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To Combat Climate Despair, We Must Cultivate Resilient Collective Action

This week’s article features Leah Lizarondo, CEO and co-founder of 412 Food Rescue, a social enterprise with a technology, logistics and civic engagement model that aims to fight hunger and promote sustainability by preventing perfectly good food from entering the waste stream and directly distributing to organizations that benefit those who are food insecure.  Her interview is a part of the International Leadership Association Series.  These interviews feature guests from the 2021 Annual Conference that was held in Geneva, Switzerland in October of 2021.  The article is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Reimagining Leadership to Solve Food Insecurity that aired on Tuesday, April 19th, 2022.

Here is a short clip of the interview:

Here is the full interview:

Amidst the continuous flood of alarming climate change news, we are increasingly seeing stories about phenomena like “climate depression” and “climate anxiety.” The scale of the problem can be paralyzing, especially for ordinary citizens without wealth or political might to muster against it. But collectively, those regular people have the potential to make a huge difference – how do we help them overcome the inertia of climate despair and contribute to big solutions? The answer is to place effective and rewarding tools in their hands.

Designing the Right Tool for the Problem

Our organization, 412 Food Rescue, and its national tech platform, Food Rescue Hero, bridge the last mile between businesses with good surplus food and the people who need that food the most. I was inspired to start this work when I learned an alarming statistic: in the U.S., up to 40% of the food we produce is wasted, while one in seven households are food-insecure.

Almost a third of this waste occurs at grocery stores, restaurants, and other consumer-facing businesses. Every year, this sector finds itself with 23 million tons of surplus food that it can’t sell. Most of it ends up in landfills, where it releases methane, a greenhouse gas more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

Much of the food that is discarded at the retail level is still good to eat, but only a small percentage is ever donated. Retail food donation presents a number of logistical challenges: pick-up locations are dispersed; amounts and types of food are variable and unpredictable; and most surplus food is fresh and perishable and therefore needs to be consumed quickly.

The traditional spoke-and-hub model of retail food donation, based on trucks making regular pick-ups and delivering to a central food bank, misses too much food. We need a more flexible model to reach all available surplus and bring it to the nonprofits, community access points and homes where it can do the most good.

When we were creating Food Rescue Hero, we recognized that there was already an existing model for transport from a broad array of pick-up locations to a broad array of drop-off locations: ridesharing and food delivery apps like Uber and DoorDash. While those platforms are based on the work of paid drivers, we made Food Rescue Hero for volunteers. We believed that most people were looking to technology not only for ways to earn money, smooth over inconveniences, and get instant gratification, but also for ways to do good.

Our Food Rescue Heroes have vindicated that belief abundantly. We have recruited the world’s largest network of on-demand volunteer drivers, 27,000+ strong and growing, and they deliver on 99% of all available rescues from our hundreds of donor businesses. They are not only reliable but also, often, prolific. Many have performed hundreds of rescues. One particular septuagenarian in Pittsburgh has completed over 1,500 rescues.

Thanks to all of the volunteers across the 15 cities with active Food Rescue Hero networks, we have reached over 80 million pounds of good food saved to feed people instead of landfills. That’s equivalent to almost 67 million meals, carried to their destinations in our volunteers’ cars or trucks, in their minivans next to children excited to help, on their bikes, or even on their shoulders as they make deliveries on foot. And all sorts of people have stepped up to do this work: artists, activists, teachers, musicians, small business owners, parents, teenagers, retirees, and many more.

What is it that keeps these volunteers so engaged?

Centering the Human in the Design

Research indicates that one of the main barriers to volunteering is that people feel they don’t have enough time, or that volunteer schedules are too inflexible. The same ridesharing-style model that resolves the logistical barriers of food donation can also resolve these personal barriers.

Like a driver for Uber, a user of the Food Rescue Hero app gets notifications on their phone when a nearby rescue is available. They can also go on the app and search for local rescues any time they want. In this way, the app regularly presents users with opportunities to engage, on their terms. Once they accept a rescue, the app guides them through the process of pick-up and drop-off, for an easy, seamless experience. Most rescues take under an hour, and users can pick one up whenever they have time. There is no obligation to commit to a regular rescue – though many end up doing so.

A problem like food waste can feel both daunting and distant. If you are not a grocery store employee tasked with dumping pounds and pounds of nutritious food into the dumpster every night because it will not be sold before its “best by” date, you may not be able to wrap your mind around the problem.

But if you show up to the grocery store and load boxes of that good food into your car instead, the problem becomes tangible. And if you then deliver that food to a community center or a public housing complex where people are excited to see you and find out what you’ve brought to help them through the week, you vividly experience just how much power that simple act has. A carload of food that could be rotting in a landfill is instead ensuring that a community will not go hungry.

Our app delivers donated food, but it also, crucially, delivers that pay-off to volunteers: the incomparable, indescribable feeling of fulfillment at your core after you know you have made a difference. It’s a million times better than seeing a “like” on your social media post. It’s life-changing. It keeps people coming back.

 

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 iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotifyAmazon MusicAudible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Leah Lizarondo is the founder of Food Rescue Hero®, a technology, logistics and civic engagement model that fights food waste and hunger in 16 cities. Her work has been featured in NPR, Fast Company, and The Washington Post, among others. Leah is originally from the Philippines and currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Reimagining Leadership: Out of the Ashes…

This week’s article is written by Peter Cunningham, Head of Leadership at the Geneva Center for Security Policy.  It is a companion to his and Ambassador Thomas Greminger’s interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Facing a Global Leadership Crisis—Insights from GCSP that aired on Tuesday, February 15th, 2022.

 

Here’s a short clip from the interview:

 

Here’s the full interview:

 

It is widely held that it was Seneca who said, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. While for many of us, luck is not a term we might particularly associate with the past two years, there is an ongoing, globally shared, developmental opportunity underway. We are all exposed to higher levels of complexity, ambiguity, and the uncertainties they generate. Senior leaders (especially in the private sector and the military) often go through many years of preparation to deal with the experience of no one telling you what to do and being expected to make sense of complex situations and judging what direction to take and what choices to make.

