Greg Moran, Board Member, Advisor, Teacher, Operator, and ILI Executive in Residence, shares his perspective on the podcast, The New Role of Leadership in a Hybrid Workplace.
This article, How Leadership Has the Power to Unite and Inspire, was originally published by Maureen Metcalf for the Forbes Coaches Council.
As leaders, we have the opportunity and responsibility to help our employees and organizations transcend personal differences and better align with our organization’s purpose. Leadership research out of Christopher Newport University suggests that political differences are a more significant sticking point, as only 28% say they are comfortable with a leader who holds opposing views, and only 34% would follow such a leader.
This data suggests that during a time of political division, organizations will struggle to accomplish their missions. Leaders need to help employees align with the organization’s purpose and values and transcend their differences.
I will use my organization as an example because we have colleagues with significantly different political views. We are working to find common ground that allows us to work together respectfully while honoring our differences as a path to providing greater value for our clients.
I imagine some people read this and think it sounds soft — that we need to tell people what to do and they will follow. I respect that the leader-follower relationship looks different for different leaders.
Here are some of the key leadership traits that can be tapped to inspire and unite those with different worldviews.
Be professionally humble: Care more about the organization’s success than your personal image.
As a professionally humble leader, I am committed to my organization’s purpose above all else. I have been revisiting my purpose as the CEO and asking myself if I am still committed to it. Next, am I living it? I work with an exceptional team, and they can tell when I am disingenuous with myself and with them. Next, I need to be clear about my values and the organization’s values and make sure we live them. I recently updated our purpose and values on our website. This exercise of publicly posting them creates accountability. I also asked my team to review and help revise them to know what they are and how they fit for us.
Unwavering commitment to right action: Be unstoppable and unflappable when on a mission.
Right action is an interesting phrase. Right, according to who? I believe our purpose and values help us determine what is right, but this is not enough. We need to engage with one another and have honest conversations — some are not easy.
We are also starting to talk about right today versus right to create the future we want to see. We are asking about the longer-term implications of our current actions. By looking through this lens, we can see where our focus is changing. We can be more disciplined in our choices and actions and eliminate some activities that require time and energy.
Be a 360-degree thinker: Take a systems view and see the interconnectedness of people and systems.
Like most organizations, we are facing changes in the work we deliver and how we work together. As we look at these changes, we evaluate the overall systems and how the changes will move us toward meeting our purpose and values or how they will move us away.
Be intellectually versatile: Commit to lifelong learning.
With the increased level of discord brought on by political polarization and the global pandemic, we are trying to understand our colleague’s perspectives. We also need to understand changing global trends. In some cases, we have worked together for decades and have not explored our colleague’s values. It is easy to focus on the work and not understand a valued colleague’s suffering because we don’t want to discuss taboo topics such as politics.
I suggest that we might want to seek to understand — to use the Steven Covey phrase. I am not suggesting we delve into political debates but instead ask the colleagues we value and respect probing questions with deep regard for their challenges, hopes and fears.
Be authentic and reflective: Focus on personal growth and emotional courage.
Reflection is one of the essential skills to allow people to grow and develop. This time in our history certainly requires the courage and skill to accept and support our colleagues who see the world differently. How many of us feel comfortable working with people who don’t share our worldview? Yet, if we are secure in our values and mission, we can generally find the strength to embrace people — even if we disagree with their beliefs.
Inspire followership: Connect with a broad range of people around a shared vision.
If people don’t follow us, we aren’t effective as leaders. If followers don’t want to follow leaders with different political beliefs, we need to find ways to inspire them. We must open ourselves up to challenging conversations to understand others and their diverse views. These conversations will require all of our emotional intelligence to build relationships that allow us to work together to meet our mission.
Be innately collaborative: Seek input from diverse points of view to create novel solutions.
This behavior is where we test our ability. If we have done each of the previous actions well, we can bring people together who see the world differently and feel safe to share different perspectives. We need to synthesize those differences to create new and better outcomes.
As leaders navigating the dynamics associated with an emotionally charged election and political unrest, we need to bring our teams together to meet our purpose and create stronger leader-follower relationships and teams.
Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible, iHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.
About the Author
Maureen Metcalf, CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute, is dedicated to elevating the quality of leaders globally.
We at the Innovative Leadership Institute want to take a moment to recap what interviews have stood out to our listeners.
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Our passion is to bring you thought leaders in leadership, to share an article written by those who have looked at a situation differently, solved a problem others face, researched and analyzed a facet of leadership, or gave us something to contemplate. We strive to bring you timely interviews with these same people so you can hear their thoughts on leadership and allow you to learn from others, implement new ideas, and upskill your leadership.
Today’s article lists the top 10 most listened-to shows in the past 12 months. Links to each show are included for ease in accessing this valuable content. The links direct you to the Voice America platform, but any shows can be accessed 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.
10. Finding Meaning, Joy, and Purpose in What You Do (9/7/21) with Paul Gibbons, an academic advisor to Deloitte’s Human Capital practice.
Conversations about meaning and purpose at work are very old and very new. Spirituality proves a lens for those discussions. Workplace spirituality helps us understand issues such as fulfillment, engagement, purpose, leadership, and more. However, it also increases worries about values conflicts and how well organizations handle that. Paul Gibbons joins me today to discuss the spirituality of work and leadership for leaders and organizations.
9. Mental Toughness: How to Embrace Stress for Greater Success (7/6/2021) with Colonel Deb Lewis, a retired Army Colonel, a West Point graduate, and a Harvard MBA.
