Democracy and Leadership Require Accurate Information: What You Need To Know To Keep Up In Today’s World

This guest blog is a companion to the Voice America interview: Democracy on the Run: How Strong and Capable Leaders Can Impact Listen Now. The interview was recorded as part of the International Leadership Association conference series. The blog is reproduced and shared with permission by


Leaders and citizens need accurate and unbiased information to act responsibly. As citizens, we must develop an understanding of events unfolding in our environment and determine how we will engage. Voting is obviously one major action that requires comprehensive and unbiased information.


By the same note, leaders, those responsible for setting their organizational course, revising direction and engaging with employees to drive toward results must have accurate, complete and unbiased information.


In an era where leaders have access to more information, it has become harder to know where to look to find accurate, complete and unbiased information. For this, we must turn to the field of journalism and we must take responsibility for being well informed. The people we lead, and all of our stakeholders rely on us to make well informed decisions.


The information we need comes from journalists!


Today’s journalism is a far cry from what it used to be. In the past, you received the majority of your news and information from your local newspaper published every morning.

If you didn’t get it there, you watched the evening news after dinner. Add in a few national newspapers, and that was it.

Today, relying on only one source to receive all of your news and information seems unheard of. Newspapers are still around today, but we have so much more to go along with them. We don’t have to wait an entire day for our news anymore – we wait mere seconds.

Now we see the news as it’s happening instead of getting recaps of it the next day. With the rise of the internet and the 24/7 news station, we have an abundance of news sources directly at our fingertips.

Journalism as a whole has changed in response. Instead of having time to fact check, journalists are urged to be the first to break the story. This rush to first often leads to misinformation being published, causing confusing and sometimes outrage.

What used to be a cardinal sin is now less of an issue because being the first to hit publish is such a priority.

Let’s take a look at what journalism is today, and some of the people changing it.

What Really Is Journalism?


Journalism is the act of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information. It is also the product of these activities.

Journalism is the product of every newspaper you read, every news station you watch, and every news article you read online.

Journalism is meant to place the public good above all else and uses specific methods to gather and assess information. In other words, journalism is meant to benefit the people, and journalists should routinely check what they’re reporting on to be sure the information is verified and accurate.


Why Data Journalism Matters More Than Ever


Another side effect of the internet and the amount of data at our fingertips is the rise of data journalism. Data journalism is the use of data and number crunching to uncover, better explain, or provide context to a news story.


Data can be the tool used to tell a story, the source upon which a story is based, or both at the same time. It often involves the use of statistics, charts, and infographics.


Data journalism has become important because, in today’s world, anyone with a smartphone and social media account can be a journalist. Multiple sources add information over social media, blogs, and videos as the news story is happening. It’s an information overload, and opinion often clouds facts.


The goal of data journalism is to be the one who provides context to an event and aims to explain what it really means.


An excellent example of data journalism is a story ProPublica published about animal extinction across the globe. Using data from recent biology studies, they found that today’s extinction rates rival those during the mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.


Journalism In The Age of the Open Web


At the risk of beating a dead horse, the open web has changed everything. The way we consume data will never be the same.

Data used to come in a fixed, complete form. Books, newspapers, and documentaries. When you received it, it was finished and in its final form.

With digital news in the open web, your news source is almost a living, breathing thing. It is always changing, always evolving, and continuously being developed. That blog post you just read could be edited and revised several times over.

There is information everywhere that people consume anytime they want. They don’t need to go to the store to buy a book or a newspaper anymore. All they have to do is reach into their pocket and enter a quick Google search, and they’ll discover a wealth of knowledge on the subject.

Today’s journalists face a new set of challenges. They’re no longer the runaway experts in the fields they write in. Today, their readers may be smarter, and better informed than they are.

Now if you don’t listen to them, work with them, work for them, give them what they want and need, they’ll go somewhere else. And there are plenty of other places they can go.


What Journalism Is Missing Today


Even with the rise of the internet, 24/7 news stations, social media, and smartphones, something is missing from today’s journalism.

We’re more connected to the news that we’ve ever been. News companies have journalists working around the clock that can push us a story as it happens, no matter when it happens.

We’re more informed than we’ve ever been, and we have limitless choices of where we want to consume our news. So, what are we missing? The answer is simple.


The one thing journalists don’t have on their side anymore is time. They have to be first. They have to be fast. They don’t have time anymore to become deeply engrossed in their stories. They don’t have time to learn and ponder on their stories. They rely on quotes from other experts to shape their stories.

True investigative journalism is an art that is slowly fading. One of the main reasons is the money isn’t there for it anymore. Doing a real investigative piece takes a lot of time, which in turn takes a lot of money.

The ad revenue they’d earn for the story would likely be a small fraction of what it cost to produce it. Because of this, investigative journalism is being replaced by 5-10 blog posts a day that will never have as much substance as an actual investigative piece.


Battling Fake News


Something else that has come with the age of the internet is the rise of “fake news.” Anyone with a computer and internet access has the ability to make their own website and write news stories. However, not everyone is an educated journalist.


Your neighbor down the street that starts his own blog isn’t going to follow the same standards that the mainstream journalists follow. I mentioned earlier that journalism is meant to put the public good over everything else. That’s not always the case with the hundreds of blogs that pop up daily.


Most people that start those blogs are worried about pushing their own agenda and voicing their opinion. They only use facts that support their cause and ignore the rest.


Then they call everything that doesn’t support their opinion or push their cause fake news. When in reality, fake news is everything that isn’t based on fact and data.


