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Use Purpose to Help Your People Perform Their Best

This week’s article is by Nell Derick Debevoise, Founder and CEO of Inspiring Capital, a certified B Corp that offers purposeful leadership development content and programming to accelerate the movement of business as a force for good.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Going First: Courage to Lead Purposefully and Inspire Action that aired on Tuesday, January 4th, 2022.

 

The way we work is broken. Workplace trends show that employees are resigning in greater volume than ever, jobs are being created at a slower rate than any of the prior 7 months, and employee wellbeing is flatlining at best. The seeds of employee distrust were planted well before Covid-19 and now they become a problem that no employer can ignore.

Employees used to spend years or entire careers at one company with blind loyalty to the corporate mission. Today employees are looking to belong to a greater purpose and aren’t afraid to jump from job to job until they find one that resonates.

Creating a People-First Workplace

Not only the way we work has changed, but also the work to be done. Technology and globalization mean that employees are doing the work that only people can do, like collaborating, innovating, and empathizing. Employees can only perform these higher-level tasks when they are operating with healthy minds, bodies and spirits.

Gone are the days where employees can be treated as cogs in a wheel, incentivized to produce as much output as possible. Trends in the business landscape met with the simultaneous crises of the 2020’s have shifted power from employers to employees. Employees demand a meaningful work experience. They want to know why they’re doing what they’re being asked to do.

How can companies bring back the magic that makes employees care about their work? Connect them to the purpose of what they’re doing. It is one of the greatest human joys to achieve something larger than ourselves, working in a team towards a common goal.

Living – and working – purposefully means connecting your choices and behavior to something important in the world that you want to achieve. Purpose provides a reason to get you out of bed every morning beyond your own wellbeing or wealth. Companies need to focus on providing purpose as much as other benefits.

Celebrate Purpose in Your Organization

It’s time to throw a party, but this is a different type of party. Free beer and kombucha and promises of Summer Fridays are table stakes. Now employers must empower people to be fulfilled, by guiding them to recognize why the work matters to them as individuals, and the impact it has on people and planet around them.

It’s time to throw a purpose party. According to Marc Spencer, CEO of Summer Search, “A life of purpose is a life of joy! When you understand how your life has meaning, it brings joy, clarity, awareness of aspirations.” A purpose party is the first step to getting below the surface with your employees. It doesn’t take months of planning or a catering budget. It only takes conversations that go deeper than the day-to-day activities of your business.

Like most 2020s parties, set up a zoom link and start a new type of conversation. Choose your favorite party chat opener, like “Can I ask you a weird question?” or “This might sound random, but bear with me.”

And then dive in. Try this, “My best days are when…” Or “I am excited to come to work on Mondays because…”. Ask employees to answer those same questions. Listen, and ask more. It might be awkward at first, but creating the space for these conversations is the first step.

While throwing a purpose party scratches the surface of conversation, it’s important to make this a recurring event. Continue these conversations and questions in other meetings as openers or part of a weekly check-in. It only takes a few catalysts engaging in these types of conversations to help grow the movement. Encourage your party guests to host their own purpose parties with other colleagues around the firm.

It doesn’t take long for positive things to catch fire. As Lorie Yañez, Head of DEI at MassMutual, commented, “We’re at a tipping point. With 50% of leaders at advanced levels of cultural competence, those of us championing an inclusive approach don’t feel alone anymore.” By making purpose a topic of conversation in your immediate circle, you can reach that tipping point.

Start these conversations and watch the benefits accrue. Purpose is the most powerful, and most authentic, motivator out there. Sandi Kronic, CEO at Happy Dirt, says “When I’m in my purpose, it doesn’t even feel like I’m doing anything for anyone else!”

Bring Purpose to your Workplace Today

A purpose party doesn’t need to be a big event. Bringing intentional conversation to your workplace can start with one-on-one conversations or team meetings. Make time to discuss why you do what you do to help everyone remember what brought them each to this work. Engaging employees on their purpose will help them contribute to outcomes that are only achievable when everyone comes together. And that is motivating!

 

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

Nell Derick Debevoise is a thought partner to purpose-driven leaders, as well as speaker, author, and Founder and CEO of Inspiring Capital. Debevoise’s guidance helps CEOs and CHROs expand their impact, grow their businesses, and build powerful legacies. She has lived and worked on 4 continents, and collaborated across sectors with Japanese executives, Palestinian community leaders, French high school students, and Mozambique education ministry officials among others. Debevoise also studied leadership, innovation, and intercultural dialog at Harvard, Cambridge, Universita di Roma, and Columbia and London Business Schools. In 2011, she moved to New York and founded Inspiring Capital, a certified B Corp that offers purposeful leadership development content and programming to accelerate the movement of business as a force for good. Debevoise is a Senior Contributor for Forbes, and her first book, Going First: Find the Courage to Lead Purposefully and Inspire Action (available early 2022) is an International Best Seller.