Women (and men) face unhealthy stress and anxiety daily – it’s a wonder they’re still standing. Too few of us have stress tools powerful enough to put stress to work for us so we can enjoy the journey. Once you’ve learned how to be mentally tough, you will use stress to your advantage. It becomes your superpower! Colonel Deb Lewis joins the show to share her experiences and how you can learn to effectively use stress to your advantage.
8. Sponsorship and Being Sponsored (8/17/2021)with Ricky Robinson and Keith Powell, both of C-Crets, a career advice platform offering career coaching services, online courses, and topical content through blogs and a podcast.
The leadership journey can be a challenging one with unseen challenges that ruin reputations. Skilled people can be left wondering what went wrong if they don’t have effective sponsorship. These challenges are even more pronounced for underrepresented people in leadership roles. Ricky Robinson and Keith Powell of C-Certs will talk about the importance of having a sponsor and of being sponsor-ready.
7. Management Vs. Leadership: How Coaching Skills Make a Difference (5/25/2021) with Jonathan Reitz, an executive coach and CoachNet FLUXIFY’s Director for Training/CEO.
Coaching skills are not just for the life coach or the executive coach, they are every leader’s secret weapon. Managers can become the leaders that are needed when they understand how to use coaching skills that put the development of their team as the top priority and multiply their impact. Want to move from managing your team to leading your team? Coaching skills are the key. Jonathan Reitz joins Maureen to share how managers can move toward leading by learning some simple coaching behaviors.
6. The Science Behind Our Yes! (9/28/21) with Jim Ritchie-Dunham, president of the Institute for Strategic Clarity, an adjunct professor of business economics at the ITAM Business School, an adjunct lecturer on sustainability leadership at Harvard, and president of the Academy for SelfDiscovery Leadership, a private operating foundation.
You have a Yes! that aligns your purpose and unique contributions with the impact you can generate and the experience you can have, which is yours to choose. Your Yes! always generates net-positive value and your No! always generates net-negative value—your choice. Jim Ritchie-Dunham joins Maureen to explain the science behind our Yes!
5. Essential Skills for Success No One Taught You (10/19/21) with Mark Herschberg, author and instructor at MIT.
Networking, negotiating, communicating, leading, career planning—all skills critical to your career success. But did anyone ever teach you these skills? Mark Herschberg, author and instructor at MIT, joins Maureen to discuss his book “The Career Toolkit: Essential Skills for Success That No One Taught You.” He will share practical ideas from his book and his thoughts on leadership that will help you master these vital skills.
4. Red Roof Revisioning the Future (12/21/21) with Red Roof President George Limbert.
Red Roof is evolving under the leadership of their new President, George Limbert. George and his team have updated their vision to reflect our post-covid era that embraces the community and employees and creates an exceptional customer experience across all Red Roof branded properties. George talks about the bold steps they are taking now to bring this vision into reality. This interview is the first in a series of Red Roof’s re-imagining and evolution.
3. The Science of Dream Teams (9/14/2021) with Mike Zani, author and CEO of The Predictive Index, a talent optimization platform that uses over 60 years of proven science and software to help businesses design high-performing teams and cultures.
Sophisticated assessments, data, and software are giving CEOs and managers within any organization or industry detailed insights into human behavior. As CEO of The Predictive Index, Mike Zani has witnessed firsthand how the application of data and science can impact, and completely change, the way we function in our professional lives. In his new book, THE SCIENCE OF DREAM TEAMS: How Talent Optimization Can Drive Engagement, Productivity, and Happiness, Zani details a data-driven approach to talent strategy that makes hiring, motivating, and managing people more efficient and effective than ever. Mike joins the show to share his research on how to build a dream team.
2. Flex: The Art and Science (9/21/2021) with Jeffrey Hull, author and CEO of Leadershift, Inc., a leadership development consultancy based in New York City.
In the past, to move up the corporate ladder and succeed at the top, you simply had to set goals, motivate the troops, delegate to underlings, and groom a successor. Now, if they are leading a team, chances are that they are managing a kaleidoscope of people from a variety of cultures, across a range of ages, all of whom are wired together 24/7. These changing demographics and structures have led to a seismic shift in terms of the tools needed to successfully manage and grow within a company: charisma and strategic thinking abilities now matter less than qualities such as vulnerability and relatability. Jeffrey Hull joins the show to discuss the research he has done on the art and science of leadership in a changing world that is featured in his book, Flex.
1. The Power and Promise of Generation Z (10/5/2021) with Anne Marie Hayek, a cultural consultant, generational expert, and social agitator who deeply understands society’s evolutions. She founded and leads two companies, Global Mosaic and ZSpeak, with a passion for navigating the cultural movements shaping our world.
AnneMarie Hayek joins Maureen to share about her new book, Generation We. In this book, she joins forces with thousands of Zs to tell their powerful story—one that impacts all of us. From new ideas on capitalism, politics, and climate change to education, gender, race, and work, AnneMarie explains how Gen Z thinks, what they envision, and why we should be hopeful. Zs are not naïve idealists. They’re hardened realists with a bold vision for how we can transition, re-create, and progress. Generation We is your invitation to see the future they will create as it’s unfolding.
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.
We are pleased to announce the Connex Executive Insights Series, produced in collaboration with Connex Partners, an invitation-only executive network that brings industry leaders together in from the worlds of HR and Healthcare.
Connex Members are part of a cutting-edge community, finding actionable solutions to their most pressing business challenges via high-value peer exchanges and curated resources, including tools, platforms, partners, and c-suite networking opportunities.
Executive Insights features highly-respected and engaging guests who share novel ideas and practices related to the latest leadership topics.