Anyone can post their opinion, but not everyone can be a journalist. So when the news is so saturated by blogs and websites only worried about what fits in their narrative, how do we know who to trust? How do we separate fact from fiction?


We must keep an eye on the source. We need to be sure that the website or blog, or even Twitter account, that we’re getting our news from is only reporting facts without the bias of their opinion.


Here is a list of a few large journalism brands that report real facts, not alternative facts.


  • The New York Times – Some consider the New York Times the most influential publication around. The NYT upholds ethical standards of reporting and includes the classic elements of journalism in America.


  • The Wall Street Journal – The Wall Street Journal is the largest circulated newspaper in the US. The WSJ is still the top brand among daily business publications in the entire world. It has won several Pulitzer Prizes for editorials and columns that are backed up by thorough fact-based reporting and bold arguments.


  • The Washington Post – The Washington Post is the paper that brought down Nixon during the Watergate Scandal, and it upholds it’s intellectual traditions today. Under the ownership of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the Post is perhaps the most forward-thinking publication of the day while winning Pulitzer Prizes, hiring the best and brightest reporters and producing big scoops.

The Need to Support Journalism

Even with all the fake news and alternative facts that run rampant today, journalism is still critical for ours, and any democracy in the world. We can’t let the bad apples tarnish our opinions of the journalists with integrity that report facts and information.


The most important function of journalism is to convey information. This is a critical part of the democratic decision-making system because it brings transparency and makes sure that the decisions being made reflect what the people really want.


When people claim that the media is the enemy, they are doing a disservice not only to the real journalists but to the people in their society. Without a free press, the line between fact and fiction will be blurred, opening up a Pandora’s box of problems.


While there are problems that need to be fixed, journalism at its core is desperately needed.

We Live In A New World


We’re no longer dependent on a single news source anymore. We have more information available to us than ever before. The freedom we have to access and share news is a fantastic thing, but it also comes with great responsibility.

Our access to data and news sources from around the globe is absolutely incredible. The amount of good we can create due to the open web can change the world.

But it can also cause hate and divide entire nations. Anyone can post their opinion and call it fact. They can disregard fact and call it fake news. The potential for hostility is just as high as the potential for good.

Journalism isn’t the issue. Journalism at its core is the process of spreading news and information. We have to protect journalism and instead go after the entities perverting it.


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.

10 Disruptive Leadership Trends for 2018

This post is the companion to a Voice America interview with Tracy Wilen, researcher and speaker on the impact of technology on society, work, and careers on VoiceAmerica “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” Digital Disruption: The future of Work, Skills and Leadership airing on April 17, 2018.

The world is in disruption! You are at the forefront of change. Increasingly, everything we do is impacted by technology from how we communicate with others, connect at work, learn at school, and live our lives. As technology continues to seep into our lives we become accustomed to it and dependent on it, putting pressure on workplace leaders, education systems, and even ourselves to rethink how we approach this divergent world of work, leadership, lifelong learning, skill development, and careers. The

continuing accelerated pace of technology and competitive forces is causing workplace environments to become more technical, diverse, and in need of leaders who understand how to deal with disruption.

This new landscape requires contemporary styles of leadership and new techniques for managing organizations. Today, there are unique pressures on company leaders, workers, and educators to change the ways they prepare and plan for modern-day jobs and careers. This interview and Tracey’s book, Digital Disruption: The Future of Work, Skills, Leadership, Education and Careers in a Digital World, offer educators, executives, and students a fresh approach for how to navigate the future to ensure success. They cover the key forces impacting the future of work, industries, leadership styles, skills, and education with a focus on how to remain relevant in an ever-increasingly complex digital world.

Here are the 10 disruptive predictions for 2018.

  1. Disrupted Society. Society is hyper‐connected, dependent and, in some cases, addicted to continuously being “connected.” And the expectation is that this will be increasingly the case. If you sleep with your phone, panic if it is missing, text numerous times a day, have numerous apps you use daily, frequently post selfies on social media, and buy most items on‐line, and are an Amazon prime member, it is a seamless part of your life. This is you.


  1. Disrupted Work. There are many shifts in the work place. One is extreme longevity, meaning many people will work 60 years to afford to retire. This also means a multi‐generational workforce. How we work together will need to change, in addition to how many years we work.


  1. Disrupted industry. We often hear about Uber, Air BNB and Amazon. Traditional industries are being disrupted at an accelerated rate. It is imperative that leaders pay attention to not only their industry but also those tangentially connected to monitor trends—and anticipate the impacts they will have on you.


  1. Disruptive Leadership. If work and industry are disrupted, do we need disruptive leaders? To compete, leadership needs to change because a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world requires new kinds of leaders.


  1. Women as disruptive leaders. Women are Corporate America’s killer app. Women are skilled, educated, have modern-day leadership skills, collaborate, trust, see the big picture, promote employee engagement, and have in-demand skills.


  1. Disruptive Diversity. Diversity is strategic for disruption. Innovation and diversity go hand-in- hand invest in 2018. Delivering products and services to a diverse customer base means having a diverse design team and workforce.


  1. Disrupted Careers. With all the changes to work and industry, jobs will most certainly change. It is important to keep current with technology, make lateral moves and continually build skills.


  1. Disruptive skills. Everyone will need additional and new skills, for some people, Social Intelligence will need to increase, in a digital world. Do you see how you are perceived as a leader or team mate? Can you read the room and get a feel for what people think of you? Others will need to increase their ability to make sense of the increasing volume of data and turn the insights into action.


