Leadership Trends to Watch for 2019 and Beyond

With 2018 coming to a close, many of us are looking to 2019 and beyond. This article was originally published on in August 2018 summarizing the trends that emerged from the last 100 interviews conducted on Voice America Radio, Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations interview series.  It is the companion to an interview between Christopher Washington, PhD and Maureen Metcalf Top Leadership Trends in 2018 and beyond.

I host a weekly radio show that helps leaders update how they lead. The interviews are with key business leaders, global leaders, thought leaders, authors and academics. Each year, I publish the main themes we discuss on the show as well as in my consulting work with senior executives around the world.

I have now completed more than 150 interviews, and volatility was a recurring theme. This article is a synthesis of what we can take away as key factors for leaders and executives to focus on for the next four years.

1. Leaders must pay attention to trends and predictions.

As the rate of change accelerates, if you take a “wait and see” stance, you will be caught unprepared. The intersection of volatility, changes in technology and global interconnection means there are threats and opportunities on all fronts and a large pool of organizations poised to leverage both. Speed continues to matter.

2. Leaders and their organizations are becoming agiler.

A McKinsey survey of more than 2,500 organizations of different sizes, specialties and regions reported that “37 percent of respondents said their organizations are carrying out company-wide agile transformations, and another 4 percent said their companies have fully implemented such transformations. The shift is driven by proof that small, multidisciplinary teams of agile organizations can respond swiftly and promptly to rapidly changing market opportunities and customer demands.”

As leaders, it’s important to adopt a nimble mindset and culture. Being nimble means paying attention to trends and identifying small “experiments” you can run to keep up with or even ahead of the changes happening around you. Once you are clear about what will work for you and how it will work, pilot that change. Truly agile companies are always experimenting.

3. Organizations and their people must accelerate their pace of learning.

With an increase in agility, people and organizations will need to accelerate learning. In 1978, Harvard Business School Professor Emeritus Chris Argyris wrote Organizational Learning: A Theory of Action Perspective. This work continues to evolve and increase in importance, as learning provides a competitive advantage.

Take, for example, how organizations are automating more work. Employees who continue to learn and update their skills will be able to find new roles, while others who are not continually learning will be left unemployed or underemployed as their roles diminish.

4. Age range in the workforce will continue to expand.

As life expectancy continues to increase, many people will want to and need to work longer. Organizations will need to find ways to attract and engage older workers. They will also need to address the dynamics created when multiple generations of employees are working together on the same team.

With the decrease of age-based seniority, leadership will be taken by the best person for the role and will likely shift frequently in an agile environment. Organizations need to be creative in promoting engagement and teamwork across multiple generations.

5. Leaders need to identify and build talent at an increasing rate.

As technology evolves and organizations change more quickly, employees need to learn faster, and organizations need to identify workers to fill changing talent needs. Some of these needs will fall in the technology space, but not all.

We referenced older employees remaining in the workforce and returning. We also need to find ways to engage talent who have been previously overlooked. This could mean people leaving incarceration, people with disabilities who would, in fact, be great fits for certain roles, or adults who work from home because they are caregivers to their children or parents, to name a few.

6. Employee engagement will continue to be important in volatile times.

The importance of human interaction will continue to increase even as more of the workforce is working remotely – many rarely, if ever, meeting their colleagues. Leaders and organizations need to focus on soft skills such as emotional intelligence that have a strong impact on engagement and the effort employees put into communicating.

7. Communities must come together to solve quality-of-life and economic issues.

With the level of change, segments of the economy can easily be excluded from the workforce. The gap between economic haves (those with education, access and resources) and have-nots can increase, and the cost can be significant for the individuals, families and businesses impacted by a worker shortage.

Successful regions create organizations to tackle these challenges. This means organizations that traditionally compete for resources and clients also need to work together to solve challenges that impact them.

8. Effective leaders are conscious of their impact across a broad range of factors and stakeholders.

As we talk about conscious capitalism, the main idea is that “conscious” organizations tend to the health of a broad range of stakeholders. It becomes increasingly important to pay attention to the needs of competing stakeholders and balance these demands. Conscious capitalism is one mechanism that helps leaders explore the broader range of stakeholders and understand their drivers.

Business is getting more complicated and requires leaders to continually update their skills as well as their mindset and focus. This article summarizes some of my key learnings.

As a leader, are you seeing similar trends? What’s missing? What are you doing to prepare yourself and your organization to succeed during the next four years?