Alice Yoo LeClair, Divisional CHRO at Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC, originally published this article in Inside CHRO, the go-to magazine for HR leaders brought to you by Connex Partners. It is a companion to her podcast A Competitive Advantage: Building Communities Within the Business,
Watch the two-minute video of Alice
Listen to the full conversation with Alice and Maureen
- What is your best leadership advice?
It’s your aptitude plus your attitude that sets you apart as a leader. These two things build the story of your personal brand and can accelerate your development over your peer group. This advice applies whether you have worked at an organization for two months or 25 years, whether you’re a senior leader or just taking the lead as a contributor in a meeting.
- If you could go back in time and meet your sixteen-year-old self, what would you tell them?
Firstly, when you hear about this thing called ‘Bitcoin’ that goes for sale, buy it immediately in mass quantities! The second thing I would tell myself is ‘chin up’. Over the course of time, you will see a material shift when it comes to Asian inclusion and representation. There will even be an Asian superhero, Shang-Chi, brought to life on the big screen, in mainstream culture. It’s really tough now – but know that the world is going to learn faster, collaborate more and come together as a global community in the very near future.
- What is the most-read book on your shelf?
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. I discovered this book through Bill Gates’ book blog, Gates Notes, and he cited it in a New York Times article as one of his favorite reads. The theories the author presents about why sapiens, of all the species that have inhabited this planet, have been able to develop enormous infrastructure, technologies, religions, governments and currencies are fascinating.
One of his theories is that as a species, our ability to imagine and apply our imagination to our real-life circumstances is what enabled our brains to create all of these institutions. I recommend it to anyone who is curious as to how we went from hunter-gatherers to doing things like cryptocurrency in the present day.
- What’s the one film, TV show or podcast you would urge every CHRO to check out, and why?
I have a different approach to this. I don’t actually have an HR industry-specific magazine or podcast that I regularly turn to. What I have curated for myself instead are ‘digital mentors.’ In the HR and business worlds, there are incredible leaders who, through their public content, answer questions and give advice on topics I would have asked them to elaborate on through those mentorship coffee sessions. It was through this curation of digital mentorship that I discovered my career aspiration to become a Chief Experience Officer. I got there from the online presence of an executive named Julie Larson-Green who held the role at Microsoft and Qualtrics.
To read this article in full, and to find out more about how the pandemic has shaped Alice’s views on the future of HR, sign up to receive Inside CHRO, the new magazine written by – and for – HR leaders. Brought to you by Connex Partners, the #1 executive network for HR.
About the Author
Alice Yoo LeClair is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Euromoney PLC’s Financial & Professional Services (FPS) division. She is responsible for leading talent management, DEI, recruitment and performance enablement initiatives, in alignment with the organization’s strategic objectives. In this capacity, she also serves as a member of the division’s executive committee and the group’s HR leadership team. Before joining Euromoney, Alice was the Head of HR for the Americas GTM region and multiple product verticals at Refinitiv, an LSEG (London Stock Exchange Group) business. Previously, she held global people strategy and commercial program management roles at IPC Systems, IntelePeer and Level 3 Communications (now Lumen Technologies). Alice holds a bachelor’s degree in Music from the University of Hartford where she double majored in Piano Performance and English. She also has a certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from eCornell, Cornell University’s external education unit
This week’s article is an excerpt from “Stewards of the Future – A Guide for Competent Boards”, by Helle Bank Jorgensen, CEO of Competent Boards, which offers the global online ESG Competent Boards Certificate Program. It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Stewards of the Future: A Guide for Competent Boards. This podcast is part of the International Leadership Association series.
“Stakeholder concerns are shareholder concerns. The increasing focus by investors, consumers, and other stakeholders on sustainability is directly influencing value creation.” — Jane Diplock, chair, Abu Dhabi Global Market Regulatory Committee; director, Value Reporting Foundation
Case study – Ørsted
One company that has successfully managed the transition from passive to active engagement is Ørsted, Denmark’s largest energy utility. Ørsted has undergone a dramatic transformation since its inception in 1972 as Dansk Naturgas, and later as Dansk Olie og Naturgas. For the first thirty years of its existence, its business centered on coal-fired power plants in Denmark, and offshore oil and gas drilling rigs in various other parts of Europe. In 2006, however, it decided to shift its focus to green energy, closing its coal-fired plants and putting its resources instead into offshore wind farms. As of 2020, the Danish company was the world’s leader in offshore wind power, with a 30 percent market share; it forecast that it would produce enough power for more than 30 million people by 2025.
Stakeholder engagement has been a key pillar of the transition strategy. In 2007, for example, the company began fostering a dialogue with activist groups such as Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and the Danish Society for Nature Conservation. Rob Morris, a senior editor at the London Business School, noted in an article that Ørsted “had to convince people that the future business could be as successful as the old one.” One example was a lengthy op-ed piece in Denmark’s Politiken newspaper written by then-CEO Anders Eldrup in which he stressed that transformation would not be an overnight miracle. Eldrup publicly debated the company’s climate action strategy with Greenpeace’s then-executive director Mads Flarup Christensen at a 2009 meeting hosted by the Copenhagen Business School.
While the Danish government still owns 50.1 percent of Ørsted’s shares, the company has been listed on the Copenhagen stock exchange since 2016. The following year, it opened another useful avenue to tell its story to international investors by launching its first green bond.
“A lot of it starts with a company needing to be clear about what its purpose and its real priorities are, and that can be quite difficult to formulate,” says Ørsted’s current board chair Thomas Thune Andersen. “We have a wide debate about strategy that covers everything from the annual strategy plan to the long-term strategy, to our strategic priorities. If you’re able to really explain what your strategic priorities are, you’re able to get the shareholders and others to buy in.”