  1. Disrupted Education. Education must supply the world with capable people who can work, think and be relevant in the digital world they will work in. Integrated work and learning strategies is a path many colleges are taking with employer Internships, apprenticeships, job shadowing, and summer jobs.


  1. Disrupted selves. Are you taking time for a “career selfie”? Have you mapped out your career trajectory? Do you collect data and review your progress on a regular basis? If not, you are likely to be missing opportunities to make the series of small changes that will keep you current and relevant.

Disruption is on top of everyone’s mind. As technology rapidly accelerates, so does fear of the future. People are worrying about the impact of future technologies on our lives, how we lead firms in the digital era, our personal careers, and future jobs. Some people are tackling this head on and some are somewhat resistant or frozen in their track because the newness and pace of change. What are you doing in each of these areas to ensure you manage the disruption rather than being disrupted?

About the author

Dr. Tracey Wilen is a researcher and speaker on the impact of technology on society, work, leadership, education, and careers. A former visiting scholar at Stanford University, she has held leadership positions at Apple, HP, and Cisco Systems. She was an adjunct professor at several Bay Area colleges, teaching classes in business, technology, and women’s workforce topics. Dr. Wilen has authored or co-authored twelve books including Employed for Life (2014), Women Lead (2013) and Society 3.0 (2012). She has appeared on CNN, Fox, and CBS News and is a regular guest on radio and TV shows across the US as an expert contributor. Dr. Wilen was honored by the San Francisco Business Times as the Most Influential Woman in Bay Area 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.

Complexity-Aware Thinking is Ready for Prime Time

This blog is a guest post and companion to the Voice America Interview on “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” with Christopher Cooke and Sheila Cooke on October 17, 2017, Navigating the holistic Worldview Membrane.

The Netflix series, “Designated Survivor”, offers a refreshing story about a president who is able to manage incredibly difficult circumstances.

In the TV series, low-level cabinet member Tom Kirkman unexpectedly becomes president after a devastating attack on Washington, D.C. He gets in by emergency protocol because he was named “designated survivor”. In the conspiracy, his forced selection is intended to lead to social failure, making way for dictatorial takeover. Yet against all odds, he and his administration lead with aplomb.

Why? Because his thinking is different – he values civility and all life. He envisions novel solutions that work. He engenders flexible and creative thinking in others. He is unafraid of disturbing the status quo. Yes, it is fiction, but the fact that a TV scriptwriter could conjure this story tells us a new way of thinking is emergent and ready for prime time.

What’s really going on in this TV series?

It’s about the emergence of our species. Humans are continuously co-evolving with their life conditions. As the world complexifies, new capacities emerge, or not. This is what we define as human emergence.

Today’s life conditions are testing the limits of the adaptive capacities of all life forms, not just human. Earth is fragile. Society is fragile. Threats of nuclear war, the ever-widening income gap, and the sixth mass extinction challenge every basic assumption.

Surviving such complexity is challenging, and we offer a simple principle:

Be and act at least a half-step ahead of the life conditions.

“A half-step ahead” refers to the capacity to look back in from the balcony to discern what’s really going on, to flexibly morph and fit oneself to the circumstances, to lead from a strong sense of purpose that is aligned with all life. Such an individual can suss out trouble, navigate obstacles, and make quality decisions that impact positively on all life.

As long as old ways of thinking remain entrenched, latent complexity-aware capacities are unable to be released within an individual or society. Simply becoming aware that our development is not yet finished, and that more is possible, stimulates the legitimacy and utilisation of new ways and means.

How can one support one’s own emergence, or that of another?

It is possible to learn how to stimulate human emergence by using research instruments, such as those offered by 5 Deep Vital Signs. These instruments hold a mirror up to the individual or to the organisation, to reveal patterns of thinking that cannot be discovered through self-examination.

The next big wave of human emergence can only happen volitionally. In other words, we need to wilfully seek it. It is like deliberately rubbing your own magic lamp to call out your inner genie, the hidden treasure inside.

About the Authors

Christopher Cooke: (MSc. B.A. FellowRSA) Is the founder and a lead consultant for 5 deep. He is an international senior manager, consultant, coach, confidante, counsellor, therapist, trainer and qualified engineer, with over 28 years’ experience in pioneering and supporting personal and organizational change. He is focused on the release of latent human capacities to navigate gracefully through complexity, innovation and change. Christopher has become a leading figure in the practical demonstration of The Graves Technology, Spiral Dynamics, and Integral Theory since 1997. His commitment and focus has seen application in as many contexts as possible.

Sheila Cooke (MBA, B.A.) is a Director and lead consultant for 5 Deep. With over 20 years experience in leading international business, Sheila specializes as a designer and trainer of virtual and face-to-face collaboration processes that build resilience and adaptability within organizations to lead through complexity, by building capacity for self-organization. She leads Land and Livestock Management for Life (an operating division within 5Deep) which is part of the Savory Institute Network.

Check out the following link CLICK HERE to learn about the current virtual training offerings and products from 5 Deep.

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.

Inspiring Leadership and Organizational Evolution: We are Upshifting

I completed my 100th Innovative Leadership interview a couple of weeks ago aired on Voice America on May 30, 2017. In preparation, my host, Dale Meyerrose asked me to reflect on what I had learned and what I put into practice over the past two years—which was likely almost 1,000 hours of prep, interview and follow-up. The challenge was a bit more difficult than I imagined.

