Jim Grote, Founder of Donatos Pizza and Founder of the J.E. Grote Company speaks in TechColumbus Leadership Series.


Delivering the Future: Amazon’s Innovation Culture


Maureen Metcalf, CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute, shared this article as a companion to her podcast with Amazon executives David Carbon, Vice President and General Manager of Amazon Prime Air, John Love, VP of Amazon Pharmacy & Pillpack, Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist who is a medical analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. He also serves as a senior principal scientist with Amazon, affiliate professor with the University of Washington‘s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, attending physician at Virginia Mason Medical Center, and lead officer of the Critical Care Air Transport Team for the United States Air Force Medical Service Reserves, based at Joint Base Lewis–McChord, and Tye Brady, Chief Technologist at Amazon Robotics discuss how the e-commerce giant delivers the future through its highly successful innovation culture, Delivering the Future: Amazon’s Innovation Culture.

In our podcast episode “Delivering the Future: Amazon’s Innovation Culture,” four Amazon executives discuss how the company fosters a culture of innovation to deliver new products and services to customers. The guests revealed how Amazon innovates to deliver a better customer experience, care for their employees, increase sustainability, and help our communities.


Listen to the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future via Apple PodcastsTuneIn, Spotify, Amazon Music, AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

The discussion uncovered several common traits. Each leader is highly successful, passionate about their work, and kind. Kindness was the most surprising trait. In an era when many organizations struggle with civility, these leaders genuinely care about their customers, people, the environment, and their communities. They are committed to significant innovation and making the world a better place.

These four executives revealed insights into Amazon’s innovation process, which is based on five fundamental principles:

  1. Start with the customer. Amazon always begins by identifying customer needs and pain points. This customer-centric approach ensures that all new products and services are designed to meet customers’ real needs.
  2. Use purpose-driven design to solve real-world problems, prioritizing user needs and business goals.
  3. Put people at the center of the robotics and AI universe. Leverage AI and robotics to solve problems and, at the same time, create a safe, engaging, sustainable environment for people to thrive and grow.
  4. Be willing to experiment. Amazon is not afraid to experiment and take risks. The company encourages employees to develop new ideas and test them quickly. This willingness to experiment has led to some of Amazon’s most successful innovations, such as Amazon Prime and Alexa.
  5. Move fast. Amazon is known for its fast-paced work environment. The company encourages employees to make decisions quickly and to move forward with new ideas. This rapid pace of innovation keeps Amazon ahead of the competition.

Example of Innovation Putting People First

In the podcast, John Love and Dr. Vin Gupta share how Amazon developed its new prescription delivery service. Their team starts the innovation process by asking four key questions:

  1. Is this a large customer problem? An opportunity?
  2. Are customers already well-served by current offerings in the marketplace?
  3. Do we have a compelling or differentiated idea?
  4. Does it create convenient access and delivery?

By answering these questions, the Amazon Pharmacy team developed a new service that addresses the most significant pain points for customers who need to fill prescriptions. As a result, it delivers a superior customer experience. Beyond speedy delivery, Amazon Pharmacy leverages AI to estimate co-pays, check fill accuracy, and administer many data transaction processes. Imagine leaving the doctor’s office, and by the time you drive home, a drone has dropped your prescription at your house or apartment — no waiting in the pharmacy line with a sick child or while you feel ill.

Innovation success is further enhanced because different divisions work together in an interdepartmental ecosystem. Amazon Pharmacy, for example, partners with Amazon Air’s new drone service to deliver prescriptions within 30 minutes of being ordered. The drone program is being piloted in College Station, Texas, and will soon expand.

Imagine hundreds of drones carrying packages up to the size of a shoe box, swooping into an apartment complex or house’s front yard, dropping a package from 10 feet (high enough that people can’t interfere with the drone), then flying back to the fulfillment site to pick up the next package. This drone program will create an entire aviation infrastructure to load and fly the drones and a control system akin to an air traffic control system. The partnership between Pharmacy and Prime Air creates this solution for today’s long waits in prescription filling and delivery.

Leadership Suggestions

Here are four Amazon practices you can implement in your innovation process:

  • Put the customer first. Everything you do should be focused on meeting the needs of your customers. This means listening to your customers, understanding their pain points, and designing products and services that solve their problems.
  • Encourage experimentation. Create an environment where employees feel comfortable coming up with new ideas and taking risks. Give employees the resources they need to test out their ideas, even if they seem crazy at first.
  • Leverage AI. Understand the opportunities AI creates in your organization and leverage it while putting people at the center of the operations.
  • Move fast. Don’t get bogged down in bureaucracy or endless meetings. Make decisions quickly and encourage your employees to do the same. This will allow you to stay ahead of the competition and bring new products and services to market faster. As David Carbon says, “Perfect becomes the enemy of good enough.”