Ørsted now conducts a thorough materiality assessment each year, which involves identifying its most material stakeholders as well as assessing shareholder priorities and how these priorities intersect with society’s overall challenges. It has identified five key stakeholder groups: political stakeholders and authorities, local communities, employees, investors and shareholders, and NGOs/multiple stakeholder networks. The company has a specific interest in each group. Political stakeholders are vital allies in its plans to develop green energy. Local communities and employees provide valuable input on skills, talent retention, education, and local environmental initiatives. Investors expect strong financial returns as well as robust performance on environmental, social, and governance issues. Finally, the company engages NGOs and multi-stakeholder networks on topics such as biomass sustainability and human rights. It has worked to strengthen implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and has identified minerals and metals in its supply chain where environmental and human rights risks are greatest. The Danish company also has no problem collaborating with other utilities to develop wind farm projects. For example, in March 2020, it joined forces with Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings to bid for an offshore wind power project in Chiba prefecture, near Tokyo. The two companies have several other joint projects.
Ørsted has set a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2025 and no carbon emissions at all by 2040. Corporate Knights magazine named it the world’s most sustainable energy company for three years in a row, from 2019 to 2021, and ranked it number two across all sectors in 2021. But sustainability has not come at the expense of financial performance. Ørsted’s market value has more than doubled since its listing in 2016, surpassing rivals such as BP with a far greater dependence on fossil fuels. It achieved a 10 percent return on capital and a 4 percent advance in operating profit in 2020. As of mid-2021, its share price had almost quadrupled since the 2016 initial public offering.
Taken from “Stewards of the Future – A Guide for Competent Boards”, by Helle Bank Jorgensen, now available in hardcover and ebook.
About the Author
Helle Bank Jorgensen is the CEO of Competent Boards, which offers the global online ESG Competent Boards Certificate Program with a faculty of over 95 renowned international board members executives and experts. A business lawyer and state-authorized public accountant by training, Helle helps global companies and investors turn sustainability into strong financial results. She was the creator of the world’s first Green Account based on lifecycle assessment, as well as the world’s first Integrated Report and the first holistic responsible supply chain program. Helle has written numerous thought leader pieces, is a keynote speaker, and is interviewed by global media outlets.
Greg Moran, a C-level digital, strategy, and change leadership executive with extensive global operations experience, provided this article as a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled What Leaders Won’t Talk About When Scaling a Business.
No cute titles, no click-bait tag lines – just an honest conversation about some of the things I’ve learned from creating, launching and getting through the first couple of stage gates on scale. I spent most of my career working at big companies like Bank One (Chase), Ford Motor and Nationwide Insurance attempting to transform to meet competitive pressure or to maintain the status quo of a business model that hasn’t changed since before I was born. Starting a company is way more fun, but much of my experience did little to prepare me for the challenges of actually going through the process in a leadership role – kind of like how watching the Tour de France on TV does little to prepare you to ride your bike 100 miles in a day. For this blog, I’ll summarize the headlines that we cover in the accompanying podcast. I encourage you to listen so you get the nuance of what the words mean because they can look obvious on paper without hearing the dialogue.
The thing about back-office investment is that you don’t want to make the investment until you need to, but when you need to, it’s usually painful and distracting – like changing the tires on a car that’s going 70 mph. The trick of it is to be ahead of the curve, but not too far ahead of the curve. I’ve found it useful is to remember 2 things:
- “Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” – Wayne Gretsky
- Tech costs a lot less than people do, so get on platforms that will make sure your back office stays off the critical path of your growth, otherwise you will have to compensate with people.
DEI and ESG
Nobody wants to talk about this because they are afraid of getting canceled or saying the wrong thing and getting attacked. There are some cold hard truths you need to know about this space if you are starting a tech company (and many other types of companies as well):
- The talent pool of people that can tolerate the perceived risk of a startup is not as diverse as the general labor pool.
- The talent pool of people that are experienced in the functions you need to fill AND have start-up experience is even less diverse, and you rarely have the luxury of time to go find that unicorn.
- The people who are attracted to the risk profile of the startup world expect to be compensated with equity in a way that rewards them for the risk and have little practical interest in the other ‘equity’. Everyone has a good set of talking points these days, the expectations remain (I’m living this now, even though we are well beyond the risk-equity phase of growth).
- Your ability in the early days to create ESG metrics will be limited and probably irrelevant.
So what does this mean for you? My suggestion is the following:
- Have a clear set of principles on DEI and ESG that guide the company’s decision-making and are very transparent to the board, the leadership team, every employee and every prospect.
- Back up the principles opportunistically at every turn, without compromising the integrity of your commitments to existing employees and investors. In the early days, compromises on competence will stick out like a sore thumb and may kill the company if the role is important enough.
- Rely on advisors to help bolster/refine the thinking of the team over time.
- As soon as you can begin to build a pipeline, invest in talent resources that have the clear accountability to do so.
- Use search firms to amplify your reach to great diverse candidates.
- Insist on equally engaging events and practices within the company.
- Don’t virtue signal with grand statements that you can’t back up and just invite criticism and ‘gotchas’.
Space and People
Scaling and Covid combined have raised some interesting questions on space and people. As you grow, does your philosophy on space and employee experience change? Is remote your new operating model – going full virtual? How do you handle in-person collaboration when it benefits the company and/or the process and/or the individuals who may desperately want to have and build personal relationships?
I think any singular answer to this question would end up being a ‘one size fits none’ solution, so I’ll stick to some principles we have embraced (for now) in light of the ever-shifting landscape in which we all find ourselves:
- Don’t be definitive and don’t show a preference for remote vs. in-person. If you really want to allow either to give you access to more talent and allow you to grow faster (or whatever reason), then truly embrace and invest in both.