Photo by Arlington Research on Unsplash

Business Leaders: Don’t Be Afraid of Gen Z

This week’s article was originally published by AnneMarie Hayek (Evans) for Forbes Business Council on November 9, 2021.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled The Power and Promise of Generation Z Part 2 that aired on Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

 

The past few years have been some of the most turbulent in living memory. My consulting work with dozens of companies has shown me that, beyond economic and political uncertainty, many business leaders are also afraid of Gen Z. What’s behind this fear?

It turns out there are several factors. When business leaders look at Zs, they see a generation that isn’t afraid to publicly take powerful people to task, or boycott organizations for misappropriating words and cultures. They fear the change Zs around the world demand. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, they worry they’ll become Gen Z targets too.

Many of the business leaders I talk to are uncertain about how to interact with this volatile generation. This may be true for you, too. But to thrive in the world Zs are creating, you cannot be afraid of them. You must learn to engage with them on their terms, or you will be left behind.

The Myth Of “Cancel Culture”

It’s easy to read stories about Zs calling out powerful people and assume Zs are hellbent on creating “cancel culture.” However, that misses the point of what Zs are trying to do. Zs are focused on accountability, not canceling. Their goal is to get us to critically examine our culture and systems to find ways to improve them and make them more inclusive.

Through their devices and platforms like TikTok, Zs have had a front-row seat to the biggest issues facing our world since childhood. They witness the raw, gritty, diverse lived experiences of other Zs all over the world firsthand, every single day.

Because of this, they aren’t afraid to engage in difficult conversations among diverse perspectives. In my experience, Zs don’t self-select into echo chambers the way older generations tend to do online. They seek to engage broadly and are not shy about holding everyone (including each other) accountable.

Many organizations find this uncomfortable. If they want to succeed, though, companies must get used to it, because, unlike prior generations, Zs want to engage on a deep level. Zs view calling a company or an individual out as an invitation for a real, crucial discussion. They won’t settle for the trite, superficial sound bites prior generations often accepted. They know it can be uncomfortable, but they believe engaging in critical discourse is the only way to make things better for everyone.

The Upside To Engaging Zs

Gen Zs often feel dismissed because of their youth. But trivializing them is a mistake. Collectively, Gen Z is huge: They’ve surpassed Millennials in numbers. They’ve amplified their immense size with digital unity and an incredible ability to mobilize. And, despite having a median age of 17, Zs’ spending power is $143 billion.

Zs aren’t afraid to use their power to hold companies accountable. In 2019, for example, they called out Victoria’s Secret for failing to represent body and gender diversity. When then-CEO Leslie Wexner refused to make changes, the backlash affected Victoria’s Secret sales.

When companies get it right, though, the benefits are tremendous. Take Aerie, American Eagle’s underwear line: They are body-positive, featuring user-generated content of real customers with a range of bodies wearing their underwear. They are demonstrating the kind of inclusivity Zs value, and Zs have rewarded Aerie with 26 consecutive quarters of double-digit growth.

How To Engage With Zs

Understanding the importance of engaging with Zs is one thing. Knowing how to do that is something else entirely. Luckily, though, the process isn’t as difficult as it may seem.

First, give Zs meaningful representation in your company. Remember, they want a real seat at the table. Take the social platform company Triller, for example. It hired the successful 18-year-old social media creator Josh Richards as their Chief Strategy Officer. The team knew there was nobody better than a Z to help them compete with their main rival, TikTok. Their savvy move helped bring them exponential growth.

Second, engage your Z audience as co-creators. They’ve been creating on TikTok, YouTube, Minecraft and more since they were young, so they value unfettered creativity. It may feel strange at first, but giving up some control and letting them co-create your content will demonstrate how much you respect and value them and their input.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask Zs questions. Want to know how to use TikTok in a way that resonates with Zs? Ask them. Wondering how you can demonstrate your commitment to inclusivity without coming across as fake? Zs will tell you.

Working with an advisory board composed of Zs is an especially smart move, because it allows you to get their input on every decision you make. Engaging with Zs like this is a great way to avoid “tokenism” (the symbolic appearance of inclusion) and other similar missteps.

Embrace What Zs Have To Offer

There’s no question that Zs have a far different outlook than prior generations. However, once you realize Zs aren’t “cancel culture” zealots whose only goal in life is to tear our systems down, you can start engaging with them on a meaningful level.