Here are a few thoughts about how I got started:

  • I ask listeners each week to experiment with their leadership. What most people don’t know is this show started as an experiment. Tacy Trump, the show’s executive producer called and asked if I wanted to do a show. It was a significant financial investment so I wanted to consider what was involved. Ultimately, I committed to a 3-month pilot. I treated it like a learning experiment with the hypothesis that it would help build on the work I had started with the book series. The show just passed the 100-show milestone, so it moved beyond an experiment. Yet, I continue to experiment with new content, different types of formats and different types of guests as well as build on the current robust group of guests. There were parts of the experiment that I refined because they didn’t work as well as I’d envisioned. If most of what we do can be refined and course corrected, then fear of failure is a much smaller inhibitor.
  • I selected shows that I found interesting with the hope they would be interesting to listeners. Initially, I wanted to find a theme, but it difficult to pin down what that should be. So at the beginning I just went for interesting, informative, and good to work with. It is only in retrospect that I see the theme and I can now parse it into three categories:
    • Strong content that helps people build knowledge such as understanding cyber security and analytics
    • Sharing content that helps listeners translate knowledge into ongoing practices and skills, that help leaders be more effective. Some of the most beneficial skills are mindfulness, resilience, and managing thinking—and improving interactions that help them deliver results.
    • Sharing a broad range of content that helps listeners build wisdom, by listening to shows that may not directly apply on the surface to a specific need, but that build intellectual versatility and wisdom.
  • I also want this show to be used in universities. It would be a shame to not use this robust set of interviews. The leaders who shared their time have offered insights and wisdom. It could be a valuable asset and teaching tool for students and research.
  • There were times I felt like Cinderella, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the ball and interview people whose work I had studied and who were winning lifetime achievement awards. I hope our listeners enjoyed hearing from these people as much as I enjoyed interviewing them.

What did you learn from your guests about leadership?

My biggest take away from these interviews is feeling hopeful. I talked to people from across the world working to solve some of the most complicated and intractable problems. They are making progress and they were willing to share their goals, insights, successes, and learnings with our listeners. Many are conducting action research, doing projects and reporting on the results. Practitioners and researchers are teaming up to provide research-based solutions and are researching new approaches to solve emerging challenges we now face.

One of the concepts that strikes me as I write this is that what sets these people apart is how they demonstrate wisdom in action and their willingness to share that wisdom. So, now the challenge is: How do each of us broaden our wisdom? I hope the shows are part of the many sources in your life that help you build your leadership wisdom.

In addition to having great guests, people are listening! We have listeners in 66 countries and the number of listeners increases monthly. I really wanted to make an impact with this show and if number of listens is an indication of success, we are going in the right direction. I would love to hear from our listeners how this show impacts you!

When I reviewed the interviews, six categories emerged.

  1. Building our resilience and well-being. I start with this section as the foundation because every leader I work with is looking to build his or her capacity to manage the increasing level of complexity and demands in both their personal and professional lives. Leaders across all sectors benefit from a focus on mindfulness, managing thinking, and managing overall health to build the resilience required to navigate the uncertainty and rate of change that is currently present for almost everyone in the world.
  2. Risk Management. The risks we face as organizational leaders have increased and multiplied. We now must respond to challenges that were not as common as recently as 10 years ago. These topics include how to navigate a smear campaign, cyber security, and building a better understanding of the geopolitical environment.
  3. Building knowledge, skill, and perspective. Several of the guests offer information designed to expose listeners to new skills and to rethink what they do, how they do it, and how to refine what they are doing. This category speaks to turning knowledge into skills and includes emotional intelligence, building influence, and telling stories. One of our listener favorites is Mike Morrow-Fox talking about the traits of bad bosses and antidotes for dealing with them.
  4. Becoming a global leader. Sixteen interviews focus on different facets of leading in a global and interconnected environment. These range from learning to manage a multi-cultural workforce to understanding how prejudice impacts leadership effectiveness. George Papandreou, former prime minister of Greece talks about his experience leading Greece, and explores how these experiences relate to leadership in our communities and creating a more fair and just world. These interviews were part of the International Leadership Association Conference and the Global Ties conference. While not everyone works in a global organization, most of us are managing a more diverse workforce, have a broader group of clients, and have suppliers and partners from around the globe. A key theme for this group was building bridges to connect with people across a broad spectrum of factors, culture, and ingrained expectations.
  5. Realizing our leadership potential, managing your journey. There are several interviews that focus on identifying individual purpose and principles. The foundation for leaders knowing who they are and leading themselves, including Mike Sayre talking about how he used this self-knowledge to identify which CEO role to take and Paul Pyrz talking about identifying and living in possibility, geared toward young leaders. These interviews serve as the foundation for building the inner capacity and mindset to lead. When we think of the shift toward “Level 5” or strategist leadership, this transition involves an inner shift as the foundation for behavioral change. The conversations with Susan Cannon and Mike Morrow-Fox about Strategist leadership competencies and Leadership 2050 epitomize the goal for leaders to work toward. (It was our first show!)
  6. Creating the capacity to continually evolve organizations. Several interviews focus on how highly effective leaders build their organization’s capacity to evolve continually. They are not just leading a one-time-change initiative, they are building the ability to implement multiple concurrent changes over a period of years. They are transforming their organizations into self-transforming (or evolving) systems. Mike Sayre and Dale Meyerrose talk about navigating the bumps in creating this transformational mindset. Guru Vasudeva talks about implementing Agile and Lean processes and cultures. Joe Gallo talks about shaping companies to navigate industry wide changes. Jim Ritchie Dunham talks about creating vibrant organizations and agreements that serve as the foundation of effective operations in changing times. He also talks about building a team’s capacity to operate at its highest potential rather than the lowest common denominator.