- Model both from a leadership standpoint, even if you have a strong preference. Your modeling will empower.
- Make in-person compelling – give people a reason to come in, regardless of the frequency.
- Do the same for remote – support the gear that makes it a great experience for the remote employee and those they interact with. Provide stipends and perks to enhance the remote experience. Create quality virtual events – serious and fun.
- Communicate and get feedback as the game changes.
Value Chain Balancing
As you scale a business, maintaining balance throughout your value chain is essential. You really are only as strong as your weakest link and if you are over-invested in one element of your business, but constrained in another, you are just wasting money. One of my friends that had exited a start-up gave me some great advice as we started our company. ‘Never confuse having a product with having a company’, he said. It was brilliant advice and has value chain balance at its heart. If you build a better mousetrap, the world will not beat a path to your door. In fact, the world will probably never know you exist. If you have no pipeline, hiring people to close deals is a waste of money.
Pay attention to and build specific metrics around your funnel – know the numbers for you and for your industry and stay on top of it! Keep the operations functions off your critical path by making sure they have the capacity to support your growth – HR, Finance, Facilities, etc. Force business case discipline on your product and engineering functions (which is not to say don’t place bets, but the business cases force the homework to be done and give you data on which to base the bet, which will lead to better decisions and board-level buy-in).
One of the most insidious things that can happen as you scale is that the world will want to talk to you and your team about your success. The temptation to do so is pretty irresistible and you should fight it aggressively. When you start up the steep scaling curve is when the company needs focused leadership the most. I’ve seen great young companies and budding CEOs get totally derailed by the seduction of publicity that makes them feel good but does nothing for the company, its customers or its team. Do a couple of carefully curated and well-managed events per quarter and stay focused on your broader objective.
I hope this practical approach is useful. I’m not looking to impress you with clever aphorisms (I have a bunch that perhaps I’ll drop in another blog someday), but rather to give you some super simple, easy-to-implement concepts. Upward and onward!!
About the Author
Greg Moran is a C-level digital, strategy, and change leadership executive with extensive global operations experience. He led corporate strategy for Ford and designed the plan that Alan Mullaly used to turn around the company. Greg held C-level IT positions in app dev, infrastructure and core banking applications at Ford, Nationwide Insurance and Bank One/JPMC, respectively. He began his career in consulting with Arthur Andersen Accenture, working across industries with 100 companies over the course of a decade. He is passionate about leadership and culture and teaches part-time on the topic at Ohio University.
Maureen Metcalf, ILI CEO and Founder, wrote this article as a companion to the podcast with George Limbert, President of Red Roof Inn Red Roof Revisioning the Future.
Since the pandemic, everyone has been talking about the new normal. The new President of the Red Roof family
of brands is proactively evolving how the hotel industry and its brands meet their stakeholder needs in a post-pandemic world.
On August 26, 2021, Red Roof®named George Limbert as President of the company effective immediately. George was the interim President beginning in October of 2020.
George served as Red Roof’s General Counsel for the previous eight years. He was on the core leadership team that guided the company throughout the pandemic. As a result, Red Roof has overcome these challenges as a well-positioned leader in the industry, seeing consistent increases in all performance metrics.
Immediately after being named President, George invited his senior leadership team to look at how they would evolve the brands. He started with the founder’s mission. Next, the team explored how to evolve the strong legacy of this iconic brand to meet the changing needs of all stakeholders.
The founder, Jim Trueman’s Mission was: To offer clean and comfortable rooms and attentive guest service – and charge less for it.
With the support of an Innovative Leadership Institute facilitator, the team came together and co-created the updated vision. The new vision is: To provide the best experience and value in the lodging industry for our guests, owners, team members, partners, and communities.
When we look at missions and visions, many think of a group of leaders sitting in a corporate headquarters coming up with nice slogans that are neither realistic nor inspirational. While the senior leaders created the new Red Roof vision, this process differed from most. After developing the vision, several leaders went on a “look and listen” tour of a sample of the 660 hotels to hear from the franchisees and employees. Next, the team participated in two annual franchise conferences, where they spent more time in person with the franchise owners. The next step is a gathering in February with all employees. At each step, the team looked to validate and find holes in the vision to ensure the final version accurately reflected the true promise of the brand family. This process is ongoing, and while brands don’t regularly change their visions, this brand is “stress testing” its vision to ensure it is an accurate and inspirational evolution of the founder’s legacy.
After putting the vision on paper, the leadership team broke into groups to define what that vision would look like as it turned into reality. Some groups focused more on people while others on processes and measures. The result was a consolidated story of how the brands and the organization will evolve. This step is critical in the organizational change process. The leadership team and the organization need to align around the what before identifying and agreeing on the how. They answered a range of questions about culture, processes, measures. These questions ranged from processes related to aligning as a team to how they view and build on quality. Evolving a brand takes a concerted effort by a well-aligned team. The story starts, “Five years from now, we will be an extraordinary reflection of our best selves. We will have grown with purpose because we pooled our greatest strengths: our diverse talent, our culture founded on trust, honesty, transparency, and our iconic brand.”
The Red Roof team will continue to share their evolution as they progress in their transformation. The Innovative Leadership Institute is honored to support this iconic brand’s evolution.
About the Author
Maureen Metcalf, CEO, the Innovative Leadership Institute, helps you become a Future Ready leader.
This week’s article is provided by Dr. John A. Kilpatrick, an economist specializing in real estate investment and housing issues. It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled What Leaders Need to Know About Circular Economy that aired on Tuesday, December 7th, 2021.