In some sense, over the last two years, everyone has had a taste of what that feels like, when it comes to making decisions that affect our families, our colleagues, and our communities. Without having had the benefit of those years of preparation, for many it can be unsettling and confusing. Like any potentially transformational experience, there is discomfort to navigate if we are to grow and learn from it.

The year 2020 could be characterised as a huge wave of disruption – we had to ride it as best we could, experiment with entirely different ways of living and working, and be tolerant; 2021 became about the hard work of learning how to live and work well within this ongoing disruption. As we enter a 3rd year of disruption there is a cumulative change dynamic, and we need to lift our sights beyond crisis response (that has itself become normalised) while maintaining the capability to quickly flip back if needed.  Leaders are faced with the task of having to cast their minds into the future to try and predict what might happen in the months ahead and how best to respond and prepare themselves, their teams, and organisations.

From having paid close attention over the last decade to many organisations and leaders in the International Peace & Security sector – characterised as having high exposure to ambiguity, tensions, humanitarian challenges and complex multi-actor issues – the following 4 practices may set leaders and therefore organisational cultures apart in the year ahead.

 

  1. Engage in Collective Sensemaking

Attempting to predict the future is for the most part a fool’s game. However, there is real value in dipping into the toolkit of the Strategic Foresight community and engaging in identifying plausible scenarios you might experience 9 or 12 months from now and how you might prepare for these or even work toward the realisation of a preferred scenario. An important element is to make this a diverse and collective activity. If only a small, homogenous group does this then the scenarios they will come up with will be limited and of less value. The more diverse perspectives that you can involve, the richer, more nuanced, and more informative those scenarios will be. Revisiting and amending these scenarios every few months will instill a practice of continuous sensemaking over time, meaning people will be more attuned to early signals of change and feel safe enough to bring them to everyone’s attention.

 

  1. Provide medium-term clarity and focus

It will be important in 2022 to define some medium- and longer-term changes that you believe should remain beyond this pandemic. As Yogi Bear once remarked: “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

 

A head of strategy for an international foundation recently explained how they pushed for the organisation to set out a 10-year strategy, effectively doubling their normal time horizon. It involved less detailed metric-driven specificity and more purposefulness to counter the external disruptions they were experiencing. Doing this was challenging for the leadership team yet it helped them communicate a clear direction that stretched beyond the immediate crisis response experience and helped provide a sense of reassurance and focus to counter the anxiety many people felt.

 

  1. Create space for curiousity

Alongside many advantages, one of the risks associated with working remotely, for fortunate enough to be able to adapt to this, is the tendency to become overly task-oriented when you do meet online but also when you are working alone from home. It is important to invest in creating the space for less structured guided interactions and thought. You can revolve these around a particular topic or issue or leave it entirely open with just a simple guiding question.

It can be valuable to carve out some space for more curiousity led thinking and interaction without always having a detailed agenda, task, or a pre-determined outcome. These tend to limit people’s openness to thinking about possibilities and reduce their ability to engage with high levels of ambiguity.

Not only is this motivating for many people, but it will also generate insights and ideas on how to choose what longer-term changes are needed. It also sends a message that you trust people to come up with meaningful ideas and solutions. There is another longer-term benefit; curiousity lies at the heart of a learning mindset and it is such a mindset that tends to better tolerate complexity and ambiguity.

 

  1. Capacity to collide and converge

When we ask people to reflect on a team or collaborative experience that they were proud to be part of, it often involved tensions or conflicts that were overcome. In fact, having overcome such tensions and turning them into positive relations and outcomes is often what people are most proud of. At a time when returning to more face-to-face interaction is likely and public polarisation is high around issues like vaccines and work preferences, pay extra attention to early warnings of issues that can lead to conflict and develop the capacity at all levels to not just navigate this but encourage openness and constructive discussion that surfaces ‘elephants in the room’ can improve collaboration.

If it is indeed true that there will be an increase in talented people seeking to contribute to organisations and initiatives that align with what matters to them most. All four of these practices have in common that they contribute to increased trust, inclusion, psychological safety and are foundations of a resilient, more caring and courageous culture of work.

 

 

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

Peter Cunningham is Head of Leadership at GCSP and Co-Founder of the Geneva Leadership Alliance, a network of associates and partner organisations working together to advance the understanding and practice of leadership for the benefit of peace and security worldwide.

Peter has over 20 years of experience in leadership development, adult education, and executive coaching across private, public, and non-profit sectors. He is constantly seeking new, diverse, and innovative ways to bridge the study of leadership with the practice of leading, especially at international level and across cultural, geo-graphical, political and organisational divides. Leveraging his diverse experience and background, he creates safe spaces for learning and encourages brave spaces for application, enabling people to learn leadership mindsets and practices in transformative ways and adapt them to their own work and life.

 

Photo by Fabienne FILIPPONE on Unsplash

It’s Your Aptitude Plus Your Attitude That Sets You Apart

We are pleased to announce the Connex Executive Insights Series, produced in collaboration with Connex Partners, an invitation-only executive network that brings industry leaders together in from the worlds of HR and Healthcare.

Connex Members are part of a cutting-edge community, finding actionable solutions to their most pressing business challenges via high-value peer exchanges and curated resources including tools, platforms, partners and c-suite networking opportunities.

Executive Insights features highly-respected and engaging guests who share novel ideas and practices related to the latest leadership topics.

This week’s article features an interview with Alice Yoo LeClair, Divisional CHRO at Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC originally published in Inside CHRO, the go-to magazine for HR leaders brought to you by Connex Partners. It is a companion to her interview on the Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future podcast episode, A Competitive Advantage: Building Communities Within the Business, that aired on Tuesday, January 25th, 2022.

Watch the two-minute video of Alice

 

Listen to the full conversation with Alice and Maureen

  • What is your best leadership advice?

It’s your aptitude plus your attitude that sets you apart as a leader. These two things build the story of your personal brand and can accelerate your development over your peer group. This advice applies whether you have worked at an organization for two months or 25 years, whether you’re a senior leader or just taking the lead as a contributor in a meeting.

