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Authentic Leadership For Progress, Peace And Prosperity

This post is a report from the December 5, 2018 Forbes.com article Authentic Leadership for Peace and Prosperity. It is the companion to the Voice America Interview to air on January 29, 2019 with Dr. Gama Perruci, Dr. Sadhana Warty Hall, and Dr. Karen Ford, Evidence Based Practices for Leadership Development. This interview is particularly important because companies are investing large amounts of money and time to build strong leaders and some programs provide much better returns than others. Programs that teach leaders to be better leaders rather than those that teach leader about leadership provide different results. Programs that offer 1. strong frameworks (including the knowledge of how context and culture play a role in leading and following), 2. teach leaders to become more self-aware, and 3. perform better using the new frameworks and self-awareness provide the highest returns. The interview is part of our partnership with the International Leadership Association to bring you the latest and most relevant leadership information.

The following section is from Forbes. I am keenly interested in understanding how leaders progress their business agendas as well as the global agenda in times of significant geopolitical shifts. I attended the International Leadership Association’s conference, Authentic Leadership for Progress, Peace & Prosperity, in West Palm Beach, Florida, where keynote speakers, academics, award recipients and leaders across industries and the globe discussed their perspectives on the subject. This article summarizes my key takeaways.

With 39 countries represented at the conference, the focus on the volume, complexity and rate of change in the current climate continued to inform the conversations. So too did the political landscape, particularly the disillusionment with democracy and the move toward populism. The conversation was also impacted by several events happening in the background, such as a bomber delivering 14 bombs to democratic leadersand supporters, who was actually apprehended near West Palm Beach, where the conference was being held. There was also a synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh in the morning of the final day at the conference.

These events called to question what more we, as members of an international association, can do to focus on the intersection of leadership, scholarship and practice at a conference that focuses on progress, peace and prosperity.

The following themes are based on my discussions with thought leaders around the world and sessions I attended.

1. Leadership certification needs to be a strong consideration.

Many professions require certification before performing a job, like realtors, massage therapists, electricians, attorneys and certified public accountants. This is in strong contrast to the number of leaders holding key roles with no education and, in some cases, little experience.

While hiring is always complicated, certification can reduce the risk of costly hiring mistakes. Certification is important for leaders who want to stand out by demonstrating their competence. And organizations will have a greater degree of assurance that the person they are hiring is competent based on an objective standard and a rigorous certification process.

2. Leadership is the interplay between the organization’s internal environment and external ecosystem.

We train leaders in leadership concepts but don’t address the importance of helping leaders understand how they need to flex their leadership approach based on their context and their followers. The most effective leaders “sense” the needs of their followers and adapt their leadership accordingly. They help followers understand their leadership style and set clear expectations as well take into account their followers styles, so everyone can focus their energy on accomplishing goals.

3. Leaders need new tools to solve highly complex problems.

Many of the problems organizations face are emergent, and they may not have faced them before. Therefore, leaders must have the tools to address them. The most effective leaders balance inner knowing with strong analytics and collaboration. 

4. Leadership ethics are key. 

There are questions about leaders learning ethics versus gaining ethics as part of the process of maturing. Are ethics the guidelines people comply with? Is there a call for leaders to develop a strong inner compass that ensures they follow the spirit of ethics as the rules change? I believe it’s important for leaders to have a strong inner sense of both the impact you want to make on the world as well as the “guardrails” you use to accomplish that impact.

5. Leaders operate in an interconnected system and need to consider the broader impact they make.

Conference participants were clear about the importance of profit as the fuel for the business and that businesses are among the most powerful institutions across the planet. They are positioned to enact important changes that involve issues such as climate change, for example.

During the conference last year, there were many discussions on identifying leadership values. This year, speakers reminded us of the mandate for leaders to live their values and pay attention to how their actions impact their organizations, and by extension, the world.

6. Resilience remains a key concern.

It was acknowledged that everyone is now or will soon be impacted by some level of change to their organization, their climate, their community and their government. These changes require that we deliberately tend to the resilience (ability to absorb change and remain highly functional) of our people, our organizations, our communities and our governments. It is important to ensure these have the capacity to metabolize change without going into crisis mode.

7. Learning to harness the power of women and a diverse workforce is critical to addressing the upcoming talent gap.

Even with artificial intelligence and other forms of workforce augmentation, participants projected a huge talent shortage now through 2030 and beyond. The size of this change is expected to grow from 2020 to 2030.

Companies need to leverage the best talent to thrive. It will be important for companies to find ways to identify the right people and create a work environment that fosters attraction and retention and expands the old norms that caused talented people who wanted to work but not within restricted bounds to leave. 

As leaders in this era of turbulence, if we want to create a more prosperous and peaceful world, we need to look at new ways of leading and of identifying and developing leaders of the future. This is a call to action to revisit what you are doing now and how you can evolve your own approaches that enhance your ability to lead from a stance of authenticity.

Are you learning from thought leaders, academics and practitioners? Each holds a piece of the complex solution we all need to thrive in the short and long term.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

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

 

Self-Awareness using the Enneagram Assessment

This blog is a companion to the Voice America Interview on May 18, 2018 with Belinda Gore, Board Member for International Enneagram Association, Using Enneagram Assessment to Build Leadership Effectiveness. This blog was co-written by Belinda Gore and Maureen Metcalf. Belinda is a thought leader and major contributor to the award winning Innovative Leadership book series.

As we talk about the importance of self-awareness for leaders, one framework and tool we use is the Enneagram (Please review our prior post for additional information about Enneagram types) . In this post we will discuss one important element of the overall Enneagram assessment system, the centers of intelligence.