To become a more innovative leader, 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.

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

How to Keep Up with Workplace Changes in 2018 and beyond

This guest blog is a guest post provided by Abby Quillen and Zerocater, focusing on creating the workplace that meets our current and emerging needs. It is a companion to the Voice America Interview with Doug McCollough, Jet fuel of Talent Development Feeds Success on Voice America, Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations.

The economy, technological innovations, and cultural shifts are changing work in 2018. For instance, the oldest members of Gen Z, born between 1995 and 2005, are graduating from college and stepping into the workplace for the first time this year. As the most diverse and digitally savvy generation in American history, their wants and needs will undoubtedly incite change.

Read on to understand key ways the current work climate is shifting, and learn what your business needs to do to keep up.

Qualified Workers are in Demand

The unemployment rate is below 5% and expected to remain there for a while. Around one quarter (22%) of small businesses say a shortage of qualified workers is their top business concern in 2018.

Because of the tight labor market, employers are becoming more innovative in recruiting and retaining employees, especially millennial employees. That’s because that group now makes up the majority of the American workforce. Millennials value work-life balance, career mobility, flexible working conditions, and social responsibility. Gen Z, on the other hand, want independence, face-to-face communication, and for employers to cater to them. Some companies hire Directors of Employee Experience to improve the working experience of their employees.

How to keep up: You may need to adjust your hiring standards and devote more resources to recruiting, training, and retaining workers. Also consider raising wages: In surveys, company leaders say they plan to raise wages by an average of 3 to 4.27% in 2018.

Perks don’t hurt either. Nearly half of millennials in one survey said they could be lured to a new job by a company that offered better perks, including free food.

Automation Is Disrupting Some Industries

The research firm Forrester predicts 9% of U.S. jobs—particularly administrative, call-center, and sales jobs—will be replaced by automation this year. They predict those losses will be partially offset by a 2% increase in automation-related jobs. Other think tanks and research firms have made wildly different guesses based on the available studies. Gartner Inc., another research company, predicts artificial intelligence (AI) will create more jobs overall than it destroys.

The bottom line? Some people may lose their jobs because of automation—even this year. Many more workers will need to adjust to AI tools, such as chatbots, which enable personalized conversations between software and users. But the good news is, AI tools may make some jobs easier and free up employees from administrative or repetitive tasks and allow for more creative work.

How to keep up: Reassure employees that automation is unlikely to lead to a jobless future. McKinsey Global Institute, a private-sector think tank, predicts there will be enough work for humans to ensure full employment in 2030. In the past, new technologies such as the personal computer led to a net increase in jobs. However, jobs will shift. If automation is reshaping your industry, keep your employees well-informed about retraining opportunities.

With more machines in the workplace, social relationships matter as much as ever. Cultivate a company culture that promotes in-person interaction and collaboration.

Workers Will Challenge Traditional Structures

Remote work (excluding self-employed occupations) has grown by 115% since 2005, according to the analytics firm Global Workplace Analytics. In the U.S., more than 43% of the workforce works remotely some of the time, according to a Gallup report.

Millennials and Generation Z will continue to pressure companies to expand flexible scheduling and telecommuting options. More than three quarters (77%) of millennials in one survey said flexible working hours would make them more productive on the job. Some companies, such as Buffer, have transitioned from a physical office to 100% remote work to save costs.

How to keep up: The commute and nine-to-five day aren’t dead yet, and a few companies (including Yahoo and IBM) ended their telecommuting programs for various reasons. But it’s worth considering whether expanding flexible scheduling perks may help your company attract and retain top talent. If you already offer flexible work, consider stepping up team-building efforts by offering catered family-style meals or a shared collaboration area to give employees more time for team work when they’re in the office.



The American workplace is changing quickly. By embracing economic, technological, generational, and cultural shifts, your business will thrive in 2018 and beyond.

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:

Abby Quillen writes about sustainability, green living, health, business, and other topics. Her work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, YES! Magazine, and dozens of other publications. She lives in Eugene, Oregon with her family. Visit her at

Introspection Is Foundational for Effective Global Leadership

This blog a companion to the Voice America Interview on “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” with Jeroen van der Veer and Cynthia Cherrey, PhD on March 27, 2018, Nexus of Leadership and Practice: Royal Dutch Shell and International Leadership Association.  The following is an excerpt from the International Book Award Winning, Innovative Leadership Workbook for Global Leaders by Maureen Metcalf, Steve Terrell PhD, and Ben Mitchell.