  • If you could go back in time and meet your sixteen-year-old self, what would you tell them?

Firstly, when you hear about this thing called ‘Bitcoin’ that goes for sale, buy it immediately in mass quantities! The second thing I would tell myself is ‘chin up’. Over the course of time, you will see a material shift when it comes to Asian inclusion and representation. There will even be an Asian superhero, Shang-Chi, brought to life on the big screen, in mainstream culture. It’s really tough now – but know that the world is going to learn faster, collaborate more and come together as a global community in the very near future.

  • What is the most-read book on your shelf?

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. I discovered this book through Bill Gates’ book blog, Gates Notes, and he cited it in a New York Times article as one of his favorite reads. The theories the author presents about why sapiens, of all the species that have inhabited this planet, have been able to develop enormous infrastructure, technologies, religions, governments and currencies are fascinating.

One of his theories is that as a species, our ability to imagine and apply our imagination to our real-life circumstances is what enabled our brains to create all of these institutions. I recommend it to anyone who is curious as to how we went from hunter-gatherers to doing things like cryptocurrency in the present day.

  • What’s the one film, TV show or podcast you would urge every CHRO to check out, and why?

I have a different approach to this. I don’t actually have an HR industry-specific magazine or podcast that I regularly turn to. What I have curated for myself instead are ‘digital mentors.’ In the HR and business worlds, there are incredible leaders who, through their public content, answer questions and give advice on topics I would have asked them to elaborate on through those mentorship coffee sessions. It was through this curation of digital mentorship that I discovered my career aspiration to become a Chief Experience Officer. I got there from the online presence of an executive named Julie Larson-Green who held the role at Microsoft and Qualtrics.

 

To read this article in full, and to find out more about how the pandemic has shaped Alice’s views on the future of HR, sign up to receive Inside CHRO, the new magazine written by – and for – HR leaders. Brought to you by Connex Partners, the #1 executive network for HR.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and 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 on LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Alice Yoo LeClair is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Euromoney PLC’s Financial & Professional Services (FPS) division. She is responsible for leading talent management, DEI, recruitment and performance enablement initiatives, in alignment with the organization’s strategic objectives. In this capacity, she also serves as a member of the division’s executive committee and the group’s HR leadership team. Before joining Euromoney, Alice was the Head of HR for the Americas GTM region and multiple product verticals at Refinitiv, an LSEG (London Stock Exchange Group) business. Previously, she held global people strategy and commercial program management roles at IPC Systems, IntelePeer and Level 3 Communications (now Lumen Technologies). Alice holds a bachelor’s degree in Music from the University of Hartford where she double majored in Piano Performance and English. She also has a certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from eCornell, Cornell University’s external education unit

 

Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

 

 

Stewards of the Future – A Guide for Competent Boards

This week’s article is an excerpt from “Stewards of the Future – A Guide for Competent Boards”, by Helle Bank Jorgensen, CEO of Competent Boards, which offers the global online ESG Competent Boards Certificate Program.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Stewards of the Future: A Guide for Competent Boards that aired on Tuesday, January 18th, 2022.

 

“Stakeholder concerns are shareholder concerns. The increasing focus by investors, consumers, and other stakeholders on sustainability is directly influencing value creation.” — Jane Diplock, chair, Abu Dhabi Global Market Regulatory Committee; director, Value Reporting Foundation

 

Case study – Ørsted

One company that has successfully managed the transition from passive to active engagement is Ørsted, Denmark’s largest energy utility. Ørsted has undergone a dramatic transformation since its inception in 1972 as Dansk Naturgas, and later as Dansk Olie og Naturgas. For the first thirty years of its existence, its business centered on coal-fired power plants in Denmark, and offshore oil and gas drilling rigs in various other parts of Europe. In 2006, however, it decided to shift its focus to green energy, closing its coal-fired plants and putting its resources instead into offshore wind farms. As of 2020, the Danish company was the world’s leader in offshore wind power, with a 30 percent market share; it forecast that it would produce enough power for more than 30 million people by 2025.

Stakeholder engagement has been a key pillar of the transition strategy. In 2007, for example, the company began fostering a dialogue with activist groups such as Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and the Danish Society for Nature Conservation. Rob Morris, a senior editor at the London Business School, noted in an article that Ørsted “had to convince people that the future business could be as successful as the old one.” One example was a lengthy op-ed piece in Denmark’s Politiken newspaper written by then-CEO Anders Eldrup in which he stressed that transformation would not be an overnight miracle. Eldrup publicly debated the company’s climate action strategy with Greenpeace’s then-executive director Mads Flarup Christensen at a 2009 meeting hosted by the Copenhagen Business School.

While the Danish government still owns 50.1 percent of Ørsted’s shares, the company has been listed on the Copenhagen stock exchange since 2016.  The following year, it opened another useful avenue to tell its story to international investors by launching its first green bond.

“A lot of it starts with a company needing to be clear about what its purpose and its real priorities are, and that can be quite difficult to formulate,” says Ørsted’s current board chair Thomas Thune Andersen. “We have a wide debate about strategy that covers everything from the annual strategy plan to the long-term strategy, to our strategic priorities. If you’re able to really explain what your strategic priorities are, you’re able to get the shareholders and others to buy in.”

Ørsted now conducts a thorough materiality assessment each year, which involves identifying its most material stakeholders as well as assessing shareholder priorities and how these priorities intersect with society’s overall challenges. It has identified five key stakeholder groups: political stakeholders and authorities, local communities, employees, investors and shareholders, and NGOs/multiple stakeholder networks. The company has a specific interest in each group. Political stakeholders are vital allies in its plans to develop green energy. Local communities and employees provide valuable input on skills, talent retention, education, and local environmental initiatives. Investors expect strong financial returns as well as robust performance on environmental, social, and governance issues. Finally, the company engages NGOs and multi-stakeholder networks on topics such as biomass sustainability and human rights. It has worked to strengthen implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and has identified minerals and metals in its supply chain where environmental and human rights risks are greatest. The Danish company also has no problem collaborating with other utilities to develop wind farm projects. For example, in March 2020, it joined forces with Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings to bid for an offshore wind power project in Chiba prefecture, near Tokyo. The two companies have several other joint projects.