There is an economics story making the rounds about the coal miner and the coal mine owner each buying a new pair of work boots. A cheap pair costs $5 and will last a season. A better pair will cost $20 and last five seasons. Unfortunately, the coal miner is never able to squeeze together $20, and so each season is only able to buy a $5 pair. The coal mine owner, of course, can afford the better pair. At the end of 5 years, the coal miner has spent more money than the boss ($25 versus $20) and has thrown away 5 pairs of used boots.
We have a not dissimilar problem at the heart of the world’s very significant housing crisis. It is most obviously manifested in the lack of housing affordability but is inextricably tied to the life-cycle wastage in housing resources.
Globally, housing now costs an economically unsustainable portion of a working person’s budget. Inseparable from housing affordability is housing availability. At the bottom rung of the economic ladder, housing is simply not to be had. Gregg Colburn, a real estate professor at the University of Washington, has done ground-breaking empirical research into the homeless problem to arrive at an extraordinarily simple finding – cities with the most expensive housing have the most significant problems with homelessness.
Attempts to address the problem since World War II may have actually made the problem worse and almost certainly violated the principles of a circular economy. For example, after WW-II, in the UK, vast arrays of temporary “modular” housing was constructed to address the immediate shortages. These homes were designed to have 10-year life spans, but in many corners of the UK these flimsy dwellings are still standing. As an ironic side note, many of these pre-fabs contained asbestos, lead-based paint, and other structural problems. In the US, many modular units such as mobile homes were purposely built to the most cost-cutting standards and had significantly foreshortened lifespans and lack of future adaptability compared to traditional stick-built, site-built homes. Interestingly enough, these flimsy substitutes were considered the new modern convenience in the 1950’s and promoted in movies such as the Lucile Ball – Desi Arnez hit, “The Long, Long Trailer.”
In Japan, the problem has been exacerbated by stylistic choices. Newer homes have been highly preferred to older homes. Japan saw a wave of post-war construction, but “new” and “modern” became more fashionable, and each passing decade has seen older homes become valueless in as short as 20-30 years. As such, homes in Japan are not built to last, and in some suburban towns, homes built in the 1960’s are no longer standing.
Apartment dwelling has proven to be no solution, and in fact has contributed to the wastage problem. Post-war apartment buildings were often constructed with 30-40 year economic lives. After that, the cost of replacing mechanical systems, tired or failed window and door systems, and overall heightened maintenance favors tear-down and replacement rather than rehabilitation.
This race to the bottom in housing quality and the shortening of the economic lifespan of housing inevitably drives up the long-term cost of providing adequate housing to a growing population. While short-life-span housing may have an attractive up-front cost, the need for regular replacement drives up the cost and saps resources. In short, workers needing a roof over their heads have been forced to invest in the housing equivalent of $5, disposable boots.
At the core of the concept of a circular economy is the notion of reducing the price consumption by extending the lifespan of the goods consumed, in this case, housing. Finding a sustainable, circular solution to the simultaneous problems of housing cost and housing lifespans will not be simple. For one, health and safety standards today mandate materials and systems that were either unknown or had unacceptable substitutes in past generations. Examples include adequate and cost-efficient heating, cooling, and ventilation, window and door systems that contribute to energy efficiency, improved sanitary facilities, and kitchen and utility appliances that optimize the time spent on cooking and cleaning. These systems have short life spans, and remodeling/rehab have not proven to be efficient solutions in the past.
There is however significant research underway. The 2016 African Real Estate Society Conference, held in Addis Ababa, was devoted to sustainable development. Architecture and design researchers from universities in the Netherlands are presently working with colleagues in Malaysia where housing demand and affordability are nearing crisis levels. By designing future flexibility into housing units, they hope to simultaneously conquer the affordability problem for younger consumers, the space availability problems of growing families, and even the downsizing issues of empty nesters. Researchers in Australia and Germany are focusing on the results of the 100 Resilient Cities Program (100RC) developed by the Rockefeller Foundation in 2013, which aims for “the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow, no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience”.
The Houseful Project, sponsored by Housing Europe, kicked off in 2019 with three themes related to housing and the circular economy: Integration of circular solutions in energy efficiency, further development of feasible circular economy business opportunities in the housing sector, and identifying buildings that are willing to implement some of the tested solutions. These solutions include, but are not limited to, containment of materials wastage in the construction process, improvement in the handling of wastewater, and energy conservation.
Australia has been a focal point for much of the research on this topic. In that country alone, over 20 million tons of waste from the construction industry are sent to landfills each year. The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and several other universities, with funding from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, hopes to address these and related issues and help guide that country’s housing production toward increased sustainability. Finally, just this month at Canada’s McGill University, researchers held a webinar to address the problem of information silos related to housing and the circular economy, and to find ways to more efficiently share data and methods.
Housing faces real problems in affordability and availability. Increasingly, the housing sector is recognizing that adopting the precepts of a circular economy is a way of holistically addressing these issues.
Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible, iHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.
About the Author
Dr. John A. Kilpatrick is an economist specializing in real estate investment and housing issues. He is Managing Director of Greenfield Advisors, based in Seattle, and also serves as a Director of the Washington State Economic Development Finance Authority. Is an author or contributing author of 10 books, most recently Real Estate Valuation and Strategy (McGraw Hill, 2020).
As of December 2021, we at the Innovative Leadership Institute want to take a moment to look back at the year and recap what interviews have stood out to our listeners.
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Today’s article is a countdown list of the top 10 most listened-to shows of 2021. Links to each show are included for ease of accessing this valuable content. The links direct you to the Voice America platform, but any shows can be accessed 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.
- Sponsorship and Being Sponsored (8/17/2021) with Ricky Robinson and Keith Powell, both of C-Crets, a career advice platform offering career coaching services, online courses, and topical content through blogs and podcasts.