Maureen and Belinda have used the Enneagram as a foundation for self-awareness. As an example, here is Maureen’s experience: “I test as a “type three” – sometimes known as The Achiever – using the Enneagram assessment language. This means that part of my identity is drawn from what accomplish in the world.  Using the centers of intelligence framework, I fall within the heart center, which means that I tend to subdue my heart’s desire in favor of focusing on getting results. This tendency has shown up throughout my career – I focused on logic and results. This focus allowed me to thrive in large consulting firms, but  it also left me with a blind spot that related to human feelings and emotions. I didn’t use my heart as much of a guide. While I am not exactly Spock, I wished I was. As I moved into the field of leadership development and leading transformation efforts, I needed to add a stronger connection to my own feelings as well as the feelings of others into my mental algorithm. This was not an easy process. I liked being focused and results oriented and I believed that feelings would slow me down. They may, in fact, slow me down in the short term AND they remove a blind spot that could – and I am sure did – trip me up. “

In the Enneagram system the centers of intelligence are broken into triads, each containing three of the nine types, each with a characteristic pattern of imbalance.

It is likely that you have already recognized that we each have ALL nine types in us to some degree in that we have all had experiences of manifesting something of each of these patterns of behavior.

In all cases, the process of change and healing as identified by this method is the process of moving to a higher level of functioning and being able to sustain it.  Even at higher levels, the same process of rewiring the tendencies for neurological firing exists.

The processes for change can vary and, in most cases, we start with basic self-awareness based on the assessment. When you take the Enneagram assessment and review your results, do they resonate with you? Can you relate to the information you have received about your center of intelligence? If so, it is important to start to notice when you show the imbalance associated with your type and build a conscious practice to modify your behavior. In the case of Maureen referenced above, she needed to have a conscious practice to stop and notice her feelings and the feelings of others and identify how this information could help her meet her goals. The important message here is to have a deliberate practice to notice when the imbalance is at play and correct it as quickly as possible by bringing your thinking back into balance.

If you are a professional coach, you have learned to meet your clients where they are, using language that is useful and meaningful to them. You honor who they are, how they came to be the people they are today and assist them in unhooking from what may once have helped them to survive and is now only a detriment.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

About the Authors

Belinda Gore, PhD focuses on designing, developing and delivering leadership, assessments, workshops, and coaching. She is a key thought leader in the development of the Innovative Leadership framework.

She is a psychologist, executive coach, and experienced seminar leader who is 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 both corporate and nonprofit organizations, and entrepreneurs. She will be leading our new service line focused on helping leaders and their organizations build resilience along with offering leadership team development, board development, coaching, and Enneagram assessment.

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

At C-Level #15: Transformation Communications

Mike Sayre is a highly experienced and successful software, e-commerce, and manufacturing services CEO, COO, CFO, and Board Director. He is also the president & COO of Metcalf & Associates, a trusted partner inspiring and enabling perpetual innovation, evolution, and growth in leaders and their businesses. Mike was featured in Maureen Metcalf’s May 2017 “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” interview on VoiceAmerica entitled “7 Characteristics of Leadership 2020 In Practice: A CEO Story.”

 

In At C-Level #10–18, I write about three of the most successful transformations I’ve had the opportunity to lead in my career so far, following a seven-step transformation model like the Metcalf & Associates Innovative Leadership Transformation Model below.

Communicate

 

It is unlikely that you will ever over communicate in a transformation effort, unless what you are communicating does not resonate with your audience—and, in that case, it isn’t a matter of over communicating, it’s more likely that you are miscommunicating. Communication is effective when your audience feels you are sharing your passion and that you are authentic, see the path forward, and feel their contribution is vital to making a transformation.

 

Simply setting the example, saying it once, posting it on every wall, and thinking that it will sink in by osmosis just isn’t enough. You must live, breathe, and give testament what you believe every day!

 

So, before you start, you need to work with your team on the messages you are sending to your various stakeholder groups—your owners, board (if you have one), employees, customers, suppliers, and the various communities in which you live and work. Your messages need to be

  • consistent with your vision, mission, and values,
  • directional,
  • important to your audience,
  • delivered with an appropriate sense of urgency,
  • clear and concise,
  • translated into the languages the people in your organization speak and understand best, and
  • communicated consistently and often by your transformation leadership team.

 

At first, writing the messaging, as well as potential questions and answers, with the transformation team may be helpful. After a brief time, it should become second nature to everyone if it is constantly and consistently reinforced by the team’s leader(s).

 

When was the last time you stood in front of the organization and discussed your vision, mission, and/or values? When was the last time, someone brought a major challenge to you and you said, “Well, our vision is ____, and we say that we value ____, so we should ____.”?

Here is how we communicated throughout the three transformations I outlined in At C-Level #10:

 

  • Large Manufacturing Company. In our transformation to upgrade basic financial reporting controllers into true financial business partners in a large and growing company (our vision), we communicated our vision, plans and progress:
    • at two to three regular or specially-convened controller conferences every year, where the controllers and their assistants traveled to our headquarters,
    • during trips we made to our various business units to keep up with our colleagues and talk about our vision and plans,
    • through conference calls and e-mail with the systems project team,
    • calls, e-mail, and visits I made to our business units, and
    • generally, not enough.

 

Yes, “not enough.” We communicated a lot on how we were getting the new system implemented and how our controllers were getting better training on the business and the new system. And, while we spent some time communicating our vision of the controllers becoming better business partners, we did not spend enough time communicating more precisely how they would do that with their new systems and training!

 

That’s not to say that we did not make significant progress. We made a lot of progress that had been needed for some time. But, did we communicate enough about our vision and the progress we had achieved towards it? In “At C-Level #16: Transformation Implementation and Measures of Success” I write more about this transformation.