Ørsted has set a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2025 and no carbon emissions at all by 2040. Corporate Knights magazine named it the world’s most sustainable energy company for three years in a row, from 2019 to 2021, and ranked it number two across all sectors in 2021. But sustainability has not come at the expense of financial performance. Ørsted’s market value has more than doubled since its listing in 2016, surpassing rivals such as BP with a far greater dependence on fossil fuels. It achieved a 10 percent return on capital and a 4 percent advance in operating profit in 2020. As of mid-2021, its share price had almost quadrupled since the 2016 initial public offering.

Taken from “Stewards of the Future – A Guide for Competent Boards”, by Helle Bank Jorgensen, now available in hardcover and ebook.

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

Helle Bank Jorgensen is the CEO of Competent Boards, which offers the global online ESG Competent Boards Certificate Program with a faculty of over 95 renowned international board members executives and experts. A business lawyer and state-authorized public accountant by training, Helle helps global companies and investors turn sustainability into strong financial results. She was the creator of the world’s first Green Account based on lifecycle assessment, as well as the world’s first Integrated Report and the first holistic responsible supply chain program. Helle has written numerous thought leader pieces, is a keynote speaker, and is interviewed by global media outlets.

 

Photo by Damir Kopezhanov on Unsplash

Considerations for Scaling

This week’s article is by Greg Moran, a C-level digital, strategy and change leadership executive with extensive global operations experience.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled What Leaders Won’t Talk About When Scaling a Business that aired on Tuesday, January 11th, 2022.

 

No cute titles, no click-bait tag lines – just an honest conversation about some of the things I’ve learned from creating, launching and getting through the first couple of stage gates on scale.  I spent most of my career working at big companies like Bank One (Chase), Ford Motor and Nationwide Insurance attempting to transform to meet competitive pressure or to maintain the status quo of a business model that hasn’t changed since before I was born.  Starting a company is way more fun, but much of my experience did little to prepare me for the challenges of actually going through the process in a leadership role – kind of like how watching the Tour de France on TV does little to prepare you to ride your bike 100 miles in a day.  For this blog, I’ll summarize the headlines that we cover in the accompanying podcast.  I encourage you to listen so you get the nuance of what the words mean because they can look obvious on paper without hearing the dialogue.

 

Back Office

The thing about back-office investment is that you don’t want to make the investment until you need to, but when you need to, it’s usually painful and distracting – like changing the tires on a car that’s going 70 mph.  The trick of it is to be ahead of the curve, but not too far ahead of the curve.  I’ve found it useful is to remember 2 things:

  • “Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” – Wayne Gretsky
  • Tech costs a lot less than people do, so get on platforms that will make sure your back office stays off the critical path of your growth, otherwise you will have to compensate with people.

 

DEI and ESG

Nobody wants to talk about this because they are afraid of getting canceled or saying the wrong thing and getting attacked.  There are some cold hard truths you need to know about this space if you are starting a tech company (and many other types of companies as well):

  • The talent pool of people that can tolerate the perceived risk of a startup is not as diverse as the general labor pool.
  • The talent pool of people that are experienced in the functions you need to fill AND have start-up experience is even less diverse, and you rarely have the luxury of time to go find that unicorn.
  • The people who are attracted to the risk profile of the startup world expect to be compensated with equity in a way that rewards them for the risk and have little practical interest in the other ‘equity’. Everyone has a good set of talking points these days, the expectations remain (I’m living this now, even though we are well beyond the risk-equity phase of growth).
  • Your ability in the early days to create ESG metrics will be limited and probably irrelevant.

So what does this mean for you?  My suggestion is the following:

  • Have a clear set of principles on DEI and ESG that guide the company’s decision-making and are very transparent to the board, the leadership team, every employee and every prospect.
  • Back up the principles opportunistically at every turn, without compromising the integrity of your commitments to existing employees and investors. In the early days, compromises on competence will stick out like a sore thumb and may kill the company if the role is important enough.
  • Rely on advisors to help bolster/refine the thinking of the team over time.
  • As soon as you can begin to build a pipeline, invest in talent resources that have the clear accountability to do so.
  • Use search firms to amplify your reach to great diverse candidates.
  • Insist on equally engaging events and practices within the company.
  • Don’t virtue signal with grand statements that you can’t back up and just invite criticism and ‘gotchas’.

 

Space and People

Scaling and Covid combined have raised some interesting questions on space and people.  As you grow, does your philosophy on space and employee experience change?  Is remote your new operating model – going full virtual?  How do you handle in-person collaboration when it benefits the company and/or the process and/or the individuals who may desperately want to have and build personal relationships?

I think any singular answer to this question would end up being a ‘one size fits none’ solution, so I’ll stick to some principles we have embraced (for now) in light of the ever-shifting landscape in which we all find ourselves:

  • Don’t be definitive and don’t show a preference for remote vs. in-person. If you really want to allow either to give you access to more talent and allow you to grow faster (or whatever reason), then truly embrace and invest in both.
  • Model both from a leadership standpoint, even if you have a strong preference. Your modeling will empower.
  • Make in-person compelling – give people a reason to come in, regardless of the frequency.
  • Do the same for remote – support the gear that makes it a great experience for the remote employee and those they interact with. Provide stipends and perks to enhance the remote experience.  Create quality virtual events – serious and fun.
  • Communicate and get feedback as the game changes.

 

Value Chain Balancing

As you scale a business, maintaining balance throughout your value chain is essential.  You really are only as strong as your weakest link and if you are over-invested in one element of your business, but constrained in another, you are just wasting money.  One of my friends that had exited a start-up gave me some great advice as we started our company.  ‘Never confuse having a product with having a company’, he said.  It was brilliant advice and has value chain balance at its heart.  If you build a better mousetrap, the world will not beat a path to your door.  In fact, the world will probably never know you exist.  If you have no pipeline, hiring people to close deals is a waste of money.