The leadership journey can be challenging with unseen challenges that ruin reputations. Skilled people can be left wondering what went wrong if they don’t have effective sponsorship. These challenges are even more pronounced for underrepresented people in leadership roles. Ricky Robinson and Keith Powell of C-Certs will talk about the importance of having a sponsor and of being sponsor-ready.
- Management Vs. Leadership: How Coaching Skills Make a Difference (5/25/2021) with Jonathan Reitz, an executive coach and CoachNet FLUXIFY’s Director for Training/CEO.
Coaching skills are not just for the life coach or the executive coach. They are every leader’s secret weapon. Managers can become the leaders that are needed when they understand how to use coaching skills that make the development of their team the top priority and multiply their impact. Want to move from managing your team to leading your team? Coaching skills are the key. Jonathan Reitz joins Maureen to share how managers can move toward leading by learning some simple coaching behaviors.
- The Science of Dream Teams (9/14/2021) with Mike Zani, author and CEO of The Predictive Index, a talent optimization platform that uses over 60 years of proven science and software to help businesses design high-performing teams and cultures.
Sophisticated assessments, data, and software give CEOs and managers within any organization or industry detailed insights into human behavior. As CEO of The Predictive Index, Mike Zani has witnessed firsthand how the application of data and science can impact and completely change the way we function in our professional lives. In his new book, THE SCIENCE OF DREAM TEAMS: How Talent Optimization Can Drive Engagement, Productivity, and Happiness, Zani details a data-driven approach to talent strategy that makes hiring, motivating, and managing people more efficient and effective than ever. Mike joins the show to share his research on how to build a dream team.
- Applying the Innovative Leadership Concepts (7/27/2021) with Tom Grote, the chief catalyst for the Edge Innovation Hub, and Christoph Hinske, an associate professor at the School of Finance and Accounting at SAXION University of Applied Sciences, covering Systems Leadership and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems.
Several of the Innovative Leadership Institute’s certified facilitators join the show to share how they have taken the concepts that they learned from a 9-month program and applied them to their business functions. Tom Grote and Christoph Hinske joined Maureen to discuss how they have extended the program content and built a values-based systems mapping that helped shape both of their professional and personal journeys.
- The Essentials of Theory U (2/23/2021) with Otto Scharmer, Senior Lecturer at MIT and co-founder of the Presencing Institute.
Theory U blends systems thinking, innovation, and leading change from the viewpoint of an evolved human consciousness. Otto Scharmer joins Maureen to discuss his latest book: The Essentials of Theory U: Core Principles and Applications, a book that meets a crucial need during this point in history in helping us bring necessary changes to our foundational systems from a place of deep consciousness and perspective-taking from all key stakeholders – including the future as a key stakeholder.
- Flex: The Art and Science (9/21/2021) with Jeffrey Hull, author and CEO of Leadershift, Inc., a leadership development consultancy based in New York City.
In the past, to move up the corporate ladder and succeed at the top, you simply had to set goals, motivate the troops, delegate to underlings, and groom a successor. Now, if they are leading a team, chances are that they are managing a kaleidoscope of people from various cultures, across a range of ages, all of whom are wired together 24/7. These changing demographics and structures have led to a seismic shift in the tools needed to successfully manage and grow within a company: charisma and strategic thinking abilities now matter less than qualities such as vulnerability and relatability. Jeffrey Hull joins the show to discuss his research on the art and science of leadership in a changing world featured in his book, Flex.
- Mental Toughness: How to Embrace Stress for Greater Success (7/6/2021) with Colonel Deb Lewis, a retired Army Colonel, a West Point graduate, and a Harvard MBA.
Women (and men) face unhealthy stress and anxiety daily – it’s a wonder they’re still standing. Too few of us have stress tools powerful enough to put stress to work for us so we can enjoy the journey. Once you’ve learned to be mentally tough, you will use stress to your advantage. It becomes your superpower! Colonel Deb Lewis joins the show to share her experiences and how you can learn to use stress to your advantage effectively.
- The Power and Promise of Generation Z (10/5/2021) with Anne Marie Hayek, a cultural consultant, generational expert, and social agitator who deeply understands society’s evolutions. She founded and leads two companies, Global Mosaic and ZSpeak, with a passion for navigating the cultural movements shaping our world.
AnneMarie Hayek joins Maureen to share about her new book, Generation We. In this book, she joins forces with thousands of Zs to tell their powerful story—one that impacts all of us. From new ideas on capitalism, politics, and climate change to education, gender, race, and work, AnneMarie explains how Gen Z thinks, what they envision, and why we should be hopeful. Zs are not naïve idealists. They’ve hardened realists with a bold vision for how we can transition, re-create, and progress. Generation We is your invitation to see the future they will create as it’s unfolding.
- The Future Leader: Skills and Mindsets to Succeed in the Next Decade (1/12/2021) with Jacob Morgan, the founder of FutureofWorkUniversity.com, an online education and training platform that helps future-proof individuals and organizations by teaching them the skills they need to succeed in the future of work.
A lot has been written about leadership for the present day, but the world is changing quickly. What worked in the past won’t work in the future. We need to know how to prepare leaders who can successfully navigate and guide us through the next decade and beyond. How is leadership changing, and why? How ready are leaders today for these changes? What should leaders do now? To answer these questions, Jacob interviewed over 140 CEOs and partnered with LinkedIn to survey almost 14,000 of their members around the globe to see how CEO insights align with employee perspectives. Jacob joins the show to share insights he gained from this research.