The national economies of the world have grown to be so integrated and interdependent over the past twenty-five years that a significant number of companies operate today as if the entire world were a single market or entity, comprising many different, interconnected sub-markets, and crossing borders, cultures, time zones, and languages. This high degree of interconnectedness or globalization, brought about through the impact and use of technology, melds with the chaos and continuous change of today’s business environment to create a highly dynamic, complex, borderless, multicultural context within which businesses must learn to operate, or suffer the undesirable consequences of being left behind. Organizations must find constructive ways to adapt to survive, and the most adaptable organizations will be best positioned to explore all possibilities and to respond with innovative solutions to the complex challenges they face.

Organizations are discovering that globalization demands that leaders master different skills than were required in the past. The world is increasingly characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA), and global leaders need new competencies that enable them to respond accordingly. Global leaders deal with intricacies that differ significantly from non-global contexts and must demonstrate cultural adaptability and sensitivity. Yet, many organizations are finding that their supply of global leaders, or even individuals with the potential to become global leaders, does not match the demand. In today’s world, the race is not won by the swift, strong, or smart—the race goes to the most adaptable, those who learn from experience and co-evolve with the complex adaptive systems within which they work and live.

Leadership plays a critical role in an organization’s long-term success, and innovation has become a strategic necessity in today’s business environment. In short, global leadership and innovation have a greater impact today than ever before. Despite the volume of resources exploring both leadership and innovation, most approaches provide directional solutions that are merely anecdotal and lack sufficient information to allow leaders to make measurable change. Add to this equation the importance of developing global skills, and leaders face an even greater challenge. Technology and increased access to information continue to accelerate the pace of business and of change and organizations are often too overrun with change to handle the torrent of emerging demands.

Questions on how to lead and where to innovate remain puzzlingly philosophically: What is the role of global leadership in a time of looming uncertainty? How will organizations innovate to overcome challenges that are largely unprecedented? In a new climate of business, is there a formula for creating success in both areas?

Becoming a better global leader and optimizing innovation jointly hinge on your ability, as a leader, to authentically examine your own inner makeup and diligently address some challenging limitations. Leadership innovation happens naturally and can be accelerated through the use of a structured processes involving your own self-exploration, allowing you to authentically enhance your leadership beyond tactical execution.

Despite their collective value, many conventional applications of leadership and innovation have often proven elusive and even problematic in real-world scenarios. For example, if the leadership team of a struggling organization drives initiatives that focus solely on making innovative changes to incentives, products, and services, without also advancing strategic purpose, culture, and team cohesiveness, they will ultimately miss the greater potential to create a comprehensive turn- around in the organization. Productivity and system improvements are undoubtedly critical, but how employees make sense of their work experience is equally vital to team engagement and commitment. Innovating products and improving functionality—without also creating a better and more meaningful team environment, or a more supportive organizational culture—often appears to pay off in the short term, yet produces lopsided decision-making and shortsighted leadership that create lasting adverse consequences.

Knowing that the future of organizations is irrevocably tied to a world of erratic change, we can no longer afford to improve our systems and offerings without equally advancing our leadership capacity. Leadership empathy and the ability to inspire cultural alignment, along with other important leadership activities, will make a significant impact on your organization and must be implemented as shrewdly as is strategic planning.

Combining global leadership with innovation, then, requires you to transform the way you perceive yourself, others, and your business. By earnestly looking at your own experience—including motivations, inclinations, interpersonal skills, and proficiencies—you can optimize your effectiveness in the current dynamic environment. Through reflection, you learn to balance the hard skills you have acquired through experience with the meaningful introspection attained through deep examination— all the while setting the stage for further growth. In essence, you discover how to strategically and tactically innovate leadership the same way you innovate in other aspects of your business.

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 and Founder of Innovative Leadership Institute, is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, and coach whose 30 years of business experience provides high-impact, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership development and organizational transformations. Maureen is recognized as an innovative, principled thought leader who combines intellectual rigor and discipline with an ability to translate theory into practice. Her operational skills are coupled with a strategic ability to analyze, develop, and implement successful strategies for profitability, growth, and sustainability.

Leadership 2050 – Four Key Trends and Their Impact On Leadership

Leadership FuturesAs we prepare for the inaugural broadcast of the Voice America Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations, we wanted to share a bit of what you might hear in the first show focusing on Leadership 2050.