I set out to experiment with hosting a radio show as a mechanism to help leaders develop. Our listeners ultimately determine the success of the shows by their choice to listen. It is insufficient to say that this show has been a learning tool for me. It has given me an amazing opportunity to meet and interview a broad range of organizational, government, nonprofit, and academic leaders. I am more encouraged now than ever before that, as leaders, we can continue to update our leadership “operating system” just like we update our computer software to enable us to meet the challenges we face and create a better world for the generations that follow.

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.

Responding to a Smear Campaign

In an era where people can make assertions about an organization or individual on social media, the topic of brand and reputation has become critical for organizational leaders. While these assertions may be untrue, damage to reputation is real. As the political rhetoric escalates, many companies are concerned. An example of this escalation is when the president of the United States tweeted about Nordstrom’s choice of clothing lines and specifically objected to the choice to terminate the Ivanka Trump line because of sales performance. Companies are now bracing for this type of attack with the same rigor with which they prepare for other business risks.

This blog is part of a series of blogs as companions to the interview with Barbara Marx Hubbard and Dr. Marc Gafni on VoiceAmerica “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” on March 21, 2017 focusing on navigating a smear campaign they experienced, respectively, as the board co-chair and the founder of the Center of Integral Wisdom. What emerged was a much more hopeful conversation. They are modeling the behaviors they teach as they confront this challenge, and are working to leverage what would for others be a crippling crisis and share the culture of collaboration and unique contribution to a conscious world. They are talking about an evolution of our culture!

It isn’t always possible to anticipate the range of risks that face an organization, yet prudent business leaders evaluate likely scenarios and create policies and procedures aligned with the probability of the scenario and the risk it poses to the organization. When looking at the risk of a smear campaign, the following are three basic elements that organizations must attend to and an example of how the Center for Integral Wisdom (CIW) responded:

  1. Plan your legal response. It is important to have legal counsel who have expertise in this area. They to advise you on your rights, as well as actions you must avoid.

CIW retained legal counsel and discussed the range of responses from how they approached those who started the campaign to considering the liability of directors and officers. It was critical to evaluate if employees or board members were engaged in any actual wrong-doing so that financial and legal liability could be assessed.

  1. Public relations response. Companies specialize in helping organizations respond to crisiswhen information has been hacked and whose products have been tainted. Now, many of these companies have expanded to advise on possible and actual smear campaigns.

CIW worked very actively to craft a deliberate message that started with 50 messages of support for the CEO (Marc) and for the organization. Over time, the board co-chair (Barbara Marx Hubbard) posted a thorough accounting of the situation as seen from her role on the board. CIW also acted by removing the names of board members from the website to protect them from attacks because there were coordinated public attacks on a broad range of stakeholders from board members to the publisher of Marc’s books.

During this time, Marc and other board members began writing publicly about the smear campaign to help raise awareness of this risk across the community. They wanted to use their experience to educate others. As a think tank, they looked for opportunities to turn this attack into an educational opportunity for the broader community. Marc wrote about being wrongly accused. Numerous articles, such as those written by Lisa Engles, ”How Fake News is Used to Undermine a Leader” and Clint Fuhs, “Anatomy of A Smear: Internet Trial of Marc Gafni”, are great examples.

  1. Employee support and internal communications. Employees are often shocked and in some cases angry or betrayed when their organizations are attacked. It is important that they are given support in managing their personal emotional response (crisis intervention) and are given talking points to respond to family and friends in conversation. Your employees are your first line of defense and they need to feel cared for and come together to support one another and protect the organization so it can continue to meet its mission during difficult times.

CIW, at its core, is a spiritual organization as well as a think tank. Marc is a rabbi. While this barrage of public attacks was personal and ugly, Marc was surrounded by a group of people who believed in him as a person and as a leader. While some distanced themselves, others stepped forward. He took time for personal introspection and renewal. He talked to his board and his staff about his mistakes and about how he was leveraging this opportunity to make a stand for treating everyone with respect and decency. To be clear, Marc like all humans has faults, yet these accusations were false. They were also personal and should have been handled privately between Marc and those who felt wronged.

I had several personal take-aways from this experience. As I make these recommendations, it would be hypocritical of me to do so without saying I have fallen short in each area and have put myself at risk.

  1. We all make mistakes (some certainly more public than others). The quality of the person is demonstrated by his or her response when mistakes are made public.
  2. It is important to strive to live a life that is above reproach. The adage, “Would you be okay if this action showed up on the cover of the newspaper for your family to read?” is always something to consider.
  3. Restore the balance. We all have misunderstandings and it is important to find a path forward to restore a semblance of civility as quickly as possible. Again, I realize this is completely aspirational and I have gone for extended periods of time with little to no communication with people who are very important to me while I worked on my own issues related to the relationship.
  4. Extend grace and compassion to others that we would like to receive if we were in their shoes. I can say from my experiences, I have made mistakes I am embarrassed by and I grew from all of them. I moved forward largely because people who cared about me forgave me and supported me despite my fallibility. I can also say that people close to me have held me accountable for cleaning up my messes. Extending compassion and grace doesn’t imply there are no consequences—rather, it means working together to fix what was damaged.