- Becoming a Better Leader: Daily Leadership Development (2/9/2021) with Ron Riggio, the Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College. He is the author of over a dozen books, more than 100 research articles, and book chapters in leadership, organizational psychology, and social psychology.
“Great leaders are great learners” is often quoted, but how can leaders implement this in their hectic day? Ron has created a year-long leadership development guidebook that offers day-by-day instruction in short excerpts to provide leaders with knowledge and practical application ideas. Ron joins the show to discuss his new book “Daily Leadership Development,” his lifetime achievement award, and his views on the current state of leadership.
Darren Chait, the Founder and COO of Hugo offers an article as a companion to his podcast How Collaboration Is Changing and Modern Team Dynamics.
Meeting culture and company culture are tightly related—in fact how a company meets is a good indicator of the company culture as a whole. Effective meetings are indicators of effective companies and the respect that employees have for one another. Fortunately, there are many straightforward practices to improve meeting effectiveness that lead to a dramatically better working environment.
Most companies won’t be as strict as Hugo, which sets a standard of no more than 10% of employees’ time in internal meetings, but it’s a good exercise to try. However, with years of experience in creating software that streamlines meetings—and what happens in between—Hugo can speak authoritatively on the kinds of practices that any organization can implement.
Meetings: Only when needed
The first rule of effective meetings is to call meetings only when needed, and only with the people who are needed. Synchronous meetings should be limited to the “Three Ds”: Debate, Decision-making, and Discussion. Status updates, reporting and other routine information sharing can be done in asynchronous channels, such as Slack, e-mail, Notion, Miro, and Google Docs. Likewise, quick check-ins and questions can be done through chat, voice messages, video recordings, like Loom, or even by simply picking up the phone.
While two years ago, this rule of thumb could be implemented quite strictly, since more people are working from home or remotely, using a strict system for meetings can end up neglecting some of the human interactions that people need to develop deeper trust within an organization. Technologies such as Teamflow can create an “in-office” environment for remote teams. Other companies have developed explicit practices such as virtual happy hours or regular check-ins in small groups or pairs. Especially with the level of stress many people are feeling due to the global situation or isolation at home, it’s important for managers to work in processes for ensuring that people are cared for. The companies with the highest retention rates and productivity are those where employees feel the company cares about them.
The right combination of synchronous and asynchronous methods will increase the efficiency across the organization. High-touch asynchronous methods such as video and voice recordings can help teams communicate effectively across time zones without losing the nuances of facial expressions and tone of voice.
Tracking to keep on track
Two common problems with meetings are the lack of structure and the lack of follow-up of action items. While people know that they “should” have an agenda, notes and action items, most companies do not have any specific procedures in place for making sure that happens.
Hugo formalizes and operationalizes the agenda, note-taking, follow-up and action-item assignment for meetings, while at the same time retaining flexibility. Most companies will use multiple types of meeting templates.
Daily stand-ups, retros, strategy meetings and one-on-ones have different structures. In fact, in interviews with managers we found that they often mix it up when it comes to one-on-ones with their team members, alternating between the manager setting the agenda and the employee setting the agenda. With group meetings, it makes sense to give everyone the opportunity to list agenda items or even comment on other people’s agenda items. With a transparent structure for meeting planning, it may turn out that some of the agenda items get resolved among a subset of the meeting members, even before the meeting takes place.
Transparent by default
With the rapid shifts in technology and culture, modern companies have found that transparency leads to greater efficiency. By making information known throughout the organization, solutions to problems can come from anywhere in the organization.
Meetings are no exception—looking at someone’s calendar tells you a lot about what they are doing with their work day. Having transparency into the meeting agenda and notes gives people within the organization a quick view into what their colleagues are up to. While it’s not necessary for everyone to see everything throughout the organization, access to that information is part of the company culture and leads to employees taking a higher level of responsibility.
As managers move from status meetings to team meetings that highlight brainstorming and problem-solving, having visibility throughout the organization can create a richer environment for creative solutions and proactive solutions. This goes one step beyond asking team members to come up with solutions—it allows them to have a view of the entire organization and contribute across teams.
Meeting note transparency also provides rigor in terms of understanding how and why decisions were made. Needless to say, many decisions turn out to be incorrect, and having excellent meeting notes can allow people to go back and find out why they made that decision. Rather than relying on people’s memory, meeting summaries allow an honest review of the decision-making methodology and logic, helping the organization to avoid repeating the same mistakes or making the same types of incorrect assumptions.
The takeaways for more efficient meetings
Meetings will always be an important part of working together. These best practices will boost meeting effectiveness and employee satisfaction, and contribute to a positive company culture:
- Hold synchronous meetings only for the Three Ds: Debate, Decision-making and Discussion
- Use asynchronous communications for updates, reporting and quick questions
- Set up an agenda document prior to meetings, and allow all participants to review and contribute to the agenda
- Utilize templates for each type of meetings for fast agenda-making, note-taking and follow up
- Integrate meeting note-taking and action items with the existing project management tools in the organization
- Use “open by default” documentation, allowing everyone at the organization to view meeting agendas, summaries and action items
- Try creating an upper limit of 10-20% for internal meeting time
The most effective way to implement these types of changes is to use a meeting productivity hub such as Hugo. Whether you use automation or implement these changes through workarounds, you’ll see rapid changes in your company efficiency as you maximize the impact of your company meetings.
About the Author
Darren Chait is the Co-founder and COO of Hugo. Starting his career as a corporate lawyer in sunny Sydney, Australia he made the move to San Francisco to start Hugo with a longtime friend, following years of shared frustrations with unproductive meetings. Darren also writes for Quartz, The Next Web, Thrive Global and numerous blogs, has appeared on well-known podcasts and speaks at conferences around the world.