Susan Cannon, renowned futurist, university faculty member, consultant and author, shares some of the competing trends we might expect to see. One thing that is clear from all of her work is the movement toward complexification and its connection to leadership, and the clear conclusion that leaders need to update their leadership “operating system” to respond multiple concurrent changes that will impact leaders and the businesses they run for the rest of most of their careers.

So, here is a preview of some of the trends Susan will talk about and what she has taken away from what she has seen.

  1. Let’s start with the fact that the next 30- to 35 years is going to be even more dramatically different than the last. This is difficult to fathom because the past nearly half a century has been rife with monumental changes in technology. Susan has been watching inventor Ray Kurzweil for the last 20 years because he has been incredibly accurate in his technology forecasts. Now he’s director of engineering at Google, and he predicts that at the comparative rate for technological change based on 2001, the twenty-first century will experience 20,000 times more change than the twentieth century. So that’s a lot to be adapting to—and technology is just one sector of change.
  2. Scanning the current literature in futures and foresight studies, professional scenarios, and government-sponsored research on global trends, is pretty sobering. Among the more likely trends are systemic change drivers such as abrupt climate change and sudden global financial disruption—those are biggies. Also, we see the possibility of unsustainable levels of production and consumption reaching a tipping point that rapidly deteriorates the biosphere. Likewise, runaway pandemics are a threat. We could see an even greater surge of armed conflict/failing states/terrorism potentially with weapons of mass destruction, and catastrophic water shortages over large parts of the earth.[i] Any of these trends have the potential of driving secondary trends.
  3. Positive trends that came out of Susan’s doctoral research focusing on 2020, included a trend toward the feminine values. Its continued growth indicates that it will be a long-term trend. She also concluded that two of the most powerful levers of change toward a positive future would be the changes in the institution of business (especially as conscious or enlightened capitalism continues to emerge) and a greater emphasis on developing and promoting women leaders.
  4. Former Vice President Al Gore, who is clearly a prescient guy, recently wrote a well-researched book called Six Drivers of Global Change. He concluded that “there is no prior period of change that remotely resembles what humanity is about to experience.” Gore talks about a “vacuum of leadership” and clearly supports the view that we need a radical new plan in leadership development.

The bottom line is that there is overwhelming evidence that we are already in a perfect storm of increasing complexity, accelerating change, and near constant uncertainty that exceed the mental and emotional capacities of most leaders. If leaders are overwhelmed by complexity, change, and uncertainty now, how will they cope in the future?

This isn’t intended to create fear; it’s actually good news. Historically, whenever the pressure of life conditions threatens our existence as a race, a new and more complex stage of consciousness—you can call it a mindset with a corresponding culture—has emerged. In a sense we are forced to evolve, forced to innovate and transform ourselves for our own good! There is a strong mandate for leaders to innovate and transform themselves so they can drive thriving organizations.

Even more promising is that through the study of how humans and cultures evolve over time, we know that already there is a small but increasing percentage of the population who has the mindset and capacities with the complexity and nuance that will be needed for 2050. They offer a blueprint we want to encourage.

Please tune in to the show to hear more directly from Susan about the trends, and from Mike Morrow-Fox about the leadership mindset and how to develop it.

Note: This post is drawn from a much more indepth analysis conducted by Susan in a chapter co-authored by Susan Cannon, Mike Morrow-Fox and Maureen Metcalf in the upcoming International Leadership Association Book Leadership 2050: Critical Challenges, Key Contexts, and Emerging Trends (Emerald Group Publishing, 2015). This chapter includes a more comprehensive analysis as well as thorough referencing of all trends.”

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.

Photo Credit: blmoregon

Leadership 2050 – What does the Future of Leadership Look Like?

Wizard of OzThis blog post was created by Susan Cannon, Maureen Metcalf and Mike Morrow-Fox to explore the question of what does leadership look like in 2050. You can read a more in-depth analysis when a full chapter is published by International Leadership Association Building Bridges series in 2015. Current research on future trends indicates that increasing complexity, accelerating change, and near constant uncertainty is ahead. This level of challenge will most certainly exceed the capability of any nation or leader to manage it. Historically, such times have catalyzed cultural evolution. As each new stage of human culture has emerged, the requirements of leadership have shifted accordingly.   In the next 10-35 years, we expect a new and more complex stage of culture to emerge, “Integral” culture, bringing with it a new paradigm of technology and economy. This will require different leadership skills than in the past, we will refer to those skills as Strategist skills based on the work of developmental psychologist Susanne Cook-Gretuer. Research shows that Strategist Leaders have a lens that facilitates consistent, innovative, problem solving during times of times of stress and constraint.