As leaders, we find ourselves navigating an increasingly complex world. We do our best to balance competing commitments and satisfy as many people as possible; however, most of us fall short on occasion. It is what we learn from the process that enables us to grow and help others grow.

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.

Maureen has published several papers and articles and speaks regularly on innovative leadership, resilience, and organizational transformation. She is the author of the award-winning Innovative Leadership Workbook series and the co-author of the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook, winner of an International Book Award for Best Business Reference Book. She is also a regular contributor to


Please note: I will only approve comments on this post that are constructive in nature. I will not perpetuate negativity and smearing behavior. While we promote different perspectives, they must be framed in a manner that promotes solutions to challenges and not framed as personal attacks damaging people involved in the process.

At C-Level #5: The power of a few stated operating guidelines

C Level

At C-Level #5 is the fifth blog of an eight-part series following a first time CEO’s educational journey in a very challenging business environment, and exploring global concepts in leadership theory and practice.  

At the end of each blog are reflection questions for readers to consider as they navigate their own leadership journey.

This guest post by Mike Sayre — experienced software, e-commerce and manufacturing services CEO, COO, CFO and Board Director—is based on his first-hand experiences as a fledging CEO. Its intent is to provide additional insight or ideas to those in, close to, aspiring to, or trying to understand the top leadership role in any organization. Mike was also featured in the October 4, 2016 Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations interview with Maureen Metcalf on VoiceAmerica focusing on the importance of leader trustworthiness in driving organizational change. .

As you know from my previous At C-Level posts, as a first time CEO of a manufacturing services company that was lacking in leadership and focus, I created a leadership tool in the form of a “philosophy card” containing a company mission, vision and operating guidelines that aligned with my own personal mission, vision, and operating philosophies.

An operating philosophy like the “Golden Rule,” which says you should treat others as you would like them to treat you, has always been simple enough. Then came the “Platinum Rule,” which says you should treat others as they would like to be treated. Both can cover a lot of ground depending on how literally you take them. I prefer to give people some credit for understanding these general concepts and believe either is a good place to start. But, in addition, I also think giving a few more specific guidelines (but not too prescriptive) helps round out what you mean by stating your operating philosophy is based on the Golden, or Platinum, Rule.
Here are the operating guidelines we decided to put on “the card” as our mission and vision:


There are many more you can probably think of that you might put on this card. The truth is, just as I wrote about mission and vision in At C-Level #4, you need to do what best serves the company’s and your purpose and circumstances. And I’d add that your guidelines need to be broad enough to cover a lot of ground, but narrow enough that you do not have to worry too much about others’ potential misinterpretations.

In selecting these operating guidelines, our purpose was to turn around a somewhat ego-centric culture where respect, direction and transparency were lacking, and ambiguity and mistrust were the norm, all negatively affecting our overall performance. To be fair, there are many leadership styles used to “successfully” run and grow companies, depending on your definition of “success,” and this culture had evolved in the company over a couple of years of high revenue growth. This culture was just not consistent with my leadership style, and it’s revenue growth based strategies were not growing value for it’s stakeholders.

Here are some examples of how these operating guidelines helped us change our culture and improve our performance with much more teamwork and transparency:

The Golden Rule – Things like loud distracting radios, inappropriate pictures at workstations and porn surfing were no longer tolerated. They showed a lack of respect for others, constituted sexual harassment, contributed to an unhealthy work environment, and lowered productivity. Stopping those practices set a new and more positive tone in our operations that contributed to overall happier and more productive associates, and showed we meant what we said in our operating guidelines. It was not easy and required significant courage on the part of the leadership team. But, when one of our top performers was let go for one of these practices – as painful as that was – we and our use of “the card” gained a lot of credibility.

“Every day our goal is TOTAL CUSTOMER SATISFACTION…delivered at a FAIR PRICE.” – All programs suspected of losing money were analyzed in detail, and if we were losing money for no strategic purpose, we raised the pricing and talked with our customers, sometimes losing the business, but improving our overall financial position and strength. Over a previous two- to three-year period, sales had grown about 400 percent and profits had not grown appreciably with an economic downturn looming. Commoditized low margin work can quickly deteriorate in a down economy, but scaling down the people and infrastructure at the same rate is not so easy.

“We do not lie, cheat or steal” – Instead of auditing customer-owned inventory counts for our largest customer, we discovered we were just giving them their own numbers back instead of verifying their counts! We were concerned about how the customer might react when we told them, but we told them quickly once when we found the problem. And we remedied it. Over time, the relationship actually grew and we won more business.

To be clear, I do not believe that any of the people involved in these situations were trying to hurt the company or anyone else. They did not understand the negative effects of what they were doing to the business and had never been told otherwise.

If you went back to the earlier installments in this series, I think you would find elements of all three leadership models presented so far (Good to Great, Conscious Capitalism and the Strategist Competency) in the formalization and following of those few operating guidelines we put in place. For us, the stated guidelines reduced distractions, took a number of variables out of our decision-making processes, allowed more decisions to be made by more associates in the organization, and increased the capacity of our leadership team by spreading out decision-making capability and authorization.

Reflection questions:

  • As you assess your current situation, what are the top two to three questions or problems that repetitively come up in your organization that today can only be handled by you or another member of your leadership team because no one else either knows how or is authorized to respond and/or resolve them?
  • For each of those, is there an operating guideline that could be formalized so that everyone would know the answer and could just respond or resolve it without having to come to you or your leadership team?