Pay attention to and build specific metrics around your funnel – know the numbers for you and for your industry and stay on top of it!  Keep the operations functions off your critical path by making sure they have the capacity to support your growth – HR, Finance, Facilities, etc.  Force business case discipline on your product and engineering functions (which is not to say don’t place bets, but the business cases force the homework to be done and give you data on which to base the bet, which will lead to better decisions and board-level buy-in).

 

Avoiding Distraction

One of the most insidious things that can happen as you scale is that the world will want to talk to you and your team about your success.  The temptation to do so is pretty irresistible and you should fight it aggressively.  When you start up the steep scaling curve is when the company needs focused leadership the most.  I’ve seen great young companies and budding CEOs get totally derailed by the seduction of publicity that makes them feel good but does nothing for the company, its customers or its team.  Do a couple of carefully curated and well-managed events per quarter and stay focused on your broader objective.

 

I hope this practical approach is useful.  I’m not looking to impress you with clever aphorisms (I have a bunch that perhaps I’ll drop in another blog someday), but rather to give you some super simple, easy-to-implement concepts.  Upward and onward!!

 

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

Greg Moran is a C-level digital, strategy and change leadership executive with extensive global operations experience. He led corporate strategy for Ford and designed the plan that Alan Mullaly used to turn around the company. Greg held C-level IT positions in app dev, infrastructure and core banking applications at Ford, Nationwide Insurance and Bank One/JPMC, respectively. He began his career in consulting with Arthur Andersen Accenture, working across industries with 100 companies over the course of a decade. He is passionate about leadership and culture and teaches part-time on the topic at Ohio University.

Evolving an Iconic Brand

This week’s article was written by Maureen Metcalf.  It is a companion to the interview she conducted with George Limbert, President of Red Roof Inn on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Red Roof Revisioning the Future that aired on Tuesday, December 21st, 2021.

 

Since the pandemic, everyone has been talking about the new normal. The new President of the Red Roof family of brands is proactively evolving how the hotel industry and its brands meet their stakeholder needs in a post-pandemic world.

On August 26, 2021, Red Roof®named George Limbert as President of the company effective immediately. George was the interim President beginning in October of 2020.

George served as Red Roof’s General Counsel for the previous eight years. He was on the core leadership team that guided the company throughout the pandemic. As a result, Red Roof has overcome these challenges as a well-positioned leader in the industry, seeing consistent increases in all performance metrics.

Immediately after being named President, George invited his senior leadership team to look at how they would evolve the brands. He started with the founder’s mission. Next, the team explored how to evolve the strong legacy of this iconic brand to meet the changing needs of all stakeholders.

The founder, Jim Trueman’s Mission was:  To offer clean and comfortable rooms and attentive guest service – and charge less for it.

With the support of an Innovative Leadership Institute facilitator, the team came together and co-created the updated vision.  The new vision is: To provide the best experience and value in the lodging industry for our guests, owners, team members, partners, and communities.

When we look at missions and visions, many think of a group of leaders sitting in a corporate headquarters coming up with nice slogans that are neither realistic nor inspirational. While the senior leaders created the new Red Roof vision, this process differed from most. After developing the vision, several leaders went on a “look and listen” tour of a sample of the 660 hotels to hear from the franchisees and employees. Next, the team participated in two annual franchise conferences, where they spent more time in person with the franchise owners. The next step is a gathering in February with all employees. At each step, the team looked to validate and find holes in the vision to ensure the final version accurately reflected the true promise of the brand family. This process is ongoing, and while brands don’t regularly change their visions, this brand is “stress testing” its vision to ensure it is an accurate and inspirational evolution of the founder’s legacy.

After putting the vision on paper, the leadership team broke into groups to define what that vision would look like as it turned into reality. Some groups focused more on people while others on processes and measures. The result was a consolidated story of how the brands and the organization will evolve. This step is critical in the organizational change process. The leadership team and the organization need to align around the what before identifying and agreeing on the how. They answered a range of questions about culture, processes, measures. These questions ranged from processes related to aligning as a team to how they view and build on quality. Evolving a brand takes a concerted effort by a well-aligned team. The story starts, “Five years from now, we will be an extraordinary reflection of our best selves. We will have grown with purpose because we pooled our greatest strengths: our diverse talent, our culture founded on trust, honesty, transparency, and our iconic brand.”

The Red Roof team will continue to share their evolution as they progress in their transformation. The Innovative Leadership Institute is honored to support this iconic brand’s evolution.

 

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

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

 

About the Author

Maureen Metcalf, CEO, the Innovative Leadership Institute, is dedicated to elevating the quality of leaders globally.

 

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

 

Disposable Housing and the Circular Economy

This week’s article is provided by Dr. John A. Kilpatrick, an economist specializing in real estate investment and housing issues. It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled What Leaders Need to Know About Circular Economy that aired on Tuesday, December 7th, 2021.

 

There is an economics story making the rounds about the coal miner and the coal mine owner each buying a new pair of work boots. A cheap pair costs $5 and will last a season. A better pair will cost $20 and last five seasons. Unfortunately, the coal miner is never able to squeeze together $20, and so each season is only able to buy a $5 pair. The coal mine owner, of course, can afford the better pair. At the end of 5 years, the coal miner has spent more money than the boss ($25 versus $20) and has thrown away 5 pairs of used boots.

We have a not dissimilar problem at the heart of the world’s very significant housing crisis. It is most obviously manifested in the lack of housing affordability but is inextricably tied to the life-cycle wastage in housing resources.

Globally, housing now costs an economically unsustainable portion of a working person’s budget. Inseparable from housing affordability is housing availability. At the bottom rung of the economic ladder, housing is simply not to be had. Gregg Colburn, a real estate professor at the University of Washington, has done ground-breaking empirical research into the homeless problem to arrive at an extraordinarily simple finding – cities with the most expensive housing have the most significant problems with homelessness.