We are not certain that L. Frank Baum ever published a leadership text. Yet, his Wizard of Oz provides a rich metaphor emphasizing the intensity of change and the urgency of leadership that characterizes the next thirty-five years. With Dorothy on her bicycle, a Kansas storm provides the first antagonist of his drama. The sky darkens, the winds strengthen, and the world becomes an overwhelming, hostile milieu.   As we gaze forward, our barometer of change foretells meteorological twisters and technological tornados that will be forceful, formidable foes. Dorothy turns to The Great and Powerful Oz, leader of the Emerald City, who appeared to have situational control of his empire. However, when routine answers, distancing conventions, and dismissive formalities were challenged, his true limitations as a leader became apparent.

The smoke and mirrors that had so well served The Great and Powerful Oz are no match for complex problems demanding transformational answers. Our survey of the future shows that many of the upcoming challenges are as daunting as the return to Kansas from the Emerald City. Just as Dorothy requested of Oz, our leaders will need substance over presentation, and ability as well as tools. Given the challenges before us, effective leaders in the near future and beyond will not just need to “KNOW” about innovation, sustainability, and inclusion; they will need to “BE” innovators, transformers, and coalition builders. Come the year 2050, none of us will be in a metaphorical Kansas anymore.

Much like Dorothy learning to make her way in the new world of Oz, as each new stage of human culture emerges, the needs for leadership shift accordingly. While already underway in small pockets, in the next 10-35 years, we expect this shift to grow in significance. This shift will require (and catalyze) what developmental researchers call “Strategist” leadership skills. Strategist Leaders have a developmental lens that facilitates consistent, innovative problem solving that endures during times of times of stress and constraint. They are roughly aligned with the Level 5 Leader referenced by Jim Collins in his best-selling business book Good to Great. The authors have established a Competency Model that will help develop the Strategist Leaders that society and organizations will require to effectively navigate this new cultural paradigm.

Strategist leaders are uniquely prepared to navigate the complexities of the coming global interconnected world both behaviorally and developmentally. Strategist leaders have also been linked to attaining the highest level of business results. In a study of CEOs, researchers David Rooke and William Torbert found that Strategists were found to have the greatest ability to create transformational results for their companies. These transformations included profitability, market share, and reputation over a four-year period.

Equally as important as the behaviors and the results, the key to the effectiveness of the Strategist leader is that these behaviors are not born of external prompting or skill mimicking. They are intuitive, innate actions arising from a developmental maturity. Strategist leaders don’t have to examine innovation because they are innovational, they don’t need to ponder transformation because they are transformational, and they don’t need to study collaboration because they have become collaborative. This ‘being’ rather than ‘acting’ facilitates a clarity and consistency that endures during times of stress and constraint.

Author and developmentalist Ken Wilber claims that while only about 2% of the world population has reached the Strategist level, it could potentially reach 10% within another decade. However, this is not a foregone conclusion. Much will depend upon the conditions and environments fostered by influential institutions such as business, government, nonprofits, and education.

We will continue to explore Strategist Leaders in upcoming blog posts.

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.

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

photo credit: Brett Kiger

Five Steps to Nonprofit Strategic Planning

StrategyThe following post was developed by Dani Robbins, our nonprofit expert and owner of Nonprofit Evolution. She is also the coauthor of the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Nonprofit Executives winner of the 2012 USA Book Award – Best Business Reference Book.

“Strategic  planning is a process in which the board, staff, and select constituents decide the future direction of an organization and allocate resources, including people, to ensure that target goals are reached. Having a board-approved, staff-involved strategic plan that includes effective measurements and the  allocation of resources aligns the organization, provides direction to all levels of staff and board, and defines the path for the future of the organization. It also allows leadership, both board and staff, to reject divergent paths that will not lead to the organization’s intended destination.” Innovative Leadership Workbook for Nonprofit Executives

All organizations should have a strategic plan.  Strategic plans get everyone on same page as to where you are as an organization and where you are going.  They allow the group to decide the goals moving forward; create measurements to determine if you met your goals and assign responsibility and due dates for specific goals. While we often hear that in changing times it no longer makes sense to invest time in strategic planning, we believe that it is even more important to have a plan with the expectation that it will be refined regularly based on changes internally and externally.

