Navigating Change

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This blog is provided by United States Navy Rear Admiral Deborah Haven, Retired.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Leading Through Change: A Military Perspective that aired on Tuesday, December 1st, 2020.


Here are my observations and takeaways from my experience navigating change in a wide variety of global logistics organizations supporting the US Military and our allies. Much of my experience has been leading change which ranged from crisis response establishing and maintaining a logistics hub to support the Haiti citizens from their devastating earthquake to contingency operations mobilizing Naval Reservists in support of expeditionary logistics missions in Iraq and Kuwait to operating system upgrade implementing a SAP system which replaced a legacy system.   These experiences shaped my approach to leading change in a dynamic environment and provide the foundation for the following article.

How a leader handles change will determine the team’s future.  A leader’s attitude toward change will be a key to success. I learned early on that I could spend energy resisting change, or I could embrace the change to keep moving forward.   A leader must look at change in a positive and realistic light. The leader needs to be the steady rudder to keep everyone on course.  This will require the leader to keep their “resiliency tank” full at all times to stay tough during the challenges ahead.  Figure out how to keep your “resiliency tank” full, whether it is meditating, exercising, or playing chess.  Your strength will be needed so a resiliency routine will have to be a priority.  Encourage your team members to establish a resiliency routine too.

The leader’s job is to clearly articulate the WHY …and repeat the message …over and over.  This gives time for the team to catch up.  In most cases, the leader has had time to absorb the new information before the idea is introduced to the entire team. When the change is introduced to the team, the team needs time to grasp and embrace the new idea. The leader is going 100 miles an hour down the highway with the new idea and team is just getting to the highway on ramp.  As the leader, you may need to slowdown so your team can speed up.  I did not say stop. Once the team absorbs the idea, understands the mission, and is empowered to execute, it will accelerate and exceed expectations. One key point is knowing that not everyone engages the change in the same manner.  Some individuals struggle with the new idea and may feel threaten by what they see taking place.  The employee’s role may change.  He or she may go from expert to novice in the new arrangement.  Resulting in an unsettling emotional reaction.  And will usually get better over time for most individuals. This is something to be aware of during the process. A leader needs to watch out for those struggling and engage through listening and understanding the challenges the workforce is undergoing.  Sometimes an empathetic ear from the leader can be the tonic to pull the team member through the rough waters of change.  Also, some individuals just take longer to adjust to the new environment, but others soar to the future state.

I have also noticed that the technique that makes teams more successful in new unknown areas is to create an open dialogue about the challenges and work through them collaboratively with the stakeholders. Easily said, not always so easy to do but rewarding in the end.  Continual communication about the compelling need for the change is a must do and must be repeated often.

Some best practices when dealing with change:

  • Set trust as the foundation for all relationships.
  • Identify the key stakeholders and communicate the compelling reason for the change …the WHY.
  • Uncover the blind spots as quick as possible through listening and learning.
  • Create collaborative teams to develop solutions for the blind spots identified.
  • Build coalitions that do not exist and shore up ones that need to be reinforced.
  • Stay strong throughout by listening and understanding the barriers or challenges anchoring others.
  • Be agile. Do not get defensive when new information is received, and adjustments must be made.
  • Establish a routine and regular check-in, set goals, and follow up on progress using accountability metrics.

Have a bias for action…keep moving forward.

The takeaway here is that during a significant period of change is when the leader really earns his or her money.  They need to be authentically enthusiastic and fully engaged to ensure the team members are making the transition.  This can be exhausting work but extremely rewarding.


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

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


About the Author

United States Navy Rear Admiral Deborah Haven, Retired, has been a successful leader in a wide variety of global logistics organizations, both civilian and military for over 30 years.  She is particularly skilled at introducing change in large organizations.  She has a keen ability to understand the landscape, identify barriers and develop an actionable plan to improve organizational effectiveness.  Deborah is a graduate of the Naval War College, holds an MBA from the LaSalle University in Philadelphia, and a BS from the University of Maryland, College Park. She is an executive coach, independent consultant, and a member of the board of directors for the Flag and General Officer Network.

Capitalism Needs a Rethink – Evolving Toward a Stronger and More Equitable Future?