Are there clear links between what everyone is doing in your organization today and, if you have them, your vision, mission, and values? What about your goals?

 

  • Mid-Size Electronics Manufacturing Services Company. Leading a transformation “to be the best in the world at what we do,” with our mission to improve the lives of all our five stakeholder groups, left a lot of room for interpretation. There was a lot we did not know yet.

 

However, we did know that we had a basic command and control environment with a very high-revenue growth rate in low-to-no margin integration work. The combination was driving a high-pressure and negative working environment, inefficient and costly operations, unacceptable quality, poor on-time shipping performance, and low and inconsistent earnings. The good news was that we had revenue. We just had to figure out how to solve many of these other challenges before that revenue went away.

 

We started out doing what most companies do with their vision, mission, and values. We had posters made and hung them on the walls. We had wallet cards made and gave them to all employees. We had a couple of kick-off meetings. And that’s where we’ve seen a lot of companies stop.

 

But we continued. We had daily 15-minute order review meetings, daily and weekly Lean Manufacturing implementation meetings, weekly leadership team meetings, bi-weekly company update meetings, and company quarterly results meetings. In almost every meeting, we would ask people to take out their cards, read something from them, and/or talk about some examples where they were used or applicable, always pointing to the card and quoting from it. Our vision, mission and values were always front and center and a part of our daily lives.

 

More important and impactful than our meetings, was that we consistently communicated our vision, mission, and values through our actions. We simply walked the talk.

 

You know you have the right vision, mission, and values when you and your team are passionate about them, can talk about them, and live them out almost effortlessly every day.

 

Do you have posters of your organization’s vision, mission, and values hung up around your place of work? How often do you talk about those? When was the last time you discussed a particular challenge with your team and it was pointed out that the solution was already in your vision, mission, or values statement?

 

  • Global Internet Payments Company. In our transformation journey to turn around the culture, and, in turn, the operational and financial performance of this 10-year-old company now hampered with a start-up mentality that was very difficult to scale, group communications were vital. However, individual communications with the leadership team around the almost daily challenges that came up were even more important.

 

Structured functional and cross-functional Agile meetings with top leadership involvement and support keeping the mission and values fully integrated into how those meetings were conducted, started breaking down the silo walls that had been built.

 

However, there were still competing priorities at the functional leadership level that needed to be re-prioritized for what the company was trying to achieve. That meant a lot of impromptu discussions with individuals and small leadership team groups caught-up in the siloed culture that had developed in recent years. It meant a lot of repetition talking about what the company was all about, how we could move forward more successfully together, and how the practical day-to-day application of our mission and stated values would help us accomplish that. Eventually, the repetition metamorphosed into muscle memory and the leadership team members felt empowered to communicate in and between the functional teams without any facilitation.

 

How much of your time do you spend facilitating discussions and/or making decisions for functional team leaders with competing priorities? Does or could your organization’s vision, mission, and values reduce the need for your personal facilitation time and free up that time up for higher-level strategic interactions, discussions, planning, and execution (with internal and external partners)?

 

Key takeaways from these transformations

 

You cannot communicate enough. Pull people in early and keep them engaged.

 

Take the time to craft messaging around your organization’s driving vision, mission, and values that can be clearly understood at all levels inside and outside your organization. You don’t want to have to adjust your messaging around your high-level purpose and operating guidelines for different groups. You want them all to be disciples. Communications must be easily understood and easy to repeat, so they can be ingrained in the organization and people can easily rally around them over the longer term.

 

Having said that, getting the various stakeholder groups on board requires that they know what’s in it for them and what they have to do to help make it happen. Those communications must be more tailored to the audience within the context of the broader overall messaging.

 

Communicate and gain support at all levels of the organization, starting with your board, your boss, and your team, before going broader across the organization. They should all be part of developing the desired future state and crafting the messaging that helps them buy in.

 

In “At C-Level #16: Implementing Transformations and Measuring Success,” we’ll look at how the transformations of these same three organizations were implemented, how people were further motivated and their success measured along the way, and what the key takeaways are that you may need to think about in preparing for your own organization’s transformative journey.

 

Thanks for following us! For more information or help, please visit us at www.Metcalf-Associates.com.

At C-Level #14: Transformation Planning

Mike Sayre is a highly experienced and successful software, e-commerce, and manufacturing services CEO, COO, CFO, and Board Director. He is also the president and COO of Metcalf & Associates, a trusted partner inspiring and enabling perpetual innovation, evolution, and growth in leaders and their businesses. Mike was featured in Maureen Metcalf’s May 2017 “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” interview on VoiceAmerica entitled “7 Characteristics of Leadership 2020 In Practice: A CEO Story.”

 

In At C-Level #10–18, I write about three of the most successful transformations I’ve had the opportunity to lead in my career so far, following a seven-step transformation model like the Metcalf & Associates Innovative Leadership Transformation Model below.

 

Plan Journey

 

Now that you have your vision, situation, strengths, team, and resources for this journey, it’s time to do some planning!

 

Any real transformation is going to take a significant amount of time – at least a year or more.

 

Your first plan will likely get you off in the right direction. However, the further in the journey you get, the more likely you will have to deviate from it, especially if it is a very detailed plan. I mention this so that you will not:

 

  • over-plan at the expense of getting started, or
  • stress out when the plan must change, which it undoubtedly will.

 

Most consultants I’ve used start with a high-level current/future state model. Then, they break that down into functional current/future state models to distribute planning, execution, responsibility, and accountability across the team.

 

It’s also the time to plan how functional initiatives and overall transformation progress will be measured and reported. Each functional initiative must have its own metrics and goals that will contribute toward the achievement of the transformation goals. All metrics and goals must be well-thought out and clearly represent the transformation’s positive impact on the organization.