In the absence of a plan, there are still moving parts, but they’re not aligned. The absence of a plan sets the stage for people to do what they feel is best, sometimes without enough information, which may or may not be right for the organization. It opens the door for one person’s vision to get implemented and others to feel unheard or unengaged.  The absence of a plan allows for major decisions to be made on the fly and for potentially mission driven decisions to be compromised.  As we all know, movement goes in other directions than forward.

Strategic Planning is a process that results in not only a document but also a shared understanding among key stakeholders.  The process – and the document – can be very long or very short.  (I have a new theory that the longer strategic plan is, the less likely it is to be used.)  It doesn’t have to be a huge, multi-level process that includes benchmarking and a community needs assessment, but it can be if you have the inclination and the resources. For some organizations, primarily larger ones or those just starting out, a community needs assessment may be critical.  I don’t generally recommend them for established social services agencies.  Most social service agencies are pretty clear on the need and there is ample documentation to support their assessment.  In those cases, an environmental scan, coupled with an issue exercise and/or a SWOT analysis may be sufficient.

Regardless of if you select to do benchmarking and have a needs assessment or not, Strategic Planning should include:

  1. Values, Mission and Vision setting or recommitment. I always start with values as I believe they set the tone for everything that follows.  What are your organizational values?  What words reflect the way your organization operates, and the way your team talks to and about your clients?  What words infuse and reflect your organizational culture? The mission statement answers why your organizations exist. A vision is a description of what the organization will look like at a specified time in the future. There are two minds in the field as to if a vision statements should be a utopian view such as “an end to hunger” or a more concrete view such as “to be the premier youth development organization.”  I lean toward the latter; I find it challenging to set goals to get to utopia.
  2. History  of the organization, its footprint and current services,  an environmental scan and additional information, as necessary. Planning should include some discussion of critical information regarding program and operations, organizational challenges, community landscape, technology, finances, budget, both human resource and resource development capacities and systems, and the processes and development of the Board of Directors.
  3. Set Strategies to meet the Vision. Strategies answer what we need to do to get where we want to go – to close the gap between the current reality and our vision.  Strategies are broad-based statements that define the path for the organization (rather than the ongoing work of the organization).
  4. Set Goals to meet Strategies. Discuss what has to happen to get you where you want to go.  What do you need to add, subtract or change to get there?  What has to happen to implement your strategies?
  5. Develop Goals into Work Plans with assignments and due dates. Create a plan to meet those goals by including who will do the work and by when.

Once the strategic plan is complete, create a reporting mechanism and discussion opportunities at future board meetings. Strategic planning is one of the five components of Board Governance. Board members should participate in the process and vote on the outcome.

The Board should also assign who will ensure the plan’s success. The options, in order of effectiveness, are the Strategic Planning Committee Chair, Board President, another board member or the Executive Director.  Executive Directors are traditionally tasked with implementing and stewarding the plan (and being evaluated as such) but they can’t always do it alone; it is helpful to have a board member also ensuring the plan’s implementation.

There are as many types of plan strategies, variations on those strategies and ranges of fees, as there are consultants offering the service.  You don’t have to hire a consultant, but I do recommend you have an outside objective facilitator to help you.

A strategic plan should be a living document that guides the organization and provides a point for ongoing programmatic and organizational evaluation.  It should not sit on a shelf.

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.

photo credit: Taylor Burnes

Innovative Leadership Institute, Inc. Celebrated 10 Years in Business

September 12, 2011 was the ten year anniversary for Metcalf & Associates.  Before I launched the company, I spent several months thinking about what next as I was leaving Accenture, a large consulting firm.  For me, thinking about what is next means going to a cabin in the woods – off the grid where I can walk in the woods, slow my pace, read, reflect and play with my dog.  So, at the ten year anniversary I took two weekends to do the same.  I just completed my first book, The Innovative Leadership Fieldbook, which is the culmination of ten years of work.  So, it is a great time to slow down and reflect again and ask what next from here.

As I reflect on my business over the past ten years, the main emotion that comes to mind is gratitude.  I am extremely grateful to so many people who made this company and it’s successes possible.

  • Colleagues past and present who helped build the business and who served as inspiration to me every step along the way
  • Clients – people who trusted me with their business operations and their personal challenges.  I could not have stayed in business without you
  • Friends of the firm – at every turn.  I always had what I needed in the form of money, emotional support, thought partners, people to encourage me, and people to challenge my thinking to make me sharper.