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This blog is provided by Ty Montague, co-founder & CEO of co:collective, a creative and strategic transformation partner for purpose-led businesses.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled StoryDoers: Leaders and Organizations with Clearly Defined Higher Purposes that aired on Tuesday, November 17th, 2020.


It is fair to say we live in a world described as volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA). In James Stoller’s recent book, he indicates, “One way to define the “action of our time” is to ensure high performance under pressure in a VUCA world. People do not have to adapt to VUCA, though as W. Edwards Deming cautioned, “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory. VUCA rewards excellence and is harsh on mediocrity.” As we consider excellence in corporate performance, we must rethink how we define the corporation’s foundational role. Many corporate titans call for just this change to how we think about the corporation’s role in the national and global ecosystem.

To inform this conversation, let’s start with some history. On September 13th, 1970, Milton Friedman published what would become known as the Friedman Doctrine — a seminal essay on a corporation’s purpose.  The full essay is worth a read; the central thesis can be boiled down to a few sentences:

“Some businessmen (sic) believe that they are defending free enterprise when they disclaim that business is not concerned “merely” with profit but also with promoting desirable “social” ends; that business has a “social conscience” and takes its responsibilities seriously for providing employment eliminating discrimination, avoiding pollution and whatever else might be the catchwords of the contemporary reformers. They are — or would be if they or anyone else took them seriously– preaching pure unadulterated socialism. Businessmen who talk this way are the unwitting puppets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades”.

In my view, the world is a worse place today because of it. Why? Well, to say that Freidman’s Doctrine made an impression on the business world would be an understatement.  It was a frying pan to the head of the day’s conventional capitalist philosophy — let’s call it humanist capitalism — which held that enlightened business leaders needed to consider the needs of a broader set of stakeholders, not just shareholders.  This form of capitalism essentially created the bountiful economic environment in America between the end of WWII and 1970 and created the middle class.  Thwak!  With a single essay, Milton Friedman killed humanist capitalism as dead as a doornail. That thwak resounded broadly — it echoed through the hallways of America’s elite business schools and whanged around inside the boardrooms of our largest corporations. Looking around at the world today, many of the most challenging problems we face in America are a direct result of Friedman’s idea — let’s call it predatory capitalism.

Over the next several decades, many corporate leaders, following Friedman’s directive that the sole purpose of a corporation is to maximize profits for its shareholders, hacked away at internal costs by paying the lowest possible wages, providing less training, less PTO, less maternity leave and less healthcare protection. They fought unions. They held the minimum wage at sub-poverty levels. Simultaneously they found ways to artificially lower the cost of their products by externalizing as much cost as possible, for example, by dumping the by-products of their manufacturing processes into the public common (our air and our water) and then refusing to take any financial or legal responsibility for cleaning up the mess.

The truly predatory behavior happened at the regulatory level where corporations began to relentlessly lobby to lower the corporate tax rate (resulting in, for instance, public schools today that can’t afford critical supplies) and to continuously weaken environmental protections (resulting in, for example, the existential threat of our time, climate change).  But the real damage occurred when they succeeded in changing the laws around political contributions to maximize their ability to press their giant fingers on the scale of democracy and tip the entire system permanently in their favor. This effort culminated recently in the landmark Supreme Court decision, Citizens United,  which formalizes corporations’ recognition as people.  As full “citizens,” with all of the rights (but few of the responsibilities) that come with citizenship, companies can now contribute unlimited amounts of money to political contests, which, under the decision, is defined as corporate “free speech.” So, their voice in the political process is now exponentially louder than yours or mine.

So when we look around today at the ominous condition of America today — an unprecedented and growing gap between the haves and the have-nots, a devastated middle class, record rates of depression and drug abuse, an environment teetering on the edge of systemic collapse as evidenced by the rapid extinction of species, out of control wildfires, hurricanes and flooding events at record levels, et al,– in many respects, we have Milton Friedman to thank.

Now let’s shift to the optimistic view! And by the way, I’m also a capitalist. I believe that capitalism can solve these problems, and I think we already see some positive signs.  But we have to quickly evolve away from this extreme, predatory form of capitalism that enriches a handful of us to absurd levels.