Give them a seat at the table. Start involving them as co-creators with your brand and your products. And start asking them questions. Be willing to go below the surface and engage in deep, meaningful discourse with them. I promise you: Zs are not your enemy. There is no reason to fear them, and every reason to engage with and embrace them.

 

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

AnneMarie Hayek is a cultural consultant, generational expert, and social agitator who deeply understands society’s evolutions. She founded and leads two companies, Global Mosaic and ZSpeak, with a passion for navigating the cultural movements shaping our world. AnneMarie and her team of experts have advised the world’s largest companies, organizations, governments, and presidential candidates for more than twenty-five years. She has a graduate degree from the University of Chicago and previously served as SVP and VP of Global Strategy at BBDO and Leo Burnett.

Photo by Benjamin Ranger on Unsplash

3 Industries Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Over the Next Decade

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

 

Artificial intelligence as a field has existed in one form or another for centuries, but only in the past decade or so has it reached the critical point of going mainstream. No longer confined to science fiction, artificial intelligence (AI) is at work behind Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s search engine, and many other technologies we use every day.

These applications of AI, while exciting, are only the beginning. Over the next decade, we can expect AI to transform many industries, including these three: agriculture, manufacturing, and the military.

Now that the Pandora’s box of AI has been opened, there are very few fields that artificial intelligence won’t affect in the near future. We’ll never stop finding new ways to add intelligence to dumb processes or inanimate objects.

With this transformation comes the chance to invest in and adopt these new technologies, but to seize the opportunity, you’ll have to first understand what to expect from the shifting landscape of industries.

Industry #1: Agriculture

The first industry worth exploring in relation to the rise of artificial intelligence is agriculture. Historically the largest industry, agriculture has long been in the crosshairs of innovative technologies. From plowshares to cotton gins to factory farming and GMOs, each innovation seems to increase yield and decrease the number of people required to work in this grueling sector. The influence of AI is expected to be no different.

One way AI will reduce required labor is through monitoring of soil and crop conditions and targeted deployment of solutions. For example, John Deere announced the acquisition of a company that leverages machine-learning vision systems to automatically spray weed killer directly onto plants, reducing herbicide use by 90 percent.

Several other companies, such as ecoRobotix, are creating chemical-free, mechanical weed-pulling robots. Many of these robots are also capable of targeted insecticide deployment, helping stave off many of the unintended consequences of overspraying, such as bee colony collapse. And speaking of bees, there’s now a pollinating robot called BrambleBee. Furthermore, nearly 90 percent of crop losses are due to weather-related events, and the task of weather prediction is tailor-made for big data and machine learning.

Monitoring all the details of million-hectare farmlands is daunting work for humans yet perfect for machines, which is why you can expect to see a massive intersection between AI and agriculture in the coming decade.

Industry #2: Manufacturing

Next, let’s take a high-level look at how AI will impact manufacturing. Even in the early 1950s, automation was taking over manufacturing tasks in Henry Ford’s automobile factories. Our collective and persistent fear of automation goes back even further—just look at the Luddites of 1811, who famously destroyed high-tech cotton mills.

It’s true that automation, along with outsourcing, has contributed to a decrease in manufacturing jobs in first world nations. Still, over 8 percent of Americans earn a living in the manufacturing industry, which is over 11 percent of US GDP. Much of the technology needed to automate the remaining jobs currently exists: robotic arms, logistics machinery, quality control systems, and the like. So how will AI change things?

The introduction of AI into manufacturing takes automation to the next level by turning expensive specialty robots into general purpose cobots, or collaborative robots. Rather than huge, clunky welding robots, blind to the world and programmed for a narrow range of tasks, cobots can be taught many different tasks, retooling themselves automatically.

Cobots are also aware of their surroundings, capable of working side by side with humans on complex tasks. This allows cobots to slowly ease their way into a workspace and take over more work, limited only by an exponentially growing intelligence. Cobots may not be able to do all tasks, but they can do enough to bend that 8 percent of jobs down a few points while reducing waste, cost, and overhead.

Industry #3: Military

Lastly, artificial intelligence will undoubtedly transform the military. For the military, AI poses a siren song that’s too attractive to ignore: perfect knowledge of world events from governments to battlefields, paired with robots that bend the casualties on your side toward zero.

AI can better support troops by improving training systems and creating novel curricula for war games. It can provide smart weapons and better intelligence, along with the more pedestrian benefits of industry, like optimizing logistic challenges in the world’s most challenging situations, or helping troops with maintenance tasks.