Amazon’s culture of innovation has helped the company to become one of the most successful businesses in the world. By following the fundamental principles outlined in this article, you can create a culture of innovation in your organization and deliver new products and services that your customers will love.



David Carbon is VP of Prime Air. Before that, he was VP of Operations for Boeing’s 787 program – with earlier work on the 747; he started with Boeing/Hawker de Havilland in Australia. He also spearheaded projects at Ford Motor Company.

John Love is VP of both Amazon Pharmacy and PillPack by Amazon Pharmacy. Before those, his 16-year Amazon career also saw him serve as VP of Alexa Shopping, as well as supporting many other business lines. He’s responsible for helping customers discover equitable, affordable, high-quality medical care and prescription access.

Dr. Vin Gupta is the Chief Medical Officer for Amazon Pharmacy. He remains a practicing pulmonologist and is an affiliate faculty member at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation and Evans School. He serves as a major in the USAF Medical Reserve Corps and is a medical analyst for NBC News.

Tye Brady is the Chief Technologist of Amazon Robotics, Fulfilment Information Technology. He has over 30 years of hands-on experience in team leadership, technical management, and system design. Before Amazon Robotics, Tye spent 15 years with Draper Laboratory. He’s a founding partner of MassRobotics, a not-for-profit that serves as a world-class platform for robotic innovation.


Thank you for reading Innovative Leadership Insights, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.


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Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotify, Amazon Music, AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

Organizations Have Personality Types: How Do You Fit?

Belinda Gore EnneagramThis guest blog was written as a companion to the podcast with Belinda Gore,  Building Leadership Self-Awareness Using Personality Type. In the interview and the blog, Belinda explores how she uses the Enneagram to help leaders build the self-awareness that enables them to perform effectively. 

As a reminder from a prior post, when the 65-member Advisory Council for the Stanford Graduate School of Business was polled several years ago on the topic of what is most important to include in the school’s curriculum, there was overwhelming agreement that the most important thing business school graduates needed to learn was self-awareness and the resulting ability to reduce denial in their perceptions of themselves and their actions. Pretty impressive. This speaks to the emerging recognition that we highlight in Innovative Leadership: leaders can derail the most progressive initiatives toward an organization’s sustainable success through their personality quirks and biases.

In my experience using the Enneagram system as a psychologist and a leadership coach over the past twenty-three years, I find the Enneagram to be more robust than any other system I have encountered. Many organizations are familiar with DISC, MBTI, Social Styles, and other systems, and training in these models has given employees at every level of the organization a foundation in models for self-awareness. I have found leaders at every level able to learn the rich and versatile information the Enneagram offers readily.

Just as leaders have “personalities,” so do organizations. This is just another way to think about the organizational culture, the mission or role the organization seeks to fulfill, the favored strategies for accomplishing goals, the behaviors that are rewarded and those that are not, and the subtle hiring filters that tend to screen out people who do not fit. The senior leaders of the organization may or may not reflect the culture. It is immensely valuable for leaders to determine their organization’s personality type to harness the natural strengths of that pattern and avoid the embedded tendencies that create problems. Leaders are likely to have a strong influence on the development of organizational culture, but without clear awareness, they may not realize how the leader and the group are aligned and how they sometimes work in opposition.

For example, a mid-size utility company instituted leadership development training based on the Enneagram. In assessing several hundred people within the company, it became clear that the organization has a Type Six culture of loyalty. The Type Six pattern is reflected in the company’s mission to provide reliable and affordable gas and electric energy to their customers and to promote safety for their employees in power plants and distribution. Loyalty is highly valued within the company; many employees have worked there for twenty years or more. Attention is paid to identifying potential problems and working out solutions before they occur; when there is a power outage due to weather conditions, there is an expectation that the entire workforce will be available to provide support until the situation is resolved. In some Enneagram training groups of individual contributors, up to 50% of the employees determined for themselves—using an assessment tool along with classroom training and guided group discussion—to have a Type Six personality. Among mid-level managers, that percentage drops to around 35%, and in the top group of senior leaders, less than 10% assess themselves as having a Type Six personality pattern.