Attempts to address the problem since World War II may have actually made the problem worse and almost certainly violated the principles of a circular economy. For example, after WW-II, in the UK, vast arrays of temporary “modular” housing was constructed to address the immediate shortages. These homes were designed to have 10-year life spans, but in many corners of the UK these flimsy dwellings are still standing. As an ironic side note, many of these pre-fabs contained asbestos, lead-based paint, and other structural problems. In the US, many modular units such as mobile homes were purposely built to the most cost-cutting standards and had significantly foreshortened lifespans and lack of future adaptability compared to traditional stick-built, site-built homes. Interestingly enough, these flimsy substitutes were considered the new modern convenience in the 1950’s and promoted in movies such as the Lucile Ball – Desi Arnez hit, “The Long, Long Trailer.”

In Japan, the problem has been exacerbated by stylistic choices. Newer homes have been highly preferred to older homes. Japan saw a wave of post-war construction, but “new” and “modern” became more fashionable, and each passing decade has seen older homes become valueless in as short as 20-30 years. As such, homes in Japan are not built to last, and in some suburban towns, homes built in the 1960’s are no longer standing.

Apartment dwelling has proven to be no solution, and in fact has contributed to the wastage problem. Post-war apartment buildings were often constructed with 30-40 year economic lives. After that, the cost of replacing mechanical systems, tired or failed window and door systems, and overall heightened maintenance favors tear-down and replacement rather than rehabilitation.

This race to the bottom in housing quality and the shortening of the economic lifespan of housing inevitably drives up the long-term cost of providing adequate housing to a growing population. While short-life-span housing may have an attractive up-front cost, the need for regular replacement drives up the cost and saps resources. In short, workers needing a roof over their heads have been forced to invest in the housing equivalent of $5, disposable boots.

At the core of the concept of a circular economy is the notion of reducing the price consumption by extending the lifespan of the goods consumed, in this case, housing. Finding a sustainable, circular solution to the simultaneous problems of housing cost and housing lifespans will not be simple. For one, health and safety standards today mandate materials and systems that were either unknown or had unacceptable substitutes in past generations. Examples include adequate and cost-efficient heating, cooling, and ventilation, window and door systems that contribute to energy efficiency, improved sanitary facilities, and kitchen and utility appliances that optimize the time spent on cooking and cleaning. These systems have short life spans, and remodeling/rehab have not proven to be efficient solutions in the past.

There is however significant research underway. The 2016 African Real Estate Society Conference, held in Addis Ababa, was devoted to sustainable development. Architecture and design researchers from universities in the Netherlands are presently working with colleagues in Malaysia where housing demand and affordability are nearing crisis levels. By designing future flexibility into housing units, they hope to simultaneously conquer the affordability problem for younger consumers, the space availability problems of growing families, and even the downsizing issues of empty nesters. Researchers in Australia and Germany are focusing on the results of the 100 Resilient Cities Program (100RC) developed by the Rockefeller Foundation in 2013, which aims for “the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow, no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience”.

The Houseful Project, sponsored by Housing Europe, kicked off in 2019 with three themes related to housing and the circular economy: Integration of circular solutions in energy efficiency, further development of feasible circular economy business opportunities in the housing sector, and identifying buildings that are willing to implement some of the tested solutions. These solutions include, but are not limited to, containment of materials wastage in the construction process, improvement in the handling of wastewater, and energy conservation.

Australia has been a focal point for much of the research on this topic. In that country alone, over 20 million tons of waste from the construction industry are sent to landfills each year. The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and several other universities, with funding from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, hopes to address these and related issues and help guide that country’s housing production toward increased sustainability. Finally, just this month at Canada’s McGill University, researchers held a webinar to address the problem of information silos related to housing and the circular economy, and to find ways to more efficiently share data and methods.

Housing faces real problems in affordability and availability. Increasingly, the housing sector is recognizing that adopting the precepts of a circular economy is a way of holistically addressing these issues.

 

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

Dr. John A. Kilpatrick is an economist specializing in real estate investment and housing issues.  He is Managing Director of Greenfield Advisors, based in Seattle, and also serves as a Director of the Washington State Economic Development Finance Authority. Is an author or contributing author of 10 books, most recently Real Estate Valuation and Strategy (McGraw Hill, 2020).

 

Photo by Marcus Lenk on Unsplash

Why Meeting Efficiency Should be Your Goal for 2022

This week’s article is provided by Darren Chait, the Founder and COO of Hugo. It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled How Collaboration Is Changing and Modern Team Dynamics that aired on Tuesday, November 23rd.

 

Meeting culture and company culture are tightly related—in fact how a company meets is a good indicator of the company culture as a whole. Effective meetings are indicators of effective companies, and an indicator of the respect that employees have for one another. Fortunately, there are many straightforward practices to improve meeting effectiveness that lead to a dramatically better working environment.

Most companies won’t be as strict as Hugo, which sets a standard of no more than 10% of employees’ time in internal meetings, but it’s a good exercise to try. However, with years of experience in creating software that streamlines meetings—and what happens in between—Hugo can speak authoritatively on the kinds of practices that any organization can implement.

Meetings: Only when needed

The first rule of effective meetings is to call meetings only when needed, and only with the people who are needed. Synchronous meetings should be limited to the “Three Ds”: Debate, Decision-making, and Discussion. Status updates, reporting and other routine information sharing can be done in asynchronous channels, such as Slack, e-mail, Notion, Miro, and Google Docs. Likewise, quick check-ins and questions can be done through chat, voice messages, video recordings, like Loom, or even by simply picking up the phone.

While two years ago, this rule of thumb could be implemented quite strictly, since more people are working from home or remotely, using a strict system for meetings can end up neglecting some of the human interactions that people need to develop deeper trust within an organization. Technologies such as Teamflow can create an “in-office” environment for remote teams. Other companies have developed explicit practices such as virtual happy hours or regular check-ins in small groups or pairs. Especially with the level of stress many people are feeling due to the global situation or isolation at home, it’s important for managers to work in processes for ensuring that people are cared for. The companies with the highest retention rates and productivity are those where employees feel the company cares about them.

The right combination of synchronous and asynchronous methods will increase the efficiency across the organization. High-touch asynchronous methods such as video and voice recordings can help teams communicate effectively across time zones without losing the nuances of facial expressions and tone of voice.