Autonomous weapons are increasingly augmented with AI, such as smart-camera-controlled tactical missiles. Even if control ultimately remains in human hands, the myriad of complexities that would take humans years to learn can be partially automated, allowing operation from fewer specialist hands, like flying attack drones. Moreover, the ability to correctly detect targets can drastically reduce collateral damage and innocent deaths.

These are only a few straightforward examples and may not even scratch the surface of the many uses for AI in the military. At the very least, increasing automation may allow countries to shrink their military budgets in favor of more civilian expenditures.

The Time to Invest in AI is Now

I’ve only scratched the surface of how AI will transform agriculture, manufacturing, and the military, and as you can see, the potential uses for the technology are myriad. Artificial intelligence is already making an impact on our daily lives and most profitable industries, and its influence will continue to grow.

Even if you don’t work directly in tech, now is the time to get involved in the AI revolution. Historically, the people and companies that profit the most from emerging technologies are the ones who adapt and invest in them early. Moreover, these early adopters drive further adoption of the technologies, forcing everyone else to catch up.

You can get involved by learning more about how artificial intelligence will transform your industry, whether you work in agriculture, manufacturing, the military, or practically any other industry—AI is coming to disrupt them all. Prepare to be the first among your competitors to implement new AI solutions in your business, and like Amazon, Apple, and Google, you’ll position yourself to win.

 

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

 

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

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

 

About the Author

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

 

Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash

 

 

 

How Leadership Has the Power to Unite and Inspire

This week’s article was originally published by Maureen Metcalf for Forbes Coaches Council on February 12, 2021.  It is a companion to the interview with Janet Fouts on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Recognizing & Managing Triggers in Challenging Situations that aired on Tuesday, October 26th, 2021.

 

As leaders, we have the opportunity and responsibility to help our employees and organizations transcend personal differences and better align with our organization’s purpose. Leadership research out of Christopher Newport University suggests that political differences are a more significant sticking point, as only 28% say they are comfortable with a leader who holds opposing views, and only 34% would follow such a leader.

This data suggests that during a time of political division, organizations will struggle to accomplish their missions. Leaders need to help employees align with the organization’s purpose and values and transcend their differences.

I will use my organization as an example because we have colleagues with significantly different political views. We are working to find common ground that allows us to work together respectfully while honoring our differences as a path to providing greater value for our clients.

I imagine some people read this and think it sounds soft — that we need to tell people what to do and they will follow. I respect that the leader-follower relationship looks different for different leaders.

Here are some of the key leadership traits that can be tapped to inspire and unite those with different worldviews.

Be professionally humble: Care more about the organization’s success than your personal image.

As a professionally humble leader, I am committed to my organization’s purpose above all else. I have been revisiting my purpose as the CEO and asking myself if I am still committed to it. Next, am I living it? I work with an exceptional team, and they can tell when I am disingenuous with myself and with them. Next, I need to be clear about my values and the organization’s values and make sure we live them. I recently updated our purpose and values on our website. This exercise of publicly posting them creates accountability. I also asked my team to review and help revise them to know what they are and how they fit for us.

Unwavering commitment to right action: Be unstoppable and unflappable when on a mission.

Right action is an interesting phrase. Right, according to who? I believe our purpose and values help us determine what is right, but this is not enough. We need to engage with one another and have honest conversations — some are not easy.

We are also starting to talk about right today versus right to create the future we want to see. We are asking about the longer-term implications of our current actions. By looking through this lens, we can see where our focus is changing. We can be more disciplined in our choices and actions and eliminate some activities that require time and energy.

Be a 360-degree thinker: Take a systems view and see the interconnectedness of people and systems.

Like most organizations, we are facing changes in the work we deliver and how we work together. As we look at these changes, we evaluate the overall systems and how the changes will move us toward meeting our purpose and values or how they will move us away.

Be intellectually versatile: Commit to lifelong learning.

With the increased level of discord brought on by political polarization and the global pandemic, we are trying to understand our colleague’s perspectives. We also need to understand changing global trends. In some cases, we have worked together for decades and have not explored our colleague’s values. It is easy to focus on the work and not understand a valued colleague’s suffering because we don’t want to discuss taboo topics such as politics.

I suggest that we might want to seek to understand — to use the Steven Covey phrase. I am not suggesting we delve into political debates but instead ask the colleagues we value and respect probing questions with deep regard for their challenges, hopes and fears.

Be authentic and reflective: Focus on personal growth and emotional courage.

Reflection is one of the essential skills to allow people to grow and develop. This time in our history certainly requires the courage and skill to accept and support our colleagues who see the world differently. How many of us feel comfortable working with people who don’t share our worldview? Yet, if we are secure in our values and mission, we can generally find the strength to embrace people — even if we disagree with their beliefs.