This is not unusual. Why? Because leaders in the C-suites, those who have risen to the top leadership levels, are not equally distributed around the Enneagram circle but tend to cluster in another sub-grouping.

As a leader, you must understand your type to build awareness of your predispositions. It is also important to understand the organization’s type to understand better how you fit within it. Understanding your type will lead you to the following questions:

  1. Is your style a natural fit with that of the majority?
  2. What gifts do you bring because of your similarities?
  3. What blind spots exist if too many people share the same personality type?
  4. If you have a different type, how do your predispositions fill gaps?
  5. How do you manage your similarities and differences to fit and fill gaps?

By answering these questions, you will have a clearer sense of how you, as a leader, may best contribute and some of the inherent struggles if you have a different type than the majority that comprises the culture. While being part of the minority allows you to fill gaps, you may also find yourself excluded or struggling to communicate effectively. Through self-awareness and skillful interactions, you will be able to navigate any organization’s predispositions.

About the Author
Belinda Gore, PhD focuses on designing, developing, and delivering leadership, assessments, workshops, and coaching. She is a key thought leader in developing the Innovative Leadership framework. She is a psychologist, executive coach, and experienced seminar leader skilled in supporting her clients in high-level learning. With 30 years’ experience in leadership development and interpersonal skills training, she is known for helping teams discover strength in their diversity to achieve their mutual goals, and works with individual leaders to access their natural talents to maximize effectiveness and personal satisfaction. Her clients have included senior leadership in global companies, senior and middle management in corporate and nonprofit organizations, and entrepreneurs. She will lead our new service line, which is focused on helping leaders and their organizations build resilience and offering leadership team development, board development, coaching, and Enneagram assessment.

Level Five “Strategist” Leadership for Complex Adaptive Groups

Level 5 Strategist Leadership for Complex Adaptive CollectivesThis blog is a companion to the interview with Terri O’Fallon. What is A Level 5 / Teal Organization? Terri O’Fallon, PhD, wrote this post.

The world is a complex place. We are connected and interconnected in ways from which we can no longer retreat with the Internet, and the contemporary ways make us visible to every pair of eyes that look our way. So, how do we lead in this interconnected atmosphere that is changing so quickly? When we are continually connected to the internet, how can we know that any fact in the sea of information we swim in daily is true?

In today’s climate, much truth can come from within you, the leader, by knowing how to engage with the complex, adaptable contexts we live in daily.

Four strategies support building working environments and systems that can improve a leader’s effectiveness and efficiency as a leader in a complex adaptive team or organization. These four strategies come out of the research from the STAGES developmental model, which was derived by integrating developmental approaches related to 1. our individual beliefs and values, 2. our individual action orientation, 3. the norms and culture of the team or organization and 4. the structural and systemic elements. Using these strategies will not only help leaders achieve their goals but will make work a pleasure.

  1. Support the developmental growth of the people in your organization.

We grow and develop all our lives. However, growth isn’t like climbing stairs to the top. Developmental maturity is more like blowing up a balloon. As a result, one grows and matures in wisdom, intelligence, compassion, relationships, and skills, one breath at a time. Becoming familiar with these well-documented stages of growth is an important window into the worldviews and beliefs of individuals and how those views shape your organization. Promoting developmental change and understanding how transformation occurs can shatter a hidden glass ceiling that could stunt the growth of people in your organization who are constrained by current organizational limitations.

  1. Embed goals in ethical principles that you will not sidestep.

Goals are useful targets, but they do not inherently have virtuous results. Part of success is adapting to any goal or target as new landscapes come into view. Adapting goals quickly to changing conditions can inhibit unintentional negative side effects to keep them alive and operable without adapting. Developing a set of principles that guide your adaptations can keep your revisions within ethical boundaries and enhance the results you want to achieve in the world. For example, if your principle is transparency, you would know immediately if you were hesitant to be forthright about an alteration of a process in action, and upon examination, you might discover unconscious underlying reasons for your hesitation in being transparent. Whatever the principles are, they can mold and shape goals and dictate how they are reached as they adapt to changing contexts. By deciding up front a set of principles you will not go outside of, you can quickly make decisions about any variations in your aims and be less apt to cause unintentional harm to others, society, and the bottom line.