We urgently need to re-discover the form of capitalism that created the most remarkable economic expansion the world has ever seen. The structure where all corporations, as well as all citizens, pay their fair share of taxes.  The capitalist system where corporations are corporations, not citizens, and don’t have an infinitely amplified voice in our political process. The structure of capitalism, where skill, creativity, and ambition are rewarded by upward mobility but not by savagely standing on our neighbors and fellow citizens’ necks. The structure of capitalism that values cultural and social diversity, where we remember that America was founded to be a melting pot and that this diversity makes us more resilient, not less.  The structure of capitalism incentivizes both short and long-term thinking about our planetary life support system — the natural environment. And let’s one-up the capitalism of the 1940s, ‘50s, and ’60s and pay attention to social justice, equity and inclusion while we’re at it.

Nice dream?

Maybe. But over the past ten years, we started to see some green shoots in this space. More and more companies are waking up because they have a broader responsibility than only enriching their shareholders directly.  We see innovations like the B Corp, and its stricter cousin, the “Benefit Corporation.”  We see the Conscious Capitalism movement take hold. We see powerful capitalists like Larry Fink, the CEO of Blackrock, taking up the cause — in his closely followed ‘annual letter to CEO’s’ in 2018, he stated that Blackrock (the world’s largest investment fund manager) would no longer invest in companies that are unable to articulate a higher social or environmental purpose. The Business Roundtable, comprised of the CEO’s of 200 of the largest corporations in the world, recently published an open letter proclaiming the exact opposite of the Friedman Doctrine, that the purpose of a corporation must not be solely to create profit for shareholders, but must also be to create value for a wide variety of stakeholders., These capitalist chieftains are not saying this exclusively to salve their souls. After all, they are capitalists, and they are saying this because they sense something new happening. A new generation of consumers won’t do business with companies that operate in the antiquated, predatory, Friedmanesque model.  “Woke” millennial consumers aren’t accepting it. Their POV on predatory capitalist enterprises of today?  “Change or die.  We’ll take either.”

So, the writing is on the wall. Capitalism and capitalists must evolve once again (as we always have and always should!).  If you run a company today, rather than resist this, my request is to get on the right side of history.  Get to work defining your higher purpose.  And then put it to work driving positive innovation and permanent change in your company, your community, and in the world. Your children and their children will thank you (by buying your products, for starters).


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

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


About the Authors

Ty Montague co-founder & CEO of co:collective, a creative and strategic transformation partner for purpose-led businesses. Co: works with leadership teams to define their higher purpose and to bring that purpose to life through innovation in the customer experience. They call this process StoryDoing.  Ty published a book about StoryDoing in 2013 called True Story, and since that time the co: team has been fortunate to work with some of the most inspiring and progressive organizations and leaders, including Google, YouTube, LinkedIn, IBM, MetLife, Microsoft, the ACLU, Infiniti, Capital One, and Under Armour. He previously served as Co-President & Chief Creative Officer of J Walter Thompson North America and Creative Director of Wieden and Kennedy New York.

Maureen Metcalf, CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute, is a renowned executive advisor, coach, consultant, author and speaker.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Nimbly Moving Through the Next Inflection Point

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This blog is provided by Lisa Gable, CEO of FARE, Food Allergy Research Education.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Managing Inflection Points that aired on August 11th, 2020.


Having worked through many times of significant global change, most notably the bust and 9/11, I quickly learned the importance of being agile in my professional and personal life. I had to “zig and zag” while maintaining a positive outward face in business, while building a home environment based on readiness and resilience.

For those of us who are not experiencing our first inflection point (aka the Covid-19 crisis), we have the advantage of a lifetime of managing and surviving stressful situations.  By your early 50s, there is a higher likelihood that you will have suffered a few life altering events and have managed through booms, busts, and heartbreaks.

I’ve seen probably more than my fair share of inflection points in history, including with my time at the Reagan Defense Department during the final days of the Cold War. And, when I joined FARE back in 2018, I inadvertently created an inflection point for the organization.  My remit was to restructure the organization and drive philanthropic and industry investment to help fund new therapies and diagnostics.