Inspire followership: Connect with a broad range of people around a shared vision.

If people don’t follow us, we aren’t effective as leaders. If followers don’t want to follow leaders with different political beliefs, we need to find ways to inspire them. We must open ourselves up to challenging conversations to understand others and their diverse views. These conversations will require all of our emotional intelligence to build relationships that allow us to work together to meet our mission.

Be innately collaborative: Seek input from diverse points of view to create novel solutions.

This behavior is where we test our ability. If we have done each of the previous actions well, we can bring people together who see the world differently and feel safe to share different perspectives. We need to synthesize those differences to create new and better outcomes.

As leaders navigating the dynamics associated with an emotionally charged election and political unrest, we need to bring our teams together to meet our purpose and create stronger leader-follower relationships and teams.

 

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 rob walsh on Unsplash

Improve Employee Capabilities and Retention for No Cost

This week’s article is by Mark Herschberg, an author and instructor at MIT.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Essential Skills for Success No One Taught You that aired on Tuesday, October 19th, 2021.

 

There’s the old line:

Question: What if we train people and then they leave?

Answer: What if you don’t train them and they stay?

As we head into the new normal of a covid-norm world (post-covid doesn’t seem to be the right term because covid seems like it will be there to stay) what does it mean for our organization and the development of its members? Companies are already seeing higher than average turnover due to the great recession and expect to see it for another few quarters. Knowing a certain, higher than average percentage of your training dollars will walk out the door seems like a bad investment. Besides, HR and leadership are already stretched thin from re-opening offices, navigating the new normal, and dealing with a labor shortage; who has time to start a new program! But what if you could train for an insignificant amount of dollars and increase your retention at the same time?

Training traditionally is implemented with the “sage on the stage” model. Your employees are sent to listen to an expert. It means bringing the expert in or sending your team to some offsite training. Either way, it’s big dollars in direct costs, plus potentially additional travel time and costs. Today we can get that training virtually, but we know people tend to be less engaged watching a video for an hour.

Fortunately, there are existing models we can turn to. For decades, top business schools have used the case method. This is a form of active learning in which the class doesn’t simply listen but actively participates. It can involve case studies, discussion problem solving, reflection, or other techniques in which the members of the class don’t just listen but actively participate. It’s the technique we also use at MIT’s famed career success accelerator program.

A low-cost, easy to implement method is to implement learning pods at your organization. In business school students are broken into cohorts, groups of people with a mix of backgrounds. During a case study, each person contributes their thoughts based on their own knowledge and prior experience. The students learn in a stone soup manner, everyone contributes some insight to the discussion to create something much more valuable than anyone could have created on her own.

The cost of doing this is little to none. One method is to use a book. That’s basically the cost of a lunch per person, certainly not going to break your budget. You can also use free content, such as online articles, videos, blogs, or podcasts. What matters is that there is common content everyone reviews ahead of time. They can engage with content in 15-30 minutes and then have a discussion 45-60 minutes long. That’s a time cost of 60-90 minutes per cycle.

The groups can then meet, say twice a month to discuss the content. Much like with a business school cohort, it’s the class discussion itself that adds to real value. The content was just the nucleus around which the content is created.

There are several ways to structure this. The simplest is to create small groups, typically around 6-8 people, send them the content, and let them self-direct the conversations. So, with zero cost, and a couple of hours of planning overhead, you can create this training program at your organization.

If you want to go further, you can structure the groups in a number of ways based on seniority, department, or other factors. You can also be more proactive in guiding the discussion. For example, you can create discussion topics or questions for the groups to consider. You can ask groups to share their thoughts in an email thread, or on a company wiki so groups can share knowledge with each other. You can also do more advanced types of learning including bringing in speakers and workshops or running actual case studies. Organizations such as The Innovative Leadership Institute (ILI) have free resources that you can employ, such as the ILI’s six-year podcast library.  You can also organize people into larger groups, but that takes more active organization since you need to actively moderate discussions of more than a dozen people or so.  The Innovative Leadership Institute builds cohort groups based on the Position Success Indicator assessment to ensure learning partners are matched for optimal learning.

So far, we’ve created a no-cost development program. But it offers so much more. There are multiple, great secondary benefits from such a training program.

First, you increase employee engagement. Whether they’re on the brink of leaving or are currently happy in their roles, employees will feel more engaged with the company. It’s no longer just work for pay, but a company that cares about them and wants to train them up. This will only help with engagement and retention.

Second, it’s a chance for employees to build those important internal networks. If you create groups mixed across departments people will get to know co-workers, they might not otherwise come across. This helps to break down silos and increase cross-departmental communication.