  1. Experiment with small changes and then try them on yourself.

A strategist (level five) leader can stand back and see the systems s/he is working with and the organizational environment. This kind of leader can evaluate the weak links in the system and strengthen those places, often in collaboration with others. If the adaptation works, you will see positive change in those who work in the organization, and one way you can know that your change is appropriate is if it grows you and others. You can experience this by stepping back into the system you have adapted and noticing how you experience the change as it applies to you personally and, through that lens, how it applies to others.

  1. Work with individual and collective shadow issues.

This is one of the most challenging parts of being a strategist (level five) leader, as tested by STAGES. At strategist (level five), people are willing to take personal risks in updating their perceptions and behaviors and in addressing organizational inconsistencies. The obvious one at this level is seeing your projections (getting frustrated by others who have qualities you don’t recognize or acknowledge in yourself). You will know if you are projecting if you catch yourself judging someone or assuming something about someone, and after you reflect at the end of the day on these judgments and assumptions, you may begin to see patterns of behavior in yourself that bother you in others. It helps to write them down and provides a tool to evaluate what you judge in others and yourself.

The truth is that we can’t judge what is in others unless we also have that experience somewhere inside ourselves. For example, when driving and someone cuts you off, you may find yourself extremely angry. If you can see your projection, you might ask yourself, “Have I ever cut someone off in traffic?” Projecting our judgments is common, and we are usually unaware that we also own the same qualities we find annoying in others.

Identifying projections is very important because, in organizations, we may find fault with others for things we are doing. By identifying the projection, we can address our disruptive behavior and change our relationship with others. After we have addressed our behavior, we can invite others to do the same.

This approach helps you as a leader find both the challenging and positive capacities in yourself that you don’t see and helps you see how much you are like others you judge or criticize. This understanding alone can help resolve tense situations that inevitably arise.

These projections permeate most groups or organizations (collectives) . There will frequently be times when there are self-righteous and indignant accusations among people working together, between departments, and between organizations. Over time, unconscious collective agreements become organizational habits that can inhibit creativity and honesty and lead to ineffectiveness. Collective examination and identification of these unconscious and often limiting habits can improve effectiveness and benefit the whole organization and, potentially, innovation.

These projections are like putting a rubber band around a tree and then around your waist. You can stretch that rubber band only so far, and it will eventually halt or slow progress—or worse, snap and throw you back.

We use the STAGES matrix to identify these hidden areas, to find the specific areas that need attention, and to create interventions that are effectively and efficiently targeted for healthy adaptive change.

To learn more about the StAGES model and Terri’s work, visit Terri’s website, “Developmental Life Design

About the Author

Terri O’Fallon, PhD has focused the last 23 years as an applied researcher, Terri O’Fallon’s focus over two decades has been on “Learning and change in Human Systems”. She has worked with hundreds of leaders studying interventions that most result in developing leaders who can effectively implement change. She has a PhD in Integral Studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies.

Terri is also the co-founder of two organizations. She and Kim Barta have created Developmental Life Design, an organization that focuses on how the STAGES (developmental) model can support insight into our growth as people, leaders, guides, and coaches and the impact these insights have on our influence in human collectives.

She also partners with Geoff Fitch and Pacific Integral, using the STAGES model to develop collective insight and developmental growth experiments.


Maximizing Team Interactions: Moving Beyond the Lowest Common Denominator’s Reign

Building Thriving TeamsThis blog is drawn from a paper by Jim Ritchie-Dunham & Maureen Metcalf, Co-hosting: Creating Optimal Experience for Team Interactions, Integral Leadership Review, November 2016. Jim and Maureen also recorded a podcast.

Christopher, the CEO, walked into a planning session to get his full team on the same page for how to move key initiatives forward for the upcoming year. His leaders were all in alignment on the core purpose of the organization and how to accomplish it. During the discussion, everyone gave unbiased input to move the organization forward, irrespective of personal interest. Christopher was highly skilled at understanding the point of view of all participants and synthesizing the various points of view of his trusted leaders to create solutions everyone could support.

Does this scenario describe your normal business meetings? How is it different?

We want to explore the idea that groups can leverage the skills of individuals across five key perspectives and create an environment in which each participant operates at his greatest level of contribution. We call this the alchemy of co-hosting, whereby the co-host, in conjunction with the participants, invokes a very different mindset and process for the team to function.