As I return from a cabin in the woods again, still facing dynamic economic times, I prepare for the next 10 years.  While I do not know what will happen next, I have a few thoughts about what is important to me:

  • Running a high value and high impact business that gives great value to my clients and provides compelling work for my colleagues.
  • Building and supporting a vibrant community in Central Ohio and beyond.  One of the actions I am taking to make this possible is supporting the work of the Institute of Strategic Clarity.  They are doing research about what makes organizations (and now a community) vibrant.  If you want to learn more and take the free assessment, click.
  • Continuing to bring thought leadership to my clients and the global community in the form of coaching, consulting and writing.  Many of my papers have been published by Integral Leadership Review and are available for free.
  • Giving back to friends, colleagues, clients and the next generation.  I will continue to be involved in Boards as well as being a good friend and colleague to people and businesses.
  • Continuing to grow and develop myself.  I believe that as we face challenges, it is critical to maintain our own personal resilienceand develop at least as fast as the world around us is so we can stay current.  I am committed to taking time to tend to my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.  Part of this means I work with a coach from our team to help me grow.  I have also committed to a serious exercise regimin and I make time for personal reflection and meditation.

Thank you to everyone who has made Metcalf & Associates a 10 year 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.

Changing Landscape of Work Requires Changing Your Mindset

An important element of being an innovative leader is the ability to look out on the horizon, spot trends and integrate those trends into his/her personal understanding of the world, behavior, the culture of the company and the company systems and processes.

I have been working on an IT Attract and Retain Talent study for TechColumbus in Central Ohio.  While unemployment is still relative high in our region, there are many jobs open in IT and the rate is growing.  During this study, one trend that emerged as interesting to me is the change in what work looks like for many people.  While we have read about the trend of more people being self-employed or freelancers, this recent recession is making this trend an increasing reality very quickly.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, June 13, 2011:  “Freelance jobs: Half of all new jobs in recovery?  Freelance jobs are up 52 percent at Elance. The number of entrepreneurs are at a 15-year high. But the growth in freelance jobs means less security for the workforce.

As America’s jobs recovery begins to take hold, one sector is growing faster than ever: freelancing.  There’s reason to celebrate. Many Americans are bypassing the corporate ladder to strike out on their own – doing everything from graphic design to iPhone programming. But there’s also reason to worry. Others are becoming entrepreneurs by necessity, forced to take freelance jobs because they cannot find regular jobs.  Desperation, rather than inspiration, seems to be the major force behind the trend. And the surge isn’t over.”

What is a response of an innovative leader to this trend?  I suggest the first response is to think about what it means in four different basic dimensions that impact our personal and professional success:

  1. What does the high level of freelance workers mean for me?  Do I have a secure job?  For how long?  What do I believe about this trend?
  2. Given what I am seeing in the marketplace, what should I do personally to respond?  Am I taking all of the appropriate steps to manage my career proactively?
  3. How does the change in workforce align with our company culture?  Do we hire freelance workers?  Do we create an environment that supports them adding optimal value to the company?
  4. Are the company systems set up to leverage this freelance workforce to improve our market position?  Are we easy for the most talented or hard to find workers to work with?

To address #1 and 2 above, I want to reference a wonderful book by Janine Moon, a friend and the author of: Career Ownership – Creating Job Security in Any Economy.  She provides a discreet set of tools available that will help you:

  • Define your best work direction
  • Examine your mindset for sabotage
  • Map and create your own job security
  • Approach potential mentors and make it easy for them to say yes
  • Gain the confidence to move from “renting” to “owning” your career

What are you doing to look across the horizon at the trends and create your own personal security?

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.

Innovate Columbus – Innovation Forecast

I attended the Innovate-Columbus event recently and the speaker Bob Johansen, from Institute for the Future, struck me as particularly interesting.  He is a ten-year forecaster and author of Get There Early – Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present, and Leaders Make the Future – 10 New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World.  A forecast is a provocative story from the future that provokes insight in the present.

He offered the following process to help us understand how to use the work of a futurist:

  1. Gain Foresight by sensing provocative futures
  2. Gain Insight by making sense of the foresight to inspire strategy
  3. Take Action

Because we live in a time of extreme uncertainty with the rate of technological change combined with the level of global interconnectedness, following a futurist gives me tools to prepare for different possible futures.  I generally create 3 – 4 scenarios, a best case, a likely case, a worst case, and possibly a wild card or highly unlikely event happens.  A skilled futurist will take a specific approach to scenario creation that is a combination of art and science and well beyond the scope of a blog post.   Understanding future forecasts is a key skill for an innovative leader.