Third, it creates a common language. If everyone has read Good to Great you can say “hedgehog”, and everyone knows what you’re referring to. Models, stories, analogies, and terminology now become part of the common language of the company, helping to improve how people communicate with each other.

This is not to say you shouldn’t do other types of training, but as HR resources are stretched actively recruiting, this is a low-cost, low-effort program to engage and improve your employees. You can create this on your own or use free online resources like The Career Toolkit Development Guide available at https://www.thecareertoolkitbook.com/resources.

 

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

From tracking criminals and terrorists on the dark web to creating marketplaces and new authentication systems, Mark Herschberg has spent his career launching and developing new ventures at startups and Fortune 500s and in academia. He helped to start the Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program, dubbed MIT’s “career success accelerator,” where he teaches annually. At MIT, he received a B.S. in physics, a B.S. in electrical engineering & computer science, and a M.Eng. in electrical engineering & computer science, focusing on cryptography. At Harvard Business School, Mark helped create a platform used to teach finance at prominent business schools. He also works with many nonprofits, including Techie Youth and Plant A Million Corals. He was one of the top-ranked ballroom dancers in the country and now lives in New York City, where he is known for his social gatherings, including his annual Halloween party, as well as his diverse cufflink collection.

Photo by Matthew Osborn on Unsplash

Are You Ready to Accelerate to Optimized Performance?

This week’s article is provided by Dr. JJ Walcutt, scientist, innovator and author, and Jason Armendariz.  It is a companion to JJ’s interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Building a Culture of Brain Health, Growth, and Effectiveness that aired on Tuesday, August 31st.

Here is a short clip from Maureen and JJ’s interview:

 

SEEKING PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT

Recent years have passed without the typical fanfare of annual celebrations of reflecting upon the sunsetting year and looking forward to the new year with goals, resolutions, and a vision of what a person wants to achieve in the new year.  Each new year enters with a renewed focus on challenges and building a road map to accomplish them.  For instance, if the goal is a new body weight, learning a new sport, or even setting the goal of running a marathon, one might expend resources on a training plan, gym membership, or a trainer to strengthen their bodies in preparation for their goal.  As common as these are, unfortunately, a lot of these lose steam, gym memberships go unutilized, and visions go unrealized.  And no one bats an eye.  It is a societal acceptable failure.

According to  US News report, Americans have spent more than $60B on trying to achieve this goal of losing weight.  Tom Van Riper points out in this 2012 article that the cost to train Olympic athletes can cost a range of $13K-$25K per year, monies that do not see a tangible financial return on investment.  Corporations, less focused on Olympic athletes, are focusing on the health and wellness of their employees paying for gym memberships or installing smaller health clubs in their offices.

Have you found yourself or your company seeking, similarly, how to gain the next competitive advantage? Like many, searching for an edge when it comes to reaching their physical goals hiring experts or coaches, has your business sought a workshop to hone and sharpen skills?  Have you found a gap in your knowledge or desired to gain momentum in an area that may not be your strength?  If so, you’re not alone.  However, there is an angle that most do not know about nor consider when it comes to self-improvement or improving individual performance. Training the entirety of the person – mind, body, and brain.

The skills that tomorrow’s workforce needs to thrive in uncertain, changing, and chaotic situations will not be met by the installation of a health club, but by a deliberate focus on training the most important organ in the body – the brain.

Meet the Accelerate program which combines the latest and emerging trends in cognitive psychological research, developed by Dr. JJ Walcutt.  Dr. Walcutt combines her experience from academia, industry, and the US Government to concentrate training for businesses, teams, and individuals to gain the most out of personalized training and accomplish a higher level of performance.

TRAINING

The foundation of this elite-level training centers around the findings of cognitive psychology.  Educating participants on the cognitive processes and how the brain system works to process information and understanding choices can drive toward optimal performance.  Working to understand resilience can enhance your ability to recover from stressful moment’s compartmentalize, and function with clarity. This can help productivity as well as work towards innovative solutions by enhancing your ability to clearly analyze the problems at hand. The current workforce faces challenges and deadlines which often force personnel to juggle multiple tasks.  Accelerate discusses agility and leads participants to improve their ability to switch efficiently and effectively between tasks.  These focal areas of training are unprecedented in today’s corporate training but will be key for those corporations, teams, and individuals who want to be ahead of the curve of tomorrow’s challenges.  In his book, A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink points out the importance of developing skills and the mind for skills in which the future will require a human in the loop.

Preparing an individual to be this human in the loop leverages the training that Dr. Walcutt has developed for the accelerate program.  Like the algorithms that suggest the next song on your chosen music platform, personalized learning will help corporations, teams, and individuals achieve greater success through optimized training.