The Challenge

“Less than one-third of U.S. employees have been engaged in their jobs and workplaces [since 2000]. According to Gallup Daily tracking, 32% of employees in the U.S. are engaged — meaning they are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace. Worldwide, only 13% of employees working for an organization are engaged.” – Gallup

Much of our work is done within teams of highly effective and highly compensated people. We have found that these teams often function at the level of the least common denominator. Many people, especially leaders, move from meeting to meeting all day. They often do this with little awareness of their specific role in the meeting and the value they bring. This is the culture of many organizations. When asking a cohort of vibrancy community members what they experienced in these teams, they suggested that while the participants were generally strong employees with good skills, they were often disengaged, and some actively disrupted the work or found ways to interfere with the meeting goals. In some cases, the participants did this as a passive-aggressive response; in some worse cases, they did it just for personal entertainment. So, what is the antidote to this high level of disengagement considering five key factors other than the highest rank present? How do we capture the highest input level from each person to create a higher level “field” of operation than any individual would have access to by working alone?

The Approach

We look at five different perspectives or measures of intelligence and then explore how the art of co-hosting can leverage all five intelligences of the participants to create an environment that calls forth the greatest possible capacity in the group.

The five perspectives are:

  • Leadership maturity – describes how adults mature throughout their lifespan, attending to ever-increasing levels of complexity in their thinking, emotions, and behaviors
  • State development – describes where people focus their attention, ranging from what is immediately in front of them to what is abstract and spiritual.
  • Years of experience
  • Skill to identify the perspectives in the room
  • Co-hosting skill – the ability to identify the perspectives in the room and create an environment and approach that leverages the maturity, state, and skills of the participants

It is interesting to note that each perspective is important for an organization to create holistic solutions to its many complex challenges. For that reason, it is important to recognize each of these perspectives and be able to identify, recruit, and create environments that genuinely leverage each of their gifts.

Integrating the five perspectives individually allows an effective co-host to create the “container” or space to leverage each to the participants’ greatest potential rather than the traditional lowest common denominator.


During this era of increased complexity and accelerated need for change, we must identify methods and processes to help us navigate our challenges. Optimally, these methods and processes would create the greatest impact for all involved—creating an optimal individual experience and a holistic solution for the organizations or groups involved.

We believe the solution integrates a solid process that integrates five key perspectives and a presence of being within the co-host to create the desired outcome. Both elements are critical.

We have an opportunity to enhance the experience and the impact we have in trying to solve problems. By building the capacity to co-host and using this process, we increase the probability of solving our most complex problems and enjoying the process. Knowing this is possible helps us regain hope that we as a society can resolve the mounting list of intractable problems we hear of daily on the news.


Jim Ritchie-Dunham is president of the Institute for Strategic Clarity, a global research nonprofit, president of Vibrancy Ins., LLC, a global consultancy and publisher, president of the private operating foundation the Academy for Self-Discovery Leadership, an adjunct faculty member in Harvard’s program in sustainability leadership, and Adjunct Professor of Business Economics in the ITAM Business School in Mexico City.

Jim authored Ecosynomics: The Science of Abundance (2014), co-authored Managing from Clarity: Identifying, Aligning and Leveraging Strategic Resources (2001), has written many articles on systemic strategy for academic and practitioner journals, and blogs regularly at jlrd.me.

As a student of human agreements, Jim Ritchie-Dunham brings over 25 years of research and insights gleaned from working with groups of all make-ups.  Jim named Ecosynomics, the emerging social science of the agreements that guide human interactions. Ecosynomics provides a framework rooted in economics and the sciences of human agreements that begins with an initial assumption of abundance, not scarcity, and a wider view of the human being.

Maureen Metcalf, CEO and Founder of Innovative Leadership Institute

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

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


Center for Leadership Maturity

Leadership Maturity and Vertical Development

Your level of Leadership Maturity significantly influences your capacity to deal with life and work situations, how you see your role and function in the workplace, how you interact with others, how you solve problems, and how self-aware you are. Leaders develop through various stages of maturity as they grow. Leadership Maturity is about how leaders ‘make meaning’ or sense and interpret experiences at the different stages of development. This is important because the perspectives you use to make sense of the world influence your thoughts and actions. Incorporating the idea of the various stages of your Maturity is critical to innovating your leadership. The author, Jim Collins, referred to Level 5 Leadership in his best-selling business book, Good to Great. Level 5 Leadership is an example of later-stage leadership maturity described in the innovative leadership framework.

One application of the stages of maturity model is to appreciate ‘fit for role’ in organizations. For example, at the ‘Specialist’ level, a leader may perform a process task well and be procedural. A later-stage leader (at the Relative level) who is more mature would be better at handling more complex situations, including those not generally addressed by the rules, and would be better able to take into account the context of the task and adapt when needed.