Following are some of his forecasts:

  • Digital natives will create a very different world (young computer savvy kids)
  • Reciprocity based innovation in “the cloud” will be the biggest faith and innovation opportunity in history
  • Technology is just an amplifier.  What is most important:  they kind of organizations and super organizations that will become possible
  • New large scale commons will kindle more innovation and more people will get engaged
  • The more connected we become, the safer, the more powerful, the more free we will be – but the more dangerous it will be
  • Reciprocity based innovation will require faith in the future:  You will have to give things away in the faith you will get more in return
  • The next big economic driver will be biology and the global well-being economy

I would like to respond to the item in the list that struck me as most interesting personally, reciprocity based innovation.  While I have not used this term, as he described it, I do this in my life in a small way.  This blog is a reciprocity based tool.  I am providing information free of charge with the hope that it leads to future business for me.  Additionally, it is a way to return value for value in that I get a great deal of information from credible blogs.   So as a person who runs a business, I need to ask the question, how will this trend impact my business?  Can I gain an advantage?  If I do nothing, will I be hurt?  What scenarios will I build to incorporate this concept into my business?  One thing I know, a colleague writes a very successful blog and he recently got a book deal based on his writing.  He gave the information away and is now also able to sell it.  If you have not seen it, check out the thoughtLEADERS  blog.  I write and publish papers in an online leadership journal, Integral Leadership Review.  One possible scenario is that I will get great exposure and this will help meet my business goals.

In an era where many people struggle to find the larger meaning in life, beyond work and family and building a retirement account, the idea that reciprocity allows me/us to create a greater sense of meaning.  The flip side, what if the investment of time and talent does not come back to me in the way I want it to?  That could be one of my scenarios – people read my articles and think I do not know what I am doing or that I am too academic.

To keep the example short, we will work with these two scenarios.  Given what I have written, I realize I need to gather the feedback of my readers and learn from their opinions to ensure my investment in writing papers creates a positive impact on my business.

Do you see any trends in this list that resonate with you?  How do you use the data to make better decisions in your personal and professional life?

Are you considering improving your ability to be an innovative leader?  If so, take this free on-line Innovative Leadership assessment to determine where you fall on the innovative leadership scale.  If you are looking for tools to help develop you ability to be an innovative leader, check out the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook.  Metcalf & Associates offers assessments, coaching and workshops to help you and your leadership team become more innovative.

Photo credit:  Hobo

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.

Positive Action Resulting Bin Laden Death?

So, all I have heard on the news today is that Osama Bin Laden was killed. I am struck by a question – what can we DO in our own ordinary lives to move forward in a meaningful way? I understand all of the celebrations and respect the desire to celebrate and yet it seems like we are called to do more. I left my last job on 9/11 and started a business and consequently in some ways a new life. We, the US, declared 2 wars and many people lost their lives during the past 10 years. We lived with the concern of TERROR and the war on terror for 10 year. So my question is, at this moment in time, what can we reclaim what we lost as a society in fear?  How do we really honor the men and women who gave their lives or years of their lives to make this moment possible?

A few thoughts:

  • Find was to honor differences among others in our immediate lives with respect and dignity – maybe even compassion
  • Pay tribute to our military members and the national guard who are tirelessly giving of their lives to protect our lives and way of life
  • Find ways to extend understanding and compassion to people we care about when they are challenging

My underlying premise is peace starts at home.  It starts with extending kindness to those in our immediate lives when they are tough to live with.  It is hard to imagine world peace if we can not get along in our families, neighborhoods, or workplaces.  How do we cultivate the qualities that allow us to make peace with those we chose to spend time with?  Our friends?  Our spouses?  If we can not do this, we have little hope of broader peace.

My commitment is to build a stronger relationship with my immediate family.  I am blessed to have parents who are still living and a brother and his family.  I will see my brother and niece at the end of the month.  I commit to continue to build on our relationship (this is the easy one) and rebuild with others that are not as easy.  Who do you want to reconcile with?  Is there an area in your life where you can exercise compassion?

Also, a strong message of appreciation for our armed forces and civil servants who work tirelessly to keep us physically safe and protect our way of life and our principles.  As we watch democracy spreading through the world – I can not help but think it is because of the years of sacrifice of so many dedicated men and women – some of whom died in service of this very day.  I have no way to repay the benefit I gain from your service and I am forever grateful!