If Covid-19 is the first time you are confronting an inflection point, don’t worry – there is time to more fully develop very specific resilience and coping skills. In the meantime, here is some advice for budding and senior managers during this crisis and others that will inevitably follow:

  • Offer mentorship and coaching and consider what you can do to help alleviate the unique stressors of Covid-19.
  • Work to balance the needs of business against people’s fears. Be human and approachable. Share your own story in a manner that is comfortable for you so that you can take part in open dialogue.
  • Encourage co-workers not to hide their challenges, but to share them. Challenges may that remain tucked away can negatively impact the ability of peers to meet their goals, including thriving personally through the inflection point. Awareness of a unique situation become points of information for creating systems and tools.
  • Foster a culture of collaboration which transparently recognizes barriers and encourages teammates to work together to build a path forward which works for the team.
  • Realize that everyone will hit a mental wall at some point – even you. Even the strongest employee will eventually become overwhelmed. Be prepared for the moment and provide a safe environment for the individual to take a mental health break for a few hours, the afternoon, or a day.
  • Take your vacation and encourage others to schedule theirs, also. Burn out is real and renewal is required to meet the uncertainty that is still to come.

The point about inflection points is – you just don’t know when they will arise. They just happen. To everyone. So, to be prepared means you are a better prepared manager, colleague, friend, and parent.


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

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

About the Author

Lisa Gable is CEO of FARE, Food Allergy Research Education, the largest private funder of food allergy research advocating on behalf of the 32 million Americans living with potentially life-threatening food allergies. Lisa passion, expertise, and fearless workstyle have propelled her to achieve the titles of CEO, US Ambassador, UN Delegate, Chairman of the Board, and advisor to Presidents, Governors, and CEOs of Fortune 500 and CPG Companies worldwide.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

How to be Innovative – Ask Inciting Questions

This guest blog was written as a companion to the VoiceAmerica Interview with Tamara Kleinberg, founder of LaunchStreet on August 1, Translate Success Today To Success Tomorrow Using Innovation. In the interview and the blog, Tamara explores the art and science of innovation – how to create a culture and mindset of innovation.

How to be innovative is found in the questions not the answers. But we have to pick our questions wisely. If we ask the same questions in the same way and even of the same people, it’s no surprise that we get the same answers. And those answers are the usually the incremental ones. Or, maybe it’s slightly better but not enough to make an impact.

If you want more breakthrough thinking, you’ve got to change from usual questions to inciting questions.

What’s the difference? Well, usual questions are the questions you always ask. Yes, they sound smart, even right. But, most likely you’ve been asking the same questions for a while. Or, maybe it’s the same questions everyone in your category is asking. Or, maybe it’s the question that leads you down the same path to the obvious answer. Usual questions become almost a matter of habit at every brainstorm. Here’s the challenge. Yes, those are questions you want answered. But, given their customary nature, you’re not going to get to those innovative ideas you need. You know this because you see it over and over again. Unlike, inciting questions. To incite is to stir, to encourage to stimulate, to prompt.

Inciting questions take you down new paths to those provocative answers you were looking for.

I found that there are two ways to tackle inciting questions. One is to ask questions that shake up your assumptions. Questions like:

  • What would happen if we didn’t solve that challenge?
  • What would it look if we did the opposite of what we usually do?

Or, before we go into solution mode, let’s work backward.

  • What’s the problem that caused the problem?

It’s funny, that last one gets people all stirred up because we want to quickly move into solution mode and assume the first problem we identify is the one we should be solving. I think our clients will tell you that when we start digging in, we find that the first challenge we are solving is not always the right one if we want to get to lasting change and results.

So the second way to ask inciting questions is to challenge the big assumptions in your category.

It’s really challenging the assumptions about how things should be done in your world. Here are a few of my favorite examples from organizations you know and some I think you’ll be excited to get to know. Why do cars have to be either fuel efficient or sexy? Tesla – sustainable and sexy cars. Why do razors need to be on store shelves at the grocery store? Dollar Shave Club – subscription razor service. Who says you have to go to the grocery store for your food? Instacart – grocery delivery. Why do libraries have to be a warehouse of books? Anythink Libraries – the lowest funded library district in Colorado and the outdated come check a book model and turned them into a beacon of discovering their communities and is elevating the entire library world with their innovations.