Another application of this framework is to create a development plan for leaders that is well suited to the level of development they are at, and what would be next for them in their path to maturity.

It is important to note that all stages of maturity bring their strengths and wisdom to an organization, and an optimum mix of levels makes an organization more effective and successful.

Benefits of using this model of Leadership Maturity include:

  • Using developmental perspectives guides leaders in determining their personal development goals and action plans. Determining optimum fit for individuals and team members in the context of specific roles in a particular organization
  • Identifying high-potential leaders to groom for growth opportunities.
  • Determining individual fit for a specific job or role in the recruitment and succession process.
  • Supporting change agents in understanding the perspectives and capacities of others at different stages and tailoring solutions that meet the needs and perspectives of all stakeholders.

The Maturity Assessment Profile (MAP) and its conceptual framework, the Leadership Maturity Framework (LMF) assess leadership maturity. This was researched and validated (with criteria at later stages of development) by Susanne Cook-Greuter as part of her doctoral dissertation at Harvard University. This instrument is today’s most rigorously developed, Harvard-tested, unbiased, and reliable perspective measure. The MAP provides unique and personal feedback in addition to stage description and score. The MAP is also the most sophisticated instrument for identifying and measuring later stages of developmentally advanced leadership. The MAP evaluates three primary dimensions to determine developmental perspective: cognitive complexity, emotional capacity, and behavior.

The following table briefly summarizes the levels and the percentage of the sample population at each level using a sample size of 4,310 people. The name of each stage also indicates the old name (previously used terms) in parenthesis. The Center for Leadership Maturity continues to evolve this model and the development tools for its application. The change in the name is evidence of this evolution. Specifically, it is important to note that while we refer to people being “at a level”, people demonstrate perspectives across a range of levels, while evidencing a ‘center of gravity’ at the stage that they generally tend to operate from.

Levels of Leadership Maturity

Photo credit: Center for Leadership Maturity

Embed Innovation Systematically Part 3, Reflection Questions – Eric’s Story

Ziglar Success I’m Eric Philippou, writing this blog as part of my college internship at ILI. Congratulations! We have arrived at the final step in innovative leadership development. In this post, we will cover the second set of reflection questions to strengthen your understanding of embedding innovation systematically into your lifestyle. My answers are in italics for you to use as a reference to further understand the questions.

Embed change

Congratulations! This has been the final post for college students in the innovative leadership development series! Remember, innovative leadership and personal development are lifestyles. Once you have developed one skill/behavior to an ideal capacity, you must continue to focus on more areas to develop to strengthen your arsenal of skills as a person. Feel free to revisit my posts or purchase the Innovative Leadership Workbook for College Students. Good luck!

Photo credit: www.flickr.com Celestine Chua

Embed Innovation Systematically Reflection Questions Part 2 — Eric’s Story

DaVinci self masteryI’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at ILI. Congratulations! We have arrived at the final step in innovative leadership development. In this post, we will cover reflection questions part 1 to strengthen your understanding of embedding innovation systematically into your lifestyle. My answers are in italics for you to use as a reference to further understand the questions.

Eric's embed change reflection questions

There will only be one more post for college students in the innovative leadership development series! In the next post, we will review the second half of the reflection questions.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com Celestine Chua

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

Overcoming ObstaclesI’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. In this post we will answer reflection questions so that we are thoroughly prepared to take action. As always, feel free to refer to my personal answers in italics to get a better sense of what we’re asking. I am answering these reflection questions to clarify my thoughts about my plan to overcome barriers and leverage enablers from my prior post.

Eric Take Action Reflection Questions

This post contained the first half of the reflection questions for taking action. In the next post I will complete the reflection questions.

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.

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photo credit: www.flickr.com Celestine Chua



Plan Your Career Development Journey – Eric’s Story

Journey withinI’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. I just completed the reflection questions associated with identifying my strengths and opportunities. It is now time to move to plan our journeys understanding that our overall life goals will be achieved by accomplishing many short-term goals. This is the third step in becoming an innovative leader while you’re young.