What does your organization look like today? What will it look like years from now? What metric(s) would indicate the progress of the entire organization toward its vision?

Here is how we approached planning in the three transformations I outlined in At C-Level #10:

 

  • Large Manufacturing Company. After our transformation to upgrade basic financial reporting controllers into true financial business partners in a large and growing company (our vision), we believed the future state would include:
    • an updated accounting and financial reporting system freeing up controller time for additional analysis of the periodic financials, trends, forecast comparisons, capital investment justification and progress reporting, financial consulting within the business, and people development;
    • controllers with the skills to use new systems and perform the analysis and business partnering functions as we envisioned them;
    • a pipeline of controllers for new plants and businesses with these skills; and
    • bottom-line results to show for it all.

 

The current state included:

  • a main-frame computer-generated trial balance manually input into spreadsheets for financials with a lot of detailed information and limited analysis;
  • some controllers with the skills to perform financial analysis and some with the business knowledge to also be a financial business partner, but few with skills in newer automated accounting and financial reporting systems;
  • some accountants/assistant controllers capable of being controllers with little to no development provided to get them there; and
  • a bottom-line that could be improved by this transformation to the future state.

The project team was formalized and began reconciling what had to be done to move from the current to the future state on automating the systems. Simultaneously, as the lead controller in the largest business group, I began working with the general managers and the rest of the controllers on controller development programs.

 

Later I realized that only planning out milestones for the completion of our initiatives in the transformation and not having any metrics or goals for the overall transformation created longer term challenges with sustainability. You’ll see how that played out in future “At C-Level” blogs.

 

If you have a transformation you are contemplating, how will you measure and report progress and success in the initiatives for the transformation and for the achievement of the vision?

 

  • Mid-Size Electronics Manufacturing Services Company. As you can imagine, leading a transformation “to be the best in the world at what we do” left a lot of room for interpretation, but so did our future state:
    • a perpetual earnings per share growth engine for our shareholders;
    • a work environment our associates embrace each day with opportunities to grow in their careers;
    • the status of “Most Valued Partner” to our customers;
    • providing opportunities for our suppliers to grow and prosper with us; and
    • giving back to the communities in which we live.

 

The current state:

  • fast growing sales, yet little to no improvement in profitability;
  • high-potential employees in a work environment that was difficult to embrace with little apparent opportunity;
  • customers upset with quality and delivery;
  • suppliers growing and prospering while we were not; and
  • only occasionally giving back to the community.

 

We were not serving four of our five stakeholders very well. Several company-wide strategic areas quickly needed to be addressed, with the highest priorities given to initiatives that would have the greatest positive impact to current customers, whose purchases were required to fund our transformation to the future state.

 

Given that, our top priorities were customer service improvement, employee engagement, and profitability. Focusing on those would better serve our suppliers and communities as well.

 

We decided that a lean manufacturing implementation would quickly start to improve customer service, engage our people in what they viewed as a worthwhile effort, and result in service improvements and cost savings for current customers that also could improve our profitability—while we figured out what to do about our top line value and margin challenges. Lean requires the identification of key metrics, the ongoing monitoring and reporting of those metrics, and rigorous continuous improvement processes focused on metric improvement.

 

Our overarching metric was growing profitability. We already had a quarterly gain-sharing plan for all associates and it became a great measurement of our progress and how we were all working together as a team.

 

What are the priority areas in the transformation you are contemplating? Have you considered how you will fund your transformation? How would you measure the overall success in your transformation with a metric that the whole organization could relate to personally?

 

  • Global Internet Payments Company. The desired future state:
    • helping our sellers sell more (measurably);
    • providing a collaborative and fun work environment with great career opportunities for our best associates;
    • facilitating cross-border transactions and e-commerce globally, and creating more jobs;
    • providing software as a service (SaaS) and back-end payments processing to simplify the entire process for our sellers, while adhering to the underwriting requirements of the industry and governments;
    • building a platform company that could acquire other processors and their seller customer bases; and
    • building value for an eventual financial exit for the owner.

 

The then current state:

  • A $200M transaction volume processor still trying to run in start-up mode, highly siloed, not collaborative, lacking in product development, with flat top-line and declining bottom-line performance.

 

With our SaaS model and software development driving so much of our desired future state— and that development stifled by the functional siloes in the organization—we decided to implement an Agile product development environment that required constant communication, collaboration, and coordination across all functional areas of the company. Like Lean, Agile puts your organization into a more structured continuous improvement/development environment, and its implementation requires a level of rigor that becomes a new way of life within the organization.

 

We had many detailed metrics as you might imagine for a SaaS payments company, but we also implemented a profit-sharing program—both a measurement and reward system for how we were coming out of silo-mode and performing as one team.

 

Lean and Agile concepts have much broader applicability than just in manufacturing and software development, as well as across different industries, with similar benefits. Have you ever considered either program? What about profit-sharing as an overall metric of success to increase cross-functional collaboration?

 

Key takeaways from these transformations

 

Planning for transformations can be highly dependent on organization size, maturity, current state, desired future state, and available funding.

 

There was much more up-front planning in the $2B global Large Manufacturing Company and it was a well-defined functional transformation. The company also had significant resources to contribute to its transformation project.

 

The other two transformations were in comparatively smaller companies, requiring major strategic, cultural, and operational change across the company. Their businesses were technology-based and their business environments were quickly changing. The people transforming these companies had to do it while concurrently accomplishing their ongoing business objectives. We had to figure out how to reallocate resources and squeeze more profit out of both companies to finance our transformation efforts. In both cases, sharing those profits was a nice perk, but it was also a great measurement of team progress and a source of team pride.