INFORMATION MATTERS

Accelerate spends time honing the understanding of information processing as individuals and across teams.  As a foremost expert in cognitive load theory and unmatched experience in team dynamics from her time doing DoD research, Dr. Walcutt transfers the understanding of working memory to participants.  This allows program participants to learn how to harness the information, increase their ability to hold it, and be able to enhance the speed and accuracy of applying that information.  Having pertinent information at hand may then translate to the ability to process information more rapidly and allow teams to exponentially collaborate on issues.

Part of any corporate success is the ability to get ahead of competitors.  The same may be true of individuals looking for that promotion, edge, or gain that will put them in the driver’s seat for their career.  Getting ahead means being able to make sense of information, connect the dots, and ultimately make decisions that will be impactful for the future.  Dr. Walcutt’s design of Accelerate will allow participants to learn how to best anticipate, assess, and then act to make key decisions efficiently to achieve desired outcomes.

WHY ACCELERATE?

Most organizations, whether corporate, military, private, or even academia have goals that translate across domains.  Accelerate is the one program that delivers elite-level training that deliberately addresses these.  80% of leaders feel they are “time poor” and wanting more hours in the day to accomplish duties and tasks.  Accelerate will demonstrate methods that will allow a reduction in time to do tasks, improving efficiency.  Once time is mastered, the next logical step is to then master the ability to work through multiple tasks and learn specifically how to switch more effectively between skills and settings.  Finally, quality is the concern across all domains.  Through Accelerate, increase your quality of output, learning to accomplish more tasks at a higher level.  Increase the number of good decisions of your corporations, teams, and individuals.

Many Americans spend countless hours exercising the body.  Accelerate wants to know – do you exercise your mind?

 

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 Authors

Dr. J.J. Walcutt is a scientist, innovator, and learning engineer that specializes in strategic development and reform across education, military, and government. Her current work focuses on optimizing human cognition and performance across a wide spectrum of learning programs that promote optimization. Dr. Walcutt has served in the U.S. Government as a Director of Innovation for distributed learning optimization and as a Human Innovation Fellow. In her role at the Pentagon, she also served as a U.S. Delegate to NATO, Partnership for Peace, and as a national and international keynote speaker. Dr. Walcutt has over 20 years of experience in research and development for training, education, and human optimization.

Jason Armendariz is a cognitive scientist with a lifelong learner attitude and a true passion for training, education, and leadership.  Jason started his path in learning as a high school educator prior to joining the military.  During his time in the military, he rose to serve as a trainer in tactics, communications, and leadership.  He has experience in research and development efforts to improve cognitive skills, learning, team dynamics and human performance. Jason has studied cognitive science, human systems interaction, and adult education and strives to build the capability of others to succeed by integrating research into programs and plans to improve learning.

Photo by Fakurian Design on Unsplash

 

 

 

Leverage Change: If You Want to Transform Your Organization, Start by Changing Your Own Paradigms

This week’s article is provided by Jake Jacobs. President of Jake Jacobs Consulting and author of Leverage Change, 8 Ways to Achieve Faster, Easier, Better Results.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Leverage Change: Achieve Faster, Easier, Better Results that aired on Tuesday, August 24th.

 

Transforming organizations takes years, is hard work, and often leads to disappointing results.  This is common wisdom.  It’s been proven time and again.  It goes with the territory.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Most approaches to organization transformation are littered with flawed paradigms.  Paradigms that inherently lead to these efforts falling short of the mark.  Want different results?  See the world in new ways.

Uncommon wisdom makes it possible to achieve faster, easier, better results with any transformation effort, in any organization, made by anyone.  The approach we’re describing is chockfull of new paradigms, fresh perspectives on problems that have plagued organizations for years.

Welcome to the world of Leverage Change.

Leverage Change

Leverage Change1 is a flexible approach to applying eight ways for individuals, teams and organizations to transform faster, easier, and better than you believe possible.  You can use it to turbocharge a change method you’re already using or as the foundation for one you’re developing.  It applies equally well to simple efforts involving a few people to complex ones engaging tens of thousands.  Benefit from it as you launch a transformation effort and reap rewards if your work is already underway.  Be the “go to” person when it comes to change, advancing your career and organization alike.

Adopt the paradigm of leverage and accomplish more with fewer hassles, headaches and problems.  Archimedes, a third century B.C. Greek mathematician described the power of leverage when he said, “Give me a lever long enough, and a fulcrum on which to place it, and single-handed I shall move the world.”  You can move your worlds in the arena of transformation by changing your paradigms about how it happens.  Leverage Change is your guide map along this journey.