Short-term goals may consist of milestones that move you closer to your overall achievement, such as internships, degrees, jobs, or promotions. Other short-term goals, which are equally important, consist of personal development, such as learning new skills/behaviors, building on current strengths and minimizing weaknesses. The goals of personal development are very important because as you make progress through your academic and professional careers, you’ll have greater responsibilities and bigger challenges. That being said, to plan the short-term steps that will lead you to the long-term life goal, we must identify which career milestones we will need to get us there, and then choose which personal development goals to accomplish to help us reach the nearest milestone. For each milestone in your life, you may need to create new personal development goals. To optimize personal development (for short-term and long-term), one must include in his plan all four parts of the human experience: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual/purpose.

Short-term Goals: Career Milestones

As you’ve done for previous posts, research and list the steps it takes to get that “dream job”, or long-term goal. Then identify the nearest goal. For example:

    • My Goal: Marketing/management consultant and founder of a nonprofit
  • My Milestones:
    • Do marketing/consulting internships
    • Graduate with relevant degree and great GPA
    • Get marketing/consulting job upon graduation
    • Go to graduate school for MBA
    • Get a great job in marketing/consulting
    • After sufficient experience, create a highly successful nonprofit organization
  • Nearest goal: Job upon graduation

Short-term Goals: Personal Development

Look at your nearest goal, and think of everything you can possibly learn, strengthen and/or fix to achieve the nearest milestone. This will help you find which personal development goals to set to reach the next milestone. The human experience consists four parts: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual/purpose abilities. Enhancing all four of these types of abilities, you will optimize overall personal growth. We separate these four parts into two categories:

  • External abilities (physical and mental):
    • Body: exercise, weight lifting, yoga, relaxation, etc.
    • Mind: reading, studying, attending school/class, etc.
    • Professional skills, learned at school, work, internships, etc.; relevant to your career.
  • Internal abilities (emotional and spiritual/purpose) –
    • Emotional Quotient (EQ): meditation, maintaining strong friendships/relationships, etc.
    • Spirit/purpose: define vision, define values, religious practice, etc.
    • Includes intention, world view, purpose, vision, values, cultural norms, emotional stability, resilience, a sense of being grounded, overall personal well-being, intuition, balanced perspective, and attitude, and serves as the foundation for you to accomplish your deepest aspirations.

According to Ken Wilber, a leading philosopher, one can optimize improvement in one of these areas by “cross training”, or working on an external skill at the same time as an internal skill. For example, people who lift weights (external) and meditate (internal) tend to have more success in both areas than those who only do one or the other.

Planning Personal Development Goals

Choose amongst three developmental focuses: learning a brand new skill/behavior, building on a current strength, or minimizing a weakness. After you pick something to develop in one of those three focus areas, identify whether it is an internal or external ability, and then pick an activity that is the opposite ability for the sake of optimization by cross training. Click here to download the worksheet below (which doesn’t have my answers on it) and fill it out like I did. Feel free to view my answers to maybe better understand the question, or just to get more ideas.

behavior change priorities

Over the next few days, choose a skill and think about how great your life can be if you gain/improve it. In the next post, we’ll make a day-to-day plan for developing that skill to help you reach your next career milestone.

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.

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Meet Eric, College Student Blog Series – Defining Your Vision

Eric PhilippouI’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my summer internship at ILI, a leadership and management consulting firm. I am entering my final fall semester at T­he Ohio State University, majoring in Strategic Communication. I like marketing and plan to attend business school in a few years. I’m also on the varsity fencing team at Ohio State.

If you’re a college student, you may often think about what you want to do with your life. Even after lots of soul-searching, many of you are still uncertain about what you want to do. This summer, I am starting a blog that helps students find their life purposes, plus a step-by-step guide on bringing this vision into reality. I am giving you information from a workbook written by a combination of college faculty and leadership development and executive coaching experts who make business executives very successful. This book will be published late in 2014. I am working with the draft version to create a blog series. Throughout this blog, I will provide my answers to the exercises as an example.

Here are the six steps to conquering your dreams, all of which I am covering this summer:

Innovative Leadership Development Process

To begin working toward your dreams, you need to have dreams. This brings us to our first topic – create a compelling vision of your future. This topic is broken down into four sub-topics. I will cover the first in this post and the next in subsequent posts. You will see my answers to each question in italics below.

Define Your Personal Vision

  • Step 1: Create a picture of your future. Imagine yourself in the future, at the end of your life, happily reflecting on your success and how you achieved it. Answer these questions:
    • What is the thing of which you are most proud?
    • Motivating millions with my non-profit organization (NPO).
    • If you had a family, what would they say about you?
    • They would say that I would do anything for them, and I was selfless and great to them.
    • What did you accomplish professionally?
    • Climbed to the top of a large corporation and started a highly successful NPO.
    • What would your friends say about you?
    • The funniest guy they knew, always great to hang out with, and I’m an overall great guy.