In At C-Level #6, Mike writes about his first significant sales challenges as a new CEO and how he and the team were able to turn lemons into lemonade.

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

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

About the Author

Mike Sayre, executive advisor and organizational transformation practice lead, has been a successful CEO, COO, CFO and board director for multiple organizations in technology (cybersecurity, ecommerce payments processing and engineered computer products) and manufacturing (electronics and steel products). He shares his expertise with client boards and C-Level leaders, and advises, designs, plans, and oversees the implementation of successful strategies for turnarounds, growth, profitability and sustainability.

Mike brings 25+ years of organizational and business leadership and hands-on implementation experience to his clients.  His teams have achieved significant increases in growth, profitability and valuation, as well as shareholder, customer, supplier and employee engagement and satisfaction.

How to Turn a Reorganization Into a Leadership Disaster

Lead Inside the Box Book CoverToday’s guest post is by Mike Figliuolo, co-author of Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results (you can get your copy by clicking here).  You can learn more about Mike and the book at the end of the post.  Here’s Mike:

Quite often, departments are combined, split, or a team’s purpose is redefined. Reorganizations are disquieting. Leaders in this role face several challenges the Leadership Matrix can help them overcome. First, they have to evaluate the performance of team members with whom they haven’t worked before. Second, as responsibilities change, a team member who was a high performer on one set of tasks might find themselves struggling with their new role. The Leadership Matrix makes it easier for leaders to assess these new team dynamics and apply their energy appropriately.

You can use the Leadership Matrix to assess your new team members, especially if you haven’t worked with them before. One of your primary goals when you lead a team through a reorganization is defining roles quickly and in a manner that puts everyone’s talents to best use. The Leadership Matrix can be a powerful tool for making that happen.

During your assessment of the new team, watch out for negative impacts arising from changing someone’s role. As you shift around responsibilities, be aware of situations where you might be giving someone more than they can handle. We’re not saying you shouldn’t change their roles. Such changes can be great growth opportunities. What we are advocating is being aware of the possible shift in the person’s performance that is a result of their new responsibilities. If you know this risk exists, you can take mitigating actions before it becomes a major problem.

Sally serves as a great example of what can happen if a leader isn’t mindful of a reorganization’s impact on a team’s performance. She was responsible for running the operations group in a business unit at a professional services firm. During a major reorganization, Sally’s boss, the business unit president, was moved to another role in the company. Sally then took over his role as the business unit president. Her team now consisted of the operations group she previously led, a strategy group, an infrastructure group, a finance group, and a marketing group.

Before the reorganization, Rose led both the strategy and infrastructure groups. During the year prior to the reorganization, Rose demonstrated she was a Rising Star. At the beginning of that year, her responsibility was running the strategy group. As the year progressed, Rose took on greater responsibilities every month. Eventually she ran both the strategy and infrastructure groups. Her results were fantastic. Every week she found new ways to deliver more value to the organization.

When Sally took over the business unit, she wanted to show everyone she was in charge. She felt a bit insecure in her new role and felt the best way to demonstrate competence was to exercise her newfound authority. For her, this meant unilaterally changing Rose’s role.

Sally didn’t solicit any input from Rose even though she had previously been a peer. Instead, Sally decided on her own to break Rose’s team up and reassign responsibilities for the infrastructure group. Instead of reporting to Rose, that team would now report directly to Sally. Rose’s role was reduced back to what she had a year ago – she was now only responsible for the strategy group.

Rose found these changes demoralizing. She asked Sally to reconsider the reorganization and voiced her frustration with the move. Sally’s response was “Well, I’m running the team now. I think it makes more sense this way. You go focus on strategy and leave the infrastructure to me.” Sally wasn’t going to budge on her decision.

Rose gave up any hope of succeeding in the environment Sally had created. Her career path had been derailed and there was nothing she could do about it. She went from being a Rising Star to being a Slacker. She stopped putting forth her usual tremendous efforts and instead began looking for a new job.

Sally pushed Rose to focus on the strategy group but Rose’s heart wasn’t in it. After a couple of months, Rose left the company to go pursue her own entrepreneurial venture where her growth wouldn’t be limited like it was with Sally. By failing to assess the impacts reorganizing the team would have on her high performers, Sally lost a great talent. That loss led others to leave the organization too. Sally’s team’s performance dropped precipitously as high performers fled to roles where they felt more supported by their leader.

Sally’s failure to evaluate her team members’ performance and how she should interact with them had disastrous results. After a year of running the business unit, Sally was removed from the role by senior leadership. Had she conducted a thoughtful assessment of the situation before acting, she might have realized how her changes could affect her Rising Stars which could have prevented the exodus of talent from the team.

If you’re leading a reorganization, be sure to avoid Sally’s mistake. Spend time assessing your new team using the Leadership Matrix and weigh the impacts of changing responsibilities before you take action.

– Mike Figliuolo is the co-author of Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results and the author of One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership.  He’s the managing director of thoughtLEADERS, LLC – a leadership development training firm.  An Honor Graduate from West Point, he served in the U.S. Army as a combat arms officer. Before founding his own company, he was an assistant professor at Duke University, a consultant at McKinsey & Co., and an executive at Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro.  He regularly writes about leadership on the thoughtLEADERS Blog.