Leverage Change is comprised of eight levers, or smart, strategic actions, that yield profound results.  Each addresses a common problem that prevents transformation efforts from succeeding (see Table 1.)  While there are eight powerful ways available in creating effective transformations, we are going to focus on one that addresses a frequent frustration of leaders:  change taking too long.

Organizations pay a steep price for slow transformation efforts, even when they can eventually claim victory from their work.  While you are toiling away, competition is winning new markets, commercializing leading-edge technologies, making valuable process improvements, and creating cultures that lead to advantages in the recruitment and retention of top talent.

 

Living in a Leverage Change World

How can you reduce the time it takes to transform an organization from years to months?  Embrace a new paradigm, the lever noted above of Thinking and Acting as if the Future Were Now!  Instead of seeing the future as something “out there” that will occur at a later point in time, choose to live it today.  Here.  Now.  When you and your entire organization make this shift, transformation occurs rapidly, even in some cases instantaneously.

Your old paradigm told you that transforming culture takes years.  Plenty of experts will tell you the same.  Don’t buy it.  Your new culture will take years to create because you believe it will.  If you want a more participative culture, think and act as if this close collaboration already exists.  This paradigm shift immediately changes the game.  In this new reality, who should be in the room for your next meeting?  What criteria should you be using to make decisions today?  How much power should different stakeholders hold right now?  Stop talking about the future.  Start living it.

Then encourage others to join you in this journey.  Create an organization that subscribes to this new paradigm.  Benefits of effective change work accrue to the bold.  Colleagues previously reticent to jump aboard the transformation train see and hear change occurring all around them.  Their belief that this time it’s for real increases significantly.  As they begin thinking and acting as if the future were now, their colleagues’ faith in the future being real creates a virtuous cycle of ongoing transformation.  At the same time, you’ll be collecting financial, quality, customer satisfaction and other “winnings” sooner…and being able to reinvest them, further stoking the engine of your transformation efforts.

A Transformation Challenge

You have a new strategy where sales people partner in new ways with each other in the field.  It’s smart, strategic and sure to give you a leg up on the competition.  If you implement it before they make their next competitive move.  But how do you get that job done well?  And done now?

5 Steps to Transforming Your Organization

How does the lever Think and Act as if the Future Were Now! accelerate implementation of your new strategy?  I outline how to do this, providing answers to the above implementation effort as examples.  Pick your own transformation work – for yourself, your team or your organization – and respond to each of the steps for your own benefit.

Step 1:  Describe the essential elements of the preferred future you aspire to create.

A rapid response implementation where we gain substantial market share through the new partnership roles for sales people across the company.

Step 2:  If you were already living in this preferred future, how would you be thinking and what actions would you be taking right now?

  • Commissions are shared with the whole team
  • All team members are performing all sales functions
  • Customers are pleased with the comprehensive service they receive
  • Marketing and sales personnel are working seamlessly together

Step 3:  Recruit and request the help you need from a support and accountability partner to live into this new future now.

Our sales team has a “wants and offers” negotiation session with the marketing department.

Step 4:  Invite others to join you in Thinking and Acting as if the Future Were Now!

The entire sales organization is cross-trained on critical tasks; finance takes the lead in new commission structure.

Step 5:  Assess the impact.  What can you see, hear and feel that is different from applying this lever?

We gauge success by tracking market share and customer satisfaction scores against historical trends.

Paradigms help us make sense of our organizations.  They can also get in the way.  Change your paradigms.  Transform your organization.

 

1Jacobs, Robert Jake, Leverage Change, 2021, Berrett-Koehler, Oakland

 

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

 

Jake Jacobs is President of Jake Jacobs Consulting, a global consulting firm focused on helping clients achieve faster, easier, better results than they ever imagined possible.

 

The Ecosystem Decision-Making Radar

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

An observation I did when activating entrepreneurial ecosystems

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

A tool I developed to support leaders to navigate their complexity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

A simple rundown of how to read and build a model

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

 

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

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

 

My coachee’s outcomes and next steps

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

He learned:

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

Further reading:

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

 

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

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

 

About the Author and the Contributor

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

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

 

Photo by Jens Lelie on Unsplash

 

 

We Must Get Workers Ready for the Post-pandemic Economy

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

About the Author

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

 

Most Searched for Leader’s Quotes in the World

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

The UK’s Most Searched for Leaders

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

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

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

His quote on courage can relate to us all:

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

 

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

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

 

The USA’s Most Searched for Leaders

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

Methodology

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

About the Author

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

 

Photo by Taton Moïse on Unsplash