  • Step 2: Write a story. Now that you have a general idea of what you will do, write a short story that goes into further detail about these things. Include details about your answers from above, and consider the questions below. This will act as a roadmap for your journey and what you would want if designing the perfect life for yourself.
    • Who helped you along the way?
    • My wife, family, and friends – many of whom I met in business.
    • What did you enjoy about your daily life?
    • I always ate well because I am a great cook. I also had a lot of fun interacting with co-workers, clients, and my family.
    • Who was closest to you?
    • My wife, family, and a few friends are people I have known for a long time.
    • What feelings did you have as you accomplished each milestone along the way?
    • Overwhelming joy and pride and each accomplishment motivated me to tackle the next milestone. I am also proud that on the days I felt concern, and even a bit of fear, I kept focused on my goals and moved forward.
    • How did you mentor and contribute to the success of others?
    • At work, I mentored my co-workers who worked below me and brought out the best in them. In my NPO, I touched millions with my work and helped many people worldwide succeed.
    • What did you do to maintain your health?
    • I exercised often to keep my energy up, ate nutritiously, and relaxed to recharge my batteries.
    • What role did spirituality or religion play in your journey?
    • Not a large role. I always stuck with the golden rule unconditionally.
    • What job(s) did you have?
    • From entry-level to executive at a large corporation and then founder of my NPO.
    • What role did material success play in your life?
    • I won’t lie, I did enjoy making a lot of money. Money gave my family and me opportunities that we wouldn’t otherwise have. Material success played a decent role in my life but was not the main goal.
    • What type of person were you? (Kind, caring, driven, gracious, etc.)
    • I was always regarded as very generous, selfless, and driven. 


  • Step 3: Describe your vision. Now that you have more information about yourself and how you want to live create a two-to-five-sentence life purpose statement. This talks about your highest priorities in life and your aspirations. This statement should ca­­pture the essence of how you want to live and project yourself.
    • An example: My vision is to bring maximum greatness to myself and the rest of the world. I will conduct myself with integrity and always push myself, knowing that succeeding in my goals will benefit the human race. I will live the best and happiest life that I could imagine. The world will benefit from me being here long after I am gone.


  • Step 4: Expand and clarify your vision. Many of you probably have a mixture of selfless and self-centered elements to your vision. You may wonder if wanting wealth and luxury in your vision is okay. For now, suspend your judgment about what is “worth” desiring and instead ask yourself which elements of these visions are closest to your deepest desire. Ask yourself, “If I could have it right now, would I take it?” and consider what about each element appeals to you.
    • For example, in my answer, my true deepest desire is to impact the world positively. I want to be wealthy, but right now, if I did that to the extent I desire, I could die and be 100% content with my entire life. In your life purpose statement, focus more on what would bring you complete peace with yourself. Consider this, and revise your life purpose statement accordingly.
    • Some elements of your vision will not surpass this question, and others may only pass under specific circumstances. Some may change over time.
    • My previous life purpose statement looked like this: I will climb up to top management in a large organization. I will have enough money to have an awesome house and luxury cars and even create my nonprofit organization that focuses on providing people with motivation and success strategies. Everyone who meets me will think, “Wow, what a great guy.” I will show respect for everyone.
    • Then I asked, “If I could have it right now, would I take it?”
      • Climbing to top management of a large corporation
        • Yes, but only if the corporation does things that I support and I get to where I am ethically. It’s more about having the power and resources to carry out what I believe will benefit society more.
      • Enough money for an awesome house and luxury cars
        • Yes, but only if I received it ethically and it brings me the joy I seek.
      • Enough money to start a nonprofit organization
        • Yes.
      • Everyone who meets me will be impressed.
        • If I’m impressed with myself, and I feel my accomplishments have benefitted humanity, then the desire to impress others is not very important – merely a bonus.
      • I will show respect to everyone.
        • Yes, that is a very broad goal I can easily control immediately.
    • After thorough analysis, I refined my life purpose statement according to the previous step: My vision is to bring maximum greatness to myself and the rest of the world. I will conduct myself with integrity and always push myself, knowing that succeeding in my goals will benefit the human race. I will live the best and happiest life that I could imagine. The world will benefit from me being here long after I am gone.