 

The increasing pace of change in our world will likely require these kinds of ingrained continuous improvement processes in most organizations to simply survive, let alone thrive. Think perpetual innovation, evolution, and change going forward!

 

In “At C-Level #15: Transformation Communications,” we’ll look at the communications frameworks in these three organizations and what you may need to think about in preparing for your own organization’s transformative journey.

 

Thanks for following us! For more information or help, please visit us at www.Metcalf-Associates.com.

Preparing Aspiring C-Level Leaders for Key Roles

This post is a companion to the interview with Mike Sayre, President and Chief Operating Officer of Metcalf & Associates on  VoiceAmerica “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” on May 16, 2017: Seven Characteristics of Leadership 2020: A CEO Story. An abbreviated version of this post appeared in Columbus CEO on January 25, Preparing Aspiring Leaders for Key Roles. 

Transformation is in demand. Building leaders and organizations of the future is now a requirement! A key responsibility of all leaders is to train successors. It promotes business continuity and key employee engagement, and helps manage business risk. While many organizations understand the importance, many have not found suitable programs to address this important activity, especially at higher levels in the organization.

The Columbus CIO Forum recently initiated the creation of a program to train CIO successors across the Central Ohio Region. Business and community sponsors joined to ensure the training and development had sufficient direction and resources to succeed, and that it addresses the CIO succession opportunities and challenges facing the community as a whole. This initiative is not a one off, it is part of how Columbus identifies challenges and creates cross sector solutions. According to a Harvard Business School case study focusing on the Columbus Partnership in May of 2015, “Cooperation and collaboration is the Columbus way,”

This community approach to succession planning for a particular profession is a novel approach to building a cadre of well-prepared business and technology successors for the community and deepen the leadership talent pool available across all sectors. This development is imperative for our organizations to thrive and for our leaders to continue to be successful. It also illustrates progressive thinking towards economic development and sustainability in our region and is attractive to organizations evaluating relocation of headquarters and/or business units to Central Ohio.

This program is designed as a year long program with six leadership development classes, four round tables with key business leaders and two social events to support network building. The in-person program sessions held at the Ohio University campus in Dublin include a forward-leaning leadership development curriculum augmented with a robust online offering of assessments, text and video study materials, and interviews with global and local thought leaders and faculty to illustrate the effectiveness of these concepts in action. The academic level of rigor equates to an MBA leadership class.

The model for creating this succession planning program:

  1. Define what success looks like – define a high-level model of the knowledge, skills, abilities and mindsets required to succeed in top level leadership roles now and well into the future. The Strategist leadership model developed by Metcalf & Associates was selected for the program. The CIO community also identified key development areas that they see as a priority for the program to focus on.
  2. Create a leadership program that builds leadership skills based on proven frameworks – offer class room training and self-study modules to build knowledge, skills and abilities, and provide opportunities to practice and integrate those into ongoing work. The program is drawn from an MBA leadership development program and leverages the Innovative Leadership program and book series by Maureen Metcalf that has earned international recognition. Metcalf takes an active role in the International Leadership Association, allowing her to bring world-leading frameworks to local programs.
  3. Balance skill building with tools and activities to build self-awareness and integrate skills into practice – in addition to developing skills required for leadership, creative tools, exercises and reflection activities help each leader build the self-awareness and leadership presence required in senior level roles. Practice exercises are provided in both the in-person and online portions of the program, and immediately applicable in the work environment. The program also makes extensive use of polling software to give the session facilitators feedback about session effectiveness and areas for additional focus.
  4. Learn from thought leaders and experts – provide a library of resources that support aspiring executives in building skills and learning from the perspective of a broad range of leadership experts and thought leaders across multiple fields, ranging from senior executives and government officials to leading academics. The online modules offer participants the opportunity to customize their learning experience to help them develop in areas they find most valuable. The Metcalf interview library covers key topics ranging from implementing analytics programs to major organizational transformations to building resilience in global organizations.
  5. Learn from successful executives – create opportunities for the participants to engage with senior leaders, leadership experts and thought leaders through round tables and discussions after the round tables to help participants translate what others do into what they will do when they return to work. The panel discussions allow leaders to engage with local thought leaders from the local community in robust discussion.
  6. Build a strong network of support within the field – create opportunities for participants to engage with one another during the learning process as thought partners and accountability partners. Additionally, offer networking opportunities for this peer group of aspiring CIOs within the CIO community. A key element of this program is building the senior IT community in central Ohio. The networking component gives leaders an opportunity to build those networks in a manner that is curated to accelerate relationship development and community building.

During times of significant change, leaders and organizations that continue to thrive will be those that perpetually innovate and evolve both the organization and the leaders responsible for running the organization. This level of innovation and evolution requires leaders to continually train successors as part of the ongoing effort to ensure organizations are prepared for the ongoing challenges they face. This program offers a model within Central Ohio that recognizes the need for a strong leadership advancement program across the IT profession and provides a robust solution.

The CIO Forum identified the need for this group and initiated the program by identifying business partners and sponsors to successfully deliver it. Metcalf & Associates and Expedient are key partners in creating and delivering this program. Check the link to learn more about the IT Leaders program.

About the Author: Maureen Metcalf is founder, CEO, and board chair of Metcalf & Associates; and is an executive advisor, consultant, speaker and author.

 

Proven Path to Leadership Maturity and Effectiveness

This post is a companion to the Voice America interview featuring Mike Morrow-Fox talking about leadership maturity and vertical development to build the leadership qualities required to lead large complex organizations and those that aspire to make the greatest impact.

The following article was first published by Forbes Coaches Council in August 2016.