Tracking to keep on track

Two common problems with meetings are the lack of structure and the lack of follow-up of action items. While people know that they “should” have an agenda, notes and action items, most companies do not have any specific procedures in place for making sure that happens.

Hugo formalizes and operationalizes the agenda, note-taking, follow-up and action-item assignment for meetings, while at the same time retaining flexibility. Most companies will use multiple types of meeting templates.

Daily stand-ups, retros, strategy meetings and one-on-ones have different structures. In fact, in interviews with managers we found that they often mix it up when it comes to one-on-ones with their team members, alternating between the manager setting the agenda and the employee setting the agenda. With group meetings, it makes sense to give everyone the opportunity to list agenda items or even comment on other people’s agenda items. With a transparent structure for meeting planning, it may turn out that some of the agenda items get resolved among a subset of the meeting members, even before the meeting takes place.

Transparent by default

With the rapid shifts in technology and culture, modern companies have found that transparency leads to greater efficiency. By making information known throughout the organization, solutions to problems can come from anywhere in the organization.

Meetings are no exception—looking at someone’s calendar tells you a lot about what they are doing with their work day. Having transparency into the meeting agenda and notes gives people within the organization a quick view into what their colleagues are up to. While it’s not necessary for everyone to see everything throughout the organization, access to that information is part of the company culture and leads to employees taking a higher level of responsibility.

As managers move from status meetings to team meetings that highlight brainstorming and problem-solving, having visibility throughout the organization can create a richer environment for creative solutions and proactive solutions. This goes one step beyond asking team members to come up with solutions—it allows them to have a view of the entire organization and contribute across teams.

Meeting note transparency also provides rigor in terms of understanding how and why decisions were made. Needless to say, many decisions turn out to be incorrect, and having excellent meeting notes can allow people to go back and find out why they made that decision. Rather than relying on people’s memory, meeting summaries allow an honest review of the decision-making methodology and logic, helping the organization to avoid repeating the same mistakes or making the same types of incorrect assumptions.

The takeaways for more efficient meetings

Meetings will always be an important part of working together. These best practices  will boost meeting effectiveness and employee satisfaction, and contribute to a positive company culture:

  • Hold synchronous meetings only for the Three Ds: Debate, Decision-making and Discussion
  • Use asynchronous communications for updates, reporting and quick questions
  • Set up an agenda document prior to meetings, and allow all participants to review and contribute to the agenda
  • Utilize templates for each type of meetings for fast agenda-making, note-taking and follow up
  • Integrate meeting note-taking and action items with the existing project management tools in the organization
  • Use “open by default” documentation, allowing everyone at the organization to view meeting agendas, summaries and action items
  • Try creating an upper limit of 10-20% for internal meeting time

The most effective way to implement these types of changes is to use a meeting productivity hub such as Hugo. Whether you use automation or implement these changes through workarounds, you’ll see rapid changes in your company efficiency as you maximize the impact of your company meetings.

 

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

Darren Chait is the Co-founder and COO of Hugo.  Starting his career as a corporate lawyer in sunny Sydney, Australia he made the move to San Francisco to start Hugo with a longtime friend, following years of shared frustrations with unproductive meetings. Darren also writes for Quartz, The Next Web, Thrive Global and numerous blogs, has appeared on well-known podcasts and speaks at conferences around the world.

Moving the Needle for Your Organization

This week’s article is provided by Pete Martin, the Founder and CEO of AskMyBoard. It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled One Big Idea: Helping Leaders Focus and Grow Their Organization that aired on Tuesday, November 16th.

 

“I would be a terrible employee!”

This is precisely what I told the Vice Chairman of KPMG when I sold my consulting firm to them in 2014. To get to that point of a successful exit, I decided to focus on only one “big idea” per month. Without this level of focus, I would never have had that meeting. Let me explain.

We live in an age of distraction. We are bombarded with interruptions from co-workers, email, inbound calls, the crisis of the day, not to mention personal obligations. So as a leader, how do you focus on what really matters – those activities that move the needle in your organization and make a measurable difference.

Our recommendation is to focus on one, and only one, “big idea” per month.

Leaders of growing companies are pulled in a thousand different directions from “fire-fighting” activities to those strategic tasks you never seem to get around to working on. And if you are struggling to focus on the right set of priorities, how can your team members understand what is truly important in growing the business?

There are countless books written about time management, so that’s not the focus here. Nor is getting into detail about how to decide what your focus should be. But we do suggest you develop enough of a strategic execution plan that you can objectively choose the most critical levers to drive your growth, then ensure that you are spending at least some time on it every day. Many well-meaning advisors promote “growth strategies,” which is well and good, but what you focus on every day – the actual execution – is what matters the most. A good strategy without effective implementation is a map to nowhere.

In our work at AskMyBoard as a strategic advisory firm, we work with business owners that struggle with “what to work on next.” As an outside observer, it is often is easier for us to see through the fog of daily priorities of our clients to identify the handful of activities that will propel the business forward faster.

As I mentioned at the top of this article, I was the CEO of a professional services company I sold to KPMG for 12 times EBIDTA – and no earn-out. What enabled me to accomplish this was the realization that I was too involved in the day-to-day running of the business, especially in client acquisition. It wasn’t until I made extracting myself my single focus did the company start to grow and flourish.

My “big idea” that I worked on for six months was unshackling the constraints to scaling by implementing streamlined and consistent processes that didn’t have me at the center of them. I identified all areas where we didn’t have a documented process or where I was too deeply involved. I committed to spending some time every day to “fix” these constraints.

I can tell you that it was both a blow to my ego and a huge relief that when I took myself out of selling every client, the business grew faster. When I sold my business to KPMG, the deal almost fell apart because it was the first and only time that KPMG acquired a firm where the CEO didn’t go with the deal. When we discussed that the entire selling process, organization, and operations didn’t involve me personally and that if I went with the sale, “I’d be a terrible employee,” we were able to close the deal – without me as part of it.

Our firm helps business owners improve all eight drivers of company value, but we tend to spend the most time focusing on the top three; team, cash flow, and customer acquisition. We have developed a few “big ideas” that move the needle across each of these drivers, and we encourage our business leaders to spend time every day focused on at least one of them.