What are the big hairy assumptions in your world? What would happen if you flip those assumptions on their head and turn them into inciting questions? By the way, if you want to know if your questions are just interesting vs. inciting look for the response from other people. If they look shocked or like you just committed heresy then you are asking the questions that are going to get you to those provocative answers. So, go ask some inciting questions that make people go… what?!!

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.

Growth Strategy Made Simple Through Innovation

Innovation This blog is written as a companion to an “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” interview between Maureen Metcalf and Urko Wood: Innovation: How to Make It a Predictable Business Process airing on June 7, 2016 and available for download on June 8.

Many leaders struggle with how to drive revenue growth. And yet we know, from study after study, that the key to successful growth is having a clear understanding of customers’ unmet needs. Even technology-driven companies, if they are going to be successful long-term, must understand and satisfy their customers’ needs. So a simple and reliable growth strategy is to discover your customers’ unmet needs and address them. Why, then, is this so hard? Why do so few companies do this successfully?

The number one reason why companies don’t successfully execute this simple growth strategy is because there is widespread confusion about what a customer need really is. Many people mistakenly believe that customers have “latent unarticulated needs, needs they cannot articulate.” This is simply false when we understand what a customer need really is.

Theodore Levitt said “People don’t want to buy a ¼ inch drill; they want a ¼ inch hole!” This quote reveals the difference between a need and a solution. The “drill” is just a solution, not a need. The solution could be a pick, a punch, a laser, or some yet-to-be-invented tool, but none of these are customer needs. True customer needs are functional, emotional, and/or social tasks that people want to accomplish and they are totally independent of solutions (how needs get met).  The task of “making a ¼ inch hole” is the true customer need. This thinking can be applied to any industry. For example,

  • P&G understands that “people don’t want to buy a mop; they want to clean the floor.” This enabled them to create Swiffer, a billion-dollar new product category.
  • Nike understands that “people don’t want to buy athletic shoes and apparel; they want to become better athletes, and feel like one.” This has enabled them to grow at greater than 10% even while sales are now over $30 billion.
  • And people don’t want to buy your products and services, or mine. They want to get something done, have an experience, and feel or be perceived a certain way. These are their true needs and all of them are totally independent from the solutions that address them.

One key reason why market research has fallen into disrepute in some circles is because researchers mistakenly asked customers what the best solution would be. This is like a doctor asking his patients what the treatment plan should be. Obviously, most people don’t have the expertise to generate solution ideas. That’s the supplier’s responsibility. But, delightfully, customers can tell us what they want to get done, what experience they want, and how they want to feel or be perceived. They also can tell us very where in the process of executing the task they struggle given their current solution. Discovering this information is the basis of your customer “diagnosis” which will provide you with a target to focus your creativity and solution expertise. It’s hard to hit a bull’s eye if you don’t have a clear view of the target.

Additionally, once the customers’ needs have been discovered, we can determine which are important and unsatisfied with statistical validity. A need that is both important and unsatisfied is unmet. The more important and less satisfied, the more unmet it is and the greater the opportunity for value creation. This is great news because it means leaders can create new offerings in a predictable and repeatable manner that will be both valued by customers and unique in the marketplace. How do we know it will be both valued and unique?

Because, if your solution addresses an important need, then we know that customers will value it. And if your solution addresses an unsatisfied need, then we know that your offering will be unique because no other competitor is satisfying it.

Most companies don’t lack creativity, they lack focus. They don’t lack ideas; they have plenty of ideas. What they lack is clarity about where the market is underserved. It’s hard to differentiate, create new value and grow if you don’t know where the market opportunities lie. Start by discovering what your customers are trying to get done, where they struggle, and why. These types of customer inputs provide rich targets that reveal where to focus and what to do to create new value and drive revenue growth, all before you spend a dime on development. This is revenue growth made predictable, repeatable, and simple.

To learn more, contact me at or visit our website:

About the Author

Urko Wood is founder and president of Reveal Growth Consultants, an innovation and growth strategy consulting firm that reveals ways to drive growth, guaranteed, and then helps clients do it. Some of his clients have included Battelle Memorial, Cintas, General Motors, Herman Miller, Ingersoll Rand, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, and NetJets as well as smaller businesses and associations. In his free time, he enjoys friends, family, and good conversation over food.