Future trends indicate complexity, accelerated change, and near-constant uncertainty in the coming years. These conditions will require significantly different leadership skills.

With these new demands for evolving leadership, is there a predictable path to develop leadership? If so, what does that path look like?

Leaders develop both “horizontally,” increasing their ability at their current level of operation, and “vertically,” increasing their level of complexity, emotional maturity, and opening to new awareness. Many researchers are now saying that “vertical development” is required to navigate the complexities leaders and their organizations face.

To answer what the vertical evolutionary path looks like, I reference the research of Dr. Cook-Greuter, who developed a Leadership Maturity Framework (LMF) and measurement of adult development as part of her doctoral dissertation at Harvard University. Dr. Cook-Greuter is now the Co-Founder with Beena Sharma of The Center for Leadership Maturity, a firm that facilitates vertical development in individuals, teams and organizations. The LMF is the basis of my work with vertical leadership development because it provides a model that is both grounded in research and practical to use in coaching and leadership development.

Vertical development does not mean that more developed people are “better” people, but rather, in many cases, are likely to be more effective in key leadership roles within large complex organizations. The following is a brief summary of the LMF describing the predictable developmental trajectory people navigate as they grow:

The Group-Centric Level

This level is about conforming and belonging. People at this level follow rules, norms and observe hierarchy. They conform to social expectations, work to group standards, seek membership and approval, and appreciate outward signs of status as a sign of approval. They attend to the welfare of their own group; those who are not like them are the “other,” and therefore outside their circle of concern. They avoid conflict, think in simple terms, and often speak in generalities. Feedback is taken as disapproval since their driving value is to gain approval and be included.

Example: This is the employee who looks to what the group is doing to determine his actions. He looks to meet the “expectations” set by the organization, fit into the culture, and do what everyone does. Belonging is his key to success; standing out or having a different opinion feels risky

The Skill-Centric Level

This focuses on comparing self to others and perfecting skills. Individuals at this level focus on being competent in their own area of interest and improving techniques and efficiency. They aspire to quality standards and are often heavily invested in their way as the only way of doing things. Decisions are made based on incontrovertible “facts.” Given their focus on problem-solving and detail, they can get caught in the weeds and not see the big picture necessary to effectively prioritize among competing demands. All consuming attention on being right can lead them to be critical of and competitive with others. They hear feedback about their work as criticism of them as a whole person.

Example: This is the employee who points out when others make mistakes and tries to correct them so they can meet the standards. Her development efforts focus on building expertise. She usually has a “better” opinion unless she is in the presence of a subject-matter expert.

The Self-Determining Level

This focuses on analyzing and achieving to effectively deliver results. Leaders at this level look toward longer-term goals and initiate rather than follow expectations. They value objectivity and scientific knowledge, seeking rational, proactive ways around problems. They often seek consensus — “agree to disagree” — and value mutuality and equality in relationships. They accept feedback to promote learning and success.

Example: This employee continually drives to meet organizational goals. He works both efficiently and effectively and is continually competing with himself and others to drive the best results. He has a five-year plan, is open to new learning, and is beginning to be more reflective.

The Self-Questioning Level

This level focuses on self in relationship and contextualizing his/her experience. Leaders at this level are concerned with the difference between reality and appearance and have an increased understanding of complexity and unintended effects of actions. They begin to question their own assumptions and views and realize the subjectivity of beliefs; and talk of interpretations rather than facts. They can play different roles in different contexts and begin to seek out and value feedback.

Example: This employee is continually inquiring, challenging assumptions, and aware of the limitations of conventional thinking. She focuses on creating an environment where everyone feels valued. She is committed to appreciating value in different perspectives.

The Self-Actualizing Level

This level is about integrating and transforming self and systems, and recognizing higher principles, complexity and interrelationships. People at this level are aware of the social construction of reality — not just rules and customs. They are problem finding, not just doing creative problem solving. They are aware of paradox and contradiction in self and systems and learn to have a deep appreciation of others. They demonstrate a sensitivity to systemic change and create “positive-sum” games.

Example: This person is continually evaluating the organization’s strategy against long-term industry trends as well as global economic conditions while embodying her values and using herself as an instrument of transformation. She is self-aware and firmly anchored in principles while having the ability to adapt based on context.

As we look to the changes leaders are facing in the near and long term, it is helpful to have a robust model for development that allows them to focus their development energy effectively. This framework, along with it, measurement instrument — the maturity assessment for professionals (MAP) — is the most robust I have seen, and I find it highly effective in supporting leaders.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills. You can download the first three chapters of the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers for free.

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

What Questions Help Identify High Quality Leaders For Your Organization?

This article was originally posted in Forbes in August 2016. It is the companion to the VoiceAmerica Interview with Richard Oliver on July 25 Executive Perspective: Building Vibrancy, Increasing Engagement, Improving Performance. In the interview Richard talks about his experience of dramatically increasing employee engagement at a 60 year old manufacturing company as their President.

As leaders, we are expected to be highly effective at identifying strong leadership, then rewarding it, retaining it, and developing it. Additionally, we are expected to remove bad leadership. Yet leadership is quite subjective. How do we know what “effective” leadership is?

In recent conversations, I realized that how we answer that simple question generates wildly different answers from my respected colleagues. For example, some might say effective leadership is generating strong financial results, while others might measure it based on personal recognition, promotion, social impact or building legacy. It is by asking the right questions that we can clarify what effective leadership is so as to reach the best outcome for our organizations.

I suggest starting with a list of questions from ecosynomics, a framework developed by Jim Ritchie-Dunham, an adjunct researcher at Harvard. Specifically, this framework poses four questions that organizations should consider in order to identify the greatest leadership potential and, consequently, to experience the greatest value from that leadership.