For example, finding and retaining great employees is increasingly difficult, so we have been helping companies refine their approaches to recruiting, hiring, and retaining a fully engaged workforce – even if those team members are part-timers or freelancers.

One big idea that is paying off for our clients is to approach recruiting employees as strategically as finding new customers. Very few companies have identified the specific values that best align with the company’s culture. Most companies will either copy and paste a job description from the internet, list the dozens of skills and credentials that the candidate must have, or create a bland and generic description of the role that wouldn’t excite anyone to join your company.

Get this right by developing an ‘ideal employee avatar.’  Analyze the personal values of your best employees and create a position description that focuses first on the “why” someone should join your company and then the set of values that someone should have to be a successful team member. By doing this, you’ll most likely attract a bigger pool of candidates and, most importantly, one that will align with your company culture. The best example of this and the most effective recruiting ad I’ve seen in a long time is from Amazon. Check it out here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZIQXEqveCY.

I understand that very few companies can afford to offer what Amazon does in this commercial, but I think it is one of the most spot-on recruiting ads in terms of speaking to the needs and desires of a potential employee. Hire first for values aligned with your culture, then core competencies, then any skills truly needed to succeed in the role. If your recruiting is as focused on how your company and the specific role meet the needs and desires of a potential employee as effectively as the commercial, you will attract a pool of qualified candidates.

In summary, what you do matters and sends clear signals to the rest of the organization about what is important. So pick the right things to work on each day.

 

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

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

About the Author

Pete Martin is the Founder and CEO of AskMyBoard, a company focused on helping business owners unleash their business’s highest potential value to grow faster and more profitably to put you in a position to exit at the highest price or confidently detach from the business. As a serial entrepreneur, Pete has started, scaled, and successfully exited four previous companies, including his last to KPMG for 12 times EBIDTA and no earn-out.

 

Photo by Kurt Liebhaeuser on Unsplash

Honesty is a Muscle You have to Work At to Be Good At

This week’s article is provided by Ron Carucci, is co-founder and managing partner at Navalent. It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled To Be Honest: Lead with the Power of Truth, Justice and Purpose that aired on Tuesday, November 9th. The following article has been adapted from Ron’s book  To Be Honest: Lead with the Power of Truth, Justice & Purpose.

 

Of all my findings, the revelation that honesty is more than a character trait or moral principle was the most important. It’s more than an aspiration; it’s a capability. To be good at it, you have to work at it. And that begins with believing you can be better at it than you currently are.

To be sure, leading this kind of life and team takes work. It demands practice. Embodying truth, justice, and purpose requires real competence. These aren’t just ethical qualities you either have or don’t. My research revealed that honesty is a muscle, and like any muscle, to make it strong you have to work on it. Regularly. When an athlete leaves the gym or a patient leaves physical therapy, they feel sore but satisfied. Becoming good at honesty is no different. When you declare that you and your organization wish to serve a worthy purpose, you have to eliminate the distractions and contradictions that keep you from doing so. This process takes insight, ongoing feedback, and creativity. It takes grit to deflect the naysayers and courage to remove the obstacles.

When you set out to create a more just organization, you will be tampering with deeply embedded institutional biases that, likely unknowingly, have privileged some people over others. You have to be willing to interrogate your processes of accountability—what you measure, how you acknowledge contributions, how you create opportunities for others to advance and shine, and how you talk with those you lead about their contributions—to make sure everyone has the same chances of being successful, no matter who they are. That may require disappointing some people who’ve benefited from the biases in the old system and helping them recognize the need to create accountability that is based on dignity and justice for all. It means being vulnerable with those you lead and building sufficient trust with them, as only then will you be in a position to hold them to account for commitments they make and talk openly about when they fall short. And you have to model what it means to acknowledge your own shortfalls and improve.

There are plenty of platitudes I could offer about why being more honest and just is “good for you,” though you’ve undoubtedly heard those since kindergarten. But I deeply believe that understanding the conditions under which we, and our organizations, encourage dishonesty and injustice can bring greater levels of contribution and satisfaction, and ultimately meaning. I want you to discover, painful though it might be, the ways your organization unknowingly encourages employees to withhold or distort the truth or act unjustly, and how to fix the conditions that create this behavior. From there, you will be much more empowered to make different choices. And, as you will see, choosing truth, justice and purpose can make you and your organization healthier, higher-performing and significantly more competitive, and ultimately, more joyful.

In the end, my hope is that To Be Honest will help you live a more honest life—one in which you tell the truth, act with justice toward others, and live your purpose with deep satisfaction and impact. I have no intention of defining your moral compass or value system; that’s yours to do. But I want you to feel proud of the people and organizations you lead, knowing that you’ve created the conditions in which people will choose honesty. That way, when you return home at night, you’ll be able to look your loved ones in the eye and know you are exactly the person they believe you are.

What you will find on the pages of To Be Honest is the roadmap for doing just that.

 

Read my new book To Be Honest: Lead with the Power of Truth, Justice & Purpose and download our free How Honest is my Team? assessment here

 

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

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

 

About the Author

Ron Carucci is co-founder and managing partner at Navalent, working with CEOs and executives pursuing transformational change for their organizations, leaders, and industries. He has a thirty-year track record helping executives tackle challenges of strategy, organization and leadership.  From start-ups to Fortune 10’s, non-profits to heads-of-state, turn-arounds to new markets and strategies, overhauling leadership and culture to re-designing for growth.  He has helped organizations articulate strategies that lead to accelerated growth, and design organizations that can execute those strategies. He has worked in more than 25 countries on 4 continents.  He is the author of 9 books, including the recent Amazon #1 Rising to Power and the forthcoming To Be Honest, Lead with the Power of Truth, Justice & Purpose. He is a popular contributor to the Harvard Business Review, where Navalent’s work on leadership was named one of 2016’s management ideas that mattered most. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes, and a two-time TEDx speaker. His work’s been featured in Fortune, CEO Magazine, Inc., BusinessInsider, MSNBC, Business Week, Inc., Fast Company, Smart Business, and thoughtleaders.