Five Core Factors that Drive Innovation Success

Innovation Today’s post was co-authored by Maureen Metcalf and Kara Rising, new member of the Metcalf & Associates coaching team. Innovation is a key differentiator for a business to thrive in this time of dramatic change. Are you experimenting with new behaviors and ideas to keep your company and skills up to date or are depreciating as a leader? Julie Anixter, the executive director of Innovation Excellence shares her insight on how she defines innovation and what steps are needed to be a successful innovating leader and company and not fall behind the times or lose value with Maureen Metcalf during a Voice America interview.

Innovation is a popular buzzword today and it’s not surprising given how important it is to a thriving business. Many professionals and leaders see innovation as a four letter word with the lens that only the truly unique and talented are able to be innovators. However, innovation is just creating something new that adds value. The truth is that as humans we are innately creative and are innovating without knowing it or labeling it as such. It is in our blood, it can be learned, it can be taught and as Julie points out it “is our birthright”. There is only one way that innovation should be intimidating and that is if you believe you are unable to learn. Innovation is more than just a word that leaders throw around, it is creativity, it is problem solving, it is curiosity and critical thinking. The people who created Uber, a multibillion dollar company currently disrupting the whole transportation business, looked around at the current taxi system and said “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could track, call and pay for a taxi all on our iPhones?” They saw the world with a critical lens to identify a need and created something from that. That’s innovation.
The question from this is, “How willing are you to try new things and keep making them work?”

  1. Failure will happen with innovation but as Thomas Edison said “I didn’t succeed, I failed a thousand times”. Look at innovation through the mind of a scientist – we are then able to celebrate not only our successes but also our failures. Each failure brings data with it that can be absorbed into the process to bring us that much closer to solving the problem. Today’s businesses don’t view failure as something to be celebrated, only because they don’t always have the time or budget to keep experimenting with things that don’t work.
  2. Well-structured data and analytics programs are critical. By gathering correct data from users and the market we can easily and more accurately predict what is more likely to be successful.
  3. Innovation demands a different mindset, one that is away from perfectionism. Google Glass is a perfect example of an idea that was experimented with but ultimately did not succeed, and it is because Google is willing to value innovation and try despite failure that makes it such an innovative and successful company.
  4. Organizational Leadership is the most important factor that dictates the success or failure of innovation. They are so inherently intertwined that neither can be successful without the other.
  5. Board support is also critical to promote a successful innovative company, they make a structural commitment to support innovation, promote diversity, expect solid data gathering, and ensure they retain innovative leaders.

Julie points out that there are many models for innovation that are being used in today’s climate, but one in particular that stands out is from Steve Coley, called H1, H2, H3 all standing for Horizon 1, Horizon 2 and Horizon 3. Each of these horizons represents a facet of your business that must be focused on to achieve growth in business. H1 being your core business, H2 being adjacencies (what opportunities do you have access to), and H3 being disrupting the field. The business that focuses exclusively on H1 and does nothing with the other horizons will not succeed, and it is those companies we see falling off the Fortune 500 list today.

For innovation to thrive in a workplace, the leader must value innovation enough to allow a space to be created for workers to be able to feel the freedom to create and express those ideas in a safe place. This requires a leader to be healthy physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. If an employee feels that their colleagues or leader will not value their input or will dismiss their ideas or creates a fear of failure climate, innovation will not survive and will be squelched. Leaders also have to enable a climate that can tolerate risk because innovation is inherently risky. Judith Blazer in Conversational Intelligence, talks about how when we have the ability to co-create, co-discover and collaborate we enable the release of the hormone oxytocin, the bonding hormone, and creates in us the confidence and good feeling to continue. However when we are flooded with cortisol, the stress hormone, innovation and creativity die.

Diversity is important because it allows us to enter the real world and leave the safety of our boxes to get a new viewpoint of the problem as well as new solutions. This means choosing projects that are uncomfortable and out of your skill set to create the neuro-pathways to build innovation. Julie brings up a good exercise titled “Borrowing Brilliance”. Think of your favorite innovator, Disney, Google, Virgin, Amazon… how would they run your company?