1. What Is Your Potential Leadership Capacity (How Much)?

Sustained value is one measure, but we can’t necessarily predict who will sustain value based on past performance. As we look across the organization’s ecosystem, performance is a starting point but not the final indicator because organizations, and people, run into unavoidable and unpredictable disruptions. As a result, such disruptions may reflect negatively on performance, but may not be an accurate reflection of sustained value of an individual.

Another measure is a set of behaviors or competencies that signal leadership potential. When we move from looking for results to looking for potential, we have moved out of our standard conversation. If we don’t talk about potential, we are missing an important variable when selecting leaders. As we consider potential, we need to also look for employees who are curious and continually learning in a changing environment. It is leaders who continue to “innovate how they lead” who will be able to consistently deliver over the long term.

2. Who Decides Our Leadership Potential?

Often leadership teams “rack and stack” their teams during an annual review process. These are often long and arduous processes. Many companies are revising the performance feedback process in favor of new approaches designed to provide ongoing feedback, but still need a mechanism to determine financial compensation beyond market value, promotion, performance improvement or exit.

The other side of this evaluation is the hiring process. Who is deciding your leadership potential? Is it the leader? The leader’s peers? A group of more senior leaders? Do they have the correct criteria and information to make decisions? What does it say about your leaders and to your leaders if they and their peers are not involved directly in the process in a meaningful way? An example is an organization that uses the vibrancy survey or similar tool within work groups to identify leadership impact on employees.

3. By What Criteria Do We Determine Value?

It is easy to measure the financial impact a leader delivers, but measuring results is more complicated. When we look at results and behaviors, we can look at tools like 360-degree feedback along with financials. These can seem like relatively straightforward equations but, again, who gives feedback and who administers the process to ensure it is impartial and that each variable in the equation is weighted properly?

Some companies have specific equations to measure the balance between results and behaviors. A “nine box,” for example, looks at a 3×3 matrix that places results on one axis and behaviors on the other. While I am a proponent of competencies that consider mindset in addition to behaviors, these are still relatively difficult to measure so behaviors may be our closest reliable approximation. If these measures determine and drive your leader’s performance, it might be worthwhile to be as rigorous in determining what to value (part of mindset) as much as how they performed against those values. As an example, leaders who value collaboration will consistently build collaboration into all of their actions vs. someone who collaborates to check a box because they were told this is important.

The difference is that if the idea of collaboration is built into my thoughts and actions, when it comes time to actually collaborate, others will be expecting it and trust my intentions. If I am making judgments on team members through checking a box, they may not trust me and may not be willing to collaborate fully. It is important to consider the question from multiple views: What does the leader, culture and organization value and reward?

4. How Do We Interact To Realize Our Greatest Leadership Potential?

Your organization’s culture sends a clear message as to how leadership is discovered and developed. Do your culture and organizational structure promote leaders working together on shared goals, or are they pitted against one another to maximize their own units?

How much time are leaders actually spending on mentoring, for example? If I came into an organization to evaluate performance against this question, I would spot-check mentor calendars to see if they are meeting regularly with their mentees and find out whether they discussing development goals and working toward employee success. I would be checking for tangible evidence that the organization has a structure that promotes matching high potentials with seasoned leaders and has a budget for regular interactions that could include books and lunches. When selecting leaders, we must define what our organization’s approach is to leadership culture and understand how this drives the results we want.

In summary, as the world changes at an ever-increasing rate, it is important to update our way of evaluating, structuring, measuring and rewarding leaders to ensure they are equipped to meet changes effectively. For organizations, it will be useful to evaluate your current criteria and determine if it will meet your needs going forward.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

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

Leaders Must Now Think Like Scientists

This post was originally posted on Forbes.com in September 2016. During the industrial revolution, leaders managed effectively using command and control and leveraging best practices to solve problems that were common across multiple industries.

Now, however, the most effective leaders work more like scientists. They scan best practices, but also create competitive advantage by creating new and innovative solutions in the face of chaos.

Take Bill, a recent client who runs a mortgage firm in the U.K. June’s vote to exit the EU has thrown the British economy into uncertainty. Rates are dropping and the forecast is uncertain. Bill doesn’t know which direction the market will go, how fast, and what actions will be most effective. He looked to thought leaders before the vote and learned that a true Brexit was unlikely. Well, it happened, and now he needs to move forward and make the best of the uncertainty. The change might even be good for him if he makes the right calls

Many leaders, like Bill, are facing unprecedented challenges. In the past, they could look to best practices and study what others in their industry were doing. Now, in many situations, leaders need to respond immediately, but there is little time to study and no prior model with the same level of complexity that provides a low-risk solution. As leaders, we weren’t trained for this. We were trained to set a vision, build a plan, and work the plan.

With the advent of such changes, companies are responding with strategies like “cross-functional” teams, “early delivery,” and “continuous improvement.” Terms such as “fail fast” — which tell us we need to experiment and learn faster than our competition — have become popular. Learning fast differentiates us from our competitors who are still looking for the best practices. In reality, we are the ones creating the next round of best practices.

But many of us are still stuck between the old ways and new ways of leadership. We haven’t fully embraced what it means to be a leader today and now. First and foremost, we need to rethink our role. We need to change our mindset and behavior from directing to experimenting while realizing that as leaders in complex times, we are creating new solutions rather than drawing from the past. In many situations, history will determine what was right, but if we expect to know it before we take action, we will be paralyzed.

So, what do we do?

