you through the technology to register for your classes. Sometimes, advanced technology doesn’t help as much as a simpler human solution.

Clarifying Your Challenge Pay Attention. 

Look up, down, and all around yourself. Look for the things that other people don’t see. Chances are that if you see an obvious occasion to innovate, other people see it, too. So look for subtle patterns, small holes, tiny inconsistencies, minor inefficiencies. The opportunity to innovate may be inside something you see every day, but you’ll never see it if you don’t look closely enough.

You want to enter any innovation challenge with your eyes wide open. Before you embark on any new project, especially one that will consume your time, effort, and other resources, you need to be sure that you are solving the right problem and that you really want to do it. Otherwise, you will start many projects but never finish them.

Do not forget to learn from others. Technical descriptions can take you only so far. Meaningful conversations are what will shed the most light on your goals and situation. Listen to stories. Ask open-ended questions. If someone takes one point of view or tone, gently explore the opposite one and see how the person reacts. Pay attention to that person’s body language and energy. Follow-up questions are the key to learning what you really need to know. Good creators are, first and foremost, good listeners.

 

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

Jeff DeGraff is both an advisor to Fortune 500 companies and a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. His simultaneously creative and pragmatic approach to making innovation happen has led clients and colleagues to dub him the “Dean of Innovation.” He has written several books, including Leading Innovation, Innovation You, and The Innovation Code. His most recent book The Creative Mindset brings 6 creativity skills to everyone.