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

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

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

Inaugural Leadership Talk Radio Show – Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations – Leadership 2050

Voice Americal Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations

Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations

Tuesday at 11 AM Pacific

July 14, 2015: Leadership 2050

Episode Description

This is our inaugural show we will be talking to Susan Cannon and Mike Morrow-Fox. Our topic is Leadership 2050. We will discuss trends and a leadership model from a chapter we co-authored in the upcoming International Leadership Association Book Leadership 2050: Critical Challenges, Key Contexts, and Emerging Trends (Emerald Group Publishing, 2015). The qualities of effective leadership can be paradoxical—requiring effective leaders to be passionate and unbiased, detailed and strategic, hard driving and sustainable, fact-focused and intuitive, self-confident and selfless—often at the same time. Such complexity is rarely found in leaders even under optimal conditions. As we move toward 2050, new contexts and conditions are poised to emerge that will create challenges.

Susan Cannon, PhD, interdisciplinary scholar-practitioner and futurist brings 25+ years to innovation, learning, and change in human systems. Currently a certified integral master coach/consultant, Vollett Executive Coaching and Evolucent Consulting; adjunct professor Organizational Development and Leadership, Fielding Graduate University; and pioneer in women’s integral leadership development, Kore Evolution. Work history includes engineering/senior executive positions, and patents. B.S. Engineering Physics, Texas Tech University; M.S. Chemical Engineering, Purdue University; Ph.D. Integral Studies, California Institute of Integral Studies.  ‘

Mike Morrow-Fox, MBA, has 20 years of experience in leading technology and human resources operations for health care, education, banking, and nonprofit organizations, as well as several years of university teaching. His bachelor’s degree focused on Industrial Psychology and Employee Counseling and his MBA focus was on Organizational Leadership. He is currently completing his Doctorate in Educational Leadership,. He is a contributor to several books in the award-winning Innovative Leadership book series

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.


Take Action to Develop as a Leader – Eric’s Story

Taking actionI’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. In this post we will take the next step in the innovative leadership development process: taking action. In this post we will discuss how to start in an effective way and show you how to mitigate any potential barriers.

Start Effectively

First of all, you must believe that you can accomplish your short-term milestones. If you’ve been closely following the previous posts and participating in the exercises, and you’re really serious about chasing your life goals, then you are more than capable of accomplishing these short-term milestones. You may seem a little intimidated and overwhelmed, but that’s what you want. If you’re not exiting your comfort zone then you’re not growing.

Secondly, this process will not only take you out of your comfort zone, but will require some consistent commitment. If you must, do not start out too extreme. Take it slow in the beginning, familiarize yourself with the routine and gradually push yourself to greater limits.

Overcoming Barriers

Most importantly, you’ll need to allow yourself some flexibility in your plan because you will likely face obstacles that may require you to temporarily modify your routine. Below is a worksheet to help you overcome your barriers. Feel free to refer to my answers to see how to answer each space. The goal I’m referring to is how I want to increase my productivity with work.

Barrier Action Planning Worksheet
Category Barrier Impact of Barrier How to Remove or Work Around Support I Need to Remove or Work Around This Barrier
In my thinking I over-analyze small details, which takes me on tangents about unrelated things. It distracts me, taking my focus away from the actual task, I end up thinking about something completely irrelevant Maintain perspective on the overall goal of certain tasks to better understand the functions behind the smaller details, requiring less thought later on. Personal support to hold me accountable each day.
In my behavior I try to multi-task way too much. This impedes my productivity. Focus on one task at a time, do it right the first time, practice “essentialism”. Personal support, casually reminding each other about essentialism.
In our beliefs We depend on third parties to do their part of a task too often. This slows us down because we wait for them to finish. Rely less on external sources’ work and consider doing their part by ourselves. Professional partnership support to find out what we can do without a third party.
In how we do things We multi-task as a group. It impedes productivity. reminding each other about focusing on the tasks at hand fully. Remember that I also need to focus and ask others to do the same.

Real World Application: Create a Barrier Log

Review your responses for the Barrier Action Planning Worksheet and create a spreadsheet document. Label the first column “Barrier”. Move one column to the right, and label the next five columns, from left to right, “Attempt #1”, “Attempt #2”, and so on. In the column labeled “Attempt #1”, write how you plan to overcome the corresponding barrier, perhaps using the response you put for the Barrier Action Planning Worksheet. If you fail on the first attempt, write a new or refined way to overcome that barrier, plus what you did wrong in the previous attempt, in the Attempt #2 section, and continue this process until you eventually overcome the barrier. On the attempt where you finally succeed, highlight that box in green. As new barriers rise, add them to the log; however, after you complete a barrier, it is critical that you keep it on the log and do not delete it.

This barrier log will be very useful because you will be able to track what did and did not work in order to overcome a barrier. You will likely come across barriers that are similar to previous ones, so knowing what worked (and what didn’t work) in advance, making the barrier easy to overcome. As time goes on, and you begin to see a long list of old barriers with green boxes, signifying success, your confidence in overcoming barriers will increase. It may be grueling to keep adding more attempts because you keep failing, but understand the that only true failure is failure to try.

Feel free to include barriers outside of the leadership development process, such as academic, social and even health barriers. Save this document in a cloud storage service for both safety and convenience. Update it on a regular basis. Also, if one of your mentors from the Build Your Team section is an “equal”, or someone in the same situation as you, have that person make a barrier log and share logs with each other online or during meetings.

In the next post, we will answer reflection questions to strengthen our understanding of how we’ll take action.

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 Eric’s ongoing blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo Credit: Celestine Chua