One of the most difficult challenges for leaders isn’t changing behavior (that’s the easy part) — it’s changing how we think of ourselves. It is easy to say, “I will act like a scientist,” but when someone comes in with a challenge and the leader has no idea how to proceed, this is a moment of truth. The leader without an answer will likely feel embarrassed and frustrated. The scientist, on the other hand, might actually be excited about the challenge.

As we begin to change our mindset, we begin to approach our leadership as a scientist. Here’s how to get started:

1. Get the best people together for specific opportunities. The members will be dictated by the challenge. It is critical to have people with differing points of view. The people who disagree are often the most important to help identify blind spots and unanticipated challenges. The size of the group and the duration of discussions and evaluation will depend on the time required to respond. The participants should be from multiple geographies, functional departments and organizations.

2. Formulate a hypothesis. The group pulls together all of the perspectives and crafts a clear hypothesis of how to proceed to generate the best overall outcome given the resources, goals and constraints.

3. Formulate experiments. Using the hypothesis as the foundation, it is time to craft experiments that test the hypothesis. Experiments should be designed to prove or disprove the initial hypothesis and give enough information to support taking informed action going forward. The goal is to position the organization to take timely action, minimize risk, and maximize positive impact and learning and scale intelligently based on learning.

4. Conduct the experiment. Once the experiment is crafted, it is time to execute. This usually looks like implementing a well-defined pilot with clearly articulated metrics designed to prove or disprove the initial hypothesis. This is also the opportunity to identify barriers to proper execution.

5. Evaluate, learn and refine. One of the keys to experimentation is to learn as much as possible from each experiment to build success. This is where you will harvest your learnings form the measures as well as barriers or challenges that arose.

I work with a client who formerly worked as a physicist for NASA and now runs an organization heavily impacted by technology change. The culture of his organization is one of experimentation because it is natural to him. When I walk into his office, I see remnants of physical experiments, like a part of a drone, and the tone of the entire organization is open and excited. The physical space is one of the worst I have seen, so it isn’t the architecture but rather the tone of the leader. The leader’s mindset permeates the culture and the organizational systems. People are rewarded for launching new programs and eliminating those that are less effective.

Moving toward this mindset of experimentation allows us to master transformation and build the capacity for ongoing “renovation” of our organization. If this ability to respond quickly becomes a core competency of the organization, because of the mindset of the leader and the resulting culture, organizations are positioned to thrive. For leaders who take on the mindset of the scientist, experimentation becomes fun, they drive interesting innovation, and they inspire others to do the same

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

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

Inspiring Leadership and Organizational Evolution: We are Upshifting

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

Here are a few thoughts about how I got started:

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

What did you learn from your guests about leadership?

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

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

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

When I reviewed the interviews, six categories emerged.

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

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

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

Executive Perspective Interviews: Key Take Aways

Executive Leader Interviews

This post focuses on lessons learned from several senior executive interviews on VoiceAmerica Radio. I want to thank everyone who was willing to participate; I have had the honor of talking to a range of highly accomplished executives from a variety of industries and backgrounds.

Let’s start with an example of an employee whose experience mirrors of one of our top interviews: people drive your success. Susan walked into her new job and was delighted that on her first day, her intuition about accepting the position proved correct. She left a great job (on paper) to be part of a professional organization that would be a better fit. She’d been looking for a place where the leaders understood that taking care of their people caused the organization to actually be more efficient and effective. She’d had plenty of experience with organizations that gave lip service to employee engagement and becoming a best place to work, and yet, at the end of the day, she didn’t feel engaged. She felt harassed by ongoing assessments and pressure to deliver better scores rather than inspired by a true effort to improve the organization. Now she was the VP of Talent in an organization that genuinely treated people with respect. They recruited for mindset and offered ongoing training to ensure employees could meet the changing needs of the workplace.

After doing the interviews, I wanted to see what themes emerged from the group and share with readers who may not have had the opportunity to listen to all interviews.

Themes:

  1. People differentiate your business and your ability to deliver on your unique brand as well as retain customers. Treat your people well and they will treat your clients well. Treat your people badly and they will be disengaged and damage your culture, your customer relationships and your profitability. See my earlier post on bad bosses for info about what treating your people badly means.
  2. Hire for fit – train for skills. You can teach skills as the environment changes. Employees who are disruptive or an otherwise poor fit will damage your environment and your business (see #1). What I have often seen is leaders who wait too long to remove disruptive employees. Universally, after the challenging employee leaves, they wish they had done it sooner.
  3. Effective transformation starts with leadership change and involves culture change and process and system change. All elements must be aligned to avoid creating forces that work against one another. This alignment is a dynamic equation involving continual rebalancing.
  4. Effective leaders manage across functions, considering the best interest of all stakeholders to ensure the long term success of the organization, not just their departmental interests. By managing the dynamic balance and changing needs of key stakeholders (customers, employees, owners, funders, the long-term interest of the enterprise), the enterprise is able to best respond to ongoing complex changes.
  5. An effective leader actively engages employees regularly, making sure they are clear on what to do and how to do it, and that they have what they need. Employees feel supported. They know that they are free to do their best, and when they make small mistakes in service of trying new things to improve themselves and the organization, they will not be browbeaten.

Do these themes strike you as true?

As a leader, how would you score yourself on these five themes (1 = I rarely do this, 3 = I occasionally do this, 5 = I consistently do this)?

How would you score your organization using the same scale?

If you believe these are true, but you are not consistently behaving in this way, do you work in an environment that would support you acting this way? If so, what behavioral experiments can you try to begin improving your own leadership? Can you pick a theme and identify a specific behavior that will be rewarded in your organization? What is that experiment? How will you know if you are successful? When will you start?

If you work in an organization that does not demonstrate these behaviors, is there one that might be rewarded?

SO….what can you do about becoming more effective? To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.