Innovation is a necessity in our fast paced global world, to make it work we must have several elements present: a strong diverse team, an inspirational vision, clear goals to reach those visions, time dedicated to accomplishing goals, financial and human resources, stimulus to innovate, political buffers to provide a safe environment for innovation, good integrators between the data and the innovators, and solid analytics. How does your business stack up? How are you innovating not only in business but also in your personal life? What have you learned from Julie today that you can apply to take your innovation to the next level?

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: Dean Meyers

Marrying Global Leadership and Innovation

Global cc BarryThe following post is an excerpt from the recently released Innovative Leadership Workbook for Global Leaders by Maureen Metcalf, Steve Terrell Ed.D., and Ben Mitchell.

Leadership needs innovation the way innovation demands leadership, and by marrying the two, you can improve your capacity for growth and improved effectiveness. Let’s explore innovating leadership in a more tangible way by defining it in practical terms: What does innovating leadership really mean?

It is important to first understand each topic beyond its more conventional meaning. For example, most definitions of leadership alone are almost exclusively fashioned around emulating certain kinds of behaviors: leader X did “this” to achieve success, and leader Y did “that” to enhance organizational performance.

Even if initially useful, such approaches are still, essentially, formulas for imitating leadership, and are likely ineffectual over the long term. Innovating leadership cannot be applied as a monolithic theory, or as a simple prescriptive measure. It occurs through your own intellect and stems from your own unique sensibilities.

In order to enhance this unique awareness process, you will need a greater foundational basis from which to explore both topics, which means talking about them in an entirely different context.

Let’s start with a straightforward definition of global leadership:

Global leadership is a process of influencing people strategically and tactically, affecting change in intentions, actions, culture, and systems within a global context.

Leadership influences individual intentions and organizational cultural norms by inspiring purpose and creating alignment. It equally influences an individual’s actions and an organization’s efficiencies through tactical decisions.

Innovation, as an extension of leadership, refers to the novel ways in which we advance that influence personally, behaviorally, culturally, and systematically throughout the organization.

Innovation is a novel advancement that shapes organizations: personally, behaviorally, culturally, and systematically.

In addition to linking the relationship of leadership to innovation, notice that we’re also revealing them as an essential part of our individual experience. Just as with leadership and innovation, the way you uniquely experience and influence the world is defined through a mutual interplay of personal, behavioral, cultural, and systematic events. These same core dimensions that ground leadership and innovation also provide a context and mirror for your total experience in any given moment or on any given occasion.

Optimally, then, leadership is influencing through an explicit balancing of those core dimensions. Innovation naturally follows as a creative advancement of this basic alignment. In our experience, leadership and innovation are innately connected and share a deep commonality.

Therefore, marrying leadership with innovation allows you to ground and articulate both in a way that creates a context for dynamic personal development—and dynamic personal development is required to lead innovative transformative change.

Innovating global leadership means global leaders influence by equally engaging their personal intention and action with the organization’s culture and systems.

Though we are defining innovative global leadership very broadly, we are also making a distinct point: The core aspects that comprise your experience—whether it be intention, action, cultural, or systematic—are inextricably interconnected. If you affect one, you affect them all.

Innovative global leadership is based on the recognition that those four dimensions exist simultaneously in all experiences, and already influence every interactive experience we have. So if, for example, you implement a strategy to realign an organization’s value system over the next five years, you will also affect personal motivations (intentions), behavioral outcomes and organizational culture. Influencing one aspect—in this case, functional systems—affects the other aspects, since all four dimensions mutually shape each other. To deny the mutual interplay of any one of the four dimensions misses the full picture. You can only innovate leadership by comprehensively addressing all aspects.

To summarize, leadership innovation is the process of improving leadership that allows already successful leaders to raise the bar on their performance and the performance of their organizations.

An innovative leader is defined as someone who consistently delivers results using:

  • Strategic leadership that inspires individual intentions and goals and organizational vision and culture;
  • Tactical leadership that influences an individual’s actions and the organization’s systems and processes; and,
  • Holistic leadership that aligns all core dimensions: individual intention and action, along with organizational culture and systems.

To learn more about global leadership purchase the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Global Leaders.

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.

By Maureen Metcalf   photo credit: Barry creative commons license